About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Hey everyone!  Welcome to week six of the Summer Love Blog Tour!

Thank you for joining me last week as we celebrated the big cover reveal for my romantic suspense, THE FIRE WALKERS, available July 1st, 2014!

While I’ve written for years, TFW is my first published work, and throughout June, I’ll be sharing some of the behind the scenes of how the story came to be.

When an author is first starting out, their premier novel acts as a cornerstone to everything. The writer’s voice, brand, identity is presented with that first book. So when I decided to dive into the ocean-o-publishing, I sat down and listed what I needed to have and compared it to what my writing brought to the table.

A debut novel doesn’t have to out-of-the-box perfect, but it does need to be a starting point from where an author gets better. That first book sets the stage for what the readers expect, and I wanted to give my readership something different and fun.

THE FIRE WALKERS is book one in the Walker series, which may have you asking:

What’s a Walker?

Rewinding backkk to three years ago, there were two areas where I needed to improve:

·                      Memorable Characters
·                      Theme

If you cite any example from great, popular fiction, all of them have a distinct main character, one with whom the reader can empathize and relate. That is what makes a story great.

I wanted my characters to stand out, so I borrowed every “How to Create a Character” book in existence to get help. While I found all of them informative, the laundry list of rebel, outcast, debutante, came across as stereotypical. After weeks of researching, I dropped the how-to volumes back into my return to library bag, and thought about what I could do to take the training wheels off and steer clear of the pre-fabricated fictional personalities.

I asked the question: What skills do I have to solve this problem?

Looking at my bookshelf, more than twenty volumes on Astrology blinked back at me as if saying, “Hello, remember us?”

The hobby started when I was fifteen. I'd plucked an astro-relationship book from my mother’s bookcase, and when I’d finished with it, I was compelled to keep going. Two decades and fifty books later, I’d advanced to full chart interpretations, houses, transits, stelliums, and synastry. After performing a few couples-chart comparisons for friends, the word started to get around and I got some real life practice.

It’s not a religion to me, its recreation. A pastime.

And as I stared at the shelves of book spines, the percolation began. The water hero who'd been haunting me shucked the ill-fitting label of “rebel” as the character building blocks of “Water sun conjunct rising…Scorpio. Definitely Scorpio…” fell into place.

One problem down, one to go:

As a reader when you go to your bookstore of choice (Amazon, B&N, BAM etc.), you notice that the stories where the plot and characters all reside in the same world are in a themed series: 

Heroes with dogs. Military men. The residents of small ocean-side towns. Family sagas....

Chugging along the astrology track, I figured that my character solution could parlay into my theme. Real astro charts are complex, much more than the one-dimensional, sun sign interpretation that the daily columns quote to you, but I could go with the astro-groups based on their element:

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius    

Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Running with that idea, I started a rough draft, first chapter for the water hero who was talking to me. Five pages in, the plot was sad, slow, and not engaging, so I scrapped it and started over. Six pages later, I'd backspaced so much it sounded like I was trying to play a piano concerto on my keyboard. 

On to the third attempt—more crap.

Crap, I say.

I’m not being bombastic, authors just know when to call it. Off the bat, there’s an instinct when the pages are going nowhere but to figuratively line the litter box.

That night, while lying in bed, I stewed in the writer’s block.

Why? Why isn’t it working? I pondered. 

The answer struck right as the ether of sleep had me submerged.

Water is not the first element.

True to writer form, I sat bolt upright in bed at the epiphany. Scampering to my computer, I stared at the blinking cursor for five minutes, my mind playing the naysayer.

I have two fire planets in my personal astrology chart, both of which are weak by sign and placement. I’d wanted to write water first because it’s an element I know well.

This is my first book, I should stick to what I know, but water isn’t the first element, fire is.  

A chapter from an astrology book I’d read back in the 90’s popped into my head. Written by a British author and spiritual speaker, there was a part that addressed weak/missing signs, a concept I’d never seen mentioned before then or since. Her answer to activating diminished energy was to exercise it. No water in your chart? Practice compassion, meditation; all the traits that water signs exhibit naturally. No earth planets? Experiment with taking your time, practicality, patience, gardening (put your hands in the dirt). 

She called it: How to Walk Your Planets

Sitting in front of the blank computer screen I pushed my fingers to move. I wrote the first two paragraphs at three a.m. that morning, the narrative flowing for the first time in weeks.

A fire girl, a heroine whose name I didn’t know yet, waking up in a jail cell.

I pulled myself away and made myself go to bed although the siren song of the plot continued to channel through my head.

The next evening I rushed home from work to get back to the manuscript, following the nameless grad student as she encountered a terse arson cop. The hours passed as in a whirlwind as I finished the first chapter. The hero had a name, Aidan. And the no-nonsense Aries was defensive about sharing his past, the guy guarding his back-story like a flippin' watchdog.

Dumbfounded, I crossed my arms in disbelief.

I’m natal-chart weak in fire, and here I am trying to write it first? I must be crazy.

The refrain came just as suddenly: Fire is the first element.

With a sigh, I tried to reason it out.

The story would have to have all the components inherent in fire:

Action. Recklessness. Courage. Optimism. Impulsiveness.

As I thought the words, faces appeared in my head; an abandoned racehorse, a regal farm matron with warm brown eyes, a drug group out to retrieve what was theirs…

I dropped my arms and my apprehension just in time for my fire hero to shoot me a scowl.

My hero glares at me when I try to approach him and my heroine has no name.

And that was the moment it’d been decided.

It looks like I’m walking fire....  

Next week:  MEET AIDAN

He’s not so intimidating under all that gruff attitude, but don’t tell him I told you that. :D

P.S. I visited my sister about four hours ago and told my Little Niece that I was off to write my weekly blog post. She asked if I’d deliver a message from her.

As Aunt Shell is a woman of her word, here you go:

Little Niece says, “Hi everyone! How’s it going?” 

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