Interview with Sharon Shabinaw

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My husband and I have camper we keep up in the Mountains of Maryland at Deep Creek Lake where we spend most of our weekends between May 1 - October 31 every year. I'm able to work remote, so I'm typically up there even more than he is. We love the mountains and being on the water where we can spend time with family and friends. All of our friends that have visited now also have campers in the same park as us, so it's a family affair on the weekends!

I also recently got involved with Young Living Essential Oils, so I am trying to find balance between, family fun times, writing, marketing, and oils! I'm always getting into something so have lots to keep me busy when I'm not actually writing, but to be honest, I'm writing something somewhere every day!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
oh wow, that's a hard one. I've been writing ever since I was a child. I only wish I had saved some of those earlier stories. I'm sure it was probably a child's version of a romance novel. I remember hiding from my brother in my closest where I would have my quiet time to write. I had cleared out everything from the floor of my closest that I could and put down my sleeping bag, pillows, and I used my lite-brite for the light. I could stay in there for hours without him finding me, and I loved to write all kinds of stories.
What is your writing process?
Most of my inspiration comes from God. He puts an idea in my head, leads me outside of my comfort zone and it just sort of happens. With my first book, "Signs from God", my mother and I had both been receiving a lot of signs from God to start back up on our writing to document the miracle healing she survived after suffering for five years from a nervous breakdown. She wasn't at a point in her life to start just yet, so I thought, "Well, I'm going to document all of the signs from God I've received." Then I thought that maybe one day, I could write a book and ask for other people's signs from God, but figured that would take forever - though it was a start. So I started to document my signs, and the words just seemed to flow as if they were coming from God and not me. When I read it back, it was already sounding like a book, but I didn't have enough for it to be a book, so I set it aside. It wasn't much longer when one morning God put the thought in my head to write a post on Facebook asking my community group for their signs from God. That was so not me, so I just brushed the thought off, but God was relentless, no matter how hard I tried to put the thought out of my mind, He kept putting it back. So I posted the message and the response was unbelievable. I took all of those stories I received, found a way to group them together by the type of signs they were and those groups became the parts within the book. Then we were able to add in my mother's testimony of her miraculous healing in the book!

I’m putting the finishing touches on my next book, “Break Down Your Walls!” and that process actually was pretty much same. Except that early 2016, I had experienced a heart attack, and as a result, was dealing with a lot of emotional stress and anxiety from the whole experience itself. Once I was feeling better, God started nudging me to write again. During my recovery period, I had done a lot of soul searching and was actually talking with someone that helped me realize a lot of my stress was coming from my fear of not being in control. So through that process I learned a lot about myself and was able make a lot of changes in my life that were very eye-opening. As a result, I am now in control of my stress levels, I can recognize my trigger points, but I am still learning to make adjustments so that I can become the person God created me to be. Through these changes, God put the thought in my head for me to start writing inspirational messages and posting on my website. These inspirational messages I thought would become a daily devotional book one day, but God’s plan this time was just as good as his plan for the first book. I wrote inspirational messages for about two months and then God said, “just do it” and now they became the messages within my book, “Break Down Your Walls!”. You see, all of the messages were geared around becoming a better person; the person God created us all to be. So again, I took those messages and found a way to group them together and that book became comprised of five parts reflecting on 1) Learning to Listen; 2) Looking within Ourselves; 3) Do All Things With Love; 4) Lean Not on Your Own Understanding; and 5) Give It to God.

The third book, “A Mountain to Climb” will have a different process, because it will be more of a biography. We decided on the stories we wanted to share and they became the Chapters. The tricky part will be integrating the perspective of my mother suffering from the nervous breakdown, and my perspective as the daughter watching her mother live through such torment and wondering if she would ever be well again. With God on our side leading us every step of the way, I know it will be a success. He has given us the ability to have our first two books published first so that we can grow our following and learn as much as we can about this writing and marketing process, called book publishing, before He blesses us with a contract for “A Mountain to Climb”!
How do you approach cover design?
This is still very new to me having only published one book so far, but I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted it to look like and went and found a picture that resembled that image. My daughter was actually able to help design and format the cover for "Signs from God" and it was just what I envisioned. My next book, "Break Down Your Walls!", I'm still contemplating that cover. At first I thought of walls breaking down, but I want it to reflect more of an inner peace with some spiritual feel to it since that's what the book is about. I have an idea, but it's not concrete just yet. I have a group of supporters that I am going to reach out to for their feedback and ideas before I make my final decision.
If you'd like to join that group so can do so by visiting the site for my LaunchTeam.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom, because my favorite saying is 'Everything Happens for a Reason' and this book backs that up and truly makes you look at things from a whole different perspective.

Jesus is Calling - Morning & Evening Devotional, by Sara Young. I received this book after my heart attack. God directed me to this book and it is as if Jesus himself is speaking directly to you. It seems like every message hits me right in the heart and pertains to me everyday.

Anxious for Nothing, by Joyce Meyer. I received this as a gift after my heart attack and she hits on a lot of topics that just make sense and gets you to realize that the small stuff is just that - small and meaningless. Everyone is dealing with issues in life, we are not alone.

Unglued, by Lysa Terkeurst, we studied this in a bible study group and watched the video that goes with it. She's funny and very direct, but her methodologies are right in line with what I was learning after my heart attack and how to be a better person in the midst of raw emotions.

Become a Better You, by Joel Osteen. I have been following Joel for years and all of his messages are inspiring and uplifting. They have helped me over the years in many ways. By becoming a better person, we can help others because they will want to follow our lead.
What do you read for pleasure?
I used to read all of Danielle Steel's books, but then the older I got the more I got into spiritual books and those are basically all I read now. I guess for pleasure though, I might pick up a People magazine to see what the stars are up to.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Again, I'm still on the new side, but I've been doing a lot research on this topic as well as experimenting. So far, Facebook as been the most effective. I've joined a number of inspirational genre groups and have been posting and sharing my inspirational messages to draw a following. I also have a group I created to capture "Signs from God" from other people and I use these groups to spread the word. I have a website and blog that have done rather well, and I'm just getting into Landing Pages to try and pull people towards my webpage. I've done book signings before as well. I haven't done a booth yet, but would like to try that at a fair or something and combine it with my essential oils. The two seem to go well together!

Look me up on Facebook and get connected!
Describe your desk
I'd love to. My office used to be down in the basement, but we recently moved it to our main floor so I don't feel stuffed in this little room any longer. I'm on the main level and it's great. My desk is big and made of solid wood with drawers on both sides. I have two laptops on it and two extra monitors. I am a multi-tasker at heart so it works great for me! My grandchildren came over this weekend and saw all the computers and were amazed. Since I'm in this office all day and most of the evening, it's nice to be comfortable and on the main floor. I have my diffuser with essential oils running and my peace and calming water fall next to me on the bookshelf, which makes it a very peaceful place to work and stay focused.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Now this is a big topic and has had a huge influence on what inspires me to write. It all reverts back to my mother and her nervous breakdown, what drove her to have a nervous breakdown, and many choices I've actually made in my life as a result of what she went through during those five years before her miraculous healing. I don't want to give away too much because it will all be in our next book, "A Mountain to Climb", but we moved around a lot. I actually went to three different schools when I was in the third grade. That was rough on me. My parents separated and went back together many different times and then when my mother got sick, things were even crazier. I lived with my grandparents for a while, my dad for a while, and stayed with friends many nights because I didn't want to go home or it was easier for my dad if I stayed out. When my mother got sick, I was only twelve years old and at a point in my life when I really needed my mother. Luckily, my Dad's sister was only seven years older than I, and she used to babysit my brother and I a lot, so we were very close and I would rely on her for girly talks when I couldn't really talk to my mother. I had a lot of people looking out for me and I'm very blessed for the whole experience and what I learned and took away from it all. Mostly, I'm thankful to God for giving my mother a miracle. This miracle and our story is all we've ever wanted to write about. It's been difficult for my mother to relive these painful years and why it has taken us so long to get to this point, but we are finally ready to step out of our comfort zone a little further and publish our story because that's what God wants us to do and what we have to do for ourselves.
How is what your mother went through affected you in your life?
Watching my mother suffer for those five years was very upsetting for me and a very confusing time. She had said all along that my Dad was the love of her life and I was definitely born out of love. Dad was the only man she had ever loved. They met in school and wound up getting married at the very young age 17 and she had me at 19. She never had the chance to date anyone else. So in my head, I thought, well I'm never going to do that. So when I met my first boyfriend and fell in love, I was not going to marry him. Despite the fact that he did want to get married, I broke it off with him because I wasn't going to do that and get sick like my mother. There were many different decisions throughout my life that I made based on what my mother had gone through, but I wouldn't change a thing because every decision has brought me to where I am now. I am very happily married and my husband and I have five children between us. Life is great and I'm in the process of publishing my second book, and mom and I are working on the third book!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is when I receive comments from readers thanking me for my message because it impacted them so greatly. Some people say that needed to hear that because of what they were dealing with in their lives at the moment and it just makes you feel so good; like you made a different in someone's life. I often say, "If I only touch one person, and make a difference in their life, I'm happy." To be able to do that for so many people just warms my heart so much and makes me want to write all that much more!
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me. They inspire me to be a better person. They inspire me to share my messages, and my lessons learned, so that I can inspire them. Without fans and supporters, writing is just writing. God put the dream in my heart and I know it is His will for me to inspire many people. I know He didn't allow my mother to go through five years of suffering for nothing. Our story has to get out, and it will; because, our fans can't wait to hear the rest of the story. A Mountain to Climb is what my mother did and we have so much more to tell. If we didn't have a following and the support of our fans, our story probably would never get told.

So for those new fans out there, please connect with us on our Website, so you too can read the rest of the story!
Published 2016-12-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Signs from God
You set the price! Words: 30,240. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Spiritual inspiration
Listening to God’s soft quiet voice led this mother and daughter on an ultimate journey of documenting ‘Signs from God’ from their community as well as signs that they have experienced, including the testimony of a miraculous healing Arlene experienced after suffering five long years with a nervous breakdown. A story of faith that is so profound you will clearly recognize that God is in control.