Sit-Down Saturday with Shirley Hailstock

Today we’re celebrating the release of Summer on Kendall Farm.

So, Shirley, where did you get the idea for this novel?

I visited a horse farm in Maryland years ago and watched a guy racing around a track.  The two were so in tune with each other that I wanted to try riding.  I'm not a good horsewoman, but when Jace appeared in my head and said he was the guy on the horse, a story idea took root.   

Do you ever use visuals when you write a story, photos of people, places and things?

Yes! Yes! Yes!  I love being able to know what characters look like and what the world they move about in looks like.  Sometimes I would draw or sketch out the way a place looks.  For Kendall Farm, I found a photo of exactly what the house looks like.  As for the characters, I knew them so well, but did not find a photo to depict them.  The same is true of the grounds and the area where the heroine lived as a child.  They were all clear in my mind.

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?

"My kingdom for a horse."

How long did it take you to write?

Writing this book wasn't easy, but it was fast.  I knew the story.  The entire book was in my head and I am a plotter, so I had the story in detail on a file.  During the month of Febraury, my romance writers group does the equivalent of NANOWRI.  We call it JeRoWriMo (Jersey Writing Month).  In the 28 days, the common goal is to write 30,000 words.  I wrote 66,000+ words that month and finished the book.

Don't think this is common for me.  It isn't.  At the end of the JeRoWriMo month, the book was only complete, not ready.  I still had to edit and correct it before sending it to my editor.  So all in all it took about two months.

Usually, it takes me about three months to write a series novel (55,000-65,000 words).  Other word lengths take a little longer.

What is your favorite scene?

Since the inspiration of this book came from me watching a man ride a horse around a track, my favorite scene is when Kelly (the heroine) tells Jace (the hero) to ride like the wind, and he takes the horse through its paces as she watches.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kelly is my favorite character.  She is a strong woman who is determined get what she wants.  She's compassionate and logical, willing to compromise, but not be run over.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?

My hero would definitely be McGyver and my hot-headed, red-haired heroine would be Major Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.

The epilogue of the story mentions that it took the heroine two years to get through all the red tape in order to build the racetrack.  I learned all the committees, governmental agency, and licenses she'd need to first have the track approved and then to build it.  These details are not in the book.

What music would match the mood of this novel?

I don't usually use music when I write.  I know too many songs and I love to sing.  If I had music, I'd sing and not write.  But if I think about it, You Haven't Seen the Last of Me by Cher from the musical Burlesque would work.  Both the hero and heroine were determined to mount any obstacle in their paths.  And this song epitomizes that.

This is your
34th book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?

That I love what I do and that people like my storytelling.  I am in awe of each book and of course, I feel nervous and apprehensive about them, but then the mail comes in and someone will make my day.  A reader will understand and connect with my characters.  It's a fleeting feeling, but when it's there, there's nothing better.

What do you plan to work on next?

I wrote my goals for 2015 last October.  On the list is to send in proposals for new Heartwarming novels and to complete some of my works-in-progress that will be self-published.  The very next thing on the list is a short story to enter into the RWA anthology competition.  Then Heartwarming proposals.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

I'm reading BAG of BONES by Stephen King.  At least, I'm listening to it.  I'm readying THE HUSBAND SHOW by fellow Heartwarming author Kristine Rolofson.


  1. Shirley, I wish you great success with Kendall Farm and I can't wait to read it. I love stories with horses and dogs, rabbits, cats, okay...just about any animal, but there is just something so majestic about horses. No wonder the Greeks conjured up Pegasus with wings, right?
    I love that photo of the house. That is gorgeous and what inspiration. Thanks for sitting down with us on Saturday!

  2. Shirley, I grew up reading all kinds of horse stories. I actually thought I'd someday write Westerns. And ranches and such do show up in my story ideas. I visited some of the racing stables in Kentucky and the Derby track. It's such an interesting world. Looking forward to reading your book.

    1. This book was strange in the culmination of it. The idea came years ago, but it took a while for the whole book to jell. I always had the farm in my mind. I knew exactly what it looked like. And I knew the characters, but they were all over the place (meaning in different geographic areas). It took a while to get them together, but then the story just jammed itself in my head and I had to get it written.

      Since so many people commented on my early delivery, I turned this manuscript in 4 months early. However, that practice is not likely to continue.

  3. I love the house, too, Shirley and can just imagine all the drama going on inside. You sound like a hard-working woman. I'm sure you'll meet all those goals and then some. Congratulations on being able to share Kendall Farms with your readers. They're going to love it.

  4. I'm a plotter too, Shirley but I don't think I could ever write that much in one month! I love your visuals and your story sounds great. Good luck on reaching your goals :)

    1. For 2015, two goals are already done. Uploaded two ebooks this month. One went live on Jan 15th. The other will be live in the 31st.

  5. Summer on Kendall Farm sounds like a great read. I just watched Secretariat with my husband a couple of weeks ago while I was recovering from a trifling cold and felt a rush whenever I saw that horse speedily galloping. I told myself I'd have to try reading a good horse story, or at least a book involving a horse or horse farm. Your book just might fit the bill. All the best to you with your writing.

  6. Hello, fellow plotter, and congrats on yet another fantastic novel! Like so many others, I'm drawn to stories that feature critters and gorgeous houses!

  7. I love this interview, Shirley! And I have to say I had a bad crush on MacGyver when that show was out :). I can't wait to read your book!


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