Piercing Shattered Dreams Into a Beautiful Story: Shannan Martin

Episode 06

When we’re kids, we each think about the lives we want when we’re older. What if you worked hard for years to make that dream—a loving husband, doting children, a farmhouse with a literal white-picket fence—a reality? And then, all of a sudden, you’re picking the shards of your realized childhood dream off the ground? That’s what happened to Shannan Martin—and she couldn’t be more thankful. Shannan is a writer and speaker from Goshen, Indiana, who is one of Jen’s literal favorite people. Today we’ll hear how Shannan found her voice in the country and her story in the city, and about her new book The Ministry of Ordinary Places. We’ll learn how she and her jail-chaplain husband Cory found their four children, including one who was a nineteen-year-old father of twins when he came to them, and how Shannan and Cory have learned to parent each of their adopted children. We’ll talk about how to become good neighbors with people who come from different walks of life, whose path to the present doesn’t resemble ours at all, and why sometimes staying in a place you don’t feel completely comfortable in can be one of the bravest things you can do.

Episode Transcript

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people, every week, on this podcast. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoy the show.

Jen: Hey, everybody. It is Jen Hatmaker here, your happy hostess on the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. So we’re in the middle of our For the Love of Books series, and it has been a blast, b-l-a-s-t. I mean, we have talked to some of the most crazy talented writers and thinkers. And I’m not joking, I have loved every single minute of it. And all across the spectrum, every kind of writer and interesting thinker. I just love it.

And you’ve been fabulous listeners, by the way. Thank you for welcoming this wide array of guests with open arms and with intelligence. I’m always so proud of you. When writers are like, “Tell me about your listener,” I’m like, “Don’t you worry, they’re the best.”

I can’t wait for you to meet—some of you will have positively already known her, but some of you are going to meet my new guest today. And she is, I’m not joking, this is one of my favorite people. And I love her.

This is Shannan Martin on today. She’s a speaker. She’s a writer who essentially, as she says, she found her voice in the country and found her story in the city. You’re going to love all this. We will unpack every bit of that sentence. You’re going to be moved by it.

She’s been blogging since kind of the beginning of blogging, and she started out with a blog, Flower Patch Farmgirl, which may be how you know her. Now she blogs over at Shannan Martin Writes, which we’ll link all to that, you guys. But her world has evolved and changed, her writing her content and we’ve gotten to see this. And she is a spectacular writer. I mean, so much so when my friend Jessica Honegger was on the show a couple of weeks ago for the second time, by the way, we were talking about Shannon and Jessica was like, “When I read Shannon’s work, I want to eat it.” And that is an apt description.

So Shannon and her husband Cory, who is the chaplain at their local jail—we’ll talk about that too. They have four amazing kids who came to them across oceans and rivers and in the most unlikely ways. And they live in Goshen, Indiana, right now. So we’ll talk kind of about where she started and how she got to Goshen and a little bit about her last two books. The first one was Falling Free, which I wrote the Foreword for, gladly, with great joy. And the next one is just about to come out. It’s called The Ministry of Ordinary Places, and I stamp them with every bit of my seal of approval. They are wonderful. We’ll talk about each.

And she’s just a real deal. I mean, that’s the kind of person I want my life, the real kind. She’s one of my favorite writers because she doesn’t just prescribe all the time. “This is how it has to be. This is what it will look like, do this, and you’ll get this.” Never.

What she does is tells her story and the cuts and the scrapes alongside some of the trophies, and she writes beautifully and with a tenderness that will draw you in, for sure. And she is such a good, living, breathing example of how to be a good neighbor. And what does this world need right now more than good neighbors?

So this is Shannan in a nutshell. This is how she describes her neighborhood: “The world outside our windows is a mashup of buckled sidewalks, heartbroken humans, truant teenagers, and the occasional peal of Mariachi. This is God’s country. We fit right in.”

Isn’t that great? She’s so wonderful. I can’t wait for you to meet her. You are going to love this conversation.

Please give a warm welcome to Shannan Martin.

My friend, Shannan, welcome to the show. I’m so, so, so happy.

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Shannan: Oh, me too.

Jen: I love you so much. And everybody who knows me already knows that, this is not news. You’re just one of my favorite people, and we’ve been friends for a lot of years. We were Internet friends.

Shannan: I know, it’s been so long. So long, and yet so short.

Jen: I know, I know. And the Internet friendship gave way to plenty of in-life friendship. I mean, where were we, Shannan, when you drove over kind of far and came to [one of my events]? We went to dinner, shut down the restaurant. And at paying the bill at midnight, I found out you guys were driving back home?

Shannan: I know.

Jen: Where were we?

Shannan: I mean, it’s Grand Rapids.

Jen: Grand Rapids. It’s far [from Goshen, Indiana].

Shannan: Kind of, but I think it was like two hours. It was totally worth it.

Jen: Oh my gosh, I could not believe it. I’m like, I remember we’re like paying the bill and I’m like, “So where are you guys staying?” And it was cold. Wasn’t it snowing? I think it was freezing.

Shannan: If you’re here between November and April, it’s probably snowing.

Jen: That is the truest thing you’ve literally ever said.

Thank you for being on the show today. I’ve told my listeners a little bit about you, kind of a snapshot of you and your family and your work. But I wonder if, at the top of the show, you could tell everybody more about you, about your hub and kids, where you live, what your family dynamic looks like a little bit?

Shannan: Yeah, I’d love to.

So I met my husband Cory in college. We went to a real small Christian college here in Indiana. We’ve been married now for about 19 years. He is actually the chaplain of our county jail, so we’ll probably maybe circle back to some of that in a little bit because it has just blown the walls out of our life. It’s been a really amazing surprise for our family.

And then we have four kiddos. All of them came to us through adoption, so they each have really interesting and unique and special stories. This is always tricky for me because we adopted out of birth order. So I’m always like, you know, Do you go from oldest to youngest?

Jen: Oh yeah. That’s true.

Shannan: I’ll go in order of how they came our family. So Calvin is 13, he’ll be 14 soon, and he’s in middle school. He was born in South Korea. Ruby is 12 and she was born domestically. Silas turns 10 tomorrow.

Jen: OMG, I love him.

Shannan: Oh my gosh. He’s such a quirky guy.

Jen: Love him so much.

Shannan: He was also born in South Korea. So for him, we got to go over there and bring him home, and that was a pretty special experience. And then, like, you know how some families have like that surprise, when they think their family is . . .

Jen: Yeah, you got a big surprise. Literally big.

Shannan: He’s literally quite big. He is six-foot-four or something ridiculous. His name is Robert, and he’s 24 now. He came into our family when he was 19 years old.

Jen: Yes, just like the normal way people do things.

Shannan: Right. Just go ahead and adopt a grown man with two twin babies of his own. Why not?

Jen: I’m glad you included that bit. I love your family, and I love the way all your kids came into your family. And I love the way you love your kids. I’ve learned a lot by watching you parent Robert.

Parenting young adults is already a weird category that is strange, and I find a lack of instruction on it. But then you parent a young adult with twins and a life, and I don’t know who’s your instructor. I don’t know who your mentor is.

Shannan: Right. That’s what we found.

When he came into our family, we had known him kind of at the fringes of our life for a couple of years, and then he went to jail, and then he went to prison. During that time of incarceration for him was when we were able to just go all in. I just remember thinking, Now I always know where you are.

Jen: Oh, silver lining.

Shannan: You’re going to take my calls every single time.

Jen: True.

Shannan: Because when he was in the years leading up to that, he would just kind of disappear for a while, and it was always really stressful for me.

Jen: Of course.

Shannan: So it was really heartbreaking and traumatic for everybody when he was arrested. But there was this little part of me that was like, Okay.

When he was in jail, that was our first experience of any kind with a jail. And so we started visiting him in jail, and then in prison. We went to all of his court hearings. And you know, God just has a really surprising way of making a family sometimes.

Jen: That’s a fact.

Shannan: And so yeah, we were becoming a family, we were practicing being a family, and that’s how it all kind of happened.

However, when he was released from prison, he came to live with us. He has a room in the basement, he had his cigarette behind his ear and his ankle monitor on. And so we’re trying to parent an adult-ish, at the time. But also, we’re parenting this kid who had really not been parented before. And so we were all just a disaster.

Jen: I mean, I literally cannot imagine.

Shannan: Oh my gosh, it was a lot. It was a lot. But this is long-haul stuff, you know, so we just made mistakes along the way. We screamed and cussed at each other sometimes. Every emotion was heightened. It was winter here, so we’re all cooped up in the house.

Jen: Makes you your own brand of crazy.

Shannan: Yeah. But you know, this is how families grow together. This is what God used to really tighten us up. It’s been a beautiful thing and a very stressful thing sometimes.

Jen: Without question. I actually learned so much kind of watching you navigate that, and you still are. It’s not as if it’s over. “It’s all solved.” That’s silly.

Shannan: Oh my gosh, right.

Jen: But I really was moved by the way that you did this. What I particularly loved that you showed us. In fact, I’m just going to jump ahead. We’re jumping ahead and we’re going to come back, and then we’ll get back to there in a minute.

But this is a quote out of your book that’s about to come out, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, which, as you know, I love. This is something that you said, and I watched you do this particularly . . . You’ve nestled it here in the context of neighbors, but I watched you do this in your own home too. You said:

“Our purpose is not so mysterious after all, we get to love and be loved, deeply, right where we’re planted by whomever happens to be near. We will inevitably encounter brokenness we cannot fix, solve or understand. And we’ll feel as small, uncertain and outpaced as we have ever felt. But we’ll find our very lives in this calling. To be among people as Jesus was. And it will change everything.”

This is your message, and you’ve lived it, and so I trust you. I think a lot of my listeners, and frankly probably a lot of your readers too, are still in that space of life and parenting where there is at least the illusion of control. That if we put the right ingredients in the soup pot, we’re going to get the guaranteed outcome that we’re hoping for, and certainly our involvement in it, that if it goes sideways, well, we can fix it, or we can solve it, or we can put the right steps into play and somehow get to a tidier ending. And one thing that I really love about watching you live and lead is that you just dismantle that because it’s not true. And anybody who’s lived life will tell you it’s not true. That slowly dissipates in our hands like sand.

And so I’m proud of you, and I thank you for kind of having the courage to say that.

Do you ever feel or have you felt tempted to formulize it all, to offer more scripts and more steps? You know what I mean? A lot of people want that from their leaders, their spiritual leaders, put specifically.

Shannan: Right. I mean, I want it. From you, or from anybody else who has . . . I mean, that’s the thing. I understand that because when we adopted Silas and brought him home, Ruby was newborn, Calvin was an infant, then Silas was 18 months old. And to so many people, that’s like, “Oh, he’s a little baby.” And he was. But for us, after our first two adoptions were these helpless little infants, I remember thinking, He’s grown.

Jen: Like, he needs an apartment.

Shannan: Right. And he kind of carries himself in that way and always has.

But he came with a different sort of pain and a different sort of grief where he was just able to articulate it and express it in a more palpable way. So we felt that. We felt it for years. And parenting him has been a really wild ride. I think parenting Silas has been the thing that sort of set us up for, number one, we realized with him for the first time, he was our entryway into walking towards somebody’s pain. In the most literal and basic sense. It was like, We now have this grieving toddler who is kind of afraid of us and wants to go home. And I just remember having this overwhelming feeling of like, Kid, I’m so sorry, but we’re all you’ve got right now.

There was no option at that point, other than to just nose dive straight into his pain and his trauma. And I didn’t know at the time that that was going to really serve us well down the road.

But when it’s Robert, it’s this whole new scale of really understanding, in sometimes painful ways, it is not my job to ensure his salvation or his faith.

I heard somebody talk once during that time, and it really struck me. It was another person in the world, on the internet or whatever, and she was saying, “People disagree with certain things about my life. But my kids are serving the Lord, and that’s how I know that I’m a good mom.” And I remember because I was standing in the bathroom getting ready, and I’m thinking, Nuh uh.

Jen: Oh man, yeah.

Shannan: So it’s just a matter of really trying to parent with open hands because that’s all we can do. And Robert is not walking with the Lord right now. And it’s not something that is important to him, and we just love him. We love him, we love him. And God’s doing his own thing in Robert’s heart, and we just have to stand back and let it unfold.

Jen: That’s just it. Like at the end of that, at the end of the line, it is this moment of surrender where we finally just have to fully admit, Oh, this is just, this is literally all I can do here. This is not under my control. And I have to release my white-knuckle grip on it, and it will be what it’s going to be. And that moment I think is hard for women in general. It’s been suggested to us that we can do better than that. We can hang on tight enough and pull the reins fierce enough that we will steer the ship. And I crave people to tell the truth in this space, which is why I listen to every word you say because you tell the truth.

And there’s really, there’s joy and beauty in it too. It’s not like, “This is fake pretty news, and all of Shannan’s is bad hard news.” It’s not like that at all. It’s just honest, and I’m drawn to it.

So listen, we’re gonna pull back a little bit sooner in your life. I want to talk to you a little bit about you as a writer and as a reader. Tell us just a teeny bit about when you were a kid, when you were growing up. What did that look like for you? And then specifically, how did reading and writing and books factor in when you were growing up?

Shannan: Oh, I love this. So just the broad picture of Shannan when she was a child, picture somebody who grew eight inches when she was in eighth grade.

Jen: Oh my gosh. Listen, everybody. What you also need to picture is that Shannan is—are you five-eleven?

Shannan: I’m five-ten.

Jen: Okay, five-ten. Willowy as a little tree.

Shannan: Okay, well, it’s true. And I don’t know, I’m the only one in my family. I’m this weird anomaly. Nobody else is tall. It’s a whole thing. And so of course, all the jokes my whole childhood. I’ve heard them all.

But all that to say I was sort of directed into a more nerdy path. I was tall, but I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, which is really unfortunate.

Jen: It’s sad for us both. We always have to part ways around sports. And I know we’ll come back together around pickles. It’s fine.

Shannan: There’s always food, it’s fine.

Jen: There’s always food. Yes.

Shannan: I was always bookish. I was always a reader. When I was in elementary school, once my younger sister went to kindergarten, my mom went to school to become a nurse. She did that heroic, amazing thing and started into nursing school full time. And she would sometimes have me—I remember this clearly—she would be laying in bed, just stressed the heck out all the time, because she’s got us three kids, she’s doing the most all the time.

Jen: Totally.

Shannan: And so she would sometimes have me read her nursing textbooks to her.

Jen: Oh my gosh, are you serious?

Shannan: I didn’t know what any of it meant. But I was just a good reader. So yeah, I’ve always been into books and reading. I was just always that kid who was reading.

We lived in a real, you know, out in the country outside of a tiny little village. So we had one little library with one or two rows of teen romance novels, and I just devoured them. They were all the same.

Jen: All the same.

Shannan: I read the whole Sweet Valley High series, every book is the same.

Jen: All the lead characters are named Heather or Stephanie. All the same. I loved them. They all had blonde hair.

Shannan: Yeah, they all had blonde hair. In that series, there were two of them with blonde hair, Jessica and somebody, I don’t know. I read whatever I could get my hands on, and so books were always an important part of my life.

Now writing, for me, did not happen until a lot later. I didn’t grow up at all thinking that I wanted to be a writer. I just wanted to read constantly, and so that’s what I did.

Jen: Well, okay. So let’s pick up that thread because when you were little, you described your ultimate fantasy as having a farmhouse.

Shannan: Yes.

Jen: You actually conjured that. You did, that came about for you. So I want to talk a little bit about how that piece of your life was sort of formed and came to be, and then how that rolled a little bit into Flower Patch Farmgirl.

Shannan: Yeah, that’s kind of the life that I grew up in. So I lived in—my parents still live there in Ohio—this really beautiful . . . to me, it’s really beautiful. It’s nothing special or fancy, but you know, to me it’s still home and super meaningful. But it was a white farmhouse on two acres.

My dad was not a farmer. Sometimes we had cows, and sometimes we had pigs when I was growing up. We were not farm people. But we were country people.

I remember my dad, he did that sweet dad thing of telling us often that he had the best three kids there ever were. But he often kind of connected that to where we lived. He would say, “Oh, you know, we’re out here on God’s country and this is . . . You can’t run off with your friends every time you want to.”

We had a little bit of like a buffer there. And he, in his mind, and I don’t necessarily carry, I don’t hold that as necessarily being true. And he was also forgetting a lot the terrible things we had done and would do in those moments.

Jen: Of course.

Shannan: But you know, I think that was key for me in building this idea of like, Oh, this is what kids need, this is what makes . . . we’re going back to that earlier question of, What can we prescribe for ourselves to ensure that our kids don’t make mistakes? And so I had always kind of heard that message of “You live out in the country, and you’re kind of away from things.” And there was a little bit of kind of that fear of “the world” happening. “So keep us kind of sequestered a little bit as much as you can.”

But beyond that, I always feel like I’m kind of a farm girl at heart. I just like that slower pace. I like farmy, kind of rural things. I grew up in a community that was really centered around those things and valued them, and just very salt-of-the-earth people. So along the way, I just decided, This is the life for me. This is the life I want to give my kids someday.

When Cory and I got married, we lived in the crappy basement apartment for a while, and then we lived in Washington DC for a while and worked on Capitol Hill and did some interesting things there. Then we moved back, and eventually we did buy that beautiful white farmhouse that I had dreamed of with the big wide porch and the long lane and the pastures and the everything. And at that point, we really believed that we had arrived.

Jen: Right. And so sort of in that space with those dreams readily in hand, you kind of picked up your pen. This was when Shannan the Reader kind of turned into Shannan the Writer, and you started blogging really back when blogging was in its heyday. And so you started Flower Patch Farmgirl.

What was that like for you, that season of writing and developing your voice and your style and your messaging and your audience? That almost feels like a little bit of glittery magic time from the outside. I don’t know what it was like on the inside.

Shannan: I think it was a really precious time in my life. I had these two babies. At that time, we had Calvin and Ruby. When we moved to the farm, Ruby had just turned a year old, so Calvin would have been a year and a half older than that. So they were both little.

I started that blog, and it’s kinda one of those stories where I remember it was New Year’s Eve. What could be a more New Year’s Eve thing to do than to start a blog?

Jen: That is so true. What year was that? Do you remember?

Shannan: I don’t. I feel like I’ve been saying “10 years ago” for . . . 15.

Jen: About five years. Oh, yeah.

Shannan: I mean, Calvin would have been . . . we’ll just say somewhere around 10 years ago.

Jen: Okay. Yeah.

Shannan: Cory had finally gone to bed that night, and I just remember sitting there and thinking like, Open up. Find out where to blog or how to do that—

Jen: “What is WordPress?”

Shannan: Yes. Right. I remember typing into the . . . you know, where you pick your name because nobody had their actual name.

Jen: Oh right. Everything was cutesy.

Shannan: Everything was cutesy. And you will appreciate this because the first thing I . . . ’cause it’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m thinking, Okay, what should I call this? What do I like? So I type into the search bar “Foodie Farmgirl.”

Jen: Foodie Farmgirl. I love this. I just . . . I almost can’t believe that’s not what it was.

Shannan: It would have been, but somebody already had taken it. So I’m like, Well, okay, crap, that doesn’t work. So okay, what else do I like? Well, I like flowers.

Jen: Uh-huh. Yeah, you’re just going stream of consciousness here.

Shannan: Stream of consciousness. Alliteration helps.

Jen: Sure.

Shannan: Type it in and there it is. And that was my name from that moment on. I gave it no more thought than that.

Jen: Right, 45 seconds.

Shannan: Right. For years after that. I remember thinking, I’m just gonna out myself in all of my insanity and weirdness.

I remember really believing that moment was inspired by the Lord. Like, there could never be a better name than Flower Patch Farmgirl.

Jen: That’s right, that’s right. This was delivered into my brain by the angels.

Shannan: I remember a couple of years prior to that, Cory and I were on a vacation and I remember saying to him, “I just wish there was a way to write about” . . . I was trying to imagine. I didn’t even have the language for what a blog was.

Jen: You were inventing blogging.

Shannan: I was inventing blogging on our vacation.

Jen: Yes, yes.

Shannan: Like, “Wouldn’t that be cool if I could show a picture of our clothesline, and then write words about why clotheslines matter? And then share it with the world?” That was my profile for blogging for a while.

Jen: Totally. Why clotheslines matter. It’s interesting.

I like this part of your story because there’s so much development in there at the time. So much writing development and craft development.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: I deeply tie that into a lot of your work. Can you talk a little bit about how all of this morphed forward in your life when you uprooted—I want you to talk about that—and moved to Goshen?

Shannan: Mm-hmm.

Jen: And then how sort of this work of yours gave way to Falling Free? And how your content shifted so much as your life shifted?

Shannan: Yeah. During that time, I started to see the world through photography. I am not a photographer at all. I mean, I learned the basics. Cory kind of got interested in photography during that time and started to get some better equipment, and I learned just enough. This is before smartphones, you know?

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Shannan: So I had this big honking DSLR camera, and I knew just enough to be dangerous with it.

Jen: Sure. That’s basically my whole life.

Shannan: Right, right. But I found that my writing during that time was really informed by the pictures I was taking. So a lot of times . . . I mean, Jen, I was blogging an obscene amount.

Jen: Mm-hmm. Like, every day.

Shannan: Quite literally. I mean, like, five and six times a week.

Jen: Yup.

Shannan: I don’t even know how that was possible.

Jen: Right. No, it actually seems insane now, that you had toddlers in the house.

Shannan: I just don’t know. Why did that seem like a good idea, much less when did I do it? But what I didn’t realize was, my voice as a writer was sort of blooming. I didn’t know that. I had no aspirations of being a “writer.” I was just messing around and having fun.

Jen: You get to follow where it leads you. There’s just a bit of freedom that you just described in there that sounds really delightful actually.

Shannan: I feel like I spend a lot of my writing life now trying to recapture some of that. It’s hard to do. I think that’s where Instagram and things like that can really fill that gap. Because I think there is something just . . . it’s really beautiful to, like you said, the stakes are really low and we get to just write.

I was writing a lot. The early growth of my blog strangely came through decorating blogs. A couple of them found me. I really thought—

Jen: Not strangely, by the way. I want people to know that they are listening, you’re gifted at this. Say what you want. You have a really creative eye and a really specific design point of view. It is enchanting.

Shannan: Well, thank you. Yeah, I mean, that’s something that I’ve always really enjoyed. So that’s where people started to find me, through some of those things.

Not long after that, Cory and I just had our world just completely rocked. All of this is in Falling Free, so there’s really too much to even go into all of it here. But we just came to a pretty pivotal moment in our faith of realizing that God had more for us, and his more for us was going to look like less.

From that point, we put that farmhouse on the market. Really it’s interesting to think back, because a lot of my blog readers at the time, they had become really attached to my farm.

Jen: Of course.

Shannan: But I didn’t really understand that. I remember thinking, Why do you care? I’ll still be blogging. Why is everybody kind of upset about this? You don’t even know me.

Jen: Yes.

Shannan: But this is the power of writing that I wasn’t even really aware of at the time.

Jen: That’s right. That’s good. Mm-hmm.

Shannan: So yeah, we sold that farm and we moved to just a very ordinary, kind of shabby, pretty overlooked, low-income neighborhood in a nearby city. We didn’t move far. We moved 20 minutes away, but it was like a whole new world for us.

Jen: Totally.

Shannan: At that point, the shift had started to happen. In the months leading up to our move, when everything is kind of stirring inside of us, and during that time we brought Silas home, so that was just a whole new layer of feelings and emotions and you’re processing things. My writing took a pretty sharp turn during that time. But again, I wasn’t thinking through the lens of a businesswoman at all. I wasn’t thinking through the idea of a brand or, What do people expect from me? I was just writing my guts out, which was what I had learned to do. So I went from writing cute kids, what I’m making for dinner, and—

Jen: Curtains.

Shannan: Curtains, yes—to grappling deeply with deep questions of the soul about faith and about finances and about community. So that shift had started to happen. We moved to the city, and that’s the point where I felt like, Okay, these two things are coming together.

At that point, I kind of knew that writing was kind of taking on a life of its own within me. I remember talking to my friend, and I think your friend as well, Emily Freeman.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: I had a conversation with her in person, and I said, “If I’m ever a writer.” And she just hard stop—

Jen: Totally.

Shannan: “Shut your mouth.”

Jen: “What do you mean?”

Shannan: “Just look at me and listen.”

Jen: “What planet are you living on?”

Shannan: Right. I mean, she gave me a real hard, “Look me in the eye, you are a writer now.” I remember being like, “What? I am?” So I’m really grateful for those words because our words that we speak into people’s lives, they take hold sometimes.

Jen: 100%.

Shannan: And they matter. So yeah, I look back now and I say, “I found my voice in the country and then I found my story in the city.”

Jen: That’s so good. Oh my gosh.

Shannan: That’s where it kind of came together. The train left the station at that point.

Jen: It sure did. I was a part of your reader community as you were going through that too. Because you wrote through that season with such sincerity and without any agenda. You’re not an agenda kind of a writer—that comes through true. It didn’t feel jarring. It didn’t scare most of us off. Of course, not me. But I think a lot of your readers stayed because you were our person who had built the farm world for us out of words, and it was sort of that same touch that was bringing us into the city with honesty and with angst. I mean, I couldn’t look away, to be honest.

For everybody listening, if you haven’t read it, this is the story that Shannon writes in her first book, which is called Falling Free. I wrote the Foreword for it. I believe in it so much. It’s lovely. It’s not prescriptive, so I don’t want you to think, “Oh, I don’t need a book to give me steps on . . .” No, it’s not that at all. It’s a story, and it’s really profoundly wonderful.

I want to go back to something you were just talking about when you were talking to Emily. Again, I know that a lot of my listeners already read your work, if for no other reason than I seem like I’m constantly putting you in front of them. I literally put you in all my spaces.

Shannan: Thank you.

Jen: “Here is my friend Shannan. And if you’re not reading her, you’re dumb.”

But, if they’re new to you, I would love for us to talk about this for just a minute before we move into Ministry of Ordinary Places. I’ve said this to you and I’ve said this about you 100 times, you are a writer’s writer. The mere fact that you would ever say, “If I’m ever a writer” makes me want to throw my head back and cackle like a witch. I mean, you are a writer’s writer. So not only do you love books, but you obviously write from a place of someone who cherishes the process, who cherishes the choosing of words the way a story can be unfold, just literary magic. You do. You are a good writer.

I would like to know a little bit more about your process. How do you write best, what does that look like for you, and then ultimately, how did you navigate your way into what looks like more traditional publishing in books that are on a shelf that people can buy with their cash?

Shannan: When I came to the city and to the neighborhood, there was a shift that had to take place. I had to sort of retrain my vision or find a new lens for seeing this. I just remember getting here and thinking like, Okay, here we are. We’re thrilled to be here. It’s exciting. It is vital that I begin to find this beautiful.

So it took some intention there. And my heart just wanted it. I mean, I had to be intentional about it, but I also, for the life of my soul and for my writing, I just started walking around and doing what I did in the country. I’m just gonna go for walks, and I’m just gonna take pictures of things. As I did that, that place in me sort of turned towards the idea that we really can find God’s goodness and his beauty any old place we look.

Jen: That’s right.

Shannan: It’s there, it’s around us. So that’s always been meaningful for me to look at my surroundings. I’ve never thought of this in real formal ways. I’ve never taken a writing class, ever. So in a lot of ways, I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing here. But just to kind of do that thing that seems kind of writerly of like, Okay, what does this make me feel? What am I feeling when I look at this picture? And what does that mean? For me, I’ve always started with the image and built my way out a lot of the times.

Now as far as going a little bit about my publishing journey, I remember right around the time . . . the first year or two that I was here in this house. We’ve been here for six years now. Around that time, a lot of what I would consider like my colleagues, other writers, other bloggers, they were just shooting to the moon with book deals is how it felt for me.

Jen: That’s right, it did.

Shannan: A lot of them had the story of like, “Somebody approached me and offered me a book deal.” Or, “An agent reached out to me and asked me if I would write a book.” I was seeing that happen all around me and I was not seeing it happen to me. I had to really grapple with that. At that point, that was something that I was hoping for and wishing for. I started to come to the place of like, Okay, it’s not gonna happen for me. Nobody’s beating on my door.

And so I took a much more traditional path into publishing. Time just kept passing and I just kept blogging. I just kept doing my thing in those spare moments of life and doing it because I loved it and because I needed it. At some point, somebody connected me with an agent, and we worked on writing a proposal, and we submitted it to publishers. It was all the very sort of traditional way for me.

Jen: Yes, I know. I remember banging your drum really, really hard because there was some sort of arbitrary system in place at the time, when there were such a plethora of writers who had found their space and voice online. I remember just thinking, This feels so clear. This person needs to put books on our shelves.

Shannan: Aw.

Jen: This writer. You know I think that.

Shannan: I know. I’m so grateful.

Jen: You know I mean that sincerely. That’s real. We’re better for it. We’re better for your work. You’re such a good writer. I care about that. You do too.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: I care about it. I love a good story. I adore a good message. But when it is packaged in good writing, that’s it. Lay me out, I’m done.

Shannan: Yes, seriously.

Jen: Stick a fork me. That is it.

Shannan: I cannot go without saying that that is how we found each other, through this time. I will never forget, we lived in a rental house for a little bit in between. That’s where I found you.

Jen: Yeah, I remember.

Shannan: Yeah, the things you were writing about. I talk about what I’m writing about taking a shift, and I’ve really pretty quickly and in a way that probably gave some people a little bit of whiplash, I started writing about some pretty heavy-hitting things.

Jen: You really did.

Shannan: Because I couldn’t help it. And now I know why. Now I know about the Enneagram and it all makes sense.

Jen: It does. You’re like, “Let’s talk about the prison or the school-to-prison pipeline, everybody. Pull up a chair.”

Shannan: But at the same time, I would do that and be like, “And also, this is the recipe of what I’m making for dinner tonight.”

Jen: Yup. And you still do that.

Shannan: I do, I just didn’t know any other way. My eyes were being opened in such a shocking way to injustice. For as long as we had lived life trying to make our life as comfortable and safe and peaceful as possible, it was like the lid blew off. Now I’m really waking up to injustice. I have no option but to write about it.

Jen: I know.

Shannan: But I’m still making dinner too because that’s something I love to do.

Jen: Right. There’s still salsa.

Shannan: Yeah, exactly.

Jen: I know, we don’t have to just select one line item. You do get to live a whole life, and an integrated life which sometimes includes dinner. And it sometimes includes jail.

Shannan: Right. It’s true.

Jen: That’s not necessarily an easy needle to thread. But it does bring us to The Ministry of Ordinary Places, which comes out October 9th?

Shannan: October 9th, yup.

Jen: I want to talk about it for just a minute because we really get a front-row seat to what you’ve learned in the last six years in the city and what you’ve discovered and how your heart is being formed. I really love the approach which is, “This is what we do. This is what we’re afraid of, but here is how we live our life. We live ordinary lives alongside people who don’t necessarily look or think or believe like we do. We’re not scared of that. We don’t remain distant from that or cold from that or afraid or that.”

I literally cannot think of anything we need more than this right now. I can’t think of it.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: When I am looking around at our culture right now, and just . . . it’s frayed at the edges. I mean, it is absolutely frayed. I think this would bring us back to center. I think this would bring us back to the table. I wonder if, just for a minute, you could talk about it. Talk about the book a little bit, talk about what it has to tell us. What we can expect out of it.

Shannan: I think that’s where really the heart of the book was born, was that I was having more and more of those moments that you just described that were like, “This is a disaster.” Just looking around.

I remember one morning showing up—this was a couple of years ago—I showed up at the coffee shop where I spend a lot of time. It’s like my satellite office. I go there and write and whatever.

There was a friend of mine also there. We just gravitated to the same table. We did not mean to meet up, but we did. We just sat there and we both cried. But I was having more of those moments of like, I don’t know what to do with this. The problems feel so big, and I feel so small. I’m feeling all of it and I’m feeling the anxiety. It’s easy to either just throw your hands up and surrender like, Oh well, this is too big and I’m just me so guess I’m not gonna worry about it. It’s easy to just feel overwhelmed or unsure. All of these emotions came in.

Every time that happened . . . I walked away from having coffee with my girlfriend and thinking, This is it. Like, the balm, the salve to some of this high-level anxiety and worry is to just be with the people around us in as meaningful a way as we can.

Jen: That’s so good. That’s the bottom line.

Shannan: Time and time again. Yeah, if we can bring ourselves down out of the clouds of fear and stress and worry and fracture and get low to the ground, really come down to street-level, and look around.

Jen: I want to add to that, even out of the clouds of control and savior-mentality and “I will redeem the neighborhood single-handedly.”

Shannan: Oh my gosh.

Jen: And this sort of “us” and “them” space too. Like, that is an equal temptation.

Shannan: Absolutely.

Jen: None of that has any place.

Shannan: Right. That’s right. That became kind of my mantra after moving to the neighborhood, after the excitement [wore] off. We were excited. We were nervous. We didn’t know why we were here. We’ve learned so much over the past six years of being here. But coming in, we didn’t know a lot. But we knew that we weren’t here to plant a church or to start a food bank.

Jen: Yes, exactly.

Shannan: Or to start a Bible study.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: I mean, we knew. But all that’s fine and good until you settle in and this slowly becomes the new normal. I just remember like, Okay, now what?

Jen: And now what, right.

Shannan: I felt the impulse of like—

Jen: What’s the task?

Shannan: Right. I need to go drum up some business. I need to find something to do.

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Shannan: We found that our life in the neighborhood, while our eyes were being opened to so many things . . . you know, I say all the time that my neighbors have changed my life because they just have. They have stories that are just unbelievable. They’ve lived incomprehensibly hard lives. A lot of our friends are, you know, they’re coming out of incarceration, they’re wrestling through addiction. They’ve grown up in generational poverty. They’re newcomers to our country. I mean, all of these things are true, and so our lives are just . . . You know we’re just sitting here learning to listen and play catch up and learn.

Jen: Totally.

Shannan: But there’s something really meaningful about when I hit that wall of like, Okay, now this is starting to feel comfortable, is that bad? You know now I’m at home here.

Jen: How interesting.

Shannan: Do I need to move again? You know and every time I just felt that the answer was to just really pay attention.

Jen: Interesting.

Shannan: It sounds so basic, but to get really intentional about looking around. And what I started to see was that a lot of these problems that I felt like, Well I can’t do anything about that, they would kind of present themselves in my place, in my world in a small way. It’s like these problems that are in the news cycles and in our Twitter feeds or whatever, if you boil them down, a lot of times we can see a similar pain right where we are in our neighborhood.

Jen: Sure.

Shannan: And like you said, at that point, it’s not a matter of, Well I guess I’m gonna go fix this person.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: But what it really is is like really drawing near to that person, really drawing near to the person around you, the people around you and learning to love them like we’re really called to do. And it’s not hard. I mean, that’s what I find. It’s not hard to love my neighbors. And it’s very rich and rewarding and humbling to really be loved by them. To learn to receive from them. To not always be the giver, but to be really receiving from them.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: It just changed everything for us. It changed the way we think. We started to really kind of pick apart our faith and figure out what needed to stay and what needed to go and you know put it back together. And I mean it just changed everything.

Jen: Tell us a little bit more about your neighbors. Like, what’s one of your favorite stories about your neighbors that you included in the book?

Shannan: You know writing can sometimes be a little bit magical. And let me first start off by saying like I do not take lightly sharing any part of my neighbors’ stories in any of my writing.

Jen: Oh, I know you don’t. Oh, I know you don’t. You’re super careful.

Shannan: It’s the tension that I hope I always carry with trembling hands. But it’s pretty meaningful because the people that I write about, they’re my truest and closest friends.

Jen: Right, exactly.

Shannan: They’re people that we see many times a week that are in our homes and we’re in their homes. And so it’s important for me to go to them and say like, “Here’s what I wrote. Are you okay with this? Do you want me to change your name or do you want your regular name?”

Jen: Totally. I have to do that all the time.

Shannan: It’s important.

Jen: Because we write about the people that we love.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: And we write about the people that are in our lives. And so, yes, of course.

Shannan: And it’s important to tell these stories and to tell them carefully and with a lot of tenderness. But you know we find, and Cory finds this with his friends at the jail, they’re just by in large they’re super excited to be a part of it.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: And they generally want their real names to be used.

Jen: Their name used, yeah.

Shannan: Cory, when he takes pictures in the jail, if the guys haven’t been sentenced, they have to cover their face up, like, you can’t show them.

Jen: Oh yeah.

Shannan: And so they’ll hold a book in front of their face or whatever, but Cory’s like, “We had to take this picture 20 times because people kept dropping the book on purpose. They want their faces to be seen.”

Jen: That’s hilarious. Oh my gosh, I love that.

Shannan: They’re just incredible people.

Jen: That’s so cute.

Shannan: But I wrote, in Falling Free, about a couple of our friends. And at the time I didn’t know them well, and I wrote it as a kind of side story.

I’m in my house one day doing my thing. I’m in the phase where I’m pretty desperate to get to know my neighbors. And I hear this rowdy band of chaos walk passed my living room windows. And what I discerned was that they had a child who needed a bathroom STAT.

Jen: Right now, uh-huh.

Shannan: And so I flew out the door. I’ve never seen these people before.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: And I said, “Do you wanna come in and use my bathroom?” And they did.

Jen: Yes. A mom move.

Shannan: And so, you know, I ended up like sticking my foot in my mouth during that time. And that was really the last time I saw them. Our neighborhood is full of rental properties, they were renting and then they were gone.

A couple of years after that, I was in church. This woman came up to me and was like, “Hi.” You know, she suddenly knew who I was. And she knew who I was because she had just been to jail and was now out of jail, but had read my book while she was in jail. Like the whole things was nonsense crazy.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: Now, fast forward into the writing of this book, and they’re like a humongous part of my life. They are tremendously dear and special people. They’re coming up on year of sobriety, both of them, right now.

Jen: Yes.

Shannan: They just had a new adorable little baby. And they are the family that just moved into the new jail ministry house.

Jen: Yep.

Shannan: So this is where I see, you know, let’s not despise really ordinary things and really ordinary moments.

Jen: That’s great.

Shannan: It sounds so trite, but that impulse that I had to just like offer them my bathroom.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: It came full circle.

Jen: It sure did.

Shannan: And that’s where I also key into the truth of, like, it matters when we can commit to something for the long haul. Like they had lived an entire lifetime from Falling Free to The Ministry of Ordinary Places.

Jen: That’s true.

Shannan: But when they came back, we were still here.

Jen: Good.

Shannan: And I don’t know that we’ll always be here. I kinda hope we are. I keep kind of throwing that out to God whenever I have the opportunity.

Jen: Just letting your wishes be known.

Shannan: We’d sure like to say, just want to put that on the record.

Jen: Sure.

Shannan: But I think there’s something really meaningful about until we’re told otherwise, to really stick around. Because sometimes just being present, being available, it really is the most important thing we can do.

Jen: I cannot agree more. And you know I was with you on your proposed book title.

Shannan: Yes.

Jen: Which involves that beautiful turn of phrase, which was Love Song for the Long Haul.

Shannan: Yes.

Jen: And I just think it’s profoundly simple, if I could juxtapose to such words. And you talk about this at great length too as you engage your church, which is also in your neighborhood.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: And of course we’ve gotta immediately dispel so much of the church development content that we are fed, which is you know bigger, shinier, fancier, sexier, and become a people who love our weird, clunky, awkward little churches.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: And just stay. And we just stay.

Shannan: We just stay.

Jen: And there’s something so holy in it. And it feels so sacred to me, and it feels so grounded and good. And you do this too. This is your ministry of stay.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: And of presence. And bathrooms.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: And I mean this is the stuff of life. And so I love this.

What would you say that, I mean it’s hard, I know it’s hard to speak for them—

Shannan: Mm-hmm.

Jen: But what do you think your kids have learned in Goshen in the last six years? Of course these are the formative part of their childhood at this point.

Shannan: Right, right. That’s what I was gonna say. For, especially for Silas and even Ruby, this is really all they’re ever . . . I mean Ruby kind of remembers, you know they both kind of have these bits. Silas still calls our farmhouse “the house with a lot of cats.” Because we had two cats, two barn cats.

Jen: It’s two. Wow. Overrun.

Shannan: That will forever be “the house with a lot of cats.” We were the cat people.
Jen: That’s hysterical.

Shannan: So they kind of remember it. And Calvin was in second grade when we moved here. I mean like you said, their formative years have happened here.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: And my hope, I’m always like, Who knows who this is gonna shake out?

Jen: Totally, me too.

Shannan: Some of them are gonna go all in on this. Some are gonna grow up and say, “Boy, they just screwed it all up and got it wrong. We’re gonna do the opposite.” I have no predictions.

Jen: Who knows. Yeah.

Shannan: Because, like we said earlier, like we’re not the boss of this. This isn’t my job.

Jen: Yeah, that’s right.

Shannan: I’m doing the best that I can and I hope that . . . Where I grew up I had a beautiful childhood, but it was a very homogenous existence that I was in. Everybody looked like me. Everybody believed like me. Everybody was the same sort of working class to middle class. And I have amazing parents, so I don’t wanna to put this too heavily on them, but I absorbed the idea that there were good people and there were bad people, and that I should stay away from the bad people, and that I was one of the good people.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: And I hope that, you know, living in this neighborhood, in the community, for one thing, I mean, you know my kids were all adopted. I have brown kids and black kids.

Jen: Right.

Shannan: But I hope that they are really seeing just a truer and wider picture of the kingdom.

Jen: Yes.

Shannan: And yeah, that’s really fundamentally my base hope is that they see a very wide representation of the image of God and of who carries that image of God. And that they can also see, you know—

Jen: That’s good.

Shannan: When we’re near people who . . . Cory and I are always amazed by the humility of some of our friends. There’s no pretense, they’re not trying to hide their past. They’re not trying to be sneaky or put on any airs. And what that does is it invites us to do the same.

Jen: That’s exactly right.

Shannan: It’s invites us to drop the mask, to be who we are in all of our own wonkiness and the ways we feel misfit to talk about our mistakes. It just invites a real level of vulnerability and authenticity, and that’s the stuff that I hope my kids carry on.
Jen: And they will. I just deeply believe that that is all caught.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: It’s just because it’s the air they breathe. It’s not that you’re sitting down and doing your family devos, you know.

Shannan: Right. We’re not so good at that.

Jen: It’s not . . . That’s never gonna work in families like ours. Never. My kids would look like I sprouted two heads if I did that.

Shannan: Right, like you talk about having a spicy family. We are very much with you.

Jen: I know you are.

Shannan: And this is the cards we’ve been dealt, and they’re pretty fun cards.

Jen: They’re fun cards. I want them. I like the cards.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: But, what it just means is we have to build a life in a world, in a neighborhood and connectivity that our kids will see and experience, not just hear about.

Shannan: Right.

Jen: And so I’m cashing my chips there. We’ll see. It’s too soon for any of us to know. Like you said there’s no predictions.

Shannan: I know. It’s a crapshoot.

Jen: What’s a crapshoot? Will it stick? No idea.

You know I just love your life. And I respect you and Cory so much. And I love following you. I love learning from you. I find your voice so truthful and good. And I can suss that out. I know when that’s not the case.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: And so I’m just so grateful that you are continuing to be afforded new ways to bring your voice and your story to the rest of us, that your work is growing because I want people to read it and experience it. And so I’m just excited for you. And I’m excited about this book. I can’t wait. It’s about to come out. And as you know, I will stand on my chair, and I will do all the cheers. I will do a high kick.

Shannan: I can’t wait.

Jen: I can’t either actually and maybe I’ll take a picture of that.

Let me ask three quick questions as we wrap this up.

Shannan: Sure.

Jen: This is what we’re asking everybody in the book series. Here’s the first one: what’s the first book that you ever read where you distinctly remember, Oh my gosh, that a serious impact on me?

Shannan: You know I would have to say for me it was a particular author and her name is Elizabeth Berg. I think I have harped on you before about reading her work.

Jen: Yes.

Shannan: And if you haven’t yet, I mean she’s a real prolific women’s fiction writer. Her body of work, I’ve read every single book she’s written. For a while she was coming out with like a book a year.

Jen: Yeah.

Shannan: But her writing style, like, she is the author that kinda made me think maybe this writing thing was a cool idea.

And she, Jen, she writes about food like you would not believe. She writes characters that you just fall in love with. It’s easy reading. And so sometimes people get snobby about that. I’m all for like a really compelling, easy read. In a picture, she kinda showed me what it looks like to write like the true heart of a character and to not get so caught up. She’s a beautiful writer.

Jen: She’s for real legit. Okay, that’s fine. Listen everybody, we’ll link to all her stuff so you can experience the magic.

How about this: what’s one book in your life—I can’t remember if you and I have talked about being re-readers or not—what’s one book in your life that you have read over and over?

Shannan: There are only a few. I’m not a big re-reader. I feel like if you plumbed the depths of your soul, you would know the answer to this, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

Jen: Okay.

Shannan: It is easilyTattoos on the Heart.

Jen: Oh, of course. Of course. Of course it is.

Shannan: I mean there are a couple of novels that I . . . There’s one called Love Walked In.

Jen: Oh I know, you and I, Marisa . . .

Shannan: De los Santos.

Jen: De los Santos. Love her writing.

Shannan: There is one by, is it Curtis . . . no, no, no wrong author. I don’t know. There are a couple of novels that I . . . The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel.

Jen: Okay.

Shannan: Those are a couple of novels that I’ve reread, and some Elizabeth Berg. But Tattoos on the Heart, that could really be my answer to any reading question.

Jen: Yeah. I read that because of you solely.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: And he is a spectacular gift to this planet.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: He is so, so special.

One last twist on Barbara Brown’s question. Do you have book right now that I saving your life?

Shannan: Mm-hmm. There are a couple. First of all, I feel like I want all of my answers to be like, “Well, part one.”

Jen: Okay yeah, A.

Shannan: A. I’m really, really digging and appreciating and loving and learning from The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper.

Jen: Totally.

Shannan: And I, you know when I’m finding these books, I’m like passing them to Cory. Cory does book clubs in the jail a lot. And I’ve just become, over the past year, I have been really intentional about reading from people of color.

Jen: Yeah, me too.

Shannan: And it’s interesting how hard we have to try sometimes to do that.

Jen: That’s absurd.

Shannan: It is forever a lesson to me of like you know it shouldn’t require quite so much intentionality, but it kind of does for now until we can change that.

Jen: That’s right. Absolutely.

Shannan: So her book was really pivotal for me. And then, you know, from there I mean I had read The New Jim Crow, that was just fantastic. Have you read anything by Jesmyn Ward?

Jen: No.

Shannan: Oh my gosh.

Jen: Give me a title. Because I might know a title and not an author.

Shannan: The one that I loved from her, and it was a recent read, I mean it’s kind of a hard read, so I don’t know how you feel, like you know it’s talking about more of like gritty sorts of things. But for me as the mom of Robert, like, it was hugely important.

Jen: Sure.

Shannan: But the one that I loved was called The Men We Reaped or Men We Reaped.

Jen: Wow that’s a powerful title.

Shannan: I think that’s memoir. That’s memoir. I mean she’s fantastic. I mean The Hate U Give, fantastic.

Jen: Oh right of course. And I had Lisa Sharon Harper on the podcast and we talked about her book and her work.

Shannan: Yeah.

Jen: And to this day, I mean that was probably two or three months ago, we’re still getting emails, still, of people saying, “My mind is blown. I’ve never heard anybody say some of that before.”

Shannan: Oh yeah.

Jen: “I never picked up any of those threads, ever.” And just, you’re right, it’s profound.

Shannan: She’s brilliant. I’m pretty sure I texted you after that one, like, “What is happening?” I mean and then I listened to it again with Cory, I’ve sent it to my parents who don’t know who to listen to a podcast, so whatever.

Jen: God bless.

Shannan: But I’ve tried. Everybody should go back in and listen to that episode again. She’s just a brilliant woman who inspires so much action.

Jen: Yeah, she is.

Shannan: We just believe, Cory and I’s whole thing that we try to operate under is the way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives.

Jen: Good. That’s so good.

Okay, listen, real quick. Tell everybody just where they can find you, what you’re working on now, all that good stuff.

Shannan: Yeah. So I blog still.

Jen: Bravo.

Shannan: Not five to six times a week.

Jen: Yes.

Shannan: Every now and then I still do blog at I’m very active on Twitter and Instagram, they are both my equal favorites. And I’m @shannonwrites there. Yeah, my book is available for preorder right noand so you can find all of the information and download gorgeous free artwork from a stunningly talented artist, Amanda Evanston.

Jen: I saw that.

Shannan: You can find all of that at Yeah. I’m easy to find.

Jen: She’s special. I didn’t know her until I started seeing you post stuff of about her. Really fabulous. And if you’re listening and you’re like at the gym or wherever, whatever you’re doing when you listen to podcasts, if you go over to we’ll have literally all of this linked. All of Shannan’s socials, the book site, everything, everything, everything.

Okay, well you know I just love you so. And I love your family and I love your life. And I’m just so glad to be your sister and your friend. So thank you for this labor of love of putting this next book into the world. It’s gonna be a true gift. I cannot wait for everybody to read it and love it and be moved by it. And so thank you for being on today.

Shannan: Thank you so much. I loved it. Have a good day.

Jen: Love her. Love her, love her. Love her dearly. She is a good egg. Good egg.

So like I mentioned, everything she talked about, all of her spaces, socials, sites, books, recommendations, we’ll have it all linked over at, underneath the Podcast tab where my amazing assistant and partner, Amanda, builds out a transcript page for you every single week that I hope you are taking advantage of. It is phenomenal. Not only can you find the written interview, but it’s bonus content and pictures, and links and everything that you could possibly want built around that conversation. So it is a tool that we are delighted to provide for you, and I hope that you are absolutely enjoying it.

My team and I love working for you, we love bringing you these guests and this amazing content every week. That is my producer Laura and her crew who work so much and so hard on all this. So anyway, thank you for being here week in and week out.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, I’m very proud of this community. I’m very proud of my listeners. I’m not afraid to put anybody in front of you. And I know that you will treat their stories with respect and with intelligence and with care. And so thank you for being fabulous and sharing this podcast all the time. You do that so much. And for subscribing and for rating it and reviewing it, that’s so great for us you guys. And we are grateful. Grateful, grateful, grateful.

Next week’s gonna be fun. You’re not gonna wanna miss is. So come back, we have plenty more where this all came from. So in the meantime, have a fabulous week, and we’ll see you next time.

Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!


connect with shannan martin: 


  • authorschool Visit today to learn more about the Clumsy Blogger’s Workshop and AuthorBlog web design service, and claim your 10% discount on either service.
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