Author Interview Header
Author Interview,  Giveaway

Author Interview with Shaen Layle & a Giveaway

By Deena Adams

Help me welcome Cozy Mystery author, Shaen Layle, to the blog this week. I met Shaen through another online writer friend, and I’m excited to introduce you to her and her books.

Shaen has generously offered a hardback copy of her recent release, Secondhand Chances, to one person who comments on this post by May 4, so don’t miss out!

Now, let’s get to know Shaen!

Welcome to the blog, Shaen! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

My family is one of the dearest blessings of my life. My husband, Danny, is an artist who owns his own graphic design business, and we have two rambunctious-but adorable!-little boys who are eight and four. The boys have a creative streak like Danny and I do and love drawing, playing music, reading, writing, and inventing. It’s a good thing we all get along so well because we spend tons of time together, since Danny and I both work from home, and we homeschool the boys! A big future dream we have is to travel the US together in an RV (well, okay… it’s my dream. I’m still convincing Danny).

Sounds like a fun, busy family life. And traveling the US would be fabulous! Share with us why you decided to write suspense/mystery novels.

It’s kind of a funny story, but I didn’t really choose to write mystery novels in particular. I was still writing and trying to find “my genre” when Guideposts kindly offered me an opportunity to write a cozy mystery for one of their continuity series, Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard.

I wrote that first book for them, and I’ve never really looked back! I love writing about tight-knit communities, quirky characters, and putting together puzzle-like plots! 

What a fun genre to write! On a more serious note, how do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?

It may sound odd, but I don’t always start out a story thinking, this is my message, here’s what I specifically want to say. There are stories that start that way, certainly, but for a lot of my writing, I like to let the characters breathe a little and wander around on the page. 

Before long, I start to figure out what I’m really struggling to say through them. 

My current work-in-progress, a book for Guideposts’ Miracles and Mysteries of Mercy Hospital, took me one hundred pages to discover that the true message of the novel was that while people can support us when we’re struggling, God is the only one who can truly heal our hearts of deep wounds.

That’s a great theme. Let’s talk research. How long do you spend on research before you begin writing the book?

It depends. My cozies typically take a lot of research because I’m usually being presented with a brand-new setting with which I have to have a certain comfort level. 

The last book I turned in took place in Savannah, which I had thankfully visited years earlier and had a frame of reference for. But for other stories, I spend a lot of time doing virtual “walks” on Google Maps or watching tour guide videos on YouTube. 

Technology is a great tool for writers, isn’t it? I’m curious what your writing space looks like.

Pretty Spartan! I get super distracted by visual clutter, so I try to keep my desk to the (mostly) bare basics: my binder of research and notes, my reading glasses and blue light glasses, headphones, a cup full of pens and colored highlighters. 

I also include a couple of special items that just make me smile, like photos of my family, some cute drawings from my boys, and cards I’ve received from some dear readers who have also become good friends.

How wonderful to have readers become friends. God is all about us developing relationships, right? What did the Lord teach you through the writing of Secondhand Chances?

Secondhand Chances was an important book for me, as it was my first solo full-length novel. 

When I first started working on the book, I was very optimistic and excited. I felt like I was bubbling over with ideas. Then I hit the dreaded middle (also referred to by frustrated writers as “the muddle”) and started to lose steam. 

I had several weeks of extreme writer’s block and creative fatigue, something I had never really dealt with before and hopefully, won’t deal with to that extent again. I realized that I had to let God carry the book. I simply couldn’t do it on my own, no matter how much my control-loving, Type A personality wanted to! 

With every project since then, He’s been so good to guide me and keep me from getting overwhelmed by the creative process. 

I can relate to that Type-A personality, control thing. How do you balance writing with your other life and family obligations?

Very carefully, lol! To answer the question a little more seriously, I make use of a lot of tools that other people do, I’m sure. I’m a planner by nature and follow a fairly rigid weekday routine. This includes my Bible study time, time to walk or work out, time to get my boys ready for the day and get their schooling done, time to write/edit, etc. 

The day doesn’t always go as planned, so I sometimes have to adjust, but time-blocking like this is the best way I’ve found to stay on top of things. 

My husband (who also works from home running his graphic design business) also shares responsibilities with me, and we try to be flexible when one of us has a deadline approaching. He’s a big part of how I can manage to do what I do on any given day (and hopefully, he feels like I support him in the same way!). 

With so much to juggle, blocking time is a necessity for sure. And you have to work in time to read, right? Who is your favorite fiction author? 

Oh, my, what a tough question! That’s like asking who my favorite child is! Can you ever just pick one?! 

That said, I adore Lisa Wingate for her stellar writing combined with thought-provoking plotlines, Amanda Dykes for her lyrical use of language, and Nicole Deese for the sweet and moving stories she creates. 

Other favorites include Janine Rosche, Elizabeth Byler Younts, Jolina Petersheim… you see, I could go on all day 😊

You mentioned a couple of my favorites. Besides posting comments on your website, how can your readers and fans support you? 

They can find me online and continue the bookish conversation there! I love chatting with readers and try to post regularly on most of my social media channels. (Links below with bio).

Also, can I mention reviews? One of the kindest things you can do for an author you support is to leave thoughtful reviews of their books on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. Those reviews are worth their weight in gold, believe me!

Yes! Review, review, review! Any last words for your readers?

Thanks so much for your support, I appreciate you all, and (I have to give my signature sendoff!) keep reading! Thank you, Deena, for hosting me on your blog today!

It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, Shaen. Thanks so much for sharing about yourself and your writing through this interview. May God continue to bless you as you write for Him.

Join the conversation. Do you enjoy reading cozy mysteries? Can you relate to Shaen’s struggle to let go of control and leave everything in God’s hands? As a reader, do you enjoy connected with authors on a personal level?

Don’t forget to leave a comment by May 4 to be entered into the giveaway for Shaen’s book!

Secondhand Chances by Shaen Layle

Click the book cover for the Guideposts purchase link.

As the much-anticipated date approaches for the double wedding of Elizabeth to John and Mary to Bill, the Classen sisters are trying their best to get everything just right. While Martha deals with the picky wedding cake baker, who just can’t seem to make up her mind, the sisters receive a flurry of incoming mail.

To their delight, most of it consists of congratulations and RSVPs for the wedding ceremony. However, one letter in a bright red envelope stands out…an anonymous poison pen letter demanding that the sisters vacate their home and store immediately.

At first, the sisters think they are the sole targets of the letter writer, but as the days pass, they soon discover they aren’t the only ones in Bird-in-Hand who have been receiving hostile mail.

In the flurry of trying to uncover the anonymous letter writer, old suspicions are raised and long held grudges are unearthed. Can the Classen sisters solve their latest mystery before two of them say “I do”?

Shaen Layle Photo

Shaen Layle is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes inspirational cozy mystery from her home in the Midwest, where she lives with her artist husband, Danny, two rambunctious, but adorable, little boys, and their shelter pup, Violet.

Trained as a literary novelist, and with a decade of librarianship under her belt, she loves discussing all things bookish with readers on her website and on social media.

Connect with Shaen: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Goodreads

Please share this interview on social media to help promote Shaen and her books!

If you missed last week’s post, Five Must-Read Contemporary Christian Novels, find it here.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Deena Adams

    Congratulations to Traci Winget! You are the winner of Shaen’s book. Look for an email from her soon.

    Thanks to everyone who joined the conversation. Maybe you’ll win next time, so keep on reading and commenting!

  • Sharon K Connell

    I feel like Shaen and I are soul-sisters with our writing. And what a great story to set in Bird-in-Hand. I remember walking the streets of that quaint community when visiting Pennsylvania.

    Although I don’t write “cozy” mysteries, I’m adding more and more mystery to my stories all the time. It’s so much fun. I do love reading cozies though. And, like you, Shaen, I try to add as many quirkly characters to the story as possible. Even in the most suspenseful stories, you need a good laugh now and then.

    Don’t listen to Dave. LOL That’s all I’ll say about that. (Sorry, Dave. snicker)

    Thank you, Deena, for introducing a new author to my list of TBR books. Wonderful interview.

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks so much for reading, Sharon! Quirky characters are fun to read. I need to add some to my novels. You’re another one I admire for homeschooling! Well done.

    • Shaen Layle

      Waving at you from afar, Sharon! I see your name floating around all over the blogosphere and am so happy we seem to have a lot in common 🙂

      Mystery is a lovely and natural addition to books, I think! We’re all readers partly because of our curiosity, so it makes sense that we’d enjoy a heaping dollop of puzzle-solving along the way. And I just can’t seem to keep quirky characters from cropping up, either! They are too much fun, and we all need more laughter in our lives.

      Poor Dave 🙁 I am secretly rooting for his comment, but then again, I’m rooting for everyone’s comments, so I’m sure things get cancelled out that way, lol.

      Thanks so much for commenting, Sharon! It’s lovely to hear from you.

  • Shaen Layle

    Deena, I just wanted to say a big thank you for inviting me to be on the blog this week! I appreciate you and everything you do to encourage all of us in the Christian Fiction community.

  • Cherie j

    Great interview! It is always fun to get know a new author. I also homeschool my kids so I could totally relate to her on that aspect of life. The book sounds like a really fun story too. I love reading cozy mysteries because they are so light and fun to read. It is hard to let go. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I also struggle with it.

    • Shaen Layle

      Cherie, thanks so much for commenting! That’s great, that you homeschool your kids, too; I’ve met so many wonderful homeschooling families over the past year since we started 🙂 And I hear you on the perfectionistic thing. God is working on me a lot with that! Thanks so much for stopping by, and hope you enjoy reading!

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Cherie! I admire those who homeschool their children. Such hard work but I’m sure it’s so rewarding. I’m trying to let go of my perfectionism, too. It’s hard, isn’t it?

  • Teresa+Moyer

    Love hearing about new to me authors. I love a good mystery so I look forward to this book!

  • Sue Tune

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview with Shaen. We became friends with her and her parents when we went to church together in Southeast Missouri. Shaen was so sweet; always wore a smile. I certainly wish her the best with her life’s passion for writing.

    • Shaen Layle

      Hi, Sue!!! Thought about you all the other day when I was driving through Fredericktown. Miss getting to see you all as often and hope that you, Gary, and the whole family are doing great! 🙂

  • Carol Kittle

    Thank you Deena, for sharing this interesting interview. I am always looking for new authors and I know I can always trust your judgement. I will be looking for Shaen’s books to purchase and share with my friends here in New Mexico. Thank you!!

      • Lynn Moore

        Loved the interview. Warm & personable to say the least! And, a book that includes “community & quirky characters” is right up my alley. I’ll be checking out your books soon. Blessings to you & your busy life.
        Please keep writing & I’ll keep reading!

        Take Care!
        Lynn MOORE 🌺

    • Shaen Layle

      Thanks so much for your comment, Carol, and I do hope you enjoy my books! I try very hard to be true to the message I feel God is laying on my heart when I write, and I pray that comes through in the stories I craft 🙂

  • Amre Cortadino

    Thank you, Deena, for interviewing Shaen, someone I consider a dear friend!!! Shaen wears so many hats so well and so graciously!! She is an amazing person and a brilliant writer!! I just finished a novel she co-authored with her mom-in-love, Nancy Mehl – A Slowly Developing Story. LOVED IT! A perfect read for a rainy Saturday! It’ll be a pleasure to read more books authored by her!

    God bless you both!

    • Deena Adams

      Thanks so much for reading and joining the conversation, Amre! It was a pleasure to feature Shaen on the blog. I look forward to reading her books! Blessings to you as well my friend.

    • Shaen Layle

      Amre, you are one of my favorite people! A compliment from you means so much 🙂 And I am thrilled that you liked A Slowly Developing Story. It was so fun to write. Many blessings to both you and Deena!

  • Dave

    Such a fun looking read!

    Go, little comment. Get in there and win, win, win, so I can read this fun, fun book.

      • Linda McKain

        Deena, I receintly discovered your blog & I have enjoyed them. I especially enjoyed this post because it has brought to my attention a new author I’m looking forward to reading her books. I love love love the book cover graphics it’s so inviting, I wish I could visit that barn.

        I also homeschooled my children & my children are homeschooling their’s. They often call me in to lend a hand & I love it. I marvel at great job my children are doing with their children, they often say they had a good teacher, & I feel blessed.

        I’m gonna try out the Google walk, Shaen , thank you for sharing that idea.

        Thank you ladies for a great read.

        • Deena Adams

          Hi Linda! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. I hope you find some new authors you’ll love, including Shaen. I agree about the book cover! It’s so inviting.

          Sounds like you’ve done a wonderful job with your children and you’re reaping the blessings with your grandchildren. Enjoy them!

          Thanks for reading and joining the conversation.

        • Shaen Layle

          Thanks so much for your comment, Linda! It sounds like we have a little homeschool club started in this comments section alone, lol. I love that your children are following in your footsteps- that’s certainly a testament to the wonderful foundation you laid for them.

          The design company Guideposts works with for these covers does a great job. I’ve been so pleased with all the book covers they’ve done for my stories and am glad you think it looks inviting, too! Happy reading 🙂

  • Deena Adams

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Traci! I need to check out the Google walks too. The internet is great for book research! Hope you enjoy Shaen’s books. 😊

  • Traci Winget

    Honestly, I’ve never heard if a ‘cozy mystery’, but am looking forward to reading your writings.
    I’m a boy-mom too, and know you have your hands full!! What kind of dog is your rescue?
    I also anticipate checking out ‘Walks on Google Maps” and watching tour guide videos on YouTube 😊 Thanks for the heads up!

    • Shaen Layle

      Hi, Traci! Cozies are a lot of fun to read. They’re typically gentler, “cozier” versions of mysteries. Our Guideposts’ cozies mostly deal with crimes like theft, missing people, arson, things like that.

      Sons are great, aren’t they? (But boy, I sure wish I had more energy to keep up with them!! I guess coffee will have to suffice 😉 ) Our dog is a mix: half chihuahua and half dachshund. She is the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned. Loves to play but also loves to cuddle. Do you have any pets?

      Thanks for reading, Traci!