Shannon Taylor Vannatter – The Story Behind the Story – Part 2 of 3

Today I’m sharing my inspiration for my newest release, Rodeo Family. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: Jan 17th, 11:59 pm central time.

Rodeo Family by Shannon Taylor VannatterInspiration for Tori EatonInspiration for Brant McConnell

Tori’s Story

When I wrote Rodeo Song, it was supposed to be the final title in my Texas Rodeo series. But as I brought the character of Tori Eaton to life, she bothered me. Many times over the years, I’ve written a side character whose life is a mess and they start haunting me. I have to figure out how they got so off track and what would make them turn their lives around.

We first saw Tori as the heroine’s employee. She nagged her boss into going to a country music concert with her because she’d lost her license due to a DUI. Her boss agreed on one condition—Tori had to go to church with her. Tori agreed, but of course she had no intention of going.

After the concert, the twosome ended up backstage and Tori disappeared with a married band member. Her boss was the kind of person who couldn’t just leave Tori to find her own way home. She tracked her down and drove Tori home in a drunken stupor. But instead of taking her home, Tori ended up at her boss’ house and was forced to attend church the next morning.

With a hangover, nothing sank in and Tori continued her reckless lifestyle. Midway through the book, she had a pregnancy scare. Her boss saw her through the turmoil and the test was negative. But Tori still refused to change her life.

Initially Tori was just a tool to get the heroine into the bad situation I needed her to be in. But as Tori haunted me and I pondered on her background, I came up with reasons for her to be like she was. Selfish and not grateful enough to make any changes just because her boss helped her over and over. Then I dug deeper. What if Tori had a horrible childhood?

Something that I thought might make her change was getting involved with an abusive boyfriend. I had to figure out why she would end up with a man like that. Which led me back to her childhood—Tori came from an abusive home and eventually toured with her abusive parent, a country music star.

So once I brought Tori full circle into an abusive relationship as an adult, her boss was still there willing to lend a hand. And Tori took it. I had to break her before she went to church with her boss again and this time it took.

Once her spiritual life was in order, I knew it would take a special, very kind man to tempt Tori to take a chance on love. Through the course of her story, he’s supportive, protective, and gentle. But as in life, even after she accepted Jesus as her savior, she still has to deal with the consequences of her former lifestyle. The difference, Tori had Jesus to lean on. And eventually Brant.

I enjoyed transforming Tori into a new creature and watching her blossom and I always feel like God gives me the topics He wants me to tackle. It’s my sincere hope that Tori can inspire women in abusive relationships or reckless lifestyles to make a change and look to Jesus.

Note: I used the pictures above to inspire me for Tori and Brant. Here’s my Pinterest page for the book if you want to see pictures that inspired scenes in the book, the cover, and Tori’s clothes since she dreams of being a fashion designer:

About Shannon: Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

She has ten published titles and is contracted for five more. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at

Connect with her on Facebook:, Goodreads:, Pinterest:, and Twitter: @stvauthor.

About the book – Rodeo Family:


She’s beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori’s surprised at the helping hand the church’s new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.

Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she’s built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he’s exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?

 Question: Since Tori dreams of being a fashion designer, are you fashion conscious? Name brand, or bargain?

Come back Jan 12th for an excerpt from Rodeo Reunion!

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