Imagine laboring for five years on your first novel. You shop it around to agents and editors—only to be rejected 50 consecutive times. The discouragement alone might end your career.

Not if you’re John Shors. The Lafayette-based author, a one-time newspaper reporter and former vice president of Denver’s GroundFloor Media, has been churning out nearly a novel a year since that thwarted start in 2006. His latest, Temple of a Thousand Faces (New American Library), hits bookshelves this month. And that first spurned novel? Beneath a Marble Sky became an international best seller, thanks largely to his own marketing savvy: Shors launched an innovative book club program which cast him as the guest speaker at thousands of gatherings around the world.

Although his repertoire includes contemporary novels, Shors has found a niche in historical fiction. Having traveled extensively throughout Asia—where his stories have been set thus far—Shors has a knack for reconstructing real events and vivid imagery. “I feel like I filled a [literary] need by bringing these wondrous places to life,” he says.

And so it is with Temple of a Thousand Faces, a portrayal of rival 12th-century civilizations as they conquer, love, and die in the shadow of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple. Only one eye-witness account of the temple’s history during that time exists, Shors says. “In some ways, that gave me latitude to just run with the story.” It’s the same reason he chose the Great Wall of China as the setting of his next epic love story, on tap for 2014. As in the past, Shors will donate some proceeds from the new book’s sales to the people who inspired his writing—in this case, a Cambodian children’s hospital. “I feel very strongly,” Shors says, “that the success of my novels shouldn’t just benefit me.”

Meet the author: Catch Shors at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch on February 11, 7:30 p.m. Exclusive: What’s on your nightstand? Author John Shors tells us what he’s reading when he’s not penning his next epic tale.

“When I’m not sitting in front of the computer plugging away at one of my own novels, I tend to either read the work of friends of mine or research books. Right now, I’m doing a little of both. I just started reading The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall. It’s a wonderful love story set in war-torn 1928 China and boasts a vivid setting and a diverse cast of characters. A big, beautiful nonfiction work called Concubines and Courtesans is also proving helpful as I research the setting for my next novel. I also keep abreast of international and entertainment news by reading Newsweek, Vanity Fair, and the Economist.