Author Spotlight with Talia Jager

 
Author Bio –  Talia Jager is a young adult writer. She started writing in the mid-1980’s and has loved it ever since. She has two published books, Damaged: Natalie's Story and Teagan's Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy. Her third book is due summer 2011. She lives in Texas with her husband and their five daughters.

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

T.J. My name is Talia. I live in Texas with my husband and five daughters.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

T.J. I get some of my best idea in the shower, while driving, or waiting to fall asleep. When I finish a book, I have to print it out and then edit it with a red pen.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

T.J. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I remember writing stories in elementary schools. I would hide notebooks under my classwork in high school and hide under the covers at night with a flashlight so I could write my stories.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

T.J. I write young adult.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

T.J. There are so many wonderful authors out there. Growing up, I looked up to Judy Blume, Christopher Pike, VC Andrews, Lurlene McDaniel, and Francine Pascal. I wanted to be like them when I grew up. Somewhere along the way I got discouraged and while I never stopped writing, I did stop thinking it would happen. Then came Stephenie Meyer. For some reason, reading her books, hearing her story, made me think, “I can do this. I can be a mom, housewife, and an author.”

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

T.J. They are very supportive. As long as I feed them, clean them, dress them, entertain them, support them and make sure they’re happy, they are fine with me writing.

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

T.J. Story lines don’t always go the way you want them to and characters can surprise you.

K.S.  What inspires you?

T.J. My children, music, TV shows, movies, other books, and real life stories. Sometimes it’s just a sentence I hear or a lyric in a song. But, something small will spark an interest and that leads to a book.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?


T.J. Damaged: Natalie’s Story is about Natalie Jarrett, a seventeen-year-old girl who falls in love with the wrong boy. When she finds herself in the hospital after one of his violent attacks, she can no longer turn a blind eye. Suffering from severe injuries, her doctor tells her she will never be the same again. Although injured and feeling guilty, alone, scared and most of all, damaged, everyone seems to expect her to return quickly to her normal life – but how can she bounce back when she blames herself for all that’s gone wrong?


Teagan’s Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy is about Teagan Kavanagh’s whose life is shattered when her parents are killed in a car accident. She must move in with her brother and is forced to attend public school for the first time in her life. As if starting a new school her junior year wasn’t hard enough, she continues to battle epilepsy and the constant unknown of when and where her next seizure will occur. As this new chapter in her life opens, she gets more than she bargained for. Torn between playing it safe and risking her life to be normal, Teagan must make a life changing decision.

My third book is about Caelyn Noel, a teenage girl who collapses in school. Her world changes when she is told her heart is failing and if she doesn’t get a new heart soon, she will die.

K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

T.J. Right now both of my books are for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

My Facebook fan page is http://www.facebook.com/taliajager


K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

T.J. I tell people three things. Write as much as you can as often as you can. Write for yourself, not anybody else. Believe in yourself and never give up.

The Fashion Police - the fashion business just got deadly…



Title: The Fashion Police
Author : Sibel Hodge
Genre: Chicklit mystery
Format: (both)
Links to buy:

Amazon.com (Kindle)

Amazon.com (paperback)

Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Amazon.co.uk (paperback)

Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/7535

Nook http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Fashion-Police/Sibel-Hodge/e/2940000799741/?itm=3&USRI=sibel+hodge

Tell us the story behind the story. What inspired you to write this novel?

I love reading romantic comedies and mysteries, so I thought why not mix them up! The Fashion Police is a screwball comedy-mystery, combining murder and mayhem with romance and chick-lit. Written in a similar style to Janet Evanovich and Harlan Coben, it is Stephanie Plum meets Myron Bolitar.

Tell us about the book cover.

This is my new cover. The old one was a bit too raunchy for Amazon! I think it’s a fun and sassy with a hint of intrigue - just like Amber Fox.

How does it represent your book? How did you choose the artwork?

The cover represents a lot of the elements in the book. You’ll have to read it to find out why! I chose the artwork from iStock photos. It screamed, “Yes! Pick me!”


Synopsis:

The Fashion Police was a runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010 and nominated Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010 by The Romance Reviews.

Amber Fox has been making too many mistakes lately and something's got to give...

For starters, Amber accidentally shoots Chief Inspector Janice Skipper and gets thrown off the police force. The only one who knows the truth about the incident is Amber, but no one will believe her.

After accepting a job as an insurance investigator from her ex-fiancé, Brad Beckett, it turns out that Brad thinks they've still got unfinished business and the job description includes sexual favours that come with a price.

When fashion designer, Umberto Fandango, goes missing, Amber becomes embroiled in a complicated case. But Amber's arch-enemy, Chief Inspector Skipper, is also investigating his disappearance, and it's a race against time for Amber to solve the mystery before Skipper does and get her old job back. And just when Amber thinks things can't get any worse, she's being stalked by some crazy mobsters.

Who is Umberto Fandango? Is he dead? And can Amber stay one step ahead and stay alive?

Sample:

Luckily, throbbing body parts didn’t keep me awake that night. Mine or Brad’s – although I was quite sure that Brad would’ve liked the idea. However, he had left shortly after we consumed our dinner. Random thoughts deep in my subconscious kept me awake, instead. There was just something about the disappearance of the fashion collection. Something about it kept niggling away at me. I woke up early with an idea burning in my brain.

I crawled out of bed and toed through the discarded clothing piled up on the floor. I peered in the closet, only to discover that a clothes-stealing troglodyte had been wearing all my clothes and failing to return them, washed and ironed. All I had left in the closet were my girly clothes, which were far too nice and too expensive to wear while chasing criminals. I dug around a little more and finally discovered a pair of camouflage combat trousers and a sweatshirt in my laundry basket that appeared to be recyclable.

I didn’t have time for breakfast, so I gulped a glass of orange juice and grabbed a cold baked potato to eat in the car. My foot still felt a bit tender when I stuffed it into my stand-by pair of sneakers, which I kept in the back of the cupboard for just such an occasion. That proved the theory I’d had for a number of years now: a girl can never have enough pairs of shoes.

My first stop was Heather’s apartment. As I pulled into the communal parking lot, I noticed that her BMW was still parked in the same spot. A black and white cat rubbed himself against the tires in ecstasy, like he’d been snorting catnip. I took the stairs to her apartment, and rapped my knuckles gently on her door. As I did this, the door swung open a couple of inches. Either I had magic, door opening knuckles, or the mob goons had left it unsecured. My second guess seemed like the most plausible. I suspected they weren’t particularly security-conscious guys.

I took a deep breath and pushed the door open all the way. Everything seemed exactly as I’d left it when I ran out on Saturday, minus the goons. I wandered through the rooms with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Heather still hadn’t returned.

Next up, I went by Fandango’s office, just in case Heather had been mysteriously transported there in some kind of weird Star Trekky time warp. The only living thing that greeted me was a solitary sparrow, pecking about on the ground. The doors were still locked. I banged on them a couple of times just in case. While I waited, I peered through the leopard skin curtains, but the place was as deserted as the Mary Celeste.

I said goodbye to the sparrow and made my way to Tia’s apartment. 

‘Hi.’ Tia’s face lit up when she saw me. ‘Have you got any news? The police haven’t told me anything.’ She beckoned me inside.

Her apartment was exactly how I’d imagined it would be. A mix of vibrant colors and textures filled the spacious, open floor-plan apartment, which overlooked the Union Canal. A shrieking orange sofa took center stage in the living room, covered with leopard print cushions. In front of the sofa stood a modern-style chrome and glass coffee table, and a matching chrome and glass TV stand took up a corner wall. She must be Fandango’s daughter after all, I thought, as I observed her choice of décor. Again, I noticed the lack of photos or personal items. Maybe it was me. Surely I wasn’t the only person in the world with OCD: Obsessive clutter disorder?


Where can readers find out more about you and your work?



Bio:

Sibel Hodge has dual British/Turkish Cypriot nationality, dividing her time between Hertfordshire and North Cyprus. She is a qualified personal trainer, sports and massage therapist, and writes freelance feature articles on health, fitness, and various lifestyle subjects. Prior to this, she also worked for Hertfordshire Constabulary for ten years.

Her debut novel, Fourteen Days Later, was short listed for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and received a highly commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. It is a romantic comedy with a unique infusion of British and Turkish Cypriot culture. Written in a similar style to Catherine Alliott and Marian Keyes, Fourteen Days Later is My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Bridget Jones. My Perfect Wedding is the sequel to Fourteen Days Later, although it can be read as a standalone novel.

The Fashion Police is her second novel and was a runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010 and voted Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010 by The Romance Reviews. It is a screwball comedy-mystery, combining murder and mayhem with romance and chick-lit, and the first in a series featuring feisty, larger-than-life insurance investigator, Amber Fox. Written in a similar style to Janet Evanovich and Harlan Coben, The Fashion Police is Stephanie Plum meets Myron Bolitar.

Self-Publishing - Books on store shelves?


One of the things we authors dream of is seeing our book on store shelves. This can be done with both Lightning and Createspace, but let me give you some honest facts about the cost effectiveness of this dream.
With Lightning, you are given a print cost based on your book size and page count. You then have to set the discount for the distribution channel. Your royalties back are based on the remainder.

Originally I had tried to get onto store shelves. This was a costly mistake. Here's why.

Let’s say, for arguments sake, you want to charge 10.00 per book. The book is roughly 350 pages. Let’s say the print cost is $4.5 for a 5x8 book, standard cream color paper, and color cover.
Each of these books will cost $4.5 to print.
To get into the distribution channels you are required to set a discount. Minimum 25%. $2.50
10.00-4.5-2.5 =  3
You'll make 3 on every book sold.

Now to get onto store shelves at Barnes & Noble you have to set the industry standard which is 55%. On a 10 book that 5.5
10-4.5-5.5 = 0
That means I need to increase the price of the book in order to make even the smallest profit.
Let’s try $15.00 (8.25 =55% discount)
15-4.5-8.25= 2.25
With the average price of paperback books ranging from 7.99 (pocket size in bookstores) to 9.99 (indie books average), 15.00 sticks out like a sore thumb. Remember, you are trying to be competitive here. For a fiction novel, $15.00 price point is not going to look very attractive to buyers.
Also, there is no guarantee Barnes & Noble will stock your books. Just to be approved by their sales department, you have to set the discount to B&N standards (55%), then query them (like an agent) and provide a complete marketing plan for the books.
Then, when they finally approved your book, they only ordered a few to test the market. You have to prove your book will sell, to keep them buying it.
Independent book stores on the other hand, are generally more than willing to stock your book on a consignment basis. If you purchase your own stock of books and bring them to the bookstore, they will generally work out some kind of an arrangement with you. If you really want to see your books on store shelves, set your discount as low as it will go and then do the legwork to find independent stores willing to shelve you. It will be more cost effective and you will still live the dream of being in a bookstore.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

Self-Publishing - Printing & Distribution


Unless you plan on going door to door with a stack of books, you want a printer who can distribute to the big guys.
The two major players in the self-publishing realm for printing and distribution are Createspace & Lightning Source.
Let’s look at Lightening Source first.
http://www.lightningsource.com/
Lightning Source is a major POD printer that is linked with a variety of distribution channels. They are not a publisher. They will also not work with individual authors (this is where setting yourself up as a DBA or LLC is handy). Lightning Source does not do any hand-holding, nor do they offer any paid creative services such as: cover design, interior formatting & layout. With Lightning, you are expected to follow their guidelines and provide them with print-ready covers and interiors as well as the individual ISBN’s for your books.
While it may seem daunting at first, the interior layout and setup of print-ready PDF book covers and interiors is not impossible for the DIY self-publisher. It takes a little learning, but it can be done. I’ll cover interior design in a later chapter.
Using Lightning Source and its vast distribution network means that when your files are complete and uploaded, they will place your book with Ingram distribution network. This gives your book maximum visibility.  
Lightning Source Distribution Partners

US:

UK:

To participate in the distribution channels you will have to allow for a discount on your books. The minimum discount to participate in these channels is 20% for some and 25% for others. It’s best you use 25% across the board to avoid being opted out of any online outlets. What this means is in exchange for being placed on Amazon.com (for example) you give them a discount on the cost of your book. You can go as high as you like with the discount but I would not suggest any lower than 25%.
A side note for those of you wanting to be stocked on bookstore shelves. The minimum discount required for Barnes & Noble to consider your book for their stores is 50%. We’ll touch on that subject a little later.
 To set up your files with Lightning it will cost you $35 for interior and $35 for the cover. These files are separate items that you will upload into the Lightning Source database. Additionally, you will pay a $12 yearly fee to maintain your files in the distribution network. Once those fees are paid your book is ready to go into production.
There is one other additional fee you may consider paying: Proof $30  (recommended before putting your book into production.) This is a copy that will be sent via overnight delivery to you before the book goes into production. This gives you an example of what customers are going to get when they purchase your book.     
Once your book goes into production the amount you receive per book will be the total, minus the discount and printing cost (book printing cost are determined by size and page count. These cost are outlined in the contract you sign with Lightning Source prior to book setup.). The remainder of those cost is your individual profit.
Lightning Source also offers short run printing for those who wish to purchase a bulk stock of their books. Like offset printing, this will give you a stock of books to sell, but using their POD system, you do not need to order thousands of books at a time. Short run orders can be a little as 1 book or as many as you like. The cost will vary depending on quantity.

Createspace comes in when Lightning is not an option. They deal directly with you, the author to create a book and offer many services that can be useful and helpful (for a fee). This differentiates Createspace and Lightning. Where Lightning operates as only a printer and link to distribution channels, Createspace also acts as a publisher by offering additional services like ISBN provider, Cover designer, Editing, etc. You do not have to choose these options. In fact, if you are the DIY type, you could use Createspace to produce your book for next to nothing.
 Setting up through Createspace will be very similar to setting up with Lightening. You will have to create a book block –interior layout, and have your cover file ready. You can use your own ISBN or theirs. Unlike Lightening however, if you have questions or problems, they will be there to help you. Lightening expects you to know what you are doing, Createspace offers ways to help you (some cost money). For the beginner, this might be a good way to dip your toe in and see how things work.
Publishing with Createspace, an Amazon company, means your book will be automatically included in their online store. They too have a large distribution network, however they do not offer the same discounting control that Lightning does. To opt into their extended distribution network, you will have to offer a 60% discount to Createspace. While that is significantly higher than I recommended with Lightning, I should note that the 60% discount only counts for sales through the extended distribution network. It does not count for sales via the Createspace eStore (20%) or through Amazon.com (40%).   
Just like with Lightning, the % discount is taken off of the books price and your royalty is calculated based on that number, minus the printing cost of the book. The remainder is what you will be paid.
 No matter what you choose, you want to have your printer selected before you move on to further steps in the book process. Each printer will require things to be formatted specifically for them. They will also tell you what trim sizes and paper selections you can use. This information will be extremely helpful when moving on to cover design and Book Layout.

Getting run over by a bicycle... aka... Truth is stranger than fiction.

Truth is often stranger than fiction because something’s in life leave you so befuddled you wonder how the hell it actually happened. But from those oddities, we manage to find inspiration for the things that happen to our characters.

Today for example.

We’d recently found out that we were pregnant. It wasn’t supposed to happen. Our doctors gave us a 10% chance of ever conceiving. We’d given up on trying long ago. But fate I guess had other plans.

Hubby came home very early from work. As he did the brown box shuffle, I realized before he even said the words, that he had been let go. His company had been running massive layoffs lately and we knew the axe was about to drop. I only hoped that he might avoid the chopping block.

With the new baby on the way, thoughts about money and losing insurance immediately sent my anxiety level shooting through the roof!

In my frustrations, I looked to the heavens and said “well, what else can go wrong. What else are you going to throw at me?”

Oh how I wish I had never said those words.

After an emotional dinner, it was decided we get out for some fresh air. Hubby’s version of exercise is to walk around his favorite computer store. I suggested “real” fresh air. Our neighborhood has a wonderful bike/walking path. “A little fresh air will do us good. It's healthy and walking is good exercise.”

He grumbled but agreed.

So munchkin grabbed her bike, and hubby and I tossed on our shoes and went for a walk.

About halfway down the path, in the middle of a conversation about how to handle our work situation, I was struck from behind.

The world began to rotate. I felt a hard jab against my back. I threw out my hands as the ground rushed toward me. My knee impacted first, then my elbow, then my forearm. I heard “Whoa,” Being screamed, but in slow motion. My body twisted to the side and finally I came to rest on the pavement.

On top of me was a strange, black metal cage. At least, that’s what it looked like in my immediate disorientation. I shook my head and shoved at the metal bars. It wasn’t a cage at all, it was a bicycle.

“Sorry sorry sorry,” a man chanted to the side of me.

Dizzy, I tried to get up and failed. “I’m…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I wasn’t sure I was all right. I was pregnant and just had an accident. Would I be all right? Would the baby be all right? I didn’t want to lose my miracle baby.

“Sorry sorry sorry,” the man chanted again.

My husband was dumbfounded. “Honey, are you all right?”

My daughter was worried. “Mommy, are you ok?”

The only phrase I could think to say was “I was pregnant.” Why “was”, I guess that was my fear talking.

My husband sprang to action. “She’s pregnant you idiot. Why the hell did you run her over?”

“I didn’t know. I looked down for a second. I was changing songs on my iPod.”

They warn you about the dangers of texting and driving, but I guess no one ever thought to warn people about using personal electronics and biking. It really should go without saying, but I guess some people just have to learn the hard way, by running over pregnant women.

So we take a trip to the ER. Every time the nurse asked me what happened and I said "I was run over by a guy on a bike," they said, "Oh you should stay away from motorcycles."

"No," I'd say. "A mountain bike, you know, an 18 speed."

Then they would look at me like I had come from mars. "You got run over by a bicycle?" They couldn't believe it. How does someone, anyone get run over by a bicycle? It's not like they go that fast? And, the path was straight, no hills, no dips, just a straight lane of asphalt. There was plenty of time to see us walking ahead. There was no excuse. But, funnily enough, when I mentioned he was playing with his iPod, everyone in the ER responded with the same "knowing" head shake of disapproval.

Thankfully, after the lengthy trip to the ER, I found out I am still pregnant and baby is growing just fine.

The moral of this story is, don’t ever tempt fate! And, even more importantly… Keep your eyes on the friggen road, whether you are driving or biking.

And lastly, if you are ever run over by a bike, find a way to write that into a story because dammit, you just can't make that crap up!!!

Self-Publishing - Printing Methods




If you chose to go with Print, you’ll have to decide on the method of delivery for your books. There are two basic flavors here: Offset and POD.

Offset Printing:
With this method, you’ll work with a printer that works in large batches. What that means is, you’ll order a set number of books, and the printer will print them in one run and ship them to you.

The benefits of this printing process are:
High quality printing.
Lower “Per Book” costs.
Greater flexibility in paper, color, and trim sizes.

The negatives of this printing process are:
Additional shipping and warehousing costs
Limited distribution. (You are your own distributor in most cases.)
High initial investment. (You pay for the lot of books upfront.)
Error correction is costly. (Mistakes mean new print runs and additional costs.)

Reasons to use this method:
Depending on the type of book you’re looking to produce, you may need the additional paper, color, and trim options that offset printing can offer you. Let’s say you have a full color book. You’ll want the high quality and color options. POD while good, will not be able to give you the best result here. Let’s say you are a public speaker and you use your book as a tool (generally for nonfiction) at speaking engagements. It’s better to have a bulk stock on hand for this and because of the lower “per book” cost, this could save you money in the long run. 

Reasons to avoid this method:
The single biggest reason to avoid this method of printing is distribution. Warehousing and shipping cost aside, the distribution is where you make money, or not. People buying books aren’t going to hunt you down. They go to their usual place, be it bookstore or online, and look at the bookshelves. If you’re not there, they won’t buy your book. Without some kind of connection to a distribution channel like Ingram (Baker & Taylor for libraries), to get your book onto shelves, customers aren’t going to see your work. In most cases, your books will be in your garage or storage unit, and you’ll be the one going to each bookstore to request they shelve your work.

POD – Print on Demand
At one point in time, POD had a bad reputation for quality. It was thought of as quick and dirty. Today, however, that has changed. Most small press publishers (and even some larger ones) now use POD technology to print books because they are more economical. What POD means is that your book isn’t printed until someone orders it (Print On Demand). Because it does not exist (in a physical form) until someone buys it, there is no need for additional warehousing costs.

The benefits of this printing process are:
No warehousing costs.
Lower initial investment. (You pay setup fees instead of bulk buying)
Error correcting is easy. (You can upload new files as needed and they will replace the file your printer uses to print the next book ordered.)
Generally linked with a distribution channel (Ingram and Baker & Taylor)

The negatives of this printing process are:
Higher “per book” costs.
Limited choice in paper, colors, and trim size.

Reasons to use this method:
With a lower initial investment (only having to pay setup fees), your book is cheaper to create. Add to that the benefit of belonging to a distribution network, like Ingram and your book will also have instant visibility. I use Lightning Source for my printer and through their network, my books are available at Barnes & Noble & Amazon.com with no additional setup. Lightning also offers you placement in the UK and Europe with just a click of the mouse.  That puts my books in places where readers might be looking. We’ll discuss more about the two big competitive printers in a later chapter. The main point I’m making here here, is easy access, lower setup, and visibility will make your job easier. You still have a lot of work to do, but this option is probably going to be best if you’re just starting out.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

Author Spotlight with Cheryl Shireman





K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

C.S. My name is Cheryl Shireman. I am a newly published Indie Author. My novel, Life is But a Dream was published in late January of this year. Sales are better than I ever dreamed they would be and I am having the time of my life! This is truly a dream come true for me (thank YOU readers for making that dream come true). I live in the Midwest on a lake with my husband.


K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

C.S. Ideally, I like to write as soon as I wake up, before showering – as close to that state of sleep as possible. I think there is something powerful in that connection before the mind is fully awake and alert.


K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

C.S. I probably started writing in my teens, after falling in love with Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books and then reading the wonderful novel, My Friend Flicka. I actually started writing years before the thought ever occurred to be that I could actually BE a writer. Somehow the two seemed disconnected. I fell in love with words and felt compelled to write, but the idea of “being a writer” seemed like such a fantasy to me that it seemed impossible and far of reach. It still does.


K.S.  What genre do you write?

C.S. I write women’s fiction. I also have a couple of writing reference books available through Amazon. And I also just finished ghost-writing two non-fiction books for someone else. Which was a great experience. But novels are, by far, my favorite thing to write. I am currently working on rewriting my second novel which I hope will be available by early summer.


K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

C.S. If I had to pick one author, I would say my favorite author is John Steinbeck. I am inspired by East of Eden. I also love Steinbeck: A Life in Letters which is a collection of his letters that spans the width of his career. Fascinating reading for any writer.


K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

C.S. My husband and my children have always been very supportive. Last year, while I was working on ghost-writing a book (and before MY book had been published), I told my son that I was… “Working with editors and everything. Just like a real writer.” His reply was, “That’s great, Mom. But you have one thing wrong. You’ve always been a writer.” So – with a family like that - no matter what happens with the writing, I am already way ahead in life. J


K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

C.S. I am surprised by the way that the characters sometimes just take off and, as a writer, I have to type fast just to keep up – with no idea of where they are heading. That does not happen often, but when it does it feel like writing magic. In Life is But a Dream there is a character who started out to be a minor character I was just going to use in one chapter. But I became fascinated by him and before I knew it he was in several chapters and became integral to the novel. He ended up being my second favorite character in the novel (secondary only to the main character, Grace). By the way, just in case you readers are wondering who that character is – it is Paul.


K.S.  What inspires you?

C.S. I was asked this by someone else not too long ago and I couldn’t really come up with an answer. Since then, I have given that question a lot of thought and I think it might be this – I write to create a world that represents truth as I see it. And if I can do that in a way that reaches the reader’s heart, then it is even better. If the reader can read my words and think, I have felt that too, or if they read the fictional words and believe that they are really true, that they must have really happened then I have done my job. That inspires me.


K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

C.S.  DESCRIPTION: Imagine going alone to a secluded lake cabin to redefine your life. The main character, Grace Adams, is a woman who faces an uncertain future. Despite the fact that she built her life around them, her daughter and husband have created lives that no longer include her. The novel is written for women and through a woman’s point of view. Grace is easy to identify with and easy to understand; for at some point, we have all felt the emotions she is experiencing. Thought provoking, sometimes frightening, and often funny, Life Is But a Dream is the story of a woman redefining herself and taking control of her life as she struggles to understand her present circumstances.
It is the story of the power of love, the devastating consequences of depression, and the strength of the human spirit.

SNIPPET: This is the beginning of the novel. Alone in the cabin, Grace is dreaming…

I am dreaming. I am four. I am at a family reunion at an aunt’s house. The reflection of a white farmhouse looms, tall and angular, into an in-ground pool. The scent of chlorine and grilling hamburgers waft, exchange, and intermingle.
My mother sits nearby in a lawn chair. Her black polyester stretch pants squish through the crisscross of webbing in uneven lumps. Her attention is on a noisy game of volleyball being played across the yard. No one sees me. I am so small that I barely exist. She does not see me. She does not see. She does not. See me. See. Me.
A large beach ball floats seductively upon the surface of the pool. It drifts in my direction, becoming larger and larger until it fills my entire field of vision. Red and white and glistening with irregular drops of water. I clap my hands and it draws closer.
Mother is standing now. She looks so young. Even in my dream, I wonder, was she ever this young? A hand is placed on her hip and her mouth is parted in a smile as she watches the raucous game. A transparent headscarf is wrapped around her head and its tail flutters tentatively under the knot that is pulled snug against her pale neck. It is the color of lilacs.
I wonder why I am not being scolded. I expect harsh words. Maybe a spanking. I am very near the pool. I was told to stay away. But my mother is smiling, laughing while the volleyball players argue over whether the ball was in bounds. The concrete under my feet feels hot and rough. I wiggle my toes and feel the skin being scraped from them.
I look at the ball. It is so close now that I see nothing else. I smell it. Fresh wet plastic. It smells like pool toys. I reach forward and touch it. Its surface is warm and slippery and smooth. It recoils upon contact. Flirty. Coy. Slowly, it floats out of my touch. I lean forward and strain to touch it again.
My body meets the water with a quiet splash. An unnoticed splash. Falling into the water, I sink in slow motion. Deeper and deeper. My body turns over and the water and sky become one and stretch above me. Through the blue that engulfs me, I see the distorted image of my mother. She stands in the same position. Still smiling. I see the scarf flutter – lilac blue now.
My arms extend toward her. She is out of reach. Wavy. Like a mirage. Struggling frantically, I grasp at the water but it slides through my fingers. I call out to my mother and water forces its way into my mouth, and into my lungs. I gasp and choke on more water. I am helpless. All I can do is sink slowly until the pool and the sky merge into darkness. I wonder why my mother will not come and get me. And why she is still smiling.



K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

C.S. It is available…

As a paperback through Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Life-But-Dream-Cheryl-Shireman/dp/1456588729/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


As an eBook through Nook   http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Life-is-But-a-Dream/Cheryl-Shireman/e/2940012625809/?itm=1&USRI=life+is+but+a+dream


K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

C.S.
My website is   http://cherylshireman.com/
My blog is   http://cherylshireman.com/blog/

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

C.S. Write. If you love to write, just write.
Read great books in the genre you most enjoy. But read the classics too. Read voraciously and with discrimination.
If you are serious about being a writer, take classes. Ideally, get a degree in literature or creative writing. These classes can’t turn you into a writer if you don’t have the innate skill, but they can help you to hone your craft.
If you can’t afford to get a degree, take one writing or literature class at a time at a local college. Do whatever you can to absorb yourself into words – the reading and writing of them.
Write. Did I mention that you should write? Oh, one more thing – write.