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 Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Life-But-Dream-ebook/dp/B004JU21YU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2
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?
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.
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