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Author on the Couch: Cheryl Hollon - Abbie Roads
Author on the Couch: Cheryl Hollon Author Name: Cheryl Hollon *GIVEAWAY* Cheryl is giving away a signed copy of ETCHED IN TEARS as soon as it releases on November 28, 2017! Woohoo! You’ll be one of the first to read it! Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life. Cheryl: When I was in the fifth grade, my younger brother was hit by a car right in front of me. He suffered a fractured skull from the hood ornament of the vehicle. One of his ribs was removed and grafted into the gaping hole in his skull right above the right ear. He was more than a year relearning how to talk, walk, read, and write. He was given visiting teacher to help him catch up in school. Today, he’s an engineer and a gifted musician playing lead guitar and producing tracks for a rockabilly band. I learned that one moment from now could change your life in a heartbeat. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Today – right now – is what we have. Use each day wisely but with carefree abandon. Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author? Cheryl: In my previous career as a Program Manager in charge of the design, build, test and installation of military flight simulators, I cultivated a focus on a goal-oriented approach to my writing life. I consistently set weekly, monthly, and yearly writing goals. Then, I measure my progress against those goals on a weekly basis. For accountability, a friend and I exchange our goal reports each week and reply to each other with encouraging comments. Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author? Cheryl: I am curious and easily distracted especially when writing the first draft of a manuscript. Absolutely the hardest part of the process for me. To keep focus, I reward myself for achieving increments of my target word count. I work a crossword puzzle, play a word game, and my favorite – dark chocolate. Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened? Cheryl: I am extremely lucky to have family and friends who supported me for the long years while I struggled to polish my writing, queried relentlessly to find a good agent, and the miraculously landed a 3-book deal with Kensington Publishing Corp. All of these were important milestones, but when I had my first signing at the bookstore where I had been a customer for over forty years – that was heaven. More than 75 friends and family crammed in to buy my first published book. Naturally, there was cake. Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing? What happened? How did you get over it? Cheryl: After my 108th rejection from agents for the book of my dreams, I nearly quit writing. I had gotten very close several times. There had been more than 30 requests for partial submissions and more than a dozen requests for full manuscripts. A few agents asked for revisions and then a resubmission – that was exciting. Ultimately, all offers fell through – no dice. While enduring all this rejection, I had followed the advice of several agents who blog about writing frequently and while querying, I was writing another book. This time, I signed up for the Donald Maass Break-out Novel Intensive Workshop organized by the wonderful editor/author/friend who runs the organization that sponsors the workshops, Free-Expressions. I have never worked harder in such a short amount of time. That manuscript started me on the road to publication. Me: Which of your characters are you most like? Why? Cheryl: I love the main character’s 18-year-old apprentice, Jacob, because he must struggle to accomplish a perfectly ordinary day. He has what used to be called Asperger’s syndrome, but now he is categorized as “on the autistic spectrum.” He’s aware of his challenges, but rises to them each and every day. Of course, all that is easier now that he has an adorable service beagle, Suzy. They are inseparable. Me: How many books have you written? How long does it typically take you to write a book? What’s the most painful part of the writing process for you? Cheryl: I am writing my sixth book for the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series published by Kensington Publishing Corp. I have three manuscripts that shall forever live under the bed. It normally takes me about six to eight months from the start of the horrible first draft to a polished manuscript ready for submission to my editor, Selena James, at Kensington. The most painful part for me is scratching out that shitty first draft. I struggle, whine, giggle, cry, and bludgeon my way to those glorious two words: THE END. Me: If you could be any character in any book for a day who would you be? Why? Cheryl: I would be Harriet Vane in BUSMAN’S HONEYMOON by Dorothy Sayers. Harriet is a mystery writer who has just married wealthy aristocrat and amateur sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, who adores her. What’s not to love? Me: Tell me about your cozy mystery Etched in Tears. Cheryl: When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover. Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at …