This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:
First, a little something about Cheryel.
Cheryel Hutton talks to dragons. But then, her muse is a dragon named Quill. Quill tells her dark stories of witches, werewolves, bigfoot creatures, fairies, and vampires. Then there are the stories of evil humans—and they are the scariest stories of all.
Her husband and grown children are used to Cheryel’s need to talk to Quill, and write down the stories told by the dragon. The grandchildren are young enough to talk to dragons too, so they understand.
Cheryel’s debut novel, Shadows of Evil, was released from Samhain Publishing, followed by Keepers of Legend, The Ugly Truth, and The Secrets of Ugly Creek, all published by The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on her next novel.
Cheryel, her family, and two dachshunds live near Jacksonville, Florida. The South is known for odd corners where the impossible sometimes comes to life. Cheryel loves to visit those places.
At what age did you start writing or know that you wanted to write?
Writing was such a natural thing to me I never really made a decision to write, I just started writing. I wrote my first “story” as soon as I knew how to put letters together to form words. I knew by high school that I wanted to write professionally, but I didn’t have the belief in myself or my ability to put that plan into motion. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I managed to get past the fear enough to put my work out there consistently.
Where do your ideas come from?
There’s a secret room in the back of Walmart, and if you know the right people you can gain entrance and pick up story ideas. There’s also a fairy ring in my backyard, but I can’t talk about that.
Seriously, ideas come from everywhere, the news, television shows, movies, people I meet, random thoughts flying through my head. Especially if I’m trying to focus on a book, ideas for something else can come fast and hard—which makes it hard to concentrate.
Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?
Both. When I start I know what the opening scene is, a pretty good idea of some the major incidents, and a very basic idea of the ending. I get to know the characters in the first two or three chapters, and sometimes that changes things a bit. After that, I figure out 2-3 scenes ahead of where I am. Weird, but it works for me.
Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen too?
Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. The type of music I listen to depends on the story and characters. I’ve written to everything from classical to Jazz to 80s pop. Who knows what my characters will demand next!
How much do you write each day/week?
I write 6 or 7 days a week for several hours. I aim for 1,000 words a day, and hope to get up to 2,000. I’m having difficulty reaching my goals, so I’m trying different techniques to up my daily word count.
What is your latest project/release?
Blood of the Innocent came out in November, and is part of the Lobster Cove multi-author series from The Wild Rose Press. I had a blast working on such a huge project with so many other people. An amazing selection of fantastic stories have come from the series, and I’m proud to be a part of the excitement!
Blood of the Innocent is a short novel with a twist on the vampire legend. Here’s the blurb:
Veronica Teal is no ordinary biochemist; she’s a vampire. When she’s summoned to a human murder scene at the request of the local coroner, she expects to do her job. Then she discovers the killer is a vampire and the victim’s brother wants her help. Worse, she finds herself attracted to the handsome human male, despite her reluctance to get involved.
Joe Sullivan leaves his teaching job in Tennessee for Lobster Cove because his twin is in danger. He’s devastated to see Justin dead on a rocky shore. Desperate for answers, he turns to Veronica and finds himself curiously drawn to the lovely biochemist in more ways than one.
Together Veronica and Joe seek answers behind Justin’s mysterious murder and learn there are deeper secrets. Can they uncover the core of the conspiracy and find their own way to each other’s hearts? Or will their differences keep them apart?
It’s hard for me to answer that because there are so many authors I love. Let’s see: Isaac Asimov, Nora Roberts, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Sandra Brown, Diana Gabaldon, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Barbara Freethy, Jane Austen, Barbra Annino, Cherie Priest, Mary Buckham, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells,, Dianna Love, Brenda Novak, Allison Brennan…the list goes on. I’m always reading both favorite and unfamiliar authors. I love discovering new favorites. For the record, my host is also one of my favorites. Keep up the good work, Alan!
How much of you is in your characters?
I think there is a little of me in every major character I write, which can be unnerving when writing a serial killer or a ruthless vampire or a talking tree.
What genre do you prefer to write? To read?
Since everything I’ve had published is paranormal, it’s obvious that I like the stuff that goes bump in the night. I also like to write thrillers, and am working on a devious plan to move into that genre. As for reading, I seldom meet a genre I don’t like. My favorites are paranormal/horror, science fiction, and thrillers.
Do you prefer writing short stories or novels? And why?
Novels. I started out writing short stories, and I still like to write them occasionally. Sometimes there’s this idea that doesn’t really translate into a full length novel, or I want to play with an idea without investing a lot of time. Still, I love playing in the depth and richness of a longer length. I can get to know characters and situations, and for me, that’s the fun of writing.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the next two books in my Ugly Creek series. Ugly Creek is a fictional town in Tennessee, where the characters are odd, quirky, and not necessarily human; and where just about anything can happen.
What 3 things do you feel every aspiring writer should know?
- Don’t rush to publish your work. Just because you can have it up on Amazon tonight doesn’t mean it’s really ready to be there. Take your time, write another book, and/or join a critique group. Make that first book the best it can be before you send the poor things out in public.
- Read a lot and write a lot. Yeah, it’s the same thing people have been saying for years, but there’s a reason for that staying power. Reading is the only way to internalize story flow, that deep knowledge your work is working. Writing is the only way to learn to write, just like any other skill. Write as much as you can. It really does make a difference.
- It’s your work, your name’s on it, don’t let anybody destroy the integrity of the piece. Listen to editors, they’re usually right, but be prepared to give reasons why you feel something should stay the way it is.
How do you use social media in regards to your writing?
I just try to get out there and connect with people. As far as I’m concerned, the Internet is the best thing to happen to my social life. I can meet and talk to people from all over the world, or right in my own town. It’s a lot of fun. Selling books is just a side benefit. In my opinion, authors who get on social media just to push their books are only hurting themselves. It’s a new world of being more open and approachable. As a reader, I love being able to connect with my favorite authors, and hope that people enjoy sharing bits of my life with me.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, have you ever engaged a reviewer over comments they’ve made?
I do read reviews, but I try not to take them personally (very hard to do!). I don’t believe engaging reviewers is a good idea. After all, we’re all entitled to our own opinions, even if we think they’re way off track. By arguing, authors are more likely to hurt their own reputations than make a point—I’ve seen it happen.
Thanks Cheryel. To learn more about her and her books, click below: