Welcome to the two hundred and sixty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance novelist Sherry Gloag. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Sherry. I’ve described you as a romance novelist, is this what you generally write?
Sherry: I do write romances, generally I have classified them as ‘mainstream contemporary romances’ but almost every reviewer has added ‘suspense’ to the genre. So I guess I write romance ‘with a touch of suspense’.
Yes I am currently working on a Regency romance. The first version that went through the critique group I belong to insisted it was ‘too slow’, so I have re-written it and now if I put it through again they would probably tell me to ‘slow it down’!
Morgen: Ah, the pace / narrative drive. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Sherry: Yes I write under the pseudonym, Sherry Gloag, and to date I have had two full length novels published. My debut novel, The Brat, was released by The Wild Rose Press in October 2010, this was followed by my second novel, Duty Calls, which came out in February of 2011 and was published by Black Opal Books, then in January of 2011 The Wrong Target my first novella was published by eTreasures, one, as a stand-alone ebook and also in a valentine anthology with several other amazing authors.
Given the number of Royal weddings that occurred in 2011, including our own Will and Kate, I sat down and wrote a short story which, upon request by and editor, ended up as a 21k novella and, of course, included a royal wedding, insurgents, assassination attempts and the happy ever after. This, From Now Until Forever, was published in December 2011 by an up and coming successful publisher Astraea Press.
Morgen: My goodness, you’re busy.
Sherry: I have also just had an acceptance on my latest novella, His Chosen Bride, to be released by Astraea press in time for Valentine’s Day, which makes From Now Until Forever the first in a series of four novella series, with His Chosen bride as book #2.
Morgen: Yay, well done. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Sherry: Oh boy, I won’t pretend I could paper my room with all of them, I have been very fortunate, in as much, I couldn’t even paper one wall of my room with them, but yes, I’ve had rejections. Some, in my ignorance at the time, invited re-writes, which I did not follow up on, because I didn’t know any better back then. Some were down-right hurtful, and others were bog-standard ‘thanks but no thanks’.
How did I deal with them? All but one I managed to deal with philosophically. But that one cut deep, very deep. But it also motivated me to take that particular book out, re-examine it and resubmit it elsewhere. Yes it was rejected again, but with so much helpful support and suggestions I had an acceptance by the end of that year. And so my debut novel, The Brat saw the light of day
Morgen: Rejections certainly make us stronger but hard to take at the time. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Sherry: Oh dear! In truth? I have been far too chicken-hearted, so far, to enter in competitions, bar one which I never heard back from the organisers. And that was a very long time ago. *grin*
Morgen: I’ve entered a few (with some success) but even if they don’t get anywhere I find they get me writing new stuff so I have them to do something else with. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Sherry: No, I don’t have an agent, and I don’t know enough to comment on how essential they are to an author. I do suspect if the author became well-known and built up a huge fan-base, they may well need –and get – an agent, simply to cope with demand. ‘Well a girl can dream can’t they?” LOL
Morgen: It’s happening that way now; Amanda Hocking went self-publishing and gained a traditional publisher that way. You mentioned eBooks earlier, are all your books available as eBooks?
Sherry: Two of my books are out in print as well as e-format, The Brat, and Duty Calls. As novellas The Wrong Target and From Now Until Forever will only come out as ebooks. All are available in multiple e-formats and can be found on Amazon.com/uk nook and sony readers + other outlets online.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Sherry: This is where I stumble flat on my face, pick myself up and start all over again. I feel I still have much to learn in the marketing and branding field. I do market my books, in interviews such as this, through several social networking groups, which I am still coming to terms with! LOL, I have a website and blog and am always on the lookout for guest spots and blog guests.
Morgen: It sounds like I do even less marketing than you – I think it’s a slow (but hopefully steady) process. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Sherry: In every case my input has been sought. It is the interpretation of my input that has, on occasion, provided some hilarity.
Morgen: <laughs> What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sherry: The second in my royal series, His Chosen Bride, has just been accepted, I will be busy with edits on that, soon. Meanwhile, for the past few years, I have been experimenting with a Regency romance, and constantly hitting blank walls / pages. This morning, at last I have the ending so can now steam ahead and wrap it up. I have been working on the story so long I will miss this bunch of characters when the book is finished. I also have ideas for the next two novellas in my ‘royal’ series and hope to start on them soon.
Morgen: Maybe you could bring the characters back… ooh, or make incidentals main characters – I love it when that happens. You sound fairly prolific, do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Sherry: I write every day. Perhaps it may only be summaries and prompt notes for myself, or blog pieces. Do I ever suffer from writer’s block? Sadly too often!! LOL. But, that too gifted me an unexpected new direction. One day when totally flummoxed with The Brat, I opened a blank page and simply wrote. It ended up as a 1000 word short story which was published by the online site LASR (Long And Short Reviews) in June 2009. Since then I have had several more published and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of tightening my writing into fewer words.
Morgen: Ooh, I’ve not heard of LASR. I’m going to have to check them out. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Sherry: For my sins I am a ‘Pantser’.
Morgen: That means I’ve met a lot of sinners. I’d say 75% of my interviewees don’t plot much.
Sherry: My stories all begin with the ‘arrival’ of at least one of my main characters who then give me enough information to whet my interest and in dribs and drabs they give me more until I start writing. Then they usually seem to think their job is over and take a hike. Remember those blank pages I mentioned? There are times when I get enough of the ‘next bit’ to write prompt notes at the end of the chapter I am working on. But that’s about as far as my ‘plotting’ goes.
Morgen: As a fellow Script Frenzyer said, you can’t edit a blank page. These characters, do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Sherry: I have next to no say in creating my characters or giving them their names. I have even had one occasion when the heroine suddenly took a ‘skunner’ to her name and changed it. Of course, she waited to almost the end of the story to do that! As to making them believable, I sometimes wonder where the words and incidents they get themselves into come from. I do like for at least one of my characters in each story to have an ‘AH-HA’ moment, and the events that lead up to and follow them are usually a total surprise to me.
Morgen: Well, if they’re a surprise to you then there’ll (hopefully) be a surprise to your readers. Apparently JK Rowling was going to kill a character off and he / she wouldn’t let her so she killed someone else off. Not sure if that’s true or not but it would be interesting to know who. Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Sherry: I have written poetry, but not for a long time. I fell into short stories totally by accident and now participate in, a weekly blog, Tuesday Tales, where we can either post a scene from a WIP of do a complete short / flash piece of writing. (http://tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com)
Morgen: Another new one on me but I took a look and it looks fantastic. What fun! Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Sherry: My internal editor has become a pest recently, in as much I find myself going back repeatedly over chapters I considered ‘finished’. I suspect that in many cases it is to cover my frustration when I hit writer’s block! I would like to say my writing is more fully-formed now that in the past. It changes depending on how the characters want me to ‘play it’ and the genre I am writing.
Morgen: I tend to edit four times and call it a day (or with longer pieces submit to my editor after the third then do a fourth after she’s hacked around with it). Do you have to do much research?
Sherry: I am dismal at research, so I tend to find topics that allow me to get away with as little as possible, but there again my characters have their own ideas. In my latest release, From Now Until Forever, they ‘sent me off’ to research charities that run programs for disabled / physically challenged children. And I have a nasty suspicion that my next ‘royal adventure’; is going to demand more, it would help if I knew what it was going to be!
Morgen: But then I guess it wouldn’t be so much of an adventure. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Sherry: I love peace and quiet, but DH has tinnitus so there is always background noise in the house. I simply go in search of the quietest spot available. Sometimes I do enjoy music as background, but if the book is going well, I won’t hear it anyway.
Morgen: That’s true. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Sherry: I prefer writing in third person, but have written in first for a couple of my short stories. That was fine, but to do so for a full 21 or 70+k would not appeal to me.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Sherry: Oh yes! Some have been shredded so they can’t!
Morgen: Oh no! I only shred writing that I’ve typed up. I couldn’t throw anything out as I’d be convinced afterwards that it wasn’t that bad.
Sherry: But those are the learning curves, the measuring stick by which I occasionally go back and compare ‘the writing then and the writing now’.
Morgen: That’s true – I do have some cringe-worthy old pieces but we’re older and wiser now so we can edit them better (or laugh and put them back :)). What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Sherry: I love writing. I love the surprise of reading back what I’ve written to discover where the story is going. My least favourite aspect is the business side, the promotion and marketing. Simply because I don’t know –yet – how to maximise it, but I will get there, one day!
Morgen: Most authors have said that – we all need clones so one can write and the other market (or better still, edit and market). Has anything surprised you?
Sherry: That my books sell surprises me, but I love it when a reader then tells me what they liked about the book in question.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sherry: Don’t give up, don’t give in, and keep your butt in the chair. The writing world is filled with beautiful people who are willing to help, support and advise, make the most of it, because your success becomes their pleasure because they become a part of your triumph.
Morgen: That sounds like a quote in itself but is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Sherry: There are two quotes on the wall in front of me when I am at my computer. One is attributed to Nora Roberts “You can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank one.” The second is from Robert Gallagher. “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”
Morgen: That’s funny. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Sherry: I blog bi-monthly the online blog NightWriters as well as participating in the online weekly event Six Sentence Sunday. It was SSS that revealed just how powerful writing can be when honed down to six sentences, and when you get to read almost two hundred examples each week, that’s a huge smorgasbord of examples to learn from.
Morgen: Wow. As a short story addict, I love the sound of that.
Sherry: Recently I have joined another online group called Tuesday Tales where we post up a short story or part of an ongoing WIP to a specific weekly word prompt on our blog / website and it is linked to a ‘mother-site’ who provides a list and links to every participant that week. The novella that is out house hunting emerged from the first three word prompts, and I didn’t even connect them until I wrote the fourth, which never reached Tuesday Tales.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Sherry: Because I enjoy reading I review for several well-respected online review sites. Sadly as my writing time expands, my reading time is curtailed so I no longer review as many books as I used to.
Morgen: Oh me too. I’ve just bought a Kindle in the hope that it gets me reading more and it sort of is but sadly not by much. What about non-writing hobbies?
Sherry: Gardening is another favourite pastime, I used to think, that unlike my characters, the plants and flowers never answered back, but they do! Either the flourish or they don’t, and when you’ve put a lot of effort into them, it also becomes a personal insult when your plants sometimes fail!
Morgen: Ooh, then you’d love a Roald Dahl story called ‘The Sound Machine’ – it was one of my favourites (if not my favourite actually) on his Tales of the Unexpected TV series.
Sherry: Walking is a pastime I enjoy, and if I am sure there’s no one in the vicinity, will often interview my character in the hopes they will reveal the next instalment of the book. I also enjoy watching the birds, no, I am not a ‘twitcher’, I just watching the individuality of the birds that come to our feeders and bird table.
I also enjoy working with selenite crystal, which I find very therapeutic.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Sherry: Because I am a romance writer most of my books focus on that genre.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Mass
Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon
You have The Power – Self-Edit your Way into Print by Cindy Davis (An amazing, and wonderful editor)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker
Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
And because I am grammatically challenged, I have
Getting to the point by Jenny Haddon & Elizabeth Hawksley
The Elements of Style 3rd Edition, by William Shrunk and E.B. White.
Plus – There are tons of online sites where you will find awesome advice and insight, but due to a recent PC crash I am still rebuilding my favourites list.
Morgen: Ouch. I’ve been a Mac owner for a year and can’t say that I miss PC crashes. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Sherry: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumble, and a few others. I still have a lot to learn about the networking side of writing.
Morgen: You’re on them (and a few) so you’re doing the right thing. I’ve not really explored Stumble. I’m on the others you listed plus Google+ and Goodreads but haven’t spent much time there either. <slap wrist> What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Sherry: I think this is both a scary and exciting time for writers now. There are huge debates about ebooks versus print, but until everyone and I DO mean everyone in the world has electronic access / means of reading, paperback books HAVE to exist. It is easy for those in big cities where much of the debate goes on to forget outlying counties and countries that do not have access to the net. So yes, there is a long term place for print books still.
As for digital, the market is expanding at a phenomenal rate beyond the wildest expectations of the most optimistic prophets. But already there are signs that the ‘bigger’ digital publishers are heading in the same direction as the mainstream ‘dinosaurs’ before them.
There are rumblings about the success of authors who successfully republish their books after their contracts expire with their publishers, so the publishers are extending the terms of their contracts. (Their words, not mine) But— the question has to be, WHY are these authors garnering such success only after they leave their publisher? WHY can’t the publisher(s) gain the same success with these authors while they are on their books?
Are we/is the industry falling into the old catch 22 situation of promotion?
It is understandable that in hard times publishers, both mainstream and digital, are reluctant to promote their authors. They usually have a lot of them and it is both expensive and time consuming. The individual author may not have the same problems of quantity, but they face the same time restraints, after all if they don’t write the publisher has no books.
Do I have a simplistic answer? Of course not. If it existed someone else would have twigged it already, but I do think it is going to become the elephant at the table.
Authors shifted to the digital media because they felt short-changed by the big – and small – mainstream publishers, and they’ll shift again, are shifting in their droves, to self-publishing if they don’t feel any benefits from being part of a publishing family whether digital or other.
Publishers want successful authors on their books and that’s both natural, and understandable.
So when the ‘less-than-stella-sales-authors’ move on and their sales begin to rise, it becomes another case of ‘what goes round comes round.’
Morgen: I couldn’t have put that better myself, hear hear. I do think paper and electronic will run alongside each other (now there’s a jogging image!). I have both, and think paper for home, eInk for away. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Sherry: My Web: http://www.sherrygloag.com
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=862
Morgen: Wow, that’s a list. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Sherry: Could I list the blurb and an excerpt of latest novella, From Now Until Forever?
Morgen: Of course, fire away.
For Prince Liam, families meant bad news, unwanted commitments, and the loss of his personal freedom. Love spawned white picket fences, slippers at the hearth with a wife and kids making demands, so why did those images disappear when he met Melanie Babcot?
Melanie Babcot fought hard to escape the horrors of her youth and vowed to remain single and free, so when paid to protect Prince Liam from insurgents why did her personal pledge fly out the window?
Liam Fitzwilliam Gasquet stared in amazement at the blooming patch of red milliseconds before the pain exploded in his arm. Some trigger-happy idiot had fired in his direction. Indignation didn’t have time to take root before another bullet kicked the dust at his feet.
The rebels had found the fourth and youngest son of Jean-Phillipe Gasquet, ruler of the tiny kingdom adjacent to the Swiss border. When had they discovered his whereabouts?
With a reluctant sigh, he faced the truth of it. They hadn’t ‘found’ him at all. They’d followed him.
Morgen: That was great. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Sherry: === Would you be willing to guest on my blog?!!!!! Seriously I’d be honoured if you would.===
Morgen: I’d love to, thank you for asking, Sherry and thank you for chatting to me today.
I then invited Sherry for another extract of her writing…
Jenny skipped along the street, her pigtails flying, her eyes shining, her Cinderella costume blowing in the breeze, and a permanent smile on her face. She carried her present for Shirley in the plastic carrier bag hanging from her arm. Today her bestest friend was celebrating her ninth birthday with a fancy-dress party, and next week it would be her turn. Somehow, the figure nine seemed more grown-up than eight. Nearer double figures.
“You going to Shirley’s party?”
She’d seen the boy in the school playground. Always on the edge of a group, always watching, and, she shivered now, something about his eyes made her uneasy. Today was no different, and his costume didn’t help. His smile was inviting, warm and almost gleeful; yet, secretive, Shirley decided.
“What are you dressed up as?” She studied his cape and the scythe he carried, its blade gleaming in the sun.
“The Grim Reaper,” he said. “And my friend Herakles will be joining me in a moment.”
Damien, that was it! She’d never liked the name because it always made her think of demons; and demons, she knew, were scary. Lately they filled her dreams, turning them to nightmares.
She never quite saw their faces in her dreams, only heard their laughter, when it turned dark and evil and woke her up.
For the last couple of nights, she’d tried in vain to wake from the nightmares. The demon stood there watching her. Whatever she did, wherever she went in her dreams, the demon stood there watching in silent celebration. (end of story available at http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/2012/01/tuesday-tales-lies.html)
Multi-published author, Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. She considers the surrounding countryside as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs “thinking time” and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as no other walkers are close by.
Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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