I recently met Cheree at a writer’s conference. I was amazed at how many novels she has written, and I was touched by her sheer determination, as you will be after you read her interview.
Cheree is a freelance writer, prolific author, and the mother of a daughter and twin sons. She is married to her best friend Michael who changes lives each day at his chiropractic clinic. She enjoys reading, riding her motorcycle on warm nights, is also an aspiring drummer and bass player for her husband’s garage band.
1. When did you first begin writing?
I wrote my first book in a spiral bound blue notebook when I was fourteen. It was a tragic western called One Man Alone (yeah, I know—I was fourteen so I didn’t care if the title was a bit redundant!). That book made my mom cry and gave me the first realization as to how writing could touch a person. My goal now is not to make my mom cry, but if I bring her to tears with the tragedy or turning points of my books, I know I have still done a great job. She is a marvelous supporter and put me in my first writing class my freshman year in high school, much against my wishes. Thank goodness for a mother who was stronger-willed than her stubborn high school student!
2. Tell us about your early experience with traditional publishing.
I have a collection of close to 1,000 rejection letters in a closet. I went to writer’s conferences and pitched to agents, and I have written enough query letters to fill a book. I did have a couple of interested nibbles on a few books, but nothing that turned out to be substantial. Every time I collected about 100 or so letters, I would move on to writing the next book. I never let it bother me (maybe a teeny bit once in a while, but I quickly squelched that by moving on to the next adventure). I never could quite get that little break or foot in the door into the world of traditional publishing until two months ago. I met an agent at a writer’s conference and emailed him later about my success with self-publishing; the fact that I had a strong reader following and proved myself to be a dependable author was definitely key in signing my Small Town Superhero series with Stonehouse Ink.
3. Why did you decide to become a self-published author?
I was at a writer’s conference about two years ago and sat next to a cute, super friendly girl named Ali Cross. I told her about my struggles with getting traditionally published, and she in turned shared with me the fact that she was going to self-publish her books. As she was showing me the cover she designed and the steps she was taking, it felt like a door opened. I determined at that moment that I was going to be self-published within the next few months. Thank goodness for Ali Cross! She is an amazing self-published author with great success for her Desolation series.
4. What is the name of your first novel and how did it come to be?
I’m never the type to do things small. When I determined at that writer’s conference to self-publish, I decided to do so for my first four novels and get them out right away! After much research and formatting, I released four books on December 16, 2011. I published Silver and Black, the first two books in my Silver Series, and I also published Shadows and Galdoni. It was a day filled with great excitement and happiness, and as soon as midnight hit, I began working on the next books.
5. How many novels have your written?
I just released my sixteenth book today actually! It’s part one of an epic fantasy called The Heart of the Wolf. I’ve published two dystopian fantasies—Galdoni and Stolen. I have a paranormal fantasy series about high school werewolves called the Silver Series that currently is made of six books. I am writing the seventh and plan to release it in a month. I have two epic fantasies names Shadows and a branch off called Mist. There is a Christmas novel named The Million Dollar Gift. There is a fantasy named Thief Prince and a backwards werewolf story called Keeper of the Wolves that is a love story about a wolf who turns into a human in the light of the moon. Small Town Superhero and The Small Town Superheroes will be released from Stonehouse Ink in a few months. All in all, it’s been a busy last two years!
6. Who is your favorite character in your novels and why?
My very favorite character is Jet from Black, the second book in the Silver Series. His story isn’t the easiest to read because of his past, but his depth of character and the way he surfaces from his situation leaves his story in your head. I feel like the love story that follows is much more real and heartfelt because of where he came from and the girl who captures his heart.
7. How do you manage to be so prolific in your writing with young children at home?
I have a crazy writing process! My twin boys are three years old and I am so happy to be able to stay at home with them! I take my little computer with me everywhere. We’ll go to the park and I’ll grab ten minutes or so of writing time. When we’re home and they’re playing with their toys or being superheroes, I use another ten minutes. When they fall asleep or food is cooking for lunch, there’s another few minutes.
I used to think that such a disjointed writing process would hurt my writing; I’ve found instead that it’s a blessing in disguise! If the kids are gone and I have hours to write, I can’t write anything. It’s the interruptions that give me time to think about the next scene or something a character says. I might have to do a bit of smoothing during the editing, but all in all, it works really well!
8. Can you share your formula for success as a novelist?
When I was fourteen I wrote to one of my favorite authors, Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer Trilogy. I told her that I wanted to be an author like her someday. She was kind enough to write me back, and in the letter (a real letter!) she wrote this advice that has stayed with me ever since: You will never have more time to write than you do right now. I embrace that. I may, in a hectic day, write 5 minutes, and in other days have an hour or two, but I always write. I love writing! It is one of my passions. You have to be passionate about something like writing in order to make it work for you. Once it becomes a job or something you have to do, do something else. Writing should be a dream, a goal, a passion. It should drive you because there always is another world to write in, another story to tell.
I just want to say thank you to all of my readers. When I was young, books were my escape. I used to climb a tree with an armful of books and a bag of carrots and read away the days on the farm (when I wasn’t swathing or ripping fields). I always wanted to give the same escape to others. The emails I receive and the reviews mean the world to me. Thank you for being there. I will continue writing for you.