Today my guest is Sam Cheever, who’s here to talk about herself, her writing life, and her book, Threads of Yesterday.
Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room, Sam!
It was definitely self-defense. I had thousands of stories inside my head bashing about in an attempt to escape. It was either let them out or suffer brain damage. Some who know me would say I definitely waited too long…but I did eventually make a deal with the stories. I let them out in a controlled fashion and they stopped bashing around in my head. Although I still get the occasional masher that needs to be managed.
How long have you been writing?
I can remember writing my first poetry in high school and having the teacher read it to the class because he thought it was really good. Looking back on it now I realize how dark and angst-filled those first writing attempts were. I shudder at all that angst now. I’ve graduated to more physical writing since then. I’m really more of a blow ‘em up and smack ‘em around type of writer. It’s so much more satisfying than just sitting around fretting about something.
What advice would you give writers just starting out?
Just sit down and do the hardest thing…write. Write snippets of stories that pop into your head. Write about things that happen to you. Write whatever you care about most. Don’t try to write for a specific market if you don’t have a passion for that market. Writing is hard enough without forcing yourself into a niche you aren’t really comfortable with. Your readers will know if you don’t care about the story. And they won’t care about it either.
Start creating an online presence for yourself early, well before the first book comes out. Always be yourself. Don’t try to manufacture a persona you think will appeal. People will know if you’re not being genuine. Ultimately people buy from people they like. It won’t matter how talented you are if you treat people badly.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Occasionally I do. When it happens I take my dogs for a walk and let my mind rest for a while. That almost always works. The other thing I do is that I always have 2 or 3 WIPs going at a time, generally of different genres. That way if I get stuck on one, I move to a different story for a while, until inspiration hits again.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Definitely the plot. Once I know what I want to write about I’ll figure out what types of characters will maximize the fun and interest for that storyline. Although I write character-driven stories, I believe in a strong, unique plot. A story with no plot bores me, both as a reader and a writer.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Threads of Yesterday is Book 2 of a brand new cozy, paranormal mystery series. This type of story is a bit different for me as a writer, though I’ve long been a fan of the genre as a reader. The fun thing about this series is that the mysteries are based on events that happened decades or even a century earlier. Each story starts with the set-up for the mystery from the past, and then moves to present day in Yesterday’s Antiques store, where owner and amateur sleuth, Anna Yesterday discovers the mystery and sets out to solve it. The other aspect of these mysteries that makes them a lot of fun is the supporting cast of small town characters. From the geeky librarian, to the sexy ex-cop, to the wise-cracking autistic teen neighbor, these characters add interest, confusion, and fun to every storyline.
Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?
I’m currently trying to complete a light paranormal story that keeps getting put on the back burner because of more pressing deadlines. I’m determined to get this fun story finished so I can find the perfect home for it. Here’s a little taste from my WIP, tentatively entitled Probationary Angel:
Arele Montgomery knew two important things about Heaven. First, it was a damned judgmental place. And second, there were far too many rules.
Which was how she found herself in her current predicament.
Well the rules…and that stupid old woman who wasn’t an old woman.
How was she supposed to know the old woman wasn’t what she’d seemed? How in Heaven did they expect her to know that the gnarly, bent old creature shuffling toward the curb that day was really a bank robber in disguise?
It was true, she’d been a bit put off by the way the woman had cursed and swung a cane at her head when she’d tried to take her arm. But she’d been a full-fledged angel then, with a long, pearly stick up her ass, so she hadn’t reacted in anger. She’d smiled and reached for the woman’s arm again.
That was when the old crone had swung a large, black bag at her head and spoken to her in a voice that sounded like a hairy Italian mobster’s. “Back off, bitch!”
Arele had been too busy dodging the bag to notice when the money started flying out of it. Of course, it was much too good an opportunity for the Dark One to resist. And he’d thrown a burst of wind into the mix. Sending all that cash across the street and everywhere.
People had gone nuts, screaming, clawing, and trampling each other to get to the cash.
To make things worse, the police had been tracking the robber and were just a hair away from nabbing him. But, because of her interference, he’d gotten away. Arele still insisted that part wasn’t her fault. The parchment from legal never made it into her cloud box that morning, so she hadn’t known about the sting operation. If she had she might never have approached the robber in the first place.
As people trampled each other, her fellow guardians flitting here and there trying to protect the small and delicate, Arele just stood there, blinking. Not sure what to do. “Did I do that?” She’d murmured over and over again.
In the distance, over the roar and screech of the mass of greedy, grasping people around her, Arele could hear the Serpent laughing.
She’d been the devil’s unwilling dupe. Not her finest hour.
And now she was on probation. She’d been called to the office of Mrs. Durtz, Queen drone of Angel Resources. An angel whose pearly stick was so long it stuck up from her head and down to her feet.
She was like a cranky wart hog on a carousel ride.
The woman sat behind her white desk, gently fluttering her pristine, white wings…just because she could…and looked down a long, straight nose at Arele, her narrow lips twisted with disdain. “You broke rule number twelve thousand four hundred sixty five point six.”
Arele bit her lip and grimaced, a single, sparkling tear sliding down her pale cheek. “Which rule is that one?”
Looking smug and superior, Mrs. Durtz gave Arele a sad smile, as if pitying her for her sublime ignorance. “The ‘First create no harm’ rule of course.”
Arele frowned, “Isn’t that the physician’s oath?”
Mrs. Durtz, considering humans mere dust beneath her pristine, white feet, glowered at Arele. “Where do you think they got it? You don’t think humans are bright enough to come up with that one on their own do you?” She sneered at Arele for a moment and then looked down at her desk, reading the terse, black script from a proclamation on her desk. “Arele Montgomery, on this day, November 10th, 2013, you are on official probation.”
Arele’s wings disappeared with a pop. She opened her mouth to argue, but Mrs. Durtz held a flawless, white sheet of paper in front of her. It was filled with text, in micro font, of legalese jargon. “Sign here.”
A whimsical little pen with wings appeared in Arele’s left hand. She stared at it for a moment, until Mrs. Durtz made an ominous throat clearing sound, and then she signed her name at the bottom of the sheet. As she signed, a tear dropped onto the page and blurred the tiny, accusatory words on the paper.
Mrs. Durtz sniffed in disgust at this show of emotion.
As the pen slid off the page on the back end of the last letter of Arele’s name, the world around her started to spin and whirl. When it cleared she was standing on the sidewalk, very close to the site of the disaster, under a large tree in the shade.
She was dressed like a human woman of twenty-three.
No wings. No unearthly glow.
A kickin’ pair of leather boots hugged her slim calves. At least she was dressed well for her foray into Hell.
She still clutched the pen with wings in her left hand. As she stared at it, numb with fear and indecision, something fluttered down from the tree, bounced off her shiny white-gold head, and landed on her boots.
For expenses. Mrs. Durtz’ disembodied voice whispered past.
It was a hundred dollar bill.
Even Arele knew that wouldn’t go far in the human world of 2013. “Gee thanks,” she murmured crankily. Because now that she’d lost her wings she could be cranky.
You’re welcome, responded Mrs. Durtz.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Janet Evanovich, I love the fun, slightly frantic nature of her Stephanie Plum books. I also love JD Robb’s Eve Dallas stories. Both writers pace their books well and both are very talented in the creation of their secondary characters and the interrelationships between them. I’ve also been strongly influenced by Kresley Cole’s paranormal books. I LOVE her Valkyries and her stories keep me interested from beginning to end.
What is your work schedule like when writing?
My days are packed full. Every minute accounted for. I get up around 5:00 am and go through my emails, responding to any that need a response and addressing anything that comes out of those communications. Once that’s done I’ll usually write any blog posts or interviews I’ve committed to in the near future. Then I’ll take a break to have breakfast and take care of all my critters. Once my chores are done I’ll sit down and start working. I try to write 1k to 3k on each of 2 to 3 WIPs each day. When I get stuck or tired of writing on one story I move to another. I generally try to write a chapter a week on each of my WIPs. That seems to be a pretty manageable goal for me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m doing it! I always wanted to be an author and I’m very lucky to be doing what I love.
What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?
Favorite? Either cake or potato chips. Least favorite? Hmm, probably liver. #:0) Though I haven’t had any since I was a kid and my mom made me eat it. Blech!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I do a very loose plot and then pants the heck out of it. LOL I try to organize my stories into an outline but it never lasts. So I do it in sections. I’ll come up with a loose plot for the first five chapters and then regroup and figure out where I want to go for the next five. The end is usually pretty self-evident by then. I actually prefer pantsing my stories because I think they’re more interesting that way. In fact, I recently did a blog post on that very subject. You can read it HERE if you’d like.
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I have 13 dogs. All in the house, many on the bed at night. LOL I’m a crazy lady. The bed thing can get a bit dicey. Here’s a fun blog post I did on that subject if you want a good laugh. How NOT to Negotiate with your Dog for Bed Space!
Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?
I think Kresley Cole is an extremely talented paranormal writer. As mentioned above, she keeps me interested from beginning to end of her stories. She also writes great characters. For romantic suspense, I love Josh Lanyon’s work. Josh writes tight plots with wonderful prose and characters that feel genuine.
What would we find under your bed?
Doghair tumbleweeds. #:0)
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
I write M/F romantic suspense/mystery and paranormal/fantasy. I also write M/M romantic suspense and paranormal as Declan Sands. In addition, I love historical and steampunk so I’ll probably try my hand at those too someday.
What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I’m interested in writing true history stories for grade school kids, to get them interested in the history of America. We’re only as strong as our knowledge of our history and kids today are sadly lacking in both knowledge and interest. Ignorance condemns us to keep making the same mistakes over and over. I think history can be made fun if it’s presented in an adventure story and seen through the eyes of people kids can relate to. That’s a pet future project for me. I don’t know if I’ll get to it next year, but I hope I’ll get to it soon.
About Threads of Yesterday
In 1859, Elisabeth Margaret Nelson travelled to Crocker, Indiana to meet her new husband and start a new life. Her family never saw her again. The story of her death and a heartbroken husband who grieves his entire life is a sad tale for sure. But is it true?
When Anna Yesterday receives some vintage dresses from the local museum, she’s excited about highlighting them at Crocker’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. But someone wants the dresses back, and they’ll apparently stop at nothing to get them—leaving a trail of murder and destruction in their wake.
As Anna and Pratt work to uncover the deadly intrigue behind the vintage dresses, interference of another kind is working its way to the surface. All too soon, Anna and Pratt find themselves neck deep in trouble from more than one dimension—and wondering which will get them first!
About the Author
Award winning author of more than 40 works of fiction, Sam Cheever mixes in a little fun, a little adventure, and a little real-life spice to create her sexy fantasy and romantic suspense stories. In her real life, Sam lives on a hobby farm in Indiana with 13 dogs, 2 horses, and one husband. She writes books she likes to read and reads books she wishes she’d written. Her books are fast-paced and fun-loving. Not one of them will solve a single world problem, but you definitely won’t be bored while reading them!
To find out more about Sam and her work, please pay her a visit at any one of the following online hot spots:
Elisabeth Margaret Nelson shifted the curtain back and looked out the stagecoach window. Over the last few hours the flat, brown land had grown gradually greener, and had turned to rolling hills. She dropped the curtain and sat back as another wave of stomach wrens assaulted her.
What had she done? Had she made a terrible mistake? She’d walked to the end of a plank and stepped right off…that’s what she’d done. Lissie wrung her hands and looked around at the other passengers. The older man in the opposite seat, beside the window, had been staring at her from the first moment, his dark eyes speculative.
He had to wonder what a young woman was doing travelling alone, without a companion.
Lissie had begun to wonder that too. She clutched her reticule closer under that questioning gaze and gave him a small, uncertain smile.
“Do you have family waiting for you in Crocker, Miss?”
Did she have family waiting for her?
“Yes. My hu…” Lissie swallowed hard, still not believing it was true. “My husband is waiting for me.” He’d gone ahead to prepare a place for them to live. Or so that was what he’d told her. Deep down Lissie doubted a man as handsome and vibrant as Felix Bickershaw could love a girl as ugly as she.
Lissie frowned, glancing down at the overstuffed reticule in her hands. She felt the man’s eyes on her again and discreetly shoved the velvet indispensable under her cloak. They’d all told her he only wanted her dowry. Lissie had believed it was true. Though Felix looked down at her with softness in his pretty, blue eyes, there was a certain coldness waiting just beyond that look, a negligence of her regard, which convinced her he didn’t so much love her person as what it could get him in life.
Lissie didn’t care. An ugly heiress with no prospect of finding love, she’d settled instead for one-sided infatuation with a handsome man who could at least give her the appearance of a storybook life.
Lissie was sure she would eventually win him over to an abiding affection at the very least.
The stagecoach dipped dangerously and Lissie pitched forward, catching herself on the window frame before she landed in the lap of the cantankerous matron across from her. It was obvious from the woman’s stern gaze that she thought Lissie a trollop of the worst order because she traveled unaccompanied.
Lissie told herself she didn’t care. In just hours she’d see her beloved Felix and all would be well in her world.
Sometime later Lissie woke from a doze to the sound of shouting and the clanging of pans. She shoved the curtain aside and eagerly took in her first view of Crocker, Indiana. The sweet smell of countryside had been replaced by the moldering stench of animal dung, overlaid by the yeasty smell of spirits and the spicy tang of something cooking over a fire.
Lissie’s mouth watered and she covered her stomach with a hand as it rumbled unhappily. The muddy street was filled with men on horses and fast-moving carriages. The wooden walkways that lined the log and stone buildings on either side of the street were busy too. Lissie’s gaze took in the women dressed in fine clothing, carrying parasols against a burning afternoon sun and excitement seared through her.
She’d never been in a real town before. Maybe some of the beautiful, well-dressed women watching the stagecoach rumble through town would be her friends. That would be lovely.
If only they wouldn’t judge her for her plainness. Surely the cache of jewels she carried in her reticule, and the equally sparkling visage of her handsome husband would win her some friends.
For the first time in her very young life, Elisabeth Margaret Nelson realized she liked her chances for a happy future. It was a heady feeling indeed.