Celebrating Indiana Romance Authors: Cheryl Brooks
I’m delighted to introduce you to another amazing Indiana romance author, who also happens to be one of my critique partner and another of my dear friends, Cheryl Brooks. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Cheryl is a former critical care nurse who resides in rural Indiana with her husband, two sons, two horses, three cats, and one dog. She is the author of the ten-book Cat Star Chronicles series, the Cowboy Heaven series (two books and one novella), the Soul Survivors trilogy, the four-book Unlikely Lovers series, and several stand-alone books and novellas. Look for The Trouble With Star Travel, the first book in her new Cat Star Legacy series from Sourcebooks in September 2018. Her other interests include cooking and gardening. Cheryl is a member of RWA and IRWA. I had a chance to interview her this month–enjoy! Oh, and be sure to find all her social media information at the end of this post, as well as an excerpt from Echoes from the Deep.
NAN: Welcome, Cheryl–so glad you could join me!
CHERYL: Hi Nan! Thanks for inviting me to your blog!
NAN: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
CHERYL: Many authors would probably answer that question with the day they finally got “The Call” from an agent or editor. I believe it begins long before that.
Of all the stories I worked on when I was in my twenties—and there were several—I can’t recall actually finishing any of them. It wasn’t until much later (and the acquisition of a word-processing computer) that I wrote “The End” on a book. That was the point at which I was able to print out the manuscript and actually have someone else read it. Anyone can start writing a book. It takes a writer to finish one.
NAN: Do you think a writer should write every day?
CHERYL: It’s probably a good idea to get into that habit, but it isn’t always possible. Life gets in the way, and a break now and then is good for the creative soul. Sometimes I write better when I have limited time—a deadline or even that hour before something I want to watch comes on TV. That being said, unless you’re one of those who’ve plotted out your entire story before you ever start writing (I am not one of those people) you don’t always know exactly what’s coming next, even with a deadline approaching. Sometimes a story has to percolate a while before it’s ready to flow again.
NAN: What is the hardest thing about writing a series?
CHERYL: When you create a world, that world has certain rules, people, and places. If that world is the setting of an entire series, keeping track of the details is tough. Many writers keep a sort of handbook for the series because relying on memory doesn’t work very well. I always have a copy of my books on my desk and the digital files in my computer so I can search a word or a character. Even so, I once changed a character’s hair color in a later book because I remembered her as a blonde when she was actually a redhead. To date, no reader has ever brought that to my attention, so I’m guessing she probably should’ve been a blonde from the very beginning.
NAN: Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?
CHERYL: Writing a book takes an unbelievable amount of time, which makes time the obvious sacrifice. One by one, and for various reasons (some not related to writing) I’ve given up horseback riding, singing and guitar playing, my nursing job, and reading for pleasure. I still watch some TV in the evenings, but there was a time when even I stopped doing that. At some point, I realized that taking a break from the writing was good for my mental and physical health. For the past year, I’ve been trying to lose weight and get more exercise, so some of my writing time had to be sacrificed for that.
NAN: What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?
CHERYL: There are two things that set me apart from the majority of paranormal romance authors. First off, my heroes are not the typical alpha male, be they human or super-sexy alien. They’re strong and capable, but they’re still more beta than alpha. I don’t like the alpha male type, so I don’t write them.
Secondly, there is humor in my writing. Some readers have been surprised to find humor in my erotic or paranormal romances. Some have even questioned whether it was intentional. Of course it was! When I read a book or watch a movie, I’m doing it to be entertained, and for me, that includes laughter. If a story is all darkness and angst, I feel let down, even if the good guys triumph in the end. I want to experience romance, passion, and excitement, but there is room for so much more than that in a good story.
NAN: What show have you recently binge-watched?
CHERYL: Season 3 of Broadchurch is an easy series to get sucked into because not only is it well-written and acted, it takes an entire season to solve the crime. By the time you reach the last episode, you still aren’t positive whodunit. Season 2 of The Crown is another good one. I binge-watched Season 1 when I had the flu last winter and got hooked on it. In many ways, Queen Elizabeth’s story relates to our story because the events that shaped her world also shaped ours.
NAN: How do you keep sane as a writer?
CHERYL: There are times when I don’t believe I’ve been entirely successful at maintaining my sanity, and it’s possible that most writers are a little crazy to begin with. Nobody in their right mind would spend as much time as writing requires with so little remuneration. Also, what you write is an integral part of who you are, where you’ve been, and what you hope to become. Sharing that with the world takes a certain amount of daring, egotism, courage, and, yes, insanity.
NAN: Tell us what you are currently working on or promoting.
CHERYL: I’m currently writing the second book in my new Cat Star Legacy series, which is a “Second Generation” spinoff of my Cat Star Chronicles series. The first Legacy book, The Trouble With Star Travel, won’t be released until September, so I’m still promoting my Soul Survivors trilogy. This series is based on a dream I had about being in a plane crash, and the story grew to become a paranormal romantic suspense trilogy that follows the lives of three women who survive the crash only to discover that they’ve somehow acquired the spirits of those who perished. It’s different from anything I’ve ever written, more mystery than romance, and the heat level is down considerably from my other works, but the stakes are so much higher. As it happens, book 1 of the trilogy, Echoes From the Deep, is on sale right now for just 99 cents. Here are some buy links if you’d like the start the series at this great low price. All three Sole Survivors novels are available in both print and e-book formats, so I hope you’ll hustle to your favorite book retailer and get started!
Echoes From the Deep Buy Links
Barnes & Noble https://tinyurl.com/y9yjnsf8
Google Play https://tinyurl.com/y9jllvcm
Soul Survivors Book 1: Echoes From the Deep:
Jilted by her fiancé, Jillian Dulaine elects to go on her honeymoon alone. When her plane dives into the sea, she survives with the help of the souls of three women who perished in the crash.
London Times reporter Ranjiv Tenali, suspects that his mother sent Jillian to him as a potential wife and begins falling in love with her despite his suspicion that she carries his mother’s soul.
Jillian is strongly attracted to Ranjiv, but she soon realizes her task is not only to solve a ten-year-old murder that was witnessed by one of her extra entities; she is also part of the Earth’s plan to save itself from mankind’s destructive nature.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
After what seemed like an eternity, the lights slowly brightened. Jillian heaved a sigh of relief as the seat belt light came on and the announcement was made regarding their approach to the British Isles. Someone handed her another tray with juice and a muffin.
Ah, yes, a continental breakfast.
Odd, on a flight to London. Or maybe it wasn’t.
She had just taken a bite of the dry muffin when the plane shuddered, first rising and then falling through the air—straight down in a nose dive.
Plates and trays went flying. Screams sounded all around her. Her own tray flew up and hit her in the face. Oxygen masks deployed, but the rate of descent flung them against the ceiling rather than allowing them to dangle within reach. Overhead compartments exploded, their contents now deadly missiles. Blood splattered on the seat in front of her. She glanced at Anna, whose mouth was open in a frozen scream. Kavya clutched her chest, her eyes wide and staring in blank terror.
Were they over water or land? She had no idea. Either way, with such a steep, rapid descent, they were doomed.
I’m going to die. Right here. Right now.
Seth would read the headlines and know he’d made the right choice.
For some ungodly reason, that thought sent her off in a peal of hysterical laughter—laughing harder than she ever had in her life until tears flowed from her eyes.
She tried to lean forward and couldn’t. In fact, she could barely move at all. In a crash, you were supposed to lean forward and clasp your hands behind your head. That was the “crash position” wasn’t it? The best she could do was to clutch the top of her head with both hands. Not that it mattered. She was going to die anyway.
Someone shouted something about seat belts and life jackets. A flight attendant, perhaps. Due to her study of the emergency procedures card, Jillian knew precisely where her life jacket was. Not that she would ever be able to actually reach it. Not that it would make any difference.
This was no gentle glide to the surface, no floating freefall that suggested that anyone might survive. Her life didn’t pass before her eyes the way everyone claimed it would when death was imminent. All she could see was the bloodstained surface above her head. The plane shuddered again, the screaming engines and screeching metal joints drowning out the cries of the passengers—or perhaps no one had enough breath left in them to scream. She certainly didn’t. The air had been stripped from her lungs, as though a heavy weight on her stomach had forced her diaphragm into her throat.
She tried to think about her mother, her sister, and the sadness they and the loved ones of everyone aboard the plane would feel. Kavya’s son, Ranjiv, who would never see his mother’s face again, never hear her voice or feel her arms around him. So much loss. So much death.
Including my own.
The impact was so horrific it should have snapped her neck, or at the very least collapsed her spine. The crushing pressure from her seatbelt nearly cut her in half, making her heave up what little she had eaten. Seawater gushed in, quickly filling the fuselage, proving that they had indeed been flying over the ocean.
Too late. Now completely submerged, Jillian held her breath in a futile attempt to remain alive. People were dying all around her. She witnessed their death throes and tasted the blood and jet fuel mixed in with the seawater, still not quite believing she wasn’t dead.
For the moment, perhaps, but probably not for long.
Through the eerie underwater silence a voice that was strangely calm amid the chaos spoke to her. “Unbuckle your seatbelt, Jillian. You’re going to make it.”
With barely enough light to see, she turned toward Kavya. Her eyes were open and staring, but were now completely lifeless.
“Tell my son I love him. Now, go.”
Cheryl Brooks Contact and Social Media Links
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/cherylbrooksauthor/
Great interview. I love Echoes from the Deep. Fabulous story and stellar writing!
Hi Cindy! Glad you enjoyed the Soul Survivors! That was a story that had to percolate for a long, long time. 🙂
Thanks, Liz! I’m getting a little impatient with my current book too. I hope the “Deadline Effect” kicks in soon!
Great interview. Love the Soul Survivors series!
Great interview! I love your Soul Survivors trilogy. It is different from other paranormal books I have read and I loved the building suspense.
A great interview and a great excerpt. I even like your picture, Cheryl! It’s funny that I just read what you said about stories having to percolate for a while–I’m there right now and a little impatient with it. Great to see you!