Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, bestselling author Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl has seven books published and her new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer.
THE REST OF MY Life comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I think I first started writing about the time I took leave of my senses. I joke, sort of. Writing has always been my passion, since way back when a kindly English teacher gave me 22 out of 20 for an essay, bless him. I started writing actual books as a catharsis, in truth. As a single parent and nursing my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in my twenties, I needed an outlet. I’m the arty sort by nature but painting not being an option due to time constraints, I picked up a pencil instead – an actual pencil then – and started scribbling. It turned out to be a real antidote, because I found I was reflecting on the humour and love in what would otherwise been a sad situation.
My very first bestselling debut, however… Um, well it didn’t sell … at all. I think the agent who’d hailed it as such went off in search of Prozac. I’d love to tell you about it but, unfortunately, I eventually tossed it in the bin. I can tell you the title though! It was called Loose Screws! Hmm? Not so sure about that now. Silver linings and all that, though: my book, Warrant for Love – now published – was based on that first book. Or rather what I could remember of it, mostly a hunky policeman in a bite-the-buttons-off blue uniform.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Badly. Sometimes, as we all know, life tends to intervene on even the best laid plans. Plus, I foster disabled dogs so the mornings around dog-walking and breakfast rituals are generally pandemonium. To cater for that I tend to start around six, spending an hour or two on promotion: checking emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Then it’s shower, feed dogs, walk dogs (in rotas) and back at the keyboard by ten … ish. I then have another quick peek at my inbox and try to get on with some actual writing! Nowadays, social media is a necessary evil. Authors at all levels have to be active on various platforms but you have to try to prioritise. I tend to spend the morning writing up any interviews I may have. At lunchtime I have a browse of other author/reviewer blogs that grab my attention and then devote the afternoon to my novel writing. Finally, before clocking off at some unseemly hour, I dip into my social media platforms again to catch up on the gossip.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Often. Usually when there is something on my mind or my characters are being stubborn and not talking to me. Dog-walking really helps. I find my mind tends to wander, often in the direction of my plot, without having to force it and – ping – I get a lightbulb moment. Also, I write in two genres: contemporary romance and psychological thriller. If one book is seriously stalled, I’ll turn to the other and inevitably the characters from book one will then start clamouring for attention.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? There are those best laid plans again. I do tend to start with a premise and a vague outline. Along with that, though, always comes my main character. I always start off with a nicely formed man (which isn’t a bad way to start, you have to admit). I have no idea why. Even when I have an idea for a strong female protagonist, the male lead, whether he’s good or bad, or a dangerously heady mixture of both, he’s right there, his features, his hair, his clothes, his mannerisms, his conflicts. The heroine actually grows from him in a strange sort of way. What kind of woman would be attracted to him and why? Is she not attracted to him? In denial? If so, why? Is she totally attracted to him, but he’s not interested? You get the drift. I suppose I’m immediately playing the ‘what if’ game. What if … she was attracted but couldn’t/wouldn’t admit it? What if a relationship between them was unacceptable – to society, to family, to themselves? And so on. You can see how it can lead to are more interesting plot. The premise for The Rest of My Life was simply that Adam wasn’t your usual hero material. He has the essential human flaws, but Adam’s seem to run a little deeper. He’s a Lothario, a womaniser with a dark, defining secret in his past. The questions I wanted the book to answer were: Could we love him? Was he worth it? Could he learn to love himself?
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? Based on my answer above, never throw away your first manuscript! It might need work but as you write and learn, taking on board constructive criticism, you can fix it! Seriously, I’d advise a new author to climb on board social media platforms immediately. You can learn so much from other writers, connect on Twitter/FB and read author blogs, join online writing groups, ask for guidance on where to obtain editorial advice or enlist a beta reader. The most vital thing, in my opinion though, is to read – lots! To quote Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being published by Choc Lit (I read many of the Choc Lit authors, by the way. You need to know what a publisher is looking for in a book). Meeting the lovely WH Smith Travel Fiction buyer following last year’s Romantic Novelists’ Association conference wasn’t half bad either.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Ooh, I would love to. As mentioned above, my latest romance, The Rest of My Life comes from Choc Lit on recommendation of the WH Smith Travel Fiction buyer. I’ve told you a little bit about Adam. Here’s the blurb:
The Rest of My Life
“You can’t run away from commitment forever … “
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?
Here’s the video if you fancy a peek:
Did I mention I write in two genres? Yup, I’m a bit of a split personality. My latest psychological thriller, Death Sentence (title suggested by a chief constable, no less, who also kindly offered me guidance on forensics and police procedure), was released June 1 from Safkhet Publishing. I’m super pleased to say the book as earned a fabulous five star from a top Amazon Reviewer and was June’s featured book of the month on Best Selling Crime Thrillers.
Here’s the blurb:
Death Sentence – He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?
Detective Inspector Matthew Adams and Patrick Sullivan, drug dealer, pimp, murderer: two men on opposite sides of the law. A history that goes way back. A bully even in his youth, Sullivan had made it his mission in life to make the goody-two-shoes copper’s life a misery. Now Matthew has made it his mission in life to make sure the pimping scum responsible for prostituting young girls, abusing them, and beating them to death, is locked up for life.
When Matthew’s child becomes a casualty of the war between them, does Matthew want justice? Or does he want retribution? When Patrick’s brother is shot down like a dog in a drug bust gone wrong, Patrick wants payback. He wants Matthew. Or the copper loses his pretty, pregnant wife. As far as Patrick is concerned, it’s quid pro quo.
Death Sentence: an edge-of-your seat story of revenge.
And the video:
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? The Rest of My Life is a contemporary romance and it’s aimed at the contemporary women’s fiction market.
Death Sentence is a psychological thriller aimed at anyone who loves reading crime or fiction.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Apart from dog walking, boating. We have a little narrowboat: Aquaduck, which is our bolthole when we need a slice of peace and tranquillity.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) As touched on above, the thing to do is establish yourself on social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Set up a website too, or even just a blog so you can share your news. Take a look at the various blogs and websites of other authors in your genre to get some ideas. The thing to do is to make it as professional as possible. The thing not to do, on Twitter particularly, is to be all about your book and nothing else. Talk to people and engage with them.
11.Tell us about the book cover, how the designing came about. Oooh, I’m glad you’ve asked me that. Berni Stevens at Choc Lit designed the gorgeous cover for The Rest of My Life, and I swear she’s psychic. She plucked an image right out of my head. If you take a look at the video above, which I made way before the cover was designed, you will know what I mean. Spooky. For the record, I adore my cover!