Jen: This weekend we welcome debut author Sheryl Brennan. Sheryl, will you please share a short bio with us?
Sheryl: Hi, Jen. Thanks for having me here today. A little about me… A little about me… well, let’s see. It was a sunny and delightful fall weekday in October. The incessant cries of a baby girl rang out from the stark hospital room of Fort Patterson Army hospital. (laughing) Just kidding.
I am a divorced mother of three girls ages 12,11 and 7. I work full time selling industrial safety supplies in Louisville, Kentucky, and write part time, waiting to be plucked out of obscurity. (laughing) I love to laugh, joke around, and have a little fun with my friends. Can’t you tell?
Jen: Tell us about Celtic Sacrifice and where it’s available.
Sheryl: Celtic Sacrifice is a historical romance set in 16th century Ireland during the end of the English/Irish Nine Years war. The story follows Ceana O’Hagan, the daughter of the chieftain of Dungannon, whom her mother’s clan of O’Connor feel is the key to a generation’s old prophecy. Over the course of the book, we get to see Ceana’s personal struggles with love, religion, and her own place in the world. There is a very interesting political plot twist that I won’t give away… but it shakes Ceana’s beliefs down to their very foundation.
One of the overall themes in the book is that God, by any name you call him, has a plan for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) Free will being what it is one of my constant prayers is that if I am straying off that path, he will guide me back to it. I’ve seen this play out in my life many times, and am asking my readers to email me when they have finished reading the book to tell me about a time when they felt a higher power was guiding their own steps.
Celtic Sacrifice is currently on pre-sale through Underdog Press at http://www.underdogpress.com. Because Underdog is a new publisher, they are in the process of selecting a distribution network so readers can find it at their local bookstore when it is released in March.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Sheryl: I have written in one form or another since I was in sixth grade, but I didn’t really start writing seriously until July of 2007 after I graduated from Business School. My path to publication took a couple of twists and turns. My first publisher closing their doors earlier this year. After dialoging with Kelly, the CEO of Underdog Press, she agreed to take on Celtic Sacrifice as not only my debut novel, but Underdog’s. It is both exciting and frightening to be the first author for a fledgling small press. It’s been a learning process for all of us, but well worth it in my opinion.
Jen: How does your family handle the time that you write? Are they supportive or disruptive?
Sheryl: A little of both. I can’t ask for better word of mouth marketers than my family, but at the same time, my girls can’t seem to understand that you have to view this as a part-time job. With three busy girls it is a juggling act to get everything done for sure!
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Sheryl: Both. I start out as a pantser, but then usually after about chapter 5 I turn into a plotter and use several different techniques. I want to make sure I don’t forget anything and writing romance is formulaic, so it helps to plot things out.
Jen: How many hours a day do you write?
Sheryl: My New Year’s resolution this year is Progress not Perfection, so I’m going more for word count than a number of hours. My goal is 3000 words a day. I don’t make it every time, but at least by measuring word count rather than time spent, you can see progress.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Sheryl: I use a very complex method. A combination of imagination, internet research, and a book of Irish baby names. LOL.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Sheryl: I wanted my family to feel as though it was as much their accomplishment as it was mine, so I took them out for a celebratory dinner at Applebee’s. Ever since, my daughter’s have been my best marketers.
Jen: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Sheryl: For most of my stories, it is the everyday struggles of life and my own inner longing, but for Celtic Sacrifice it was different. I can’t tell you exactly where the inspiration came from. It was as though the characters whispered their life stories to me and I was the conduit to get them on paper. A very other-worldly experience.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify most with?
Sheryl: Ceana was a character that I felt most at home with. I see many of her character traits in myself and struggle with the same issues she encounters. I think all authors want to be the star of their own stories and do things on paper they can’t do in the real world.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Sheryl: I am simply mad for anything Jane Austen. I enjoy reading her work while I’m writing because it puts me in a historical mood. I am afraid of taking on another author’s voice, so I don’t typically read within my genre while I am writing. LOL. Before I started writing you could most often find me reading Joanna Lyndsey, Sandy Blair, or anything remotely historical or Celtic.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Sheryl: Free time? What is that? Ha Ha. When I am not working, spending time with my three daughters, or writing, I enjoy dancing and singing. Another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn how to Swing Dance. I can’t wait to start!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Sheryl: I’m currently working on the sequel to Celtic Sacrifice entitled Celtic Hope which is tentatively scheduled for a June 2009 released date.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Sheryl: Look for me at http://www.sherylbrennan.com. While your there, sign up for my newsletter and check out my latest contest.
Jen: Do you have anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Sheryl: Absolutely. I’d love to know how many readers are looking for something new and unique within the genre. Romance novels tend to be formulaic, meaning the plot follows the same basic outline each time. Do your readers enjoy reading that traditional formula or are they thirsting for something different from the norm?
Jen: Thanks so much! Sheryl will be here answering your questions this weekend. So, ask away. She’ll also be giving away a copy of Celtic Sacrifice (once it’s released) as well as an e-gift basket filled with Celtic goodies to one lucky commenter. The contest will run until around 5pm PDT on Sunday, January 4.