Today we have the pleasure to learn a bit more about Cheri Crystal, author of several amazing books. Cheri also is one of the authors of All you Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, the wonderful anthology we’ll be publishing in a few days.
So, let’s start with some warm-up questions first:
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, definitely, coffee. Now that I live in England I’ve learned British tea is mighty tasty too, but coffee is my true beverage of choice.
What puts you in a bad mood?
Hormones get me down but not for long. I’m a busy person who doesn’t have time to dwell on negative feelings. I believe life is a true gift to be enjoyed to the fullest.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Supply ideal amounts of healthful, safe and plentiful food for everyone on the planet without worries about gluttony and starvation. Make the sidewalks safe from stepping in dog poop.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. I even wrote a story set at Moro Rock called, “Climbing Rocks.”
In the US it’s Godiva and in the UK my favorite is Thornton’s. My mouth waters for a warm Molten Chocolate Lava Cake served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, clotted cream and a raspberry on top. Oh, Yum!
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Buy a puppy and a nature reserve.
And now on to the writing-related stuff:
For how many years have you been writing now, and how did you come to it?
In 2003, I began reviewing LGBT fiction for several e-zines, IGW, JAW and later, for Lambda Book Report. My keen interest in lesbian fiction lead to a speaking engagement at the first GCLS Literary Convention in New Orleans where I joined a panel discussion about reviewing lesbian lit. Then in 2005, I wrote a short story on a dare that I shared in a public forum entitled, “Reading in a Public Place.” The story was later renamed, “Mile High Dare,” and was published as a stand-alone and then as part of Attractions of the Heart, my award-winning collection of erotic lesbian love stories. Since then, I’ve written dozens more stories and have many more ideas I plan to share for those eager to partake.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
I love to read and have a deep appreciation for literature and the written word. Writing helps me understand the process way beyond mere syntax. Besides that, it’s fun telling stories. Reading and writing an engrossing tale is the ultimate form of self-indulgent escapism. I write erotica and romance, because it means I get to do what I love with each piece I publish.
How long does it take you to write a novel or short story?
A project takes anywhere from a day or two to several weeks for a short story and two or more months for a novel. The first step is formulating the idea followed by roughing out a first draft. This usually takes a lot less time than the many revisions afterwards. Depending on the amount of editing needed, it may take days, weeks and in the case of my unpublished novels, it can take years until I feel it’s ready for prime time. I’ve written novels in approximately two months each, but they’re quietly “resting” between the numerous revisions I’ve already completed. It helps to step away from a project in order to revisit it later with a fresh perspective. I wrote my novels early in my writing career, and as it happens with other authors, I freely admit my early work still needs work, but I’m optimistic that they will be ready someday soon.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
It varies, but an educated guess averages around 28 hours. I used to spend 40 or more hours per week writing. Now that I’m happily married to the woman of my dreams, we’re out walking the moors, visiting family and friends and she often travels for work so I tag along. When we’re home I try to write while she’s at work, or else she gets cranky ;). With breaks for meals, housework, exercise, and naps, I can easily spend an entire day writing, revising, advertising, emailing, chatting on Facebook and designing covers. When I’m on a roll, I continue writing until thirty minutes before my wife gets home from work so I can have a smile, a kiss and our dinner ready when she enters the door.
When and where do you write the most?
I’m a morning person who writes at a desktop computer with a real keyboard, monitor and mouse. As long as I don’t get lost in public media, much easier said than done, I write best early in the day in a cozy corner of the living room.
How would you describe yourself?
A girl who can’t say no.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
Too much 😉
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Letting go. Even after a work is published, I still worry it’s not perfect enough and that I could have said something better.
What are you reading right now?
Nora Robert’s, The Collector. Before that I read, “Penny Nickels,” by Layce Gardner, and In Between by Jane Hoppen. I’m also reading classics, for example, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Flies and Great Expectations are the recent ones that come to mind.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Strong characterization with protagonists readers care about is paramount in a good romance novel. It also helps to have well-drawn antagonists; events that stand in the way of love; and an engaging believable plot until the stunning finish when girl-gets-girl against all odds.
What advice would you give new authors?
Have an arsenal of smart honest beta-readers and an editor who gives constructive criticism along with warranted praise. Don’t worry too much about the first draft of a story. Just get it all down on paper, from start to finish. Afterwards, you can tinker with it until you’re satisfied you’ve written a story you wish to share with others. Write every day. Choose topics of interest, topics that inspire passion and stimulate creativity even if you have to do extensive research. Set your goals high but don’t let unrealistic expectations stand in the way. Practice, practice, practice and patience, patience, patience. Never ever give up.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve recently published, “Starved for Love,” and my story, “Appetizing,” is due out soon in the All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance & Erotica anthology. I’m also busy tweaking a novella, Across the Pond.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
Across the Pond isa romance about an idealistic American woman, Janalyn, who attends a world-wide health initiative along with representatives from many nations. The UK is hosting the event in Southwest Devon where representatives from participating nations plan to address the obesity epidemic spreading across the globe to discuss affordable interventions that lead to achievable results. Once there Janalyn meets a like-minded Brit, named Robin, who blows every other woman out of the water. Cultural differences aside, and although Robin reminds Janalyn that the English language was spoken in Great Britain long before the colonists moved to America, they discover they enjoy similar interests, and funnily enough, they both speak the same language in and out of the bedroom. When not at odds with each other, and Janalyn isn’t worried about risking her heart, they enjoy each other’s company. But is it merely a whirlwind romance that lasts the length of the conference or can two women from different continents bridge the gap?
I’m honored to have been interviewed by Anna Sansom and featured in her article, “The Seductive Pen: MEET THE WOMAN WHOSE MISSION IS TO TURN YOU ON,” in the July 2014 issue of Diva Magazine. My super-short story, “Summer Relief,” is expected to be released in Diva next summer. Be on the lookout for, “A New Leaf,” where changing careers, revising one’s outlook on life, and finding love later in life comes with unexpected advantages. I also plan to issue another collection of short stories as a follow up to Attractions of the Heart, tentatively titled, Attractions of another Kind.
Feel free to check out my other blog at http://chericrystal.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop-post.html
Thanks for answering our questions, Cheri.