Friday, May 06, 2011

FA AUTHOR: L. Cherelle

During childhood and teenage years, L. Cherelle wrote short stories and plays, but it was not until December 2009 that she decided to take a leap of faith and prove to herself that she could complete the process of writing and publishing. In 2009, she transferred her passion for all things handmade to the art of storytelling. L. Cherelle’s writing reflect the lives and relationships of Southern, lesbian identified Black women in the hope that readers will seek authenticity in their relationships and within themselves. “Through my characters, I want all women to shed damaging stereotypes and tainted expectations. We can expound on the meaning of womanhood by forming our own definitions.” Accept the Unexpected is L. Cherelle’s debut novel. She is currently writing and editing future Resolute Publishing titles.

L. Cherelle is a graduate of The University of Tennessee with bachelor and master degrees in Fine Arts and Business Administration, respectively. She is a native of Memphis, TN, but currently resides in Louisville, KY.

How did you start out your writing career?

I don’t consider my writing a career, but as a child, I wrote a lot. Writing as a hobby faded away during my teens. At the end of 2009, I began writing Accept the Unexpected as a way to stay occupied while unemployed. I plan to write and publish more fiction (and nonfiction) and that could potentially lead to writing as a career.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I reaffirmed to myself that it’s important to tell your own story. I also learned that I’m capable of publishing several books. And I was surprised to learn that I knew so many women who’d started writing “a book,” but they’ve never had the time, drive or encouragement to complete their manuscripts and pursue self-publishing.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

With Accept the Unexpected, I hope to portray real experiences through relatable characters. This book is a glimpse into my experience as a young, same gender loving African American woman living the South, and my interpretation of what other women have experienced. So if a reader completes the novel and feels that he/she relates to the character’s struggles and the authenticity of the relationships that were formed between the characters, I’ve met a huge goal. I also want to be an example to family and friends. I want them to see that with the right tools and support, publishing is a possible.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

This is a very hard question to answer! But I’d have to say Nkosazana. Nkosazana is the sister of the main character (Keleya). She’s outspoken, outgoing and maybe too real. She’s the embodiment of several women’s personalities, attitudes, and habits that I’ve encountered throughout the years. Nkosazana and Keleya have contradictory personalities, so they often butt heads. However, they have a special bond and exemplify the sister-friend relationship that exists in our communities.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

Although I was overwhelmed on several occasions, I continued to take things step-by-step. In doing so, I was surprised to learn that the process of publishing is surmountable. And I've surprisingly enjoyed the whole process.

What aspects of writing do you love the best and which do you hate the most?

I love characterization the most. I often find myself daydreaming about the character's dialogue and what they will “experience.” I love when someone close to me reads an excerpt and says, “Is that supposed to be me?” or “That’s so you.” As for what I hate the most, it’s frustrating to hit writing blocks and to struggle with some aspects of the plot.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known more about review submissions, literary awards, and my genre’s “position” within the publishing industry. But hey, everything comes with time.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Always be open to constructive and pessimistic criticism. If you’re too attached to the material, you may not be open to making necessary changes. Do not write or edit indefinitely. You have to make solid decisions for the benefit of the reader.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It’s not easy to create lively and dynamic characters. When an author’s imagination begins to run wild, it can be hard to stay true to the characters. Many non-writers think that author’s crave attention, fame, or fortune and never consider the fact that many authors write to fulfill personal desires or goals. My writing is my voice and one method in which I’ve chosen to speak for women within our communities and myself.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

There are some qualities of the protagonist in Fledgling by Octavia Butler that I wouldn’t mind embodying. Shori is aware, smart, powerful and strong, and can live for several hundred years. She is envied, despised and admired all at the same time. Most importantly, Shori is important to the survival and wellbeing of her people.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time is rare for me these days. When I do have it, I’m probably sleeping. When I am able to fill spare time with more constructive activities, I enjoy reading, crocheting and watching movies.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

A good deal of interaction will take place online (via blogs and radio shows). I am also preparing to host some local reading activities with other authors in my city (Louisville, KY) for face-to-face interaction.

Our theme for this month is Ebooks. Do you own an ereader and if so, what is the last book you downloaded? If you don’t own an ereader, do you see yourself purchasing one in the future?

No, I don’t have an ereader. I love physical books! I like to write notes on the pages and highlight passages. I also like to see them on my bookshelves. I’m into technology, but not as a medium for recreational reading. So I’ll probably never purchase one (however, that’s not a promise).

Oprah always asks, “What do you know for sure?”

We have more power over our individual destinies than we think. When we make good choices that lead to a positive or a success, we often give credit to everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, it’s important to know your role in creating positive outcomes. In doing so, you can replicate those choices and share the lessons learned with others who need to make the same good decisions and changes in their lives.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

This abbreviated excerpt is from the continuation of Accept the Unexpected. The book is currently untitled.

The growth of the mentorship program over the past year was tremendous…Keleya found a permanent home for the program within a small business center—a space she secured for below market rent. With a little creativity, she’d transformed the sterile and lifeless office suite into a teen hangout…

In reviewing the mandatory paperwork she would submit to the granting agency the following morning, she noticed a sticky note from Jessica. Program evaluations forms are missing for Jeff Nolden and Camille Rogers. The fact that Jeff had yet to submit his evaluation came as no surprise…Camille’s negligence, on the other hand, was interesting. Although Keleya hadn’t had much interaction with Camille—only short chats at meetings—she was never a burden. The best way to reach Jeff was through a text message. So she sent one to politely demand his evaluation. Then she picked up the office phone to call Camille, who was always easy going and amicable. She agreed to bring the form to the office immediately. Jeff replied minutes later.

Currently in a meeting. Left the form at home. My wife is there. Can you pick it up?

Camille arrived after thirty-five minutes. Keleya was startled when she heard a knock on the door, realizing she’d forgotten to flip the latch. She got up and ran across the large room to open the door. “Hey, I forgot to unlock the door for you. Come in.”

“That’s okay,” Camille smiled. “How are you?” she asked as she followed Keleya across the room.

“I’m good. Thanks for bringing the evaluation by on such late notice.”

“No! I apologize for this being late. I’m not the procrastinating type. This somehow slipped past me,” Camille said. When they reached the desk, she handed the sealed evaluation form to Keleya.

“It’s cool,” Keleya said as she grabbed a pen, accidentally brushing Camille’s arm. “Excuse me. It only would’ve been a problem if I didn’t get it today,” Keleya smiled as she signed the envelope.

“Do you have any more evaluations to collect?”

“Just one more.”

“Are you operating this program alone? I’ve never seen any staff members.”

“Sort of, but no.” Keleya figured Camille wanted to have a conversation, so she said, “Have a seat. I have an intern who comes in during business hours.” She paused to pull the other office chair closer to Camille. “She doesn’t come to most meetings because of evening classes.”

Camille crossed her legs and shook her head in understanding. “Do you do this full-time or do you have another job?”

“I had a full-time job. Now I just devote my time to the center. But I wouldn’t call running the program full-time. It’s rare for me to even work thirty hours a week.”

“Wow, sounds like the good life,” Camille smiled. “What about your partner? How does she feel about what you’ve created?”

Everyone in or associated with the program knew that Keleya was same gender loving. But Keleya didn’t understand the motive of the question. Had Camille been gossiping with other volunteers about her relationship status? Or had she asked in an attempt to get answers to the questions she contemplated all alone? “Partner?” Keleya smiled. “I’m not in a relationship.”

“Oh, that’s good to know,” Camille said as she sat back in the chair, drawing attention to her smooth legs.

“And why is that?”

“Because now I know how forward I can be with you,” Camille smiled.

‘Okaaay,’ Keleya thought. “What are you trying to say?”

“That I want to take you out this Friday.” Camille was a beautifully browned sister with thick, shoulder length hair, bright teeth, and the confidence to match. Most importantly, she’d already met Keleya’s main criteria: she was self-assured and smart. Keleya never thought she would recruit Black women that she actually found attractive. But when it occurred, she of course wondered about Camille’s sexual orientation. Because of grant regulations, however, Keleya could never ask her formally during the initial volunteer interview or informally through periodic talks. And even if she had known, the tidbit of information wouldn’t have been enough to break fraternization rules…

Although Camille was a forbidden fruit, Keleya didn’t mind the temptation…Her lips alone were enough to make Keleya rethink professional ethics. So she tapped her fingernails on the glass top desk and said,

“Okay.” Besides, what harm could one evening cause? And it didn’t have to be a “date.” It would just be two adults enjoying each other’s company…“I have to leave to pickup the other evaluation, but call me tonight and we’ll talk about this more.”

“Okay beautiful,” Camille agreed. After they stood, she touched Keleya’s arm and said, “I’ll talk to you later.”

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can contact me via email at They can also communicate with me via or the Resolute Publishing Facebook page.


Keleya Smith is a confident Southern woman who finds herself at an inadvertent crossroad at age twenty-six, waiting for life to unveil meaning and purpose. Keleya thought she had the ultimate catch with Kris, but their four-year relationship is destroyed with one night of deceit. The breakup forces Keleya to come to a discomforting realization: she is unfulfilled, often seeking refuge in her hobby, family, and friends. Despite the emotional damage, Keleya remains loyal to love. So when fate drops someone new at her doorstep, she transfers the yearning for intimacy, respect, and friendship to Jordan—an attractive twenty-nine-year-old native of Philadelphia. This newfound relationship catches Keleya by surprise and tests her looming desire for her old confidant Kris. But when feelings for Jordan transform into more than casual dating, her faith in authentic relationships is challenged by an unforeseen circumstance. In the struggle to manage trust and vulnerability, Keleya finds herself caught in a whirlwind of old loves and new possibilities.


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