Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Cheryl Robinson


After thirteen years in Hollywood, Alicia Day is giving up her dream of stardom and heading home to Detroit—and back to her roots.

Hope Teesdale is desperately seeking the truth about her husband’s death when she hears from her long lost half-sister Alicia. Suddenly her idea of family is put into question.

Heave Jetter hasn’t spoken to her sister Hope in years. Her spirit is being held captive by an abusive boyfriend. Her only comfort comes from admiring a mysterious man from afar on the streets of Detroit.

As the sisters reunite, they’re determined to help one another find their silver linings. And realize that they never have to go it alone again.

 How did you start out your writing career?

For several years after I completed a fiction writing class as an elective at Wayne State University , I was trying to develop my writer’s voice. I quickly finished a manuscript in the early 90’s and sent it out and received nothing but rejection letters from literary agents. One letter stated, “I can tell you have a voice and I’m sure one day your books will be on bookshelves, but we have no use for your work.” I will never forget that. No use? It was like they were saying you can write, but we still don’t want to be bothered with you. Being the kind of person who doesn’t take to rejection too well that letter was my last straw among so many. But the desire to write would never leave.

Then in 1997, I read the article "How I Did It" in Essence Magazine. It featured Kimberla Lawson Roby. She was discussing how she broke into the publishing industry by initially self-publishing. While I was reading the article, I told myself that was exactly what I was going to do. A light bulb really did go off in my head, because before that I didn't even know a person could publish their own book. She mentioned how supportive her husband was and how he told her to go for it and follow her dreams. There were no cheerleaders in my corner telling me what I could do only what I shouldn’t try to do, what I couldn’t afford to do. But I just knew that I could, believed that I would, and had Kimberla's article to inspire me along the way. Five years later, I self-published my first novel and a couple years later I signed my first publishing contract.

What did you learn while writing this book?

We all need a little help to get through the rough patches life throws at us. Some of us need a lot. Heaven needed a lot of help and all of the sisters needed each other.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted the characters to feel real while also entertaining the reader and I want readers to feel connected to each of them. I have a feeling which sister readers will like the most, but I could very well be wrong.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Effectively balancing my time between writing and promoting what I’ve written. Every author can’t afford to tour, but we all need an audience.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

1. Maya Angelou to say thank you. Her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, got me through some challenging teenage years.

2. Kimberla Lawson Roby because I’ve been reading her books since the late 90’s and she was one of my great inspirations. I’ve told her thank you before so maybe just to talk.

3. James Patterson because he's the highest paid author and according to Forbes Magazine earns $70 million a year. I think I could learn a lot from someone who sells more books than anyone. I'd love to find out.

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

1. That it's impossible to please everyone.

2. Trust your instincts. They are rarely if ever wrong.

3. There will be plenty of bittersweet moments.

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

Do study the craft of writing.

Don't believe everything you hear or read—consider the source and their intentions.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

To have so many readers anticipating my upcoming release that my publisher has to go into a second printing before the release date and my book is an instant New York Times bestseller.

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

Writing is not a racket. I’ve heard that tossed around recently. Writing a novel isn’t easy, and it’s also a very lonely process. It takes countless hours and what feels like endless days and nights. I can’t speak for all writers, but I write because of how I feel while I’m doing it. How it transports me from my reality to a fiction world that still feels real and allows me to see the world through the eyes of my characters. I probably write for the same reason people read.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best: Even though you have a publishing contract you will still have to work just as hard as you did when you were a self-published author.

Worst: Before I signed a book deal someone suggested a vanity press, which is essentially a publisher who charges you to print and distribute your books. Why would I have done that? I was already self-published.

If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?

Cape Town.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Try to solve real life murder mysteries.

Our theme this month is Online Marketing. What online marketing have you found works well for you?

Number one would be my Web site. I have Pam at Pageturners.net to thank for that. Putting that aside for a moment it's been somewhat hard for me to analyze for some reason. There are so many wonderful resources for readers to log on to and writers to promote their work on. It's hard for me to decide to go with one or another or go wtih most of them. This campaign I went with many of them. I do continue to advertise with the same sites from book to book so that has to say something. Let me also say that I have done interviews or book cover placements with each one of my books with AALBC, Mosaic Books, Urban-Reviews, RAWSISTAZ, APOOO, Book Remarks. And I've done an online campaign with Ella Curry of EDC Creations for two of my books. I also did a very successful internet tour with Marlive Harris of The Grits for Sweet Georgia Brown. I'm also doing some things this year with Sormag and with Sylvia Hubbard of Motown Writers. If you ask me what works best that's what's hard for me to judge. I’m still evaluating that, but I also do things just to be supportive. What works for one author may not work for another. And what worked or didn’t work for one book may or may not work for the next. It's best to give them a try and determine for yourself. I’m not sure what my online marketing campaign will be next year. I'll work on that in January.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

Whatever your thoughts are so shall your experiences be. If you think positively, you will be surrounded by others who think the same way. If you're negative and always think the worst of a person or a situation that's what you'll get.

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

Tentatively titled Remember Me, it is the story of two women who went from being best friends in high school to perfect strangers as adults after the loyalty that defined their friendship was tested. A fatal accident brings the women together to face their past, present, and future.

How can readers get in contact with you?

My Web site is http://www.cherylrobinson.com/

My blog is http://www.mybestlife365.blogspot.com/
My email address is newfictionwriter@msn.com

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1 comment:

Shelia G said...

Cheryl's books are always on my must have list. I got my copy but one of these days I will get an autographed copy :)

Great interview ladies.

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