What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?
Research is a tricky subject. I can get lost for hours so I now use a simple technique to keep the story flowing. In my first draft, I type the word RESEARCH in big bold letters when I need a solid fact. An example of this is in Harper’s Place. Since the story is set in New York City, the snow fall accumulation had to be right. I wrote the story, added a realistic amount of snow for a snow storm and upped the believability Harper and Patrick’s romance.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
Writer’s block involves smacking my head against the table, repeatedly until the blood vessels in my head have opened up. I’m just kidding. When writer’s block hits, I will find myself reading the story over again from the beginning, letting myself feel all the emotions the characters feel. Usually, this is enough to clear up any writer’s block and let me proceed.
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
Editing and revision can be fun. I like to restructure the story after I’ve made a rather terrible first draft. Each editing pass brings the story I’m working on closer to the original vision I intended. So I think I am most surprised at how much I enjoy editing something I’ve created.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
Baby name sites are wonderful for character naming, and I’ve more than one bookmarked. I can get stuck for hours finding the perfect name, so Baby Name sites become invaluable.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I hope my readers enjoy the stories I write for them. I want them to forget about reality as they roam through the worlds I’ve created.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I’d love to say I can devote an entire day to writing. I try to maximize the time I have. If I only have an hour or so, I’ll do light editing. I find that real creativity takes time and quiet and the ability to let myself be bored so that my imagination can explode.
Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men.
Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.
Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.
When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?
“How would you bring in new business, though?”
I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.
“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers, I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”
“What’s your hold up?”
“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. “Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it.” Did I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!
“That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house.”
“I was twelve and desperate. You can’t blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle. And your first kiss?” There is a challenge in his voice.
“Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him.”
I choke back a giggle. “Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice.” It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.
“The dark isn’t so bad, now is it?”
“I guess not.”
Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“No.” It sounds terrible now that I’ve said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.
“So,” he drawls out, “ever thought of dating a military guy?” He squeezes my fingers.
Is he serious?
His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I’ve gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. “I think it would depend on which military guy.”
“You’re killing me. You know that, don’t you?” His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.
“Are you asking me out, Patrick?”
“Trying to, but you’re not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.
“I wouldn’t mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.
In a small town outside of Anchorage, Sheryl Winters can be found penning her next novel with her two cats and one dog at her side. On sunny days, she can be found in Hatcher’s Pass about an hour outside of Anchorage.
Sheryl is a firm believer that superheroes are among us—regular people whose actions “create beauty out of chaos.” Sheryl is an advocate in the fight against bullying.