Interview With Cheryl St.John

 Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?

The defining year for me was the year my youngest daughter went to first grade. I had been at home raising four children spread out over several years and felt the void of sending the youngest to school all day. Until then I’d

been playing at writing, keeping handwritten notebooks and dallying with the stories like a hobby. Then and there I decided that I was going to actually do what I’d always dreamed

of doing and write an entire book. I started it in October and finished it during that school year. I had the time of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, so the story had no plot or conflict and the villain was wishy washy, but the characters were fun and I enjoyed creating a romance. I even submitted the manuscript to every publisher and agent I could find. Only years later did I understand how embarrassing that was. I did everything you’re not supposed to do. Who knew the time period was unmarketable? Who knew you weren’t supposed to bind your submission in a pretty folder? The story is as yet unpublished, though some day I might like to rework it.

 

How long after you first started submitting did it take for you to have your first book accepted?

A lo-o-o-ong time. As I said, I started submitting before I was ready, before I’d discovered a writing group or Dwight Swain”s Techniques of the Selling Writer. I was writing for about four years before I found a local writers group. I was fortunate. I generous lady and talented Avon author named Diane Wicker Davis started my local chapter. She read my stuff and showed me how to make the stories better and the writing stronger. I lucked into a critique group with another published author, Barbara Andrews, who now writes with her daughter, Pam Hansen. Together and she and the group encouraged me. Once I learned the techniques to write to sell, it took about another three years.

 

Picture I drew as a kid

What attracts you to your time period?

For me the appeal of Americana and westerns is the simplicity of the time and the durability of the men and women. Life was difficult. People were determined and resilient. I watched westerns from the time I was a kid and learned to appreciate the charm and strength of a cowboy. The ever-present themes of good verses evil are the foundations of those universally appealing types of stories. Who doesn’t love to root for an underdog? Who doesn’t want to see the bad guy get his comeuppance?The rancher/farmer’s sweat and blood are imbedded in his land–as deeply as the riverbeds and the roots of the ancient trees. It may have been his father’s before him, or he could have broken his back to earn it. In any case he will die to keep it. Solidarity. And any man who would pour this much passion into his land, will love his woman even more ardently.

To nearly all women I’ve spoken to on the subject of cowboys, physical appearance plays a major part in the attraction. The reality was that dungarees or Levis were not exactly ‘slim cut’ or sexy; they were stiff and probably dirty, and few real cowboys fit the image of the Marlboro man, but our fantasy cowboy has a lean backside in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, long legs, and that ever-present Stetson pulled low over his eyes. Ever notice how a pair of chaps invariably draws the eyes to the uncovered sections of denim?

Our man wears his Colt strapped to his thigh, the holster rides his lean hips, his spurs jangle–this dangerous guy exudes sex appeal. The western hero is a hard body due to demanding work on the range, riding and roping, chasing outlaws, stopping the runaway stage, and sleeping on the ground. He’s untamed, a little wild, and a lot sexy. He doesn’t need a gym membership or a treadmill.

 

Angel Cheeks

What does your writing cave look like?

Messy. Papers everywhere. Books all over. I’m known far and wide as a collector and my office reflects that particular gene as much as any room in my house. In my office have a curio full of old and new dolls: Barbies, some recently wearing dresses made of vintage hankies, Ginnys, Disneys, Madame Alexanders, and any others I can’t resist.There are framed writing awards on the few visible walls—most of the wall space is taken up by bookcases. The color of the walls is called Strawberry Pot, it’s a soothing and inspiring teal, my favorite color. I have copiers, printers and two computers on the wrap-around desktop.

My book covers are thumbtacked to the bulletin boards that back my desk area on three walls, along with pics that readers have sent. I have oil lamps, a row of Angel Cheeks, framed photographs of the cutest kids ever, a jeweled tiara and paperweights. A vintage globe that belonged to my grandmother sits atop one of my cabinets. There are many things I love about my space, and one of them is that it’s sound proof. You can actually hear the difference when you come into the room—the effect created by four walls of books.

 

When you are not writing what do you do?

Probably not sleeping, LOL My husband and I like to garden together, so many of our summer weekends are spent creating arbors and gardens and soon ponds. We love to shop flea markets and browse antique malls, and I”m a vendor at my local Brass Armadillo, antique mall–in my spare time. 🙂 More often than not you might find me selecting paint, then watching him roll it on or arranging a spot in the house just so. My son is amazingly talented and helps with remodeling projects.

I like to make interesting displays of vintage collections and have so many I have to change them out to enjoy them. I’m a movie junkie, so late night I watch movies (and take plotting notes—it makes me feel like I’m working). I recently wrote my first non-fiction book in which I use movies to explain plotting, characters and emotion. It”s called Writing With Emotion, tension & Conflict, and it will be a November release from Writers Digest.It”s up for pre-order at amazon.

What else is new?

I recently revised and edited three of my early books and have published them as digital books at the major retailers. I”m working on completing a Harlequin Historical and have my next project planned.

 

Please leave your email address to be entered to win one of my Kindle books!


If you have a Kindle or Nook, you can start reading any or all of them within minutes by clicking on one of these links. If you”ve already read them or plan to, I would appreciate all reviews.

Land of Dreams

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/awe75qd

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/9wctgtc

 

In this tale of hope and love, too-tall spinster Thea Coulson wants to be a mother to a child who arrives in Nebraska on an orphan train. When Booker Hayes shows up to take his niece, a marriage of convenience suits them both. Thea’s dreams are filled with the tall, dark army major, but she guards her heart. Booker’s first taste of home and hearth has him longing for more, but first he must win the hearts of both of the females in his life.

 

 

 

Saint or Sinner

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/b2rvcvp

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/ajwb3p7

 

Joshua McBride returns from the war a changed man, ready to put down roots and plant his feet in the community. Prim and uptight Miss Adelaide Stapleton, leader of the Dorcas Society, doesn’t believe he’s changed—people are never what they seem. But she has plenty of secrets of her own—among them the inescapable fact that Joshua sets her heart to pounding and makes her long for his disturbing kisses. How long can she keep her own past hidden—and resist temptation?

 

 

Heaven Can Wait

For Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/atmqnbz

On Nook: http://tinyurl.com/avm23y6

Raised within the confines of a strict religious community, Lydia Beker longs for a simple touch, dreams of seeing more of the world. When handsome farmer, Jakob Neubauer and his family visit the bakery where she works, she is fascinated, but Outsiders are forbidden to her. Jakob is attracted to Lydia, as well, and she makes the difficult decision to leave everything she knows behind to marry him. He offers love and passion, but will she ever fit into his world?

Heaven Can Wait is one of the top ten January covers at http://ebookindiecovers.com/ in the Indie Cover Awards.

Website | + posts

Land of Dreams for Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/awe75qd
Colorado Courtship (Winter of Dreams) Anthology LIH 1/13
Visit me on the web: http://www.cherylstjohn.net/
From the Heart: http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/

14 thoughts on “Interview With Cheryl St.John”

  1. Ah, I dream of a cushioned by bookshelves office of my own. 🙂 It’ll happen someday.

    It really is a shame about the pretty folders, isn’t it?

  2. I love reading about the old west and agree with your thoughts on why it’s so appealing. Glad to hear your working on writing more 🙂

  3. Love your new covers. It must also be great to go back with your years of insight and tweak earlier books.

    Peace, Julie who can’t wait for your non fiction book on craft.

  4. Beautiful new looks for your books… I know I definitely have one of the three… have to double check and see if I own the other two. Enjoyed reading your interview… thanks for sharing Cheryl! 🙂

  5. Great interview! Love your new covers. I also am a big fan of the old west. I watched westerns all the time when I was a kid and still enjoy them today. My father was big into westerns, so it rubbed off on me. The western romances are still my favorite read today. Thanks for sharing your books with us today.

    ghurt110 AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. Great interview, Cher! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about you, and was so glad to know that someone else had a messy office. LOL I must have your book on writing. I’m off to get it now!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  7. Cheryl, I am so glad you wanted to write all those years ago and got such good help. We the readers have benefited from it. I have enjoyed many of your books and am looking forward to many more.

    I had to smile at your description of your writing space. It sounds wonderful. Collections are wonderful. I just wish they didn’t take up so much space. You obviously have yours well under control, something I am still trying to accomplish. It is hard to resist those wonderful little “finds” that we come across at shops, yard sales, flea markets, etc.

    Good luck with your ponds. We have wanted one. The pasture across the street from us is perfect, but it is not for sale and we probably couldn’t afford to do what we’d like anyway. We’ll have to content ourselves with the flower and vegetable gardens.

    I am glad you are reworking your older books for e-readers. I have boxes of older books waiting to be read or reread, some of them yours. Having them in e form would clear up some of the clutter. I am looking forward to your next Harlequin Historical release.

  8. The day I met MY cowboy…Wranglers, Stetson, truck, horse…I KNEW he was gonna be mine and 29 years later he still is. I love stories set in Western time periods!

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