Name Sheryl Steines
Where are you from
I grew up in outside of Chicago, where I still live. I have a BA degree in English. Currently I’m full time writer but I’ve worked with databases, as a technical writer, as an information analyst. I’m married with two children. I love hiking, writing, interior design, reading and traveling.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My biggest news is, I’ve re-released The Day of First Sun after first publishing it in 2011. This is the third major publishing of the book, but I have no plans to re-write it. I think I’m done.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was 7 when I wrote my first story. All I knew is, I was so enthralled with the detective novel, all I wanted was to create my own story.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I finally considered myself a writer within the last year. Because I hadn’t really been selling books up until now, it was a mind thing. I had to convince myself this is what I am. If it’s what you want you have to believe it. Others will follow.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but life took me down an interesting and difficult path that pushed my dream out of my reach. At my 20 year class reunion, I reconnected with a woman who I discovered was a published author. I was so incredibly jealous, angry with myself that I hadn’t even attempted to write a book by that point in my life. I knew then, it was time to write my book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m a pantser rather than a plotter. Meaning, I have a beginning, an ending and a rough idea what the book is about. What’s great about this style is, I get surprised like the reader would get surprised. The problem with this writing style is because I don’t have a full plan in place, it takes several additional re-writes before I have the complete story. I think it takes longer to write a book this way.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are tough for me. I finally decided for this book, since the deadline to solve the murder was the mystical and made up holiday of the Day of First Sun, that would make a good title for the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not a specific message. I really want readers to see the main character Annie Pearce, as a strong, vulnerable, and likable character. The first book in this series is about change and acceptance and I want her journey to resonate with the reader.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Since the book is urban fantasy, I tried really hard to make sure that anything in the real world was accurate. Annie Pearce is a witch who comes in contact with the FBI. In those instances, I try to follow real FBI protocol. I contacted a friend of mine, a former FBI agent for help with one specific scene. She explained investigative procedures, job descriptions, and uniforms to keep the scene realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
This particular book series that I lovingly consider the Annie loves Cham series, isn’t based on my reality.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I would say other authors have influenced me the most. The collective authors that made up Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series was my first influence and really what started me writing my own stories. Judy Blume was another big influence, specifically her book Tiger Eyes. I wanted to write something that made others feel something, whether it was anger or love. Stephen King made me want to find the creative, out of the box story lines and JK Rowling reminded me that I loved the fantasy genre and that I wanted to be a writer in the first place.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. I’m trying to get the feel for short stories. Specifically, how short stories are developed with less of an opportunity to introduce background information or details. I’m working on a short story of my own and I’m trying not to get bogged down in details.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’ve read several fabulous new authors over the last few years, but none are considered favorites yet. I think because I’m a writer now, I’ve become overly critical. It’s like I know too many secrets.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on my second Annie loves Cham novel called Black Market. The book moves their story along to the next stage of their relationship through the solving of another crime. In between revising this book, I’m also cleaning up my YA novel called Gracie Madison Feels the World. It’s the first in a series about a 14 year old girl who finds out she’s an empath. I’m also working on a short story and my memoirs.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have to give credit to Ashely Egan. I met her through one of my early marketers. Ashley edited The Day of First Sun the second time I re-released it. She has been so incredibly supportive. Whether it’s encouraging words through email or Facebook or helpful suggestions, she’s always been one of my biggest fans and always wishes me well. One time, she made such a simple suggestion that turned out to be so incredibly important to the development of my characters. As a result of this little change, I re-wrote the entire first half of the book to ensure the timeline remained accurate. The change has been positive to early readers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. My goal is to be able to support myself as a writer.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I went back in 2009 when I first started writing The Day of First Sun, I would have waited to publish the book. I didn’t know much about editing, about waiting between edits and sitting with the book before beginning again. The longer I wait between edits the more I see and the better the story progresses. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and would be farther along with the series had I learned that lesson sooner. I’m pretty happy with the book now.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
All I remember is reading Nancy Drew and loving the detective novel. I just wanted to write my own. As a tribute to that first book, I named a very small character in The Day of First Sun after the character in my first story. Her name was Jeffrie Marcus, a female detective.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The Day of First Sun is an urban fantasy about a witch named Annie Pearce. She is a Wizard Guard, a magical police officer. She is called in by the FBI to help with what turns out to be a magical murder of the non-magical Princess Amelie. In the course of the investigation, Annie learns to navigate a changing relationship with her best friend, a deeper plot surrounding the princess’s death, and a connection to a case her father worked on before he died.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It takes me several edits before I feel I have a book worthy of sending to an editor. I wish I had the ability plot my books rather than being a pantser and just letting the book come to me. I think I could save time and energy, if I could just sit and plan out the entire book. That’s the most challenging aspect of writing.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
JK Rowling. She’s a beautiful writer, a thorough planner and created such an amazing world. After reading book seven I have such an appreciation for what she accomplished in her series.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet. I’m hoping one day to find my audience. When I do, my goal is to hit the trail for comic cons. Meet the fans in person.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Alisha with Damonza.com .
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Not being a good plotter, it seems to take several different edits before I have a book. Sometimes I just get bogged down with the details. Planning, so important…
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned how to edit. How to give myself time between each version, to live with what I wrote and give myself time to think about it before I delve into the next version.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day. Whether it’s a journal entry in your diary or a paragraph of a book or short story. It takes practice.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they like the stories as much as I love coming up with them and writing them out.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the first book I read. I just remember what I felt like after reading my first Nancy Drew book. It was joy and I couldn’t put it down.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Quirky stories, books, television shows that don’t take themselves serious make me laugh. I cry when characters achieve their goals, make something of themselves. I’m hooked on Gilmore Girls right now and when Lorelai opens her inn or when Rory graduates from college I cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Audrey Hepburn. I’m obsessed with her character, the way she dressed, the way she lived her life. Or Albert Einstein. He said amazing things about imagination and how important it is.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
She inspired others.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love being creative and my second love is interior design. I paint, reupholster furniture and sew pillows and window treatments.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Firefly, Harry Potter, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Gilmore Girls, Grace and Frankie, Apollo 13, Star Wars (episode 4), Princess Bride
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love all sorts of food. Sweets, Chinese Food, Pizza. My favorite colors are pink and green. I love mostly pop music, and I love live music. I go to concerts whenever I can.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? My website is http://www.sherylsteines.com/
FB Author Sheryl Steines
Amazon Author page
Do you have a bucket list? Have you ever taken the time to write it down? Well Sheryl Steines has and writing her first novel, The Day of First Sun, was when she crossed off number seven. After that first foray into the recesses of vast creative mind, she couldn’t stop and works on her art daily. With a degree in English from Wright University, she finds herself to be an fixated editor and world builder. Paying special attention to details in her novels is just a small example of her passionate and driven nature. Sheryl lives in Deer Park, Illinois, with her husband and two children.
In her spare time, she enjoys character-driven novels of every genre, quirky television shows, and spends all summer behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible.
Sheryl is all about connecting with readers and fellow authors and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog at sherylsteines.com