Daily Archives: April 16, 2009

Class of 2k9 Interview: Cheryl Renée Herbsman

2k9breathing

Debut novelist and Class of 2k9 member, Cheryl Renée Herbsman joins me today to discuss her YA novel, Breathing. Set on the Carolina coast, it tells the story of Savannah, who longs for romance to find its way to her one summer. It’s about young love and having the courage to embrace life’s adventures.

Welcome Cheryl!

What inspires you? (People / Places / Music / Art …)

…people who live in a soulful way, beautiful places in nature that are calm, quiet, and rich, music that comes from the heart, art that has movement and life hidden within it.

Describe your writing process.

I usually write while my kids are at school. I light candles and sometimes incense to set the time apart from the rest of the day. Then I sit on my bed with my laptop or sometimes pen and paper and listen. I try my best to avoid thinking up what is supposed to happen or what would make sense. Instead, I try to listen to what wants to be written and try to avoid critiquing it. Revisions come later. If I let that part of my brain get its foot in the door, I lose the flow.

What’s your cure for writer’s block?

Getting my inner critic out of the way. Usually if I’m blocked it’s because the thinking/critiquing side is taking too strong a role. If I can get that part to step aside and let me have a little time to be, the writing usually finds its way.

Tell us about the moment you learned you were going to become a published author.

Well, there was a lot of screaming involved. I warned my kids before I started screaming so they wouldn’t think something bad had happened. I was like, “I’m really happy and so I’m going to scream now.” And then proceeded to shriek, while they looked on, amused.

What surprised you most about publishing your first novel?

Lots of things surprised me. I think the most surprising was how long the process takes and how many people are involved. It’s really a major undertaking for a publishing house.

What was the most challenging thing to get right in Breathing?

The timeline was most difficult. The story takes place in one summer and it was challenging to make sure the timing of everything made sense. In particular, the issue was the program in the mountains that Savannah applies for. In the first draft, she didn’t find out about it until much later in the story, which made the steps she had to go through to apply too compressed. So pulling back the initial idea of it to right at the beginning of the story, and then spreading the steps through the story, worked better.

How are you and Savannah similar?

Well, we are both hopeful romantics and dreamers. I also did very well in school and tried too hard to be responsible as a kid.

Speaking of romance… here’s a picture Cheryl sent that shows her as a teen on the beach with her first love, Oded, who turned out to be her true love. She and her husband are celebrating 20 years of marriage.

beach2

Savannah is quite the bookworm. What books did you read as a teen?

I read a lot. As a teen I particularly liked long books, the kind of sagas that went across generations. I liked reading romance and also Marion Zimmer Bradley, Paulo Coelho, and the spiritual fiction of Richard Bach. But I would read almost anything.

If you could be an invisible observer in a room full of teen readers, what are some of the things you hope they might say in their conversation about your book?

I hope they would like the story and the characters and that they would get why I included the dialect. But mostly I hope they’d feel inspired by the idea that love can be real and dreams can come true.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story that takes place at summer camp that is about friendship and self-discovery, and of course, romance :)

Thanks so much Cheryl for taking the time to answer these questions!

(Breathing is published by Viking)

Winston Breen Puzzle Party

Eric Berlin has masterminded the coolest promotion for his new book, The Potato Chip Puzzles. It’s the sequel to his first mystery, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen. He has planned a “Puzzle Party” / blog tour, where puzzlers travel about the kidlitosphere, collecting and solving puzzles and then entering to win some awesome book prizes. Here’s Eric’s explanation of how it’s all going down:

Librarians! Teachers! Booksellers! Parents!

Winston loves to puzzle his friends and classmates, and now he’s got some puzzles for you! Solve the puzzles and submit your answers, and you can win…

- A signed copy of Winston Breen’s latest puzzling mystery, The Potato Chip Puzzles.

- Or the grand prize: Every single one of G.P. Putnam’s Sons Spring 2009 children’s and YA books, plus advance reading copies of numerous Fall 2009 books!

Every day from April 16th to April 22nd, there will be a new puzzle waiting for you on a different blog:

April 16th: A Patchwork of Books
April 17th: Fuse #8
April 18th: Shelf Elf (that’s me!)
April 19th: Books Together
April 20th: Bookshelves of Doom
April 21st: Chicken Spaghetti
April 22nd: Oz and Ends

Go to every blog! Solve every puzzle! Submit your answers by the end of each day to puzzleparty@gmail.com. Every day, one randomly drawn correct answer will win a signed copy of The Potato Chip Puzzles!

And save your answers — you’re going to need them to solve the final puzzle on April 22nd. One randomly drawn person who submits the right answer to that puzzle will win not only The Potato Chip Puzzles but over two dozen other books, courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons!

Get ready to start solving! The party begins April 16th!

Those are the basics. So hey… April 16th! That’s today! Head over to the first stop to find the first puzzle and get solving. I’ll see you here on April 18th when I’ll be hosting the party.