Monday, March 11, 2013

Today I Welcome Author Cheryl Koevoet

Hello Cheryl and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to interview with me today. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a native of Portland, Oregon and have lived abroad for more than twenty years. My daily experiences of living and working in an old-world culture provide the inspiration for writing fantastical stories that enthrall, enlighten and entertain. The Carnelian Legacy is my debut novel. I currently live in The Netherlands with my husband, four children, two cats, and the laziest greyhound on the planet.

Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?

This story has actually been simmering in my head in a sort of crock-pot stew for more than twenty years now. In my home state of Oregon, there is a visitor's attraction called The Oregon Vortex that stakes its claims on the fact that the laws of physics no longer apply there and strange phenomenon occur. When I was a kid, we often passed it on our way to California and I imagined that it was really a mysterious portal to another world.

What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?
I love to read historical romances and any kind of fantasy. Growing up, I loved the Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, and in my later years, anything written by Michael Crichton. Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong century since I especially love to write stories that take place somewhere in the distant past.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
I had a rock-hard beta reader once who hacked my story to pieces and I cried for two days. But it taught me to look more critically at my work and it did make the story better. But I also came to the realization that some of what the beta reader said was opinion and personal taste but not necessarily the final word.

The biggest compliment I ever had was when a woman told me that my book was so good that she forgot she was lying on deck on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean!

When you sit down to write, do you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or do you use a computer? Do you prefer one way or the other?
Definitely computer. My hands can fly over the keyboard to keep up with the rate of my thoughts, but writing by hand goes way too slow!

What do you do when you are not writing?
I spend my time editing my projects or engaging other writers on social media. I'm a social freak and love to connect with people.

Compared to when you first started writing, have you noticed any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?
 Yes! When I first started, my dialogue was more stilted with "he said," "she said." But now I've gotten it to flow much better and I just use my ear to tell me when they should be in the dialogue and when the spoken words are simply enough.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
There has to be a fast enough pace to keep me interested. Prose is fine and it has its place, but I don't like to get bogged down with flowery words just to gratify the author's desire to display his or her literary sophistication (see what I mean?) There has to be some sort of romantic tension going on as well or it usually won't be enough to keep me interested.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
The writing itself fascinates me because it's learning how to express one's thoughts and ideas on the page. I love the opportunity to sit down and just write for hours on end.

I don't like the process that a writer must go through in order to become a published author. I think that the majority of great stories out there get shelved because too many writers just give up after hearing "I didn't connect with the story as well as I had hoped" from literary agents.

When you walk into a book store, where do you head to first? Why?
First, I grab a cappuccino. Then I usually head over to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy shelf and Christian Fiction. I don't know why -- I just naturally gravitate there. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker are some of my favorite authors.

Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?
I am still in my day job which I actually love. But since I work almost full time and come home in the evenings to a husband and four kids, there isn't a whole lot of time left over for writing. I work for the U.S. Department of State in The Hague, The Netherlands.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Corn nuts and Diet Pepsi. eating them right now, as a matter of fact. The crunching helps me think better!

Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do?

 I love watching a great movie, and traveling is definitely in my blood.

 We all have our little things when it comes to reading, is there anything that bugs you when you read a novel? What is it?

There has to be an even balance between dialogue and prose -- to much of either drives me batty. I also don't like a whole lot of "he answered," "she countered." I like it when the author trusts the reader enough not to constantly be telling them who says what. If the dialogue is done well creating distinct voices, then the reader should be able to figure it out with very little help.

What do you listen to when you write? Do you find one type of music over another that inspires you to write? Why?
 I am what I like to call "an epic writer." This means that I am imagining everything around me as if I am actually in the scene. The most inspiring music kind for this is movie soundtrack music. Depending on the mood of the scene, I might listen to romantic melodies from a Jane Austen movie, or if it's a chase scene, some dramatic film music usually works best.

Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason?
 My debut novel is dedicated to the memory of my father. The opening scene in the book begins when the main character is standing next to the casket at her father's funeral. I wrote that chapter just five months before my own father died very unexpectedly. Suddenly I was experiencing the same emotions as my main character and the book took on a whole different perspective. I was able to work through my own grief by completely identifying with the main character's emotions.

 Who are your favorite authors?

Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Michael Crichton, Frank Peretti and Jane Austen. Strange that all these are men except one, don't you think?

What 7 words would you use to describe yourself?
Loyal, Creative, Passionate, Perfectionist, Giving, Vulnerable, Compassionate

Which is your favorite character in your book and why?

This is definitely the most difficult question to answer. I love all of them in their own special way. But I think I would have to say Darian Fiore because I wish I knew someone like him in real life. He isn't perfect and has his weak points, and yet he still always tries to do the right thing. Sometimes he messes up big time and has trouble forgiving himself, but it just makes him more human. Plus he's just so drop-dead gorgeous! To swipe a line from the book: "He was not the sort of man a girl could be just friends with. Darian Fiore was the sort of man that most women would have trouble remembering to breathe whenever he was around."

What would you like the world to know about Cheryl Koevoet?
I love to write and I love to share with others. When I combine these two things together, I create something that I hope will last and resonate with many generations.

Can you give a small blurb about what we can expect from this book?
Eighteen-year-old Marisa MacCallum always knew the man of her dreams was out there somewhere. The problem is--he's in another dimension.

You've signed with WestBow Press. How did this came about and have you liked working with them?
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. After searching for almost a year for a literary agent (without success) I began to question the entire process of going the "traditional" route. Just because I couldn't find someone to fall in love with my story didn't mean that it wasn't worth publishing. When I decided to go with WestBow, I was a little apprehensive at first, but the folks there have been kind and gracious the entire way. I have enjoyed learning the process of steps that turn a manuscript into a physical book and looking back now, I wouldn't have done it any other way.

 On your blog, you made the announcement in September of 2012 and your book is being released this month (squee)! That's so fast! What have you had to do to prepare for this big moment?
To be honest, I haven't had any time to rest on my laurels yet! I have taken the story through countless edits and through it all, I have always been my own worst critic. Like one of my main characters, I am a recovering perfectionist and am always trying to push each scene to it's outermost limit. I have been blogging, tweeting, and facebooking like a maniac to build up my platform.

Where can we get your book?

The hardcover and softcover versions will be distributed worldwide through, Barnes & Noble, the WestBow Press Book Store, and all the other major booksellers and distributors. It will also be available in e-book format for Kindle, Sony, Kobo, iBook, and all the other forms of e-readers.

Fill in the blank. "if I were a shoe, I'd be a_______________?"
Manolo Blahnik

Favorite place?
 Cannon Beach, Oregon

You're face to face with the entrance of a cave. All is black inside except for the red-rimmed eyes of a creature. What happens next?
I would send in my fearless main character, Darian Fiore with his Excalibur to defend me.
Rainy days and sweatpants or sunny days and a swimsuit?
I'm an Oregon girl at heart. Rainy days and sweatpants!

What does your future hold?
I don't know and I don't want to know.
 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Everyone born on this earth has a purpose. We all have an important role to play and each person is precious in the eyes of God. No matter how gray the skies become, remember that the sun will shine again.

What was the hardest scene to write (no spoilers!)?
 Definitely the opening chapter. While it might seem to be the weakest chapter of the entire book, it sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Which character do you relate to the most? Why?
I can relate to all three of the main characters, Marisa, Darian and Arrie. Each of them has a part of me in them, but if I could only pick one, it would have to be Darian. He's so concerned with never letting anyone down that sometimes he forgets to live a little.

Outside of family, what was the greatest support while you wrote this novel?
It would have to be my good friend Christy. She fell in love with the story and the characters, and encouraged me in spite of the rejections from literary agents. I call her my sister because we are not bound by blood but by love.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

I know it sounds cliché, but if you really love your writing, never give up. Re-write, edit, push it to the limit to make it better. Don't be easily dissuaded by rejection or become discouraged when it seems like others are always getting the breaks you should be getting. If you love what you write and are passionate about it, find a way to make it happen.
What did you have for supper last night?

Our family followed a modern Dutch custom of grilling meat in a special pan at the table. One of my favorites!

 Is there an actor who you think looks like your MC?

 No. I have tried to figure out who could play Darian Fiore in a movie, but I just can't. I can see him in my head, but I can't visualize the right actor.

 Vanilla or chocolate?

 Uh, chocolate. This is Europe!

 As a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 First choice: Teacher; Second choice: Actress; Third choice: Stewardess

 Last book you read?

 Re-read Timeline by Michael Crichton

The Carnelian Legacy by Cheryl Koevoet
ISBN: 978-1449780890
Publisher: WestBow Press
Softcover (320 pages)

Purchase the book: Amazon | Goodreads

Book blurb:

Marisa MacCallum always believed the man of her dreams was out there somewhere. The problem is—he’s in a parallel universe.

After the death of her father, eighteen-year-old Marisa’s life is on the verge of imploding. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks comfort on her daily ride in the woods of Gold Hill. But when a mysterious lightning storm suddenly strikes, Marisa is hurled into the ancient alternate dimension of Carnelia where she meets the arrogant but attractive nobleman, Darian Fiore. With no hope of returning home on her own, Marisa has no other choice but to join Darian on a risky mission to negotiate peace with his cousin and archenemy, Savino da Roca.
As she struggles to survive a world teeming with monsters, maniacs and medieval knights, Marisa sees a softer side of Darian and begins to fall in love. But when she discovers he is locked into an arranged marriage, her heart shatters. After Savino falls for her charms and demands her hand in exchange for peace, Marisa is faced with an impossible choice: marry the enemy of the man she loves or betray them both and become the catalyst for a bloody war.
Book Trailer:
Contact the Author:  Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Booksite

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