Welcome, Sherri. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I’d like to say “nothing,” but I know that’s not entirely true. Right now, I’m writing a tomboy character, which is exactly the opposite of me. I’m a complete girly-girly with a chandelier hanging in my office to prove it. But there’s no denying that parts of an author’s personality seep through the pages. My characters are just regular people trying to do the right thing, and falling in love along the way.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When my brother-in-law was director for the local opera company, he asked me to help out during a show. All I had to do was wear a costume, and move furniture during scene changes. Sounds easy, right? Except it turned out to be a much bigger part. I had to act, and hit spots, and I even participated in a staged fight. Since I don’t read music, and I don’t speak Italian, I had to figure out my positioning based on where the other performers were standing. Then I had to perform in front of an audience! An introvert’s worst nightmare. Truth be told, I had a blast. I came back and did another opera the next year. And I still don’t sing or speak Italian.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was in my mid 30’s and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I loved to read, and decided I’d try my hand at writing a book. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop! It became a compulsion. I knew I was a writer, because every time I became discouraged and quit, something drew me back in.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I am rather narrow-minded in the book reading category. I read almost exclusively romance, although I do read across genres. I adored the Zebra Regencies, and I still campaign to bring back the regency book club. I like secular and Christian books. I have a soft spot for Julie Garwood. Of course Cheryl St.John is a favorite!
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t. Instead, I embrace the insanity. As Michael Caine once said, “There are only two things in life I can’t stand: Intolerance for other cultures. And the Dutch.”
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I subconsciously steal them from my critique partners. This is a real problem. I’ll think of a great name, that’s perfect for a character, and realize I heard it from a book or a critique I just read. When I was working on Winning the Widow’s Heart, I named a character
Elizabeth. My critique partner, Cheryl
St.John, was working on Marrying the
Preacher’s Daughter, and the character’s name was, Elisabeth. Sigh. I tried
to name the character Isabelle, but that didn’t work. Cheryl said don’t worry
about it. And I figured, “Who cares? It’s not like this book will ever get
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Selling Winning the Widow’s Heart to Tina James at Love Inspired Historical. Writing and selling a book was the most difficult challenge I’ve ever faced.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be my dog. She’s fat and lazy, she gets to sleep on the bed, and she gets a blueberry facial at the dog groomer once a month. I’ve never gotten a blueberry facial!
What is your favorite food?
Frosting out of a can. Definitely. Most people like chocolate, but I prefer the decadent bouquet of a nice whipped vanilla. I like to keep a can in the back of the fridge and eat it over a two-week period using only my index finger. There’s something delightfully debauched in skulking behind the refrigerator door with a finger full of frosting.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Discouragement. Was and still is. I don’t have a lot of patience to fix a story. I’ll give it a couple of tries, and if it’s not working, it’s not working. This served me well as pre-pubbed, but it’s a struggle as a published writer.
Tell us about the featured book.
When Texas Ranger Jack Elder stormed the isolated
Kansas homestead, he
expected to find a band of outlaws. Instead, the only occupant is a heavily
pregnant woman-and she's just gone in to labor. A loner uneasy with emotion,
Jack helps deliver widow Elizabeth Cole's baby girl and can't get back on the
trail fast enough. The robber and murderer he's after killed one of Jack's own,
and he vows to catch the man. But when he returns to check on Elizabeth and her little one, he discovers
that she may hold the key to his unsettled past-and his hoped-for future.
Please give us the first page of the book.
A shrill scream from inside the homestead split the frosty air.
Jack Elder flattened his back against the cabin’s rough-hewn logs, his Smith & Wesson drawn. Icy fear twisted in his gut. He couldn’t think about the woman inside, couldn’t let himself imagine what had ripped that tortured sound from her.
Head cocked to one side, he strained to hear voices over the howling wind. How many men were inside? Was Bud Shaw one of them?
Dense clouds draped the afternoon in an unnatural twilight. Fat, heavy snowflakes sheeted from the sky, pillowing in heaps on the frozen ground. Jack nudged the deepening slush with his boot. No footsteps showed in the fresh covering. No animal prints either.
The glass-pane windows had been covered with oil cloth to keep out the cold air and curious eyes. He cautiously edged toward the rear of the house, his shoulders hunched. A sharp gust of wind sucked the breath from his lungs. He stretched one hand around the corner, relieved to feel the raised surface of a door latch.
How can readers find you on the Internet?twitter: @smshackelford
Thank you, Sherri, for the interesting interview.
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Winning the Widow's Heart (Love Inspired Historical) - paperback
Winning the Widow's Heart (Love Inspired Historical) - Kindle
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