Sunday, May 10, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge with Author Ceri Hebert

Our first Book-A-Week Challenge is the romance Sweet Forever by Ceri Hebert

We're concluding this week with an interview of Ceri Hebert, the author of Sweet Forever, Where One Road Leads, and Finally Home. After reading the interview, please feel free to post comments or questions about her book and the interview.

Please welcome our guest, Ceri Hebert.

Where are you from?

Ceri: Originally, I'm from Minneapolis, MN but my parents moved me out to southwestern New Hampshire when I was 11. I definitely consider this home more than Minnesota was.

Tell us your latest news?

Ceri: Currently I have a manuscript being considered by L & L Dreamspell. FOREVER HOME is actually a sequel to my book SWEET FOREVER published by Samhain Publishing. It centers on Jaycie Winslow who wants two things in life, to raise and train Quarter Horses on her family's South Dakota guest ranch and Craig Lynch, the object of her childhood affection who's returned to South Dakota a widower with a young daughter. I have another manuscript with Kensington Publishing. THAT KIND OF MAGIC is the story of a Wiccan shop owner who refuses to use magic to find the man of her dreams, but it seems she might not have a choice. I also have several manuscripts that are being edited. I never seem to have a lack of projects.

When and why did you begin writing?

Ceri: I started my first story when I was about twelve years old. My friends and I were convinced that a house on our road was haunted and we were determined to find out why. It inspired me to write about it. I turned our little group into a team similar to Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy (no Scooby).

What inspired you to pen your first novel?

Ceri: I was a quiet kid at very small school. I had a few good friends, but I didn't date much. I started writing my first story as an outlet for my daydreams. I really wanted that happy ending. I wanted to give my heroine the perfect life that teenage girls often dreamed of. One of my stories that I started at the age of sixteen actually published now. FINALLY HOME published by Whiskey Creek Press, evolved with me over the years. My heroine, Tori started out as a sixteen year old, but when the book was published she was twenty-five.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Ceri: I'm a drama queen—or I should say my heroines tend to be drama queens. At least they're drama queens when I write in third person. Strangely, when I write in first person (which isn't often) I can add humor to my story. Maybe it's because I can laugh at myself.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Ceri: Definitely contemporary romance. I'd love to write a good romantic suspense but I haven't been able to come up with a really good mystery. I'm dabbling in paranormal romance which I enjoy, and I have a young adult fantasy in the works. But contemporary romance, such as FINALLY HOME, SWEET FOREVER and WHERE ONE ROAD LEADS keeps drawing me back. WHERE ONE ROAD LEADS is the only story that involves a little crime, a little mystery, when my heroine returns to her hometown after fifteen years of self-imposed exile to start up a youth center. There are plenty of people who don't want her back, who can't forgive her for the car accident that killed three people. Someone is sabotaging her project and would rather see her dead than settled back in town.

Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?

Ceri: No, they're pretty much all from my imagination. I do use some elements from real life. In my book WHERE ONE ROAD LEADS my heroine has rescued a dog that was abandoned after a hurricane down in the Gulf. I took that experience from my sister who was in New Orleans after Katrina and found an abandoned dog. She had it sent home to Idaho to be cared for and was adopted up there. There are little things here and there that I'll use.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Ceri: I adore Nora Roberts. I'm in awe of any author who can be so prolific and make her books so enjoyable. I'd love to spend a month shadowing her and seeing her process. Also Dean Koontz. Even though he's not a romance writer I'm overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into his books.

What are your current projects?

Ceri: Currently I have two short stories finished and waiting for editing, one a spicy romance the other a little harder to define. Time travel maybe? A story about a middle aged woman who gets the chance to go back in time and decide if she wants to do things differently. For my full length projects I'm trying to get back to my horsey roots. All my stories growing up involved horses. I'd like to write a few more.

Do you see writing as a long- or short-term career?

Ceri: Well, let's see, I started writing when I was 12. That was over thirty years ago. Not that I spent most of that time writing, but it means that much to me, so I'd definitely consider myself looking for a long-term career as an author. Not that I'm able to quit my day job just yet, but I won't give up on publishing more of my work.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

Ceri: I'd be more serious. I would've worked harder when I was younger to make this a reality. I definitely would've taken advantage of the free time I had when I was younger to hone this craft.
Thank you Ceri for your time and for the terrific read. I very much enjoyed reading Ben and Hayden's story.


Denise May 10, 2009 at 6:21 AM  

Hi Ceri!

I will be the first to ask a question. Who came up with the title of your book? You or your publisher?


Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 6:36 AM  

Morning Denise!

I came up with the title by combining the names of the two ranches in the story, Ben's Forever Ranch and the ranch Hayden inherited Sweet Prairie. I thought the combination was perfect.

I generally hate coming up with titles. Sometimes that's harder than writing the story itself. I'll usually come up with a working title first, just because I don't like working on a story called WIP (Work In Progress for those not familiar with the term). 99% of the time it'll get changed in the end. Once in a great while, though, I'll come up with a title that I love so much that I'll develop the story around it (Dreamer's Sea and The Staying Kind are two that I'm currently working on).

Betty Gordon May 10, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

Ceri, good interview with Denise. I was drawn to your comment re your work about 'Time Travel.' This issue has always intrigued me. If we had an opportunity to go back in time, would we change things based on what we've learned through the years and if we did, how many ways would our lives be altered?

Betty Gordon

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 8:35 AM  

Hi Betty,

Time travel has always been intriguing and a little mind boggling. Some writers have handled it very well. In the short story I wrote, called Do Overs (it's a first draft)my heroine, who starts out as a middle aged, highly successful career woman married to an equally successful career man. They have no children who'll be affected by her making different choices. Instead, when she woke up one morning as a twenty-three year old, she had to decide if she wants to trade in the life she had in favor of an unknown future.

I play the "what if" game quite often, but I wouldn't choose a different path if given a chance. That's one of the things I love about writing, I can live it out in a story.

Pauline B Jones May 10, 2009 at 10:29 AM  

Hi, Ceri,
Great article. The books sound very fun. Here's a question: do you write from a plan or outline or do plot as you go?

Terry Kate May 10, 2009 at 10:55 AM  

Killer interview ladies! Makes me want to pick up the book ASAP!
All the best,

Denise May 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM  


How do you come up with your hero/heroine? Do you base them on people you know? Or a magazine image? Or??


Keith May 10, 2009 at 12:01 PM  


I understand that you really want your roots to be New Hampshire, however it would be interesting to have you say the word "boat" to Denise and she can then determine how much Minnesota is left.

Great interview! I particularly enjoyed the insight into your work.


Ellen May 10, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

Hi Ceri!

Wonderful article, I really enjoyed it. I am also really drawn to the time travel element of being able to do things over. I've loved that sort of story line ever since I first saw Peggy Sue Got Married :)

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

Just got back from lunch with my inlaws. Now on to the questions.

Thanks Pauline! I am thrilled that Denise gave me this opportunity. I'm a card carrying Pantster. Or at least I used to be. I rarely plotted out my stories, just made it up as I went along. More times than not, though, I'd write the ending before I wrote the middle so I had a destination (though sometimes it changed) About a year ago I started to get a little more organized. Sometimes I sit down with a notebook and plot things out. It does help, but I find my characters often do unexpected things that change my direction.

Thanks for the great question!

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:10 PM  

Thanks so much Terry!

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

Denise, if you're talking about appearance-wise, then yes, I generally use a real person who I base my characters on. I like having an image in my head, though sometimes I stray from that as need be. I've used people like Gerard Butler, Blake Shelton, Jensen Ackles (Supernatural fame) and James Tupper. For some reason it's easier for me to find a male model than a female.

It does make it tough when it comes to covers though. I have that image in my head (in Sweet Forever my model for Ben is country singer George Canyon) but when it came time for the cover I got models that looked nothing like what I wanted, so I decided to go with a model-less cover. Many people have commented that the hero on my my Finally Home cover looks like my husband. Lucky me!

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

Keith, good point! Personally I don't think I have any accent at all, but I'm sure I've held onto plenty of my Minnesota accent. Although just a few years after moving to NH I went to visit MN and someone who didn't know me gave me a funny look and asked where I was from because of the way I talked.

Then again, my mother has lived in the US for 60 years and people still can hear her British accent.

Glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for commenting!

Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:23 PM  

Ellen, that was an awesome movie! I would love to know how people would react to the same situation. Could someone make a choice to give up a life with someone that was mostly unhappy even if meant not having the children they had along the way? I would choose my kids.

Thanks for stopping by!

Denise May 10, 2009 at 5:41 PM  

Hi Ceri -

Do you have a favorite scene in the book?

I think one of my favorite's is when Hayden meets her father, Jessie. I could feel the tension between them.


Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 5:48 PM  

I liked that scene too, Denise. I had very different plans for Hayden's biodad, but, like I mentioned before, my characters sometimes do things I don't expect, like turn into half way decent people. One of my favorite scenes is when Hayden is out on the prairie, sketching the butte that she wanted to paint and Ben rides out to join her. I like the tension and the attraction between them. I also like the final scene with Hayden and her grandmother.

Denise May 10, 2009 at 5:55 PM  

Yes,that last scene with Hayden and her grandmother is very touching.

Denise May 10, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

Hi Ceri!

Me again. I have another question.

How does your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?


Ceri Hebert May 10, 2009 at 6:12 PM  

My family and friends have been hugely supportive. I really never discussed my writing with them until I actually got a contract for Finally Home with Whiskey Creek Press. Each time I had a manuscript accepted my mom was there with a bottle of champagne. She also sends on all my information and reviews to her friends and family far and wide so everyone is up to date on my progress.

For the most part my kids are super with the time I spend on my computer. My daughter and step daughter seem to be following in my footsteps, writing stories of their own. I love seeing that and encourage them as much as I can.

Denise May 13, 2009 at 5:12 AM  

Ceri -

Thank you for being a guest and taking our interview questions.

I enjoyed your Sweet Forever. and looking forward to reading more of your books.


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