Author on the Couch: Sheri Humphreys


SheriThis week on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with…

Sheri Humphreys

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  3. Be sure to check back for when Sheri announces the winner!

 

Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.

 

Sheri: The dissolution of my thirty-one year marriage affected so many things: my ability to trust, my view of the future, even the degree I care about what others think of me. Overall, I think I’ve become stronger and more confident. I challenge myself. It’s made me a better and more sympathetic person. But I had to work through a lot of hurt.

 

Me: When bad stuff happens it never seems like it’s a good thing. But when you get on the other side, so often people realize how much they’ve grown and changed for the better.

What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?

 

Sheri: Persistence. People who don’t write have no idea of the persistence it requires to be successful. A crazy amount. I was told early on by my writing teacher, and I took it to heart. I always felt, if I just didn’t give up, I’d eventually succeed.

 

Me:  Yes. Yes. Yes. Truer words were never spoken.

What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?

 

Sheri: It’s hard to pick only one! But I’m not satisfied with things I create unless they’re the best I can make them. I suppose that’s a form of perfectionism, but it doesn’t touch all aspects of my life. Just my creative side. I can cook a mediocre meal or do a mediocre job of cleaning my house and be perfectly content. But I can’t turn loose of a form, a flyer, a diagram, or a story unless it’s the best I can make it. Unless I like it. Part of what I love about writing is that my knowledge and ability as a writer continually grows. Which means my “best” gets better and better all the time.

 

Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest?

 

Sheri: Every new achievement is my high point. With each goal reached, I am happier than ever before. And I set my sights on a new goal. My most recent high point was the publication of my debut novel. That changed my status, my self-image, the way other people look at me. It was the culmination of a life-long dream. But now I have new goals. Among them: a RITA final and a book that makes the bestseller lists.

 

Me: Those are some fabulous goals! I love them! And happen to share those very same goals!

What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path as a writer, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing?

 

Sheri: There were times I wondered if I’d ever succeed. But my writing teacher/mentor believed in me, and she had a huge influence, so I never doubted my ability. For me, and for many people, writing is more about timing than anything else.

There’ve been times in my life when other events took priority. Years when I stopped writing altogether, even though my interest and desire never left. I suppose this is tangled up with how much you believe in yourself and in how bad you want it. If I’d believed more, wanted it more, I could have done it much earlier than I did.

Yet I believed enough to be in a critique group for ten years. To eventually stop keeping it a secret and begin telling others that “I write.” To finally owning the identity and proudly saying to everyone, “I write historical romance.”

I owe a lot to my teacher/mentor. A Hero to Hold is dedicated to her. I wish I’d found her earlier than I did. I actually knew of her years before I began working with her. But I’d heard she was tough, and some students cried. Why didn’t I go anyway and decide for myself? Too afraid of rejection, too afraid I wasn’t strong enough or good enough, not confident enough, the list goes on and on. Years later I did go. She didn’t make anyone cry and she taught me to write. Everyone’s path is different, and we walk it in our own time.

 

Me: If you had to pick one person to be for only one day (purely for writer research purposes), who would you choose? Why?

 

Sheri: I’d love to be a man for a day. Any man. I know men, talk to men, love men, but the closest to getting inside a man’s head I can achieve is reading a fictional character’s thoughts. Nonfiction writing and conversation is usually sanitized to some degree. Fictional characters’ thoughts are not censored.

And writing a male perspective is daunting. I worry—does my character sound like a guy? Or like Sheri trying to sound like a guy? Ha!

I’d love to have male DNA, male hormones, a male body for a day to see what they’re really like inside. How they really think and feel. Hopefully I wouldn’t run screaming.

 

Me: That’s the best! I love it!

Which of your characters are you most like? Why?

 

Sheri: I identify in some way with all my characters. Even my antagonists. I work hard to make my antagonists multidimensional. They may not be likable, but I want the reader to understand them and to feel some sympathy for them. I want them to have some admirable attributes.

The one significant part of myself that is in every book is my nursing self. I worked for thirty-seven years as a nurse, twenty-five of those in the Emergency Department. And there’s always something of that part of me in every story.

In my upcoming Nightingale Series, all the heroines are former Florence Nightingale nurses, who worked in the British military hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War. There are numerous patient stories in each book.

A Hero to Hold isn’t about a nurse, but the patient advocate part of me is alive and well in the story. Because the hero is disabled. I wanted to portray a disabled man as capable, sexy, attractive, wonderful. I wanted the reader to forget he was disabled and find him thoroughly desirable. To regard him exactly the same as they would any able-bodied man. The day I wrote, “David strode to the door,” I knew I’d succeeded. I’d forgotten David couldn’t walk! There’s also a medical crisis in the book—I just can’t keep them out!

 

Me: What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you?

 

Sheri: So many authors seem to have the ability to churn out thousands of words a day. It’s quite intimidating and left me with the impression that, as a professional writer, I should be able to do the same. Except I write s-l-o-w. It takes me one to two days to write a short scene, so I write at a rate of less than 1,000 words a day. I can spend hours over a paragraph or a few sentences. I’ve tried just slamming something rough down, but every time I end up throwing it out and replacing it. And the rewrite is just as s-l-o-w as usual.

Then I read a blog by RITA winner Laura Drake, who confesses to being a slow writer. I loved Laura’s Sweet On a Cowboy series. The emotional impact, the depth of character she delivers wows me. I asked myself, why does it matter if I write slow? I consider Laura Drake a fabulous writer and she’s comfortable being a slow writer. Why can’t I accept that I’m slow and be content?

So I adopted “butt in chair” as my goal and my mantra. I quit caring about quantity of work turned out in a specific time period. My only goal is to do something every day. I count revision, research, anything that is necessary to get to the final polished end product. I can work for ten minutes or ten hours. It doesn’t matter. Both are fine.

All my feelings of inadequacy as a writer fell away. Every day I was a successful author. And a funny thing happened. I became more productive. Overall I was turning out more words than ever before. No, I didn’t get faster, but I was spending more time writing and possibly more productive time.

Now, when people ask what my writing schedule is, I always reply my only writing goal is “butt in chair,” with a short explanation. That philosophy freed me and took me from feeling like a failure who lacked the necessary writing chops to feeling like a success and a professional.

 

Me: Sheri–I’m a slow writer too. And have only partially accepted that about myself. My mantra is quality over quantity, but that doesn’t stop me from yearning for a faster pace.

Tell me about your Historical Romance novel A HERO TO HOLD

 

Sheri:

A Hero to Hold Ebook CoverViscountess Charlotte Haliday has lost her illusions. Scandal took her position in Society and the husband she thought she loved, and his mysterious murder followed shortly thereafter. But now is the time to return to London, time to find whatever small portion of happiness remains to her.

 

The first step will be proving she is her own person, unafraid of the lies and deceit that came before. Then she will defy her father and all others who try to take away her independence. Never again will Charlotte have a husband or seek the perfect marriage of her best friend Jane, but perhaps she will dare the wrath of the gossip-mongers and indulge her tiniest desire. To do so will bring her face to face with a stranger in an alcove. It will lead to learning Mr. David Scott is not only a war hero soon to be awarded the Victoria Cross, but also the most formidable man she has ever met. Broken in every way except the ones that count, he just might make her believe in love. And only she can show him that he is not alone.

 

Me: Share a few of your favorite paragraphs with us.

 

Sheri:

***This excerpt is in David (the hero’s) point of view.***

Charlotte stood, Miles providing a steadying hand. She took one step then halted, favoring her right leg. “I believe my hip is quite bruised.”

 

She bit down on her lower lip and stood on one leg, clutching Wakefield. Helplessness assailed David. He grabbed his wheels and began to turn his chair. He’d offer his shoulder for support, perhaps even convince her to sit in his lap and let him wheel her to the street. But before he could position his chair, Wakefield spoke.

 

“If you’ll allow me?”

 

Then Wakefield bent and swept Charlotte into his arms again.

 

“Oh, please. You needn’t carry me a second time. I can walk if we take it slowly.”

 

Wakefield grinned. “You’re not the least bit of trouble, I assure you.”

 

David knew that smile. It was the one his friend often used to such good effect on desirable women. And the last thing David saw of the pair was Chetney ushering them out the door, Charlotte comfortably ensconced in Wakefield’s arms, her hands locked behind his neck.

 

David rolled back into his office and shut the door. A flash of purple caught his eye, a button from Charlotte’s bodice lying upon the floor. He picked it up and rubbed it between his fingers. It was round, silky smooth, and covered with the same fabric as her dress, which had nearly matched her eyes.

 

He slipped it into his waistcoat pocket and expertly maneuvered his chair behind his desk. Then he picked up his small brass desk clock and hurled it into the wall.

Sheri’s note ↓
I love the way this scene concludes. Charlotte and David are new lovers and David must hide what he’s feeling: love, jealousy, possessiveness, frustration, anger, and helplessness. Then once he’s alone it all boils over. It shows how deeply he cares and how helpless he feels. It makes my heart go out to him.


A HERO TO HOLD is available from these booksellers:

Amazon

Smashwords

All Romance Books

Createspace

Boroughs Publishing

Barnes & Noble

iBooks


Coming Soon from Sheri:

THE UNSEDUCIBLE EARL, the first book of The Nightingale Series, will release later this year.


You can visit Sheri here:

Website

Twitter

Facebook


Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for Cover-RacetheDarknesspre-order now!

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/RtDPaperAmazon51316

iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/RtDiB

Barnes and Noble: http://hyperurl.co/RtDban

BAM!: http://hyperurl.co/RtDBAM

Google: http://hyperurl.co/RtDGoog

Indigo: http://hyperurl.co/RtDIndigoCa


HtD-LargepicmonkeyCheck out Abbie Road’s second Novel HUNT THE DAWN, which is also available for pre-order!

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/HtDp62816


*FORMATTED BY~MANNY GOODMAN~

 

 

About the author: abbieroads

39 comments to “Author on the Couch: Sheri Humphreys”

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  1. Sheri Humphreys - August 8, 2016 Reply

    Abbie, I enjoyed myself! Thank you for the opportunity.

  2. Sheri Humphreys - August 7, 2016 Reply

    THE WINNER of the book drawing is : CARRIE PADGETT!

    Congratulations, Carrie!

  3. bn100 - August 5, 2016 Reply

    interesting question about personality trait

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 6, 2016 Reply

      I think Abbie’s Author on the Couch is different from the rest. Thanks for coming by, reading, and leaving a comment, bn100! 🙂

  4. Melody Walcott - August 5, 2016 Reply

    Sheri:

    What a great interview! I already have your book and am about to abandon what I’m reading to dive in!!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 5, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Melody! Glad you liked the interview. Abbie asks probing questions. I always enjoy reading AOTC.

      Hope HERO gives you happy reading hours! ;D

  5. Emily Mims - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Good interview. More candid than most. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Emily.

      There’s something about this blog, the guests are so open. I just followed suit. ;D

      Thanks for stopping by, Emily.

  6. Laura Drake - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Aw, Sheri – I’m so glad my slowness made you feel better! 😉

    I’ve always been the tortoise. But you know what? If you write every day (or almost every day), you’ll leave those hares in the dust!

    You go, girlfriend!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Laura! Yes, you changed my outlook. And now I seem to be passing it on and making others feel better, too. I bet there are more of us tortoises than hares. Or just as many, at any rate.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Amy DeLuca - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Sheri, I really really loved this. You have so much wisdom to share, and it’s beautiful that you’re willing to be honest enough to do it and help others that way. My favorite bit: “All my feelings of inadequacy as a writer fell away. Every day I was a successful author.” I happen to be a fast writer, but I absolutely battle feelings of inadequacy as well, and I love the philosophy that as long as I’m getting my butt in the chair every day, I am a successful author. 🙂 Sooooo happy for you about your wonderful debut book! There are many more where that came from– I have no doubt!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Amy!
      Most of my “wisdom” comes by way of the writing teacher I mentioned. I think of her lessons and quote her all the time! Back in the ’80s she was a multi-published Superromance author. She is now in her nineties and retired a couple years ago. She got tears in her eyes when I took her a copy of HERO.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your own feelings of writing inadequacy. It’s a constant battle–I guess it’s part of being human or part of our culture, maybe?–but staying positive is important to me, and BIC helps me accomplish that. ;D

  8. sarah andre - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Hi Sheri,
    I’m two chapters in to your marvelous novel (poolside, on vacation) and love the uniqueness of your hero! Fabulous twist on the same-old, same-old, congratulations!

    I have a tight deadline, which sent me in a panic, and my husband (the analytical reasoning person in our marriage) did some magical math and said all I needed to do was write 1500 words a day to make it. So that’s my new strategy…a minimum of that, which is so little, and on days when the story flows that’s just ‘words in the bank.’ The pressure is off, and I’m not staring at a blank screen with the same degree of panic. (Still panic, just not the frozen-deer panic.)

    Best of luck and looking forward to your Nightingale series!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Sarah, I’m totally picturing you poolside, holding HERO! I like the image! LOL. (Although I guess you are probably reading the ebook, I still imagine the print version.)

      I’m working on a holiday novella right now, and like you, what convinced me I could write it by the deadline was the very doable weekly word count I’d need. So that’s my strategy for this project, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Carrie Padgett - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Great post, Sheri and Abbie. BIC time is the answer to so many of my writing issues. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Carrie.
      For me it’s all about having a goal I can meet, so I feel like a success instead of a failure. A positive mind set is really important to me.
      Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  10. Stacey Purcell - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Hi Sheri and Abbie!

    This was such a great interview and I, too, struggle with only being able to produce 1000 words in a day. I’m revamping my work ethic to be more like yours. As long as I’m doing something to further the story, be it research, writing, or editing, then I’ve learned that is a successful day! (BTW- your story sounds terrific and I’m excited about your Nightingale series!)
    Abbie- I wanted to meet you this summer in San Diego, but I got swamped with events and never got the chance. I love your web site and all of your marketing efforts seem to really be paying off! I see you on so many of the pages I belong to on FB! Congrats on all your successes.

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Stacy!
      I think there are a lot of us slower writers but we tend not to talk about it. Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a poll of how many words per day all romance writers average and have stats?
      Thanks for coming by and participating.

    • abbieroads - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi Stacey!

      Ugh… I know! Nationals is always so busy and there’s always people I wish I would’ve have time to get together with, but just didn’t. Or people that I’m sure I’ll run into, but then don’t! Maybe next year!

      Thanks for popping in!

  11. Laura Trentham - August 4, 2016 Reply

    It’s funny because Abbie and I were talking about our very different writing processes at RWA, and I think your process is somewhat hardwired and you have to just embrace it. I’m a fast-ish writer but I wish I could
    preplot. I’ve tried. I really have. But it always ends up being a waste of time and brain power for me. I love the fact you’ve embraced your style of writing. And obviously something is working, so keep it up!!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Laura.
      I think you’re right about our process being intrinsic. We can refine our process, but certain approaches feel “right.” To me, the important part is feeling like whatever you’re doing, it’s right for you.

      I am amazed at how busy (and successful) you are and how many books you’ve got (and will have) on your bookshelf! You are a master juggler, for sure! You’re inspiring. 😀

  12. Veronica Bale - August 4, 2016 Reply

    I like that you say you identify with your antagonists, Sheri. That’s something I really appreciate in an author, the ability to write a “bad guy” that is actually human and not just an archetype. Cheers!!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Veronica.
      By the time I finished the book, I’d developed a lot of empathy for this very flawed antagonist. I keep wondering if I could redeem her and give her her own book. Maybe someday.
      For me, that extra dimension of her humanness made the entire book much stronger. I was so happy my editor at Boroughs liked the way I’d handled her, making her a pov character.
      Thanks for coming by and commenting, Veronica.

  13. Lee Kilraine - August 4, 2016 Reply

    I’m right there with you on being a slow writer. Butt in chair and quality over quantity are awesome mantras to keep me from going crazy about it. So inspirational, Sheri!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Thank you, Lee! Sounds like we need to start a “slow writer” club. LOL

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      • abbieroads - August 4, 2016 Reply

        Did I hear the words Slow Writers Club? I’m a member! That’s for sure!

  14. Bethany goble - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Sheri,

    I LOVE your book. Your characters make me laugh and cry. Thank you for the amazing journey. I am used to seeing an emotionally flawed hero, but to find one with a physical disability is rare and makes his emotional path to the heroine all the more touching. I will cherish this book. Thank you.

    Bethany

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Oh, Bethany! Thank you so much! Wow. I may frame your comment for when I’m feeling low and the words aren’t coming, even with a pick-ax!

      You made my day!

  15. JoAnne Lucas - August 4, 2016 Reply

    Hi Sheri –
    What a great interview from both sides of the couch. I know Elnora would be so proud of you and your work. Don’t pay attention to those writers who say anyone can write thousands of words every day. I’ve tried reading their stories and have come to the conclusion that they write words, not emotion. You absolutely go, girl.
    JoAnne

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 4, 2016 Reply

      Thank you, JoAnne.
      There are those who are just brilliant writers. They are able to put out quantity AND quality. I know a few! But I think there may be a lot more of us slow folks around than we know.
      Thanks for participating and commenting!

  16. Shelly Chalmers - August 3, 2016 Reply

    Sheri,
    Both you AND your story are an inspiration. Now you can be a mentor like the one you were fortunate enough to find, and help another author find her feet, her strength, and her voice as you have. BTW, can’t wait to read your new book!!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 3, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Shelly!
      Thanks for making that comment about being inspiring. I’d love to be a mentor like my teacher, Elnora, was to me. She touched many, many writers’ lives and made a huge impact on the writing community of Fresno. How wonderful to someday be in my eighties, helping others hone their craft and engaged with their stories, as she was. Fun, huh?
      Thanks for coming by, Shelly.

  17. Erika Kelly - August 3, 2016 Reply

    Sheri, I can relate to so much of this. It took me a long time to be published, too, and I totally believe in never giving up. Not if writing is how you express yourself; not if you have stories in your head. Also, I’m a slow-ish writer. I don’t understand how people can knock out a book–I wish I could understand! Maybe they’re more intuitive storytellers? I don’t know. But I have to accept my process or it’ll drive me crazy!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 3, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Erika. I love learning there are other writers who write slow. Sometimes it seems like the world is full of people who can knock off thousands of words in a day, or write an entire book in a few weeks. I envy them.

      I love Abbie’s mantra: quality over quantity. That thinking helps me, too. I love finding perfect words and sentences and metaphors. I think many writers do that in later revisions, but I can’t stop myself doing it in the first draft. I tell myself my first draft takes longer, but the completed first draft requires less revision so it’s quicker to the final version. The one thing I’m sure of is that there are as many writing processes as there are writers. I guess the important thing is to know that your process is the best one for YOU.

      • Sheri Humphreys - August 3, 2016 Reply

        Erika, I forgot to thank you for stopping by and commenting!

        Thank you!

  18. abbieroads - August 3, 2016 Reply

    Sheri!

    Thanks for being an author on my couch! I loved your session. You are so wise!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 3, 2016 Reply

      Abbie, you have a fabulous blog, and I’m delighted to be a guest.

      Thank you for having me!

  19. Julie Mulhern - August 3, 2016 Reply

    Sheri, what an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself!

    • Sheri Humphreys - August 3, 2016 Reply

      Hi, Julie.

      Thanks for stopping by. Abbie asks questions that draws it out of you, doesn’t she? I love reading her AOTC.

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