Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Authors Write: Sheri Chapman

Today I'm welcoming author Sheri Chapman to the blog. Welcome, Sheri. Tell us, what do you write?

To date, I love writing both young adult and adult historical romance. In YA, I love to weave in a supernatural aspect in the realistic world. [Two of my favorite things to read!]

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
In my short story, Eyes With No Soul, I used first person. Other works that I’ve done (but are not yet published) are both third and first person. For example, I’m working on editing (before submitting) an adult historical romance written in third (omniscient), and I also have a novel YA werewolf that I used first person (I plan on reworking this before submission). [Oh, I love me some werewolves :-)]

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?
I get inspired by an idea. I sit down and just start writing. It flows from me. Sometimes I come to a spot and I’m not sure where to go from there, so I might put it aside and think on it for a while. Some stories I’ve started I never go back to. Others, I take much further. My very first attempt at writing a book was 400,000 words! No, I never submitted it, and I don’t think I ever will. However, I was very inspired! LOL! [Wow! That's a lot of words!!]

Do you draft quickly or are you more detailed in your draft?
What I tend to do is write. If an idea comes to me when I am “in the flow”, I will hurry and type it at the bottom of the document I’m working on so that I don’t forget. That way I can remember a great idea to work toward, but if something else better pops up, I can change the direction. My draft, in essence, is my works-in-progress. [Hm. That's a really cool sounding process.]

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
I do both. I research an idea so that I feel somewhat knowledgeable on the topic, but I’ve come to realize I know a lot about nothing! LOL! It is constant research. I buy books and use the internet. [I don't know what I'd do without the internet.]

Do you outline?
Most of the time, I don’t really outline. If I outline, it’s more to help me remember what I’ve already written. I may be one of a kind, but when I get in the flow, I don’t always remember everything I’ve written. An outline helps keep my characters and events from getting mixed up for future writings. I may take notes. If I have a great idea, I’ll work it into the outline. [I have to say, I've never heard of anyone outlining this way before, but if it works, I think it's great!]

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I basically name everything up front. I may take notes at the bottom of my works-in-progress. Other times, I take notes on an outline (if I do one) in a separate document. I find this helps with longer stories.

Do you work with Critique Partners or Beta's (completed works)? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
The more feedback I can get the better. I use my network of family, friends, and students. I use fellow authors. My go-tos are my thirteen year old daughter, who is an avid reader, and my mother. I worry about them and their concern for my feelings – I want honest constructive feedback. Emily (my daughter), and my mom get to read as soon as I write. I sometimes also share with close friends. When I finish, I have friends, colleagues, and students who are willing read undertake the project just to see if they are interested in it, have comments, etc.

On Watt Pad, you can post your work as you write for feedback/votes to see if people are interested in your work. [I've glanced at WattPad, but never read anything there or submitted there.]

Sheri with her daughters
What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
Here are some things I use:

*Being a teacher of writing and reading helps me. (I work with students who have normal intelligence but struggle with reading and writing). The Six plus One Traits of Writing has helped me improve while I work with them.

* I have a network of teachers who are technologically savvy. All I have to do is send out a question – or sometimes they find a site and share – and someone will know a site somewhere to connect you to. Our librarian is awesome! She is always providing new sites to check out for teachers.

*Watt Pad is a great site for aspiring writers to share their work. People vote and comment on your work. This way you know if you have something to work with. If no one votes, it’s not a hit.

*I’m a book addict. I purchase all kinds of books. When I research, I buy books on the topic. I also use search engines on the internet to provide me with sites. Reading others’ works for enjoyment (and also to analyze what their hook is like, how they use word choice, etc.) is also beneficial! [Such a great point. If you like what you're reading, take a minute to see why and how you can apply this to your own writing.]

*MuseItUp is a premier site! Being an author does have its quirks! Many authors blog about helpful hints and provide other useful information. I love it! [Yes, the authors at MuseItUp have tons of wonderful information to share!]

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
1. I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give myself is to never give up. Trying to get someone to look at your work is like heading to Hollywood hoping to hit it big. Publishers get submissions like picnics get ants and flies. Submissions are a dime a dozen. Hang in there and don’t give up! I think I’d been looking for nine or ten years (but my work needed revamping) before I stumbled onto Muse – and they so graciously took a chance on me! <3 br="">
2. I think I’d also tell myself to be open to changing my introductions. The hook needs to be in the first page or two. I tended to give too much back ground information first. I need to hook first, and gradually give background data – not overwhelm at the beginning. [Oh, this is so true. Although, there've been a few slow starts I've stuck with longer and was grateful I had when I got to the end.]

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?

Eyes with No Soul released on July 18. I have a few other works I’m currently in the editing process (on my own) before submitting. I hope to have more releases soon!

Back Cover:

Laurie is a high school student who has been blessed with a touch of precognition her entire life. When she bumps into a stranger at the mall, her psychic door is thrown wide open, unlocking it for eternity! The action triggers a bloody murder scene to explode in her mind, numbing her ability to think… Unfortunately for Laurie, he notices her peculiar reaction and begins stalking her…she’s his perfect victim. With no “proof” for the police, Laurie and her friends must try to survive. In a race of life and death, only one can win!

About the Author:
Sheri Chapman is a fun-loving person with a warm soul. She is just a girl-at-heart who is passionate about life! She surrounds herself with many family members and friends. She has four beautiful daughters of her own, and three step-daughters and a step-son.

Her Pomeranians are also considered her furry “Dog-hters.” Sheri is a Pom-addict and adopted and raised so many in her home, she decided to make it a business venture; she raises/sells adorable puppies. Sheri also has miniature goats on her 3.7 acres.

As a profession, Sheri has taught in Missouri Public Schools since 1990. Her true aspiration, however, has always been to be a published author. In five to six years, she plans to retire from teaching and take up writing (and Pom-raising) full-time. She cannot wait for the time to pass by! Her only regret will be that her children will all have flown the home (graduated).

Sheri around the web:

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your process with us, Sheri!


  1. Mary, thank you so much for such a wonderful interview! I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful world, and Muse is the best!!!! I can't express my appreciation enough! <3

    1. You are so welcome, Sheri!

      Thanks for stopping by and visiting.

  2. Very cool. I'm a huge fan of that genre blend, and whew! Great list of resources and ideas.

  3. This was an interesting interview, Sheri and Mary! Thank you. Sheri, your novel, "Eyes With No Soul" sounds exciting. Best wishes for it.

    By the way, I've never heard of Watt Pad. I'll have to look that up.


    1. Thanks for dropping by, Susan.

      EYES WITH NO SOUL does sound like a thrilling read.


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