Monday, March 10, 2014

Two Names for One Talented Woman

I'm very excited to have multi-published author Sam Cheever here today to talk freely about her career and life. So let's get right to it.

IMG_7837_120x180Where are you from? What is your writing name?
I write mainstream fiction as Sam Cheever and some would say I’m from Mars. But in actuality I grew up in a mid-sized town in Indiana. Kind of the same thing, actually.

I also write M/M romantic suspense and fantasy as Declan Sands.

As a child, who did Sam want to be when she grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. I believe everyone is good at something, the trick is just finding out what that something is. #:0) I discovered at an early age that I had a knack with words. But I didn’t think I was going to be able to make a living writing. Then I found a degree program at a local 4 year college called Professional and Technical Writing. It was the happiest day of my life! I was able to use my BA degree in writing to offer my writing and editing services to Corporate America until I could get my fiction writing career underway. I feel very blessed to have been able to do what I both love and have a skill for.

Tell us about your first book, the highs, the lows and the unexpected.
My first published work was ‘Tween Heaven and Hell, a fast paced paranormal romance about angels and devils in a futuristic world. I wrote the initial draft as a weekly serial, one chapter a week, for a few dozen subscribers. When it was complete I sent it out to several publishers and received an acceptance from Ellora’s Cave a few weeks later. It was very exciting!

The book was published on the Cerridwen Press side of the house, which was the sensual rather than erotic side of Ellora’s Cave because it wasn’t an erotic book. As a result, my sales figures were not as healthy as I’d hoped. However, the first book in the series has gone on to win several awards and the series has gained an extensive following.

What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story? Emotion?
Probably back story. I try really hard not to do info dumps in my stories so I have to use different tactics to flesh out the plot with the necessary information. Writing series fiction, which I tend to do a lot of, makes that both easier and harder. It’s obviously easier for readers who have read the other books in the series to keep up with the relationships and stories that have shaped them, but readers who start in the middle or end of the series need to feel like they know what’s going on too. I solve the problem by making all the books standalone, and then including self-contained information snippets that tie them together as the story unfolds.

What was the best piece of advice you were given in regards to your writing?
Nothing earth shattering there…the advice is the same for everybody…just keep writing. Much easier said than done as you get rejection letter after rejection letter. But the only writers who eventually make it big are the ones who believe in themselves enough to keep slogging through all the disappointment and criticism. It ain’t easy! But if you truly believe you’ve got what it takes, hang in there, keep writing, it will come, grasshopper.

I see you are published with many houses, Sam. How important is it to diversify your publishers in today’s market?
Extremely important. Each house has a specialized, target market where they sell most of their books. For example, Ellora’s Cave obviously has a big chunk of the erotica market and Changeling Press writes hot, short, serialized fiction. Once you figure out what a house’s market is, you can tap into it and broaden your audience. And since most readers tend to read across genres, you can often draw readers across publishers once they’re familiar with your work.

What is your strangest writing habit?
I write in snippets on multiple projects at once. Many writers sit down in the morning and just crank out an allotted number of words on a single project or even a couple. I might have six projects going at any given time and will write a couple thousand words on 3 or 4 of them, sometimes moving back and forth between two or three of them in the space of a single day.

How do you avoid interruptions?
Avoid them? I embrace them! If something has managed to interrupt me it’s probably because I’m stuck on a plot point or have exhausted my creative energy for that moment. I’ll usually take a break and then come back to it. It works for me.

What is one problematic area you have with your writing and how do you fix it?
Occasionally I neglect to describe my characters. #:0) I see them so clearly in my mind and forget the reader doesn’t know them like I do so I think I just take it for granted they know what they look like. Har! It’s now on my list of things I look for in rewrites but, if all else fails, thank goodness for my editor!

You bring a wicked sense of humor to your books - is this you or just your characters micromanaging you.
Alas, I’m afraid it’s me. I can’t seem to help myself. In fact, my characters sometimes beat me upside the head for the situations I put them in. But that’s a big mistake. I have one of those contrary personalities and I’m likely to torture them even more if they complain. hehehe

Sam, please tell us more about your writing and a little on the personal side of your life.
I write as Sam Cheever for mainstream romantic suspense and fantasy, all heat levels; and Declan Sands for M/M romantic suspense and fantasy. I live on a hobby farm in Indiana with 13 dogs, 2 horses, and one husband. I write books I like to read and read books I wish I’d written. My books are fast paced and fun loving. Not one of them will solve a single world problem, but you definitely won’t be bored while reading them!

My published work includes 40+ works of young adult, romantic suspense, and fantasy/paranormal. My books have won the Dream Realm Award for fantasy, been nominated and/or won several CAPAs, were nominated for Best of 2010 with LRC and The Romance Reviews, and won eCataromance’s Reviewer’s Choice award. I am published with Ellora’s Cave, both Romantica and Blush; Changeling Press; Electric Prose Publications (my own imprint), and Red Rose Publishing. I look forward to chatting with you today and sharing some of my work!

Sam Cheever links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog

Declan Sands links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

hexuallyobsessed_200x300If lust were flames there'd be scorch marks across the ages!

Ardith is a time traveling witch, a member of the Epoch Mages. Draigh is a Sorceri Bounty Hunter. They H-A-T-E each other. When they’re thrown together by the elders to chase an evil rogue witch through time and save the world from flesh eating zombies, they quickly discover that, while their minds may tell them they don’t like being together, their bodies don’t quite agree. In fact, if lust were flames, there would be a lot of scorch marks across the ages!

~ 5 Stars from SnifferWalk "I don't hand out a ton of 5 Star ratings for books. Like my Ratings Guide says, they have to be practically life changing. But if I read a book and I just cannot seem to forget it, it has to be a 5."

~ 5 Stars from My Cozie Corner Book Reviews "A hard to put down novel that will captivate you from the beginning."

Draigh couldn’t believe he was being forced to work with a mage. He was fully capable of capturing the crone Edana without an epoch mage tagging along. He’d hunted rogue magic users for centuries and needed no instruction from the young wench striding along beside him as if she owned the world.

He cast her a sideways glance, taking in the long, well-toned limbs and the lush curves beneath the scant leather costume she wore. The ridiculous clothing barely covered her considerable assets. He wanted to be disgusted by the clothing, hating how it made him hard beneath his own leather breeches.

Very hard.

And he despised the woman. The last thing he wanted was to have any kind of pleasant thoughts about her. Particularly of the carnal kind.

Draigh forced his gaze away from the soft roundness bulging past the edges of the leather top. The woman was a damn temptress. He’d seen her type before. He’d had his balls handed to him by one in fact. He might not be the smartest hunter on the planet. But he rarely made the same mistake twice. The witch was nothing but trouble.

At the moment she stood between him and his prey. That was unacceptable. The first thing he needed to do was rid himself of her. Then he could do the job he’d been hired to do.

Her steps slowed and faltered as they approached the low-slung structure at the edge of town. He immediately realized the same thing she obviously had. It was one of the bunker-style buildings that had become so popular since the great wars. Only the entrance was above ground. Most of the structure was subterranean.

He slid a furtive glance the witch’s way and noted the moisture already beading on her upper lip. Her usual creamy, peach-toned skin had turned a pasty shade of tan. He wanted to celebrate her discomfort. But somehow he just couldn’t. “I can go inside and question the witness. You can wait outside.” He hadn’t meant it to sound like a command. Unfortunately that was the way it had emerged from his lips.

Her head whipped around, flinging the thick, waist-length braid into the air as her gaze snapped in his direction. “I’m fine. I don’t need you protecting me.”

Draigh ground his teeth. So much for learning from his mistakes. He’d tried to give the viper a soft nest to rest upon, and the damn thing had thanked him by attempting to sink its fangs into his throat. “Suit yourself, witch.”

She strode right up to the victim’s door and pounded. Draigh waited a few feet back, his gaze sweeping the area for signs of Edana’s own special type of trouble. The witch pounded on the door again and received no response.

She glanced at Draigh. “Looks like we’ll have to do this the hard way.” Magic thickened on the air and Draigh swore. “Let me try…”

Ardith sent a focused beam of magic into the door handle and the door swung open. She turned to give Draigh a smug smile, not noticing as a large hand appeared from inside the house and wrapped around the edge of the door. Draigh called out a warning and she started to turn.

The door slammed outward, sending her sprawling.

Before he knew what he was doing, Draigh had thrown himself over the witch.

She landed beneath him with an umph and started pelting his chest with her small fists. “Get off me, oaf.”

Pain pierced his calf as her damn familiar clamped his massive jaws around Draigh’s leg and gave it a warning squeeze, a low growl rumbling in his chest.

The stench of sour, old death assailed his nostrils. Draigh squinted through the shadows beyond the door and saw movement. “Stop it, witch! Call off your dog. We have company.”

He tried to grab her wrists but she was too agitated. Fighting the urge to smack her unconscious, Draigh screamed into her face, “Stop fighting me. Edana’s pets are about to descend on us.”

Fortunately her dog was smarter than she. He released Draigh and stood with teeth bared, snarling at the shadowed entrance.

She peered around his shoulder just as the first pale half-rotted face appeared in the doorway. “Well why didn’t you say so?” The first blast of her magic nearly took his ear off.

He rolled off her. “Damn it, woman.”

She leapt to her feet and sent another blast into the conglomeration of mucus and bone marching stiffly toward them. The zombie’s bloodied, jagged teeth were bared in a warning hiss. When her magic hit, the thing surged backward, a huge chunk of its chest sloughing away under the force of her witch fire.

Draigh pulled one of his knives and leapt on the lumbering monster nearest him, slicing the knife cleanly through its spongy neck with one swipe. Putrid-smelling green slime sprayed in an arc from the blade of his knife, saturating Draigh’s face and arms. The head dropped to the ground and rolled away, and the body sank to the earth.

When Draigh looked toward the door, he was facing a small army of the mangy creatures. Ardith stood beside him, her eyes flashing and her fists fizzling with unshed magic.

He glanced at her. “I hate zombies.”

She gave him a slow smile. “You wanted exercise. I think you’re gonna get it.”

Then she leapt into the fray, witch fire flying, and Draigh reluctantly followed.

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  1. Testing...the last comment I wrote didn't show up...

  2. Okay...that comment did. Strange. Just wanted to give Sam kudos for sharing some of her writing process with us, especially when it came to linking books in a series without creating TMI for the readers. Cheers, Sam, and thanks!

    1. Thanks Sharon! I'm still learning from other writers so I enjoy being able to share what I've learned too.

  3. Thanks, Sloane for hosting me today. It was great fun!