Monday, November 30, 2009

Author Interview and Giveaway ~ Cheryl St. John

Please help me welcome author Cheryl St. John to Leslie's Psyche.

I remember first hearing about Cheryl St. John from Kristie of Ramblings on Romance, who has mentioned a number of times that Cheryl is one of her favorite authors and she writes western historicals (win!) I knew I had to add her name to my to buy list.

I started by reading the highly recommended Joe's Wife. And yes, it was all that Kristie said it would be. Loved that book! (You can read my review here.) The thing about Cheryl's writing is that it's real. Real people and situations that the reader can relate to even when those people lived in another time and place.

Some information about Cheryl from her website ~

Cheryl St.John is the author of over thirty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance. Since then she's received several RITA nominations and three Romantic Times Achievement Awards. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations."

As well as being an avid collector and a gardener, Cheryl is an amateur photographer. Visit her blog to see photographs of her garden, her family, and learn about the things that make her laugh--and there are a lot of them.

Cheryl is admittedly blog crazy. She has a personal blog, From the Heart, a recipe blog, and a blog that follows a home remodel. She guest blogs whenever and wherever she's asked, and blogs twice a month at Petticoats and Pistols.

Cheryl has led writing classes on a local and national level, and she teaches monthly online workshops for writers. Her motivational gifts of exhortation and encouragement make her a sought-after speaker. She's the worship leader at the fastest growing Word of Faith church in her city, serves on her church's advisory board, and is active in Heartland Writers Group, her local RWA chapter.

Does she sleep? Not much.

Cheryl was nice enough to indulge my inquisitive nature and answer some deep and meaningful questions. Okay, the questions may not be too deep but Cheryl's answers are insightful and interesting. She has great taste in authors (Maggie Osborne and Pam Morsi, two of my favs). She likes the angsty dark brooding hero (don't we all) and gave us a peek at what she's currently working on.

Leslie ~ Is there any one particular book you are most proud of? Why?

Cheryl ~ That is such a difficult question to answer. It's like thinking about which of your children you are most proud of. They're all special in a different way. There are books I am LESS proud of than others, but I won't say which ones or why. When I think back, there are books that stand out in my mind as projects I particularly loved and still do: Land of Dreams, Saint or Sinner, The Doctor's Wife, Joe's Wife, Prairie Wife, Marvel's story in A Western Winter Wonderland, Her Montana Man and my upcoming Her Colorado Man.

L ~ What do you enjoy reading? Romances, non-fiction, mysteries. Who are some of your favorite authors?

C ~ I saw you reviewed The Promise of Jenny Jones recently. I love Maggie Osborne. I fell in love with romance by reading LaVyrle Spencer, Candace Camp/Lisa Gregory, Francine Rivers, Jill Marie Landis, Pam Morsi and others. I still love the Americanas and western the best. I also enjoy contemporary romance and an occasional Stephen King or Dean Koontz.

L ~ When you start writing a book, what do you start with - the main characters and build the plot around them or do you start with the plot and build the characters around it?

C ~ A combination probably. Usually some glimmer of an incident or situation that grabs me. Ideas strike writers at odd moments, usually when we're not trying too hard. When the left-brain backs off and allows the right brain freedom, ideas flow. This happens in the early morning, in the last hour before falling asleep, in the shower, driving, and while baking. Relaxing my left-brain is my reason for shopping and making brownies. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I start with a situation and a character and then flesh out the character, add more people and create a believable lot from there. Sometimes it takes me as long as a year or two to actually get all the pieces to come together. Such was the case with Her Colorado Man. I had this idea that a man would get letters from a child and then--to the mother's dismay--pretend to be the child's father. How in the world I would make that believable was the problem, so that binder kept going back on the shelf. Occasionally I'd pull it out and drive my critique partners crazy trying to brainstorm it. And then finally, when I wasn't trying too hard, the answers came to me.

L ~ Do you have a favorite type of hero you prefer writing?

C ~ A couple of types. I love the wounded, angsty dark brooding hero, but I adore the guy next door equally well. I don't mind a guy with a secret, but most often it's my heroines who hide things. And how.

L~ On your website you mention that you enjoy photography, gardening and collecting. Do you incorporate these joys into your writing?

C ~ Laughing here, because I'm doing that right now. In my current story, my heroine is a fish out of water, trying to make a home for her governor candidate husband and impress the locals, while she knows nothing of normal families. The ladies put a bug in her ear that she needs to do crafts and decorate her home, so she's ordering and decorating, and I'm having a heyday with the research. I love Victorian collections. An excess of possessions were so much a part their society that they defined people's and morals and culture. And thank you for visiting my website! It's still shiny new and I'm super proud of it.

L ~ Do you have a favorite place where you like to write? Or do you write wherever you happened to be when the mood hits you?

C ~ I work at my desk. It's a method that works for me. When I sit and put my fingers on the keyboard, words come. Occasionally when I only want to see a few lines and not edit, I sit on a sofa and use my Alphasmart, but I'm basically an office writer.

L ~ What book are you currently working on?

C ~ My working title is Wyoming Wildfire. I brought my heroine from a bordello in Dodge City and married her to a man running for governor of the Wyoming Territory. And whoops--he doesn't know about her past. What fun this is going to be!

L ~ You're well known for your historical westerns, is there another genre that you would like to write?

C ~ I like to write contemporaries as well. It's a change my brain needs from time to time. I can only choreograph story people on ranches and horses for so long before I want them to drive a Mustang and drink a Coke, you know?

Cheryl has a wonderful backlist of treasures to search out at your UBS. If you don't have a UBS handy you're in luck. Wendy aka Super Librarian, recently shared some exciting news about some of Cheryl's hard to find books. The people at eHarlequin were smart enough to ask Wendy for some recommendations for ebook bundles, see Wendy's posts here and here. Two of the bundles selected will feature Cheryl's books. The first bundle, The Harvey Girls, to be released in January will include Cheryl's books; The Lawman's Bride, The Preacher's Daughter and The Doctor's Wife. The second bundle, Love American Style, to be released in February, will include Cheryl's book Prairie Wife along with books from Judith Stacy and Cheryl Reavis. Check back at either Cheryl's website or eHarlequin for ordering information as the release dates near.

Cheryl's newest release (December 2009) is Her Colorado Man.

When eighteen-year-old Mariah found herself pregnant and unmarried in her small Colorado town, she disappeared. One year later, she returned with a baby—though minus the "husband" who had conveniently ventured off to Alaska's gold fields to seek his fortune….

But now, with handsome adventurer Wes Burrows turning up and claiming to be the husband she had invented, Mariah's lies become flesh and blood—and her wildest dreams a reality!

I haven't read it yet but Kristie did and you can read her review here. She gave it a 4.5 out of 5!

Also available are three reissues from Cheryl's Montana Mavericks series.

The Magnificent Seven (September 2009)

Marry Me...Again (December 2009)

Cheryl, I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and visit here at Leslie's Psyche!

And now for the giveaway ~ Cheryl has been generous to offer two books from her backlist, as long as she has copies. You can go here to view Cheryl's backlist. Since Cheryl will be sending these out and postage has gotten so expensive, this is open to US residents.

In addition to Cheryl's two books, I'm giving away one copy of Cheryl's new release - Her Colorado Man. This is open to any one that Book Depository ships to.

So that's three winners! Leave a comment on this post by midnight Sunday, December 6 to be entered in the giveaway.


  1. I see you're rereading Courting Miss Hattie. I adore that book! (Mine is signed - squee)

    Thanks for the opportunity to visit with you, Leslie.

  2. Great interview Leslie, Cheryl! I'm a newly converted St. John fan, after reading Joe's Wife, so this is a real treat.

    I'm definitely throwing in my name on that hat for a backlist copy of The Gunslinger's Bride.

    I can't wait for those Bundles to come out so I can get my hands on The Preacher's Wife, I really want to read that one. ;D Thank you both!

  3. Hi Cheryl! Great interview. I love your books and your blog. It's always got something interesting going on!!

    Leslie I just became a follower of your blog, it looks like a good one.

  4. Ok, Cheryl, you know me...Your interview was FANTASTIC as always! I am your biggest fan and have the books to prove it. ALL of them signed by the great author (and very dear friend!) However, I still need 1 book to complete my collection. So I am entering for that one. If you don't have it, I am sure whoever wins, will LOVE their book. suemc

  5. I'm still partial to the Tenderfoot Bride--but all of Cheryl St. John's books are marvelous!

  6. Cheryl ~ signed? Lucky you! Morsi writes such fun, diverse characters. Very enjoyable read. :)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Hils ~ Aren't those bundles a great idea?

    Martha ~ hi and welcome! Thanks for becoming a follower. :)

    suemc ~ good luck in winning that one book!

    Rebecca ~ another one I need to read. The joys of finding a new author with a wonderful backlist. :)

  7. I was able to get my copy of Courting Miss Hattie signed a few years ago at a RWA conference, and it's safely tucked away with the rest of my keepers.

    Leslie: Cheryl has written some really good contemporaries for Silhouette Special Edition. One of my favorites is Nick All Night.

    Thanks for pimpin' out the bundles. I'd love to see Harlequin offer up more backlist titles in electronic format, so I'm hoping they do well.

    No need to enter me in the contest. I pretty much own all of Cheryl's books already - and I just started reading Her Colorado Man on my lunch break this afternoon!

  8. I love Cheryl books no matter where they are in production. Following the brainstorming and writing process is great fun. Old and new readers are in for a treat with Her Colorado Man!

  9. Awesome interview. I loved Cheryl's, The Preacher's Wife and I've heard great things about Her Colorado Man. Can't wait to read it.

  10. What a great interview - with a great author! No need to enter me as I have all her books - I've been a fan for a long time - since Rain Shadow!! Cheryl - you are one of the few authors I always read the last page and close the page with a happy sigh. There is always such a warmth and poignancy about your books that I don't come across that often.

  11. Great interview, Leslie! :D It's always interesting to learn more about authors and their habits :D

    I have a The Preacher's Daughter, I bought that one because Kristie was praising Ms St.John. Now, I need to unearth it and read it LOL :)

    Also need to do a tour to the UBS to hunt down her books (my library doesn't have any!)

    Oh and you can exclude me from the contest... Canadian :)

  12. YEAH CHERYL!! Happy to see you and super excited to see the new books on the way. Love your historicals and contemporaries, but Joe's wife is my fave!!!!!! oh my gosh, love it. Can't even explain my <3 for it.

    Great post! Happy Holidays!

    rachie2004 @ yahoo (d0t)com

  13. Wendy ~ it's my pleasure to pimp these out. You'll let us know if/when more become available. I'll be sure to check out Cheryl's contemps. Nick All Night... my youngest is named Nick and it's always kind of odd when the hero has one of my kids names. LOL

    lizzie starr ~ I'm looking forward to reading Her Colorado Man too!

    Carla ~ Cheryl did a great job answering my questions. :) I've got The Preacher's Wife on the TBR pile.

    Kristie ~ It's all your fault! LOL

    nath ~ Can't wait to hear what you think of Cheryl's books. Including you in the Book Depository giveaway.

    RachieG ~ Wasn't Joe's Wife wonderful? I think Prairie Wife might be my next read from Cheryl. Hard to choose. :)

  14. Cheryl,

    When you write contemporaries, do you find yourself becoming a completely different author is it a pretty seamless transition? I've read both and I enjoy them, so I was just wondering how hard it was to write in both worlds.

    Thanks for being such a great author!

    lyoness2009 AT hot mail **dot** COM

  15. I love this author! I just recently read the Tenderfoot Bride and it was great. Great interview.

    I'd like to enter the international competition, please.

  16. Thank you so much for all the kind words about my stories! I am so blessed to have the encouragement you've given me.

    Regarding the change between historical and contemporary: I am aactually planingto do f morecontemporaries because I've missing that switch off. Sometimes I just need it for my sanity. It's like I can't put one more character on a horse or stoke another campfire without throwing in a cell phone, you know? The transition is, as you said, Lioness, pretty seamless. I just open a new file and think with my present day head. I enjoy the change.

    Can't wait to hear who the winners are!

  17. I love Cheryl's books also. I can't wait to read Colorado Man too.

  18. Lyoness2009 ~ hi and welcome! Great question!

    Cheryl ~ it’s like with reading I tend to have a different mind set depending on what genre I’m reading.

  19. I just wanted to say "Hi" to Cheryl. I just picked up a copy of HER COLORADO MAN, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

    No need to enter me in the contest because I have all of Cheryl's books too. :)

  20. Cheryl is an amazing author and I will definitely be looking for her book in the stores.

  21. Anon ~ Enjoy Her Colorado Man!

    Karen ~ so lucky to have all of Cheryl’s books. :)

    Maureen ~ And the ebooks will be coming out next month. I don’t have an ereader but will get those to read on my laptop. :)

  22. fabulous interview and sounds like a great read thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

  23. Hi Leslie and Cheryl! This was a very wonderful interview. One of the first westerns I read was The Promise of Jenny Jones. Maggie Osbourne easily became a favorite.

    To think I haven't ever had the pleasure of reading one of St. John's books! How can that be? I will soon remedy this as I just picked up Joe's Wife from paperbackswap.

    Is Joe's wife a part of a series? If so, then I would like a copy of any of the other books in that series.

  24. I have not read this author but do like the setting. sharonaquilino at hotmail dot com

  25. Mindy ~ If you haven’t tried Cheryl you really should. :)

    Jill ~ Joe’s Wife is a good book to start with. It’s a stand alone and such an beautiful story.

    LittleEagle ~ I hope you get a chance to read some of Cheryl’s books. :)

  26. Any of Cheryl's books would be great for my mom.

    Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<

    bloggyig at gmail dot com