Today I’d like to welcome fellow Heart of Carolina RWA member, Seralynn Lewis to my virtual café. It’s good to have you here.
Seralynn: Thank you, it’s an honor to be here.
Sherri: Your novel, Cassie’s Secrets is your debut novel? Are you traditionally published or Indie? Tell us about your journey to publishing your novel.
Seralynn: Yes, Cassie’s Secrets is my debut novel. I will be self-publishing the book with a release date of September 1, 2020. The journey to publication has been uphill, downhill with crazy twists and turns along the way. Originally, I wanted to traditionally publish and after attending my first major convention in 2018, an agent requested the manuscript and I thought my goal to publication was secured. But after working with the agent for over a year, I realized the process of publishing traditionally would take an extraordinarily long time and I was unprepared to wait that long. My agent and I eventually parted ways and I began my journey to learn what I could about self-publishing and couldn’t be happier.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer? When did you start writing? When did you decide to be a published author?
Seralynn: Years ago, when my daughters were toddlers, I got the bright idea that I would write a novel. I was addicted to reading romances and thought I could write one. So, with a notebook and pen, I wrote my first novel. It was so long ago that I used my mom’s old electric typewriter to type the manuscript. In those days, a writer could send their manuscripts to a publisher without the benefit of an agent. Sadly, the novel was rejected. But it wasn’t surprising since I had no formal training as a writer. In fact, the letter I received from the publisher said, “Take some creative writing classes and get a better typewriter ribbon.” I was crushed because I knew I’d never be able to take classes. That manuscript sat on a shelf and after quite a number of moves, I couldn’t bear to look at it and I pitched it. Life happened and I was a single mom for almost twenty years until I married my current husband. He encouraged me to take the classes and I did. It’s a long-awaited dream. This book, Cassie’s Secrets, began as one scene I had to write for my first creative writing class and it morphed in the full-blown novel it is today.
Sherri: Cassie’s Secrets is the first in a series set in the town of Worthy? Is this an imaginary town? Tell us about your town? The inspiration? This is also an inspirational romance, why is it important for you to write romance with a religious (Christian) theme?
Seralynn: Worthy is an imaginary town located about forty miles south of Columbus, Ohio. I chose the area because of what happens in book #2. When I wrote my proposal for the agent, I knew I had to have three ideas for the series I was planning and I wanted the book to be set in Ohio, since I was born and raised in Ohio. But I needed it to be a small town. The novel is an inspirational romance. It’s important for me to write this novel because there are messages I want to readers to have and who may need encouragement in their lives. The message is key. In Cassie’s Secrets, the message is about forgiveness. We all need it and we all should give it.
Sherri: You have won several writing awards. Tell me what it means to be a Serious Writer, inc Writer of the Year finalist?
Seralynn: I was incredibly excited to be one of twelve people to be a finalist for this award. The winner has not yet been announced due to the pandemic. There will be one winner, of course, but there will also be second to fifth place winners as well. I had forgotten I entered the contest only to be told by another writer friend who also placed that I had placed as a semi-finalist. Then we had to wait an inordinate amount of time to find out the finalists. We’re on tenterhooks waiting. The contest entry was for book #2 of the series.
Sherri: What do you hope readers will take away from reading your books?
Seralynn: I hope the readers will enjoy the story and learn there is hope. Hope in everyday life and in everyday people.
Sherri: What writing project are you working on now?
Seralynn: I’m in the process of editing book #2 of the series, Mia’s Irishman, which will be released sometime in November 2020. I’m also currently writing book #3 of the series.
Sherri: Why did you choose to write romance?
Seralynn: I chose to write romance because I love to read romance. From the time my children were babies, romances enthralled me and I’m a voracious romance reader. So many titles and not enough time to read them all! I enjoy most all sub-genres with a few exceptions.
Seralynn: I wanted to be able to touch women’s hearts by writing about faith, life and romance. Those three categories just about covers any topic I can think of. The Faith part of the blog is where I choose Bible verses and write about how they impact our lives today. The Life part of the blog is mostly day-to-day things from birthdays to holidays. And the romance part of the blog deals with romance and the adventures my husband and I had while living in Germany and visiting castles.
Sherri: In Cassie’s Secrets you have a match maker as well as a little suspense. What are your favorite genres or authors to read?
Seralynn: There are so many fantastic romance writers out there, it’s very difficult to choose even one. I have two favorite genres I like to read aside from contemporary romances and they are historical Scottish romances and Western romances. But I’ll read Amish, Regency, Sweet & Clean, Medical and other sub-genres with the exception of a few.
Sherri: What advice would you like to give to other writers who’d like to pursue publishing their work?
Seralynn: The best advice I can give is to write the best story you can, then learn to self-edit.
Sherri: Thank you Seralynn for visiting with me here at my Creekside Café. I wish you lots of luck with your new novel.
If you liked this interview with Seralynn Lewis then follow her on social media and check out her debut novel, Cassie’s Secrets.
Here’s the back cover copy of the book:
When there’s a second chance for love and you have secrets, are you able to share them to gain the love of your life?
Single mom, Cassie Verano, and her two young daughters move to small-town Worthy, Ohio to be near her brother and his family. After years of secretly writing best-selling novels, she longs to raise her daughters without her ex-husband’s family’s controlling interference and live in peace. Her daughters befriend two girls who are cared for by their aunt who urges Cassie to meet her brother. It’s the last thing she needs or wants.
Widowed business owner, Steve Nardelli, wants nothing more than to complete his huge Australian deal and expand his deceased father’s electronics firm to secure his family’s future. But his sister’s matchmaking antics over the past two years frustrates him. His disastrous marriage caused him to distrust women and he can’t seem to make his sister understand he doesn’t want or need any entanglements.
Despite Steve’s misgivings about Cassie’s secrets, when his sister disappears, he enlists Cassie to help care for his daughters. When Cassie has an odd dream, Steve blames her for his sister’s disappearance. Can Steve and Cassie overcome their mutual distrust and expose their secrets to one another to have a second chance at true love?
Cassie’s Secrets is a second chance Women of Worthy romance.
Tirza Schaefer, it is great to have you at my Creekside Café, this is my virtual café where I meet the most interesting people from all over the world. If I ever win the lottery it would be my dream job, a place to write, drink coffee and talk to other writers and readers.
Tirza: That sounds absolutely beautiful! I’ll be a regular guest there!
Sherri: Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
Tirza: I am from Germany and live outside of Cologne in a small city with a
name no one who isn’t German can pronounce. It’s like a suburb here, lots of
green, gardens and cats and dogs and children. I like to post my coffee quite
often on my Instagram or on Facebook. I love to sit on my patio, overlooking
the garden with my laptop, coffee and often the cat beside me and work there. I
call that my summer office.
I am a mother of 3 wonderful children, a boy, 20, and two girls, 17 and
12. My son left for university already and will study history and archaeology.
We also have a cat, an Arabian Mau that was flown in from Dubai. Taani is very
talkative, spoilt and loved to abandon, but she is also so loving and devoted
herself. We are so blessed to have her as part of our family, and I am so
blessed with my children whom I’ve raised all by myself from birth.
Sherri: Have you ever been to the United States, especially
the east coast? My imaginary café is on the Inner Banks of the Pamlico Sound
which is in eastern North Carolina. We just dodged a hurricane though our
neighbours on the Outer Banks weren’t as lucky. There is something beautiful
about a storm though after being through several very bad hurricanes, it is
difficult to separate the destruction from the beauty. How is the weather where
you are? I always think of England as raining but that’s not true, is it?
Tirza: Last things first, England does have a lot of rain and clouds but when
the days are sunny and bright, it’s beautiful! I love the UK, anyway. I used to
live there in the 90s and studied at university. Tourism related. I never
actually worked in that field as I had my children straight after and moved
back to Germany, mainly being a full-time mum with a few stints at various
offices before I started my own business.
Sherri: Oops, I misspoke, I thought you were from England. I’m sorry. But you
studied in England, I cannot even imagine. I dropped out of college after my
first year to have my oldest son.
Tirza: I’ve travelled to the US twice in my life and if I had the money, I’d
go a few times more. It was beautiful each time and the country is so vast, you
really have to travel around to see it all. I also have friends in Canada I’d
like to visit one day as well. When I was 16, I was on a student exchange to
Snowqualmie, near Seattle, WA, and when 2 of my 3 children were born already,
my middle one still being a baby, we went to visit a friend in LA, Long Beach.
I didn’t see that much as I had young children with me, so we spent most of the
day at the playground, which was lovely, as everyone was so nice, but we did
see some things and it was a perfect visit of relaxation which I needed after
giving birth and the first few months of sleepless nights.
Sherri: I’ve never been to the west coast of the US but have a grandson in California
and a niece in Seattle, Washington area. I’ve not travelled very much myself
and especially not after having children.
I remember those sleepless nights after babies. I raised six sons, gave birth to three. I tell my daughters-in-law to sleep when the babies do, the house will wait.
Tirza: My current partner is a US Army veteran who lives in Germany. He is
originally from Pittsburgh and by far the most mature, most responsible, caring
and attentive, gentlemanly man I have ever met in my life! They don’t make them
over here! I am so lucky, he decided to stay after he left the Army and our
life paths crossed eventually. I smile every time I think of him.
Sherri: I have been to Pittsburgh, for a writer’s conference. Its beautiful but
the traffic is scary. I’m from the country where a traffic jam consists of
three cars and a tractor.
Tirza: The weather in Germany where I live is pretty muddy in general, rainy and cloudy, but lately, we had a dry spell and it’s been sunny, so the summer was quite lovely most of the time.
I love thunderstorms but ours are not as destructive, so we can
concentrate more on the beauty of it all. I hope you didn’t suffer any damages.
Sherri: We were blessed this year and suffered only some wind damage and power
outage. My deep freezer died, and I lost a lot of food but all in all, we were
so lucky. Our neighbours to the east had a lot of flooding as well as wind
Germany weather sounds a lot like North Carolina, a lot of rain and
mud, a dry sunny spell then more rain and mud. This week has been fantastic,
sunny with a bit of a breeze, not much humidity.
Tell me about
your books. According to your bio, you cannot be contained in a box. You write
in more than one genre, what is your favourite style of writing? Do you
consider yourself a romance author?
Tirza: I would definitely consider myself a romance author – amongst other
things. Fact is that out of my 24 books, 20 are romance novels and one is a
collection of romantic poetry. So yes, can’t deny that part of me. However, I
can’t really say I prefer one over the other. If I had to always write in the
same genre, I’d be bored and uninspired, I am sure. I love that I can write a
romance novel and hop over to do some research online to write an article on a
Goddess or a Power Animal. So I’d say, books are romantic fiction mainly and
articles and blogs are mostly spiritual.
However, one definitely touches the other. When I write a romance
novel, I work in a Goddess archetypal scenario so the spirituality is mostly
hidden beneath the layers of storyline. You can only really see it when you
know what to look for but at the same time, it teaches you without being a
teaching manual, through the story alone. Other times, my spirituality is more
blatantly exposed, as in Snake Goddess Rising, or in Balcony Above the Sea, where the female MC tells a gay man how exactly being gay is
absolutely natural and divine. It’s quite logical.
Sherri: It sounds very loving and reaffirming.
Your website is very interesting, but it isn’t just about your books, tell us about your meditation. How does your meditation and beliefs factor into your writing?
Tirza: Meditation in itself is a practice that helps you ground, focus, heal
and calm yourself. To write on archetypes like Goddesses, Gods and Power
Animals or even Tarot cards, is something that helps me personally a lot to
explore, understand and heal my own psyche and through writing about these
archetypes, I explain how it can work to others. Archetypes are personifications
of certain aspects of your psyche. For example, Ganesha, the Hindu elephant God
is the symbol for your inner strength, Aphrodite teaches you femininity and
self-love, and so on. Tapping into their specific energies can connect you to
them within yourself and show you where you still need to work on yourself.
I am also an Usui Reiki Master and founder of Goddess Reiki. Reiki is
an energy healing modality that works with laying on hands but can also be
projected across time and space. Furthermore, I am an intuitive reader, I work
with oracle cards, tarot, pendulum, my own Goddess Oracle I made myself and I
also channel messages straight without any “tools.” It all depends on the mood
of the day and circumstances. I allow my intuition to guide me and follow it
without question. I’ve learned in a painful manner that not listening to your
inner voice can have terrible consequences. It is important to cultivate a good
relationship with and to trust your inner voice, your intuition
Sherri: While our religious beliefs may be a bit different, there are
similarities in our core. I agree, it is important to listen to your inner self,
we often know what is best for us but sometimes we want what we know isn’t good
for us. As my grandmother would say, hindsight is 20/20, too bad you didn’t
know it first.
You don’t care to
cook, or you only like to cook when you have something else to entertain you? I
love to cook but it is more fun with an audiobook or YouTube interview going,
or someone else to cook with. I enjoy cooking with my sons and
daughters-in-law. I have six sons, four enjoy cooking. Do you cook with your
children? Do you have a favourite recipe?
Tirza: I definitely like cooking together a lot more than doing it alone.
However, our kitchen is unfortunately so small that only one at a time can
comfortably prepare anything there, so it is very anti-social. In the old
apartment, we had a bigger kitchen, which I loved, but there was a bedroom less
and no garden, so we sacrificed on the kitchen for the many benefits we gained.
But I do miss having a large kitchen.
Favourite recipe? Probably pasta or rice with vegetables, seitan and
spicy tomato sauce. You can vary it according to which vegetables you have and
as long as you season and spice it nicely, it’s always a delicious treat. We’re
a vegetarian household and we love seitan a lot more than tofu. It is made from
wheat protein and harder, as well as stronger in taste, as it is usually
marinated in vegetable brine. Very tasty.
Sherri: I’m not familiar with seitan but my oldest daughter-in-law is
Cambodian, and she has introduced me to many different types of food, including
tofu, which I am not a fan of.
I cooked a lot of pasta meals when the boys were all home and still do
when they are in for visits.
Do you have other hobbies? Do these show up in your writing?
Tirza: I used to dance quite intensely for years when I was younger. Ballet,
jazz and modern dance mainly. Once in a while that shows, and sometimes a
female MC will do a special sensual dance for the man she loves in one of my
books. I find many things interesting, I’m a bit of a nerd and so like to read
up on things I come across that I want to know more about. I cycle and walk a
lot more than driving in a car, too. Once in a while I feel like painting,
colouring in or crafting, but that happens maybe once or twice a year and I am
not good at it. However, it’s about the feel-good-factor and it certainly serves
that purpose then.
Sherri: I used to do a lot of crafting, painting and sewing
but it seems writing has become a second job and there is little time for
Who or what has
been the greatest influence on your writing?
Tirza: Jane Austen and William Shakespeare. When I lived in London back in
the 90s, I read Pride and Prejudice and just when I’d finished the book,
having mental orgasms over the language, the way she writes, the BBC showed the
4-part version of it with Colin Firth. What a man! Swoon! I was done for. I
bought the video and watched it several times a week for years. I had to buy a
couple of new ones before I got it finally on DVD and the tape could no longer
wear out. It became less with motherhood, but I can still talk along most of
From Jane Austen, as well as William Shakespeare, I learned that the
most important thing in writing isn’t even the most eloquent language, even
though both authors’ works possess it, but that you have to touch people’s
hearts with your writing to make it immortal. I don’t want to be remembered for
the most eloquent language expert. I want people to remember how I made them
feel when they read my books. I want to touch their hearts and find a place
there for good. To me, that is what a truly successful writer does.
Sherri: That is a great way to measure success. I like
If you could help
someone else on the journey to be a published author, what would you tell them?
Take pride in your work and make sure you deliver great quality.
Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work. Follow your dreams always.
Seek to touch people’s hearts.
Dare to put yourself out there.
Never ever give up.
Sherri: That is fabulous insight Tirza. I need to print it
out and post it on my mirror in my bathroom so I will see it every day.
Like me, your
family is an important part of who you are.
Tirza: Yes, family is very important to me, so I decided to
have a family alliteration, all starting with T to ensure my children grew up
with a sense of belonging and family loyalty. My son’s name is Tajun, my
daughters are called Tarjani and Tarini. It worked, too.
I’ve always been
a bit of a rebel in my quest to find and voice the truth, not agreeing to keep
quiet about dysfunctional patterns or avoiding taboo subjects. It wasn’t always
an easy path, but it has, ultimately, been a rewarding one. I have not only
gathered knowledge but gained wisdom. Ultimately, I am forging my path ever
more along the lines I want it to travel.
One thing I would
never change is my love for writing. My youngest daughter has inherited this
passion and talent from me and writes stories already. This year, in January, I
have suffered a burnout and subsequently had a long journey of healing that is
by no means at an end. I found it quite challenging, not to be able to write,
focus and retain information in my mind, forgetting and confusing more, the
more I struggle against my condition.
It took me months
to surrender to the healing process and first I was able to read again, not
only watch TV and listen to audiobooks, then I started to write another article
and managed to finish it. With all challenges, giving up has never been an
option. I love what I do and how I make people feel. I’ll never give up on
shining my light and encouraging and empowering others to shine theirs.
This is my only published
children’s book and it was inspired by a conversation I had with my youngest
daughter Tarini when she was 8 years old. Knowing that children learn best when
having fun and enjoying themselves, I brought the humour I teach her with into
this book. So don’t be surprised when you are being catapulted from the
racetrack to a cave and into the kitchen with a stopover in Rome.
Working with opposites was
so much fun! Not only in opposing characters, but individual characters being
at war within themselves, because human nature is so complex, nothing is really
Portia doesn’t wish to risk the freedom she has by marrying a man who treats her like a belonging. Although her aunt and uncle have an amazing relationship, the men her mother entertained where brutes. Portia has no desire to give up the work she enjoys as bookkeeper and manager for one of the largest hotels in the Arizona Territory. She is content with her life, that is, until Kent Randolph comes to visit.
A friend of the family, Kent Randolph is not the same man
who worked for her uncle years ago. Life and bad choices have honed him into a
man of strength and honor. Not expecting Portia to be all grown up and
beautiful, Kent is as surprised as she is over the power of their attraction.
Ready to put down roots after living the life of a vagabond cowboy, Kent starts
to imagine that life with Portia. Can he convince Portia he is the man for her,
that she can continue to do what she loves with his blessing and support?
Portia can’t resist the lure of her attraction for the
cowboy, but it is the little things he does that makes her realize he is
nothing like the men who frequented their house when she was a child. Though
she no longer leaves the room or puts furniture between herself and men, she is
still apprehensive about trusting them. Kent proves to be someone she can
trust, he also gives her the courage to go forward with her dream.
True romance isn’t needing someone to make you whole but
wanting something to make your life more complete. Finding that person who
knows what we need and is happy to give it to us or help us get it on our own.
The person that puts your needs and desires above their own.
If you love strong characters, historical settings and interesting
plots, Beverly Jenkins’ Breathless is
a great choice.
“Let there be peace on earth…”
There doesn’t seem to be much peace this year, the news is full of anger and fear, police brutality, terrorists and hate, crime is on the rise. Everyone shouting and screaming about the color of a cup or the words we use to greet each other. All the while children are being killed in their class rooms and shot in the streets.
As the bells jiggle and the lights twinkle children huddle in the cold, hungry and old before their time. Happy holidays, good cheer, would you like fries with that? Close the borders, close your eyes, don’t let the truth disturb the lies. Live and let live as long as we don’t disagree. Martyrs and fanatics, Christians, Muslims and Jews, straight, gay and all the way. Why can’t we all just get along?
My heart is heavy as children cry, old people left alone to die. Hate abounds, fragile glass of hope it drowns. Christmas star shine your light, we need your Peace on Earth tonight. Little Christ child in the hay, bring your love to me this day. The world can’t change unless we do, let the change begin with you. Peace on earth, the song we sing, let the bells of freedom ring. Be the change you want to see. Hope and faith and love are free, priceless their value to humanity. Gold and silver and silicone, the greatest of these is love.
Your Hand in Mine, We Will Go by Lynn Cavanaugh-Blades is a lovely story of faith and family. Set in small towns in North Carolina in 1964 we get a taste of nostalgia and a flavor of the south. Bringing to life familiar places in Beaufort County, it gives an insight into the life of seven year old Lynn and the choices she made that faithful year that impacted the rest of her life.
A story of fear and courage, love and faith and family. Like her favorite song by the Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, Lynn discovers that if she has faith in God, he will hold her hand and there is nothing she should fear.
I met Lynn at a Writers Read in Belhaven, she was there promoting her book. This is her first book and it has a lot of the history of Belhaven and Beaufort County as seen by the eyes of a child. Ms. Blades read a excerpt of her story to the group that night and I was so charmed by her characters, and her memories of them. This Faith-based story is a sweet account of learning to trust God.
A little slower paced, this second book in the Divergent trio is just as well written. The main character Tris is suffering from grief and guilt, while it is believable it is a bit depressing. Thankfully Roth brings us out of the melancholy into another fray. It is difficult to read the perils and pitfalls of being a teen in a war-torn community but the hardest is Tobias’ lack of trust or confidence in her. It seems a bit sad that he believed in her more before she proved herself than he does in this book. I liked Insurgent but not as much as the first. I am presently reading Allegiant, the third in the series and find that at the halfway point we are still losing faith with the Tris and Tobias relationship.
Roth keeps me turning the pages, the books are well written and while I may not agree with her path for her characters I am still interested to read to the end. Some of the best stories are not the ones we agree with but the ones who make us argue and think.
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