Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview, promo

Creekside Cafe Chat with Protagonist, Clay Dabrowski

Today I’d like to welcome Clay Dabrowski to Creekside Café. Clay is the hero of Tyler Wittkofsky’s new novel, The Seeds of Love (Sunflower Kisses Book 1). It’s great to have you, Clay. I have to say, I like the car you arrived in.

Clay: Thanks for having me. I love my Challenger. Whenever I need to unwind, I crank up the radio and cruise down the highway. It helps me clear my head.

Sherri: I know the feeling, windows down, radio up, country roads. I doubt we listen to the same music, I’m old school classic rock. Who do you listen to?

Clay: I’m more into alternative rock, I love Twenty-One Pilots.

Sherri: I just checked them out. They are pretty good. What’s your favorite song?

Clay: Shy Away

Sherri: Oh, that’s the one I listened to, great song.

You just graduated from college, where did you go to school?

Clay: Yes, I graduated from Coastal Carolina with a degree in communications. I managed to finish in three years, but I sacrificed a lot.

Sherri: Like what?

Clay: Mostly my social life, my ex-girl friend didn’t like me being so focused on my education.

Sherri: Is that why you broke up?

Clay: We should have broken up a long time ago, I guess I was just hanging on because I didn’t think anyone would love me for who I am. I’m not easy to love at least, that’s what she said.

Sherri: You seem like a nice young man. I cannot imagine why you couldn’t find a nice person to love you.

Clay: I’m bipolar. I’ve always been ashamed of my diagnosis. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it and realize I worthy of real love, not that fake stuff my ex called love.

Sherri: Clay, we all have challenges to overcome and few adults I know don’t have a little baggage. You’re young, handsome, hardworking, you deserve a forever kind of love.

Clay: Well, thanks, I’m trying to treat myself the way I treat others. I’ve always been so down on myself. I’m my own nemesis.

Sherri: You’re a college graduate and you’re employed. For a new graduate that’s not always the case.

Clay: Yeah, I know. I work at The Door, a great restaurant in Myrtle Beach but I’m hoping to get a job in communications so I can use my degree.

Sherri: I wish you luck. Clay, it has been so nice to meet you. Now how about a ride in that awesome car?

Clay: Yes ma’am, think you can stand my music?

Sherri: Bring it on!

If you enjoyed my interview with character Clay Dabrowski, then check out the novel where he’s the hero, The Seeds of Love (Sunflower Kisses Book 1). Releases June 1st!

Looking for your next Book Boyfriend?

Clay is a hopeless romantic who is looking for a forever love. His interests are Romantic Comedies, superhero shows and young adult fiction novels. He’s hardworking, kind and humble. If you are looking for Mr. Right, you may want to give this hero a chance.

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You can also check out my interview with author Tyler Wittkofsky.

Posted in Thoughts

Morally Gray Characters and Antiheroes

Morally Gray Characters Versus Antiheroes ~ What are they? What is the difference? Why do we like them?

Morally Gray Characters are the intermediate between villain and hero, neither wholly good nor completely bad. According to the Urban Dictionary they are a character who does too much bad to be good, yet too much good to be bad, like Robin Hood or Iron Man.

Hmm, so a morally gray character could be someone who breaks the law to help those in need or someone who does bad things for the right reasons like maybe killing bad guys the law can’t or won’t touch?  I’ve written a few characters like that, especially my character Phil Archer from The Leeward Files Series.

So what then is the difference between a morally gray character and an antihero?

An antihero is a central character who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes— Such as idealism, courage and morality.

When I was researching antiheroes, I found a long list of familiar characters, I’ve chosen some of my favorites: Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, Dexter Morgan from Dexter, Hans Solo from Star Wars, Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, etc., Man with No Name, Catwoman, Wolverine, Deadpool, Snake Pissker from Escape New York, etc. and Harley Quinn.

An antihero might be a character you sometimes hate. As with Scarlett, there were times we just wanted to thump her between the eyes, but we still couldn’t help but root for her. Other characters like Hans and Jack Sparrow were often difficult to take seriously. Their selfishness and self-centeredness made them less than heroic, yet they were still likeable and came through heroically in the end. Still other antiheroes may react with over-the-top violence but only towards those who truly deserve it. They are redeemable by their acts of kindness, gentleness or honor towards those who are innocent or weaker and in need of a hero.

Morally gray characters have a moral code, it may not be exactly Captain America’s code of honor but there are certain lines they will not cross. Servius Snape of the Harry Potter series is a bad guy in many ways but even he has limits and lines he will not cross. He is willing to risk death to save Harry’s mother.

The modern Sherlocks of television and movies each have cavalier attitudes towards women and sex, drug addiction and even using people, but they are brilliant at solving crimes. They will employ any means necessary to solve a crime even doing something illegal, immoral or mean. This character tends to be narcissistic, believing they are not only the smartest person in the room but that their agenda is the only one that matters. Even as some of Sherlock Holmes’ traits make him less likeable, he finds redemption through a variety of techniques: their moral codes, their relationship with Dr Watson or other shows of weakness not evident to the casual observer.

In Blake Crouch’s Good Behavior, Letty Dobesh is a repeat offender. She has recently been released from prison for theft and is in the middle of a burglary when she overhears a murder plot. What can she do? How can she stop it? She can’t go to the police, but she cannot allow an innocent woman to be murdered.

In my Leeward Files Series, few of my characters truly embrace the conventional qualities of a hero. Phil Archer starts out as a socially inept, creepy stalker but his quick reaction saves Rae Lynne’s life in Chrome Pink. Through his actions might have been to save himself, in his misguided way he was trying to rescue the citizens of Leeward especially Rae Lynne and her friends. With each consecutive story Phil’s backstory is revealed and readers begin to understand the reasons why he does the things he does. While Phil can’t exactly be called a hero, he does have some heroic tendencies. He tries to protect children, even if his methods aren’t typical. He wants to see the bad guys pay for their crimes and he is willing to do whatever is necessary to make them pay.

Rae Lynne Grimes the cornerstone of my Leeward series more morally gray than antihero, she does have a code of honor but she is also a recovering addict, a rape survivor and many of her actions are self-centered because she is doing all she can just to survive.

For me, I believe morally gray characters and antiheroes are more interesting than traditional heroes. I still love my good guys, but I want them flawed and fighting their own demons.

As a reader, what type of characters do you like to read and if you are a writer, what are your favorite characters to write?

Posted in inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration

FEAR, my first mistake

How many mistakes have I made on my journey to becoming a published author?

Hmm, there are too many to name, but I will start with a few lingering ones that will hopefully help someone else when they are looking to get published.

My first mistake was FEAR!

I was afraid of trying to get published. I was scared to let others read my work. I feared I wasn’t good enough. When it came to self-publishing, I was apprehensive about spending money, of taking chances, of failing. I was intimidated by everything.

Confession: I am still afraid. It’s okay to be afraid, but if you allow fear to keep you from doing what you love, you will never do anything. Like the heroes we love to read about and watch, remember we don’t have to be fearless, in fact, people love to cheer for the underdog. Think Rocky! So, swallow your fears and do the scary thing anyway. Be the hero in your own story!

Let me start with FEAR ONE: Not good enough.

Well, this was and is true. I’m not as good as I’d like to be, but I am getting better. Practice makes perfect, or at least makes improvements. Like anything else we do, there are people who like my books and others who do not. That’s okay, it is important to remember that we cannot please everyone, and we should not try. The first person we have to please is ourselves. Do you love what you are doing? If you have a passion for it, whether it is writing, painting, or music, whatever it is, your love and joy will show in your effort.

Grammar mistakes are the bane of my writing! I’m working on relearning all the lessons Mrs. Simpson tried to teach me in high school English class. Thank goodness for all of the editing programs available online nowadays and for friends and family members who are great at proofreading and catching my mistakes.

I have talked with other writers and have been surprised to learn that many of my favorite writers say they doubt their work or their ability. They often fear they will not be as good with the next book. Fear is a very real thing and it can be crippling. I repeat, no matter if you are a writer or a dancer, an artist or a musician, when you put your talent out there for others to critique, it is scary. Some will love you and others will not. The person you have to convince is yourself. Believe in your talent. Fall in love with what you are doing. Let your joy shine through your work and others will feel it too.

#2: Fear of failing. Has anyone in history ever done anything without fear of failure? Failure is a very real part of life. The truth is sometimes you are going to fail but the only sure-fire way to not fail is to not do anything and that in itself is failure. I have never attempted anything important without fear of failure from going out for cheerleading, attending to college, to parenthood and getting married, to writing and publishing. If it means something to you, then yes, there is going to be fear. If you are not at least a little afraid then you’re not risking enough. With great success come great risks. You cannot win if you are not willing to put it all on the line. This is true whether you are talking relationships, athletics or art, if you don’t put your whole heart into it, you will not reap the rewards. When the risks are greater, the success is sweeter.

#3: Afraid of taking chances and spending money. I’m sure there are other authors, perhaps even other creatives, who feel the same way I do… afraid to spend money especially before you start really making money. I’ve always been conservative. While uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing is free, there are other costs that a self-published author has to take on themselves. I was talking to my youngest daughter-in-law recently, I’ve mentioned that she is a photographer, like me, she worries about spending money for her craft/business. We know that there are somethings that we have to put the money into, for a photographer it’s the camera, lens, perhaps some classes. For a writer, it’s a computer, maybe editing, cover design, marketing, and classes. I recently broke down and invested in a class I’ve wanted to take for a couple of years. It’s scary to invest the money not knowing if it will be worth it but as my daddy used to say, “Scared money don’t make money.” Sometimes you have to conquer your fears and take a chance on yourself.

What I’m trying to tell you is what I’m telling myself, believe in yourself and take a chance. Don’t let your fears keep you from making your dreams come true.

Posted in my books, Thoughts

I Need a Hero

What Makes a Man a Hero?

I have six sons, a loving husband and several male relatives, all could be romantic heroes, at least to those who love them. We have military men, construction workers and volunteer firemen, first responders, dedicated fathers and Scout leaders, all embody the manly men who set feminine hearts aflutter. They are all good looking too, of course I’m probably a bit prejudice in saying so.

When writing the characters for my stories I don’t set out to use a certain person as a model. Often, traits, events or actions from friends and family members drift into my stories. If you are looking closely, you can see a piece of one son or another, my husband, my best friends, but unlike the characters in my stories, I do not know what is in the heart and heads of real people. In truth, I find it more liberating to create my characters and play inside their skins until I feel I have a real person on the page. While I don’t purposely steal my characters from real life, I am well aware that those around me influence my writing, my building of characters and worlds.

It wasn’t until I was preparing to publish Chrome Pink that I realized how much I’d borrowed from real life. Logan, the hero in Chrome Pink was difficult to write. I wanted him to be understanding and kind, but not wimpy. He had to be strong enough to hold up against a character like Rae Lynne. To find the balance between masculine charm and alpha-male, I looked to the men around me. My sons, husband and assorted relatives are mostly alpha-males. They are strong willed, opinionated and ready for battle but they are also gentle fathers, romantic husbands/lovers, and kind friends. From each of them I was able to see how a man handles the baggage of a traumatic childhood with the strength and character of a man who wants to do and be his best. I hope that I have captured these elements in my characters. I want them to feel real but they are not, they are characters from my imagination, influenced by those around me.

I have thrown everything into this story but the kitchen sink, oh wait, I have that too. My friend has a plaque over her kitchen sink, “No man was ever shot while doing the dishes,” it influenced one of my scenes. What could be sexier than a man doing dishes?

What do you want in your fantasy lover? What makes a man a romantic hero?



Posted in Book Review

Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

I kept putting this book down because I am not fond of books where the husband and wife cheat. Even though I know it happens even in modern times, and in historicals, marriage was often little more than a business arrangement and it was never expected that a wealthy spouse be faithful. As I started to read Never Kiss a Rake, I came to see the wife as the villain and though that doesn’t excuse her husband, it does make us feel a bit more sympathetic.

I loved the way Ms. Stuart wove this story together giving us little morsels of fact that inevitably led us to the true villain in this story. It was a bit of a surprise to learn who was behind all the evil that transpires within the pages of this book but as soon as they are revealed, their identity unmasked, it became apparent from comments mentioned early in the story. Anne Stuart is the master of misdirection, with distractions and other possibilities adding layers of fog to cloud the truth, it is exciting to see the smoke blown away before the final revelations.

These characters: both the hero and heroine as well as the multiple villains and supporting cast are wonderfully well written adding more depth and dimensions of this mysterious love story. Adrian Bruton, the Earl of Kilmartyn is hardly the most believable hero, he in fact has all the marks of one who is truly a villain, yet we come to like him and want him to be good or at least not too bad. Bryony Russell aka Mrs. Greaves isn’t your traditional English rose, she is hardly a hothouse flower. Her strength and determination even pitted against her weaknesses and desire for the notorious rake, make her seem real, vulnerable and a true heroine. We want this couple to get together despite his being married and her believing he had something to do with her father’s death and destruction. Add in the supporting cast of sisters, household staff and Kilmartyn’s wife, maid and lovers, you have an army of suspects and possible scenarios available to make the story interesting and exciting.

I am looking forward to reading Never Trust a Pirate and Never Marry a Viscount the last two books in this trilogy. Even they are as good as Never Kiss a Rake, they’ll be fun to read.