Posted in contest, News, promo

Counting My Blessings

Count Your Blessings Not Sales

Whenever I start to get depressed because my writing career isn’t taking off like I’d hoped I am reminded of how blessed I am by the people who support me. I never want to forget that you guys— my friends, neighbors, my community and especially my family are right here reading my books, helping promote them, offering encouragement.

While I might not be a best selling author, I’m a well-supported, blessed author and I thank you all for taking the time to read my books, leave reviews, and respond to my posts on social media. I appreciate all of you who have signed up for my newsletter, I will try not to abuse your email boxes and hope you will enjoy learning some of the background information about my town, my characters and my research.

I recently had a giveaway on social media for a couple of gift cards. One for $20 to The Next Chapter Books and Art Store in New Bern, NC, and another for a $10 gift card for Amazon. I chose Amazon because it is universal, and anyone anywhere could use it. The Next Chapter Books and Art Store was chosen for a couple of reasons, one because my books are there, but it is also because of Michelle Flye, the new owner of the bookstore.

Michelle, an author and poet herself bought the bookstore when the former owner was ready to retire. The Next Chapter already had a reputation for supporting local authors but in Michelle’s hands it has become more active. It has become a place where local authors can come and meet with other authors and readers, where they can become known. With the Covid-19 lockdown, Michelle has shut her doors to customers, but she is still taking orders, making deliveries and doing all she can to keep her store viable. Being actively connected to this vibrant hub of creativity and celebration of local talent was important to me and I wanted to let her know how much it meant to me and other like me to keep The Next Chapter going.

I am pleased and excited to announce the winners of the gift certificates.

For the $10 Amazon Card, Stephanie Beers. I was surprised when Stephanie responded to my email because I did not know her email address and it was all I had on the paper. When her photo popped up, I was excited and a little teary to know that she had not only responded to my social media but had signed up for my newsletter. Thank you, Stephanie.

Stephanie is the voice of Jenna in my audio interview with Tar and Jenna I did for Titanium Blue. She isn’t not a writer herself but has supported my writers’ groups both my Word Weavers group and the Pamlico Writers by volunteering at conferences and helping with our bingo fundraiser. Stephanie has been a great friend and is always willing to lend a hand whenever I have some crazy project going on. I’m so thankful she won.

Stephanie: Thank you Ms. Sherri!! Love you!!! We are so proud of you!

Sherri: Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was you Stephanie! I’m so glad! Thank you so much for your support! 

Love you,

Stephanie: Haha yes ma’am♡ I used the gift card to purchase your first book 🙂 since I let Micheala borrow my copy and it moved away. Can’t wait to finish it! 

Congratulations Stephanie!

The winner of the $20 The Next Chapter Gift Certificate is Lisa Gargaro of Capelli Hair Salon in Washington, North Carolina. I’m not sure if this is a sign that I need a makeover, since Stephanie is also a stylist. Is it kismet that both winners were stylists?

Lisa is owner of the famous Capelli Hair Salon in Washington. She is a lovely lady who gives back to her community through her Wigs and Wishes program, providing wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair.

Lisa is a talented writer, poet and watercolor artist and has recently become the grandmother to a beautiful baby girl.

Lisa is a member and officer of the Pamlico Writers’ Group. A former Army mechanic, this versatile lady can do anything. She is the kind of person I want on my team and I am so thankful for her friendship and support.

There were many who supported this giveaway, not to win but to support me and I appreciate all of you. When I looked through the names last night and saw who was there, it meant so much to me to see your names some I recognized others I did not, but I am thankful for each and everyone of you.

You can still sign up for my newsletter, the next one will be going out the end of this month and I’m working on a little short story to give you a taste of my upcoming book. It’s an exclusive for my newsletter so you have to sign up if you want to know the backstory.

Thank you all for your support.–scBNEXJjNgB2BNgqMjLa64yqq43LU2_yx-GO9nKPUo9Shpk

Posted in Creekside Cafe

Terry Conrad Visits Creekside Cafe

Today I am happy to welcome a new writer friend, Terry Conrad to my Creekside Café on this rainy day. It is so good to have you here.

Terry: It’s good to be here. I loved living in the Raleigh area and have many fond memories of my time in NC.

Sherri: I’m on my way to Raleigh for the North Carolina Book Festival. Are you from North Carolina?

Terry: I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but have moved around a bit since having left home for college.  I lived in Florida while completing my undergraduate degree, then moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina while getting my first Master’s degree, and then moved to Atlanta when my wife’s job relocated her.  We’ve been living here now for 18 years.

Sherri: I love Atlanta but it’s a little too busy for this country girl. I lived in Columbus, Georgia for a while but that was many years ago and I have a son who lives in Ohio now. I hope to visit soon.

Are you a full-time writer or do you have another occupation as well?

Terry: I’m a Senior Manager Accountant now, having recently switch careers from being an auditor for the State of Georgia.  Prior to that I was a middle school guidance counselor and a high school Assistant Principal.  When my days of working for the State are over, I will probably spend my retirement writing more.

Sherri: Now I find that interesting, you are analytical as well as creative. Your novels follow this path as well, do they not?

Terry: To a certain extent they do.  I am a fan of and write suspense and/or action fiction, and the creative side of me comes out when I try to write stories that are as unique as possible.  Nearly everything under the sun has probably been written at some point, but I try to put my unique twist on it, if it has.  The analytical side of me is evident in the way I approach my writing, which is very structured in nature.

Sherri: Tell us about your books.

Terry: My third book, The Idealist, having just been released in January this year.  It is a political thriller, which given all that is going on in politics these days, fits perfectly with what most Americans are thinking about at this time.  It is about someone who figures out a way to remove corruption from government, only to find that those in power aren’t willing to give it up so easily.

My first book, Illusion of Grandeur, was published in 2011 and was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Award (top 250 out of the original 10,000 entries).  It is about a cult that is attempting to bring about the end of the world, and the PI and cult specialist that attempt to stop them.

My second book, Fugue, is a psychological thriller.  A fugue state is similar to a mix between amnesia and multiple-personality disorder.  Someone in a fugue state forgets who they are, and reinvents themselves as another person, usually moving to another place in the process.  They live as a completely different person until they begin to remember who they really are.  In my book, a person in a fugue state is believed to be a serial killer and is being chased by a rogue policeman and the father of the latest missing victim.  Since he’s in a fugue state, he doesn’t think he is a serial killer, but as he begins to recover his memory, he begins to wonder whether or not he is who they think he is.  It’s only at the end, when he fully recovers his memory, that the truth is revealed.

Sherri: All three sound like books I’d love to read. I’ll will have to check them out. I’m a suspense writer as well and find I like a faster paced, action-filled book more often than something that is more leisurely paced. Who do you like to read?

Terry: I have read quite a bit of James Patterson novels, and I am a big fan of Lee Child (Jack Reacher).  Additionally, I’ve read the series that led to the TV show Dexter (by Jeff Lindsay) and the Stieg Larsson/David Lagercrantz novels (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.). 

Sherri: We have similar tastes in books and television shows.

Who or what has most influenced your own work?

Terry: My writing style is probably most influenced by James Patterson.  My books are fast paced with lots of action/suspense, and generally have shorter chapters.  I would also say that my editor and long-time friend, Jay Waitkus, has played a role in helping shape my writing as well.  He is a journalist and a published author as well.

Sherri: Tell me about your writing journey. How did you get published? Are you traditionally published?

Terry: I have been published by Elizabeth River Press, a very small, up-and-coming indie publisher.

Like many aspiring writers, I wanted to be published by a traditional publishing company, and I wrote letters to various publishers in the Writer’s Market, a large volume with thousands of publishers listed in it.  Unfortunately, none of them were interested in my first novel. 

Eventually Elizabeth River Press came around, however, and it is a small publishing company that helps good writers get published.  ERP decided to publish my first book and has published my other two books as well.

Probably the best feeling in the world came shortly after my second book was published.  I was back in school getting another degree so I could change careers, and we had a class in Washington DC.  I was able to go to the Library of Congress and confirm that both of my books were in there. 

That’s when I realized that it didn’t really matter to me whether the big publishers had picked my book or not.  I may never sell the amount of books that someone like James Patterson does, but my stories are out there just like his are, and that’s enough for me.

Sherri: I feel the same way, Terry. While I might want to be the next James Patterson or Nora Roberts, I’m okay with being Sherri Hollister and just having my books out there for people to read. I love to write and no matter how many books I sell I will continue to write.

So, tell me, what is one of your favorite things about being a writer?

Terry: For me, it’s about getting to express myself creatively.  I don’t generally have many outlets for it, but with writing I do.  There are lots of great book ideas floating around in my brain – it feels good to get them on paper and share them with others.

Sherri: Like any job, even one we love, there is always a downside, what is the worst thing about being a writer?

Terry: The editing process can at times be a bit grueling.  It certainly was with my latest book and took a long time to get through for various reasons.  I despise making mistakes/typos, but unfortunately sometimes they still happen no matter how careful you try to be in not making them.  This does imitate life though – not everything will go perfectly, no matter how hard you may plan and work at it.  It’s about doing the best you can and improving as you go.

Sherri: I agree, the editing can be rough and finding people you trust who will tell you the truth but not crush your spirit is important.

With that revelation, would you be willing to bare all and tell us your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I know for me, when I read the authors I love, I think, oh they just sat down and wrote an amazing story. They didn’t have to do all of this learning and fixing I’ve had to do.

Terry: I’d say one of my strengths would be creating suspense and ending a chapter in such a way as to get the reader to want to read on.  I’d like to hope I’m good at keeping my reader guessing about what is going to happen next as well.  I’d say that my weakness might be character development.  Since I write more of a commercial style of fiction, it is harder to do, but I am working on it.

Sherri: You mentioned your wife, how long have you two been together?

Terry: I’ve been married to my wife Dawn for 16+ years and we’ve been together for over 18 years.  We live just outside of Atlanta with our dog Boomer.

Sherri: Does your wife support your writing? How long have you been writing?

Terry: Yes, she’s very supportive and is always the first person to read my book other than the editor and maybe publisher.  She also helps me catch things that I or my editor may have missed.

Technically speaking, I’ve been writing since I was in the 5th grade, so about 36 years.  Back then I was a fan of the Hardy Boys Mysteries, and my short 40-page books reflected that, with non-stop action.  They were the Stephen Chase Mysteries.  I took a long break though before writing again, as my focus became my academics.  I started writing again as an adult about 10 years ago and have written when my busy schedule allows.

Sherri: How do you juggle work, writing and a social life?

Terry: I work a schedule that gives me every other Friday off, and that is generally when I will do my writing.  Sometimes on the weekends I will as well, but it depends on whether I have other plans or not. Weekends are generally when we get together with friends, so I usually don’t write much on the weekends, but if I do it would be earlier in the dayIt can be difficult to find time to write sometimes with my hectic schedule – more than half of the year I’m working close to 50-55 hours a week and don’t have time to write at all.  It’s during the “slower time of year” that I try to plan and do my writing.

Sherri: Do you have any other hobbies or interests? Do these show up in your stories?

Terry: My main hobby/interest would be sports.  I used to play soccer when I was a kid and as an adult, have refereed and coached it as well, and now I just attend and watch.  I am a founding member and season-ticket holder of Atlanta United FC.  To this point they haven’t showed up in any of my books, but possibly one day.

Sherri: What are your future writing plans?

Terry: Soon I will be starting on my fourth book, which is a sequel to the first book, Illusion of Grandeur.  Tentatively, it is called, Numbers Game, and will involve the return of the cult and its numerologist leader as they work with a group of domestic terrorists to accomplish their plan of death and destruction.

Sherri: Terry, it has been so nice to meet you. I look forward to reading your books and to seeing what happens next in your career.

Thank you for joining me at Creekside Café and a special thank you to your publisher for suggesting we get together.

Check out Terry’s links below for his books and social media.


My website: Terry Conrad | The Official Website of Terry Conrad

Facebook pages:

TerryConradAuthor –

New Day Party (related to my 3rd book) –




Posted in Book Review

Review of Sleeping Mallows

Sleeping Mallows by Tammera Cooper

Sleeping Mallows is the second in the Water Street Chronicles, the sequel to Drenched Sunflowers. The story of Beth Pearse, her husband and Sam are simmering in the background while a mysterious woman turns up the heat and everything threatens to boil over.

A dog, a boy, a ghost, a hurricane and an unplanned romance come together to add to the rich tapestry Tammera Cooper has woven. Set amid the backdrop of little Washington on the banks of the Pamlico and Tar Rivers, the town, the swamp and the river are as much characters as the people and dog who populated this story.

While this is a continuation, Savanna’s story adds another layer to the drama begun in Drenched Sunflowers. Ms. Cooper twines Savanna and Charlie’s stories with those of Beth and Brad, ratcheting the intrigue to another level.

I feel that Sleeping Mallows is even better than Drenched Sunflowers. As with the first in the Water Street Chronicles, the ghost of Abram is an import piece of the puzzle.

Rich with history, atmosphere and drama, if you like an old-fashioned southern gothic with a modern twist, check out the Water Street Chronicles. You will want to start with book one, Drenched Sunflowers.

To learn more about Tammera Coooper and her books, check out the interview I did with her earlier this year.

On The Porch with Tammera Cooper

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

On The Porch with Tammera Cooper

Today I’m sitting on the porch of Creekside Café with my writer-sister, Tammera Cooper. Tammera is a fellow member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group as well as a member of, the Heart of Carolina our local Romance Writers of America group, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Welcome to Creekside, Tammy.

Tammy: Thanks for the invite. It’s the perfect day to sit on the porch and visit.

Sherri: You’ve been out this way before.

Tammy: Yes, I make my way across the river every once in a while. I love it when I get over this way. The Aurora Christmas Craft fair was awesome.  I was able to sign some books for readers. We had a lot of fun.

Sherri: You’re almost local especially if you go by river.

Tammy: Yes, I live by the Pamlico River with my fiancé. If you look really hard, you probably could see me waving from shore. Patrick did an awesome job building our house. Definitely set us up for our own Happily Ever After.

Sherri: You’ve not always believed in happy ever after?

Tammy: We will just put it like this, life hasn’t been kind. But that gives me an appreciation for the good times and more angst for my books.

Sherri: I’m so excited to announce that your second book, Sleeping Mallows will be out soon.

Tammy: It’s almost here, May 15th. If you preorder now, you will get your copy May 14th.

Sherri: Your series is called the Water Street Chronicles, give our readers a little taste of your books.

Tammy: My first book, Drenched Sunflowers came out last fall. I mixed a contemporary Southern fiction with a historical love story. The ghosts in the Water Street Chronicles tend to be everyone’s favorite characters.

I’ll share what I have written on the back of the book:

Rainy days and river views fill Beth’s summer as she makes a new start in small town Washington, North Carolina.  After the loss of her husband in a tragic accident, simple seems better.  It’s time to renovate her life, starting with a future art gallery on the river.  Sam, her contractor, has everything under control, but the stress of the construction project and new business is beginning to make her crazy.  Nightmares and visions of ghosts become the nightly norm.  She doesn’t have time for this.  She doesn’t have time for her heart to make room for him.

 Sam is happy filling his days and nights with work.  His two jobs as a teacher and contractor are his passions and do not leave room for much else.  This new project has possibilities: a beautiful owner, the history of the house, and an 19th-century diary. Beth’s dream is becoming a timely reality until she disappears.

 Mystery and intrigue fill the haunting river bank of the Pamlico as Sam and Beth find the truth behind the Water Street house and each other.

Sherri: Yes, I am Team Sam, but your daughter is Team Brad? Do you want to give a little hint about this competition?

Tammy: The main character in the Water Street Chronicles, Beth Pearse, is a young widow and is having a hard time learning to love again. She had a fairytale marriage, and when you lose someone so early in life, it makes it hard to start over again. Sam is her contractor, and her heart wants to take the leap again with him, but Brad was meant to be her one and only. My readers like to choose sides and tell me who they think Beth’s heart should be loyal to.

Sherri: You’re a self-published author. I know you’ve had a few challenges publishing your first book. What are some of the things you learned with the first book? Was the second a little easier?

Tammy: Number one give yourself plenty of time to get things done.  A cover can be designed and ready 3 months in advance. It sits there patiently while you get the rest ready. But if you wait till the last-minute little things, for instance hurricane Florence, can cause delays and extreme stress. Not that Florence was a little thing. The other creatives on your team need time too.

Sherri: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Tammy: My favorite Romance book was To Love a Rogue by Valerie Sherwood. After reading it many times in High School, I headed to the University of West Florida to study marine archeology, final destination, Port Royal Jamaica.  After finding out I wasn’t a great swimmer, I changed my major to Art History. And so, started my career in retail management. 

In 2014, as a Retail Store Manager, the writing bug bit.  The characters started speaking and would not leave me alone until I started to put them on paper. The Water Street Chronicles were born.  I have always loved historical romance and assumed that was what I was writing. Each of the book titles come from code flowers of the Underground Railroad.  During a brainstorming exercise with a Harlequin Editor at the Babes on the Beach writers retreat, the contemporary story came to life. I haven’t looked back.

Sherri: I too love historical romance and always planned to write it but then life happened, and things changed. I still have a historical series I’m planning to write. What about you, will you write a historical or do you plan to write in another genre?

Tammy: There is a prequel in the planning for the Chronicles, telling Selah’s and Abram’s love story and the story of the Underground Railroad in Washington NC. After that, I guess I will see where life takes me.

Sherri: I’ve read Drenched Sunflowers but only excerpts of Sleeping Mallows. Share a little of your upcoming book. I know everyone is getting excited about it.

Tammy: Book two, Sleeping Mallows, continues the mystery along the river from the law enforcement point of view. It’s non-stop action, cover to cover. I’ll share the back of the book:

A river overflows with secrets and ghosts of the past… Will it reveal what they seek?

The day the Pearse woman was pulled from the river, Deputy Tim Whitaker knew this was a make or break case.  He worked his whole career cracking the hard ones. Why can’t he catch a break? He should have known it might get complicated with a much-loved local as the primary suspect and a second man everyone has seen, but no one knows. All he needs is one clue, one thing to bring her closure.

Captain Savanna McCormick needs closure – the kind she provides for other families thanks to her partner Max, her K9 cadaver dog. Too bad she can’t get her own. Her parents’ disappearance may no longer be a newsworthy item, but the still-open case is always on her mind, especially now she has custody of her younger brother. Chaperoning a field trip forces her to confront her worst fears; returning to Washington, NC where her parents were last seen.

A special assignment brings them together while the job keeps them apart. Will the Pamlico River prove to be their toughest adversary? Can they work together and solve the case before the Pamlico washes it all away and hides its secrets forever?

Sherri: Water features heavily in your stories.

Tammy: I grew up on the Rappahannock River in Virginia watching the riverside community change with the times but remaining the same in spirit. The waterside lifestyle is in my blood and influences my writing every day.

A short time ago, I made some changes in my career and personal life to put the words on paper.  I now live in Washington, NC. Writing is my second job. I enjoy the research required to write stories that are woven with the small town’s history. 

Sherri: Before we go, you have a list of actors who you wish to play your characters if your books are made into a movie.

Tammy: Yes, I do. This is a list of actors I would want to portray my main characters if my book was made into a movie:

Beth-Clair Folani
Sam-Ryan Reynolds
Savanna-Emma Stone
Tim-Chris Pratt
Brad-Dan Rengering
Selah-Halle Berry
Abram-Idris Elba

*Author Social Media Links






*Links to where the books are Sold


Barnes and Nobles


Drenched Sunflowers


Beth ran to the back of the house. Her chest hurt as she gasped for her next breath. Screams came from the small outbuilding at the corner of the yard. Rain poured down in sheets as the lightning flashed around her. Sunflowers waved in the wind, bending, almost touching the lawn. The trees joined in the harsh dance forced to follow the rhythm of the storm. It had gotten worse. Someone was stuck, and they couldn’t get out of the shed. She kept running, but it seemed the shed was getting farther away. The yard was starting to flood.

“I’m coming,” she yelled, but no words came out of her mouth. The screaming got louder. She finally reached the door. The lightning flashed with a loud clap of thunder. Beth jumped because it was so loud. She reached for the doorknob, but the handle was gone.

“Help! The water is coming in. I can’t get out.”

It was a woman on the other side of the door. The banging was so loud. Beth tried to get some leverage on the door, but there was nothing to grab. The rough water was getting deep, up to Beth’s waist. It wouldn’t stop coming. It must be coming over the river bank.

She looked around the yard for something to pry the door open as the structure started to sway. She had to get her out of there. She ran back to the shed just as it collapsed. A horrible scream split the night air. The roof fell, and the walls ripped apart in the surf as they disappeared into the darkness. Maybe she could still save the woman. Maybe she wasn’t badly hurt. Beth grabbed at the debris tossing it out of her way like a mad woman. Under a broad beam, she found a young black woman strangely dressed. The beam held her pinned under the water. Yard tools and other rubble floated in the waves that churned around her. A basket floated by Beth as she bent to move the massive beam. She looked down at the person struggling under the water. It was the woman she had seen in the bathroom mirror, her eyes pleading for help. She tried to grab Beth as air bubbles escaped her mouth.

“Oh, my God, it won’t move.” Beth looked down at her, the hope draining from her spirit. The beam wouldn’t move. She tried again, but the water was too deep now. With a quick glance back toward the house, she spied an older woman standing in the window. Beth waved her arms, hoping for some bit of salvation, but the woman turned away as if she couldn’t see Beth at all. Beth turned back to the woman and reached out to lay a reassuring hand on her arm only to find, there was no life left to be saved.


Sleeping Mallows:

Short Synopsis:

A K9 cop struggles to adjust to her new role as guardian to her younger brother after the disappearance of her parents. Washington, North Carolina needs her help to solve a kidnapping case but first, she must face her fears of returning to the town her parents were last seen.

*Top 10s list (A List of your top 10 favorite things OR a list of 10 fun, random facts about yourself)

1.  I lived in the Netherlands for 5 years.

2.  I was an Army wife for 15 yrs. My fiancé is in the Army Reserves.

3.  I live in a house 14 ft in the air.

4.  I have been to 48 states.

5.  Favorite date of all time was flounder gigging at midnight in the Newport River.

6.  Favorite movie is the Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves

7.  When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a marine archeologist because of a romance novel by Valerie Sherwood, To Love a Rogue set in Port Royal, Jamaica.

8.  I have a Weimaraner, a kelpie, a black cat, and a gargoyle gecko.

9.  Favorite drink is Sweet Tea.

10.  I’ve ridden a motorcycle over the Continental Divide in a sleet storm. By the time we made it to the top, I had icicles hanging from my glasses.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Chatting with Alison Paul Klakowicz

Welcome Alison Paul Klakowicz to Creekside Cafe. I guess I should say, welcome home.

Alison: Yes, I was born and raised in Beaufort County, North Carolina. My family lived in Aurora from my birth until we moved to Washington when I was nine-years-old. My parents grew up in the Aurora area (Campbell’s Creek and Core Point).

Sherri: I used to hang out at Campbell’s Creek a lot. I remember running through fields and tromping through the woods.

It’s good to have you with us today. Join me for a cup of coffee. I understand you are addicted to it to.

Alison: Yes, COFFEE!

Sherri: You call Beaufort County home but its not your home at the moment.

Alison: I lived in Washington until I left for East Carolina University following graduation from Washington High School. Upon graduation from ECU, I moved back to Washington for a few years and worked as a reporter for Washington Daily News and then was employed with Beaufort Co DSS (Department of Social Services) which was the start of a career in human services. I moved to Wilmington and went on to work in the mental health field for several years. I moved to Fayetteville, ten years ago and worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor for North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and earned a master’s degree from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A few years ago, I choose to leave my career in human services to focus solely on my creative pursuits.

Sherri: Are you writing full-time, now?

Alison: I am currently marketing my children’s book which takes a lot of time and energy. I started a podcast in May 2018 called Hodge Podge on Anchor

( to promote my writing and record my journey in pursuing my dreams and to inspire others to do so. I am now dabbling in the blogging world:

Sherri: I’d love to hear more about your podcast. How did you get started doing the podcast?

Alison: So, my husband came home one day last spring and told me I needed to start a podcast. I thought he was crazy. But there was a new, easy way to podcast from an app on Anchor right from your phone. I downloaded the app, hit record and the rest is history.

Sherri: It sounds like you’re busy. Are you married, have children? Does this effect your writing?

Alison: I married my Green Beret and Philadelphia born and bred (cheesesteak lover) husband, Adam, nine years ago. We have one son, Mak, who is seven and in the first grade. He is our pride and joy. We are a military family. My debut children’s book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, was inspired by my son’s infatuation with monster trucks when he was a toddler and he would tell me every day he wished I drove a Big Red Monster Truck. So, YES. It has affected my writing… through inspiration.

Sherri: You mentioned a variety of careers, tell us how they have influenced your writing.

Alison: I’ve loved storytelling and reading books and poetry all my life. I developed a love of writing in high school when I was on the staff and Co-editor of my high school literary magazine. I went on to major in English at ECU 24 years ago. Loved studying poetry and creative non-fiction. From there, I spent some time as a newspaper reporter. I absolutely loved meeting people and talking to them about their stories. Feature writing was always my joy. Because I had a knack for listening to others and empathy for their life successes and struggles, I found myself in the helping profession. I learned so much about the people and world around me.

Sherri: How long have you been writing?

Alison: 27 years

Sherri: So, since you were born? What genre do you write?

Alison: I have a deep love of historical fiction and the supernatural. I have several manuscripts I’ve worked on over the years that I hope to complete and publish. All based on and inspired by my deep-set Eastern North Carolina roots.

Sherri: Do you have plans to write any other genre in the future?

Alison: I want to do it all! I also enjoy writing poetry.

Sherri: What is your latest project?

Alison: My focus at this time is Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck!

Sherri: What do you most enjoy about writing?

Alison: I love the art of storytelling. I believe we all have a story inside us.

Sherri: Even though writing is our passion, there are still aspects of it we dread. What do you despise about writing?

Alison: My inept attention span. I have a hard time sitting still and have so many ideas that it is difficult for me to concentrate on one thing!


Sherri: I’m not sure when you would find the time, but do you have any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up in your writing?

Alison: I love gardening, being outdoors, bird watching, and pier sitting on the Pamlico River.

Sherri: If you are like most writers, you were a reader first, who are your favorite authors/genres?

Alison: I enjoy so many different types of genres. Good writing and storytelling does not follow one sect. Some recent favorite novels I’ve read are “Chasing the North Star” by Robert Morgan, “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens, Suzanne Adair’s North Carolina influenced colonial mysteries, “Girl in Translation” by Jean Kwok and “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi.

Sherri: Alison, I’ve had a lovely time chatting with you. Before we go, give our readers a little insight into who you are.

Alison: I am a mother, military spouse, proud native North Carolinian, lover of the underdog, a fish out of water living in the Sandhills of NC, storyteller and lover of life. I’m tomato sandwiches and Duke mayonnaise.

Instagram: @alisonklak

Twitter: @KlakowiczAlison

Facebook: @mommysbigredmonsteryruck and @hodgepodgebyalisonklakowicz @nautigulcustomwoodart

Posted in event

Friend and Mentor

I just had my second book signing and my first experience co-signing with my friend and mentor, Marni Graff. I was surprised at the ease in which we were able to blend our thoughts and ideas, and talk about our books. It felt natural, sharing the stage with Marni. We’ve discussed books so often that in many ways, it just felt like a discussion among friends. Of course, the lack of nerves on my part may have been from the amount of cold medicine I’ve been taking.

I first met Marni Graff when she was hosting open mic events at a bakery in Washington, North Carolina. She called it Writers’ Read and several writers and poets would come and share their work. I was attracted by her unflappable style and grace. I followed Marni to Belhaven, when she moved the Writers’ Read to the public library after the bakery closed. When she became a presenter at the first Pamlico Writers’ conference, I knew I had to attend. I’ve attended every writers’ conference since.

Over the past few years Marni and I have become close, first as student and mentor, and later as friends, and writer-sisters. I have learned so much from Marni, she is a patient teacher, mentor and friend. She has pushed me to stretch my talent to judge a competition, review others’ works and even submit my own work to agents and contests. It because of her faith that my story was ready that I leaped into the publishing fire and self-published Chrome Pink.

I resisted self-publishing for years because I wanted the dream, to have an agent or editor believe in me and take on my project. After having the experience of an agent, I learned that by going the traditional route, you give up a lot of control. When my agent broke up with me, I began to embrace the idea of having complete control. It’s frightening and a little intimidating but with the push from Marni, friends and family, I finally did it.

Sitting at the table, discussing our books and fielding questions from the audience is a dream I never allowed myself to have. Having the book signing with my friend and mentor, is a priceless gift I will treasure for a life time. I appreciate my library manager Robina Norman for setting this up with her colleague, Sallie, and to Sallie for making this book signing a lovely event, thank you.

Book signing at Robersonville Public Library, March 7th, 2018.