The Author Visits Presents Cheryl Murnane
Calendar of Events
Sunday, September 7: Author and Book Introduction; Kick-off Giveaway Monday, September 8: Interview with Cheryl Wednesday, September 10: Review of During the Fall Thursday, September 11: Excerpt from During the Fall Friday, September 12: Guest Post by Cheryl Saturday, September 13: What’s Next for Cheryl, Announce Giveaway Winner
And the winner is…
Congratulations Mary O!
What’s Next for Cheryl?
I’m am currently working on my next novel that will, hopefully, be available spring 2015. It’s a love story between an unlikely lover and a women’s ability to appreciate love while learning to embrace the past.
A taste to tempt…
As I stroll down the sidewalk trying to avoid the quick paced commuters, mothers pushing strollers and holding crying babies, and a few dogs taking their owners on a walk, I replay the interaction with the new guy I just met, Will. He was a cool dude, in all senses of the term. Relaxed, unfazed, and it seemed fitting that he is a firefighter; calm to the bone. I would like to think I gave off the same energy when meeting someone for the first time, but I knew the truth. It’s not that I’m not calm. It’s more that I’m calculated. I think about how I’m going to act in a situation and predetermine what I will share, what I say, and I am always prepared with an escape plan if things don’t run according to my script.
Will is the opposite. I can tell that he takes what life throws at him and responds accordingly, with a still, patient demeanor. He lives his life like a surfer; waiting for the ride of a life time, sitting on his board, feet dangling in the cool waters, chatting with the other dudes, waiting and watching for the current to turn up the water and produce the perfect C curl. Drifting along, gliding on glass before finally being deposited on the land. Only to paddle back out to sit and wait to do it all over again, but this time he gets to share his recent ride with the other surfers.
My day was off to a good start even though I had to wait for my coffee and sandwich, and come to think of it, I wouldn’t have met Will if there hadn’t been a line to keep me in the coffee shop. Sometimes things happen for reasons we don’t understand at the time, but discover moments or even years later.
Weeks went by before I saw Will and was able to talk to him. Nicole, the barista, had returned to work, and as usual my coffee and breakfast sandwich were waiting for me. One morning I did see him entering the coffee shop, but I got held up at the crosswalk and by the time I reached the door he had left. Will had the type of presence that attracted people to him. He offered happiness through his energy and outgoing personality, which was rare to find in today’s times as peoples’ worlds have grown smaller and smaller with social media to hide behind. I was intrigued by Will and wished that I had a sister to set him up with because he seemed like a great guy. I wanted to learn more about him, and through the course of the next year, I would learn all I needed to know about Will Driscoll.
On Naming Characters…
I find names intriguing. Names are one of the first things in life that define us, and yet they are entirely out of our control. As a little girl, I often thought that I would name my daughter Emily, but then I grew up and realized that I had so many other names available to me. Why should I settle for the name that I always used for my dolls?
When naming the characters in my stories, I make choices to fulfill specific purposes. With Jenny (During the Fall), I needed a name that people could instantly connect to with a positive vibe; I have yet to meet a Jenny that isn’t happy and likeable!
Alex…hot, sexy Alex. That’s how I saw him; tall, dark, and handsome. Then my daughter told me that I should change his name because all of the Alex’s that she knew were weird. Oh, but she doesn’t know about my Alex. The basis for my Alex is none other than Alex O’Loughlin. I’ll admit that I have a crush on him. It’s the Australian accent and the smile – oh my! His named conjured up the vision of a male protagonist with a strong personality. One who is certain of his life, yet tenderhearted and romantic.
For the parents, I needed strong names because Jenny and Alex were going to need to relay on them for support, so enter “Ann” and “Bob,” and “Mary” (my grandmother’s name) and “Tom” (ode to Tommy Lee, from Motley Crue). It seems a little strange now to pair my grandmother’s name with Tommy Lee, but it didn’t at the time! Oh, well.
The names of the neighbors, Julie and Ben, seemed to fit nicely together to convey a power couple.
The children are named Nicolas and Jessica. Nicolas is an ode to Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. What can I say? I love rock and roll! Jessica was named by my son while my daughter was playing soccer. I needed a name and asked him to come up with a cute, little girl name; and Jessica was born.
Aunt Sally came from my need to facilitate an instant connection between the reader and the beloved aunt, and who doesn’t love the name Sally?
So, when I needed names I thought about the people in my daily life and then I reached further to recall names of those who had shaped my life in a deeper way and helped to create the character that I am today! We grow into our names and they become our identity around which we are characterized. Think of the cards or books that offer definitions of your name. Now think about how accurate they are in terms of your own personality traits. Weird that your parents didn’t know who you would turn out to be or what type of personality you would have!
My characters could have been named something else, but the reader may not have connected with them as deeply, or does that not matter? Does the name shape the person or does the person take on the qualities of the name?
Excerpt from During the Fall
I was sixteen years old when I fell in love with Alex Murphy. Yes, I was young, but even then I recognized the depth of our love. We have been through a lot in our years together, and we have built a lasting connection on love and respect. I wouldn’t be me without him in my life. I try to hold onto the faith my grandmother taught me and to believe everything will turn out right. But some problems seem impossible, and faith—well, it seems to slip past me, no matter how hard I try to hold on.
As a teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I stayed away from trouble, but lacked the direction and drive many of my friends shared. From a young age, I knew I wanted to have a strong marriage and a family. I’d had a few boyfriends, but no one was special enough to keep around, so I focused my attention on schoolwork, community service, and my friends. I spent weekends helping out at the community center, where my church organized community service opportunities for teens. On Saturdays, I went to the center and worked with children who needed help with schoolwork. When that was done, we drew colorful pictures and created arts and crafts like personalized buttons or glass suncatchers. All the while, thoughts of motherhood floated in my mind. The time I spent with the kids in the community center reinforced my desire to have a family of my own. After leaving the center for the day, I would meet up with my friends.
Our town was so small it took less than ten minutes to drive from one end to other. After driving around, looking for a place to park and hang out without being bothered, we always seemed to end up at someone’s house to watch a movie and eat all the junk food we could stuff in before getting sick. Being a teenager was great, and I enjoyed the freedoms my parents gave me, but a feeling of emptiness haunted my soul.
The high school I went to included students from two adjacent towns. There were more than thirteen hundred students, and it seemed every day you could meet someone new. I will never forget the first time I met Alex. Alex Murphy was the star athlete in hockey and baseball, so I knew his name—everyone knew his name—but I was involved in my own life, often lost in the many books I read. I wasn’t an athlete and didn’t follow the school sports teams, so there was no reason for me to realize how good-looking he was or anything more about the super-star athlete.
But that all changed one afternoon when I saw him in the school cafeteria with his friends. Carrying my books, I came around the corner of the cafeteria. Roars of laughter filled the air, mixed with humming chatter, moving like a cloud above the heads of the lunch crowd. The sound of pure joy drew my attention. I scanned the room for the source of the electrifying amusement and saw a group of students gathered around a table. I felt my stomach flip when I saw him standing above the kids at the table.
They all looked up at Alex. His presence commanded their attention. All eyes were on him, and they were clearly mesmerized. He stood with his hands in his pockets, telling them something that caused fits of laughter. He was tall, with brown wavy hair that fell over his ears. His jeans revealed the tightness of his butt. I got lost staring at it and had to blink, hoping no one saw me gawking. His black t-shirt fit him perfectly. I could tell he worked out because his muscles flexed every time he laughed. I was not shy, and as I stood staring at the group, I decided I had waited long enough.
A yearning drew me toward him, I was hyperaware of my senses and of my surroundings, and suddenly overwhelmed by the desire to be near him. I was intrigued. I took a deep breath and walked over to the group. “Hi, I’m Jenny.” I stood next to the table, slightly in front of him, waiting to hear him speak. He turned and met my gaze. My palms started to sweat and my heart raced. I thought to myself that I was in love.
He seemed struck by my presence, too. As we stood face to face, he stared into my eyes, and the strong energy between us radiated through me powerfully. His cologne wafted over me, the smell of beach sand mixed with a woody masculine fragrance. I felt comfortable standing next to him, but my body was tingling and my hearing became muffled. It was as if the crowd was moving in slow motion and the only people in real time were me and Alex. My heart didn’t stop racing, and my palms were still moist. I stared at him, waiting to hear his voice, hoping it would calm me down. “I’m Alex.”
Interview with Cheryl
Cheryl Murnane is the debut author of the inspirational romance, During the Fall. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cheryl and getting to know the author. Enjoy my interview!
Veena: Welcome to The Author Visits Cheryl!
Cheryl: Thanks for having me!
Veena: So tell me Cheryl, what inspired you to write During the Fall?
Cheryl: Since childhood I had always wanted to write a book. I loved the magical ability a book held to take the reader on a journey. As my 40th birthday approached, I used it as an opportunity to silence the negative voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to be an author and I buckled down and wrote and wrote ‘til nothing was left to say.
Veena: That’s impressive Cheryl. What an accomplishment! How long did it take from first draft to release?
Cheryl: 1 year
Veena: Did the story change significantly from your initial vision to publication?
Cheryl: Yes, the plot twist came out of nowhere; I was sitting with my laptop and thought ‘this is awesome.’ I don’t want to give anything away to anyone that hasn’t read it yet, but I didn’t see the twist at the beginning of the process. I had other ideas kicking around, but they never developed and grew legs. I’ll save them for another book.
Veena: What is the most satisfying part of the writing process for you?
Cheryl: The unforeseen discovery. I write from my imagination and when I am open to let it flow, amazing things happen. For me that is a high I never want to come down from; creative juice.
Veena: How much do you plot before you start writing?
Cheryl: I start with a premise, an idea and a blank notebook. I jot down rough ideas of my characters on paper and then start typing. I don’t keep to a strict outline; that would be too boring for me. I want the characters to come to life as I live with them mentally; idiosyncrasies show themselves as I place a character in a scene. I give them a sketch and they fill out their personalities as we go.
Veena: What is your advice to writers about reviews that may not be 4 or 5 star?
Cheryl: Everyone has an opinion; whether you agree or not. It’s a knock to the ego when anyone comes in short of what they expected. As a writer or in any profession, it has to start with the individual knowing that they put out the best material they could have. After that, you can’t live by 1 review making or breaking you. If all you got were 4-5 stars, where’s the desire to write better or the push to achieve? It’s the 1-3 stars that build character and keep a person honest. I tell myself, ‘it’s none of my business what people think of me.’ You want to play at the top, learn to take a punch.
Veena: That is a great attitude Cheryl. That kind of belief system makes all the difference. Do you have a writing ritual?
Cheryl: I have to get all my errands and chores done, then I can focus on writing. So, I usually write between 1pm-3pm three days a week. I always tell myself I’m going to write at 5:30am when my husband leaves for work, but it never seems to happen!
Veena: How do you balance writing and all your other responsibilities?
Cheryl: Oh, the balance of life… I am a wife, a mother to 2 kids and a dog; I own a hair salon and work behind the chair 3 days a week, and now I’m an author. I find structure and prioritizing the important things are key. I need to work out; which I do after the kids go to school. After I finish the other tasks of my day, my reward is sitting and taking the time to write. I’m a type-A personality, so ‘slow’ is not part of my vocabulary! I also realize that living and experiencing life is as important as writing; without the experience, where is the story?
Veena: Favorite scene from DTF?
Cheryl: When Jenny is sitting in her kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. At that point she has lived through her fears and has been transformed to have deeper faith in her life and she has learned how Alex has also been transformed by the accident. They have grown by life’s circumstances and have achieved a deeper connection because of it. They have realized that all they really know in life is love is what matters.
Veena: Describe DTF in 140 words or less
Cheryl: During the Fall is an inspiring romance novel about allowing life lead you where you need to go. Get lost in the love story of Jenny and Alex and read how life can teach and guide you through loss and love if you have faith and trust in all things working out as they are meant to.
Veena: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Cheryl: My game changer was Tracey Garvis-Graves; without her I wouldn’t be here with you. I would still be hiding in my journals! I also enjoy Elin Hilderbrand and I’m in the process of discovering Jojo Moyes.
13. Fun facts:
Veena: Favorite junk food?
Cheryl: Peanut M&M’s
Veena: Favorite song?
Cheryl: I have 2: “Primal Scream” by Motley Crue & “Everything” by Buckcherry.
Veena: Place you’d like most to visit?
Veena: Favorite tech gadget?
Cheryl: …ah, I’m like a 90 year old. I could live without them all!
Veena: What’s on your night stand?
Cheryl: A desk fan, lip balm, tissues, a picture of my husband taken on our wedding day, and a book, of course!
Veena: How’d you meet your husband?
Cheryl: I was friends with his sister.
Veena: Football or soccer?
Cheryl: Definitely, football!
Veena: Who is your favorite protagonist of all time?
Cheryl: So hard to answer; they have changed over the years. If I had to choose, it would be Ponyboy Curtis, from the Outsiders. Tough exterior, soft on the inside!
Veena: Who is your favorite antagonist of all time?
Cheryl: I honestly can’t come up with one…I don’t like evil people.
Veena: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Cheryl: Ha! A wife and mother with a lot more time on her hands!
I hope you had fun getting to know Cheryl!
Title: During the Fall
Publisher: Cheryl Murnane
Page count: 228 pages
Release date: May 15, 2014
Format: Paperback; e-book
Where to buy:
Synopsis: Jenny and Alex are high school sweethearts intertwined in an idyllic romance that spans several decades. Their journey carries them through unexpected trials that challenge the security and the very foundation of their relationship. Jenny’s fears of losing the only man she’s ever loved quickly become overshadowed by a tragedy she couldn’t have imagined.
This is an emotional tale about how life can force you to grow when you least expect it. Thisprovocative story will fill your heart with the belief that you can survive the most unforeseen and intense moments when you learn to trust.
Enjoy this debut novel of love and faith by Cheryl Murnane.
CHERYL MURNANE lives in a suburb of Boston with her husband, two children, and dog, Mitzi. When not working on her next book, you can find her behind the styling chair at her salon, Accents on Hair, or juggling her children’s after school activities.
After a single semester of college, Cheryl chose to step off the more traditional path and pursue her own individual approach to life. She acknowledged the authenticity of her inner self and has used her intuition to help deepen her connection to her more artistic side. She combines her creativity and artistic connection with her passion for people through 21 years of hair styling and writing.
Cheryl has written daily in journals, but she viewed her upcoming birthday as a way to challenge herself with writing her first novel and “During the Fall’ was born. Having completed the life-long goal, Cheryl loved the writing process.
As a practitioner of yoga, Cheryl tries to live a disciplined life balanced by faith and family. Cheryl loves to be outdoors; running, walking the dog, playing with the kids, or spending time tending to her perennial flower garden.