I would like to give a shout-out to two talented authors
Jacci Turner & Cheryllynn Dyess
Broadening my literary pallet beyond fantasy and sci-fi,
here are two wonderful authors,
both of whom write in multiple genres.
Take a look at their most recent novels.
I first meet these authors through social media. I follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Jacci and I have been part of High Sierra Writers group as well. I would like to share a little about these two authors and their novels.
Jacci is the author of nine YA and Middle Grade books. The Retreat is her first book geared towards adults, The Retreat: A tale of spiritual awakening, came out in March with Harper Legend.
She has worn many hats in her lifetime: therapist, school counselor, campus minister, and mom. Her favorite hats are her writer and grandmother hats, which come in wild colors and don’t fit too tightly.
Jacci lives with her husband in Nevada’s high desert. They spend their mornings hiking through the sagebrush with their big yellow dog, Rocky.
About The Retreat… A week at a retreat becomes a transformational journey of spiritual renewal for a young Christian suffering a crisis of the soul in this poignant, illuminating, and spiritually wise teaching novel.
For her entire life, Amy considered her evangelical Christian upbringing the foundation of her life and beliefs. But when she stands up for her gay best friend, Amy is ostracized and banished from the church she loves–resulting in a crisis of the spirit that causes her to doubt her conservative upbringing as she enters her thirties. Seeing Amy’s pain, a caring friend raises the money to send her on a week-long retreat for contemplative activism, hoping that a few days of quiet reflection will help her rekindle her faith.
At the retreat, Amy meets two women her age–teachers who introduce her to new types of prayer–as well as Celeste, a seasoned mentor who takes Amy under her wing and gently shows her new ways to practice her faith. In the course of just a few days, Amy finds an inspiring and more meaningful view of God–and a new beginning full of hope, compassion, and healing.
I asked Jacci if there was one thing she would like to tell her readers. She said, “Life is hard, hang in there. We can all make it out if we hold hands and help each other.”
So, what’s next for Jacci? She has two books I’m currently shopping: a fantasy about a girl that sings to trees and a contemporary fiction about Snap chat gone bad.
Cheryllynn is identified with the Teen, YA, fantasy, and paranormal genres, but paranormal and fantasy are her favorites. She has also written mysteries and thrillers.
Cheryllynn began using her imagination as early as 1984 when she started writing in junior high. She has nine books currently on her Amazon author’s page. Some of those original works are now coming to life.
She was born in Northwest Florida, was raised in Southeast Georgia, and currently lives in Central Texas with her family. Cheryllynn developed a love for nature and the outdoors that inspires her to create universes with vivid detail. Her hobbies include fishing, crochet, gardening…and, of course, reading.
After working almost twenty years in the health care industry Cheryllynn has returned to her love of writing.
About Calastan, The Jein’s Journey Series Book 1…Each person has a distinct trait that’s either held in reserve or pursued without inhibitions. For reasons that vary, the latter may seem an egotistic act. However, not for Jein. Taking a path other than the one she believes is right is like betraying her own soul. This book features a young girl who deals with her individuality in admirably different ways. It tells a story of how she accomplishes exceptional feats in a world that draws an unyielding line between men and women. Follow Jein Kyominias, a girl who does not entertain the established roles other females of the upper class take in her land. Her rearing in a matriarchal society has certain paths laid out. She has chosen to be an elite hunter instead of a mere matron. She is unique in her fondness for activities that are specifically bequeathed for men. She decides she will be different—strong and different that is.
When I asked Cheryllynn if there was one thing to tell your readers she said, “Be true to yourself always, that is the only time your soul will truly be at peace.”
So, what’s next? Cheryllynn is currently working on three books and has one in the editing stages. She is hoping to start a clean romance novella series by the end of 2017 and by March of 2018 to have book 4 in the Jein’s Journey Series ready.
A quick introduction: You have 10 books on Amazon, including 2 series; you are the Director of Education for High Sierra Writers; you’re an Amazon bestselling author of young adult and middle grade fiction and your book, Bending Willow, was selected to represent Nevada at the 2013 National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Now, your YA book, Cracker, just received a Red Ribbon Award from The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Have I missed anything?
Answer: Haha! Nope, that about covers it, Dennis.
Tell us about the Red Ribbon Award? What is it?
Answer: The Wishing Shelf Award is kinda cool because it was started by an author, Billy Bob Buttons. He is from the UK and does a lot of work with school kids. So, he gets 16 kids to read each entry and rate the books. Even if you don’t win, you still get the feedback, which, to an author is gold.
How did all that come about? How did you find yourself as an author?
Answer: I think of myself more as a story teller. When I was five I used to charge the neighborhood kids a nickel to come watch my plays. I was in theater in high-school and even have a degree in theater! But, if you’ve ever done a play, you’ll know that they take a LOT of time to prepare and as life got busier, I just couldn’t commit to the rehearsal schedules. So, I thought what can I do that’s creative but doesn’t take all my time? I have always enjoyed writing. I have a book and a screen play that will never see the light of day. But it wasn’t until I turned fifty that I had the discipline to do the necessary revisions a good book needs, so that is when I started writing for publication.
Before we dive into it, what advice would you have for a beginning author? What is the one thing that might be the most meaningful thing then could hear?
Answer: For me, the key is getting into a writer’s group where you can have the support and encouragement of other writers. That is so important. The one I’m involved with brings in monthly speakers and each month I feel like it’s the kick-in-the-pants I need to keep writing. The critique groups we are invaluable. Keep learning, let people read your work, keep growing as a writer and don’t’ give up.
Okay, you write for young adults. Tell us about the genre?
Answer: I love Young Adult, which is for ages fourteen and up. I also write for kids age eight and up, that’s called Middle Grade Fiction. I think what draws me to these age groups is that with kids, anything is possible. They still believe in magic and have incredible imaginations.
Why the YA genre? What motivates you? What inspires you?
Answer: Kids today have to face some pretty rough realities, yet I’m constantly amazed by their spirits and creative minds. I have great hope in the upcoming generations. Those two thoughts are put together for my website tagline which is, “Infusing Reality with Hope.” I want to write about the real challenges of this world, but from a hopeful place, not a dark place.
I read your latest book, Cracker. It has an intense message. What inspired you to write that story?
Answer: My hope is that Cracker will encourage people to have a conversation about race. It is a topic that people are afraid to talk about because it sometimes feels like walking on egg shells, like you might say the wrong thing. Cracker turns the conversation upside down. The white people in the book are an oppressed minority, the black people have power and privilege. This causes white people to experience, through the main character, the micro-aggressions and injustices that people of color face every day. It comes with a study guide to help further the discussion. I think being able to talk about race is the first step in learning to heal the racial divide in our society.
From a literary standpoint, without spoiling it, how did you come up with the idea for the setting twist?
Answer: I was reading Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book, “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about race, and I thought, “This is important stuff, how can I get white people to think about it? And the idea for Cracker was born.
If we can, let’s get a little deeper into your messages. You’re dealing with some intense issues. I know in your non-author life you work with hospice and have a spiritual background. Where are you pulling these stories from?
Answer: Well, my spiritual director would say they all come from parts of me, like I’m working out my issues! I guess it’s cheap therapy. But you’re right: I do have a deep faith and I do work with people that are dying and that gives me a unique perspective. I also worked with college students for thirty years and love, love, love them. They keep my mind sharp and keep me up on – you know, technology! J
What are you working on now/next?
Answer: Speaking of technology, I’m working on a book about, “Snapchat gone wrong.” I read this article about how young girls are being objectified by boys on Snapchat as the boys are pressuring them to send pictures of their bodies. If the girls say no, the boy might post a naked picture and say it was her, but if the girl sends the picture, she is labeled a whore. It puts girls in an awful situation. In my research for this book I learned that the average teenager is sending snaps (Pictures) 200-300 times a day! It’s crazy.
Authors develop characters, including odd traits or idiosyncrasies to make them more interesting. If you were a character in a bestselling novel, what is the one thing the author might share to make your character more interesting?
Answer: Wow, that is an amazing question. Probably my stunning good looks and razor sharp wit! Just kidding. I guess I’d like to be the character that is full of surprises. People are often surprised when they know me for a while and then learn something they didn’t know, like that I got my black belt in Karate at age 43 or that I jumped from an airplane at age 52. I love adventure and that would be my odd trait, “The grandma that is full of surprises!”
Anything else you want to share?
Answer: Sure Dennis, I’d like to share that I’ve read both of your books and I’m a fan. I hope you fantasy lovers out there will rush out and buy the Kingdom of Torrence series! Thank you so much for all of your support and friendship.
Jacci, thank you for your time. Can we share your contacts?
I have been remiss in keeping up to date with the blog lately. A lot has been going on. I have contracted with an editor for the Amanda’s Quest manuscript, I am in discussions with the cover design, and I have been approached by a copy indie publishers about the manuscript. I have also been given approval to use the name Garrett for one of the new characters; Garrett is a young man whom I admire greatly and will be a prince in the upcoming book. So far it looks like I should make a fall 2015 release for Amanda’s Quest.
2015 NEVADA READING WEEK EVENT
This last weekend I was privileged to share a table at the 2015 Nevada Reading Week event with Jacci Turner. Jacci has a couple special books, one of which represented Nevada at a national event. Her most recent book was a collaborative effort with local students where Jacci provided story options and the students voted on the course of the story-line. Maybe we can get Jacci to do a special interview on the process.
Jacci and I both belong to the High Sierra Writers group and passed out several flyers for HSW during the event. Richard Arbib, who is also a HSW member, attended the Nevada Reading Week conference as well.
WOOSTER HIGH SCHOOL BAND FUNDRAISER DINNER
HSW authors, Carrol Purroy, Jacci Turner, and I donated autographed books to the fundraiser’s silent auction that occurred Saturday night. The books were included in a basket which looked fantastic.
Check these links out:
http://www.highsierrawriters.org/ (Writers group in Reno, Nevada)