How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Cheryl Renee Herbsman

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’m hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Cheryl Renee Herbsman, author of BREATHING!

What if the guy who took your breath away was the only one who could help you breathe?  Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.

Welcome, Cheryl! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

I started out writing personal essays, journaling, etc. But then, over a period of five years, I wrote a novel for adults. That was when I said, hey, maybe I could really do this.

What books did you love when you were a kid?

I loved to read as a kid – anything from The Boxcar Children and Anne of Green Gables to A Wrinkle in Time and The White Mountains Trilogy. I would read pretty much anything.

Moving on to the here and now, most writers admit that making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.  When and where do you write?   Do you have any special rituals?  Music?  Food & beverages?

I write while my kids are at school. My writing space is my bed, where I sit with my laptop. I always have candles and incense burning to help me leave the daily world behind. I don’t eat while I’m writing. But afterwards, I often crave chocolate.

Do you have a favorite strategy for revision?

I’m not really a strategy type of person. I just sort of dive in wherever and see where it takes me.

What’s your best advice for young writers?

Read a lot, write a lot and never give up.

What’s special about your debut novel?

My novel is about learning to trust yourself and follow your dreams. Also, the main character, Savannah has very severe asthma. I don’t think there are a whole lot of novels about a character with asthma.

What were the best and worst parts of writing it?

Falling into the story and letting it happen was the best part. The worst part is those rare occasions of getting stuck.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

I looked at Publishers Marketplace to see what agents had sold a young adult novel in the past year. Then I sent out e-queries to my top eight choices.

Thanks, Cheryl!  Click here to learn more about Cheryl at her website.  You can pick up your copy of BREATHING at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… Aprilynne Pike, author of WINGS, will be stopping by on May 5th.