YDA: Hello Sherry, it’s wonderful to have you over at YouDreamAwake.com. Can you share with us what inspires you to write?
Sherry: Hello Romuald, thank you for having me. I am honored.
What inspires me to write? Inspiration! The late Dr. Wayne Dyer often discussed the difference between motivation and inspiration. In a nutshell, he explained it this way: motivation is when you take hold of an idea and run with it. Inspiration is when an idea takes hold of you.
I have been blessed to feel the joy of pure “inspiration” when book ideas and stories have taken ahold of me and refused to let go. In those instances, the urge to write bubbled up so profoundly inside of me that I was compelled to sit down and write. And I must say, the urge was not satisfied by just starting the book or story; it remained until completion.
In addition, I feel that I have valuable things to impart that offer hope and inspiration, helping people live more positive and happier lives.
YDA: When did you start writing? Is there an author who particularly inspired you?
Sherry: When I was in the third grade (8 to 9 years old), I wrote a story about a mischievous and misunderstood rabbit. It received high praise from my teacher, and my sisters said it was quite entertaining. Beyond school assignments, I don’t recall writing anything else in childhood.
I had journaled for years, but in the early 1980’s, I experienced a new-level of spiritual awakening. Major changes in my inner and outer worlds shook my soul. It was then that I began writing poetry and wrote my first short story. The joy that I felt with this creative expression was unparalleled. Some big life changes though took me more into the business world, and I put my creative writing aside.
For many years, I was a consultant to corporations on nonverbal communication, business attire, and dress policies. In 1999, my first book, Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success was published (www.casualpower.com). It was and still is today a category best seller. This book catapulted me to even greater success in the media and business arena. And for another decade, I traveled extensively with consulting and speaking engagements on this topic.
In 2005, I began a second nonfiction book and was under contract with a high-powered agent. Yet, I was finding the writing to be hard work, both tedious and lackluster. My usual joy and elation in writing was just not there with this book project. The words “Pass the Passion, Please” would float through my mind intermittently.
That was when I had the visitation dream from my deceased sister, Donna. She shouted to me from a mountaintop and for the rest of the night thousands and thousands of words tumbled through my head. It felt as if my head were a clothes-dryer drum containing a spinning dictionary where words were falling from the pages and tumbling endlessly. The next morning, I went to my computer to work on the current non-fiction book. Suddenly and unexpectedly, I hit new file and words began flowing effortlessly onto the pages. A story was unfolding. Thus, my debut novel, The Girl Who Could Read Hearts, was born.
In addition, inspiration struck again in 2011. That’s quite a story, too, but for brevity sake’s here, I will just say that in 2013, my first children’s ebook, EggMania: Where’s the Egg in Exactly?, was published in the Apple format (available only on iTunes). In 2014 it won five awards.
I am an avid reader and many authors have influenced me, especially Louisa May Alcott and C.S. Lewis. Interestingly, in the weeks prior to beginning The Girl Who Could Read Hearts, I had read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and was deeply affected by the story and her writing style.
YDA: What is unique about your writing?
Sherry: This question gives me writer’s block! (Smile). I don’t know that I can answer this except to say that anything I write will have spiritual undertones, if not overtones. Perhaps, the ability to write strong fiction that weaves magical realism and real-life issues into a complex storyline, while also highlighting the divine spirit existing in all, sets my writing style apart. Also, I have published in different genres: nonfiction, fiction, and children’s books.
YDA: The Girl Who Could Read Hearts is your recent book, the award-winning novel that seems to have a magic effect on readers. How did you come about the idea of the protagonist and how much does the protagonist reflect your own personal experience?
Sherry: As I said above, the story was inspired by a visitation dream from my sister and the story began unfolding on the pages without any prior thought or planning. The protagonist, a gifted six-year-old girl, and her angel were primary in those initial pages where words flew effortlessly onto the pages as if I were not the one writing them. Yet in retrospect, I can see many parallels to my own experiences as a child. Beginning at five years old, I had premonition dreams and insights but when shared with my family, they ignored them or laughed at me.
For example, one night when I was seven, I dreamt of a large, very long, black snake and lying between two bean rows of our family’s vegetable garden. The snake had its head propped up on a piece of wood, It was my job to pick the green beans as I helped my mother tend our massive garden. That morning at breakfast, I shared the exact details of the dream with my parents and siblings. Their response was something like, “Okay, Sherry, shut-up and eat your oatmeal.” Then about 30 minutes later, I took my pail to the garden, ready to pick the beans, and lo and behold, there was the snake precisely as I had dreamt it: its long body stretched down between the rows of bean plants, and its head was propped up on a piece of wood. Terrified, I ran screaming back to the house, and everyone came out aghast. My father killed the snake, saying it was over 6ft. long.
Ironically, nothing was said to me about my dream, though the experience was profound for me, forever changing the way I viewed my dreams. Yet the day went on without any comments or discussion about it. Perhaps, it was too uncomfortable for parents and siblings, both mentally and emotionally, to acknowledge and discuss the implications with me. It was as if they avoided me. This theme is woven into The Girl Who Could Read Hearts when little Kate has accurate perceptions, and those are totally ignored by her parents.
YDA: What is your best quote from The Girl Who Could Read Hearts?
Sherry: My favorite quote is on page 61 when Kate is experiencing a vision:
“Operating with far more intellect and compassion than humans could possibly imagine or contain—human brains and hearts would burst wide open and spew their smallness with that much positive power inside—God took on the characteristics of that child’s religion or cultural belief system.”
YDA: We also learn that you are a keynote speaker, what are the common subjects you talk about?
Sherry: My topics have typically been about personal-empowerment success themes, such as “Branding a Positive Business Image.” Recently, I have branched out into topics such as “Nurturing Your Seeds of Greatness” and “Co-create with God Your Dream Life” and themes with more overt spiritual concepts. And so far, those topics are being applauded and received exceptionally well.
YDA: What book are you reading now and any plans for an upcoming book?
Sherry: Currently, I am reading a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
Yes, indeed, I have many plans for upcoming books. Two new children’s books are already written for my Mania Tales series (www.maniatales.com); one is illustrated and ready to go and will most likely be published this next year. The other awaits illustrations.
I have two other ideas/inspirations for novels that I want to complete. And many people are requesting a sequel to The Girl Who Could Read Hearts. The storyline is percolating inside me now and I hope to begin writing on that in January of 2017.
YDA: Do you have any advice for young and aspiring authors?
Sherry: Write, write, write to hone your craft, and, of course, read, read, read, read! To enhance your creativity, let your first draft flow without critique. Then go back and edit fiercely. I would also suggest that you keep a small tape recorder or note pad to record your ideas as they come to you. It’s amazing how even brilliant ideas, characterizations, and artful phrases can slip away with the demands of everyday life.
Also, if a person has deep desires living in their heart to become an author, it would be prudent to envision that achievement on a daily basis, even if it seems farfetched at the time. A support tool that I have found helpful is to make a vision page or board with strong visuals and wording that shows the exciting results of being an author. In essence, scrapbook your future as a successful author.