Monday, May 2, 2016

Meet Cheryl Gardarian

Today I invited one of my co-authors of the Aspen Grove romance anthologies to be my guest here. Cheryl Gardarian first appeared in print in An Aspen Grove Christmas (“Christmas Treasure”). She also has a novella (“Chapel of Love”) in The Art of Love and …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe (“Something Borrowed”). She has since published several of her own books.

When did you first start writing?
I’ve always loved telling a good story, especially if it involves animals of any kind.

Where do you get your story ideas?
Story ideas come to me constantly from everyday life. I now make notes on my iPhone. I’ve actually done hours of research for several books and haven’t ended up writing a single word. They’re set aside as future projects, and may someday come to fruition, or not.

How do you create your characters? Are they based on real people?
My characters create themselves. I practice lucid-dreaming—the semi-conscious state before you fall asleep or when you start to wake up. I allow my mind to wander the future pages of my novel. Some of my characters are extremely insistent, and I’ve been known to rewrite whole sections, or the entire plot to include these obnoxious pests. In the anthology, An Aspen Grove Christmas, each author was to write a love story culminating in a Christmas wedding. My two main characters were all set and falling in love, then a pushy EMT, with a minor part, decided to insert himself into the story and fall in love with the heroine’s best friend. The solution was an unplanned double wedding.
Besides the Aspen Grove romance anthologies, of which you are a co-author, what other books or series have you written?
The first book I wrote is The Unexpected Reunion. My first solo published book, however, was The Cookie Tree. My most recent book is The Cabin.
Aspen Grove is based on two Colorado mountain towns. Have you created any other fictitious locations for your books?
All three of my novels have been set in real locations: The Cookie Tree in South Orange County, The Unexpected Reunion in Huntington Beach, and The Cabin in Panguitch, Utah. My current series is set in the Yellowstone area but I did invent a fictional town.

Did you enjoy writing as part of a group? Why or why not?
I enjoyed writing the anthologies. When I was included in An Aspen Grove Christmas, Lorna asked me at the last minute to fill in for another writer. I only had a few weeks to complete a novella. I learned I work well under pressure. The other writers’ stories were already completed, so I was able to read them and use some of the same characters and locations in my novella. I discovered I had a knack for intertwining my story to match the theme of the other authors.

My only complaint about writing the anthologies was since the three novellas were my first works, and they were written in first person, I had a bit of trouble writing a longer novel in third person.

Of everything you have written, what is your favorite book to date?
My favorite book so far is The Cabin. It is my most recent work. I love the plots of my other novels, but in reading them now, I see how much my technique and writing skills have improved, so I’m more critical of them.

Cheryl Gardarian grew up in Huntington Beach, California. Her love of writing started early. However, she majored in the sciences and received a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene at the University of Southern California. A few years later, she obtained her Real Estate Broker license and opened her own office specializing in equestrian properties. Maintaining two careers, raising a son, and caring for a multitude of barnyard animals kept Cheryl busy for many years. Then her creative side beckoned, and Cheryl joined the Lagunita Writers Group. She co-authored three Aspen Grove romance anthologies with several members of the group, and then branched out on her own to write three of her own: The Cookie Tree, The Unexpected Reunion and The Cabin. Cheryl is currently working on a series set in Yellowstone National Park.

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