Cheryl Matthynssens

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Thank you Cheryl for taking time to have an interview with us.  We absolutely enjoyed your answers and believe that aspiring and fellow authors will gain some valuable knowledge and experience from your perspective.


What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

I have a full time job so writing is rather sporadic for me. I am either in the editing process or the writing process but due to time rarely do both. When writing, I set a minimum word goal of 1000 on work days and 4000 on days off. I usually write in the mornings though have also written during my lunch break at work.

When in edit, I do a chapter a day. I will probably pass over it at least five times with the last two read aloud. Much to my family’s distress, I do this backwards. I do one paragraph at a time in the last two passes but I go backwards pulling the paragraph out from the chapter.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes, I think everyone does now and then. There are several things I have done to break this barrier. I have gone to a writing forum and just participated in the discussion. I have read instead. You HAVE to read to be able to write. It is just the way it is. I have also got out my world notes and just worked on further developement.

What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Well my mantra is “adverbs are not your friend” but I think the most important thing I can share is do not cut, add, or change your work till you get the first draft down. So many new writers keep trying to polish those first few chapters that they lose the story or give up. Build it like a house. The foundation is your notes, character draw ups, pre-thoughts. The first draft is the frame. The rest of the house is your soul, your creativity and your love of the craft.

What are your current/future projects?

I am currently working on the second book in The Blue Dragon’s Geas series. It is called Blackguard and continues the story of Alador’s growth into a full fledged mage. It is a story of conflicting values, cultures and basic beliefs told in a world of dragons and magic.

I also am in production on my third children’s book. It is in storyboarding now with the illustrator. I am very excited about this.

Lastly, my first three releases are in audio production as I write. I cannot wait to hear Outcast in audio release. I can enjoy my own story without those editor glass constantly wanting to change something.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I love fantasy. I have loved it ever since I can remember. I grew up on Tolkien and Dungeon and Dragon books. I have been role playing in those worlds since I was about 21 and learned there was such a thing as role play. I am old, yes, I played with the first red paperbox that was released for DND. It is an escape to go somewhere magical where dragons and magic exist.

Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

I am self-published and I will tell you honestly the reason is, fear. I have been writing since I was eight and yet was afraid of the dreaded rejection letters. I knew that you were putting your writing through a single door and that one person had the right to stamp your work not good enough. Fortunately for me, the readers did not dislike my writing. I have a 97% approval rating so far.

I chose to go the route of createspace for several reasons. The first is, if my writing wasn’t good enough, I wanted more then one gateway to tell me so. The second reason is that I couldn’t afford upfront costs and createspace does not require any. The third is that since I work a full time job, I did not have the time to storefront and ship my books out. By working with Amazon, I do not have to do any of that.

There are disadvantages though such as being limited to Amazon marketplaces. Amazon allows returns of an ebook within 7 days. If a reader can read with any dedication, they can read the book and return it for their money within seven days. For the most part though, this has been manageable. Last month, I had almost 1000 copies sold.

Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?

Well, since I work with createspace, changing is easy. I just upload the new cover or interior and about 12 hours later it is up for sale. Until it is converted, the old version remains in publication unless I choose to pull it off.

What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?

My most valuable promotion tip would be don’t rely on one thing. You need to blog, tweet and facebook. Donate your book to your local library and if appropriate, offer to do readings. Check your local coffee shops, many of them will do book signings. I think my funnest promotion is my platform as an advanced dragonologist.

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?

Reviews are necessary and important. The good along with the bad. If there are one or two bad reviews, (hopefully not your first ones), they give legitimacy to your other reviews. If you have four reviews all five stars, many reviewers will just assume that it is just your family. My worst review actually increased my sales because the reviewer said my book was all about sex. It isn’t, but my sales still upsurged as readers bought it to find out.

What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?

I think all reviews have value as long as the reviewer is using some level of honesty. I would not pay for a review just to say this book is good. I would want both its strong points and weak points. Two reasons, it is a more legitimate review and it will also help me mature as a writer. So far, I have not paid for a review.

Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?

I do believe there are hateful people in every field. Unfortunately, when someone is hateful to a writer, we are soft. Our works are like our children and so attacks cut deep. I had one such person nail the first chapter of my book and say how they couldn’t even finish the first chapter. I focused my hurt feelings on the other 97% positive reviews and the fact that the reviewer did not even quote the pieces he was lambasting correctly. I mean, if you are going to hate on my writing, at least quote me correctly!

Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?

I do use real people for character traits. Jon, in my second novel, is based on a friend’s world of warcraft character. The lack of personality is a personality all in itself. There is truth too in the saying, ‘don’t piss off a writer or you will be killed in their next book.’ I may have beaten up some people that made me angry in my writing before.

Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

It started out as a creative outlet. Later, it became a form of therapy as I am a behavioral health counselor and hear dark things many days that I want purged out of my head. Creative writing allows me to vent this negative mindspace out in a way that does no harm. Now, now it is a labor of love. Labor because it is work and yet so rewarding to me.

What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?

Hands down, proofing. I have this problem with ? and homophones. It is not that I do not know where they go or which word to use. It is that I hear the words as I write and my fingers just put it down. Then it is hard for me to catch in edit because the of the tone of the writer or the fact that I know which word is write in my head. It is another reason I edit backwards.

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