Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Sheila Bliss

I really, really enjoy questions. Answering and asking, and recently, Sheila Bliss was kind enough to ask me a series of questions and posting them on her blog. I decided that although not weekly, I’ll be doing interviews on and off of the lovely people I meet so that anyone who enjoys reading here can have the chance to meet someone new with something else for you to read.

That said, Sheila asked me ten questions, so I asked ten right back. Hope you enjoy the interview.

1.     What’s your book Choices about and what inspired you to write it?

Choices is about a woman at a crossroads in her life. It’s not a story for everyone. For me, I see it as a love story, a re-connection to one’s self as well as a re-connection to another human being that wants what’s best for you without emotional manipulation. It’s real with flawed characters that maneuver the best they can through difficult situations dealing with alcoholism, infidelity, lies and betrayal.  It’s not a pretty story, but learning life lessons the hard way usually isn’t pretty. Choices deals with another theme of sacrifice vs. self-preservation; when is enough…enough? In a marriage with an addict, who do you save when survival is at a premium? There’s a bit of a twist too, one that keeps you guessing!

I wrote Choices because I had this crazy idea for the story ever since I was in high school. I always thought if I wrote a book I wanted to write a story that was somewhat taboo, with real struggles, and a crazy insane twist at the end.  Speaking to those struggles, I wrote Choices as a testament to the people in my life who have surmounted some incredible obstacles, and I wanted to pay homage to their struggle. Their struggles weren’t pretty and the lessons learned were painful, but rewarding. Choices is a tribute to their struggle. It’s also a tribute to the bonds of friendship.

2.     If you could cast anyone for your book, who would you choose and why?  

Oh, that’s so exciting! I love to cast characters in my head when I read. I visualized my characters, but I never pictured a specific person. Last year I did receive a request to cast my characters, and I decided Henry Cavill for Brandon with his swoon-worthy hair and eyes. Paul was immediately Aaron Eckhart with his rugged features. With Julia Roberts’ massive red hair and illuminating smile, she embodies the physicality of Laurel’s character.

3.     When’s your favorite time to write? 

I’m a morning person. I love to write first thing in the morning. Usually after a good night’s rest, my head is bursting with all sorts of ideas, dialogue and plot points. I have four different journals on my nightstand ready and waiting. Sometimes, my thoughts can’t wait until morning, and I jot down dialogue in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I just skip the jotting down in the journal part, and immediately head to the girl cave to click-clack away. My characters can be so loud and demanding that jotting down on paper alone, isn’t satisfying.

4.     What do you wish to accomplish in the next 5 years?

If I could compare my life to cooking dinner on Sunday it would look like this…on the front burner… graduate number one from college, assist number two in college and prepare number three, and myself for driving! On the back burner…teaching the little people. What I’d like to serve on the table would be everything I learned about writing from my readers, other authors and editors I’ve meet along the way, formulated into delicious stories that are satisfying, but leave my dinner companions hungry for dessert.  I love to feed people when they are hungry!

5.     What 3 changes would you like to see in society to get along better?

Being a teacher, I would love to see children empower one another, especially young girls. I would love to see young girls learn to build each other to the greatest heights instead of demolishing and destroying by jealousy, fear and misunderstandings.

I’d definitely like to see more patience in society. Everything needs to be accomplished…yesterday! What’s the rush? We seem to always be looking for our next conquest instead of taking the time to bask in the reward of an accomplished project. We seem to measure our productivity by quantity instead of quality. I’m guilty of this myself, at times, and I need to remind myself to slow down.

Rushing to judgment without all the facts, without the entire story grates on my last flinching nerve! In the classroom, and at home, I’m constantly reminding my students and children to ask questions first before you start accusing people. I encourage my students and my children to be an individual, a leader, do what feels right, ask questions, gather your facts instead of attacking someone blindly because everyone else is doing the same thing. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up for what you know is right, instead of playing it safe and falling in line with everyone else.

6.     Tell us some of your passions.

I’m very passionate about reading to children.  It builds a strong foundation for a child’s growth and builds a life long learner and reader.  I encourage all parents to read to their children, anything─comic books, magazines, newspapers, street signs; as long as you’re reading you will improve their oral language skills as well as phonics and comprehension. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading to your children.

Watching my mother suffer a heart attack right before my eyes due to her two-pack-a-day habit, I’m pretty passionate about the consequences of smoking. And, last one…chocolate! I’m pretty passionate about that, too, and being a neat freak.

7.     What other projects are you working on?

I’m currently finishing the sequel to Choices. I have about six chapters left to complete. I have an entirely new teaching schedule so my writing time has been affected due to the changes, but every spare second I get I write. I also have three other stories carved out on the writing docket. One is a college romance dealing with a theme of superficial vs. substance─what’s pretty isn’t always safe or the best choice, and sometimes what you need is usually right under your nose. I’m also working on a romantic thriller set against the rocky coast of Maine. I have goosebumps just thinking about this one, and can’t wait to really sink my teeth into this storyline. This romantic duo wakes me up at night. Caleb is very insistent. The third storyline is about an amnesia patient who wakes from her extended sleep wondering if her once in a lifetime love was real or just a dream.

8.     You are trapped in one of your stories armed with a pen, what’s going on and how will you escape?

Hmm…let’s see…if I was in the lighthouse in Maine and the fire was blazing, the flames scorching and the air thick and acrid, I’d probably scream until my lungs burned, my throat raw, and my hands bled from breaking the window at the very top of the lighthouse. I probably would contemplate jumping even though I wouldn’t survive the fall. My thoughts of never seeing my beloved Caleb again or my little boy Ollie would consume and distract me from my terrible fate. Just as I was ready to jump…oh, darn it, my pen ran out of ink. I hate when that happens!

9.     If you could make your own ice cream flavor, what would it have and what would you call it?

I’m not a fan of ice cream. I’m going to take artistic license and change the question to cake. Now, we’re talking! Of course it would have to be chocolate; chocolate cake, chocolate frosting. The cake would melt in your mouth. Dry cake is a travesty and should be against the law! My cake would melt in your mouth, luscious and gooey. The frosting would be smooth, creamy and not sweet like candy, but rich and robust like dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants so my cake would be healthy, of course, so you could eat it everyday if you’d like without fear of high cholesterol, diabetes or weight gain; everything a woman fears when she feels the tines of the fork on her tongue instead of focusing on the pleasure of the chocolate itself.  I’d call it Chocolate Abandon.

10.  Where can we find your work and when will more be coming along?

You can find Choices at Amazon and Smashwords  My goal is to have the sequel to Choices, titled Forgiveness, ready for consumption by the first of the year.

So there you have it. Click on the links, explore, discover and get to know a lovely friend. Her book is on my neverending queue and 




  1. This is a fantastic idea J.D.! Thanks for introducing me to Shiela. I'm going to click through, and check out her site as well.

    I realize that I really need to set up a blog dedicated to my writing. I think I'll follow your lead and do some author interviews as well!

    1. Thanks Chris .Sheila is a very lovely friend and I fully agree you should set up that blog. Cheers and go for it!

  2. JD, you are the very best! Thank you! I'm so grateful to call you a lovely friend as well! Thanks for stopping by my site as well, Chris!

    1. I give as good as I get so if I'm the best, that says a lot about you. My best to you and definitely keep an eye out for Chris, lovely guy, great heart and I have a feeling he's going to surprise many of us. Cheers. :)