Interview: Cheri Lasota

Today I’d like to introduce the lovely and talented Cheri Lasota.  Cheri is an editor at Stirling Editing, and recently launched her debut novel in September through SpireHouse Books.  Cheri, I’m so happy to welcome you to share some of your thoughts with me and my readers.

When did you first start writing?  What kinds of books inspired you as an author?

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing, to be honest. But I do know I made my first attempt at novel writing in third grade. In those first years, my only goal was to just finish a story. It took me decades to be able to do that. I had to learn the hard way that I have to outline my fiction before I begin. It doesn’t work any other way for me. I grew up solely with classics by Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Tennyson, and Wordsworth. Words and rhythm were my passions and I cultivated them carefully over the years.

Did you become an editor first and a writer second?

My first editing job was in the Azores Islands (interestingly also the setting of Artemis Rising). I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I went on to work at two other newspapers as well as for a nonprofit group. I much preferred the fiction world, however, so after a couple decades of honing my editing skills as well as fiction writing, I started a freelance editing business in 2004: Stirling Editing. I adore working with and encouraging novelists and short story writers. No better job in the world.

Your book, Artemis Rising, has such an interesting setting.  Why did you pick the Azores Islands as the background?

My father was in the Air Force and we were stationed in the Azores Islands when I was 15- to 16-years old. The Azores are a group of nine islands about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. I had never heard of them before moving there. I would compare them to Hawaii in terms of beauty. They are volcanic islands owned by Portugal but they have very little commercialism. It’s an idyllic, quiet existence, and I loved every moment of it. When I left the islands, I knew I had to capture that time in my memory forever, and what better way to do that then to write it into my first novel?

How did the plot for Artemis Rising come about?

I built my whole story around three major elements: the culture, land, and faith of the Azorean people; the Greek myth of Alpheus and Arethusa; and the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde. What on earth do these three elements have in common? It took a decade of my life to figure that out. And whoa! the parallels will amaze you.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

As I mentioned before, I’m definitely an outliner. I’m an absolute wuss when it comes to the blank page. I shake in my boots and the whole bit. So I have to create a little box for myself to work within. You can’t just show me the open road and tell me to hit the gas. Doesn’t work. I need to know where I’m going and why. I’m probably the most over-organized writer you’ll ever meet. =)

I know you’re working on a new book.  Can you tell us a little about that one?

This next book has been a breeze to write! It’s because I finally understand how I work best, so I definitely plotted this one out way ahead of time. I’m about halfway through. The novel is set on the Oregon Coast (so I can finally have easy access to setting research!) and it involves a fictitious lighthouse and spans two lifetimes. The first story is set in the 30s when the lighthouse was still in use. The second story takes place in present day when the lighthouse is being restored to its former glory. There is a bit of a mystery in this novel, and how those two storylines intertwine is where the magic happens.

Artemis Rising, an ebook, features interactive links.  Did your publisher come up with those?

SpireHouse Books and I brainstormed cool ideas for interactive ebook content together. We both brought things to the table and then narrowed them down to the very best. We have old classic maps, an author page, external links to my website, etc., a hyperlinked glossary, and up next I’ll be trading chapter one excerpts with other authors. The possibilities are endless! And the great thing is that we can change up these features whenever we want.

One of the unique things you did to promote Artemis Rising was to make a video book trailer.  What can you tell us about that and where can we see it?

I’m blessed to have many friends within the Portland film scene. They went above and beyond to help me create a kind of mini-film of my book that showcases scene snippets from the book and brings them to life. We filmed in Portland and on the Oregon coast and I often say that those two production days were some of the best of my life. To see scenes from my novel come to life before my eyes…there’s just nothing quite like it. Since Director Bill Thoma of Axiom Shift Productions wrapped up production, I’ve been able to incorporate the trailer into my book marketing campaigns in many innovative ways and it has truly given Artemis Rising a broader audience.

Where can we find your book and how can inquiring minds contact you?

Learn more about the novel or contact me at http://www.cherilasota.com. The book is available in all digital formats and can be purchased at SpireHouseBooks.com, iTunes, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and KoboBooks.com.

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SpireHouse Books launched Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, in Sept 2011. The book is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction.

My Father and the Sea

Last night as I lay sleepless in my bed, thoughts and memories broke upon my consciousness like the waves that ceaselessly crash upon the shores of life.  Because I am drawn to analogy, I saw them like dark waters, borne out from the pregnant sea, called by the waxing moon to dash upon my heart.  The pregnant sea, like the subconscious mind, brings us that which was hidden. Ancestral voices call, seemingly indistinguishable from our own. In pursuing this metaphor, this analogy, I remembered my father, and in so doing have decided to share part of his “Meditation by the Sea.”

“I walk in wonder by the sea—the fresh salt air sharp in my nostrils.  The restless striving of the surf, the shock of breakers against the rock, and the echo of the sea bird’s cry seeming very like a dear but long forgotten dream.

How feminine is the sea—her countenance ever changing yet somehow always the same!  Now smoothed in peace, now dancing in sparkling animation, or—under the lash of the winds—stirred to relentless fury. How secret are her depths—how resourceful and ample her womb from which has sprung all life on this fair green planet.  Yes, and beautiful are her children, even the most grotesque and curious, and how perfect each in its own way—from amoeba to leviathan—from newt to man—from lichen to templed Sequoia…

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep.”

And instantly, in recalling these majestic words from Genesis, I am suddenly and warmly kin to that ancient, unknown prophet who first phrased them in sudden intuition linking the Fatherhood of God to the motherhood of the sea.

I walk in wonder by the sea.  Here is evoked peace and contentment—but more than this, strength and everlasting striving.  I have come home again!”

Joseph Conrad Chamberlin

1898-1962

Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 9:45 am  Comments (14)  

September Lingers

If I’d known what September held, I might have battened down the hatches and stayed in bed. Instead, I got up and went about my business. Several hours before midnight on August 30th, I was tooling along in traffic when a driver pulled out of an apartment complex, hitting me and starting the snowball to hell. Fortunately neither of us was injured. Damage to my car appeared minimal, and we were both insured. 🙂 Easy fix, I thought. No, the estimate I received didn’t please the insurance company. But neither did their appraisal figures. I was asked to submit my keys and title because the car was a total loss. What I had was a door that needed a new panel, probably a hood, and a bumper. So I argued fruitlessly with them and my insurance company refused to intervene since the accident was not my fault. Then I was told I could retain my car but would have to buy it back from them and obtain a salvage title. They sent papers that never arrived. Finally, we did it with a fax. But to my horror, a salvage title says: a salvage car cannot be licensed or tagged and I would have to surrender my plates. So what good would this do me? I finally found a customer service number for DMV and learned that my car would not be a salvage car; just a totaled one. I have to re-register for the title, allow them to “brand” the title as Totaled, let them check the car to verify the VIN number, and pay the fees. As of October 4th,I think we have reached a resolution. Hopefully, I’ll receive a check and my chariot will be repaired about mid-month.

We’ve also been busy at home, having windows replaced and dry rot repaired. Because the reconstruction involves office space, vital equipment has either been moved out or bunched together, requiring considerable agility to maneuver around file cabinets, computers, printers, and telephones. I’ve come close to standing on my head during a file search. Personal papers, once stacked here and there, are missing. If I’d sorted and filed them, I wouldn’t be in this pickle. Of course these stacks were seldom used because I could never find what I wanted when I wanted it.

I’m hoping October will prove a much happier month. After all, this weekend is Wordstock, and I’ll be there selling copies of Volunteer for Glory in The Starving Writer booth! See you there?

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm  Comments (12)  
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