Friday, April 13, 2012

Today's Friday Friend - Sherry Gloag

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Sherry Gloag.

Multi-published author Sherry is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. She considers the surrounding countryside as extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs "thinking time" and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.

Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.

“There is a book in everyone.” True or false?

Probably a little bit of both. There probably is a book in each one of us but it’s the ‘getting it out there’ that makes the difference. Not just getting it out there, but getting it out there in a presentation that will catch the eye and attention span of the reader.

What is the point of slaving away for days, weeks, months even, if all you are going to offer your reader is a load of drivel?

That said (grin) every reader has their own preferred genre of reading so the rest may well seem like drivel to them however well it’s written.

A case of ‘horses for courses.’

So what to write? And how to go about getting it ‘out there’ in a state and condition that will entice that very particular and often elusive reader?

First you have to know what you want to write about. Well that’s simple enough, surely? Actually, no! What interests you may not be the best thing to write about.

I can almost hear you saying: “Duh? I thought you HAD to write about what you know?”

True, but what you know and what interests you, are not the same thing. Just take a moment to stop and think about it.

I am interested in gardening, I know enough to achieve what I want in my garden, but to write a book about gardening…, the experts would be laughing themselves silly if I attempted it! Oh! And the readers – if I had any – would be bored rigid within seconds!

So write about what you know then? Sure but don’t get so immersed that once again you bore your readers to death. It is tempting to include everything you know in your writing, but then you would be guilty – what is known in the trade- as ‘info dump.’

One of the best examples I’ve come across of threading technical knowledge into a story was done by Christine Flynn in her book Sugar House
It’s not a new book, but is one that will always be on my book shelf because when I get lost in how to present information in my books I refer back to her awesome skill.

In the Sugar House Christine Flynn uses her heroine to impart the intricate and technical knowledge she wants to share with her readers. She delivered it in the right bite sizes, and had me wanting to read on to learn more and kept me riveted to the plot that was woven around the technicalities of the background. In other words the background became another character in the book, and an essential character at that.

I write romance, contemporary romance with a smidgeon of suspense. I never tagged myself as a suspense writer and it came as a huge shock when review after review contained the words, ‘edge of your seat’, ‘packed with suspense’, ‘fast paced, if you blink you’ll miss the action…’

This brings me to research. If, as in Christine Flynn’s book you want to weave specific information through your book, your research must be spot on, because that information is no longer something you ‘dump’ on your reader, but becomes another character, you, the writer, use to move the plot along.

When I wrote From Now Until Forever, released by Astraea Press in December 2011, my heroine, Melanie Babcott used a dustbin lorry/trashcart to get her client (and husband) out of danger. I had to be sure, they were not going to be automatically crushed once tipped into the back of the lorry. A small, but essential detail!

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist for you to realise I knew nothing about the construction of dustbin lorries!

As that and the next book, His Chosen Bride, are set in a riding school for disabled/physically challenged children, I had to research the procedures used when working with these children. It would have been so easy simply to copy and paste the information into one single paragraph, but I imagine I would also have lost my readers if I’d cheated on them in this way.

Nor did I know when I wrote it there would be three more stories in the Gasquet Princes Series. His Chosen Bride, released by Astraea Press in time for 2012 Valentine’s Day, followed on From Now Until Forever because the hero’s eldest brother, Henri, made a very brief appearance in the book and later demanded his story be told. Books three and four are still in progress as I write, and like Henri they had a cameo part in His Chosen Bride and both decided they wanted their own stories told, and as they are twins…

So be careful when you write about ‘what you know’ and be sure you know what you are writing about.

From Now Until Forever
For Prince Liam, families meant bad news, unwanted commitments, and the loss of his personal freedom. Love spawned white picket fences, slippers at the hearth with a wife and kids making demands, so why did those images disappear when he met Melanie Babcot?
Melanie Babcot fought hard to escape the horrors of her youth and vowed to remain single and free, so when paid to protect Prince Liam from insurgents why did her personal pledge fly out the window?


Liam Fitzwilliam Gasquet stared in amazement at the blooming patch of red milliseconds before the pain exploded in his arm. Some trigger-happy idiot had fired in his direction. Indignation didn’t have time to take root before another bullet kicked the dust at his feet.
Not ‘trigger-happy’.
The rebels had found the fourth and youngest son of Jean-Phillipe Gasquet, ruler of the tiny kingdom adjacent to the Swiss border. When had they discovered his whereabouts?
With a reluctant sigh, he faced the truth of it. They hadn’t ‘found’ him at all. They’d followed him.

Astrae Press:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
B & N

His Chosen Bride
Prince Henri Gasquet is happy to let his father, the king, choose his bride for him until he meets Monica Latimer.
Monica Latimer is not prepared to risk letting any man close enough to learn about her Gift. A gift that normally has men running for the hills when they find out about it.


She lost track of time until the flames caught her attention once more. They flickered from orange to gold, to silver, to white.
A flurry of snowflakes masked the flames and for a second Monica watched the most beautiful, pristine snow-scene she’d ever seen. Her lips curved in longing. How she’d love to get a toboggan and slide down that slope. She knew where it was, and had done just that many times in her childhood, first with her parents and then, in clandestine manner, with her brother. Sneaking an old tin tray from the back of her mother’s walk-in pantry, she’d then grabbed Billy’s hand and they’d rushed out the back gate, heading for the lakeside track that led up into the hills.
Darkness, dense and thick with grief dropped over the scene. Startled and disconcerted by the strength of emotion emanating from the vision Monica shifted to her knees, ready to stand, when a voice, a deep male voice, sharp with fear called out her name.
She knew she’d never heard the voice before, and yet—it was as familiar to her as the image she saw in her mirror each morning.
“Help me, Monica.”
Desperate for more clues, she searched the darkness within the flames until it sputtered and faded. With a curse she jumped up and ran for the phone. With her outstretched hand hovering over it she halted and let her hand drop to her side once more. What could she say? What would the police or rescue team think of her if she called them and told them she’d seen a vision of a man in distress.
They’d laugh in her face and classify her as a lunatic. Well, maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d contacted them with positive information but something—an instinctive gut reaction told her what she’d seen this time hadn’t happened yet.

Astrae Press:

Find out more about Sherry Gloag and ALL her books:

Twitter: @sherrygloag

Thanks so much for being here with us today, Sherry. We wish you continued success with your writing career.


  1. :-) Thank you Paula for having me here today. I hope you have a fabulous w.end.

  2. Such good advice, Sherry. I've found I need to trim details--ones I know from experience, and those I've "mastered" from research.
    Your excerpts are enticing--now on my to-read list!

  3. Thanks for your kind words Ana. It took me a while to treat tecnichal information like another character in my stories because I was guilty, at one time, of info dump.

  4. Sherry, your point about sharing information is well taken. It's a good subject, one that I don't see come up very often. I, too, am a fancier of gardening/plant lore/herbology/etc. and have let that fancy creep into several of my novels. As you say, it's tempting to "dump" my knowledge on the reader, but far more effective to give it out in doses. That being said, I still find my heroine selecting goodies from her garden plot, giving perhaps 'way too much info about tonight's supper!

    I wish you every continued success. Erin O'Quinn

  5. Hi Sherry, so nice to have you here as our guest today. I love your advice about avoiding information dumps and also being careful when writing what you know. I think there's a fine balance involved. Your books sound so interesting--hope to read them soon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  6. Erin, :-) using your garden experience toshare recipes and ingredients with your readers is a great way of sharing.
    Thanks for your kind words.

  7. Thank you for your kind words Jennifer. Even though I recognised what Christine Flynn was doing and how she did it, it took me years to work out how to offer info as a character rather than an encylclopedia, lol.

  8. I've heard/read that you only include 1% of what you've learnt from your research, but you still have to do the other 99%. I found that was certainly true when I was researching my hero's occupation as a volcanologist. I know more about volcanoes that I ever did, but only used a small fraction of what I'd learnt. However, I needed that other 99% to make sure that my 1% was correct.

  9. Hello Sherry,

    Welcome to Heroines with Hearts!

    I think the most important thing when we 'know' something or research something for our books, is that no matter how excited we are about it, it should really just provide the background details for a character or plot and not take over the whole story. Sometimes that's tricky!

    Great post.

  10. When I began writing I fell into the info dump trap, fortunately they never saw the light of submissions!
    It was Christine's story that was the 'ah-ha' moment for me. For that I'll always be grateful to her. :-)
    Yes I'd read the theory, but it waseeing the practice that made the difference.

  11. Debra, thank you for your warm welcome. Tricky is the right word :-)
    My next crime was giving away too much info too soon, so again, I had to re-learn the importance of weaving information through my stories in a balanced way.
    Not easy for a pantser!
    On the other hand, as in From Now Until Forever, when your heroine tells you to go research dustbin lorries/garbage truck, what else could I do? LOL

  12. i tend, so far to only write what i know---i guess it is my style as i usually write the way i talk---that is why you are an accomplished author and i am not--plus i have only been doing it for fun and am too lazy for this profession---great advice!

  13. Lynn, it's not about 'too lazy' or not following advice. When all's said and done, it's all about what's RIGHT for YOU.
    Emjoy your writing, take from the posts you read, onlu what you need at that moment in time. I 'tinkered' with writing for a long time before I had publishing success.
    Thanks for coming by.