The Sizzle Interview: Cheryl Smith

 Okay, all you wild romance readers!  The Sizzlers have our very first interview today, and I am so excited, cause y’all know I am a fiend for great historicals. I am very pleased to be interviewing the fabulous Cheryl Smith, who has just gotten her first offer, a two-book deal from Berkley for her Courtesan series. So y’all settle down and let’s hear how she did it and where she’s going from here.           

Cheryl, this has got to be so exciting!  Tell us all about the Courtesan series and your first book – title, what it’s about and when I can buy it?

 I’m excited to be here! You are my first interview also!

 This has been quite a ride for the last five months! Well, part of the hook and series premise is top secret, for now, but basically the first book is about a young woman who helps a beautiful courtesan escape her profession only to face the wrath of her scorned lover, a vengeful duke.  But what he doesn’t expect is to find himself drawn to the seemingly uninteresting spinster. Soon he finds he can’t get the mysterious woman out of his mind, or his heart. The first book won’t come out until early 2011.  

 When did you start writing the book?

 I actually wrote a few pages of the book several years ago and set it aside to work on other things. Then when I got a new computer, I lost the file. Then last year I decided to revisit the story and rewrote the book off the original premise.

 A lot of us out here in the Land of Still-Hoping-for-the-Call use contests as a way to get noticed.  Did you?

  I did enter a few contests several years ago for feedback, but not with this story. It has been less than a year from the beginning of this process, so I never had time.

 I know you worked with an agent, Kevan Lyon. When did you start the query process and how did you end up with her?

 I’ve been sending out queries and collecting rejections for years on other projects. I queried Kevan because an author from our RWA chapter signed with and liked her. Kevan actually passed on a project of mine last year. But I never let that stop me. So I sent another. In the mean time, I’d sent a partial of this book out and got a full request from an editor. Kevan sent a second rejection (contemp romantic comedies are a hard sell right now) but ask to see other works. I e-mailed her about the full request and asked if she wanted to see it. She did and about seven hours later she called and offered to represent me! She is awesome!

 How much did your manuscript change between that fabulous day you typed “The End” and the even more fabulous day when you actually found out your agent sold it?

 Kevan made some minor suggestions to strengthen the story and I agreed. After a couple weeks we both decided it was ready. She queried, I believe, seven editors. They all asked for the manuscript. So the revision process didn’t take long.

 Have you made more changes since it sold?

 Not yet. I probably won’t see a revision letter until after the contract is signed.

 Tell us how the sale happened!  (We want to experience the thrill, even if vicariously!)

 The book didn’t go out until just before the RWA conference in Washington. I introduced myself to the editors who had the book while I was there. I didn’t know at the time that I was meeting my future editor. Several days after I returned from the conference, I got “the call”. I screamed cried and jumped up and down and missed the “two book” part until a little while after the call. I was happy with one book and ecstatic with two! My hubby and kids took me to dinner to celebrate. I still won’t think it’s real until I get the contract!

 Did you and Kevan have to do a lot of back-and-forth on the contract with Berkley?

 Not really. The contract is fairly standard at this level.

 If you could go back to visit yourself on the day you started the book, what advice would you give yourself?

 I’d tell myself to get moving and write it years sooner! Then I might be published already!

 And so what’s next for you, Miss Published Author?

 I’m currently working on book two. It’s amazing how motivated you are to put butt in chair when you’re under contract!

 Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

 Only, if this is your dream, don’t ever give up. I wrote and studied writing and kept going, even when I had doubts this would ever happen for me. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to burn my stack of rejection letters or keep them to show how far I’ve come. It only takes one special project to land on the right desk, and you are on your way! 

 We really want to thank you for sharing the excitement of your sale with us here on Southern Sizzle – and I can’t wait to read all about these courtesans and the dashing Duke!  Keep us posted on how you do, although I’m sure we’ll be seeing your covers in the bookstores all the time.

 Thanks for having me! I’ll keep you posted!

 All of you reading this, be sure to check in regularly on Cheryl at – after you check in at the Sizzle, of course!

 Okay, now that you know how Cheryl did it, what’s stopping you




6 Responses

  1. Congratulations, Cheryl. The thrills will continue with each book you sell. Don’t ever give up. And, never stop learning. You’ll get better with each book.


  2. Congrats Cheryl and thanks for letting us interview you for our blog! Looking forward to reading your work!

  3. Thanks for letting us celebrate with you, Cheryl.

  4. Congratulations, Cheryl. The story sounds fabulous.

  5. Great interview!! Congratulations, Cheryl!

  6. Congrats Cheryl! This is so awesome and gives me inspiration to keep going in the query process. Great to have you here.

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