About the Author:
Sheri is a wonderful person who is always willing to help! I exchanged a few emails with her after I read her book and she was very prompt and sweet in replying to my queries...I am glad she took some time out of her busy schedule for this interview....
[Me]: Hi Sheri, Thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions. Can we start off by knowing what inspired you to write this lovely book – Keys to Living Joyfully? How did this whole thing happen?
[Sheri]: When I was 17, my 15-year-old brother died tragically. This altered the path of my life. For years after my brother’s death, I felt numb and thought I did not deserve to be truly happy ever again. Gradually, I healed, but still struggled with on and off depression. I married my husband and gave birth to three beautiful children. I worked in a career that I loved; yet, I did not truly enjoy my success. I read hundreds of books on leadership and motivation. When I went deeper into my spiritual life, I experienced a way to merge my personal leadership skills and my spirituality. My life clicked into place. I became truly happy, and I felt so free. I, then, had a deep desire to share my keys with others. I hoped that people would be inspired to tap their sources of joy. This desire created my book idea.
[Me]:Based on the reviews and feedback that you have received for your book, do you feel you have been able to strike a chord and connect well with the readers? It definitely inspired me!
[Sheri]:The reviews have been wonderful and my book seems to be well received. I think every author has some nervousness associated with reviews. The book has connected with readers and one thing I am told, often, is that people feel like I am writing to them on a personal level-like I already know them and their stories. I felt blessed during the writing process and allowed the book to flow into creation, so I did have a peacefulness about the book and that it was meant to reach people.
[Me]:How long did you take to write this book? Your book is mainly based on your personal experience which in itself is a positive indication to all the readers that the methods suggested in your book will yield desired results. Did you still do any additional research while writing this book?
[Sheri]: I wrote the book in five and half weeks and published it about five months from the date that I started writing. It happened very quickly and I felt inspired during this time period and not pressured to make things happen. I do have some quotes in my book and some verses from the Bible, so I did have some research related to this information. The way that I live my life is a result of a lifetime of studying leadership, motivational, and spiritual books and living a spiritual life. I know some people study and study, but don’t get it. You have to have an open heart and be willing to change and grow. I maintain this openness so that I will continue to grow. I could have stopped at the point of seeing my own life change, but I felt, deeply that there were others who were searching and wanted more joy and happiness. If I could inspire people to be their best selves, I thought I should share what I have learned along with the very personal way that I apply my techniques.
[Me]:The cover design looks simple and serene. How did you arrive at it?
[Sheri]: I knew that I wanted something that would convey wisdom along with the idea of happiness and joy. I brought about six or so book covers that I liked to my graphic designer and then we talked about my book. I sent her an electronic version of my book so she could read through and get the feel of the material. Then she came up with three concepts for me. I picked my favorite, but did not tell anyone and then everyone that I asked for their opinion picked the same concept that I liked. The final cover is very close to one of the first three concepts. We made a few slight changes. I think that my openness with my graphic designer helped convey to her what I was looking for. Though I think that she went beyond anything I could have created if left on my own. She was very good.
[Me]: Why did you choose to add exercises/workspaces with blank lines at the end of each chapter? Did you feel that it would work well with the readers?
[Sheri]: I think that people need to work and reflect in order to really incorporate change in their lives. I felt that if people had exercises and work spaces that they would be more inspired to write down thoughts as they occurred. I also felt that having these exercises created almost a dialogue between the readers and me. It provides an opportunity to connect with the material at a deeper level, as well. I, also, like reading books with workspaces and exercises.
[Me]: Have you always considered yourself a writer or was it just something that you felt you needed to do at this point in life? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers like me?
[Sheri]: From a young age, I knew that I was a writer, but I did not really aspire to make it a career. I was sure that one day I would write and publish a book, but I also imagined that I would have a career that is separate from my writing and I do. I am a life coach and work with individual clients as well as groups. Publishing my book did spark other types of writing. I started writing poetry and short stories again. My advice to an aspiring writer is to continue to get to know yourself on a very deep level and write about things that are meaningful and important to you. Don’t write about things that you think you should write about. Write where your heart leads you. When I stopped telling myself what I should do, was the moment my book was born.
[Me]: What kind of books/authors have influenced you the most and why?
[Sheri]: I like philosophy. Aristotle and Kant are some of my favorite theorists. I look to the Holy Bible for inspiration. I had it open during most of my writing. I like thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Hill, and Dale Carnegie. My taste also includes modern books from Stephen Covey, John C. Maxwell, Daniel Goleman, Jack Canfield, Janet Attwood, and Joe Vitale. I think Joel Osteen’s first book was very good. I tend to like books that focus on positive thinking, spirituality, love, character, and leadership. My list could actually go on and on. For lighter reading, I like biographies of presidents and world leaders, and for fun, I like historical fiction and mysteries.
[Me]: Are you working on your next book? Would it be an inspirational one too? What should the readers expect from you?
[Sheri]: My next book is an inspirational book directed specifically towards people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I think there is a great deal of suffering for these individuals, yet people out of survival needs have to function in the real world. For PTSD individuals, functioning is greatly impaired. I suffered from PTSD and consider myself to be one who has overcome the disorder. Some studies indicate that as many as 50% of sufferers do not fully recover. I am interested in why and how some people do seem to recover. Some of my research for this is part of my doctoral studies.
[Sheri]: I am very involved in my children’s activities and in our local church. I do like reading, traveling, social networking, visiting and entertaining friends and family, and I work full time with my life coaching practice. For fun, I teach some college classes on the subjects of ethics and business.
[Me]: Do you see any challenges in writing self - help/inspirational books?
[Sheri]: I think one challenge in writing inspirational books is to arrive at something new. And, really, so many of the greatest thoughts are from ancient times-Jesus, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato and others. One thing that makes my book unique is that I weave my personal story into it and show how I have applied the keys to living joyfully to my life. I am honest about struggles and victories, and I think that my readers sense this and develop a connection.
[Me]: After I read the book and mailed you seeking advice, you were very kind enough to reply to my emails very quickly. Considering that your book has reached a larger audience, don’t you feel overwhelmed with such emails? How do you manage time to reply to each of these?
[Sheri]: Hearing from readers seeking advice is one of the greatest joys that I have received since writing the book. One thing I have learned is that we are all more similar than we are different as humans. I enjoy being able to personally respond to emails like this and set it as a high priority. It gives me more energy instead of overwhelming me. I set time aside each day to respond individually to people. Now, I do run into some roadblocks here and there. For instance, sometimes I will have people call me out of the blue (I have my cell phone number on my website) and they will give me their email address and I write down the wrong address (perhaps transposing numbers or letters). I am not able to get back to some of these people and have no way to let them know that I want to respond to their request. Sometimes I try to solve this by letting messages go to voicemail so I have a better record, but there are times when I feel very powerfully that I must answer the call because the person needs me. Usually, I am able to respond quickly.
[Me]: If you had a chance now, would you change anything about this book or do something different?
[Sheri]: I feel happy to say that I would not change anything about the book, but now that I have learned more about marketing, I would have done more prebuzz before the published date.
[Me]: What ways have you been promoting your book, online and offline? How important do you think self-promotion is?
[Sheri]: Self-promotion is highly important whether you are self-published or with a major publisher. I have been on a virtual book tour with Dorothy Thompson in March and April of 09. The Chicago Sun Times picked one of my interviews up. I do a lot of social networking on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and a few others. I also have an account on authorsden.com. I publish my poetry there and have a blog. I love networking with other authors. I have a blog on my website (this also feeds into my Amazon listing for the book). I am a guest speaker for different groups locally, as well.
[Me]: Thanks for your precious time and also for sending me a review copy of this book. I will always treasure it!
Hope you readers enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did interviewing Sheri! :)