Friday, February 12, 2010

Cerella Sechrist ~ Interview + Giveaway!

Today author Ceralla Sechrist is telling us about her new book, Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania (and other stuff, see below). She has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky commenter. She will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer your questions! So if you have anything you want to ask her, you can include it in your comment for entering the contest. If you are only leaving a question in the comment and not entering the giveaway please say so.

Here is the total list of things being given away:
* an autographed copy of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania
* a handcrafted, beaded bookmark featuring a quote from the book on its reverse
* a chocolate-covered Oreo treat
* a votive candle and glass cup

Welcome, Cerella! Tell us a little about yourself.
Let’s see, here’s a list of things about me, acrostic-style!

C – Coffee. (I’m addicted.)

E – Edith Wharton (One of my favorite classical authors.)

R – Rain (I love the rain – it’s perfect to cozy up inside and read. I hate snow, though. I’m not a winter-weather kind of girl!)

E – Earth tones…(are my favorite colors! Chocolate brown, forest green, rusty red, etc.)

L – Leaves! (I love anything with a leaf design on it!)

L – Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania (My debut novel! Eeee!)

A – Autumn (My favorite season.)

How long have you been writing? How many books do you have published?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old. I spent my teens and twenties, keeping up with as much of the industry as I could as well as honing technique and craft. I wrote my first book when I was sixteen years old and started submitting it to publishers at seventeen. Several manuscripts and thirteen years later, I’m finally seeing a book in print! Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania is my debut novel, but I’m hoping there will be many more to come!

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your book?
Hmmm…let’s take Rene Gutteridge’s humor (like in her Boo series), Karen Kingsbury’s knack for redemptive storylines and toss in some cookbooks, and we’ll have somewhat of the dish that I hope Love Finds You in Hershey tastes like.

I’d give it a PG-rating. For some kissing, love talk and the decimation of quite a few desserts.

In your own words tell us a little about Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey tells the story of Sadie, a single mom and restaurateur who is juggling all the ingredients in her life: her impish five-year-old daughter; her best friend, Jasper, who’s falling in love with her; a handsome and mysterious Russian entrepreneur opening a competing restaurant next door; and her ne’er-do-well father’s return with the hopes of mending their broken relationship.

The thing about Sadie is that she’s got a little bit of each of us in her – she’s a little neurotic at times, she wants certain things she can’t have, and while she’s sweet, she’s feisty, too. On the way to earning her just desserts, she experiences several hilarious and heartwarming adventures, such as a denture faux-pas, a near-poisoning of one of the characters, and the loss of another’s pinkie finger tip!

Chef Sadie Spencer has learned that in life, as well as in food, sour balances sweet. After returning to her deliciously charming hometown of Hershey with a young daughter in tow, Sadie has managed to rise from the ashes following the death of her husband, the passing of her mother, and the dissolution of her career as a TV chef. With the help and encouragement of her best friend, Jasper, she opens a restaurant and looks forward to savoring the sweet side of life. That is, until a handsome Russian entrepreneur arrives in town, apparently intent on opening up his own restaurant in direct competition to hers. Sadie becomes obsessed with honing the one skill she’s never had – creating desserts – to keep up with her adversary, and in the process, she finds a love that’s simply icing on the cake.

What made you want to write this story?
For years, I wrote historical novels but had absolutely no luck getting any of them published. Finally, after my fourth or fifth attempt there, I thought to myself, “I want to write something completely different than what I’ve been doing. Something light, something silly but sweet and something that I‘d pick up at the end of the day and just escape into for a few hours if I were reading it.”

Having established that desire, I was suddenly filled with possibilities. I had never written a book in a modern-day setting, so it was an absolute treat to begin considering what this story would be about and what everyday interests of my own I could incorporate. I have a foodie streak, so I was really interested in having the story revolve around food.

From there, it was like adding bits and pieces to a recipe – a dash here, a dash there. I loved the idea of focusing on desserts, but I was fascinated by the idea of a chef who lacked that one ability. So Sadie was born – a woman who is very talented at cooking but cannot do the one thing she’s always wanted: create killer confectionary delights. Once Sadie was created, and I knew about her dessert obsession, it wasn’t so hard to link her to Hershey, since it’s only an hour away from where I live and is a town I absolutely adore.

What research did you have to do for this book?
I was used to writing historical time periods, which take massive amounts of research. So, to me, it felt like the research for Hershey was much simpler than what I’d been accustomed to doing! I took several trips to the town, just to get the layout in my head and enjoy how truly sweet and charming Hershey can be. Since I was already a foodie, it wasn’t hard to continue to immerse myself in a ‘food culture’ – and of course, chocolate taste-testing was occasionally required! =)

Mostly, I just spent hours in the town of Hershey itself, imagining what it would be like to live there and be in Sadie’s shoes.

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
This is one of the best questions! I love mentally ‘casting’ my books – strange as it may seem, writing is a very visual thing to me. I want to be able to see it in my head so I can translate those images onto paper.

As I wrote the book, I had a rough cast in my own mind – but keep in mind, these are just my personal visions. My sister is always in complete disagreement with me on whom I cast and chooses her own actors accordingly! Feel free to do the same. =)

For Sadie, I envisioned Sandra Bullock because she had that girl-next-door, slightly funny persona. And she just feels like someone who could be your best friend, much like I feel Sadie could be. Sandra is a little older than Sadie is, so maybe Jennifer Garner would work, too!

For Jasper, it was a little tougher. My favorite description of him, in the book, is when Sadie thinks he’s like a ‘surfer dude gone country’. It’s a little hard to peg this image, so I decided if we just blend Owen Wilson (I love him!) with Keith Urban (love him, too!), maybe we’d get it just about right! Several people don’t understand my love for Owen Wilson, however, so…to each his own. I’m actually quite fond of the model picture used in my video trailer for Hershey (see the link on the main page of my website), so I’d love to slot that guy into the role!

Dmitri is tougher still, because he’s described as being extremely handsome. He’s the complete opposite of Jasper – dark and mysterious while Jasper is light and fun. I like Goran Visnjic, and he has an accent (though it’s not Russian), so he’d probably get my first vote on the matter.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
My agent is currently shopping around a contemporary women’s series in which I have the first book already written. I’d also love to have another go at a second Love Finds You story – there are so many possibilities to be had!

How can readers get in contact with you?
Feel free to contact me through my website: I love to hear from readers so don’t be shy!

What are you currently reading?
Rumors, the second book in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. That series has been described as Edith Wharton meets Gossip Girl, and that’s just about right. I love Edith Wharton’s novels (though I don’t watch Gossip Girl!), so I’m enjoying that series. Next on the list is Just Jane by Nancy Moser.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
I have an obsession with brushing my teeth. I brush several times a day. My sister was once so concerned about this, she asked the dentist if it was normal and healthy for me to brush so frequently. He told her it was fine. I would probably brush my teeth over washing my hair, if I had to choose. LOL

If you could be any animal, which would you choose? Why?
I’ve always had this fascination with whales. They’re so large and yet so majestic, graceful…regal in their own way. I can’t imagine how surreal it would be to live underwater. It’s a world with its own ethereal quality.

On the flip side, I think the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life is adorable, and being a Praying Mantis could be interesting.

TV show, and/or movie?
I’m so excited about the final season of Lost. I’ve loved that show every step of the way – every convoluted twist and turn. It’s been a challenge and a guessing game, and I adore it.

Place to go on vacation?
Williamsburg, Virginia – I get to go once a year with my mom and ‘adopted aunts’. I love that town: the history, the shopping, the countryside. We always go in the autumn, when the weather just starts to turn crisp. It’s absolutely enchanting, with the leaves changing and the historic atmosphere.

Book this year or month? Why?
Melanie Wells’s trilogy: The Day of Evil series from Multnomah Books. (When the Day of Evil Comes, The Soul Hunter, My Soul to Keep.) The first book was interesting, but the second book is where this series comes into its own. It’s a perfect blend of spiritual warfare and edge-of-your-seat mystery, along with an engaging main character (Dylan) whose dry wit had me smiling several times throughout the stories. It was one of those wonderful reader dilemmas where you can’t put the book down, but you want it to go on forever.

What is/was this book’s release date?
The official release is February 1, but it can be found online and in most stores right now!

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter of this book?
Absolutely! You can read the first chapter on my website, here:

*USA residents only, please*
Okay readers, here is your chance to win an autographed copy of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania!

To enter:

*Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win).

*Please specify that you want to be included in the contest!

*If you want an extra entry, become one of my followers.

*The comment is mandatory. (Please, say in the comment if you are a follower!! It makes my job easier when you do.) You will not be entered unless you leave a comment. If you are already a follower, and then you leave a comment, you will still get two entries in the contest.

*The contest will run from today (Feb. 12) until 6:00 CST on Thursday (Feb. 18). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner on Friday the 19th, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.

Good luck! Thanks for visiting.


Shirley R. said...

I am starting to love this blog! I've been having trouble lately finding new authors who write in a style I enjoy. And that trouble doubles when it comes to modern story lines, so I am looking forward to reading this novel. Hopefully it turns up a new author to await!


Diane said...

Love her picks for stars of her book. The book sounds great! :O)

Casey said...

I really want to read this book, it looks like such fun! Thanks for the interview.

I am a follower :)


inthehammockblog said...

Great interview!! Love the casting pics :) I'd love to enter the contest!!

I'm a follower!!

Thanks so much!

inthehammockblog (at) gmail (dot) com

Virginia C said...

A sweet romance plus a delightful giveaway : ) What a treat! Happy Valentine's Day!

Please enter my name in the drawing. I am a GFC Follower and a subscriber.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Kathryn said...

Please include me! I keep seeing the "Love Finds You..." books in stores and have been eager to try one :)

Merry said...

Cerella's book sounds very yummy, please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

I'm a follower.


Abi said...

Oh, yes please enter me in this wonderful giveaway. thanks

I'm a follower also.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

tweezle said...

What a great interview! Sounds like a fantastic read, so please enter me in the drawing.

I'm a follower :)

Thanks so much!!
tweezle at gmail dot com

Virginia said...

Great interveiw! This books sounds like something a little different and I believe i would really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing it with us! Please enter me!

I am a follower!


Melanie Wells said...

Hi Cerella. Congratulations on the release of Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania. I'll look forward to reading your book! Thanks for mentioning mine. It's always the highest of compliments when a reader and fellow writer takes note of one's work. Thank you for the encouragement today!

Vaya con Dios!! Melanie Wells

Trinity Rose said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. Please enter me in the give away.
I'm a follower.
Have a blessed day,
wandaelaine AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

I am so anxious to read this book.....please enter me. Thanks!!!

Linda said...

Oh, I definitely want to be included! Please enter me. Thank you.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I;m a Google reader follower.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Edna said...

Please enter me into the contest for this great book


Edna said...

I follow you on google


Edna said...

I have your button on my blog


Anonymous said...

this book is on my wish list...thanks for the opportunity to read it


Robin said...

i am a follower. Enter me in the drawing. This book sounds like a book i'd like to read. Quick and fast. You're right Sandra Bullock would be too old for this role.

robinribbit at yahoo dot com

Lindsey B. said...

omygosh!!! this book looks absolutely amazing!!! please enter me for the give-away! thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

Please enter me. This sounds like a great book. tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sue said...

I am not a follower, but would love a chance to win this book, it sounds good. Thank you.


Cerella D. Sechrist said...

Mucho thanks to everyone for all the great comments here! (And to Melanie Wells for stopping by! What an honor!!!)

I hope everyone had a sweet Valentine's Day last weekend and may you continue to enjoy the CHOCOLATE. :)

Cerella D. Sechrist

Fashion Meets Food said...

wow love this giveaway! I am new to your blog and happen to be new to PA so I absolutely adore this!

fashionmeetsfood [at] yahoo [dot] com