Friday, January 29, 2010

Interview+Giveaway with Cerella D. Sechrist

This week I'd like to welcome Cerella D. Sechrist to my blog.
Cerella is the author of her new book Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania.
To read my review of LFYI Hershey Pa, click HERE
A~ So Cerella, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
C~ I live in southern Pennsylvania, about an hour from the delightful town of Hershey, where my book takes place. =) I work full-time, in the office, for my dad's general construction business, and I'm taking college courses in holistic health (a passion of mine!) while writing more books! (It makes for some busy days - I'm rarely bored! *g*)

Obviously, as a writer, I absolutely love reading - especially fiction. Historical, young adult and classic literature are my favorite genres, but I'll read just about anything, if the story is well told.

A~ Wow! Your a busy women, I don't know how you find time to write and get a degree. I can barley get my homework done:~) LOL
I absolutely love histoical fiction too! And speaking of books....

What was your favorite book last year? And what book are you most looking forward to this year?

C~ My favorite books from last year were the Dylan Foster series by Melanie Wells. It wasn't one of my typical choices, but I was intrigued by the premise of this demon who was sort of 'stalking' the title character. It turns out, they were really good! I couldn't put them down! The main character had such a dry sense of humor, and there was a lot of suspense involved along with a touch of mystery. The first book wasn't the best, but by the second one, I was hooked. The titles are: When the Day of Evil Comes, The Soul Hunter, and My Soul to Keep.

This year, I'm looking forward to more historical fiction. =) I've been meeting new writers, like Laura Frantz who wrote the upcoming Courting Morrow Little, and I'm eager to dive back into some historical fiction - there are so many good titles out there right now, in the historical genre! I also have yet to get my hands on a copy of Ted Dekker's Green, but I loved his Circle Trilogy, so I'm eager to read Green, as another volume to those stories.

A~ Ooooh, sounds like some great books. I'll have to get my hands on that Dylan Foster series:~)

Is there an author and/or book that you think influences your writing? And if yes, how?

C~ Good question! I can't really pinpoint one specific book or author that influences my writings - I don't want to mimic just one style or writer, I'd like to be influenced by a variety of authors to create my own distinct voice. I've always been a big believer in reading a lot of different genres, even if they weren't all ones I planned to write in, just to become well-rounded at my craft. Since I knew I wanted to write at a very young age (ten years old), I spent a lot of my teens and twenties reading a broad range of styles, authors and genres. I have my favorites, but there's something distinct in each style - for instance, you can learn a lot from fantasy about world-building and the necessity of remaining true to the 'rules' you create. Mystery can teach you how to keep the reader on a hook while you spin out the story, etc. So I hope the diversity of what I've read over the years will help me hone whatever specific genre I take on.

A~ Sounds like you've been writing for while.
Which is kind of my next question.....
How long have you been writing and what are some of the books you've written (be they published or un-published)?

C~ I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was ten years old and spent my teens studying as much as I could of the publishing industry and the art of writing. (I was quite determined!) Then, at sixteen, I wrote my first novel. It was a historical - a western, and one of the best experiences to have written it. I realized writing a book isn't as easy as it seems! But I wasn't deterred. I started submitting it to publishers when I was seventeen. It didn't sell (which is okay - it honestly wasn't very good! LOL!), so I eventually wrote another book and another - all historicals. I've written historicals set during the age of piracy, the Civil War, the wild West, etc.

When I had no success receiving contracts from my historical manuscripts, I eventually decided to try my hand at something different. That's when I came up with the premise for Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania - a modern-day romantic comedy about a chef who is very talented in her field, except when it comes to desserts (which she can't create.) It was very different, going from historicals to a contemporary comedy...but I managed to pull it off! And eventually, I was offered a publishing contract. =)

A~ I don't know many teenagers today, who would have written a book and then be brave enough to sumit it to a publisher.

In your own words tell us about LFYI Hershey Pa.

C~ Love Finds You in Hershey is the story of Sadie, a single mom and restaurateur who has finally settled into her life in Hershey. She has an adorable, impish five-year-old daughter and a best friend, Jasper, who is like her rock. She's gone through a lot in her twenty-nine years, and she finally thinks her life is going to level and allow her to savor the sweet side of success. But then, this mysterious Russian entrepreneur arrives in town, and the rumor is that he's opening up a restaurant to compete with her own. Add to that the return of her ne'er-do-well father, who is looking to make amends for abandoning her in the past. Before she can say 'souffle', Jasper realizes he's in love with her and begins the wooing. She definitely has her hands full juggling all the ingredients in her life. =)

A~ What inspired you to write about a single mom/ chef, who happens to live in the sweetest place in the USA? LOL

C~ When none of my historicals had gained me any publishing contracts, I decided to write something different, for a change. Once I knew I wanted to tell a modern-day story, I tried to think what might interest me as a reader, in a contemporary setting. I have a bit of a foodie streak, so a story about a chef/restaurateur seemed like a good start. So I began to get to know Sadie a little bit more - her quirks and habits. Eventually, it came to me - what would it be like to be a chef and not be able to create desserts? And so the conflict was born. Since I already had that sweet element, with the dessert theme, and I've always loved the nearby town of was like the perfect recipe!

A~ Mmmmm...... and what a sweet tale it was (I loved LFYI Hershey!). I love cooking, especially baking, but unfortunately like Sadie, I can't make a good dessert to save my life.

How much of "you" do you put into you characters?

C~ It's funny because some characters I can see a lot of myself in and others, not so much. In Sadie, I definitely can relate to how much she wants something that she's just not meant to have. On the other hand, she's got this certain confidence that I doubt I'll ever possess. She even had her own cooking show on television for a year, and that takes some finesse! But she's also experienced certain tragedies that I never have, and that part of her requires me to have walked through those things with someone else so I can adequately represent how a character feels about it.

The most of me that goes into a character is probably in the lessons they have to learn throughout the story. I've come to find that I gravitate to issues that I'm currently working through, or have worked through in the past. It's almost as if I know - if I give the character this problem, then we're going to have to sort it out together. Because I can't have them learn something I haven't already learned. So some characters are just me at different stages. Sadie is me a couple of years ago. Another character, Belva, is a voice of understanding, and that's me much later. But every character is definitely their own individual - some of them just have a few more shades of 'me' than the others.

A~ It's great see authors really put them selves into their books.

You have a strong spiritual message in "Hershey" that many can relate to (including me). Would you like to share you testimony of faith?

C~ The most important thing I learned, in my own faith journey, through writing Hershey was accepting my own limitations. I began to place a lot of my self-value on certain things - that if I could just do this, have this, be this...then it would be enough. Sadie has the same dilemma in wanting to be skilled at desserts - she's already very talented at what she does...but she tells herself it's not enough.

In a similar way, I had to learn that what God has given me is more than enough. He loves me as I am, and that's all that matters. If everything else fell away - if I had nothing, if I could do nothing except love him...He would still love me back, just as much as He does now. My life matters, it has value, no matter if I'm great at everything I want to be talented at doing.

The journey of writing the book sort of took me back to when I first prayed the salvation prayer, at five years of age. I was five. I didn't know a lot about theology or denominations or church history. I knew one thing - that I was loved by a creator who would (and did) do anything for me. It was enough for me then. It's enough for me now.

A~ That's beautiful. We all forget from time to time, that it's "us" alone He wants, not the things we can do or have done.
Kind of switching gears here......

If "Hershey" was being made into a movie who would you pick to play the main characters?

C~ I actually ALWAYS 'cast' my books before writing them. I really like the act of reading them to be somewhat visual - that you can 'see' in your imagination the setting and the people. Of course, I think everyone should do their own casting this way since everyone's tastes are different. (My sister always wrinkles her nose at my cast. She never agrees with me! LOL!)

But for me, I would choose either Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Garner to play the role of Sadie. Sandra's my first choice because Sadie's a little neurotic and comedic but still rather sweet, which reminds me of several of Sandra's movie roles over the years. Of course, she's a little bit older than Sadie would be, so Jennifer Garner could work in that case. =)

For Jasper, it's sort of this blend between Owen Wilson and country artist, Keith Urban. Sadie describes him as a 'surfer dude gone country', so it takes the right sort of guy to fit that mold! The guy that's featured in my book trailer video as Jasper, though, has a nice look to me, so I'm rather fond of him as well.

For Dmitri's darkly handsome looks, I always imagined Goran Visnjic (most people know him from ER.) He doesn't have a Russian accent, but he DOES have an accent, and I think he's adorable

A~ Hahah I can totally see Goran Visnjic playing Dmitri. LOL.
I think the "date" scene with Jasper and Sadie has to be my favorite out of all the books I've read. It was so romantic........

How did you come up with the idea and do you think you would have change anything, now that "Hershey" is published?

C~ I can't remember exactly how I came up with the date idea. I remember I was away from home when I wrote it, but I had my copy of Romeo & Juliet with me. I was trying to get in Jasper's head and figure out what he would choose to do for Sadie on such a momentous occasion for them. From a guy's perspective - every girl wants to be Juliet. So once he and I established that, it went from there!

As for anything I would change...honestly, I don't think there's a thing I would change! Love Finds You in Hershey was the first book of mine, that when I was finished writing it, I thought, "This deserves to be on a shelf in a bookstore." I'd had doubts and insecurities about every other book I had written before that. But I knew I had done my best on this one when I realized I was laughing at my own jokes and crying at all the right parts. I was enjoying reading my own book, and for me, that was success.

A~ The date was so romantic *sigh*
Only a couple more questions to go......

Are you writ ting another book as now, and if so could you gives us a hint about it (title,theme, characters, etc..)?

C~ I have the next one written! It's actually the first book in (hopefully!) a series about three sisters who are working through some of their issues and past betrayals. It's not quite as comedic as Love Finds You in Hershey, but there are still some quirky moments! I really love exploring sibling relationships in my writing, since there are usually a lot of layers there. Now let's just hope my agent can find a worthy publisher! =)

A~ Oh, I can't wait!:~D

What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done?

C~ Hmm…well, my brother is a huge prankster, and he’s always trying to talk me into going out pranking with him. One time, he actually convinced me to go and ‘fork’ a friend’s lawn. We went to the grocery store and bought hundreds of white plastic forks.

We had a cousin along to drive the get-away car, and we waited until around midnight to make our attack. It was a very long and steep driveway, and the house sat back up in the woods. My brother and I snuck up the drive and inserted forks all over the lawn. We were just wrapping up when the family’s dog started barking, and they let her out of the house. He and I raced back down the driveway, dog on our heels, dove into the car and drove away before we were caught.

Our friend never did figure out who forked his yard. I hope he’s not reading this. =)

A~ Hahaha. I've heard of "flocking" somebodies yard. But not "forking":~) I'll have to try that myself one day. Minus the dogs of course
Ok, last question:~)

I'm going to give you a scene and I want you to finish it;~)

"Could this day get any worse?” Karen thought to herself as she mounted the stairs to her apartment. "First my ‘fiancee’ suggests we spend time apart. Then my boss calls me to his office to ‘discuss’ my future at the paper (a.k.a fire me!) I don't know what else could go wrong…" Karen let out a long sigh as she stood in front of the door to her apartment. "That's funny," she thought, "I'm sure I had shut the door when I left this morning." Karen nudged the door open with the toe of her shoe. As the door swung open...........

C~ .......the piercing sounds of a fire alarm shattered the stillness of the stairwell, and the first wispy clouds of smoke began wafting from her apartment. With a gasp, Karen stumbled inside the foggy interior of her living quarters and searched the room with desperation. Eyes watering from the accumulating smoke, she began to call her kitten’s name, “Muffin…come on, Muffin…come to Momma…”

But Muffin refused to make an appearance. Coughing to clear the searing smoke from her stinging nostrils, Karen tucked the neckline of her blouse over her nose and mouth and continued to call the kitten’s name as she staggered toward the bedroom. A quick but thorough search beneath the bed didn’t reveal the animal’s presence, and the growing wall of smoke prevented further searching.

The long shrieks of a fire engine’s arrival filled the evening air outside, and with a heart full of dismay and anguish, Karen stumbled toward the apartment door.

An hour later, the last of the fiendish flames had been extinguished, and the origin of the fire’s cause announced: a break-in, by a disgruntled source from her job as a reporter at the paper.
Former job, Karen disappointedly noted as she remembered the conversation with her boss.
Huddled within the warm embrace of the fleece blanket that one of the fireman had solicitously provided her, she dropped her forehead to her knees and suppressed a swell of tears.
This was the epitome of a bad day. And to top it off, Muffin, the fluffy kitten that had been her one consolation, was nowhere to be found. Karen shuddered at the thought of the helpless creature, trapped in by walls of flames in the now charred remains of her apartment.
Unable to suppress her anguish, a small sob escaped from her chest. She struggled to hold the next sob within her, and after a moment, became aware of a warm presence at her side.
Lifting her head, she turned her gaze to meet the warmest pair of brown eyes she had ever encountered.
“Hi,” the fireman greeted, his white teeth gleaming against the soot smeared across his tanned face.

Karen felt her heart give an involuntarily flutter. “Hi,” she returned.

“Looking for this?”

He held up a tiny bundle of fur, and Muffin’s trusting eyes blinked at her. The kitten meowed a greeting.
“Muffin!” Karen cried, her spirits lifting for the first time all day. The fireman deposited the cat into her waiting hands, and she nuzzled her nose into the animal’s soft warmth.
Observing the reunion for a few minutes, the fireman finally commented, “Looks like you’re good with animals. We could use someone like you, down at my sister’s animal shelter. They just lost their vet’s assistant. Would you be interested in a position?”

Karen’s face split into a genuine smile. “I…I think I’d like that.”

The fireman beamed, causing another heart-thumping shudder in Karen’s chest. He held out a hand, “I’m Brent,” he introduced himself.

“Karen,” she returned, inserting her hand into his. And she couldn’t help thinking: maybe this wasn’t the epitome of a bad day, after all.

A~ Wow! I thought you'd write a few lines, but not several paragraphs. You went over and beyond and it just shows what a wonderful writer you are.And that you love what you do:~D

A Break-in, a fire and a handsome fireman. Sounds like it has the makings of a great story:~)LOL

A~ Cerella I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did.
And thanks so much for putting up (for the last two hours!) with my somewhat, incessant questions.
I can't wait for your next book!:~D

C~ Thanks so much for taking the time to interview and feature me on your blog, Ashley. And thanks for reading Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania! If anyone wants to learn more about me or the book, check out my website at

Ok guys, heres your chance to win a free copy of Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania and a unique "Hershey Chocolate Bar" bookmark . All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.

Here are the giveaway rules:
* You must have a valid e-mail address (you must leave your e-mail address in the comment to be entered in the contest. To prevent spammers write e-mail like this.... i.e: i95fahrenheit[at]ymail[dot]com)
* Must have a valid U.S mailing address.
* U.S residents only
*The giveaway will start on Jan. 29th, 2010 and end on Feb. 8th, 11:59 pm, 2010. Any entries after the set date will not be entered in the giveaway
* The winner will be announced on Feb 9th, 2010 on this blog. The winner will be contacted via e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail. If they do not reply within the 48 hours, a new winner will chosen.
For extra entries:
1+ For commenting (including the link and your e-mail address)
1+ For becoming a new follower
2+ For being an old follower
4+ For post (on the sidebar of your blog) about this giveaway on your blog.
Be sure to include all extra entries in the one comment
Good Luck!

Love Y'all,


  1. Oh Chocolate without the calories.

    msgb245 at gmail dot com

  2. loved this posting :)

    thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book


  3. Your blog popped up on my Google alerts due to the Goran Visnjic reference. While I'm not normally a romance reader, I might be curious enought to do so to see why the author sees him suited for the character in her book.
    JD AzizalSaqr at aol dot com

  4. Fun interview! I'm hearing rave reviews for Love Finds You in Hershey, PA. Please add me to the drawing. Thanks!

    I'm an old follower.

  5. Please don't enter me I just have to ask, is that bookmark a real chocolate bar??!! It looks good enough to eat :-P

    Great interview Ashley! I think you started something with the finish the scene question! I want to read the story about the hunky fireman now LOLOLOLOL!

    xoxo~ Renee

  6. WOW! *picking jaw up from the floor* Can we please find out what happens to Karen and Brent?? *sigh* I could totally see that scene playing out in my head...excellent job, Cerella! *applauding*

    LOVED your interview, Ashley! You asked some great questions. It's so much fun finding out more about your favorite authors!

    I'm eagerly looking forward to Cerella's next book/series. I know it's gonna be awesome!


  7. The bookmark is really a BOOKMARK although it really does LOOK real, doesn't it? :)

    And I'm so glad a Goran fan found my book through this interview! He's a cutie. :)

    Thanks for checking out the book, Everyone!

  8. Hey guys,
    Sorry it's taken so long but I've been sick and in bed almost all week:~(

    @AzizalSaqr~I think you'll really love this book.

    @Renee~ I know! That bookmark looks like the real thing.I'm a little jealous I don't have one.LOL

    (The finish the scene question)Cerella is a wonderful writer and it shows in her answer:~) I want to hear more about the dashing fireman too.LOL

    @Lori~ Sounds like the beginning of a great story, right? Cerella blew me out of the water with her response to the question .LOL
    I can't wait to read Cerella's next book, either!

    @Cerella~ Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope your weekend is going great:~)and I hope your power has been fixed.Thank you so much for doing the interview with me. It was a lot of fun:~D

    I pray everyone has a great weekend!

    Love Y'all,

  9. Ashley,


    Btw, I linked your article over on our Goran Visnjic Message Board that runs through our website.

    Here is the Website:

    And the Message Board link is here:

  10. The book sounds amazing! I would love to win. I also have become a follower of yours :D


  11. +1 As a chocolate freak the title appeals to me. Mostly, the story sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the chance!

    +1 New Follower

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  12. Thanks for sharing the love, Everyone! (And thanks to AzizalSaqr for posting this to the Goran V. board - SWEET!)

    You guys all rock. :)

  13. Great interview.Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.


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