Author Interview / Book Giveaway: Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania by Cerella Sechrist

I would like to welcome y' all to my very first Author Interview/Book Giveaway!!  I hope you're as excited as I am! :)

Today, my guest is Cerella Sechrist, a brand new Christian Fiction author. We will be discussing her debut novel, Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania. Her book is my favorite Contemporary romance so far for 2010. Yes! It's THAT good!

LAS: Tell us a little about yourself, Cerella...are you single, married, any kids?

This is the part where I get to sound like a Match.com ad! LOL! I’m 30 and single. I live in southern Pennsylvania – under an hour’s drive from my book’s setting of Hershey. I’m a bit of a foodie though not the best cook you’ve ever met by far. I love the Food Network and BBC, and I’m totally addicted to coffee.

I work full-time in the office of my dad’s general construction business. It’s a family business that was started by my grandfather (my mom’s dad) over forty-five years ago. At 15, my dad began working for my grandfather. He eventually fell in love with my mom, and they married, taking over the construction business some years later. (Which I think is a sorta romantic story!) My mom is also legally deaf (she only has 4% hearing in each ear), so I help her out a lot with phone calls and errands. She’s still super independent, though, for her handicap. Her perseverance has taught me a lot about not letting anything hold you back from what you want to do.

Awww!  What a "sweet" story!  *wink*

LAS: How do you choose your characters names/book titles?

As far as character names – I used to be so picky about those! I have a set of baby name books as well as a list of names I’ve picked up over the years, and I would spend ages trying to find names that I really liked. Eventually, I learned it was less about the names I liked and more about the names that fit. I began focusing more on the character themselves – getting to know their personality, their quirks, their likes and dislikes…and I suddenly realized the names were finding me. It wasn’t such a struggle anymore. Naming has always been one of my favorite parts of the writing process, but I’ve come to find an intense satisfaction when a character speaks enough for herself (or himself) to say, “This is me.”

The title of the book is often one of the very first things that comes to me. I nearly always have the title in mind before writing. Of course, I’ve discovered the title a writer chooses often changes when the book goes to press – publishers have a better sense of titles that way. Writers may pick a title they like, but it doesn’t mean it will work as a draw for readers. Love Finds You in Hershey was obviously changed to fit the series. My working title was Just Desserts.

That's great!  I like the idea of your characters naming themselves.  Too bad you couldn't keep your working title...it's a perfect fit.

LAS: Do you have other published works? If so, please tell us about them.

Not yet but hopefully more will follow soon. =)

I can't wait to see what you come up with next!  Maybe you should finish the "story" you started over on Ashley's blog??  *hint, hint*  It was awesome!

LAS: What do you currently have in the works?

I’ve finished the first novel in a contemporary women’s series about three sisters – my agent is currently shopping it around for the right publishing house. I have a wealth of stories I want to tell, so it becomes a bit of a dilemma when trying to decide what to work on next! I drive my sister nuts with this. She’s my sounding board, and so she frequently has to sit and listen to me debate which story is the next one to tackle. God bless sisters and their infinite patience.

Sisters are the best!  I have 3 younger sisters, and enjoy reading sister themed books, to see what we might have in common.  :)

LAS: Do you have any pets? If so, how many? What are they...their names? If not, what would you choose?

I have a pug dog, named Bronte after the classical authors – Charlotte and Emily Bronte. She’s 13 years old and sweet as they come. My family’s always had a thing for pugs – my mom had one growing up and my sister recently got another. Her name’s Lulu, and she was the runt of the litter. She’s four puppy pounds of cuteness!!! She had all of us wrapped around her paw at the first meeting.

She sounds like a sweetheart!

LAS: What is your all-time favorite movie? Why?

Wow, I wouldn’t know where to begin! LOL! I just have waaaay too many favorite films.

Today, I’m in a pirate mood, though, so I’ll have to highlight my love of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Ever since I was a little girl, this has been my all-time favorite Disney ride. I’ve ridden it so many times in my life that I’ve completely lost count. I’ve got to be nearing one hundred rides.

In fact, one of my (unpublished) historicals is a pirate novel. I like to think I loved pirates before pirates were cool. =)

Several years ago, when I first found out a Pirates of the Caribbean movie was being made, I was excited but also wary – how could they do justice to the swashbucklers I had loved since childhood? But from the opening segment of Curse of the Black Pearl, I was hooked. The films have it all: cursed treasure, villains you hate and love at the same time, a soundtrack to get your blood pumping and who isn’t fascinated by Jack Sparrow???

The Pirates trilogy is definitely in my top ten.

Believe it or not, but I've never see all 3 movies completely thru, just bits and pieces.

LAS: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
When I was ten years old. (Twenty long years ago!) I loved books so much as a child – my book wish lists were pages and pages long. I read everything I could get my hands on, but it never occurred to me that stories started with an author. Then, at ten years of age, I watched a movie in which the heroine was a novelist. That’s when it hit me – maybe I could be writing stories, too!

From that day on, I never wanted to be anything else. I kept reading, and I began learning how the publishing industry works and the craft of a writer, etc. When I was sixteen, I wrote my first historical novel, and I started trying to sell it at the age of seventeen. Several manuscripts and thirteen years later, I’m finally seeing a debut novel in print.

LAS: How did you come to know the Lord?

Being raised in a Christian home, I came to know the Lord at an early age. I was five years old when my mom prayed the salvation prayer with me. Even though I was very young, the one thing I was so aware of was the love Jesus had for me. My parents did an excellent job of instilling this – that God loved me so much, he would (and did) do anything for me. The knowledge of that kind of love carries more impact than the most engaging theological reasoning.

LAS: What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m usually reading more than one book at a time. Right now, I have two going: Rumors by Anna Godbersen as well as Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati. I love Sophie Kinsella, so I’m eager to pick up her latest: Twenties Girl. Recently, I read two of the books in Nancy Moser’s Ladies of History series, so I acquired the first one in that series, Just Jane, after hearing great things about it. I can’t wait to see how Moser handles Jane Austen. She did a terrific job on Martha Washington – I love her historical detail!

LAS: Name one food that you just can't stand?!?! (For me it would be more like...one food you love...I'm a very picky eater!! LOL)

I have never met a food I didn’t like. LOL! But I’ve maybe met one or two that I’m not overly fond of eating. In the sweets line, I’m not a big fan of caramel. Brussel sprouts are probably my least favorite vegetable, but I even enjoy those on occasion.

I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food. My mom was a drill sergeant when my brother, sister and I were kids. You ALWAYS ate what she put in front of you. She was fond of the ‘bite/age’ rule. If you were seven years old, you had to eat at least seven bites of the food you didn’t like. If you were twelve, you ate twelve bites, etc. The happy result of this was that I learned to appreciate foods I initially didn’t embrace. So as an adult, I’m fairly open to trying anything that’s put before me.

That being said, I want to let it be known I’m not into the whole insect/reptile/small mammal culinary experience – as in Thailand, where stir-fried bats are often served for dinner. I don’t care how many bites my mom would insist upon – that’s where I draw the adventurous-eating line.

LAS: What is your favorite vacation spot?

Williamsburg, Virginia is one of my all-time favorite places to visit. I go there every autumn with my mom and aunts – we stroll the historical hotspots, do some shopping, and have a lot of girl fun.

The spot I’d most love to return to one day soon is Hawaii. I visited there when I was younger and fell in love with the beauty of the islands. They’re so rich in history and culture and natural wonders. I would love to go back.

My dream trip is to one day visit Scotland, where some of my family originally hails from. My heart’s in the highlands. =D

LAS: Do you have a favorite sitcom/TV series that you just can't stand to miss?

I’m addicted to ABC’s Lost. I’ve been looking forward to the final season, starting in February. And for those who want to know – I can never decide which one I love more: Desmond or Sawyer.

I’m also totally digging TNT’s Leverage – it’s brilliant and so much fun! It has conmen who rob from the rich to give to the poor with high-tech props and over-the-top stunts. What’s not to love?

I never jumped on the Lost band-wagon, nor have I ever seen Leverage.  Maybe I'll give it a try...

LAS: Are you an American Idol fan? If so, who is your favorite contestant/winner thus far (Seasons 1-8)?

Sadly, I’ve never once watched American Idol!  But I do love the band, Daughtry, so I suppose Chris Daughtry would be my favorite by default!

I really like Daughtry, too, I thought he should have won.  My personal favorites would have to be Kelly Clarkson (of course!) and Jordin Sparks.  A lot of great singers have been found via AI, as well as some not so great ones!  LOL

LAS: Where can we find you?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to let readers get to know me a little bit better! If you’d like to contact me, check out the contact page of my website: www.cerelladsechrist.com

Or head on over to my blog and personal site at www.thecerellalife.com for more random stuff!

Sadie, the main character in my novel: Love Finds You in Hershey, also has her own blog at www.suncatchersadie.blogspot.com

Thanks and have a chocolaty day! =) 


Back cover:

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.

Click here to read the first chapter!!  You will be totally hooked!  =)

Cerella has been nice enough to offer a copy of her book, Love Finds you in Hershey Pennsylvania, along with a yummy handmade book mark (made by her Mom) that looks just like a Hershey bar!  How cool is that?

Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered for a chance to win.  You have from Feb. 7th thru Feb. 13th to enter.  The winner will be announced/contacted on:

Good Luck!!


Emma Michaels said...

What wonderful prizes!!! Great contest, please count me in! I hope you will also enter into my contest!

Emma Michaels

Katy said...

What a fun interview! I love the Pirates movies too. Throw my name in the hat! I love that bookmark, and the book sounds like a great read! :)

srfbluemama at gmail dot com

Lee Smith said...

What a wonderful interview, even if you didn't get around to the book. :o) I can't believe that's a bookmark! Are you sure she didn't just take a picture of a chocolate bar? ;o)

I have been wanting to pick this one up. This is a great contest. Thanks for offering it.


Michelle said...

That is such a cute title! Thanks for the great interview.

That bookmark would only be more awesome if if WERE a bar of chocolate. :)


Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Awesome first interview Lori! I loved it, you're a pro!

And Cerella, you totally need to get your pirate book published LOL! I LOVE pirates too and have been hooked ever since the Pirates trilogy...although I'm kinda sad that they're making a 4th movie w/o Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley! It just won't be the same!

Please don't enter me Lori you know I already have this book on my keeper shelf! ;-)

xoxo~ Renee

Marjorie said...

This book sounds just wonderful and I would like to read it, please count me in on this giveaway.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

Great interview! The book sounds really good, can't wait to read it.
Please enter me in the giveaway.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Ashley (Ibreath2read) said...

Fantastic interview Lori! The interview was so much fun to read and learn more about Cerella. And thank you for the shout-out.I think Cerella should write more of Karen and Brent's story, too *wink*

@Cerella~ I agree with Renee. You should totally try to publish your pirate book:~D

@Renee~ Their making a 4th movie? And w/o Orlando and Kiera? What is the world coming too!!!

I guess you could say I'm a big POTC fan*grin*

You don't have to enter me, Lori:~)
Love Y'all,

Casey said...

Love your blog, so pretty. :)

PLEASE enter me!! I am dying to read this book. :D
Thanks for the chance.


Angie said...

Great interview! :) I loved her parent's story of how they met..probably because it's so similar to how I met my hubby. :D

I've been wanting to get this book so please sign me up! :)

sundaisy920 at gmail dot com

Thank you!

CeeCee said...

I'd love to win a copy. Thanks and great interview!

Cerella D. Sechrist said...

Thank you all so much for so many outstanding comments thus far! You guys REALLY make me wanna try my hand at my pirate novels again. :) (I am a sucker for a pirate story!) I had no idea my little 'finish the scene' with Ashley would become so popular, but I'm glad you all enjoyed it. :) And yes, that bookmarks is REALLY a bookmark, but it does LOOK like chocolate, doesn't it? We're actually selling them at the Etsy shop - you can find the link there by clicking "Merchandise" on my website. I think they're the cutest things! :) Thanks, Everyone!

Edna said...

I would love to win this book, have seen it all over the blogs,
I follow you on google and love your site.
Please join me on mine



Edna said...

I have your button on my blog http://edna-myfavoritethings.blogspot.com/


Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I'd like to echo Cerella in saying "thank you".

WOW! I can't believe how many of you have already dropped by for your chance to win this "sweet" romance. You're definitely in for a "treat"! *wink*

Please remember to leave a way for us to contact you if you win...your email address will be fine. :)

Thanks again...and good luck to you all!

inthehammockblog said...

Great interview!! I'm so excited to read this book :) I'd love to enter the contest!

inthehammockblog (at) gmail (dot) com
Thanks so much!

Janet Ruth said...

What a great prize package, please count me in!

alongtheway at telus dot net

Cheri said...

Good Evening Cerella,
What a terrific interview! You are so interesting and creative.
My parents were about the same way with "trying" foods. We were expected to have a serving of whatever was made for the meal. Hopefully, we would learn to like all types and styles of foods ... (therefore, would not starve when staying at someone's home.) LOL There were a few exceptions when one bite would be accepted...such as liver.
I am so excited to read more of your books!
I would love to win your book and that amazing bookmark that your Mom made. Thanks for that chance. :)
May you and yours be "Blessed" with health and happiness, always.

Cerella D. Sechrist said...

@Cheri - I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview! (I'm glad I'm not alone in my parents making me try all foods! lol!) And I definitely hope there will one day be many more of my books for you to read! :) In the meantime - I hope you enjoy Love Finds You in Hershey!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

And thanks to all of you for your interest in my debut novel - it truly is appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win this book! ~Donna K.

Merry said...

Cerella's books sounds delicious and I loved the book trailer I watched online. Please add me to the drawing. Thanks!


mindy said...

just wonderful thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

scottsgal said...

I enjoyed the interview - can't wait to read this
thanks for the chance
msboatgal at aol.com

Julie J. said...

I would absolutely love to win this book! The bookmark is super cool...I thought it was a Hershey bar before reading the description. I enjoyed the interview as well.


susan said...

what a great prize! I have been to Hershey PA many times, so this would be a book i would love to read, and the bookmark is so nice! thanks for the chance to win.

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Thank you all for dropping by and showing you interest in giving Cerella's debut novel a try. I know she really appreciates it!

You are definitely in for a treat with this book...it's wonderful! I hope to be posting my review tomorrow, along with the winner, so be sure to check back then.

I hope y'all have a very HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY!!

@ Susan ~ Would you please come back and leave your contact info? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

please count me in...thanks


jemscout425 said...

where ever there is chocolate I'll find love :)

Becky said...

This sounds like a wonderful book and that bookmark looks amazing!

Thanks for the giveaway!

dbkagrayson2002 at gmail dot com

Alicia said...

Would love to read this.

Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<

bloggyig at gmail dot com