Cocktail Conversations with Cheryl Bradshaw – #fanfun
Whew, December turned out to be such a hectic month that Cheryl Bradshaw and I had to push our get together into January, but it was well worth it, because she is such an interesting guest and yep, you’re right, she’s every bit as cute as she appears in her pictures! Cheryl started this get together off with a bang because when I got ready to make the drinks and asked what her favorite was she answered, “A Kissy Suzuki.”
Hmmm. That sent me scurrying to the computer to find out how to make this drink I’d never before heard of. Turns out it’s not so hard, and it comes with a bit of trivia attached…The Kissy Suzuki was created for the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Can you hear the theme song playing?
I’m certain there will be a dozen or more requests for this recipe, so I’m giving it to you right here and right now:
You’ll need a shot of Vodka, 3 or 4 shots of Apple Juice, 3 tablespoons Raspberry Puree, 3 tablespoons Cranberry Juice, Lemon-Lime Soda, Fresh Strawberries – Pour the vodka, raspberry puree, cranberry juice, and apple juice into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain equally into 2 highball glasses half-filled with ice cubes. Top up with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with strawberries.
Normally I’d serve some salty hors d’oeuvres but with this deliciously frothy drink, I’m going with a big platter of cakes and cookies…including a few squares of my traditional Christmas favorite…fruitcake.
Bette: Welcome Cheryl, I can’t begin to tell you what a pleasure it is to have you here. Before we settle in, try the Kissy Suzuki I made ~passes glass to Cheryl~ Hopefully it’s good. I followed the recipe you gave me. ~shakes head in amazement~ right down to pureeing the raspberries.
Cheryl: Every once in awhile I can find a jar of raspberry puree in a specialty supermarket. If I can't, I usually add a bit of water to thawed raspberries and blend it up in the mixer for about thirty seconds.
Bette: I have to admit I tried this myself the evening Dick and I trimmed the Christmas tree and I thought it went delightfully well with cookies and cakes. ~passes cookie tray~ Try some. The chocolate/raspberry filled Milano cookies are perfect with this.
Cheryl: Um, they are good. My favorite sweet is a chocolate chip cookie made using a white cake mix instead of flour. By the way, is that square a piece of fruitcake?
Bette ~Sheepish grin~ Yes, it is. I love fruitcake. Every Christmas Dick buys me a small one and I eat the whole thing myself.
Cheryl: ~laughs~ I’ve got a few such weakness myself. I absolutely can’t stop at having one Cheeto. I am addicted to chocolate and cheese.
Bette: Luckily you’re so nice and trim, it never shows. Being short definitely has its disadvantages in that when you gain weight there’s no place to hide it. Of course sitting so much doesn’t help either and I am at the computer ALL the time. How about you? Do you exercise or go to the gym?
Cheryl: Before I start writing, I meditate in the mornings whenever I can and go to the gym with my sister a few times a week. I prefer getting out and staying active hiking or sightseeing to going to the gym, but during the snowy winter months in Utah, it's a challenge!
Bette: Speaking of writing, do you start with an outline or just a few ideas and let the story develop from there?
Cheryl: I start out with an idea and then sit at my desk and allow the story to take shape from them. I have found that outlining makes it harder for me to write as creatively as I want to, so I leave the story to whatever comes to me on that particular day.
Bette: Well it certainly works for you, I read your newest release Eye for Revenge over a month ago and have been dying to talk to you about it. I absolutely loved the story and the characters were so totally believable.
Cheryl: Thank you, Bette! I’ve wanted to write a romantic suspense novel for a while, and my agent suggested that I still keep the murder element while adding a bit more romance than I normally do. The idea of lost love is a storyline that never gets old to me.
Bette: One of the things that struck me as so creative was the way you began the book when the two women were little girls and how one was always so protective of the other. Did you have a best friend like that or was it a relationship you just created?
Cheryl: I didn’t have a friend like that. Most of my close friends I made in my 20s and 30s. Originally the concept of a memory of two childhood friends wasn’t how the story even started, but as I went along, I felt that first connection between Evie and Quinn was important so I went back and added it.
Bette: It was interesting to see the role reversal of the two friends change. It left me with the thought that no one is strong all the time, but we can all be strong at one time. Quinn was a perfect example of that. Wherever did you get the idea for such a twisty-suspenseful plot?
Cheryl: I like to layer my stories, so the initial idea was to write about lost love where two people found each other again, but I also wanted to layer in a subplot, and that's how I came up with the murder of Quinn's childhood friend Evie. There are so many emotions for Quinn to deal with between the murder and seeing her high school sweetheart again, it allowed the story to go in multiple directions.
Bette: You did a great job with Evie’s son, in making him so traumatized that he stopped talking. Super great way Quinn discovered who the killer was…but ~clasps hand over mouth~ I’d had better not say anything more for fear of giving new readers a spoiler. I think this is a book most anyone would enjoy. It’s suspenseful, but with its own moments of warm-heartedness and romance.
Cheryl: ~Blushes a bit and laughs~ Thank you! I love it when my stories resonate with readers in a meaningful way they can relate to.
Partying at the 2015 NINC Convention at St. Pete's Tradewinds – Cheryl Bradshaw, Bette Lee Crosby, Shea MacLeod.
Bette: ~Mixes another round of Kissy Suzukis and refills glasses~ These are so delicious, we simply have to have a second one. ~Sips and gives a pleasurable sigh~
So, is this the first stand-alone book you’ve written, and how did you feel about working on it as opposed to working on a book in one of your existing series?
Cheryl: I'd written six novels in my Sloane Monroe mystery series and was ready to try something different. I like to change things up and see how my fans respond. I’ve noticed that most of the books you write read like stand-alones, but many of them are part of a series. Did you start out with that intention?
Bette: No, I wrote the first books as stand-alones, then readers started asking me to bring the characters back and I did. Even though most of my books are part of a series, they all read as stand-alone women’s fiction – I guess it’s just the style I’m most comfortable writing in.
Cheryl: But you really jumped genre’s here recently when you wrote a novella for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, didn’t you? ~Munches on a chocolate raspberry Milano~ These are really delicious. I wonder how many calories are in each one?
Bette: When it comes to calories, it’s best we don’t know otherwise we couldn’t enjoy them so much. ~laughs~ The answer to your question is yes and no. Esther’s Gift is part of the Lei Crime Kindle World, but it is not at all a crime story. I used Esther Ka’awai a middle-aged Psychic from Toby’s novel Torch Ginger and went back in time to when Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai. So it’s more a story of survival and hope than crime.
Cheryl: ~Laughs~ Leave it up to you to find a different angle.
Bette: True enough. I guess I am always looking for the road not taken – or looking to find the magic in what could have been instead of what was. I love using that kind of magical realism in stories, so Esther was the perfect character for me to work with.
Cheryl: So what’s next for you?
Bette: I have several stories in my head right now but I think the first one I write will be a prequel to the Wyattsville Series. I love that series and am super-attached to those characters. How about you? What are you working on or ready to release?
Cheryl: I have a lot in the works for 2016. I'm putting out two new series. One is a mystery/thriller series and the other is a cozy mystery series. Both characters have been fun to create, and I'm excited to see how they take shape.
Bette: Wow, sounds great. I’ve already got the first three books in your Sloane Monroe Series on my Kindle and can’t wait to get started on them. What are you reading now?
Cheryl: I'm always usually reading one fiction and one non-fiction book. Right now I'm reading Hope to Die by James Patterson and The Power of I AM by Joel Osteen.
Bette: With all you’ve had going on in your life, I’m amazed that you can even find time to read. You just recently made a big move back to Utah, right?
Cheryl: I did. I moved back to Utah over the summer. My family is here, and it's great to be close to everyone again. Although, having grown up in California, I'd like to buy something there as well.
Bette: It was nice that you got to spend the holidays in your own hometown. I can’t say I really have a hometown. My family was kind of like gypsies – they moved all the time. Dick and I have been here in Florida for seventeen years and that is the absolute longest I ever lived anywhere.
Cheryl: That's how I feel too. In ways California still feels like home, and in other ways Utah also feels like home. This has given me the idea to live both places and divide my time, which I'm hoping to do in the next few years.
Bette: Oh my gosh, look at the time! I can’t believe how this hour has flown. I hope you’ll stop by again Cheryl, I really enjoy talking with you and hearing about all the fascinating things you are doing.
Although my visit with Cheryl has come to an end, you can learn more about her by visiting her blog at http://cherylbradshaw.com/