Interview With Writer Sherryl Woods, “Chesapeake Shores”

By Ruth on July 23, 2016 in author, book, Interview, movie, television

169_169sherryl_woods.jpgAs a writer myself, there is almost nothing I relish more than hearing from a writer who has become successful through hard work and dedication to her craft. In the case of Sherryl Woods, she has had one of the most exciting things happen to her in recent years that some authors would almost give their right arm for–a network series based on a beloved series of books that she wrote. In anticipation of this new series premiering next month (August 2016) on the Hallmark Channel, I had the opportunity to chat with Sherryl recently about Chesapeake Shores and oh, so much more!

RH: I know people were very, very excited that I was doing an interview with you. Lots of good questions.

SW: I know, I saw some of them, and my first instinct was to answer them when I saw them, and then I thought–that’s not why they’re there. (laughs)

I honestly have not read the books. I’ve heard of your book series, but I haven’t actually gotten around to reading them. But a lot of people who submitted questions had read the books. It’s kind of one of those things on my list to do–to read your books. (laughs)

Oh, I know those to-do lists.

What inspired you to become a writer?

Well, I actually went to journalism school. My intent when I went to journalism school a very, very, very long time ago was to do graphic design. I wanted to work in newspapers, but I wanted to do graphic design. As my education evolved, I ended up on the writing side of things. And even then, I discovered I could combine it with my love of television and the arts. I was a television critic for a number of years for newspapers and various places. And even then, the idea of writing fiction was nowhere on my radar. I was coming home from work one day–and I had always said journalists could be pretty cyncial. And if I ever got to be that cynical, I would quit. And so I was driving home, and I said, “Mm. Not fun anymore.” And I quit, and I started trying to write books. I had no idea I would still be writing books all these years later. And I actually made a career out of it.

That is really interesting. I would not have guessed that.

I think most writers, when you question them, you find out they love to read. And I was always a reader. I loved to read. My mom loved to read–she instilled that in me. So that part makes perfect sense. But boy, when I went from journalism to trying to write fiction, and I sat down and stared at a blank piece of paper, I would keep saying, “Where are my interviews? Where are my quotes? Where are my facts?” And then somebody said, “You get to make it up.” (laughs) Oh, what a concept! I can make up anything I want to. So here I am a hundred and forty some books later and still making it up.

When I was growing up, I was always writing fiction. I had no idea I would be doing all this non-fiction. It’s just the opposite. (laughs)

Just in reverse–that’s all.

There are a lot of questions about the differences between the book series and the television series. (pause) So, have you been able to visit the sets while they’ve been filming?

I have not been able to actually go to the set, but they send me the “daily.” So I’m able to see everything they’ve filmed within twenty-four hours or so after they’ve filmed it. So I’ve seen all the takes of everything. And I did go to California in January, and I met some of the cast–Treat Williams, Diane Ladd, Jesse Metcalfe, and Barbara Niven. So I’ve had some introductions. And I’ve known the producer–I met him when we were first pitching the idea to Hallmark. So I’ve known him for quite awhile. I had actually hoped to go visit the set. One of the things I discovered is flight in general is changing dramatically. And there was no easy way to get to Vancouver, and because of the time and the logistics…What I really wanted to do was fly to Seattle and drive up, but that wasn’t coming together, so I finally said, “I just can’t pull it off.”

With Jesse Metcalfe Winter TCA 2016

With Jesse Metcalfe Winter TCA 2016

Well, maybe it if all goes well and they get a second season, maybe you can visit then.

Exactly. And I like easy flying, which there’s no such thing any more. I like to go to the airport, get on a plane nonstop to wherever I’m going and then get off the plane and be there. (laughs) In fact, if they can work out telecommuting, I’m all for it! You know, whatever those transporters are–you’re standing in the middle of the room, and then go zap! That would be great for me.

For fans who have not read the books, do you have any words of wisdom for fans who dislike Megan’s {O’Brien} character ’cause she walked away from her husband and children?

I know from the very beginning, Hallmark and everybody has been very focused on redeeming Megan. My thing was, and what happens in the course of the books, she has to make her peace with each one of the children. In fact, there is a line in one of the episodes that says, “Everybody has a different version of the truth and what their family was.” Each one of the children and Mick have their own perceptions based on where they were at the time Megan left. And she has to come back and make her peace with that.  It worries me that people would go in there and hate her so much at the very beginning. I think, from what I’ve seen on screen–and of course Megan appears in the pilot, but her role doesn’t really start till episode one–I think over the course of what I’ve seen, you see how painful it was for her to go. You don’t know yet entirely why she left. I think there are ways they can do it. There are ways I tried to do it in the books that make her more sympathetic. And I think a lot of women who were in her position–again, there’s a line from one of the episodes where Jess, who’s the harshest with her, the youngest child is just realizing at her current age, Megan already had five children and a husband who was never there. And in the books, Megan was trying to get his attention. And she always intended to take the children with her.  And she actually made a huge sacrifice personally to let the kids stay with him in the town where she thought they’d be better off. And whether that was the right decision or not, it could be debated. But in my mind, I felt like she sacrificed her own happiness to do what she thought was best for them.

And it sounds like after talking with Barbara {Niven}, that’s the same kind of message I got from her. She’s playing the character in exactly the way you described. 

Yes, everything I’ve seen when she’s been doing scenes, you feel it.  From the first moment she walks back into that house, you see all the nostalgia, all the poignancy of coming back. And you see her struggles every time there’s a scene with a different one of the kids and they clearly don’t have a relationship with her. They’re angry, and it comes out in different ways. And you see that. It’s a struggle. And it’s meant to be a struggle. The whole book series is about forgiveness and restoration of the family.

With the pilot, in terms of Megan, you won’t get as much of a sense of her. She does not appear in that pilot till towards the very end. The kids are coming back bit by bit for various reasons. And at the very end of the pilot, there’s a wonderful…well, I hope you like it. My whole point has been–can they keep the heart of the story and the family and the emotions on screen?  And I feel like so far, they’ve done that. Are the stories exact to the books? No, there are certain changes that have been made for various reasons. And that’s just the way it has to be.

I think whenever they take a book and adapt it to the screen, they have to make changes. 

I’ve tried to say this in the Facebook group every now and then ’cause it comes up there. If they were doing a series of movies–which is one of the options they talked about–if we had done it as a series of movies, then each book would have had its own movie, had it own beginning, its own middle, its own end, its own romance, and its focus would have been on its own kid or grown-up or whatever character. Which is the way the books went. Frankly, because they got a very great cast, the focus has to be on that core family initially. For budgetary reasons if nothing else. So you have to approach it a different way.

I don’t know what the experience other authors who have worked with Hallmark has been, but because I spent so many years covering television, I’m a little calmer than even the readers of the books sometimes. I’m sure you’ve seen on occasion, they get fierce. And I’ve tried really hard to be protective of where they’re coming from too. But I also have to be realistic that we have to do certain things to make it work. And I do hope people who watch the pilot and then the series can look at it for what it is. They need to ask themselves, “Does it keep the heart of the O’Briens that they’ve loved in the books?” And I think it does.

I think it’s that thing of going in with an open mind, and sometimes people don’t want to do that. I have learned on so many occasions as I have reviewed things to go in with an open mind, even if it doesn’t sound like something I’d like. And so many times, I found I liked it better than I thought I was going to. 

When I was covering television, I was often covering things that were not in a genre I really liked. I knew very little about sci-fi for example, and it is not my genre of choice. If you put something on TV, I have to go at it from where I am and not pretend that is necessarily what appeals to me. But I had to take it for what the viewers are gonna get out of it. It’s like movie critics, for example. Some say if it doesn’t have this or that, it’s not any good. But my view was, “Does it do what the audience of that genre will expect it to?” And I think the Hallmark audience is looking for humor, lightness, family, drama, some comedy–all those kinds of things. And heart. And knock on wood, I think they’ve kept that throughout the epsidoes. I hope. (laughs)

A lot of us–and this includes me–were disappointed when Cedar Cove was canceled. Some fans are hesitant to invest themselves in another show in case it gets canceled, too. What would you say to those fans who are feeling like this?

That can happen to any show on the air that you invest yourself in. Every single show is subject to cancellation after twelve weeks or less. I can understand about feeling like the rug has been yanked out from under you. I keep going back to my years covering television, and I interviewed lots of different people during those days. Of course, a lot of actors have strong egos. Well, if your job was on the line every few weeks, you need a strong ego or you couldn’t survive in that business. And for a viewer to go into any show in the fall season that’s new on the air, you’re taking a risk. I certainly hope we’re going to go on, but I can’t make any promises. And the key, of course, is how high the viewership is. And if fans love a show, and there are enough of them–and I have no idea what the Hallmark cutoff on that is– again, even at that level, the decisions are made for lots of reasons. I mean, cancelations are made partly for ratings. They’re made partly for cast–some key member or any cast member–what if we can’t keep them and they have to go? Like, I remember back with Grey’s Anatomy. Look at some of the people, some of the big names in the cast who left, and you’re thinking, “Can it survive that one?” Sometimes the show can, but in other cases, the show falls apart because that person mattered too much. So I can’t make a guarantee, but nobody else watching television can make that guarantee either. And you just have to embrace this or not as you would any other show that you try.

That’s a really good way of looking at it. Any show can get canceled for any reason. It’s not just Hallmark. Some people are so sure that Hallmark is going to cancel it and they may even have a replacement lined up, but that is not the way things work.

No, it’s not. Think about the amount of money it takes to do any television show in terms of hiring the cast, crew, etc. You really want the success. You want the ratings. You want it to succeed. You don’t want to put it on the air thinking, “Well, if it fails, I’ll just throw something else in that slot.” You do a big reinvestment at the beginning whether it’s a book or a TV show because you have to develop the audience. And to do that over and over again is more expensive in the long run than keeping an ongoing show on the air, if you follow what I’m saying. The amount of PR and all that kind of stuff that you have to get invested when you’re launching something new is way more than just letting something continue. Again, it’s always a balancing act. And it can be anything. It can be that your lead actor decides to leave. Or he or she is too much trouble on the set. You don’t know. There can be so many reasons why any network gets rid of a show. Ninety percent of the time it’s because it’s not getting the ratings. Therefore, they cannot get the advertising and it’s not cost-effective. That’s the bottom line. It’s a business. And like I said, I certainly hope, and I know the cast hopes, and network hopes–they’ve spent a lot of money on this show. I’m going out to California. They’ve got a big thing at the end of July. They’ve got the television critics from all over the country. They’re doing a huge event for them. They’re doing some other huge event in New York. Their intention is to make this show work. And I will say too that one of the reasons I was happy–I went to New York about three years ago to meet with Bill Abbott, head of Hallmark, along with Dan Paulson, the executive producer, to talk about this series and whether or not they were interested. And Bill Abbott is one of the only people I know in the television business who sat down and read the books. We said, “We’ve got synopses.” “Nope, send me the books.”  He personally read them, and then he turned around and shared them with Barbara. They don’t do a lot of series. The first series they ever did was Cedar Cove. They had three series going, and that’s their limit. So the fact that we are even getting on the air was a miracle. (laughs) While I don’t know this for certain, I don’t believe they have seventeen million other series sitting in the background waiting to go in there. Even we didn’t know we were going to be on the air as a series. We initially thought that there was a possibility that we might be doing movies instead. Because those were the only three slots open. So we weren’t expecting to get in there either. I think for those who approach it that way–it’s just gonna get canceled–I would ask, “Do you watch anything new at the beginning of the fall season, or do you wait until it’s in its third season before you take a chance?”

I honestly really appreciate all the stuff you’ve said about that. Of course, there’s going to be the people whose minds are already made up, but maybe this will convince some of the people who are kind of on the fence and haven’t really thought it all through. I thought you had really good answers on that.

Let me add one little thing. One way to guarantee that it won’t stay on the air is to not even try it. (laughs) You know, that’s a good guarantee. So let’s just say if you have even a tiny hope that it could stay on the air, at least watch the pilot. Give it a shot.

1115-9781459291430-bigw.jpgOne other concern we hear a lot is–what would you say to viewers who think this is just going to become another soap opera?

Well, I’m a soap opera fan, so I think that’s great. But I do know there a lot of people who consider that a negative. I’m not sure what they mean by it in this context. We’re going to be telling stories about a family  and the complexities of the relationships in their lives. If you want to call it a soap opera,  I guess you could. What I think and what we’re aiming for is a family drama that has some light moments, some romance. It’s like the best Hallmark movie you ever saw, but it goes on. At least, that’s my hope. Watching what they’re doing with it, as I said, I’m trying to be careful. I read scripts before they get started. I’m very careful about what it is I worry about.  There’s certainly no point about me being picky about every single thing, and they’ll listen more. It depends on how they feel about these kinds of stories. It’s hard for me to compare it to other things on TV. In my mind, it’s probably closer to Brothers and Sisters.  If you thought that was a soap opera, then maybe that’s what this is. It’s certainly not Orange is the New Black. It’s not Grey’s Anatomy. It’s not Falcon Crest. It’s a real family.

Some people thought that Cedar Cove became a soap opera.

When someone says soap opera, I’m not entirely sure what they mean.  That it has a continuing storyline that moves along? Yeah, that’s probably true. Does it have a hook at the end of an episode? Yeah, that’s true. So did the books to some degree. Although in the books, because they were books, romance was wrapped up at the end of each book. I would always get the question, “Can I read your books out of order?” And my answer always is in any of the series I’ve written, “Each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you can pick it up and read it, and you’ll be satisfied.”  Each of the relationships changes over time. If you go in, you may not know the backstory of the characters if you pick up the story in the middle, but you will know that story. Yes, it’s a continuing drama. There’s no question about it. There are going to be hooks.

Good stories, whether it’s a book, TV, or movie, that’s what you want. 

Of course. Well, and it’s different from a mystery in the sense that if you’re watching Castle or Matlock or any of those shows, you have a crime, you have a solution. And that’s the episode. In the case of Castle, you saw the evolution of the relationship between the characters over the course of the series. Each show had its own solid beginning, middle and end. There are going to be things in this show that carry over from episode to episode. It’s not gonna wrap up in a neat little package ’cause it’s not that kind of show. So yeah, to that extent, it’s a soap opera. But see, in my mind, that’s not a bad thing.

When people say “soap opera,” everyone has their own idea of what that means. 

I loved soap operas. I got hooked on them when I broke my leg when I was covering television. I had seen them with my mom for years off and on. I liked the continuation of the storylines. I like going back to characters I already knew. The pacing over the years changed, and one of the things I admired a lot was the ability and the talent of the actors to learn incredible amounts of dialogue and an incredible amount of things to do an episode the way they filmed. I feel like, to the extent that soap operas were family focused and the story did continue over long periods of time are very similar to why a book series by me or any other author who is writing a series of ongoing books. People like them because they do like going back and seeing the same people again. I used to laugh because my father would come to visit, and I used to watch As the World Turns. My father would turn up his nose and show no interest whatsoever. But when he would come back on his next visit, he would wonder what that gal Lucinda was doing.(laughs) So I’d be thinking to myself, “Mm, you’re not immune, are you, Dad?”

Even though your series, Chesapeake Shores has come to an end as far as a book series goes, will you ever consider writing any more books in that series?

Well, I’ll consider anything. At this moment, I’m not planning to write any more in that series. And as far as that impacts the TV show, amazingly, we got through the entire first season, and we haven’t even finished book one. So we’ve got a long way to go before we would empty out the coffers of the books. That’s why I certainly hope it goes on ’cause we’ve got lots of characters I hope we get to. There are little bits from books two and three that got pulled into the first season. The TV show also allows us to dig deeper into storylines that are in the background of the books. Just an example, we know Abby works in this company in New York and she makes her decision to come back to Chesapeake Shores. But that whole story of her life in New York is a story that we can explore a little bit more. So that’s one thing about the TV show that is kind of exciting that it allows us to take a deeper look as opposed to a more superficial look at certain aspects of the book and kind of enrich it. And certainly, as I said before, it goes off book. There are things that are different. But there are things that we are able to examine beneath the surface and explore.

1485999Even though I haven’t read the books, that sounds interesting to me. 

One of the things–and I’m going to do this not on the group page, but on my own page on Facebook and link it all over the place–I want to ask the readers of the books in a few words to say what it is about the books that would make them want to watch the show and might draw people to the show who have never read the books. That way, there’s some cross-pollination. Some people will come to this and for them, like you, it’ll be a TV show, and you’ll judge it on whether it’s good television and have nothing to do with the books. And there are going to be others who come from the books–they’re actually going to be the harder sell. I think it will be sort of an interesting dynamic.

Do you have a favorite storyline in the Chesapeake Shores books?

In the books? Oh my.

I know that’s a hard one, I know.

It is. It is a hard one. I suppose in terms of the emotions and the fact that it was true to real life in a lot of ways–Beach Lane which came midway through the series and actually involved characters–except for Mick and others who are ongoing–it involves characters we’re not even going to see in the TV show at this point. The emotional depth and because of what is going on between those particular characters I thought was a really strong book. The other one, again which we’re not going to get to any time soon, although it’s earlier in the series, is the book in which Mick and Megan finally get back together which was in A Chesapeake Shores Christmas. And I kind of loved the way it all came together. I loved Mick and Megan together.

One of the things, in terms of the kinds of books I write in general, whether it’s this series or my Sweet Magnolia series, is I like to bring in at least some real life issues that women in particular deal with and put them in a context that helps them to see that other people are dealing with that particular issue, too. And you know, when I say it’s an issue, I don’t like to slam it over the head so everyone goes, “Oh please.” But when I can do that–when I can make it an intrinsic part of the story… Even though it’s not mentioned on screen, for example, Jess, one of the sisters, in the books has ADHD. It’s not even mentioned in the TV show, though you can see the signs of it. And whether they’re going to do that–I don’t know if they intend to get into it or not. But I was able to deal with it over the course of the books in a different way, and I got lots of reactions from people who were dealing with it, some of whom thought I nailed it, and others said, “Oh, I’m better than that.”  Oh well, Okay. It’s fiction, people. (laughs) I always love it when readers get so adamant about something. That’s when I think, “You do realize this is a story?” Don’t take it personally. I’m not criticizing you ’cause you’re different.

I know what you mean. I can get really worked up about things in books, but I still realize this is just a book. I love stories like what you’re talking about. I like real issues that are woven into the storyline and make you think. Those are like my favorite kinds of stories to read. But I know some people get really worked up and begin to think these are real people. 

And they sometimes will disagree vehemently with the characters’ choices.  And then I’m like, “Ooh, I’m sorry.” I had one book–it was Temptation. It’s not related to this series at all. But the character happened to be from Iowa, and she hated growing up in Iowa. She had a difficult life, she didn’t like it, and she wanted to be gone. And she was gone. This person from Iowa who read the book was furious! And I said, “I’m sorry, but that’s her experience. You have yours, and that’s great. I have friends from Iowa who loved it. My character didn’t.” (laughs) Please, give me a break! You know, I can get attacked for a lot of reasons, but don’t you understand that I had to make a choice when I was deciding the character, and this happens to be where she’s coming from. I’m flabbergasted sometimes with the responses I get.

If you could live in any of the locations of one of your books, where would you choose to live and why?

I actually already live in it. In the summers, the town that I live in, which is Colonial Beach, Virginia, is on the Potomac River almost to the Chesapeake Bay, and the house I live in my parents bought as a summer house when I was four. And it is my little fake “Chesapeake Shores.” There are certainly major differences, but it’s in the same location. It’s a small town, and I write a lot about small towns. I love small towns. I mean I live in Miami in the winter time, and that’s not so small. This has been the model for no matter where I put them almost any small town I’ve ever lived in. So I would have to say in general, Chesapeake Shores, which is similar in general ways to another series I wrote called Trinity Harbor, which was on the Potomac, slightly down the river in my fictional version. So I’m already in it in real life.

I think that’s one reason you’ve been so successful–you write about places you know. Sometimes when authors write books about places they have never lived or they don’t know anything about–it goes back to that old phrase of writing about what you know. And I think that’s a good place to start. 

Early on in my career, I had a friend once who said I was the only person he knew who could write a book when I’ve only passed through the airport.

I do understand that. I’m not saying it doesn’t always work to write about places you don’t really know. But sometimes authors write about things that they haven’t experienced, and it just doesn’t ring true.

I think what that goes back to is in my first career. I give lots of credit to my ability to write fiction, since I came out of journalism, I do my homework. So even though I’m writing about fictional places, I try to at least have a sense of that area in a way and enough research and enough feel to feel like I can convey it properly. And the same thing with the emotions or an issue I’m dealing with. I do a ton of research trying to make sure I’m nailing it as close as I can. Particularly if it’s something like ADHD. Or I’ve dealt with eating disorders or bullying. I really try to do my homework so that comes across. Sometimes if you’re being just casual about it, it’s not going to ring true.  Heaven knows I can’t have lived through all of this. Like when I was writing my mysteries–but in my mysteries, I did get to kill off a lot of people in my life. (laughs) I said to somebody, “You could tell what was going on in my life by who I killed off.” I killed off a fitness instructor. I killed off a condo president. And in order to do it–emotional desire. The other thing I credit is the fact that I’m old. When you get to a point in your life where you’ve known lots of people who have gone through divorce and so on and so forth. The other night, I had some friends over, and my cousin gave me a mug that says something like, “I’m a writer, and anything you tell me is likely to end up in my novel.” And that’s absolutely true. You store away little nuggets of everything you’ve heard through the years. Whatever the topic may be. I don’t go out and say, “Mm, I think I’ll go out and write a book about Joan this week. She had lots to say.” But there may be a little piece of Joan, a little piece of Mary, and a little piece of somebody else that all suddenly fit together in your head to create this whole other character.

That’s good that you do your research.

I try. You know what I screw up? I don’t screw up the research so much. Because I’m right-brained, I just sit down and start storytelling. Because when I’m writing a series, I’m not organized enough with charts and lists, I’ve been known to rename a character between books. Minor character, not a big one. It’s horrible. I should never do that. But I just write the story and I plug it in and off I go. And that’s where I slip up. Unfortunately, when you have multiple editors–people who are copy editors are not always going to catch that either. So it’s always my responsibility. I take full blame when I do stuff like that. I hope I catch my mistakes. At one point, there were a couple of things that happened close together, I was so appalled. So I thought I’m going to start doing contests, so when people–the first person who finds the screw-up in this book..But what I don’t do is–and there was an author many years ago who did two things in a book, and because of the books themselves, they made me crazy. One was she was describing cliffs in the Florida Keys. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Florida Keys, but nothing’s tall enough to have a cliff. And the other thing was she took the Coconut Grove Art Festival which was on President’s Day Weekend every year and has been for many years and plopped it in April. And I said, “You can’t do that. You can make another Art Festival, but you can’t move the Coconut Grove Art Festival willy nilly.” It’s just things like that. Those make me crazier than other kinds of things.

Many authors dream of having their books made into movies or TV shows. What would be your advice to these authors?

Oh boy. Given the fact that for me, this was bringing my career full circle ’cause I started out on the other side of the business… In fact, in January when I was California for the Hallmark party, that particular party was for television critics. And for many years, I would have been one of those on the other side of this exact same event. So it was really kind of amusing. But what that did do is also gave me an insight into the realities that if getting published is difficult, and we all know that it can be. Nowadays we know there are many routes besides traditional publishing. You can do all sorts of self-publishing and on-demand publishing that we couldn’t do when I was starting out. As hard as it is to get published, it’s even harder to get films and television and that kind of thing. The percentages are just not on your side. And the key is if that’s what you really want to do and you want to see that happen with your book, you have to make sure that your agent has the contacts to get to that industry or that you have another way of getting into that industry. I had another book that was optioned for television. It was a major producer. They had cast the lead. They had the writer/producer with lots of credentials. And when push came to shove, they opted to do the Hart to Hart Reunion with Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner because that was a known quantity rather than taking a chance on what Aaron Spelling might have done with my series. It’s a business. It can break your heart. You can get close, and it doesn’t happen. And it may not happen for reasons you’ll never understand in a million years. So you have to have that ability. And then if it should happen, you have to make a choice of whether you can be involved with an open mind, which is what I’m trying to do, and accept that there will be changes and know when to fight for something not to change. Or you have to be able to say, “It will now become their vision, not mine, and I will step aside.” And every writer is going to have a different way to handle that. I’ve heard many writers say that they turn it over to television and films, and then they just have to move on themselves because it becomes the director’s or the television writer’s, and they have to let it go and let it be that. But their vision is in the book. You have to figure out your own personality and what you can handle. If you’re strong-willed, unless you’re in a position I gather Jojo Moyes was in Me Before You, and was involved and did the screenplay. Unless you’re in that kind of position, you have to put your ego aside and let it be. As you do as a writer trying to get published, you have to have the patience and you could end up–I was lucky. I got published quickly after I started writing. But that was a long time ago when everybody was trying to publish romance because of Harlequin, and I got published quickly. I was very lucky. And I’ve been very, very lucky that I’ve had a career that I’ve been able to keep going. But that doesn’t happen for everybody. You’ve got to have that belief in yourself, that determination, and that persistence. And the same thing holds true, even more so, if your dream is to try to have a book turned into a movie. Even once my agent had my book, he spent a long time finding {Dan}Paulson, who is the executive producer on this, putting us together. And I talked and made sure that we had the same vision for what we thought we could do. And then Dan had the contact with Hallmark. That meeting with Hallmark was maybe three years ago. It’s not fast. Or sometimes someone can go in with something that’s high concept. The right person looks at it at exactly the right time and magic happens who knows how. The writer of the Lori Loughlin series Garage Sale Mystery. There’s a writer in Fredericksburg, and through some contacts that either she or somebody in her family happened to have, got that one book she’d written into the hands of a producer who had ties to Hallmark or was able to get to Hallmark, and this series of movies sprang out of that. I was sitting here and we’d been working for three years, and that seemed to happen in fifteen minutes. So you never know. And that’s what makes life interesting–twists and turns. It’s like the writer who has been struggling for a long time and is called an “overnight sensation.” And they’re  like, “I’ve been working twenty years to get here!”


My chat with Sherryl is one of those interviews that I look back on quite fondly. She is such a savvy, pragmatic lady who certainly has a knack for writing family dramas and stories that connect with her readers. She is one of those authors who has experienced unparalleled success, but she is aware of the fact that not everyone has the opportunities she has had. As is often said in the arts, “if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.” I appreciate Sherryl’s outlook and the fact that she was candid about everything I asked her. I do believe that her background in journalism has given her a little bit of an edge in her pursuits, but I believe it’s also her skill, dogged determination, and positive spirit. While I am certain disappointments have come her way and she has experienced life’s up and downs, that is never her focus. Talking with Sherryl is just like having a golden burst of sunlight inundate you after several days of dismal rain. If your disposition is not elevated significantly after talking with this woman, I doubt you have a cheery bone in your body. Therefore, please be willing to give this new series, Chesapeake Shores a try when it premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, August 14, and if at all possible, go in with an open mind expecting something special (it couldn’t be anything else coming from a gifted woman such as she, right?). And also, please follow Sherryl at all the links below so that you don’t miss a moment of this fascinating career and life of hers!







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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher


  1. Lisa Colangelo July 23, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for a terrific interview. Truly looking forward to Chesapeake Shores!

    • Author
      Ruth July 23, 2016 Reply

      Me too Lisa and thank you for some amazing questions

  2. Jeanna Massman July 23, 2016 Reply

    I love these Hallmark movies, especially, those with Jesse Metcalfe!

    • Author
      Ruth July 23, 2016 Reply

      Trust me–you are going to LOVE “Chesapeake Shores” then! Jesse is so perfect in his role! He and Meghan Ory and Treat Williams–they are like the heart and soul of that pilot.

  3. Sarah L July 25, 2016 Reply

    I think I’ve read most of her books. Great writer, interesting characters.

    • Author
      Ruth July 25, 2016 Reply

      That’s awesome Sherryl I look forward to one day

  4. CAROLE BEAUDOIN July 26, 2016 Reply

    I love all your books. Are you going to be coming out with more books. I love this family and miss them. I would like more.

    • Author
      Ruth July 26, 2016 Reply

      Carole, more than likely Sherryl won’t see your comment here (check her out on facebook or twitter), but as she said in the interview, she has no plans to write more books in this series. But be sure to watch the series on Hallmark starting August 14. She is an active part of the series, and that was the focus of this interview. But thank you so much for stopping by!

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