Dayna Leigh Cheser

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A New England native (Connecticut), I married my husband in 1968.  We lived in Massachusetts (south of Boston) until 1981, then moved to New Hampshire.  We left there in 1992 for sunny south Florida and have lived here ever since.  I ‘retired’ in 2010 and took up writing seriously then.  A life-long reading/writing aficionado,  I’m loving my ‘retirement’ career.
What do you do when you are not writing?
All sorts of things, as time allows – husband first, then writing.  I enjoy reading and writing (of course), using the computer (for all sorts of things), camping, sewing, some crafts, traveling a bit – nothing unusual, or extreme.
Do you have a day job as well?
Nope, no day job.  I haven’t worked in the conventional way for about 10 years.  Most of my working years, I was in the small commercial printing field, doing everything, including owning a print shop for 10 years.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I can’t remember not writing, just as I can’t remember not reading.  When I first got serious about writing, I wrote my first book, Janelle’s Time, in 2002-2003, then shelved it.  It didn’t reappear for several years.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
My favorite subjects in school were English and History, especially American History up to about the Civil War. My interest in English History came later.  Later still, was an interest in Romance (after I found my mother’s stash of ‘dirty books’).
Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly out of my head.  I don’t consciously ‘borrow’ ideas from other writers.  Some ideas are from my personal or family history.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
It’s not so much ‘writer’s block’ as it is I’m having some problems moving forward with the book, or whatever, at hand.  If it’s just not working, I’ll shut down the work, open a blank Word document and just start writing what comes to mind.  Usually, it isn’t long before it starts to congeal into something workable.  It may not be the task at hand, but it’s something that can be developed later into something else.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write – a ‘pantser’ writer.  I’ve tried outlining, but it seems to be confining.  In trying to stay with the outline, I can’t let the characters tell me what they want, or let a situation pop up that has promise.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but, I’m a huge fan of Bertrice Small – her Skye O’Malley series showed me the way.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Oh boy … well, as a newbie to the industry, I made a huge mistake by signing on with a micro-publisher for my first book.  It was a disaster from the get-go.  The in-house editor does not fit any definition of editor I’ve seen anywhere – she destroyed my book.  The publisher did 4 cover designs and spent probably 5 minutes on all 4 – they were lifeless, irrelevant, and horrible.  I told him I didn’t like any of them.  Knowing my background in small commercial printing, he gave me 48 hours to finish the galleys and provide a cover he’d accept.  Galleys, no problem.  Cover, I did a total of 4 but only sent him one, which he accepted but promptly made a mess of because he couldn’t use the file, to spec, that I sent him, and he didn’t have the type style I wanted.  The list goes on, and on, and on.  It was a nightmare. 
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I wouldn’t work with that micro-publisher, that’s for sure!
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Adelle’s Time is book 3 of my TIME Series.  The elder of the twin daughters of Janelle and Richard (book 1), Adelle grew up a horrible child, demanding but never getting attention, and in the shadow of her sister, Moria (book 2).  But, like most of us, she grew up, and became the opposite of that child.  Her goal in life is to meet and marry an English duke.  Her uncle and his father before him were the Duke of Devonwood, so she feels she was born to be a duchess. After a failed relationship with Theo, the heir-apparent to his father’s ducal title, she goes home to New Hampshire to recover.  After a year, she returns to London to resume her search, bringing with her the makings of an alter-ego who, she feels, will enable her to catch her duke.  When she realizes how dangerous this plan is, she turns instead to her Uncle, the duke.  Then, she meets Walter, and everything changes. 
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
In a series, there are a lot of people over several generations, but there are some characters based on people I know, while others are pure fiction.  Some situations based on things that have happened to me, or that I wished had happened to me.  And, a lot of it is imagination. 
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Adelle’s Time, Chapter 9.  Adelle ‘retired’ her alter-ego as it was dangerous at several levels, then, the next day, she meets Lord Hastings, a duke, who is fascinated by her alter-ego, Lady Mysterious.  The conversation between the two puts Adelle on a roller coaster.  One minute, she’s convinced he KNOWS who Lady Mysterious is, but then the next, she’s not so sure.  At the same time, Lord Hastings suspects she knows something about Lady Mysterious, but then he’s not so sure.  It was great fun, yanking these two characters around for a bit.
How did you come up with the title?
Originally, Janelle’s Time (book 1) was a stand-alone.  I toyed with countless titles – some cute, some catchy, nothing seemed to work.  The few I liked proved to be unavailable (google search) .  Then, I figured, this was, in fact, Janelle’s time … she was the main character … so, I went with that.  I continued in that vein for the other books in the series as I added them – Moria’s Time, Adelle’s Time, Logan’s Time, and Clarissa’s Time.
What project are you working on now?
With Adelle’s Time published, I’m moving on to Logan’s Time which is a spinoff of the story of the Grayson family which has been a WIP for several years.  Logan Conor, the Scots Duke of Muileach, met Richard Grayson at college in England, long before Richard met Janelle.  In fact, Logan’s Time starts 30 years BEFORE Janelle’s Time, but on a different timeline.  At 7 years old, Logan witnesses the birth of his brother, Daniel, by hiding behind a wall hanging in his mother’s room.  To his horror, she rejects the infant, rounds up her ladies and moves to the South Tower.  She had carefully planned her departure from the beginning of her hated arranged marriage.  With money gained by blackmailing her own father, she renovates the tower surreptitiously.  She and her entourage (ladies and guards) live there until her father dies and the money dries up.  She departs during one night to parts unknown.  Logan’s father leaves to find her, renouncing his title before he left.  Logan was the new Duke of Muileach.  Over the years, Logan and Richard get together from time to time.  One time, Richard and Janelle help Logan and Rachel solve a fiscal crisis in the community. 

Will you have a new book coming out soon?
It depends on your definition of ‘soon.’  I estimate that Logan’s Time will be published in early 2015.  What I have written so far accounts for about half the word-count, but it needs a lot of work.  Then, I have to finish it, and then, there’s editing, etc. 
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
In a word, PATIENCE.  Oh, I could spout the ‘write something every day’ thing, and the ‘make sure you hire a good editor’ thing, or any of a dozen excellent bits of info for new writers, but PATIENCE is a key word.  While the self-pubbing revolution continues, it still takes time to write the book, edit it properly, and then produce it.  Then, depending on the choice of traditional (which often takes YEARS – finding an agent, time for the agent to sell the book, fitting into the publisher’s schedule and distribution) or self-pubbing, which can still take a while (several months, at least), there’s the publishing time.  Then there’s the marketing – online and not.   From conception to dropping off the best seller list, it’s going to take time.  There are no shortcuts.  So, you’ll need a lot of patience … lots and lots of patience.  If patience isn’t your thing, find something else to do.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that I’d really like to go to England/Scotland to see, up close and personal, the locales I write about.  I’ve met a new friend who lives a scant few miles from the actual place I found to house Muileach Castle.  He’s feeding me information about the area, and about my locale in particular.  It’s fascinating – but, all I can do is dream …

Non-writing questions:
Do you drink? Smoke? 
As a teen, I smoked during the summer between my senior year in high school, and my freshman year in college.  Later, I tried drinking, too, but didn’t really like the taste of liquor.  But, I did a bit of that in the mid-70s.  Later, I realized why.  I had a health issue that involved a low level of pain – the drinking dulled the pain.  After the surgery to correct the issue, no more drinking.  I can’t remember the last drink I had … it has to be 10 years or more.  I know, I know – nothing shocking.  I just don’t have a shocking life.  Oh, wait.  Maybe this will be a shock!  My foray into the underbelly of the drug world … I shared one joint with 2 friends in 1976.  That’s it.  That’s all there is.  LOL
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Here, I deviate from the ‘norm,’ if there is such a thing  Most people would probably go for something along the lines of Superman, Spider Man, or any of the other film or comic book superpowers.  I don’t even know if what I’d like is even considered a superpower.  I’d like to be able to time travel.  No restrictions, I only want the ability to go backward or forward in time to any time and be part of life there for a while.  I’d probably spend most of my time in the past.  Sometimes, I wonder if I was born 200 years too late, but then I think of the things people in history didn’t have – modern technology of all kinds, primarily.  I don’t see me 
writing books using a quill pen and ink.  

Listed under Dayna Leigh Cheser, unless otherwise stated
Website/Blog – http://DaynaLCheser.com
Personal Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/julie.jordan.121  (Julie Jordan)
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