Reader Reviews and Comments:
"I am loving the book! I can't put it down! I will definitely give a review." -Sheryl
"I read your book and literally couldn't put it down. When will your next book be published? I can't wait." Libby
"It is now midnight. I just finished your book I downloaded. It is great!!!! You have a wonderful talent. When it is printed in book form I would like to purchase a signed copy if I may." Chris
"Well done. You had me in the first few paragraphs. I think you are a talented writer and we are more than happy to have you on board. ... Nice work". -Paul
"I enjoyed this book - it flowed nicely and subject matter was different than other books I've read. I liked the characters, the suspense keep me moving and I'm looking forward to the next book." Linda
"I love the creative combination of this family-struggle-mystery set in the beautiful area of northern California/ southern Oregon. The author makes the main character a strong women determined to rebuild an old town founded by her ancestors who owned an opal mine. She faces multiple setbacks and challenges from her family and community but her determination ultimately pays out. Very enjoyable story!" -rachisbuff
"I decided to read this book while I was home and sick in bed. I couldn't put it down! Lots of twists and turns. I especially enjoyed the beautiful descriptions if the countryside. Reminded me of where I live now." James L. Curty
"The Secret of the Montebellis is a great read. The characters are very likeable, the plot draws you in and keeps you interested and it is just an all around enjoyable book to read. You don't have to worry about bad language or immoral behavior. I highly recommend this book." Christine Kerekffy
"LOVED!! One of my very favorites of the year!! Be sure to contact me when you need Adriana's Secret reviewed. I will be doing a giveaway hop for Best of 2013 books and would love to have yours as my giveaway. Any interest? Often I will give away my own books, but not this one. I want to reread it when I can read it slower."
A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Author Alliance’s Marlena H reviews THE SECRETS OF THE MONTEBELLIS by Cheryl Colwell Posted by AAAuthor on Dec 17, 2013 in Book Reviews | 0 comments
Bitly link: http://bit.ly/1gDIyvh
THE SECRETS OF THE MONTEBELLIS Book Review
The Secrets of the Montebellis is about Lisa Richards, who is the Guardian of Fire Mountain—a mine that used to contain precious fire opals. She is up against many people, some who are trying to steal the mountain from her family and some trying to keep her from reviving the small town of her ancestors. She could be risking a lot, including her marriage and even her life. Along the way, she meets Steven Taylor, who immediately notices there’s more to Lisa than she lets on. He may be the one to discover her secrets that she has been hiding from everyone else. It could either destroy her or help her.
This is a wonderful book, definitely deserving of 5 stars! There are so many good qualities about The Secrets of the Montebellis. From beginning to end, it keeps you guessing and in complete suspense. Add in a mixture of mystery, drama, and romance and you have the perfect book to escape in. The characters are dynamic and I immediately fell in love with them. Lisa is such a strong woman with so much against her, but she never gives up and is fortunate to have her family and friends there with full support. That being another nice touch—family and friends being very important throughout the book.
And, in all honesty, I don’t know how much research went into this novel. Or how much of it was based on truth. Regardless, I found myself fascinated in the history of Lisa’s family and the mine. It seemed so realistic and I think the history made the story that much more appealing.
Book Review by Marlena H
Blog Talk Radio: Suspense and Domestic Abuse with Author Cheryl Colwell, listen Here:
Published Indie Authors For Authors By Authors Interview with Cheryl Colwell 1 Vote
October 13, 2013
Posted by Janice Spina
This is the twelve PiA Interview an Author. We have our very talented PiA author, Cheryl Colwell, who has graciously agreed to be interviewed.
Q: How did you first become interested in writing about travel and adventure?
A: My first novel, The Secrets of the Montebellis, takes place close to home, out-my-window close. Three years ago, my husband took me to Tuscany for our 25th anniversary and I fell in love with a country. While he and a tour group bicycled a 100-mile circle around Siena, I rented a Fiat and drove the countryside. Though lost a lot of the time, and unable to speak the language, somehow I always made it to the next night’s lodging. I had to push through several kinds of fear, but it wasn’t long until I was breathing in the freedom of adventure.
Q: What books have your written?
A: As I said, The Secrets of the Montebellis is my first. I “cut my teeth” on it and discovered I love writing suspense. Not horror or gritty stories, but ones that keep you off-balance, wandering through a web of mystery. The second novel is called, The Proof, about a man called to Italy by a grandfather he’s never met. He learns of his family’s quest to find and protect a mystical object that has been lost for centuries. I love this stuff!
Q: Do you write in other genres, and for children?
A: I have a mystery series sketched out and a children’s book about courage that one of my daughters is illustrating.
Q: In all your travels what is your favorite place to visit or to live?
A: So many places in the U.S. are incredible. I just returned from the East Coast where I searched out several remarkable sites for my mystery series. I always “try on” the place and feel what it would be like to live there. As you can gather from my comments about Italy, however, it holds the top rating. The only thing in my bucket list is to stay for a year there, learn the language and possibly take an archeology course.
Q: What are your favorite things to do besides writing?
A. Being a creative type, I had spread myself pretty thin before writing. I’m an artist – mostly oil and mixed media assemblage. As a Master Gardener, I transformed our property into a site for a U-pick flower garden and arranged flowers for weddings and special occasions. Now, I love to write, connect with other writers and readers, travel, and hang out with friends.
Q: If you could write about a special place where would that be?
A: Besides those I’ve mentioned, I just read about a fascinating place in France that has my attention. It has all the history and charm for the makings of a great mystery.
Q: What is your comfort zone for writing?
A: The story has to have puzzles, history, and suspense to keep me interested.
Q: Would you ever leave this comfort zone and branch out to another genre?
A: Thankfully, my criteria lend themselves to many other genres, so I shouldn’t be boxed in if I decide to try something else.
Q: What do you want readers to gain from your writing?
A: I write from a Christian point of view, in the sense that I know God to be caring and involved in my life. I hope to convey that sense of how close He is, to encourage faith.
Q: Is there anything that you want to tell us about yourself?
A: I’m 62 and have never done anything particularly remarkable with my life until I discovered writing. It has rejuvenated me with the sense that I am venturing into the very thing I was created to do. At one point, I was measuring the rest of my life by how many novels I could produce before I die!
Q: What have you gained from being a part of PiA?
A: PiA has given me a huge confidence boost. Recognition by fellow authors rewards all the hours of editing and learning and reworking that goes with presenting a finished novel. Paul Day, PiA founder, wrote me back with these amazing words, “”Well done. You had me in the first few paragraphs. I think you are a talented writer and we are more than happy to have you on board. … Nice work.”
Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your work with PiA members, authors and followers. It has been fascinating learning more about you.
Ten Questions for Cheryl Cowell
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
People say your first novel is a reflection of your life. Though I see evidence of that, my first 117,000-word draft was much too tame, so I had to spice it up. I had fun stretching the characters to their most devious sides, thus adding significantly more drama than my real life.
The town in the novel is set in the area where I live. Ashland and Talent are where my ancestors actually grew up. When I moved to Southern Oregon in 1980, I had no idea of this, so I loved adding that piece to the setting.
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
I’d never thought of writing, but while at a restaurant in Mt. Shasta, California, where my husband was on a bike ride, a seed took place for a story. Since I also enjoyed biking, I felt it added another dimension to the story.
In addition, the town of Talent was undergoing plans for a major transformation. I didn’t have the cash to participate, but thought it would be fun to build it into the story where all my investments would succeed!
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
We can be born with about 18 major aptitudes. One of them is “high ideaphoria,” which is a constant flow of ideas. Up until I began to write, those ideas were taking shape in new gardens, new hobbies, in more ways than I had time to care for. However, with writing, I get to use this gift to create all the arbors and villas my heart could ever desire! My husband is SO happy!
That was the beginning. I never imagined God had this plan for me all along. He turned a fun hobby into an activity for His use—and transformed me at the same time.
Like my character, Lisa, I hid a lot of myself, becoming who I thought I was supposed to be. As I began to expose her secrets, it shed light on my own. Not only did this process develop courage, I saw that I was hiding for no reason. I’ve become much more authentic and integrated, not the chameleon I once was.
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
My husband and I flew to Tuscany for our 25th anniversary. He was part of a bicycle tour and I rented a Fiat to drive to each new location. It stretched me to overcome my worst fears: being left (while others go on together); getting lost (which I did every day, but came out of it alive anyway), ordering food in a foreign country, in a language I don’t speak, and eating by myself (and not feeling self-conscious), you get the idea.
Cheryl with the Fiat in Italy Not only did God never leave me, I had a GRAND time. I’d go by myself again in a heartbeat. I am using the details in the photos and information I discovered in my next novel.
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher? My daughter, Brittany, was the first one in the family to express an interest in writing. When I started attending writing conferences, she came with me and we learned and shared together. She is very talented, reads a lot, and has a great eye for improving my stories. My husband enjoys letting me read aloud and does a great job encouraging me.
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself? That I enjoy every part of the process: learning how to write, rewriting, editing, the solitude, the conferences and meeting other authors, and the enthusiasm in my readers.
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself? I think it happened perfectly. Nothing tells you your work is NOT ready faster than an agent or publisher smiling their encouragement and suggesting you take more writing classes. It pushed me onward and upward until I knew where the bar was. Experience and feedback are the best teachers.
Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited? Radda, Italy. After traveling by myself for two weeks, I was finally in the groove. I entered the Chianti region of rolling vineyards and thought I’d found paradise. Radda sits on top of a knoll and offered exquisite views over a short rock wall from a shaded bench. With huge trees, well-kept old buildings, a central park, and not being as much a tourist town as some of the others I visited, it is my perfect Tuscany place. Radda, Italy If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been? There is only one thing on my bucket list at this time: to spend a year in Italy, learn the language and study archeology. My next novel should be finished before Christmas and is based on an amazing discovery I made in Tuscany. I hope you’ll invite me back to talk about it. At this time, I’ll just say the history there is an author’s dream!
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located? Writers need solitude, but limit their creativity in a vacuum. If I had the resources, I think I’d invite them to my property outside of Ashland, Oregon, where I’d build individual cabins with comfortable writing desks. We could choose places under the willows and arbors to write, but have lunches and dinners together to discuss our projects and new ideas. I love hanging out with other writers and the enthusiasm it generates.
Thanks so much. I hope you had as much fun answering these questions as I had writing them! J
Great questions and they brought up things I hadn’t before articulated. Thank you.
Interview with author, Cheryl Colwell, by Sheryl Fish
Q: What inspired you to start writing?
A: My kids were grown, my yard was landscaped, and all my canvases were painted. In addition, I had maxed out my remodeling graces with my husband. I possess a natural aptitude called high ideaphoria--a constant flow of ideas. The world of story is the perfect place to direct my creative energy. If I want another arbor, it’s a keystroke away!
Q: Along with suspense and romance themes, you included elements of mystery and intrigue. Why?
A: Each genre has a specific form to follow. I find it stifling to color between the lines of just one genre. I want to ask, “What box?” In additon, puzzles have always intrigued me, so I enjoyed dropping clues and weaving the parallel story lines together to make a more interesting story.
Q: You have a thread of ancestry in your book. Why?
A: After moving to Ashland in 1980, I discovered that my grandfather and his siblings were born here and were raised in Talent. When he showed me places they had lived, it felt like I had come home. Later, the City of Talent began exciting plans to revitalize their downtown. This story helped me to participate vicariously in the story world of Tangle Grove.
Q: Are there any characters you relate to most?
A: Lisa, the protagonist. While I was writing her, I remember wishing I had her courage. She risked everything on her dream. Writing became that for me. It’s been a major investment of time and resources, but I feel this is what I was created to do—even the six-year learning process has been fascinating.
Q: Are there any other lessons have you learned along this writing journey?
A: Much of human nature has become blatantly obvious. When writing a character arc, the character starts out one way, then the author puts her through the gauntlet of tribulation and turns the heat up under the cauldron. In the end, she either rises to the challenge, or ends in self-destruction. It’s so true to life.
Q: You brought in the very tough subject of domestic abuse. Why?
A: For the plot to work, I asked, “Why would Lisa need to hide her activities?” The focus settled on her husband. I needed an inciting incident—the moment the protagonist is pushed out of her accustomed way of life. Abuse is tough to write. Though I haven’t been physically abused, I have been around it and interviewed women who’ve gone through it. One reason it is so widespread seems to be confusion. People wonder, “Is this really abuse?” or “Why try? I’m stuck in this.” There is a list of discussion questions on my website that serve as a starting point. The right question can lead to the right answer.
Q: Are any of the characters based on family or friends?
A: Possibly. When I began writing, everyone was nice. Then I learned to write villains and amplify the suspense. I took all the story elements to the extreme—to the world of fiction. So although some characters might have their genesis in real life, they’ve undergone dramatic changes into personalities you love to hate.
Q: You said you have a sequel coming out?
A: Yes, a prequel, actually. I promised my readers I would have it finished by next Spring. The first chapter is available on my website: www.cherylcolwell.com, under: Books/Adriana’s Secret.
Bloomsbury Books will be hosting an author reading with Cheryl Colwell on Thursday, November 7 at 7:00.