Today we are celebrating Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait. Since 12 Short Stories started in 2017 we’ve seen many of our writers go on to publish and accomplish great things with their writing. The Prompt to Publication emails are all about celebrating these writers and their wonderful stories.
I hope these interviews will help you and teach you how to use 12 Short Stories to build your author platform.
Author feature: I’d like to introduce Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait.
Cheryl has been a member of 12 Short Stories since it started in 2017 and has been participating ever since. She has completed the challenge in 2017, 2018, 2019, and will hopefully do it again in 2020.
How has 12 Short Stories helped you write and publish?
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait: When I started the short story challenge I had no idea what to expect and was petrified to have others read what I wrote. I only knew it had been decades since I caressed ‘the words’. I made a promise to myself in 2017, I would devote time to writing. This challenge, this group, has changed everything. I had no idea I had books resting inside me. I started writing the first book in 2017 after gaining confidence in sharing my work.
What did you learn that you applied to your novel?
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait: Let me talk about the prompts–I had never written by prompts before the 12SS challenge. I often would look at pictures or art to fan the flames of creativity. I am amazed each month at what comes out of a prompt. I now have a backlog of stories to further develop into books from the short story prompts, the stories that had already captured readers attention.
Did the feedback help?
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait: This group has given me so much help with their feedback, interest and ideas on what a reader would be interested in. Before I started writing in 12SS, I had never ever written dialogue, as poetry had been my main focus to release my creativity, so by doing the challenge, I learned how to do dialogue!
Did the deadlines and wordcounts help?
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait: It’s been difficult some months to get the stories in, but I knew/know that if I miss even one, the likelihood of continuing would be slim! So, I trudge forward each and every month.
International Best Selling author Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait is distinguished for her fantasy works, including The Legend of the Dragon Child series, Elvictus, and Ashera of the Kingswood. She creates Epic fantasy worlds the readers become lost inside as well as in-depth characters that leave them memorable long after the book is finished.
She makes her home in Texas with her husband. When not writing, she can be found in her flower gardens or seeking her Muse under the canopy of trees.
She is currently working on books for publication for 2021, including the sequel for The Spires of Dasny. Follow her on her Amazon page to keep updated on her newest books.
Cheryl’s favourite 12 Short Stories stories
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait: Several of my novels were first inspired by a short story (or a few stories) I wrote for 12SS using the prompts.
Elvictus, was written over several months using the 12SS prompts.
The Renegade Shifters, there are five consecutive stories starting at this link, was inspired by 12SS prompts.
And Christmas of the Heart, which includes several short stories from prompts, too many to add links.
The first one though, took me the longest to publish because I needed illustrations. This is the Shining Wings McClaire book. It was written for the prompt of ‘Joy’ for the December 2017 submission.
Although Shining Wings McClaire was created earlier than my other books, it took a while to find an illustrator and by that time I had already released the first book in my dragon series, which was aimed at an older audience in mind. I chose to release the storybook under my pen name in order to separate the books and to honour my great grandmother, Leafy Forest.
Read an excerpt from The Spires of Dasny by Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait
Awaking in a cavernous space with scintillating crystals overhead, it takes me a few moments. Then I remember what happened and why I’m there. When I do, I inch backward until my back thumps against the jagged wall. My eyes dart through the cave, looking for the black dragon who dragged me out of my hiding place. Though I try to listen for him, my heart hammering in my ears drowns out all other sound.
Sudden pressure builds up in my head, causing me to wince. “You’re safe now. Those who kill by fire, die by fire. Your attackers are nothing but ash. Sleep.”
Along the back wall, a large black dragon lays curled, his massive head resting upon one outstretched limb. He holds my gaze before slowly closing his eyes. My mouth is so dry it feels like I could swallow a fistful of sand. So much has happened, I doubt myself. Is this real? Is it even possible? One dragon eye creeps open. “It is possible. Sleep now. Sleep heals all things. We will talk later.” Only then do I realize in awe why my head ached. He was talking in my head. At least this last time the pressure wasn’t as strong. My eyes grow heavy. My breaths become shallow. There’s a feeling similar to a smile in my head. Then my lids close, heavy chains pulling them down. I must be dreaming. Does the dragon who saved me need saving himself?
A green eye keeps watch over her as she sleeps. “Two wrongs will make a right, if she will join me and fight, he thinks as he watches and waits.” His new dragon rider lays sleeping.
Nightmares jolt me awake, sweat and tears pouring down my face. Brushing away the moisture, I wonder what I’m going to do next, lost in my misery. I’m facing the loss of my family after the savage attack of the marauders. For all I know, they destroyed my whole village. Clasping my arms around my knees I rock back and forth, so sure I’m all alone in the world.
A low rumble shifts the dust on the cave’s floor. My head jerks to the side. My heart races to my throat—I remember. The dragon. Hazy light filters through the cave’s opening. It glints across the ebony scales of an enormous dragon leaning against the wall, peering outside. He turns his head, nostrils flaring. He looks me over from head to foot.
Being already backed up against the wall as far as I can go doesn’t keep me from digging my boots into the loose dirt, attempting to shrink into the rock wall. I squeeze my eyes shut, as if I could make him disappear. When I open them again, he’s still there.
“Not all of your village was burned. I sense more humans in hiding, scattered in the forest behind the village.” My fingers dig at the sides of my head. The pressure verges on a headache as the dragon talks. “It will lessen, in time. I require your help.”
When he turns, the light filtering through the cave’s entrance highlights his torn wing and the gash across his shoulder. It looks as if something bit him. Something huge.
“It did, or rather, he did. More about that episode in time. Now, I need you to come to the opening, so I can show you what to do.” Not noticing my head shaking from left to right, I do realize my eyes must be the size of hen eggs at his suggestion. Me… stand next to… him?
“If you could just realize I saved you from death, and offer you a life you never thought possible, this would be simpler.” Wishing I could do more than sit here with my jaw dangling to my knees, my mind fills with a bounty of thoughts. All I can finally sputter is, “You saved me? I don’t think I saw you at our house–my house when those men…” My voice trails off. My face grows red hot. Not thinking, I rise and stomp a few paces before catching myself. What was I going to do? Pick a fight with a dragon?
My head suddenly tingles with this tinkling sound. Is that laughter? “Yes, laughter. We dragons aren’t all thunder and fire, I would have you know. Now please, come so I can show you how to help me.”
After stepping closer to him, my boots instantly feel glued to the ground as if they’re in quicksand. The hair on my neck and arms bristle as I approach the mouth of the cave.
He moves an upper limb and points out the opening, and then turns with his forehead furrowed in deep lines. “Limbs are for trees. I am equipped with arms and legs, the same as you, only I have wings where you have none.” The tone in my head sounds a bit irritated, verging on sarcastic.
And yes, I think just as swiftly, “I had a brother, so I understand sarcasm when I hear it.” I let my thoughts ring loud and clear. An echoing chuckle circles my brain.
Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait’s books – click image to buy.
She had stumbled across his path long ago, in a time when two moons lit the night sky. She had been on one of her excursions, collection Dragon scales for armor when she saw his eyes. Piercing eyes lurking between the boulders that guarded the mouth of a cave. Their eyes locked. Neither moved. Ah, but first you should know something about her, of the Legend. You see, she carries a mark across her left shoulder, four deep slashing scars — the mark of the Dragon. The villagers found her in the forest, alone and bleeding, curled around a Dragon’s scale of Blue and Gold. She was no more than five years of age. No parents were ever found. They took her in, half out of fear and half out of pity. They heard the stories. She might be the one they were told would be found.
Wytregon, the Historian of Dragons swung his three heads skyward and cried out, “Why?” Anger shot through him like an arrow piercing his armored scales. It was his task to record all the histories of the Dragons. It had proved to be a daunting task after the birth of Kaida, the Dragon Child. His thoughts turned to her. She is the Legend, foretold. A child raised by Dragons and found by the peoples of Urthe. The Dragon Child must become the bridge between the two in order to fulfill her destiny. But, how can she do this if she’s been ripped away from the Dragons? Will her Dragon family be able to find her in time? And in this new world … what dangers will she have to face?
The Laws of Balance runs through everything. What happens when the scales are suddenly tipped? Balance must be achieved. If you enjoy Dragons and Magicians, this is the book you will want to pick up! A dark Magician from Inner Urthe has surfaced and is searching for the Magician that holds The Book of Days so he can control all Magic. The master magician Perthorn and his apprentice, Kiel travel with a Dragon known as Zelspar. He is the legendary Teacher of Magic and Healing and an Elder in the Dragon Hails. It is with Zelspar’s help that Perthorn can learn how to the necessary Magic needed to battle the foe, the Dark Magician, Flegmorr. The book is filled to the brim with magic and adventure, friendships and loyalty and the epic battle between the good and evil.
The merging of past and present–An ancient scroll and map lead the Teller of the Tales and her companions on an epic journey in search of Zelspar, the legendary Dragon. But, finding the scrolls has started a countdown…What has awakened? All life hangs on the balance of finding the answer in Time. There are greater truths in fairy tales, myths and legends than you have been told–UNTIL NOW!
A book of Kingdoms and castles, elves, a sorceress, forgotten gods and forbidden love … What could go wrong? Everything!
Nearby, a bird’s caw shrieked into the air. A fluttering of wings sent the snow falling from the window ledge. Two enormous yellow eyes peered through the glass and its claws scraped against the glass, repeatedly. Erma sprung from her bed to shoo the bird away, but as she neared the window a woman stood there in a hooded cloak. Fear momentarily clutched at her heart, but she opened the window to see what she wanted. In a flash, the woman materialized in the small alcove.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Erma asked, plastering herself against the cold stone wall. READ MORE
Crandor, the elder tribal elf with stern grey eyes, wore the flowing verdant green robe of his position. He clutched his staff in his left hand. The bright quartz crystal orb rested in a cradle of krelar talons at the tip of the ornately carved rod, and what had been clear for thousands of years now swirled in thick black smoke.
“Listen well. The orb has never spoken so clearly of pending danger. See how it swirls with dark clouds? The orb represents our world–the spiralling inside is the darkness upon our doorstep. A nefarious evil has touched our world. It shows me not of where the darkness lies in wait, only that it has arrived. The innocence of our world is gone. The threat comes, and it comes to devour us all.” READ MORE
There is more than meets the eyes with Bailey. She lives her life through the help of the network of Shifters, roaming from place to place. She meets up with Linken, Marlow and Geoff in LA, looking for some cheap thrills but finds more than she bargained for. A handsome man catches her eye at a posh LA club and he changes everything. His name is Rhyzel. Soon the memories flood back in. She was with him–before. He was the Alpha 1 experiment gone bad, or so she was told. There was a lot she was told that begins to unravel as she learns the truth. She–they were no ordinary shifters. They were designed for nefarious reasons.
Should Bailey trust Rhyzel? Her heart pulls her to him but he carries a secret, a secret that puts her friends in grave danger. The kind of danger that is tied into conspiracy theories, space and the military.
The night when the rogue knights killed my family and torched our town, I fled. I scrambled up the Spires of Dasny, even though I knew it once was a haven for dragons and the old Dragon Riders School. The ground thundered. I trembled in the small niche tucked into the mountain. Had the knights returned? I caught my breath as an enormous green eye peered in. A dragon!
I awoke in a deep, dark cavern. Staring at me through one opened eye lay a huge black dragon. I had been taught the stories of the dragons, of the days long ago when they ruled the sky and searched for their riders, but this wasn’t at all what I had been taught. Why was I there? Suddenly, pressure built up in my head. My eyes sprung wide in fear and… I heard him. READ MORE
Christmas of the Heart is a collection of short stories and a novella, most with wonderful Christmas themes to enjoy over a cup of coffee and a sweet dessert–and like a sweet dessert, each story leaves you wanting more.
This also includes a new novella, The Reindeer Ranch, full of all those Hallmark moments we all have come to enjoy. Meet Darci, the single mother with two children that is the Hope Falls city event planner. She isn’t looking for romance, but a tire blow out just might change all of that. Darci’s neighbor, Rita, comes to the rescue volunteering her brother to fix the tire in a snow storm. Brian is good-natured, handsome and has a history that Darci doesn’t know about. Will the stars be in their favor?
Well done, Cheryl.
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