Friday, March 16, 2012

Beach Chat with Sydell Voeller

15 quick questions asked of an author:

Name:  Sydell Voeller

 Best beach memory:  This might not be a "best" memory, but it is certainly my most memorable one.  One summer day, my cousin and I, who were both in our early teens, were walking on a broad curve of railroad tracks that paralleled the beach in my hometown.  We were chatting idly and concentrating on keeping our balance on the rails--but not paying much attention to anything else.Suddenly we heard a train roaring down the tracks from behind, blaring its whistle in warning! We screamed, then hopped off the tracks and clambered onto the rocky embankment that separated the tracks and the beach.  Once the train had passed, we saw the engineer crane his neck back in our direction to see, I assume, how we'd fared this near disaster.  I'm sure he was more than relieved to see we'd "made it in time!"

Afterwards, my cousin and I sat on the beach watching the sun set over the Sound and the west horizon.  Our hearts were still beating in double time, we were so frightened!  I remember the sherbet-mauve sky and the last rays of the sun dipping behind the Sound.  Somehow, to us, the sunset symbolized the beautiful reality that we were still alive. 

One guilty pleasure:  Chocolate.  I have to eat a handful of chocolate chips every day--even when I'm trying to diet!  Maybe I'm addicted--who knows?   But I do know chocolate tastes even better with a fresh cup of coffee!

Dream car:  Cadillac CTS-V

Three of your favorite things: 1) Cats!  I've owned cats all my life and I simply love them.  People often think cats are unfriendly and aloof, but I know differently.  (They are creatures of habit though.)  My cats and I have bonded so strongly, they've always followed me around like shadows.  My current kitty, a sweet little 18-year-old feline we adopted from my mother, loves to curl up here in my office while I work, just to be near by.  Even as we speak, she is standing near my keyboard, purring.  What I don't like, though, is her habit of waking me up at 6 almost every morning.  She's that eager to sit with me in my favorite chair while I have my morning coffee--and the earlier, the better! 

2)  A day at the beach.  In my own blog on my website:, I've written about how I love to use beach settings in my stories, and how I utilize the five senses to make these settings spring to life.  The feel of warm sand beneath my feet, the pungent smell of creosote tickling my nostrils, the sound of the gulls shrieking overhead--I can never get enough of it!  As you already know from the above vignette, I grew up near the beach in the Puget Sound area of Washington state.  Now that I live in Oregon, however, our trips to the beach involve visiting the Pacific Ocean instead.  We can either make it a day trip (we live just a little more than an hour's drive away), or we can find lodging and stay longer.  The Sound or the Ocean--I love both!

3.  Camping.  My husband and I've camped in our trusty old tent-trailer all the way from the Redwoods in California to the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia--and many, many spots in between.  We've camped in the high desert at Star Parties in Central Oregon with the Rose City Astronomers, parked the trailer alongside white-water rivers at RV lodges, and of course, set up camp at the beach--and lots of them over the past.  To me, there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire in the evening, sipping a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows.  Bonfires on the beach at night are even better, especially when you're camping with a group of friends.  In the morning, I love waking up to the sound of the incoming surf and even hearing the raucous crows cawing in the tree branches overhead.  I have to admit, though, that I do not enjoy camping in the rain--and that's always a risk you take when you venture out in Oregon

Pet peeve:  Forwarded "friendship" e-mails.  I've read from reliable sources that many of these are created by phishers--so that further cements my dislike of them.

Worst non-writing job you ever had:  When I was in high school, I babysat for two little boys who were so misbehaved, I used to get stomach aches before I was due to show up at their home.  My dad worked with their father, however, so I felt obligated to keep going back.  One night they behaved so badly, they even turned the couch totally upside down!  Obligation or not--that was it!  I never babysat for them again. 

Book you are reading right now:  How to Survive a Summer Romance (or Two), a YA romance by Ann Herrick. 

  Preference, print or ebookI like both, and I believe each has its place in today's publishing world.  I've had several print books published over the years that I'm very proud of, but I'm also charting some new territory in e-publishing with Books We Love, Ltd.  My two digital "beach books" that have recently gone live are Sandcastles of Love (a YA) and The Fisherman's Daughter, an adult romantic suspense.  Both books can be found at Amazon by following <this link>.  Additionally, my contemporary circus romance, Summer Magic, has also been released at Amazon and can be found at the above link. 

Favorite place to write:  In my sunny home office which faces south. 

Biggest writing challenge:  Balancing my writing time with the rest of my life.  In addition to my own writing, I've also taught as a writing instructor for the Long Ridge Writers Group for the past 12 years, and I love interacting with my students and watching them grow as writers.  When I'm not writing or teaching, I enjoy reading, meeting friends for lunch, working-out, tending to my flowers in summertime, stargazing, and spending time with my husband and cat!  

Genre you write:  Romance

Current work in progress:  My current project is an adult contemporary romance titled The Heart Leads Home.  I'm nearly finished now, although I will still need to do some polishing and fine-tuning.

  One author, living or dead, with whom you'd like to sip Mai Tais with on Waikiki Beach:  Nicholas Sparks--hands down!  I've read nearly all of his books, and I look forward to every new book of his that comes out.  My very favorite, however, is A Walk to Remember, which I think might have been his first published book--although I might be wrong about that.

Favorite quote or saying: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... "

Bio:  Sydell Voeller grew up in Washington State, but has lived in Oregon for over thirty years. Throughout her twenty-year writing career, her published novels for teens and adults have reflected her love for the Pacific Northwest's ocean beaches, inlets and waterways, evergreen forests, and mountains. 

Sydell resides in Oregon with her husband. They married in 1971 and have two grow sons and four grandchildren.  Pet lovers, the Voellers have provided a home for several cats, a dog, gerbils, hamsters, and a turtle--but not all at the same time! A small rodent cemetery still occupies one corner of their backyard,  a reminder of when their sons were very young.  She and her husband enjoy camping, reading, playing Scrabble, day trips to the Oregon Coast, and spending time with their four grandchildren and pampered feline.
In 1987 after the publication of her first novel, Merry Christmas, Marcie, Sydell was named by the Washington County Mushaw Center, Woman of the Year in Communications.

Formerly a registered nurse, Sydell also played the violin in semi-professional and community orchestras. 


Gail Roughton said...

I know you took ten years off the train engineer's life! I grew up walking on railroad tracts myself, but didn't have a tunnel and it was a straight stretch so one never snuck up on me. Lovely interview, Sydell, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ann Herrick said...

I'm with you on beaches and cats, but as for camping, well, I consider anything less than a 3-star motel to be roughing it, lol!

Sandy Cody said...

Sydell, we love many of the same things, especially chocolate and camping. I buy chocolate chips almost every time I go to the grocery story, but they rarely last long enough for cookies. Also have to admit, now that our sons are grown, we're pretty much fair-weather campers. Nice meeting you. Thanks for introducing us, Jayne.