I’m totally thrilled to be participating in Cheryl Wyatt’s blog tour for her debut novel, A Soldier’s Promise. What a classy Christian lady Cheryl (a/k/a Squril) is and what a writer!!! I finished reading the book last night and it’s great, I can assure everyone of that. I love her writer’s voice. Knowing her personally, I know the voice she writes with is authentic, pure 100% Cheryl Wyatt. What you see is what you get!!! And you get plenty when you read this book. You get a great story, a touching romance and a quite a few hilarious situations. When you get to the part where Uncle Dean doesn’t quite know what a DVD is, you’ll roll on the floor laughing.
Just leave a comment for the book giveaway (random drawing).
Question 1. I love your cover. I thought, “Wow a strong man, a manly man, an incredibly trained military man showing his tender side to a vulnerable child.” Did you help chose the cover and are you pleased with it?
Cheryl’s Answer: I am very pleased with the cover. I think it is emotive and poignant. The hero’s face looks slightly different than I pictured my hero (who I fashioned after George Eades-“Nick”-from CSI) but I LOVE the cover nonetheless. We do not get to choose our covers but we DO get to input ideas for it. The vision team, which I think consists of my editors, art department and marketing decide on the cover and title. However, we do fill out a detailed art fact sheet. They also ask us for three different cover ideas, scenes from the book that we’d wish depicted on the cover. We also send in stock photos with landscape and still life images, as well as people pictures to give them an idea of the sort of look we’d like. We fill out details such as our characters’ physical description, etc. I would dearly love to know who the artist was because they picked my first choice. I was SO hoping for a picture of a soldier holding a little boy…and I got it!!! Grinning big here. Seeing your book cover is sort of like opening a surprise gift. It’s finished before you really see it for the most part. A really fascinating process and team effort. I had NO idea this much work went into a book. I also didn’t realize how many people it takes to get a book shelf-ready. Really made me admire and respect publishing professionals all the more.
Question 2: I know A Soldier’s Promise is the first book in a series on Air Force Parachute Jumpers. What first gave you the idea for this book? What made you go for doing a series?
Cheryl’s Answer: I love reading series, and I think most readers do, too. I love revisiting towns and characters from previous books. Especially if I’ve really connected with them. You know how sometimes you hate for a book to end and you’re a little sad because you’ll miss the characters, or wish the book would have continued longer? Series allows you to live with characters and settings longer. Since PJ (Pararescue Jumpers) teams generally have 7 members each, I plotted out seven stories. Not sure if they will all be contracted, but I’m glad at least three of them have, because I picture a “series” to be three books or more. What gave me the idea for the book is I LOVE to write about characters with very different and unique careers. Lots of military writers do series featuring SEALs. But I don’t know of anyone who has featured an entire team of PJs. Dee Henderson wrote about one in one of her Uncommon Heros books, but she also interspersed SEALs and other military guys in there. I thought it would be neat and different if I could do an entire series on PJs. There is a market out there in the ABA (secular industry) for military romance. And those readers are very loyal to their favorite authors, as I know I am. Authors such as Catherine Mann, Suzanne Brockmann, Gennita Low, Merline Lovelace and Lindsay MdKenna, etc. I hope there’s a market for it in Christian fiction too.
Question 3: I’m always intrigued by military heroes. How much research did you have to do to make Joel Montgomery come to life in an authentic way?
Cheryl’s Answer: Since I’m not in the military myself, it took several years of research to authenticate this series. And the research is ongoing as I flesh out the remaining books. As far as Joel coming to life, I spent a TON of time mulling over him and completing detailed character charts, as well as watched CSI episodes to get an idea of how George Eades (the character of Nick-whom I fashioned Joel after) talks, walks, and to be able to capture his mannerisms, body language, expressions and voice inflection. Then applying that to my action beats and to Joel’s dialogue took weeks. I have a list that I’ve composed for years about things that make a man heroic to me. At the top of the list are these things: Men who are unashamed to show open devotion to Jesus. Men who are spiritual leaders. Men who are humble but confident. Men who are kind to children. Men who are kind to the elderly. M en who are kind to animals. Etc. This list goes on for pages and I’m always adding to it….SO if any of you have ideas on what makes a man heroic…please e-mail me your ideas or post them here. Maybe it will help other writers. Joel is a strong Christian who is not ashamed of His devotion to Jesus. But he also is more of a foot-soldier than a mouth-soldier when sharing his faith. A strong Christian leader serves others. That’s Joel in a nutshell. He’s a giver and he had a heart for little Bradley and the orphans of India when his team was deployed in a rescue and humanitarian mission.
Question 4: I got all choked up reading the spectacular jump and landing Joel made into little Bradley’s life when he parachuted into the school yard. How did it feel to write that?
Cheryl’s Answer: I smiled when I imagined the scene but not until I read it in actual print did it strongly move me. I am a deeply emotional, sentimental person. BUT, for some reason, I am NOT moved by my own writing. I DO laugh at some scenes I write or have written, but rarely do they make me cry. So it is really hard for me to gauge whether a scene is going to evoke emotion. For instance, a friend, Camy Tang, called me to tell me something I’d written in the synopsis alone in this story made her tear-up. So that was a good indicator that the scenes would be poignant because Camy is pretty tough to please and she knows I crave her to be ruthless and brutal when she gives me feedback. She KNOWS good story structure and can tell an author when their scenes are emotionally evoking or lacking emotion. What seems like dead, flat emotion to me in my writing usually ends up touching people in profound ways…according to feedback and recent reader letters. I love to make people laugh, so I was humbled to know people are being moved to laughter and tears when reading my stuff. I credit God for that because writing emotion is a big challenge for me because of my inability to gauge it in my own writing.
Question 5: What do you like best about your heroine?
Cheryl’s Answer: I best like her because she looks like fellow Steeple Hill author Brenda Minton, reminds me of another Steeple Hill author, Margaret Daley, who spent years mentoring me, and because Amber (heroine) teaches special needs children as does Margaret. I also love that Amber has a heart for abandoned animals and orphans, because I do, too. If you want to see what Amber looks like…go to Brenda Minton’s Web site and look at her picture. Leave her a comment while you’re there because I don’t think she has any idea Amber was fashioned after her as far as appearance goes. LOL! We sold around the same time and were both active members of the eharlequin community and Steeple Hill’s message boards. http://www.steeplehill.com/http://www.eharlequin.com/http://www.brendaminton.com/http://www.margaretdaley.com/Question 5: What do you like best about your hero?
Cheryl’s Answer: I love all the stuff I mentioned about Joel earlier. I love that he is a man of integrity, also.
Question 6: You have a lovable little boy in the book who’s trying to beat cancer. How did you feel writing his character?
Cheryl’s Answer: It was hard at times to write about Bradley, because I’d had two friends lose daughters to leukemia who were around Bradley’s age when they died. I had so wished and prayed my guts and heart out for these girls’ families that their earthly stories would have had a happy ending. But it also reminded me of the strength in the hope of Heaven and that God is good all the time, all the time God is good..whether people live or die, whether our hopes are lost or found, He is constant. He never changes and He will sustain us through anything. And, He sent His son, Jesus, so we would be able to see our loved ones again if we believe in Him. He has made a way for assurance that, if we know Him before we kick off, for our families and friends left here to mourn and miss us, goodbye is never “goodbye forever,” just “goodbye for now” if they’ve made Him their God too.
Question 7: I know personally that you are generous with your time, helping others who want to break into writing in the Contemporary Christian Fiction genre, because I’ve been the recipient of your time and attention. What advice would you give to a budding novelist?
Cheryl’s Answer: Thank you for those kind words. I only got to this place because other authors helped me. Margaret Daley, Lena Nelson Dooley are two at the top of the list. There have been countless others who’ve encouraged me and answered my many questions. People like Ginny Aiken, Mae Nunn, Dana Corbit, Colleen Coble, Brenda Coulter, Janet Tronstad, Lenora Worth, Brandilynn Collins, Kathy Ide, Gail Martin, Kris Billerbeck, Randy Ingermanson and a whole slew of others. My advice for budding novelists is abundant. Keep God and your family first. Listen to Him. Seek help from those who are more advanced in the craft and knowledgeable about the industry. (Great resources include organizations such as ACFW, FHL, RWA and publisher websites such as Barbour and Steeple Hill’s message boards at eharlequin to name a few. Stay teachable. Pray a lot. Read a lot. Write a lot. Commit your works to God as worship. Ask what your part is then do it. Don’t give up but don’t try to do it all in your own strength because it’s downright hard. Sometimes the road to publication is paved with upside-down staples and you have to crawl on bare hands and knees to get there. And it may take longer than you anticipated. But the only reason we miss out on the dreams and promises God has for us is if we give up or get down too soon. Persevere. Be able to hear hard things about your writing. Be willing to do the grunt work of learning your craft. Be prepared to spend time and money learning your craft and networking. Stay as revisable as your stories because God will likely use the process to mold your character as you learn the process and mold your characters. Maintain integrity and aim for excellence in everything you do because God deserves it, and your future readers will love you for it.
Link To Purchase Cheryl’s Book:
“My name is Bradley. I’m eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice.”
U.S. AirFocepararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child’swidh come true. Well, not the family part-not with Joel’s past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachutedonto the boy’s school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel’s heart: that of Bradley’s beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.Author Bio:
Cheryl Wyatt’s closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN-turned-SAHM, joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She’s convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine’s Day destined her to write military romance.
Prior to publication, Cheryl took courses through Christian Writers Guild. An active member of RWA, FHL and ACFW, she won numerous awards with multiple manuscripts. Visit her on the Web at http://www.cherylwyatt.com/. Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at http://www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com/. You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill’s message boards as “Squirl” at http://www.steeplehill.com/.