Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome Back Cheryl Wyatt! Interview & Giveaway

PhotobucketIt’s a first today as I welcome back Cheryl Wyatt, this blog’s first repeat guest. And what a great guest to have again! Cheryl is the author of A Soldier's Family (Wings of Refuge, Book 2) (Love Inspired #438) from Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line. Let’s spend some time with Cheryl!

THE 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 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 www.Scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com. You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at www.SteepleHill.com.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: First, let me congratulate you on the success of your debut novel, A Soldier's Promise. The reviews and reader buzz have been awesome, and it was a top pick from Romantic Times. Silly question, but how does all this attention make you feel?
CW: Thank you! I'm STILL beside myself with elation over two Top Picks. I'm not sure it's garnering me as much attention as it is convincing me that the editors weren't half asleep when they bought my book. LOL! That it's not just a fluke, I am really meant to do this. When people do mention it, I feel goofy-happy but kinda cringy too because I know how subjective reviews are. Doesn't mean I'm any less happy about the Top Picks though. LOL! But I do feel bad for the authors who didn't get Top Picks that month, because I know their writing is that caliber. This industry is so subjective and I'm thankful that I ended up with an RT reviewer who connected with my characters and who loved my story.

Normally, attention makes me feel very uncomfortable because I am extremely shy in nature and much prefer obscurity. So the public attention has really stretched me, big time. Promotion is HARD for me because I feel strange talking about my writing and my books. Feels like I'm trying to push myself off on people. LOL! So any time my books can promote themselves through rave reviews, etc, I'm thrilled about that. LOL! But because my editor went to bat for me on this book, and because Steeple Hill took a chance on an unpublished, unknown, unproven author...I feel I owe it to them to do as much as I can to generate buzz about my books. That motivation makes talking about the books easier.

JA: Now, on to your current book. A Soldier's Family is the next in the Wings of Refuge series. Tell us about it.
CW: A Soldier's Family is Manny and Celia's story. They were secondaries in the first book. Manny is stuck in Refuge, IL to recover from a skydiving accident, and opens his heart to this fireball widow and her teenage son. This book has more emphasis on "family" than "soldier" and there are some nice twists that I think readers will enjoy.

The book is IN STORES NOW! Saw a bunch in Wal-mart yesterday in fact. LOL! They can also be purchased online anywhere books are sold.

JA: I'm so glad that Celia and Manny get to take center stage in this book. When you're writing a series, do you plan out the main characters for each book, or just wait to see who grabs the spotlight?
CW: I generally know at least one of my main characters months, even years in advance. I had all of the PJ books plotted out, and several of them written when I contracted. So I know ahead of time who the people are in the series. My character development (which I spend a LOT of time on) always precedes the plot development, though I might have snippets of the plot to go on in the beginning.

A Soldier's FamilyJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Soldier's Family?
CW: Though I don't write agenda-driven books or don't really set out to have a book end up with a takeaway value, it inadvertently always does. My editors or critiquers usually end up pointing it out to me. I'm usually oblivious to themes that are blatantly obvious to them. LOL! I hope readers will be encouraged about second chances and, if they struggle with fear or guilt over something...I hope this book makes a positive impact to move them past that. Mainly, I hope the story makes them laugh or touches them in some way. That it'll be memorable.

JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
CW: I just turned in PJ Ben's story, which will release in April of 2009. We're putting a different spin on the title and, though it is the third book in Wings of Refuge, it's officially titled Ready-Made-Family. The story focuses on a stranded single mother and Ben. It is also an emotionally-charged book. As long as my editors keep asking for books from Wings of Refuge...I'll keep turning them in. :-) There are seven men on the pararescue team and I'm considering giving the commander (Aaron Petrowski, for those who read the first two books) a story too.

After I finish out the Wings of Refuge Series, I'll start turning in books from a series I'm tentatively titled The Heart of Refuge. These books will feature the townspeople from the fictional Refuge, which is the constant setting for Wings of Refuge. Some of the secondary characters we met in the Wings of Refuge books will become the main characters for the Heart of Refuge Series. Many of those books were finished prior to me contracting Wings of Refuge and a few of them have already garnered acclaim in unpublished writing contests. So I'm hoping they'll go over well with Steeple Hill readers should my editors feel they're right for their house.

I also have my Navy SEAL series, a few of which also placed well in RWA, FHL and ACFW contests. So we'll see what happens with that. Not sure whether I'll start turning in the SEAL series or the Heart of Refuge Series.

I did want to mention that since there is a year's lapse between books two and three in Wings of Refuge, I will be doing a blog once a week from the perspective of the cat who skitters through the Wings of Refuge stories. Psych will keep readers informed of what's going on in Refuge as well as providing first-hand accounts of any new developments with the characters from the first two books. Psych's first post will go up soon, and he'd really love it if people would drop by and listen to him lament his meager existence of being sentenced to lounge around Celia's Aztec tile and stare at people's hairy ankles all day. LOL! My blog where Psych will make his regular appearances is www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com.

JA: You've had a lot of experience – and success – entering writing contests. How important do you think they were to your development as a writer?
CW: For me they were crucial. I entered the contest circuit prayerfully and under the direction of God. I felt that's the avenue He asked me to take during that two to three year span. Rather than submit to editors, I entered contests. Gained feedback, used what I could and applied to my stories. I do believe my contest placements helped my now editor to request my work. I met her at RWA. I also think the contest wins helped push my work to the top of the slush pile. Contest feedback really assisted me in learning to work with my editors in the sense that contest critiques (as well as Christian Writer's Guild instructor feedback) enabled me to get to a place where I was willing to hear hard things about my writing and do something about it. Contest critiques definitely prepared me for editorial revision notes.

JA: Working on a series, you probably don't have much time to lounge around. If you could get away, what's your idea of the dream vacation?
CW: Go back to Disney with the family and lounge around the pool writing while they're flipping upside down at 60 MPH on roller coasters. LOL! Or, go to Australia where a friend there has promised me great seats at a real Cricket game. I brought a Cricket bat all the way from India once. I'm crazy about the sport to the point I wonder if I was born in the wrong country. LOL! Okay, seriously I LOVE my country but...I wish Cricket was as prevalent in the U.S. as it is in India and Australia, etc.

JA: Have you read any books lately that thrilled you to your toes?
CW: I recently read Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure. I love her voice to pieces! Also, Camy Tang's Sushi series is SO fun. I generally don't like chick lit...but Camy's stories have enough of a romance flair in them, and because they're written in third person, I can't wait for each book to come out and I'm not just saying that because these gals are my friends. I am in awe of their writing. Camy has THE best eye for great story structure, and any author wanting to learn how to continually ramp tension in fiction could use her books as a craft study on how to do that seamlessly. Also, Julie's book has a hero who is also a player at first...but she brilliantly endears us to him. I have GOT to figure out how she made him so lovable and sympathetic. Great writing. I really enjoy Mary Connealy's books too. She is THE funniest woman on the planet (in person), and I catch glimpses of her humor in her books.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
CW: The best place is my blog (address above) or readers are welcome to go to my Web site www.CherylWyatt.com and sign up for my quarterly newsletter. On the first page, there is a box that says, "Join Cheryl Wyatt's Author Mailing List." If folks will input their e-mail address there, they will receive an e-mail to confirm their subscription to my quarterly newsletter, which is called Acorn Connection.

I just held a huge contest for newsletter subscribers and gave away lots of great stuff, including autographed books, Worship CDs featuring skydivers on the cover, flash drives, and opportunities to name characters in upcoming books. My next contest, I will be giving away an Amazon Kindle! But only my newsletter subscribers are able to enter. If people have difficulty signing up for the newsletter, they can e-mail me at Cheryl @ CherylWyatt.com (close spaces) and put "Newsletter Help" in the subject header and I will enter them.

I am also active on the Steeple Hill forums, www.SteepleHill.com and I JUST got word that my debut book (A Soldier's Promise) is one of the Top 10 Most Blogged-about Books on eHarlequin! Thanks to everyone who contributed to that by posting reviews, etc.

Jennifer, thank you SO much for featuring me. This has been great fun. Hope to see folks over on my blog and commenting. Again, the address is www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com.

Thanks for stopping by again, Cheryl, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of A Soldier’s Family here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on March 26th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

11 comments:

Blissful said...

Congratulations on your book!!

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview and looking forward to the release!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Thank you, Blissful!

Tetewa...great news is..the book is out right now. It released March 1 so check your local Walmart. They might still have a copy.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Thank you, Jenn for having me on your blog!

Cheryl

Karin said...

Enjoyed the interview.

Julie Lessman said...

Cheryl and Jennifer, WONDERFUL interview!!! Cannot WAIT to read Cheryl's new book!! And talk about "voice," kiddo, you have it going on big time, Cheryl. I pray God blesses the socks off of you!!

Hugs,
Julie

Hannah said...

i loved cheryl's first book! i'd love to win a copy of her new book! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

Carole said...

The plot of this book interests me, and I would love to win a copy. Thank you for the opportunity.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Wow...thanks for the outpouring of support, and votes of confidence, gals!

Hugs,
Cheryl

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl. You're one of my favorite interviewees!

Julie hit the mark when she said commented on Cheryl's "voice." When you read her books, you'll know exactly what that means!

Be blessed!

Katie said...

looks great!

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Rowena (from the ShoutLife Blog)! Congratulations and thanks to all who stopped by.