Today I am thrilled beyond belief to have Cheryl Wyatt here. She's one of the sweetest and caring people I know, and seeing her first book in print is definitely a "WOW" moment. A Soldier's Promise is a delightful story. Definitely have a tissue nearby when you read it. And be sure the leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!
"My name's 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. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish 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 parachuted onto 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.
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.
Cheryl, so great to have you here. Can you tell us what led you to be a writer?
I've wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I started writing romance fiction while on bed rest with a pregnancy. Stories had roiled around in my head for years, but as far as actually starting to get them down on paper, or in a computer, that was about seven years ago. No one knew I was writing stories for a couple of years, not even my husband. LOL! When he found out...EVERYONE found out. LOL! As far as what led me to be a writer, in retrospect, I am certain God did. At the time though, I just thought He was giving me the gift of story in order to combat fear of losing the baby, and also to give me something to occupy my time so I didn't suffer death by boredom. LOL!
What's your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
Least favorite is definitely laboring through the rough draft. And I DO mean labor in the sense of giving birth. It's a painfully intense and grueling process for me, but once it's out...there's enormous joy.
Favorite part is after the mess draft is complete. I love all the layering and building up scenes. I love finding word pictures that are character and plot-specific. For instance, if the heroine is an attorney, I might have her introspect be in legal terms...such as, my soldier hero might say, "You won't go out with me?" Then he might immediately think: Wow. Shot down like an incoming enemy missile. "Ever?" he might add. She might answer with, "Not sure. The verdict is still out on that one." Stuff like that where your verbs and introspect and analogies, metaphors and other rhetorical devices match your character's career and the theme of the story. I love that creative challenge.
I also like the front loading work too. The research and developing characters. Getting to know them. I love filling in blanks, so character charts are right up my alley! LOL! Margaret Daley has a fabulous one on her Web site.
How do you go about researching your stories and choosing your settings?
I'm huge on research. One of my weaknesses is putting too much of what I research into the book. LOL! Most readers aren't going to CARE about the details...but, man-oh-man-Moses! I worked SO hard and SO long...I want to keep it in=BORING for most readers. So I have to be ruthless about shaving most of the non-crucial details off. How I go about research is finding textbooks and training manuals that I obtain from individuals or online. Internet and news articles are handy for plot points that can spark story ideas. Settings, I try to pick some place I've been or have lived. If not and it's a setting that intrigues me, I will actually go there, such as a recent trip to the Carolinas, where some scenes in my current contracted book is set. Or I pick places family have gone and have them write down details for me. When the books were suspense, I had a story set at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. I had two deployed doctors who generously offered to describe the landscape and terrain and the weather at certain parts of the year. That kind of thing is helpful in authenticating setting if you are unable (or unwilling, seeing as though it's a hot war zone! LOL!) to go there.
How do you balance your faith with the demands of the writing life?
I apply Matthew 6:33. When I put God first and the things on His agenda, instead of pushing my own agenda in front of His....things go MUCH smoother. That's not to say it's not still hard. When I feel pressured or stressed, I go to Him and ask Him to help me. He lends me focus and hones me in on tasks I should do first. He helps me to know what things to say no to as well. I am inclined to serve. When I see a need, my automatic response is to step forth and meet that need. But I've learned I have to be more selective and that's hard. It involves a lot of trust and discernment. I can't write apart from God. I just can't. Well, I could, but I would soon go looney...and so would everyone around me. LOL!
What makes your characters come to life for you?
Intense research. LOL! I fill out page after page of character charts. Then I find a celebrity who I can fashion my character after. Then I watch the celebrity in various media, movie, interviews, concert, whatever their career is. I take copious notes and try to ingrain in my brain their mannerisms and body language so I can portray that on paper when I transplant them into a new setting and situation and put my words in their mouth. If the character is not based physically on someone high profile, I have to have a solid idea in my mind what they look like and how they act. That takes hours and hours of thought on a regular basis. It's much easier and less time-consuming more efficient to have a picture in front of you. LOL! Therefore most of my characters are based off pictures I find in the media. I am also a people watcher. I might have a character in mind, then I'll go to the mall or restaurant or wherever and carefully watch people. I've been known to eavesdrop on conversation too, especially if hear a particularly interesting conversation or voice style. If I can catch them in time, I try to ask the person's permission to use their statement in a book. Most of the time they are delighted to oblige. Another great source for dialogue is finding news and special interest forums that apply to your plot or character's career and reading the text. You get some interesting dialogue that way. I never leave home without having a writing utensil of some sort and a set of 3x5 note cards with me. They're easy to write on and easy to file.
Thanks so much for being here and sharing with us, Cheryl!
My pleasure! Thanks for having me! This was great fun.