Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Soldier's Promise by Cheryl Wyatt

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.

About Cheryl...
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 Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at

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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Choice of Faith

RingheartSomething happened this weekend that rocked my world. The pain of it still runs deep and reminds of the day my sweet husband told me he’d decided he was an atheist. I can only describe it one word.


I won’t go into details, except to say a glaring difference of belief placed a wedge between us. In the past, I’ve dealt with our mismatched beliefs by agreeing to disagree. My determination to love my husband unconditionally never wavered, because I knew that’s what God wanted. I gladly obliged. I will say it hasn’t been that hard because one, my husband is very easy to love, and two, I believe God has enabled me to do so.

But the tables turned this weekend.

Read the rest at SUM.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Revelation of God

WeddingringssmallLast July I wrote a post called The Revelation of God about a divine appointment God has set up between me and a woman who was unequally yoked for six and a half years. Learning how her husband came to Christ and interviewing him turned into a unique opportunity to how God worked in this process. I had no idea then that God would continue to show me more.

Read the rest at SUM.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One Scarred Hand to the Other


That’s what God told me to write about this week. To be honest, I don’t really know what to say about it, other than I seem to be battling it more at the moment than I ever have before.

I learned at an early age to be confident, even if I had to fake it. An insecure childhood taught me how to “pretend” this state to the point that I could almost believe it myself. I remember one of my first prayers to God after He’d put me back on my journey of faith was to be authentic. I wanted to be real.

Read the rest at S.U.M.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An Interview with Molly Noble Bull

To start off the New Year, Molly Noble Bull joins us today to share about her new book, Sanctuary, a historical set in France. (Gotta love that!)

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Molly's book. (Only for U.S. residents, folks. No international shipping on this one, sorry.)

Molly, so great to have you here. Can you tell us what led you to be a writer?

I am a dyslexic, and school was hard for me. But there were a few things I could do well. Singing was one, drawing another, and making up stories was the third. Storytelling became the gift I developed to the fullest and also became the most important.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

When I first started writing to sell, I never polished anything. My first draft was the manuscript I sent to an editor. After a few dozen rejection slips, I discovered rewriting, and that was a good and a bad thing. It’s good to rewrite until you get your manuscript “just right.” But once it is, you must send it off to an editor. However, after I learned to polish my work, my favorite thing became rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. I like it better than writing early drafts any day. What I don’t like are rejection slips. Yes, published authors get them, too.

How do you go about researching your historical stories and choose your settings?

With regard to research, I Google the topic I need and click. Aren’t computers great?
I choose my settings in a number of different ways. Sometimes editors declare the kinds of settings they are likely to buy, and I go from there. In the case of Sanctuary, my newest historical novel, I wanted to set my novel in France because I am descended from French Huguenots. Those who don’t know what a Huguenot is should read Sanctuary and find out.

How do you balance your faith with the demands of the writing life?

My faith is who I am as a person, and I write for the Christian market only. But I am also a wife, the mother of three grown sons and the grandmother of four. Learning to balance all these things has kept me busy for the last twenty years, but I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it.

What makes your characters come to life for you?

I have a good imagination and am able to see pictures or scenes in my mind—hear music, too. My stories come to life when I describe some of the things I see, hear and think in my mind. For me, writing novels is a lot like playing dolls—only for grown ups.

Can you give some pointers for new writers who would like to get started writing fiction?

Yes. I would be glad to. The most important sentence in an entire novel is sentence one on page one of your manuscript. Sentence one should be written in the form of a beginning hook, if you hope to keep your readers reading. But don’t worry about writing sentence one or even page one until you have finished your entire novel.

Once you have written The End, go back to page one and get ready to do a lot of polishing.
Your story will have changed a lot since your wrote page one the first time. What was important at first might not be as important now. The entire focus of your book might have changed. You will know your character a lot better than you did at first as well. The dialogue you thought sounded so right when you started your novel might not fit your characters anymore. But don’t panic. Dialogue is not that hard to change.

Each character in a novel should have an individual way of speaking that is different from all your other characters. However, when writing the first draft of a novel, I sometimes allow all my characters to sound like me. I have found that method of writing dialogue saves me a lot of time when I have a deadline. But those Molly-sounding speech patterns must be changed before writing the final draft. Otherwise, I might soon get my manuscript back with a rejection slip attached to it.

Sanctuary is a long Christian historical, and you said it was set in France in 1740 and published by Tsaba House in trade paperback. The Winter Pearl, your Steeple Hill novel, came out in mass-market paperback this year as well. So you had two long historical novels published in 2007. What is next for you, Molly?

Thanks for asking. Sanctuary is the first of three long historical novels in the Faith of Our Fathers series about the Huguenots. Book two of this series will begin in Scotland and end in America.

Yes, some of my ancestors came from Scotland, too. I have also written a short romance with Teresa Slack, another Tsaba House author. Runaway Romance is two short novels under one cover and published in trade paperback, but a publication date has not been set for that book yet.

My novel, Alyson, is set on a cattle ranch in South Texas in modern times, and I hope readers will find it amusing.

So your next novel won’t be a historical?

Nope. Runaway Romance is a contemporary, but I will still write historical novels as well. I also have a non-fiction book coming out in 2008 or 2009, and it will be about dyslexia.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Yes. Visit my website. If you scroll down my main page and click Molly’s Books, you can see pictures of all my covers and click to read excerpts from Sanctuary and The Winter Pearl. Click Molly’s Family to see family pictures, and click Molly to read my testimony.

By the way, I write under the name of Molly Noble Bull, not Molly Bull.

Thank you so much for being here and sharing with us, Molly!

Thanks for inviting me. It was fun.