Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Something Different: a book giveaway, blog interview, book review and guest blog all rolled into one!

Welcome back to my too-long neglected blog! Some of you may know that my mom fell and broke her hand, which took away all my blogging time. However, I'm back, and with a wonderful combination for you all! I'm going to start it off with the book review of A SOLDIER'S PROMISE, Cheryl's first book for Love Inspired. Exciting news: Cheryl is giving away not one, but two copies of A SOLDIER'S PROMISE, one for each of my blogs, so be sure to enter by either e-mailing me (hope_chastain [at] or commenting here on this blog or the other blog!

The last thing U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery wants to do is return to his home town of Refuge, Illinois, a place that holds nothing but bad memories for him. When the wish of a sick child, Bradley, to meet him, or someone like him, comes into his possession, it takes every ounce of courage he has to go with his team.
When Bradley's teacher, the lovely Amber Stanton, meets Joel, she has no idea of the challenges he faces, or how entwined their lives will become, all because of one little boy in need of a bone marrow transplant, a home, and a lot of love.
Can Joel come to terms with the deep traumas that drove him away from Refuge, or will more hearts be broken? You'll just have to read it and find out.
This is an excellent beginning for a first-time novelist who has been putting her heart into her writing for years. The story is heartwarming as well as full of excitement. Highly recommended.

HC: Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for agreeing to do an unusual combo review/interview/guest blog today!

CW: Thanks, Hope, for featuring me! What an honor to be on your blog today.

HC: Congratulations on being published! I know you struggled a longtime and have been pursuing this wholeheartedly, especially Steeple Hill. What made you choose the Steeple Hill line of inspirationalromances, rather than another publisher?

CW:Thank you for the congrats. I targeted Steeple Hill for many reasons. One being, I love their books and have read them nearly since close to the inception of Steeple Hill. Secondly, in hanging out on the warm, funny community at the Steeple Hill message boards, I saw the heart of the authors there and so longed to be among them. They were so helpful and encouraging at every stage in the journey. I also feel my stories would fit the Steeple Hill readership. I love to read and write romance, and love category romance in particular. Then upon meeting the editors and talking with them, it seemed like a good fit. I loved their vision for their house and how they talked about their authors in such an uplifting manner. Also, Harlequin markets their authors well in my opinion, which makes it easier to build a readership with their house.

HC: What does it feel like to get "The Call?"

CW:Honestly, the feeling is out of this world. It's the kind of super-charged giddy feeling and so surreal that words can't even touch it. There is such relief and excitement. You understand the true meaning of stunned for sure. LOL! It's almost like you can't believe it and hope, really, really hope they haven't called you by mistake. LOL!

HC: Did your editor give you a list of revisions, and if so, how manyand what did it feel like?

CW:My post sale revisions were about two and a half pages of things. A couple paragraphs of general type stuff, then a couple pages of specific stuff where they mention the page and line numbers. There are basically scenes that need stuff taken out and scenes that need to be built up or maybe even added. There are usually character issues to deal with as well as how I always seem to have Scooby Doo endings. I'm trying to get better about that though. LOL!

HC: What is your working style when you're writing?

CW:Depends on what I'm writing. Research and character charts are relaxed. So is layering. BUT, when I go to do the mess draft, it is INTENSE and I can't stand to be interrupted because it really throws me off. LOL! And synopsis writing makes me very grumpy....but I push through it.

HC: What does your faith mean to you, and how does it affect yourlife, including your writing?

CW:Faith is vitally important to me. God means everything to me, and faith is attached to Him....anything attached to Him is of utmost importance. I consider my writing a gift from Him and one that I can also give back to Him so it's all interconnected. I'm thankful for the ability to make people laugh and cry. LOL! I get great enjoyment out of that. Welll, making them cry in a happy, poignant sense.

HC: Thank you so much for answering all my nosy questions! And now, I turn the blog over to you, on the subject of perseverance in writingand seeking publication.

CW: Thank you Hope! It's been fun!

Thoughts on Perseverance.

One thing I heard consistently while pursuing publication was the "P" word. For those of us who want instant gratification for our efforts, it's not a word or even a concept we like to hear or embrace. I know plenty of authors who've been published a couple of years after starting to write fiction. But I also know some absolutely phenomenal writers, many of them here who have been pursuing publication for a decade or more. I heard someone in the industry (a publishing professional) say once that it takes 5-8 years on average to be published.

Problem was, I heard this when I'd only been trying for a couple of years. Very disheartening yet it also made me realize a person has to be in this for the long haul. And they have to be serious about pursuing publication. It takes work and lots of it and sometimes it takes way longer than we anticipated. The good thing is, that I think most people who stick with it and don't give up, will eventually be published. And certainly if it is something God has created them to do.

The hope in the waiting is that we have a God who fashions us with hopes and dreams. No, not all of them will come to pass, but I think He is more concerned with the process than the achievement. How we respond in the waiting. Does our integrity hold up? Do we have to battle jealousy when that writer gets a contract who has only been writing for a couple of years, and we've been trying for eight? The road to publication isn't easy for anyone that I'm aware of. It takes git-er-done grit and dependence on God to not let us lose sight of our dreams.

For me, I had to know that God was calling me to this, or I don't think I'd have chosen to persevere. It took way more of my time, way more of my heart, way more money for conferences, etc than I ever dreamed it would. But now those time and money investments have begun to pay off. Not so much that I've FINALLY sold a book, but the reassurance and affirmation from my heavenly father that I've been faithful during the process. There are so many perseverance scriptures in the Bible that are encouraging to study. Persevere in prayer and practice abiding in His presence is the best advice I can offer. When we spend time with Him, He gives us everything we need. He directs us to resources that will enable us to learn all we can about the craft as we keep God first and don't neglect things that are more important than the end product of our perseverance..which for most writers is publication.

I think each writer needs to seek God about their journey. I'm not speaking out against self-publication, or downing those who go that route. But I can't help wonder how many writers sell themselves short by taking that route instead of persevering the traditional route a little bit longer. No matter the route God intends, it is so important for us to take time to listen to God about what He wants from us. What is our part. And then be willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. The only reason people miss out on their "promise land" is if they give up and quit before they reach it. Hang in there. Praying for every person reading this, that God would grace you with the determination and the grit and the perseverance to make it.