Friday, May 30, 2008

Lilacs, Tucker, and Vocabulary Enhancement

Aren't lilacs beautiful?

They last such a short while around here that you have to take the time to enjoy them while they are in bloom. My flowers opened up earlier this week and so I cut several off my light and dark purple trees (from the bushes you see in the above photo) and another from my white lilac tree that is in our backyard. I bunched them together in a vase and placed them on our kitchen island. We've been enjoying their awesome aroma and beauty ever since.

I don't recall having so many flowers last year, I wonder if lilacs actually took to our unusually difficult and long winter, unlike many roses and weaker plants that didn't survive this past one. In any case, I plan to enjoy the vast blooms by bringing a fresh supply in often and placing them in several of our rooms to aromatize the area. I just love their scent.

Tucker update: Tucker was doing awesome until we went for his bandage change yesterday. I have no idea why, but he could not settle after having the new bandage put on. I tried to comfort him all afternoon at home and then decided to call the OVC (Ontario Veterinary Clinic) about it. His doctor requested to take a look and so when hubby came home we made the fifty minute trek back to the small animal hospital where they removed the new splint and put yet another new one on only to have him squealing and yelping from discomfort again.

Deja vu all over again from when he initially fell down the stairs.

They administered what the vet called a "happy" drug to calm him down and basically knock him out for a few hours. But by the time the girls got home from the barn he was whining again and very uncomfortable. We had a rough night with him and although he's moving around this morning, and sometimes appears to be our old Tucker with his tale wagging and standing up walking on his hind legs energetically, occasionally he yelps and squeals for no apparent reason. Prayers would be greatly appreciated! I know I keep sending mine up for him to be comfortable and for the procedure to work so that he can use his leg once again in the near future.

Vocabulary Enhancement Word for this week: Mercurial

mer·cu·ri·al [mer-kyoor-ee-uhl]

–adjective 1. changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic: a mercurial nature.
2. animated; lively; sprightly; quick-witted.
3. pertaining to, containing, or caused by the metal mercury.
4. (initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the god Mercury.
5. (initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the planet Mercury.
–noun 6. Pharmacology. a preparation of mercury used as a drug.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME <>

So, considering my family's experience with Tucker as of late, my sentence for mercurial will be:

Tucker's mercurial behavior has us quite concerned.
Be sure to check out my Current Giveaways, links are available to the appropriate posts on the top of the left-hand side bar. Comment away and Good Luck to everyone! And remember, commenting in any of my posts also enters you into my CATY Giveaway drawing each month! My way of saying thank you for stopping by.

Blessings and may your weekend be a family-enriching time,


Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Author Interview with Sherri Sand & Giveaway

I welcome author Sherri Sand to my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview segment this week. Sherri’s debut novel Leave it to Chance was released this month and although I just received it two days ago, I can tell you I’m thoroughly enjoying this high-spirited story. I just don’t read fast enough, but then again, I don’t want it to end, either.

Sherri writes women’s fiction novels with a strong romantic element. I’m hosting a giveaway of Sherri’s Leave it to Chance this week, so be sure to drop a pertinent comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing. You won’t want to miss a chance at winning this wonderful story.

Okay, on with the interview:

Sherri, do have any hobbies?

Sherri Sand: My four kids are seven to eleven years old (including a set of almost ten-year-old twins) so running is a wonderful way to get out of the house and get those endorphins flowing. I also love racquetball. At this point there isn’t a whole lot of time left over for just “me.” I do occasionally padlock the bathroom door and take a bubble bath with a book surrounded by lots of chocolate.

Where can we learn more about you?

Sherri Sand: I blog on mommy and faith issues at

Tell us, Sherri, what was it like to receive the “acceptance call”?

Sherri Sand: Elated would be an understatement when I received the call that David C. Cook had offered a contract. It was a wonderful culmination of all the years of laboring and hoping. I floated around the house for a few months until it came time to edit. That’s when the real work began.

What inspired you to take up fiction writing? Or, who inspired you and what did they say or do to help you get started?

Sherri Sand: Growing up, my family loved each other but didn’t know how to function or relate as a family very well. Reading was my great escape from the tension I felt. I can even remember taking a flashlight in the car with me so I could read if it got dark before we arrived home. So writing sort of slipped into my being from all those years of absorbing other people’s stories. It always tickled the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until I was on bed rest with our twins that I actually started on this journey.

Is there something unique or special about you or how you write that you would like to tell us about?

Sherri Sand: In the beginning I wrote long hand. The story seemed to flow from my mind through my pen in an effortless way I couldn’t seem to duplicate with the keyboard. After writing an entire novel that way (with fingers cramping), I resolved to learn to write at a computer. Leave it to Chance resulted from that effort. Keyboarding is natural for me now, though if I do get stuck on a certain passage, I’ll grab my notebook and work through the issue in long hand.

How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Sherri Sand: I came across The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel, by Penelope Stokes years ago and completely devoured it. Her book gave me the confidence to pursue publication. There are some excellent books on writing out there, but I think I’ve learned primarily through reading fiction.

How many novels did you have completed before your first sale? Do you intend to try selling all of them? Why, or why not?

Sherri Sand: I completed one novel before Leave it to Chance, and submitted it to just a handful of places. One agent and one publishing house requested the full manuscript before they declined it. At that point, I didn’t understand how many rejections come before a contract, so I assumed it wasn’t good enough and shelved it. I’ve considered dusting it off and letting my agent send it out, but I’ve learned so much since I first jotted it into a notebook that it would need to be rewritten to make it publishable.

What is a typical writing day for you?

Sherri Sand: I think I’m pretty typical. I shoot for 1000 words a day, and being the perfectionist that I am, I’ll get in those last hundred words even if it’s midnight.

As a fairly new author, how important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?

Sherri Sand: I think it’s very important. Although it seems to be just as difficult to get an agent as it is to get published. A writer certainly doesn’t need an agent to get published, but it is a wonderful thing to have someone who is an advocate for you and who understands the industry.

How do feel your agent benefits your writing career?

Sherri Sand: My agent is proactive with my career and he and his wife actually came up with the idea for a series that we are developing.

Do you have any further direction or thoughts that you care to share with weary authors-in-training?

Sherri Sand: I think the most important aspect of writing is pursuing a relationship with Jesus. It’s critical to know the path he has for you and His call on your life. Rejections don’t hurt as much and acclaim doesn’t take your emotions for a ride. I find that I’m much more restful in the “now” when I’m listening to His voice.

Sherri, thanks so much for sharing aspects of your road to publication with us. I pray for much success in your writing career and that your stories will touch many souls.

Here’s a peak at Sherri Sand’s debut novel that is on the shelves for your enjoyment:

Leave it to Chance
Women’s fiction (with strong romance)
May 2008
ISBN-10: 1434799883
To purchase a copy from Amazon click here.

From the Back Cover
Single mom of three, Sierra Montgomery is desperate to find a new job to keep from having to move back home and be smothered to death by her mother's good intentions and overbearing love. So when Sierra inherits Chance, a quirky old gelding she doesn't have a clue what to do with, she thinks her best bet may be to sell the horse to cover another month's rent--a decision that devastates her children.
Enter Ross Morgan, a handsome landscaper who just happens to have an empty barn and fenced pasture... perfect for an old horse to live out his days as the pet of three wounded kids. Ross develops a soft spot for eldest child Braden...and he just might have one for Braden's mother. But what he doesn't have is time for distractions--he's got a landscaping business to run and nursery plants to tend.
But there's just one problem. Sierra's terrified of horses and--thanks to her past--wary of attractive men. Yet seeing the way her angry son idolizes Ross and adores that old horse forces Sierra to confront her fears. Will she remain distrustful and self-reliant, or will she seek help from God and those who love her?

To learn more about Sherri, please visit her website and her blog tour spot page that lists all her visits with quick links.


Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of Leave it to Chance by Sherri Sand. The draw will take place Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

June 5th update: The lucky winner is Carole! Congratulations!

Blessings and Good luck to everyone!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Review of Promises, Promises by Amber Miller

Promises, Promises by Amber Miller
Heartsong Presents (Historical)
ISBN: 978-1-59789-939-0

Back Cover Blurb:

Raelene Strattford knows God has promised never to leave or forsake her. But after the catastrophic deaths of her parents, she doesn't believe it. What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice?

Gustaf Hanssen has admired Raelene from afar for a while, but his poor attempt at courting her in the past has made him unwelcome in her life. When Gustaf promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined.

To keep his word must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?

Review: Promises, Promises is Amber Miller's spectacular debut novel. Raelene and Gustaf are memorable characters with believable faults and much determination that drives the story forward.

I felt for these characters and I appreciated the way Amber Miller was able to reveal life in Pennsylvania in the 1700's in an entertaining and picturesque way. I've never been a history buff, but I sure enjoyed learning about this time through Raelene's and Gustaf's turbulent, yet progressive relationship. The chemistry between these characters was vivid and exciting and will long stick with me. Amber Miller writes in such narrative intimacy that you feel her hero's and heroine's conflicting emotions, confusion, frustrations, and joys, all the while drawing you further and further into their story.

There is much to be taken away from this story in a subliminal way. It's entertaining and soul enriching--one beautiful read. Click here for information on how to purchase a copy of Amber Miller's Promises, Promises.

Review of Deadly Exposure by Cara Putman

Deadly Exposure by Cara Putman
Steeple Hill, Love Inspired Suspense
ISBN: 978-0-373-44292-8

Back Cover Blurb:

How could a killer have struck in a crowded theater? That was the question plaguing TV news reporter Dani Richard. She'd been in the box next to the victim--and hadn't heard or seen a thing. Now the very man who had broken Dani's heart years ago was investigating the murder. And when her coverage of the story led the killer to stalk her, police officer and former flame Caleb Jamison insisted on protecting her. Dani was afraid to let Caleb close again. Yet she had no choice. The killer's sinister phone calls left no doubt that he'd come for Dani next.

Review: Deadly Exposure is Cara Putman's first Love Inspired Suspense novel. Cara Putman knows how to trip the reader up, she had me second-guessing myself right until the very end through the use of several secondary characters. For a short book, it holds quite a cast, but it is told through Dani and Caleb's point of views only. The reader clearly sees and understands the tension between the hero and heroine and juggles the uncovered clues along with them, all the while routing for their hearts' desire to conquer the hurts of the past. This is a story that picked up momentum the further I got into it and gave a satisfying ending with a little food for thought, too. Next up for me, is to try out Cara's Historical Romances.

Click here for purchasing information via

Review of A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt

A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt
Steeple Hill, Love Inspired
ISBN: 978-0-373-87474-3

Back Cover Blurb:
On A Crash Course With Love

She was the woman of pararescue jumper Manny Pena's dreams. But he'd stuck his foot in his mouth the last time he met Celia Munoz. Now, grounded after a parachuting accident, he was desperate to make amends with the beautiful widow.

But Celia wasn't having it. The last thing she needed was another man with a dangerous job--even if he had given his life to God. Yet Manny's growing commitment to her and her troubled son began to convince her that perhaps she should take her own leap of faith.

Review: A Soldier's Family is the second installment in Cheryl Wyatt's Wings of Refuge series. This is definitely a stand alone novel, but trust me, you don't want to miss the first in the series, either, A Soldier's Promise, released in Jan/08.

The opening line: "This was not the smartest way to die." in A Soldier's Family is not only an amazing hook, but it shows the narrative intimacy that author, Cheryl Wyatt writes within. I love it when I get to really know the story characters and in this story Celia and Manny become friends to the reader. Their snappy and often unchecked responses to one another is very real to life. And the bond that develops between Manny and Celia's son, Javier, is of huge importance to this story and supports the rocky development of the romantic relationship between Manny and Celia. This book was another fast read that didn't disappoint. I so look forward to the remaining stories in Cheryl Wyatt's Wings of Refuge series.

Click here for purchasing information via

Review of A Soldier's Promise by Cheryl Wyatt

A Soldier's Promise by Cheryl Wyatt
Steeple Hill, Love Inspired
ISBN: 978-0-373-87466-8

Back Cover Blurb:
"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.

Review: A Soldier's Promise is the first book in Cheryl Wyatt's Wings of Refuge series for Steeple Hill's Love Inspired line. This book is full of adventure and opened up a whole new experience for me. I had never heard of U.S. Air Force pararescue jumpers before getting my hands on this novel. It's an exciting career and Cheryl Wyatt reveals the highlights of pararescue jumpers' responsibilities in an enjoyable, entertaining read while drawing the reader into the developing romance between pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery and a special needs teacher, Amber Stanton.

The characters engaged me right from the start and the motivations and conflicts kept me flipping the pages right to the very last line. This is one story that doesn't slow down with back story. It plunges straight ahead, and well worth the read. Click here for quick access to purchase a copy from

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tucker's Home and Friday's Vocabulary Enrichment Word

We've been without our little yorkie-poo, Tucker, for several days now due his fractured leg. I can't tell you how relieved we are to have him back home, knowing that his three-hour surgery went as well as could possibly be expected given the severity of his breaks. The Ontario Veterinary Clinic in Guelph took very good care of our little Tucker, I'm happy to report.

He nearly jump from the technician's arms when he saw me, and then when he got close enough, he cleaned my face as only dogs can do. I never enjoyed wet kisses so much! It truly was a relief to see that his temperament/disposition had not been altered considering all he's been through since Saturday when he tumbled down our steps.

For all of you out there with very small breed dogs, I highly recommend you watch them very closely with stairs, jumping from couches, beds, etc. The specialists at the Veterinary Hospital apparently see a huge number of these fractures that you would think were caused by being hit by a car, but were simple accidents occurring within the home.

These small breed dogs have such tiny bone structure that one wrong twist, or stressful impact, can cause major damage. Tucker will need his splint bandage changed weekly for the next two to four weeks and then he'll still need to be kept relatively calm for another twelve weeks as his bones heal over the pins and screws. We are far from the end of his recovery, but it so good to have him home and no, we will never be allowing him to traverse our steps again. I never again want to hear my little man's high-pitched excruciating cry again. It's a sound that tore the breath out of me at the time, and still today when I think of it, I cringe and feel my insides all knotting up. I pray we'll be able to keep him safe and that his repairs will heal over so that he has many good years ahead with the use of all four of his legs.

I want to express a huge thank you to all who have prayed for Tucker's successful surgery. Knowing you all were out there joining us in prayer assuaged our very real concerns. We appreciate all your prayers and kind words. Thank You All!

Since this is Friday, and I offer a vocabulary enhancement word each Friday, I wonder, did you guess my choice word for this week from that last paragraph?

Ah, yes, you are correct if you picked: Assuaged

as·suage [ə swáyj]
(past as·suaged, past participle as·suaged, present participle as·suag·ing, 3rd person present singular as·suag·es)

Meaning: relieve something unpleasant: to provide relief from something distressing or painful

Another example sentence: Constant reassurance could not assuage their fears.

[13th century. Via Old French assuagier from assumed Vulgar Latin assuaviare , literally “to sweeten,” from Latin suavis “sweet” (see suave).]

-as·suage·ment, n
-as·suag·er, n
-as·sua·sive [ə swáysiv, ə swáyziv], adj
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Be sure to check out my Current Giveaways, links are available to the appropriate posts on the upper lefthand side of the side bar. Comment away and Good Luck to everyone! And remember, commenting in any of my posts also enters you into my CATY Giveaway drawing each month!

Blessings, and may you all have a wonderful weekend.


A Time of Sorrow

Hi, All:

I usually try and keep my Friday Musings posts on an upbeat topic, but my life this past week seems to be dictating a more soulful discussion is in order. In my little world, our family was plunked into what we consider a tragic and concerning situation, but it is nothing in comparison to what the family of singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman has been facing.

They lost their five-year-old daughter/sister to a tragic driveway accident in which their older son was behind the wheel. I can't imagine what that young man is going through. I know that if I were him, I'd be asking: "Why, Lord? Why did you let this happen?" I'm certain I'd be angry with God. I know that's very wrong, but my defensiveness would kick in and I'd be blaming Him for not opening my eyes to my little sister behind me, for His not whispering a word of warning in my ear that would cause me to halt the movement of my vehicle before it was too late. But none of this would help me make sense of the tragedy, would it?

I've come to believe that some things are far beyond our human understanding. We are mere mortals, incapable of understanding the vastness of God's Eternal World from which He watches over us. I must trust that He is in control and that little Maria Sue is in His awesome eternal care for a reason that only He and our Savior Jesus Christ are capable of understanding.

I pray for all the Chapman family, and for all the friends who are mourning over Maria Sue Chapman's death. May God grant them a moment of peace in the midst of their sorrow and may His Glory and Greatness reign over this humanly incomprehensible tragedy.

May God find a nook within each of us to settle in and comfort us with regard to any of our earthly concerns. And may we be responsive to His love and guidance.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Interview with Author Cara Putman & Giveaway

I welcome Cara Putman, busy mother—her newest arrival is under two-weeks old—to my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview segment. Thanks so much, Cara, for fitting this into your schedule as you prepared for the arrival of your newest little one. Congratulations on baby Rebecca! For some great pics, bop on over to Cara’s blog and you’ll see just how beautiful her family is.

Cara is a busy mom and a business law teacher, and still finds time to write romantic suspense and historical romances set during World War Two. There’s some amazing energy in this author and I’m pleased to reveal a little of it through this interview.

First, what are your hobbies, Cara?

Cara Putman: I love to scrapbook, read, play with my kids, serve in our church, etc. I also teach business law at Purdue, which I enjoy enough to make it a hobby. LOL

Cara, when did you receive the infamous “Acceptance call”?

Cara Putman: I received my first contract at the 2006 ACFW conference. In 2005 I attended my first ACFW conference and watched Mary Connealy receive her first contract. It was such fun to rejoice with her. I had no idea the next year would be my year to celebrate.

Who did you tell the good news to first? Second?

Cara Putman: First, 450 of my closest writing buds, agents, and editors  I was so shaken I made it back to the table and sat there trying to think what to do next. People kept handing me phones to call my husband and I thought I’ll play this cool. I’ll call him later. Two minutes later I was out the door in the parking lot shrieking in his ear.

No wonder! Will you give us a rundown of your published works and when they come out?

Cara Putman: Canteen Dreams released in October 2007
Deadly Exposure releases in May 2008
Sandhill Dreams releases in May 2008
Captive Dreams in September 2008
And I’m just starting work on a new 3 book series that will release beginning in 2009.

Did you submit to contests before publication?

Cara Putman: I entered two contests but did not final in either one.

Since publication have you entered contests or received any credits for your books?

Cara Putman: I was thrilled to receive a 4 starred review from Romantic Times for Deadly Exposure. I’ve entered a couple contests this year with Canteen Dreams, but have low expectations. God has already blown me away with what He has allowed to happen in my writing life.

In addition to writing, how else do you participate in the publication world?

Cara Putman: I judged the Book of the Year contest before being eligible to enter it. I’ve also judged the Genesis contest for several years. I taught the ACFW online course in April, blog each weekday at, write tons of reviews, and speak when asked. I love to share what I’ve learned and try to encourage people on their writing journeys.

With all you do, Cara, when do you find the time to write?

Cara Putman: Because I have two young children and one on the way – this child should arrive before you post the interview – I do 90% of my writing between 9 p.m. and midnight or later.

How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Cara Putman: I could say one year, since I actively started writing again in the summer of 2005. However, I see that much of my life was preparation. I’ve wanted to write since I was in junior high, and have always journaled. I tried my hand at writing a couple novels in high school. Law school was great preparation as is all the reading I’ve done for years. And I also had periods where the desire to write would become so strong I would check books out at the library on how to do it. So while the journey from picking up the keyboard again to contract was relatively short, there was a lot of background preparation prior to that.

In that short time, did any rejections come your way?

Cara Putman: I have received a few rejections, but usually they’re tinged with…this is close, but needs more work. Or we’d love to work with you, but this isn’t quite right. So they represent screens on the door rather than a closed door. Those actually keep me pretty motivated to keep improving my writing and plotting.

How did you prepare for publication?

Cara Putman: I am a stickler for discipline. I had to write two books without any guarantees of a contract, but if I hadn’t written them they wouldn’t have sold. Instead, they’re my first two books out. So the commitment to butt in chair time with fingers glued to the keyboard are critical. I have excel spreadsheets where I track how much I write each day and how close I am to the end. That gives me some accountability that keeps me focused.

Were there any “practice” novels involved during this short road to publication?

Cara Putman: No. My initial books sold. That’s very unusual. Deadly Exposure went through several changes – some quite big, but Canteen Dreams is pretty much the story I originally wrote.

Wow, you amaze me, Cara! How long does it take you to write your novels?

Cara Putman: Canteen Dreams from idea to finished book was less the three months. The actual writing was less than 4 weeks. Deadly Exposure started out as a stand-alone length, so it took much longer about 7 months, with some of that overlapping with Canteen Dreams.

Will you explain your writing style?

Cara Putman: I create a pretty detailed synopsis and then let the plot develop from there. I can write a Heartsong in 4 weeks, because of that detailed chapter by chapter summary. Most of the research occurs at that stage.

You said that you write at night, can you explain the process of getting your stories completed?

Cara Putman: If I’m under deadline, my word count per day ranges from 1000-2500 words a day. Because I homeschool, am on the ACFW board, teach, etc., my writing has to occur in two to three hours late at night. So I have to redeem that time. I usually revise what I wrote the day before as I start. That helps me get back into the flow of the story. Last year I wrote two new books and heavily revised Deadly Exposure – all between July and December. Contract deadlines can be a fantastic motivator. You have to be willing to invest the time up front and have a passion in your gut for the story you are writing. You may be writing it for an audience of One. Is that enough if He’s called you to write?

Did you have an agent for your initial sale?

Cara Putman: I did not have an agent for my first sale. However, I had built a relationship with the editor by attending a conference. Now I have an agent who is a great match for me and will help me reach my writing goals. If you build the relationships and have the writing skills and story, it is possible to get a contract without an agent. It’s just hard.

What about a platform, do you have one?

Cara Putman: I don’t really have one LOL. For a non-fiction book that I’m writing this summer, I was offered the contract because I teach business law. I know platform is helpful, and it is something I am trying to build one reader at a time, but I didn’t necessarily have one when I started.

From signing to holding your book in hand, what time elapsed?

Cara Putman: I signed the contract for Canteen Dreams in October 2006 and held it in final form in October 2007. That’s been fairly standard so far.

What does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel(s)?

Cara Putman: They provide some free copies for me to mail to influencers. I then set up booksignings, speaking engagements, blog tours, etc. I don’t know how much of that is expected, but it makes me feel like I’m doing my part.

Many new writers don’t know when to stop editing and revising. Can you explain how do you decide when your manuscript is ready for your editor’s or agent’s eyes?

Cara Putman: I’m unique here. I get the book written, revise it once or twice, send it out to crit partners and incorporate some of the changes then get it out the door. When I started, Deadly Exposure was heavily critiqued by my crit group. That was a good thing, I had a lot to learn. However, it kept me trapped in the first 6 chapters of the book. I finally had to stop and just write the book. Then I had a couple people read it all the way through. They liked it, so I decided the story worked. Then it was taking a deep breath and getting it out there. I also received several very high scores on it from contests, so knew the writing was getting there. It’s scary and risky, but it has to come off the computer and get out there.

Cara, Thank You so much for sharing all this great information with us. Do you have any last thoughts for weary authors-in-training?

Cara Putman: Join a group like ACFW ( so that you can learn how to write. Attend conferences like ACFW’s so you can learn and make great contacts within the industry. Pray for God’s leading and direction, do what He tells you to, and then sit down and write. Like they say 500 words a day leads to a book in a year.

Great advice, Cara. Thanks once again for taking time out of your very busy life to share your road-to-publication story. Your journey is inspiring!

Already, Cara Putman has several books on the shelves and more to come. Take a look at what great reads are awaiting us from Cara’s fictional world.

Canteen Dreams, historical romance, October 2007 978-1-59789-867-6, Heartsong Presents

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what's a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community starts a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kindness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher.

Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard's worst fear is confirmed, he feels he must avenge by enlisting himself. But will his budding relationship with Audrey weather the storms of war? Or will one of the many soldiers at the canteen steal her away from him?

Can two such determined people find their place in the war and with each other?

Sandhill Dreams, historical romance, May 2008 978-1-60260-010-2, Heartsong Presents

With her dreams shattered, will Lainie Gardner allow God and a soldier at Fort Robinson to breathe life into new dreams that will bring her more joy than she imagined?

Lainie has no dreams left

Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska’s sandhills.

Tom Hamilton had dreams, too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he’s had of dogs since he was bitten as a child.

Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?

Deadly Exposure, romantic suspense, May 2008, 978-0-373-44292-8, Love Inspired Suspense


How could a killer have struck in a crowded theater? That was the question plaguing TV news reporter Dani Richards. She'd been in the box next to the victim -- and hadn't heard or seen a thing. Now the very man who broke Dani's heart years ago is investigating the murder. And when her coverage of the story led the killer to stalk her, police officer and former flame Caleb Jamison insisted on protecting her. Dani was afraid to let Caleb close again. Yet she had no choice. The killer's sinister phone calls left no doubt that he'd come for Dani next.

With a stalker closing in, will television journalist Dani Richards trust her former love and police investigator Caleb Jamison to help her and God to rescue her?

Captive Dreams, historical romance, September 2008, Heartsong Presents.
Captive Dreams is the story of Anna Goodman and Graham Hudlow and the challenges they experience on the home front during World War II. Anna works at the Air Base in Kearney, but comes home each weekend to try and hold the family farm together. Since his appearance in Canteen Dreams, Graham has enlisted and is a Corporal in a military police unit of the Army stationed at Camp Atlanta, a Prisoner of War (POW) camp. During World War II, Camp Atlanta served as home to several thousand German POWs.

Anna and Graham meet when Graham is overseeing a group of POWs who are providing farm labor for her father. Anna is incensed that they are there because she knows the family doesn't have the resources to pay the workers. Graham vows to pay extra attention to the Goodman farm and make sure everything is okay. Over the following months their tentative friendship builds into a romance that turns into love.

Book Giveaway:

Cara is graciously allowing me to host a giveaway of her Love Inspired Romantic Suspense Deadly Exposure. Leave a pertinent comment in the comment section of this posting between now and 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, May 28/08 and you could be the lucky winner of a copy of Deadly Exposure. Be sure to include your augmented e-mail address within your comment for me to notify you if you should happen to win. Good Luck to everyone!

May 29/08: Congratulations to Pamela J. for winning the Giveaway of Cara Putman's Deadly Exposure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Opportunity to Bid on a Critique by Steeple Hill Author Cheryl Wyatt

Granted with permission, I'm posting the following information found on Cheryl's blog (tweaked a little with my comments). I'm hoping to win this bid, but fear I will be outbid. It's for a great cause and for anyone interested in writing for Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Line, this is an awesome opportunity to get feedback on your work from someone who knows first-hand what the editors at this house are looking for. May the best man/lady win!

Would you like to participate in an auction to help a fellow writer?

Literary agent Kelly Mortimer is coordinating ebay auctions to help fellow author Robin Miller with desperately needed finances while her husband is unable to work.

Cheryl Wyatt has donated a 1 chapter critique, up for bid THIS WEEK. Right now in fact. Cheryl is very thorough and very honest but gentle. The bid for her critique is here.

In addition, Tracy Ruckman, editor of Pixs-N-Pens has up for (bidding or buy now) grabs a 3-chapter-critique.

You can also bid on a professional one-sheet/bookmark design by Dineen Miller. Dineen does a great job with one-sheets, I know first hand, as I hired her last year to create one for me. She's a top notch designer whose portfolios include such clients as Time Magazine, etc.

To see all of Kelly's listings for this cause at once, click here.

These are all wonderful opportunities to help a fellow writer and receive valuable services in return. The bidding has begun, if you're interested, check out the above links by clicking on the key words or just click on the post title and you'll go straight to the listing of Kelly Mortimer's ebay auctions.



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Announcing My May CATY Giveaway

Hi, Everyone:

I've finally decided what this months giveaway will be.

Since receiving comments is great encouragement for me, I want to show my appreciation to all you wonderful visitors who take a moment to drop a comment in any of my posts by offering my own personal giveaway on a regular basis. This CATY (Commenter Appreciation Thank You) drawing is separate and above any Author giveaways that I also host in my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview posts.

In the past I've given away two copies of Daily Devotions for Writers as my CATY gift. For the month of May's commenters I will be drawing for a $15.00 (In Can. funds, transferable to U.S. funds) STARBUCKS CARD on June 1st, 2008.

All those who have already entered a comment in any of my May posts, including the Authors-Helping-Writers Posts in which I have also hosted book giveaways through, have been automatically entered into my CATY drawing for this month. For every comment submitted in any of my upcoming May posts another entry will be put in the drawing. This is my way of Thanking you all for supporting this blog. I will send this card out internationally if one of my faraway commenters should happen to win--hopefully you'll be travelling at some point to use it!

Good luck to you all and may the lucky winner enjoy a cup or two of Java and a treat on me at their nearest Starbucks!



Friday, May 16, 2008

Victoria Day Weekend for Canadians

Tomorrow marks the start of our long Victoria weekend (Monday is a statutory holiday for Canadians). Traditionally this extended weekend sees owners opening their pools, existing gardens receiving a face lift, and even the creation of a few new flower beds in my part of the world.

For our household we'll be pretty much sticking to tradition. Phil (my wonderful hubby) has already made a head start on the pool opening. He'll continue to tackle the purifying of our salt water system so that soon we'll be able to flip the heater switch and then enjoy a dip even before summer arrives.

If we are blessed with cooperating weather, I'll tend to a few more of our garden patches. The one shown here got it's face lift earlier this week between my writing stints. We're going with a reddish mulch this year. Different from the usual brown covering we've become familiar with. It's growing on me.

This weekend I'll start to unload the garden shed of my collection of trinkets to adorn our varying gardens. I just love adding oddities into the mix of flowers and shrubs soon to be blossoming. As I look at our shed and arbor and climbing wine-rack trellis, I see that this is a year for some staining to be accomplished as well. Spring is a time of work for those who dress their outdoor space. When I see the list of to-do's to upkeep our yard and gardens and outdoor furnishings I sometimes wonder if I ought not be a more simplistic person. (By the way, that list never gets completed--it's always too long.) Less sure would be easier to maintain.

And around here, spring brings dandelions galore with it. This is a picture of the farm field directly behind our home. The yellow is all dandelions, so you can imagine how it encroaches on our yard.

This close-up photo is one of a tiny patch of many of these bright interlopers on our back hill. How can something so resplendent be so undesired? Maybe we really should consider yellow an acceptable color for our yards, instead of working so hard for a green one.

I hope all who are working on their spring clean-up will have a prosperous weekend and those who got a head start, may you enjoy your ice tea or steaming cups of mocha as you relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I hope to be one of you by this time next week...God willing!

Okay, ready for my Vocabulary Enhancement word of the week?
I got my hubby to help me with this one. The word of the week is... Ubiquitous.

u·biq·ui·tous [yoo bíkwitəss]adj existing everywhere: present everywhere at once, or seeming to be
[Mid-19th century. Formed from modern Latin ubiquitas “presence everywhere,” from Latin ubique “everywhere,” from ubi “where.”]

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

A sample sentence: The ubiquitous dandelions existed in all their splendor.

Now it's your turn. I would love to see some sentences containing the word ubiquitous.

Blessing to all and may you have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

An Interview with Michael Snyder, author of My Name Is Russell Fink

Today, I welcome Michael Snyder as my Authors-Helping-Writers featured guest. Michael’s debut novel, My Name Is Russell Fink, was released this past February and his next book, Return Policy, will be on the shelves this coming December.

Q: Tell us something about yourself. Do you have any hobbies, Michael?

Michael: I suppose writing is still my number one hobby. I used to be a musician, so I do try to knock the rust off of fingers when I can. In the years to come however, I have a sneaking suspicion that my hobbies will morph into whatever interests my four children. (Hopefully, I’ll have at least one basketball player in the bunch!)

Q: I find the titles of your books very intriguing. They don’t give away the genre, though, tell us what category they would fall into?

Michael: My genre is hard to pin down. I suppose my first novel could be classified as a romantic comedy. However, even though I do place a rather high premium on humor, my goal is to write good stories peopled with authentic characters. The humor should serve the story.

Q: Will you tell us about the “acceptance call” experience?

Michael: My agent called on my eldest son’s birthday. We were piled into the minivan, driving home from somewhere when he shared the very good, yet very humbling news that Zondervan wanted to buy my book. Two of them, in fact. That was in October of 2006. The overall feeling was simply gratitude…and maybe a wee bit of trepidation about all the work I knew was coming!

Q: What inspired you to take up fiction writing? Or, who inspired you and what did they say or do to help you get started?

Michael: I’ve always been compelled to create. So one day I turned to my lovely wife and said I might be interested in trying to write a novel. She enthusiastically encouraged me to give it a try. Not long after I was hanging with a friend of mine from church and learned that he’d written several novels. That’s really when the light went on and I realized that novel-writing isn’t just for ‘other people’, that you didn’t have to be special to write novels. The key ingredient is desire…and hopefully a little talent too. By the way, that friend from church is a new Bethany House author named Don Hoesel.

As far as inspiration, I love to read amazing authors. It gives me something to aim for and keeps me way, way humble.

Q: Amazing authors? Is that a group of authors?

Michael: Nah, I'm afraid my reference to “amazing” writers was a subjective one. That’s such a personal thing. [Simply read the absolute best writers you can.] But I realize that a) we'll never have a consensus on just who those are (a good thing), and b) that my tastes are mine alone (another good thing!) I'm not looking to make converts!

But I can say that “reading over my head” is not only great for drawing inspiration, but to also keep us all humble. We all have our own unique callings. And I have to remind myself that my obligation is to write the stories rattling around in my brain and not worry so much about what I can't do!

Q: How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Michael: The timeline is a bit fuzzy for me. (My memory stinks!) I do know that in the first 18 months I read over 30 books on the craft of writing. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize now that writing my first novel (that will NEVER be published!) was my version of a college degree in novel-writing.

As far as the actual writing goes, I prescribe the following: 1) Read a ton, 2) Write as much as you can, 3) Study books on craft.

Publication? 1) Repeat steps 1-3 above…ad nauseam, 2) Go to writer’s conferences, 3) Be courteous AND teachable, 4) Pray a lot…and not just for success as you define it. God knows what He’s doing.

Q: Will you tell us about your rejection experiences?

Michael: Along the way, I really did mean to keep all my rejections as souvenirs (so I could more accurately answer questions such as this!). Suffice to say I was rejected plenty. Some houses rejected me twice for the same manuscript (in case I didn’t get the message the first time). And yes, Russell Fink was rejected by several publishers as well. We all pay lip service to the notion that we’ll have to endure rejection along the way. Thankfully, I was able to laugh it off most of the time. It’s inevitable. The trick is to make it work for you.

Q: So what did you do to handle writer frustrations in those years before publication?

Michael: The best antidote to writing-related frustration is more writing. I really believe that. Obviously, getting a publishing deal was a goal of mine. But I can honestly say I’d rather write well than write for publication. The mindset that carried me through the ‘lean years’ went something like this: I’m absolutely certain that if I work hard enough I’ll get a publishing deal. And I’m every bit as certain (if not more) that no matter how hard I work at all this, that I will never, ever get published. Sounds like an odd contradiction, no? But God is in control and I’m not. My responsibility is to the work. Somehow those conflicting mantras kept me from thinking about the ‘getting a contract’ part too much. Publication is wonderful, no doubt. But it’s not the point.

Q: How many novels did you have completed before your first sale? Do you hope to have most of them published some day?

Michael: My first (unpublished) novel has few bright spots, but mostly it’s lame! I finished that one, then started three others before having an epiphany—Only write what you love!

I was never a slave to writing for markets or trying to please people. But I have to admit there was enough of that residue to keep me from simply writing exactly what I wanted to write for a while.

As to the abandoned novels…I’ve kept a few of the ideas in a file. But I doubt I’ll ever revisit the actual prose.

Q: What’s a typical writing day for you?

Michael: My writing day is a bit odd, and a tribute to my wonderfully supportive family. God comes first, then family and friends, then the day job. Obviously, that doesn’t leave a lot of ‘free time’. So when I get home from work, it’s totally family/dinner time. Then I try to engage with the kids till their bedtime. When they bed down for the night I usually take a 30-minute nap. Then it’s mommy and daddy time, which typically includes, caffeine and cereal for me, then maybe some bill paying or Seinfeld reruns. I write from 9:30 until my eyelids give out.

Now that’s dedication.

Q: As a fairly new author, how important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?

Michael: I would never suggest that everyone needs an agent. But I sure do! There’s just too many details and negotiations and such for me to deal with. And the more time one spends doing those things, the less time one has for family and writing and nurturing creativity. Agented or not, I would still strongly encourage writers to get to conferences and make their own face-to-face connections with editors. That’s vital, in my opinion. But regardless of who actually sells your book (the author or the agent), a good agent can and will make your life SO much easier.

Q: Michael, thanks so much for sharing such great advice and your road-to-publication journey with us. Before we get a look at your newest novel, I have one last question for you, any final words for weary authors-in-training?

Michael: Read a lot. Write a lot. Help other people when you can. And by all means…have fun! If you don’t love the process of writing before you sign a contract, your un-fun-ness will only multiply after the ink is dry.

And thank you, Eileen for letting me play along.

To learn more about Michael and keep in touch, you can stop by his website. Now, for a look at Michael Snyder’s debut novels:

Title: My Name Is Russell Fink
Genre: Contemporary, General Fiction
Available where books are sold since February, 2008

Back cover:
Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancé refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name Is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

Title: Return Policy
Genre: Contemporary, General Fiction
Available everywhere in December, 2008

Back cover:
In his second book, novelist Michael Snyder introduces us to three very unusual and distinct voices all torn by tragedy:

Willy Finneran, washed-up genre novelist with an espresso maker that just won’t die and a habit of avoiding conflict even if it means putting the truth on a sliding scale.

Ozena Webb, Javatek’s top customer service representative and single mother. She spends every evening playing board games with her twelve-year-old son who is mentally crippled from an early childhood accident.

Shaq, a small and scraggy homeless man with trauma-induced blank spots on his memory, trying to piece together the story of his life while assisting Father Joe at the Mercy Mission.

As their stories intersect, the narrative vacillates between hope and naïveté, comic relief and postmodern ennui. Startling in its authenticity, this unforgettable novel reveals that no matter how far one has strayed from hope, there is always a way to return.

Giveaway Info:

I’m hosting a giveaway of a signed copy of Michael Snyder’s My Name Is Russell Fink. Drop a pertinent line with contact information in the comment section of this post before 9:00 pm. Eastern time on Wednesday, May 21/08 and you could be the lucky winner!

I’ll notify the winner early on Thursday, May 22/08.

May 22/08: dolls123 [@] gmail [.] com was the lucky winner. Congratulations!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Precious Mother's Day Blessing

Family is what makes Mother's Day special and I just wanted to brag about mine. My three wonderful daughters, with my amazing husband created this meal from scratch for me today.

When asked what I would like for my Mother's Day meal, I mentioned how I enjoyed my husband's unique sauces and that I had a craving for sauteed peppers and zucchini. Well, doesn't my family just find the perfect recipes. They even arranged it on the plate in the shape of an "M". For disclosure of what I fully enjoyed for supper tonight, I've included the menu plan that my daughter, Sabrina, typed up and placed next to my place setting for me.

Thank you dear family for a wonderful meal! You guys rock!! I love you all very much!!

I'm the luckiest Mom around. Praise God for His amazing grace!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Musings and Vocabulary Enhancement Friday

I've always been a big dreamer. It comes in handy for writing fiction, but it isn't just stories that I dream up. I also dream of renovation projects, much to my husband's chagrin.

I was informed today that I think of things he'd never imagine doing. One of which is replacing six-year-old carpet that already looks me, at least. Apparently not to my visually-impaired hubby, though. I seriously think he has selective-vision issues. Is your husband like that?

The best kind of home renovations that I dream up, though, send dear hubby on a whirlwind of misgivings. Especially ones that are based on a true need (even from his eyes--I know, hard to believe he gets it, eh?). 'Cause then he knows that he's treading dangerous reno-ground, for sure!

Now, like a lot of women, I imagine, I take it as my duty to dream BIG. No use wasting dream energy on anything small scale--the sky's the limit in my dream world, which by the way is the color of purple, since that's my favorite color and coincidentally my birthstone's as well. As a result of my "duty", I often come up with grandiose plans to upgrade any of our dilapidated situations, of which we have many at the moment with a twenty-something year-old house as our abode to tend to. But, since we can't possibly do everything at once (yes, I've conceded to this basic fact, much to my dismay), we've prioritized and our needy kitchen has ranked fairly high up on the list of "considerations for near-future projects". Our cupboard doors that have permanently dislodged from their hinges, along with counter tops that have more grout than tile and are surely infected with all kinds of micro-organisms that I don't want to think about, are just a couple of the deciding factors that confirm this baby needs a high ranking.

But I say, if you're going to redo a kitchen, isn't it understandable that you do that in conjunction with the sun room addition for the sitting area that you've been dreaming of for eons. Don't you agree? And while you're doing that, you might just as well incorporate that basement stairwell to provide a safe fire exit from the games room below that you've been meaning to get to for years, and since you have to excavate for that then you might just as well add a mini bar type area complete with stain glass windows like Cheers had to give it that real games room appeal next to the mahogany pool table you purchased as your fortieth birthday gift to each other to hold the pop and chips that you often eat down there anyway. I'm right, aren't I?

So I went on a google hunt for a gazebo style sunroom that I've been picturing in my head for our kitchen addition forever and guess what? I found something quite similar to the image in my dream-induced head. [Dear hubby, if you're reading this, brace!]

Isn't it just beautiful!!!

Okay, back to reality. Think reality, Eileen. Think retirement, Eileen. Think girls needing post secondary education, Eileen. Think of the washing machine you just had to purchase last night because your sixteen-year-old one floods the laundry room floor everytime you use it now. Think of all the other sixteen-year-old appliances you have with their functionality hanging by a fraying thread and then, if that isn't enough, think of why you consciously work on combining all your errands so that you need only make one or two treks into town a week because of those large numbers you see posted high above the gas stations you pass by each time you make those journeys into town.


Okay, I'm cured. Maybe a little more thought needs to go into this after all!

Now, all this was preparation for my word of the week, of course. Today's word for Friday's Vocabulary Enhancement section is...


And I'm even going to create my own sentence using this word before I disclose its definition. To prevent ennui, I, Eileen Astels Watson, dream BIG.

ennui: [on wee] boredom from lack of interest: weariness and dissatisfaction with life that results from a loss of interest or sense of excitement
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Have a blessed weekend everyone, and for all you mothers out there reading this: HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of you!

I would love to see some more examples of how you would use "ennui" in a sentence. Click on the word "comments" below and type in your sentence and be sure to leave your e-mail address with spaces between the ''." and the "@" or brackets around them, for your own protection, so that I can contact you if you win my next blog comment contest (to be announced soon).



Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Author Interview with Cheryl Wyatt

Today, I welcome author Cheryl Wyatt to my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview segment. Cheryl writes Contemporary Inspirational Romances with a bent on action-romance for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line. I’ve had the pleasure of reading both of Cheryl’s debut novels, A Soldier’s Promise, released in January 2008, and A Soldier’s Family, released in March 2008, and I have to say her military stories hold a lot of excitement with her heroes’ unique occupation—pararescue jumpers, and they touch the heart, as well.

Before we get into writing-related questions, will you tell us something about your hobbies, Cheryl?

Cheryl Wyatt: I love NASCAR racing and music. My husband is huge into the Christian Music Industry as a sound tech and production guy and so we’re always on the road doing concerts. I love it. We like to hit the beach as a family and take the jet ski across the water. We love to watch the fighter jets do maneuvers at the races or near the airport where we often travel from. Anything that contains an element of speed to it…I love. LOL! I also love crafts of all sorts. You name it, I’ve probably done it. Scroll saw, making chess sets with my scroll saw and clay, scrap booking, card making. I love creating things. I also love reading. I’d rather read than watch TV and can often be found snuggled beside my husband, his eyes on the TV and mine Velcroed to a book. We try to have a date night once a week with just me and him, then we also do special things with our girls.

So you definitely have the whole balancing family and career fine-tuned. Your family life sounds fun, Cheryl! I bet it was some exciting the day you received the “acceptance call”. Will you tell us about that?

Cheryl Wyatt: In September of 2006 I received the call from my dream house…Steeple Hill after seven years of waiting. My seventh story sold but I’d written 15 by then.
My debut novels recently released in Jan and Mar 2008. My third, fourth, and fifth books will release early to mid-2009. So, five books have contracted thus far.

That’s awesome, Cheryl. What a great way to start the new year with another book in your series to look forward to.

As one of Seekersville’s contributors, I know you have some experience with contests. Will you share some information about that?

Cheryl Wyatt: I was an avid contest junkie prior to publication. In fact, I didn’t submit for about three years because I felt like God veered me toward the contest circuit instead. I came in dead last the first five or so contests I entered. But within two years, I’d taken suggestions that meshed and grown as a writer to the point I had six or seven different manuscripts place in around twelve RWA, FHL and ACFW contests within a year and a half span. That pushed my work to the top of the slush pile I think and helped my now editor to request my work when I met with her at a conference. She seemed impressed with the list of finals. So I do think contests not only helped get my name out there and get me noticed as an up and coming author (meaning I was getting close to being publishable craft-wise) it grew my character as a Christian and helped me to be able to hear hard things about my writing. Contest feedback definitely helped prepare me for editorial revision notes. I highly recommend contests if you can afford them. That said, the book that sold had recently bombed in the GH. So that goes to show you this industry is highly subjective. Cold contest critiques will help prepare authors for disparate reviews too.

You mentioned that you had placed in several contests, will you share which ones? And have you received any further credits since publication?

Cheryl Wyatt: Pre-published, I placed first in ACFW’s Noble Theme contest in Contemporary Romance, and I placed first in ACFW’s Genesis Contest in Mystery/Suspense/Thriller with a different manuscript. I also double-finaled (getting first and third place) in Colorado Romance Writers Heart of the Rockies Contest. I’ve also placed second in FHL’s Touched by Love and placed in Yellow Rose, TARA, Jasmine, and several other RWA contests.

My debut novel (A Soldier’s Promise) recently received the honor of being number four on eharlequin’s Top Ten Most-Blogged-About-Books. A list which included one other Steeple Hill author (Woo-Hoo!) and several New York Times Bestselling authors. That news was pretty awesome because it included secular authors as well as Inspirational ones. Both of my debut novels have also received Top Picks from Romantic Times, which really set me on cloud nine.

Congratulations, Cheryl, that’s impressive and proves that diligence does pay off.

In addition to working on your stories, how else do you participate in the writing world?

Cheryl Wyatt: I offer a monthly prompt contest on my blog and I do several annual contests for readers as well as writers. I judge many contests and have coordinated contests in the past. I blog regularly on the above blog and also I contribute to The Seeker blog with fourteen other writers. That blog is focused on writing contests but our readership consists of both writers and readers who find the process and conversation fascinating. On I used to do reviews but hadn’t had time lately. However, I am going to start blogging for harlequin’s 100,000 book challenge to help literacy. It’s a great cause and I hope more people will join the fun with that. I have some catching up to do as far as blogging brief reviews on books I’ve read so far this year. Only about half the books need to be harlequin books. I encourage anyone reading this, whether they’re an author or a reader to zip over to the harlequin community and see what it’s all about. Just click the 100,000 book challenge link. I do speak at both writers’ events and at other women’s events and various church-related events. Although I don’t do much at my church as far as that goes. I try to stay low key and just pray behind the scenes. I love to pray for the church and for people and just want to be known there as “Cheryl who loves Jesus and is a great mom to her girls and a wife to Billy” rather than “Cheryl-the-author.” Most people at my church don’t even know that I am published. LOL! When they find out, I try to use the opportunity to encourage them to pursue the God of their given dreams. I have a heart for women and to see them grasp their purpose so they can have maximum impact while on this earth. I am inspired by women who make a difference and hope I can be one of those women. I love to mentor people, both in growing their relationships with God, using their gifts to bring Him honor, and also mentoring new writers. I still have so much to learn, but if I have anything that can help someone else, I see no reason to hold back. It is a huge time commitment, but God always honors it.

I understand you’ve also donated your time to an upcoming auction for writers.

Cheryl Wyatt: Literary Agent Kelly Mortimer right now is auctioning off several things, including first chapter critiques by me to help a fellow writer. I am gentle but honest and thorough. I hope folks will bop over to Kelly’s ebay auction and put in a bid.

That’s something that is in the works for an upcoming week soon. If you are interested in placing a bid, you may want to check back for an update on this. I’ll be sure to post it here on my blog just as soon as I receive the search engine information for I suspect Kelly will also be posting the information on her site when the bidding opens.

Here's the awaited info: The bidding opens on Tuesday, May 20th. Go to to bid on a first chapter edit by Cheryl Wyatt. Type: First Chapter Critique by Author Cheryl Wyatt in the search box.

You’re one amazing woman, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing your talents so generously!

Will you tell us about how you got started on this writing journey.

Cheryl Wyatt: I have wanted to write from the time I could hold a crayon. I’m not sure who inspired me, other than God planting the dream in my heart even long before I knew Him. But I read a Robin Lee Hatcher book years ago and it sparked something in me. I started reading the Steeple Hill books when they first came out and then eventually found Barbour’s Heartsong Presents. Something resonated in me and I wanted so badly to be able to write those books. I started hanging out on the Steeple Hill message boards. The authors, especially people like Margaret Daley, and editors and other aspiring authors were so encouraging. It’s a great community and some of those ladies have grown to be my closest friends and fiercest prayer partners today. I didn’t know at first that God was calling me to do it until much later, close to when I sold. I had just sent an e-mail when my eyes fell to my author tagline that says, “Pouring my vial of words over Him.” I felt Him ask me in my heart if I’d promise to always write as worship. I said, “Yes, Lord” and I am not kidding when I say THAT moment The Call came with my first book contract. I KNEW it was something He was blessing and leading me into.

Oh, my, that sends tingles rippling threw me. What an awesome experience, Cheryl!

Just how do you write these great stories?

Cheryl Wyatt: I used to be a pantster but because I now sell on proposal, I have to sort of know where the story is going. So I’m a reformed plotter. Meaning I do a scene index as a loose outline. But I spend a TON of time getting to know my characters. And research is intense and ongoing. More conflict usually gets thrown in as I go along. I usually have sound story structure by the time it’s over, but other people usually have to point it out to me because I have difficulty recognizing it. I don’t set out to plan themes in the book, but they’re always there. And, again, my editor or one of my initial readers such as Camy Tang or Robin Miller usually are cluing me in after the fact that I’ve woven in a certain theme. So I know God has to be in on that for it to come together without my overt knowledge. LOL! I don’t think any two writers write the same. But I can’t imagine trying to create a story without His hand over it and without His heart in it, even if it’s not overtly Christian. Something vital would be missing.

How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?

Cheryl Wyatt: It took me seven years to sell. But part of that, I pulled back from submitting after rejection clued me in that I had no idea what I was doing. LOL! I had the grave misconception that, “hey, I wrote a book…so someone should publish it, right?” Wrong. I had no idea the number of people trying to be published. But I must say, for all the competition that’s out there, this community, at least in the CBA and I’ve seen it in ABA too, this community is a community of people who champion one another’s dreams. I couldn’t have gotten to this place had others not helped and mentored me. So I hope I can continue to grow as a writer so I can give back to others who will then realize their dream of publication.

Will you share some information about the rejection process with us?

Cheryl Wyatt: I received three rejections before I sold…one of which was a detailed revision request which led to a sale after I made the suggested changes. I think I would have had more rejections had I submitted more. I’ve received a rejection since I sold too and that one stung because authors don’t really talk about how common that is and I thought I’d let my editors down. But I’ve sold three books since that time so I know rejection is just a necessary part of this industry. Rejection didn’t affect my writing except to make me all the more determined to dig in there and make my writing better. And to better communicate with my editor about the sorts of stories that will (or won’t) work.

How did you personally handle the years of learning and waiting for publication?

Cheryl Wyatt: Spiritually…staying rooted in God’s written word. The Bible is living and while it sometimes seems tedious to read it when I’d rather be reading a fiction book that’s winking at me from the night stand, the fruits of time spent in the Bible come out later at unexpected times. It’s like trying to live without water. We don’t know how thirsty we are and how it can harm us when we don’t drink deeply of His presence and His promises=The Bible. So I try to put the Bible first before my other reading and give it more attention.

Writing wise, to stay on track, some writing buddies and I have writing challenges. We pick a time devoted to writing. And we check in via phone or e-mail once every hour or two and see who got the highest word count. Then we offer a Starbucks gift card to the winner sometimes as incentive. With deadlines, it’s easier to discipline myself because I’m under legal contract to turn the work in, and to turn in quality work. It’s a matter of ethics and respect for my publishing house. When one author is late, it’s like that I Love Lucy rerun where Lucy and her friend are getting behind on the candy assembly line…so they have to start stuffing candy and chocolate in their bras. LOL! It really is a serious thing when an author misses a deadline. And while editors understand that life intrudes, they want adequate warning. So I give myself cushy deadlines to allow for emergencies and life intrusions. I don’t set a daily word count because when I’m spewing out a rough draft, I average 5,000-20,000 words per day. I don’t write every day. Some days I’m gathering data/research. Filling out character charts. Mulling over the story and characters in my mind. Or I might be brainstorming with a writing pal my characters’ GMC or arcing out my disasters, etc. for the story and getting feedback. Every day is spent doing something writing-related. But as far as typing out a certain word count every day, I don’t unless I’m rough drafting. Then I set everything else aside to do that only. I think conferences are also crucial for networking. Among other things, it shows industry professionals that you are serious about writing.

You mentioned that you had completed fifteen novels before your seventh one sold, do you intend to try and sell all of the other stories you have written?

Cheryl Wyatt: I do hope to sell most of the later ones. The early ones…about the first four… I chalk up to learning. LOL! And I dearly hope no one ever sets eyes on them…they’re really, really bad. So bad, I don’t think there is any way to fix them. LOL! But I’ve yet to turn in all my contest winners because right now my editors keep asking for books in my Wings of Refuge series (about a team of USAF pararescue jumpers and the ladies who capture their hearts). As soon as I get done with that series, I’ll start turning the others in.

Can you give us an idea of how long it originally took you to write a story in comparison to the timeframe it takes you to write one now?

Cheryl Wyatt: That is an interesting question because I have always written extremely fast. I penned A Soldier’s Promise in 8 days and A Soldier’s Family in 4. But that doesn’t include the years of research or weeks of character development and weeks of polishing and layering and proofreading. Even though my friends call me prolific and I do write extremely fast, I hold myself back because I don’t want the books to take over my life and intrude on time with my family. So I don’t put out near as many books as I could. Well, I could, but at what cost to my family? So I pace myself to about 3-5 books a year right now. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of security I’d have in having months to years to let a story gel. With 90-120 day deadlines or shorter, I don’t have the luxury of setting a story aside then coming back to it with fresh eyes. So I have to write cleaner, better the first time around. So it takes me a little longer now to get the rough draft down, but my rough drafts aren’t too far off from what I actually turn in. I am not as confident turning stuff in because many times I don’t have time to run it through a dozen critters for feedback. So it’s definitely challenged me to be a better writer the first time around. Though I think when penning a rough draft, new writers should throw caution to the wind and not worry about editing. Just get the story down. Get it written before you get it right. Otherwise you may never finish it, or have confidence that you can actually complete a book.

Good advice! Cheryl, tell us what a typical writing day is like for you.

Cheryl Wyatt: I spend from around ten am to about two-thirty every day except weekends (unless I’m on a deadline) with writing or writing-related tasks. I usually work out. Then eat. Then answer reader mail, e-mail and blog. Then I work on the current project for the rest of the day, while checking e-mail every couple of hours if I’m expecting something from my editor. I try not to write when my children are home or awake. Then I usually spend the evening between 9-11 going over what I wrote that day, or reading a fiction book or a craft book. Or judging contest entries, etc. If I have edits or galleys…I do them immediately because you never know what life will throw your way. Best not to put things off, especially things under contract. That always takes precedence over blogging, or promotion or online time. Always. I stay away from the internet when a deadline is looming. I strive to turn things in early.

As a fairly new author, how important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?

Cheryl Wyatt: I think it depends on the author and the house they write for. I don’t need an agent to sell to Steeple Hill. But I’ve found that I do not like negotiating contracts, so an agent can assist me with career guidance and be one more set of eyes to go over my stuff before it goes to my editor. I never want to slip into turning in shoddy work. I want each book to be better than the last. I also want career guidance. So it depends on what the author wants the agent for. If an author understands contract law and knows the ins and outs of a boiler plate contract, and the “negotiables” then they probably don’t need an agent. At this point, Steeple Hill and Barbour are two houses that still take unagented submissions. That said, I think the wrong agent can adversely affect an author’s career. So I think both (author and agent) should take their time in getting to know one another and find a good fit. Someone who loves the author’s work and will champion them. I do think things move faster when you have an agent and I do think most editors prefer to work with agents because one phone call can take care of lots of business and contains communication. I do like that I can still work closely with my editor, yet have someone else deal with the contract stuff.

Will you give us an idea of how revisions work once you are contracted?

Cheryl Wyatt: It depends on the project. My first book was heavily revised. It went through two sets of revisions in fact. The first time, pre-sale, it went from being a Romantic Suspense to a Romance. Then there were also revisions, to strengthen the heroine and a couple plot points, post-sale. My second book, I had about a page and a half of broad and general notes post-sale. My third book needed NO revisions! I think that’s really rare though. My fourth book will have pretty heavy revisions and possibly a rewrite according to the synopsis. I’m going to have to cut the prologue and first chapter and start the book with chapter two. And that’s only one of the revision points. But I trust my editors. They know the readership and what sells well better than I do. Most of my reader letters mention things my editors suggested I add. Then after revisions comes line edits. Then galleys come last. So the book goes through about three or four sets of edits before being shelf-ready.

In regard to self-promoting your novels, what does your publishing house expect of you?

Cheryl Wyatt: Harlequin Steeple Hill is great about promoting their authors. And I think they do well at promoting their authors equally. But even though our books are offered in the book club, where readers can get a subscription and plus the books are sold at places like Wal-mart which is a major distribution, the books have a relatively short shelf life. So marketing can only help. I think each author must do some type of marketing and promotion, even if that’s book signings or digital marketing, such as blog tours or whatever the author has time or money or interest to do. There isn’t huge pressure from Harlequin to market our stuff as opposed to some publishing houses, but they do suggest ways we can increase our sales, such as digital marketing which I think is a wave of the future. They supply each new author with The Authors Digital Tool Kit which has suggestions for promotion, such as how we can get our bios up on the eharlequin site, etc. It’s not pressure as much as it is a willingness to help us get the word out about ourselves and our books which in turn will obviously help sales. I think it’s important for readers to feel a connection with the author.

Blogging, and having a presence on places such as My Space, Facebook, Shoutlife, etc. Podcasts, video trailers, etc. My publisher has invested time and money into me, so it’s important to me to do what I can money and time-wise to help promote my books and up my sales. The market is competitive. Sales matter so promo makes sense. In addition to having really nice pens (because I’ve found those go over better than postcards) I do giveaways for readers and writers and also have a steady online presence. I’m accessible to readers with my author address (different than my personal address) and author e-mail address. I like to keep connected to readers and treat them like the blessing they are. I think that helps because when people like you and feel important to your work, they’ll tell people about your books.

Many new writers don’t know when to stop editing and revising. How do you decide when your manuscript is ready for your editor’s or agent’s eyes?

Cheryl Wyatt: When it’s time to turn it in. LOL! I never feel it’s fully ready and especially not now that my deadlines are much shorter. I always have what Mary Connealy terms “Sender’s Remorse” and I have a sense of dread every time I mail something off, even though I know I’ve tried my very best on the project. I always try to have stuff turned in a couple weeks early at least. But not so early that it’s rushed and written poorly. I really feel unpublished authors should forget about editing until the book is complete, unless they know they can finish a book. Once an author is close to being publishable, I feel feedback from a freelance editor is helpful, unless the person’s critique partners are working with editors or industry professionals and can be very frank and honest without changing the person’s voice.

You’ve given us such wonderful guidance and direction so far, Cheryl. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us. I have one last question for you, in general, do you have any further suggestions for weary authors-in-training?

Cheryl Wyatt: Don’t give up. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Stay teachable. Be willing to hear hard things about your writing. And be willing to face the fact that you might not be as far along as you thought. Ask God to put you with people who can help you on the road. And who will compliment your writing and get your voice. He is faithful. If this is something He wants you to do, He will open doors you never dreamed.

Awesome, Cheryl! Now comes the time for you to share some information about your published books. Tell us a little about your debut novels.

A Soldier’s Promise by Cheryl Wyatt (January 2008 Love Inspired)

A Soldier’s Promise was inspired by two friends who lost daughters to leukemia. Watching those girls and their mothers as they lived every mom’s nightmare, I thought, if courage could cure cancer, these girls’ fight and faith alone would have eradicated it from the earth. So that line stuck and a story unfolded from there about an eight year old boy who wanted to meet a special ops soldier.

A Soldier’s Family by Cheryl Wyatt (March 2008 Love Inspired)

A Soldier’s Family was inspired by a hard season I went through. I had a serious injury which required extensive reconstruction of my hip bone, socket, head of my femur and part of my pelvis. From injury to progression from wheelchair to walker to cane to full weight-bearing and release from PT (Pain and Torture...errrr I meant Physical Therapy) was about three years. Very tough time as I was in constant excruciating pain. So I took my pain and PT woes out on poor Manny. LOL! This book was birthed out of that hard season. Only I'm sorta jealous because he got to injure himself in a skydiving accident. At least he did it having FUN! LOL!

Next up is Ready-Made-Family (April 2009 Love Inspired)
A Soldier’s Reunion (June, 2009 Love Inspired)
And Book five in Wings of Refuge (yet to be named) also out in 2009

Cheryl: Since there is a gap between books two and three, I will be keeping readers up on happenings in fictional Refuge and the first two books' characters. I'll do this by having the cat who skitters through the series (Psychoticat) be a quest blogger once a week. I'd love folks to drop by and support him as he laments things like being forced to lounge around on fancy aztec tile and stare at people's hairy ankles all day. And also, he's sure to mention Celia forgetting his tuna AGAIN. These blogs will bridge the gap between the second and third book. My blog address is

What a creative idea. I look forward to hearing Psychoticat’s take on life in Refuge through the coming months. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, Cheryl. You’re a great inspiration to aspiring authors. I wish you and yours all the best and much success to you with your writing. I look forward to a long list of additions to your already impressive contracted list. Write on, Cheryl, and I know many of us will read on!

Cheryl Wyatt: Thank you so much for having me. I had a blast and felt honored to be featured.

That concludes this week’s featured author interview. Leave a comment for this post and you'll be entered into a drawing for the fabulous SET of Cheryl's two debut novels. Yes, not just one, but you could win both, A Soldier's Promise and A Soldier's Family autographed by Cheryl, with the luck of the draw. The draw will take place next Wednesday evening at 9:00 p.m. (my time, because I retire early. That's Eastern time if anyone likes cutting things close!) Good luck, everyone!

May 15/08: Deb W. (nm8r67) Your the lucky Winner of Cheryl's books. Please email me at eileenastels[at]rogers[dot]com with your snail mail addy.

Next week’s featured author will be Michael Snyder, author of My Name Is Russell Fink, released this past February. I’m looking forward to sharing his road-to-publication story with you all next Thursday.