I have just finished reading Cheryl Wyatt's first book, A Soldier's Promise. This is a wonderful story about a young boy with cancer, a USAF Pararescue jumper, and a special education teacher. Through a Make A Wish Foundation type request, these three people are thrown together for a whirlwind of parachutes, small town memories, insecurities, and love. There are a few surprise twists as all three try to find what they really want in their lives. Read on for an interview with Cheryl!
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.
Cheryl Wyatt's closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN-turned-SAHM, joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She's convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine's Day destined her to write military romance.
Prior to publication, Cheryl took courses through Christian Writers Guild. An active member of RWA, FHL and ACFW, she won numerous awards with multiple manuscripts. Visit her on the Web at www.CherylWyatt.com. Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at www.Scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com. You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at www.SteepleHill.com.
Cheryl, what was your favorite book as a child?
Seriously? The dictionary. I loved storybooks of any kind, and especially books about The Littles. Anyone remember those miniature people who lived in the mouse holes? I'm sure they're still in circulation...somewhere. LOL!
What values in these books influence your life today?
The dictionary gave me a love for words, and an arsenal of high-powered verbs that I can still use today.
The Littles book made me dream of the ability to create a fictional world with fictional people where I could control everything and give them a happy ending. I remember loving The Littles because they always pulled together and helped each other out of trouble. Their little miniature world was fascinating and I would live in it for hours and hours at a time, simply awestruck. I remember feeling sad that when the stories would end, even though they had happy endings. I would miss the characters so much, I would make up new stories in my mind for them or extend their current story beyond The End. I wouldn't write them down, just spend hours imagining. I'm sure God used those books to sprinkle water on the dreams He planted in my heart before I even knew Him. I'm also sure any child psychologist reading this right now is gravely concerned about my retreat into this fantasy world and the effect it's had on my sanity. LOL! I turned out okay....honest.....now, what did you say my name was again? Oh, really? Is she the one who punctuated my fragile, fuzzy tamborine with a purple elephant, or was it...RUN FOR THE HILLS, Moses! It's raining plastic ducks! Yeah. I'm A-Okay. :-) Wink.
How did you get the idea for A Soldier's Promise and and the rest of the series?
The story idea came out of a difficult time in that I watched two friends lose their daughters to leukemia after valiant battles. As I sat back and prayed for the little girls and prayed for the mothers who were literally living every mother's nightmare, all I could think was if courage could cure cancer, these girls' fight and faith alone would eradicate it from the earth. The courage and strength those little girls displayed, even to the moments of their deaths, is something that will forever be branded in my heart and mind. Their courage sparked the idea for my debut novel which features a little boy and his brave fight with cancer, and the development of the romance of the two people determined to make the rest of his life matter.
When I heard about the death of pararescue jumper Jason Cunningham during a military mission where he lost his life trying to save other soldiers, it sparked something in me. This true story inspired me to do something to honor PJs and their families, so I began learning everything I could about them considering they're Special Forces soldiers. The series idea came from years of research and an utter fascination with the pararescue creed, which is strikingly similar to Biblical teachings and things Jesus said. Things like, "greater love has no man that this, that he lay his life down for his friends." Part of the pararescue creed is: "These things we do, so others may live."
What is the key message you would like your readers to find in this book?
I wish them to find whatever God knows they need at this particular point in their life and in their relationship with Him. Remembering God's promises and realizing He never loses sight of our dreams, even when we do. Also, surrendering every part of our lives to Him. Not just the present, but our pasts and futures as well. Seeing Him rightly in any given circumstance knowing He never changes or breaks a promise. I wish God to be magnified through the story, and for Him to be able to reach through the pages and touch a human heart with happy tears and hearty laughter.
What struggles do you face as you write and how do you work through them?
I struggle with my mess draft in that I have to write it mind-bogglingly fast or I lose momentum and get confused. If I get disrupted, I tend to rewrite scenes when I am able to return to my work, even if it's five minutes later. LOL! So I end up with a mess of chapters that have the same scenes written like FIVE different ways. LOL! One struggle is pushing out the first draft. Also, stitching the pieces together in proper sequence since scenes tend to come to me out of order. If I don't write them down when I get them, POOF! They're gone. LOL! It's like putting a very frustrating puzzle together. LOL! But once I have the bones of the story down and in a sensible sequence, things flow better and I fall in love with the story again. I plow through my struggles by running to God through prayer and letting Him help me resist the urge to delete my computer out a second story window. LOL! Then with His faithful prodding, I roll my typing sleeves up, dig my git-er-done heels in and push through it.
RT REVIEW QUOTE
"Cheryl Wyatt infuses A Soldier's Promise (4.5) with kindness, compassion and love. Plus, each character in this strong story is multilayered. When young Bradley, a boy dying of cancer, writes to the Air Force Pararescue team, he gets to meet jumper Joel Montgomery, who connects with Bradley and feels an instant and shared attraction to the boy's teacher, Amber Stanton. This absolutely fantastic debut novel proves that while challenges and boundaries are not always easily resolved, they're definitely worth the work."
---Robin Taylor-Romantic Times Reviewer
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