Cheryl St.John is the author of over forty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance.
In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations.
Jeanie: Cheryl, you’ve written over fifty published books, and received multiple Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and four RITA nominations. You’ve taught writing on both local and national levels.
How did you get started?
Cheryl: The first story I ever wrote was called The Pink Dress. I stapled the pages into a book and drew a cover. I don’t remember how old I was. Maybe eleven.
Many years later, I wrote a short story, submitted it, and received a rejection from Redbook magazine. I was fourteen and I still have the story and the rejection slip.
I still remember the feeling of rejection and disappointment when I received it.
My first complete novel was titled The Rebel. I’m actually too embarrassed to tell you what it was about. I was sixteen.
I wrote in notebooks for years while my children were growing up, and I started a couple of books that way.
Jeanie: In your book, Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, you share techniques to add spark to characters, plots and dialogue. In your opinion and given today’s market, how much does that factor into sales?
Cheryl: A story is feelings. If you want to engage readers in your stories, your characters and their plights must hook into the reader’s emotions. We read fiction to feel something, be it fear, excitement, amusement, all from the relative safety of our armchairs.
If we want to hook a reader, we must make him care. To make him care, we must learn the things that trigger our own emotions and utilize them effectively. One we’ve made the reader feel engaged, they will confidently buy our next book.
Jeanie: What tips would you give to other aspiring romance authors, looking to be published?
- Believe in yourself. There will be times when no one else believes in you, so you have to draw on and draw out the writer inside.
- Study your craft. Study. Study.
- Read. Read. Read.
- Network and find a writing group.
Jeanie: How can we pray for you?
Cheryl: My prayer each year is for God to show me how I can glorify Him with the gifts and abilities He’s given me.
“Lord, help me encourage others to be everything You’ve called them to be and to receive the fullness of life You offer them.”
(John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” )
Jeanie: Cheryl, thanks for chatting with us.