Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My GIFTS to You

In the spirit of the season, I'm giving back to my wonderful readers.

TWELVE DAYS, which includes special bonus material, is FREE for Kindle today through Saturday, December 27th. So if you have a Kindle, or are gifting a Kindle this year, you can pick up a copy today!

Workaholic Joe thought that he'd provided a good life for his wife and young daughter, until the night of his daughter's Christmas Concert when his wife whispered that she wants a divorce. Joe revives an old holiday tradition with the hope of changing her mind, but it's his heart that changes most.


THE WILD QUEEN, the companion novel to my PEASANT QUEEN SERIES, is only 99 cents for Kindle through the holiday season. Again, if you are gifting a Kindle this is a great addition to the ebook collection.


Lucien, the young king of neighboring Demarde, comes to Roweena’s father seeking an alliance, but comes away with a marriage contract for young Roweena’s hand. Furious and stubborn, this untamed beauty vows he will never conquer her. But the contract purposely gives her time to come to terms with her fate.

Before Lucien can return, Roweena’s home is attacked and her parents are murdered. The Healer’s Grove is also attacked—burned to the ground. With nothing more than her horse and the clothes on her back, Roweena goes to the only person she knows can help her. Lucien.



 THE TYRANT KING, the exciting sequel to THE PEASANT QUEEN, is also only 99 cents for Kindle!



 Krystal’s peaceful life as queen of Fayterra is shattered when a stranger arrives with a connection to Jareth that threatens to change everything. Soon her loved ones are threatened, her people are under attack, and Krystal must face a devastating loss.

As the future becomes bleaker and the mystery continues to unravel, Krystal’s enemies will learn just how far she will go to defend the people she loves.


And I'm not done yet!
A HAUNTING LOVE, my ghost story novella, is now available in PAPERBACK! To celebrate I'm offering the Kindle version FREE December 26th through 28th. So if you get a Kindle for Christmas, be sure to grab your copy when you're filling your ebook library!

When her fiancé, Drew, suggests having their wedding at his family home in the Highlands of Scotland, Alita only thinks about the beauty and romance awaiting her. She’s unprepared for the frosty greeting she and her sister receive from each member of his family, particularly his domineering mother.

But nothing shocks Alita more than the odd, menacing dreams she begins to have her first night at MacColum House. Over and over again she dreams of a grisly murder—with herself as the victim!

And don't forget that GHOST BRIDE, my flash fiction ghost story, is always FREE. This one won't be around forever (hint, hint) so don't miss out!


My absolute favorite review of GHOST BRIDE is the one where the reader says she doesn't like it because it's so short and she wanted it to be longer. :)


Arianne died on her wedding night, but her ghost can't rest in peace.

Merry Christmas, my friends, and happy reading!
Cheri 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas is COMING

In the spirit of the season, I'm releasing a new Christmas story on Friday (December 5th). But you get a sneak peek at the cover right here, just for taking a look at my blog.

Here you go!

Here's the blurb:
 Workaholic Joe thought that he'd provided a good life for his wife and young daughter--until the night of his daughter's Christmas Concert when his wife whispered that she wants a divorce. Joe revives an old holiday tradition with the hope of changing her heart, but it's his heart that changes most.

Excited? I know I am.

And I'm sure you'll be happy to know that my Black Friday sale of A Haunting Love went really well. (That's the Kindle link, btw) The print version should be available next week. If you missed it, here's the blurb and cover for HL:




When her fiancé, Drew, suggests having their wedding at his family home in the Highlands of Scotland, Alita only thinks about the beauty and romance awaiting her. She’s unprepared for the frosty greeting she and her sister receive from each member of his family, particularly his domineering mother.

But nothing shocks Alita more than the odd, menacing dreams she begins to have her first night at MacColum House.  Over and over again she dreams of a grisly murder—with herself as the victim!


Things are happening! Stay tuned for more exciting news.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo is Here!

Hey, look at that! October is over, Halloween is done, and Lizzie Lilac is nestled among the published books of 2014.

Now it's time to write something new.

If you're here at my blog you've probably at least heard of NaNoWriMo--short for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November, and participants must start the work in November and write at least 50,000 words.

Last year I didn't technically win, but last year I wrote over 60,000 words in 2 SEPARATE WORKS in November. So I'm calling that a personal victory.

This year I have a lot on my plate, writing wise. That's in addition to the barely controlled chaos that is my life. But I don't have the time to devote 30 days to one book. So here's what I'm doing for NaNo this year:

I've decided on 7 carefully selected days to devote to my NaNo project. 7. SEVEN. That's 50,000 words in seven days, or roughly 7143 words a day. Yes, it's ambitious. Yes it's crazy.

But that's all the time I have to devote to a new story this November.

Thing is, I've done it before. And I can do it again. I'm choosing days that I don't have dr's or orthodontist appts for my kids or my husband. I'm choosing days where everyone else is either at school or at work, which gives me at least 6 hours of uninterrupted writing time. And all of these days are within the first 18 days of the month, so we'll know rather quickly whether or not I'm making it work.

And today, November 1st, is not a designated NaNo day. It's a Saturday, for crying out loud, and my whole family is home and I have priorities.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lizzie Lilac and the Left Socks Launch

Yes, it's true. I've launched a new book into the world. If you missed the amazing launch party we had online Monday night, I'm sorry. I wish everyone could have been there. It was a blast and the comments and feedback about the book were outstanding. Silverbow Promotions put together the launch and we had prizes like 2 limited edition Lizzie Lilac dolls and one very cute troll statue. I made the dolls myself but I can't take credit for the statue. The incredible Deirdra Eden found a sculptor willing to donate him for our cause.
Launching this particular children's book in October is not coincidental. You may be asking yourself what it has to do with Halloween. Well, nothing. But October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month and this book has deep roots in the cause. In fact it was inspired in part by a friend's struggle with the disease.

Some of you may remember my friend Becky. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2011, just after my first novel was published and just before I received my first royalty check for said novel. Becky's particular cancer was aggressive, so the doctors acted quickly. Just two days after her diagnosis she was in surgery. Two days. She didn't even have time to come to terms with any of it, to process it. Then she's under the knife. I felt for her, our daughters are friends, I wanted to do something.

So I donated all my book royalties to the family to help them with the practical expenses related to fighting cancer. As a friend I helped in any way I could. But still I wanted to do more. While talking about that desire with my daughter, we came up with the concept of the Lizzie Lilac book. Originally it was going to be Lizzie Blue (because Becky's daughter's favorite color was blue), but we found the alliteration to be more fun with Lizzie Lilac.

I've had so much help with this book. No kidding. Breast cancer is one of those things that motivates us. It moves us emotionally. If you haven't been personally affected by the disease you have a family member, close friend, or even colleague who has. Lizzie Lilac and the Left Socks has a mission.
The back text reads, in part:
Author’s note: A few years ago, K.C. Rose and I got some devastating news: a sweet friend and mother had an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. Since I had just launched my first novel into the world, I decided to donate all my royalties for a period of months to the family to help them fight this horrible invader. But it wasn’t enough—we knew we could do more. That’s where the concept of the Lizzie Lilac book was born. This book is not only dedicated to our friend (who is now cancer free!!) and her family, but also to all the families who struggle with this disease. K.C. and I make no profit from sharing this story—everything we raise will go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah to help them help others.
Thank you for being part of our fight. ~Cheri Chesley

Huntsman's took great care of Becky during her treatments, so that's where the donations are going. I don't make any money off this book. I never will. If Huntsman's turns away our donations after a while I'll donate the royalties to another cancer fighting organization. Or to families directly. I have friends who have donated editing services, promotion services, and even prizes to see this book make a successful launch out into the world. And hopefully change lives. 

Right now we're in the blog tour phase of the launch. The tour starts with  Cupcakes and Books and runs through October 25th. There's a free signed copy of Lizzie Lilac and a $50 Amazon gift card up for grabs, so please check it out.

To pick up your own copy of Lizzie Lilac and the Left Socks, click HERE. You can also read it's reviews, which if I may say are pretty favorable.

And now I'm going to share my favorite illustration from the book. Enjoy!




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2015

You know how some numbers just appeal to you? Like, you may not realize it but you have a favorite number. I like 5. I like 15.

2015 has a good ring to it.

Because we're already more than halfway done with 2014 and summer is never a good time for my creative work I'm choosing to be kind to myself. And to my family, because they are most important.

"You are a mother, first and foremost. Second comes your writing."

Truth.

So while I am working on stories off and on I'm not killing myself to meet an arbitrary deadline. When the kids come up with an activity or something they want to do/watch/say I'm not getting all bent out of shape about what I'm not doing with my stories.

Like I said, I'm being kind to myself.

Of course once school starts again and I have hours to myself every day that's going to change. It will be like going back to work. I'm going to focus on finishing the edits and formatting of my Christmas story for this year. And then on releasing a book in January. 2015. Then my sweet romance short story in Feb for Valentines, like I've been trying to do for going on 3 years now.

And then, who knows? Maybe I'll be ready to release another book in March or April. So, yes, I'm going to be intensely busy this fall and winter. And I accept that.

An author I greatly admire has said recently, while dealing with her own setbacks, trials, and frustrations, that what she's good at and has always been good at is working hard. I'm not that good at working hard. I can do okay in spurts but invariably my crushing sense of "I'm not good enough" always returns to slow and often halt my progress. And while I haven't released a book in 2 years now I have been trying, working, at improving my SELF so that I can be the hard worker I long to be.

Everyone has their trials and difficulties. For some it's mostly an internal struggle. For others, they've beaten the internal struggle and then may develop physical limitations. I'm no exception. But I haven't given up.

And I'm not going to give up. My progress may be slow, it may even appear nonexistent at times, but I am working toward my goals.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What I've Learned

This is my family, circa 1979. As far as I know it's the last group shot of all of us together--mom, dad, 5 kids.

This is the remnant of wholeness I tried to cling to my entire childhood.

And into adulthood. Let's not mince words.

My parents divorced just before I turned 5. My father died 2 and a half years later, the spring before I turned 8.

Poof. Just like that.

With Fathers Day being just yesterday, I wanted to post a few things about what my dad taught me. Because for years, if anyone had asked, I would have told them that I never learned anything from my father. How could I? He wasn't around most of my life, and the part he was around for I don't remember. Really. I have precious few memories of anything before 3rd grade.

This is the family I grew up with. Us kids and Mom. This is what I remember. We weren't always so dressed up, or pleasant, or goofy (looking at me down there) but it was the 6 of us.

I missed my dad like you wouldn't believe. I missed what I didn't know--which doesn't make a lot of sense but I missed what I thought I should have. Even dysfunctional, even apart from us, I wanted a dad.

If you were raising a family around me during my childhood and happened to be a dad, I apologize. I was very hard on the dads around me. I held them to an almost impossible standard, and was unforgiving of their faults. If they screwed up, it took months or years to get back into my theoretical good graces.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was forming a list of the qualities I wanted my kids to have in their dad. And I was a tough, tough taskmaster.

I don't want to sit here and idealize my father. He made mistakes, and some of those mistakes cost him dearly. But he wasn't the villain in the story. Everyone makes mistakes, and we don't get to choose the consequences. Sometimes it's a far heavier price than we'd like to bear.

It took me years, almost into my 30's, before I finally stopped looking at my dad's death as something that happened to me and saw it as something that happened to him. In the months and years before he died he was in constant pain. Yet he worked anyway because he had family to provide for. So when he got home he was tired, hurting like I can't even comprehend, and it made him grumpy. For a long time I looked at my father's legacy as that one time I can remember him yelling at me. My single memory of him. And it wasn't enough.

Now, though, I can look back and understand that in some ways his death was a release for him. It's not something he would have chosen, even as miserable as he was, but I imagine his pain only getting worse with age and how miserable his existence would have been had he lived to my adulthood. I can see the mercy there.

And I can see what he taught me. First, my father taught me to make the most of every moment, and to make the little moments precious. You never know when you're going to go (42 is NOT that old, after all) so you need to make the most of the moments you have. Your last day on earth could come in 70 years, or it could come tomorrow. We just don't know. Your time is precious--don't waste it.

He also taught me that the world goes on. The day we got the news that he'd died was the worst day of my life. I remember watching my mom cry all over the phone receiver and knowing it was bad, feeling that deep, sinking feeling inside me. Bawling all over my brother in the recliner. Wishing that it was a lie, that someone was wrong, that he wasn't dead.

But the sun set on that day and rose the next morning. We got up, dusted ourselves off, and after a while started living again. We grew up, married, started families, took vacations, and lived our lives. And we're still doing it.

The hard truth is part of the person I am today came about because my father died when I was seven years old. The underlying strength, the determination, the appreciation of seemingly unimportant moments. I look at life differently than a lot of people, especially those who have not had this experience (not that I recommend it!). And if I'm going to be okay with the person I am, then I have to be okay with the path that brought me here.

Because the view from here is spectacular.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Celebrate You

There's something you should probably know. I haven't wanted to share this because of all the guilt and embarrassment that goes along with such a confession. In fact, I'd rather nobody ever talks about this ever again.

But you could say I'm taking my doctor's advice on this one. And because so much of my life is public, I'm sharing publicly.

This time last year I went to the dr and weighed in at 237 lbs. Today at that same dr, on her same scale, I weighed 157.

Quick math here. That's a loss of 80 lbs. That's like, an 8 or 9 yr old. Seriously.

There's so much that went into that weight gain. So much emotional trauma, depression, hurt, pain--all the wahookey associated with self loathing. And it all hit me pretty hard right around the time my first novel was published, which affected how I marketed said novel--so pathetically most people don't even know it exists. I still believe in my book but I missed that precious marketing window.

Which of course added to the pain/trauma/weight issue.

Finally I woke up. I say finally but we're really talking about three years. For a lot of people that's not a long time to be overweight. And many people may make light of it because they've been heavier longer. But we're talking about me, and I had hit bottom. I got scared. I was sick of being tired and sleeping half the day away. I was sick of not accomplishing goals and having to thrift shop for bigger clothes every few months. I didn't want to shorten my quality and quantity of life any more than I already had.

So I took a drastic step. I'd tried other things half heartedly with little to no success. This time I committed. Thousands of dollars, I won't lie. And it was hard. Spending that kind of money on myself was like pulling out all my teeth without anesthetic. Hard. There have been days I have questioned why I did it. There have been days I've wondered about the logic of it all.

But it wasn't surgery. It's a food plan. A health plan. A way to re-learn how I look at food and how to use it properly. At first it was pretty easy to stay on plan and watch the scale tick down. It got harder. We hit a serious financial wall and I had to go off the plan for a bit. Going back on and staying faithful has been really, really rough. Right now as I type this just 10 lbs short of my goal I feel like I want to quit. Again. I won't--I'll stick it out and see it through, but it's been incredibly hard.

It's taken a lot of my focus. Focus that could have gone into writing and publishing books. That's why we're talking about this on my author blog--not because I want everyone to applaud my success, but because I want to explain to the majority of my readers who have been clamoring for the next book I've promised and promised (and have yet to deliver). Some days it was all I could do to stick to this new learning plan, my "classes" so to speak. And, naturally, parenthood comes first, so my kids' needs supersede my readers needs. I don't apologize for that, but I do wish there were more hours in the day.

But as I sat there today in my doctor's office and she kept wow-ing over my weight loss all I could say was that I was embarrassed that I'd let it get so out of control. Some things were in my power to change, some weren't. My reactions were ALWAYS in my power to change. Basically, I made a choice to get fat. I made a choice to lose the weight.

So my doctor pointed out, as my physician, that that sort of negative thinking wasn't healthy. It wasn't a helping or healing mentality and it doesn't do anyone any good. And I have to wonder why we do these things to ourselves? Instead of looking at a success with a sense of accomplishment, we nitpick how we could have made it better. We downplay our efforts and our successes.

Why do we do that? Most people don't have a fan club that follows us around cheering our accomplishments. Sometimes we have to be our own cheerleaders. But we don't. Why? Because we're taught boasting is wrong. But are we boasting? I don't walk up to strangers and say, "Hi. I've lost 80 lbs. What did you do this year?"

Significant weight loss is a difficult thing to hide. I've gotten a lot of attention for it. That's not why I did it. I'm nobody's poster child for anything.

Look, this has gotten a bit long winded but what I really want you to do is stop and think. What have you accomplished today? This week? This year? Did you grow a human? Did you publish a book? Did you manage to keep your kids alive and the house standing for one more day?

Congratulations. Throw some confetti in the air and celebrate. Celebrate you, because you're worth it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

She Made it Easy

I can't write this post without crying. That being said, here we go.
This. Is my favorite person in the whole world. Sorry kids, sorry Bryan. It's true. And I'm not really sorry. No one can dispute I love all my kids, but Bry . . . it goes so much deeper than that.

It all started almost nineteen years ago. Many of you have heard the story. I got up late for church, threw on some clothes, tied my hair up in a weird braid thing because it was way overdue for a trim, and went to church with my mom. There I met the man who would become my husband. That hot, August day changed my life.

But there's something you should know.

I saw her first.

This adorable, new-to-me blond skipped up the aisle followed by a pair of legs. Twice. When I left the chapel that same blond was skipping circles around my mom and some guy. We talked. I invited them to lunch. He and I skipped last hour to chat in the chapel where we would be alone. I should have known then it was the beginning of the rest of my life.

But I saw her first.

Bry continues to impress me with her excellent decision making paradigm, large or small. She impresses me just by getting up every morning. I love her so much, more than she will ever comprehend. She's always been a constant in my thoughts, plans, and dreams. When we looked for a car, we thought of her. When we bought a house, we thought of her. One of my happiest memories was decorating her first bedroom with us, even if she'd only spend a handful of days there.

She taught me so much about my own depth and capacity to love. She opened my heart for others to squeeze in there. But she was always in there first.

After the wedding her mom and I hugged and she thanked me for my presence in her life. We haven't always had the smoothest relationship and I'm not good on the fly so my tongue tied up a bit. I said something kind to her that was completely heartfelt. But what I wanted to say was that all I ever had to do was love Bry--and she made that so easy.

So easy.

I smiled so much at the wedding that by the time I sat down at the reception my cheeks hurt. Just watching her and listening to her made me smile.

Do you know how she chose her bridesmaids' dresses? She told her friends, "this is the color, knee length. Get what you like." And it worked out great.

She walked barefoot at her wedding. Barefoot. :) She simply said, "It's on grass."

She loved her dress because her aunt made it for her. Sure, Bry helped design it but seriously I don't think she cared that this or that may have not worked out perfectly. She loved her dress because her aunt made it. And it was a beautiful dress.

And even though I wasn't able to match the green perfectly for my sons' usher shirts, she didn't even care. I think--I'm certain--that it bothered me more than her.

Bry and Chris have their own story, and they have embarked on a wonderful journey together. I'm so, so happy to add him to the family. Bry made an excellent decision there, too, even if it apparently took him a little longer to catch up. ;) I found out her friends called her a hummingbird and I couldn't agree more. They know her. They really do, and that's precious.

But I saw her first. And in a way she will always be mine. I love you, Bry. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why Writing is Like Marriage

Yesterday my husband, Bryan, and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Yes, you read that right. Our marriage is now a legal adult and can vote.

Naturally as this day approached I started reflecting on the last couple of decades of my life and relating the things I've learned in my marriage to other aspects of my life. Like my writing, which is what this blog is all about and why I'm boring you with my personal love story and showing you this picture of two adorable, clueless people.

So why is writing like a marriage? Or, how has my marriage been like my writing career?

First of all, a person doesn't--or shouldn't--approach marriage with the idea that if it doesn't work out then they can just stop. Leave. Get out. At least I didn't. When I accepted writing as my life's calling (or one of them, really) I did the same thing. I don't have an exit strategy for when it gets hard. Period. I. Don't. Have. One. My reasoning is simple. On the marriage hand, I'd be sacrificing so much good and doing so much damage by not trying to work through the rough spots. On the writing hand, not writing is like not breathing. I can't really just stop.

Secondly, a person (in this case me) doesn't step into a marriage expecting it will all be fun and lollipops and chocolate bonbons. (I married a divorced man with a child so obviously there were going to be issues. Still I had no clue how hard that would become, but that's neither here nor there). Writing is the same. There are days when it's just flowing along seamlessly and weeks, months, or even years when it's not. When I'm bogged down by my own insecurities or my own time management issues. But it's important so I work at it.

You've noticed that word twice now, haven't you. Work.  Probably the single biggest parallel I've noticed between my marriage and my writing career is that they both require work. Effort on my part. Actual thought, planning, and patience. No one can have a successful marriage without putting real effort into it. It's not always easy to live with the same person for years on end. Sometimes they get on your nerves. Sometimes they're gone for long stretches for work and you have to adapt without them and then when they come back you're used to doing everything without them and have to adapt again to let them back in.

Writing--or any career, really--requires work. Effort. There are countless hours I put into plotting, thinking, reasoning, and yet that's not even half the work involved. Then I have to actually sit down and physically type. Then collate all my notes and type some more. Then read. Over and over until my eyes practically bleed. Then send it to others to read and offer feedback that I then have to decide what to do about. And for every writer it's different. Some of us can do this process in a matter of weeks. Others months. Others are lucky if they can get one book out a year.

All that work takes time, which is what all this boils down to. My marriage is a priority to me so I invest my time in it. A lot of time. I'd say only my kids get the kind of time I devote to my marriage. Not even my writing gets that much.

But my writing is third on that list. After husband and kids comes words. Because if I want to have a successful writing career (and I'm not defining success for you because that's personal and individual) then I have to give it my time. And that would be the same if I wanted to be a professional dog walker, or an artist, or a manicurist.

But I don't. I want to be a writer.
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