Today we’re here to celebrate a very dear friend’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday, Hannah Cerasoli!
To help us celebrate, I’ve invited one of Hannah’s favorite authors and best friends: Cheryl Wyatt! Welcome, Cheryl! (And since Hannah likes purple and blue--like me!--the interview will be in those colors! My lines/questions are in blue and Cheryl's responses are in purple.)
Cheryl: Thanks Amber! Hannah, HAPPY, HAPPY DAY!
Amber: To start, I think we should brag a bit on our dear friend. ;) How long have you known Hannah, and what are some of the things you love most about her?
Cheryl: I’ve known Hannah for awhile, can’t recall when we first met, but I feel blessed to know her. She has been so supportive of my writing and of our Seekerville blog. That support means so much. Hannah has an amazing faith. She is wise beyond her years and she is an overcomer. We have a lot in common in that I’ve struggled with chronic pain and there is a connection between people who go through that. Words aren’t needed to describe how chronic pain and disease can affect every single area in a person’s life. I know that God has wonderful plans for Hannah’s future and I’m so thankful for her being the kind of person who is a role model to young girls my daughters’ ages.
Amber: There is so much to admire about Hannah--her kindness, her perseverance, her strength. You put it so well!
If we could give Hannah a real party (not just a cyber one), what sort of theme would you suggest? Could you maybe give us a brief description of some of the decorations, party favors, games, etc.?
Cheryl: I would probably do either a book theme or a journal theme, since I got to know her on her Project Journal blog. I would stealthily find out her favorite colors and decorate it to the max with her favorite things. Games would be classic literature trivia, pin the comma on the author (LOL!) and other bookish/readerly games. Fun stuff like neon Kool-Aid, etc.
Amber: Sounds awesome! (And I got lucky and found out Hannah's favorite colors because they're the same as mine!)
Hannah always speaks so highly about your books. What sort of books do you write, and what are you currently working on?
Cheryl: I write action-driven romance. I love to write about rescuers and others in noble careers. I’m currently revising the last book in Wings of Refuge, a series that features a team of elite U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJs for short). I’m also plotting a book that Hannah, my niece Gidge and I and another young reader (waving to Brooke!) brainstormed on Facebook about people with strange phobias. Maybe I’ll offer it as a free online read on my blog or something once it’s complete. But the phobias were cracking us up, especially the one where the person has a fear of being watched by ducks. Hysterical! I’m also brainstorming a book that features a carriage driver. I met with my research helper today (waves to Angie from St. Louis!) and we are having SO much fun plotstorming this series, which I think I’ll title Romance on the River because it’s set along rural areas of the Mississippi River.
Amber: Very cool! ;)
What first inspired you to write, and how did you end up writing for Steeple Hill’s “Love Inspired” series?
Cheryl: I have always loved to write, since before I could use a Crayon. I think it’s something I was created for. Writing for Steeple Hill is a dream-come-true. I love the books and have read them for over a decade, since they first came out. I love romance because it provides a happy ending, guaranteed. I loved reading the books and Steeple Hill (now called Love Inspired) was my absolute first choice in a publisher. They are quick reads, wholesome and the editors and team at Harlequin are fabulous.
Amber: If you had to pick one of your characters to plan a birthday party for, which character would it be and what would the party be like? (If you have a birthday party scene in one of your books, could you maybe share a little of it with us?)
Cheryl: I would probably give a birthday party to Bradley, the little boy in my debut novel (A Soldier’s Promise) because he had cancer and nearly died. So he almost didn’t have another birthday. His story really touched a lot of readers and I fashioned him after two friends’ daughters who, sadly, both at age 8, lost their battles to Leukemia. Their courage was an inspiration and I’d give Bradley a party on their behalf. I did write a birthday party scene in a book, Soldier Daddy. It was a scene that made me cry when I wrote it and that rarely happens. The twins are having a birthday party and there is an empty chair at the table. One twin rushed from his chair and brings his mother’s picture in and sets it on the table. His mom had died in a car crash when he was a baby. He said to his dad that moment, “Now Mommy will get to be at our birthday party too.” Or something similar. The heroine saw that it nearly bowed over the hero with out-of-nowhere grief and she supported him emotionally in that moment. I have had so many reader letters about that scene, I know it touched others too, especially those touched by some loss of their own.
Amber: Wow! That definitely sounds like a powerful scene!
Now, feel free to send a shout-out to Hannah here, if you’d like! ;)
Cheryl: Hannah, you have suffered more in your young life than some people will know in a lifetime. I know you feel bad or feel like you complain all the time but NO one is in your shoes and has the right to judge you. The doctors may not have all the answers but God is The Great Physician. I don’t know why He is allowing you to suffer through so much pain but you are an inspiration to those of us watching you go through it. You may feel shaky and uncertain and like a pain at times but your faith is solid and the person you come out of this on the other side is going to amaze people. God is faithful and never will He abandon you. When no one knows what you’re going through, He does. He loves you so much and I pray that you know how He sees you and have faith for the plans He has for you, to give you a future and a hope. You have such a gift of encouraging others even when you’re struggling. You amaze me and I know God is so very proud of you. Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, HAPPY Birthday. Love you bunches!
Amber: Thank you so, so much for joining us on this very special day, Cheryl!
Now, what's a birthday without cake, music, and gifts??? So, since Hannah and I have talked about our hope to one day go see Phantom of the Opera together, I thought we should have a masquerade-themed party!
Here's the birthday cake:
(Cake image is from Stewart Dollhouse Creations.)
After we've had our fill of cake, I think we should get all dressed up and dance the day and night away! Who wouldn't want to dance to this song? (And yes, Hannah, we'll have to do a dance-off!)
Also, we have a gift for one lucky party guest! Cheryl has offered to give away a signed copy of her book A Soldier's Devotion. Just leave a comment for Hannah along with your e-mail address!
Extra Entry: To get into the masquerade party mood (and to borrow one of Seekerville's cool ideas!), you can get an extra entry by changing your blogger profile picture for today to a picture with a mask--any sort of mask will do!
Hannah, my dear texting buddy and fabulous friend, I hope you enjoy the party and that you have an amazing day here among your blogging friends who love you very much!!!