Cheri Crowell is a speaker and writer. Her much requested Hello God, Is This Really You day seminars and weekend retreats formed the basis for her new book Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life.
Welcome, Cheri! Thanks for dropping by. Can you give me a little bit of information about your publishing history?
I began writing in 2000 after a 15 year career in youth and children’s ministry. After a rocky start (my first contract was withdrawn, leaving me to question this calling), I decided to become a magazine writer expert. I figured rejection would hurt less with articles I now realize God had given me a taste of success which would fuel me as I learned the publishing lay-of-the-land. Then, seven years later I was ready and He fulfilled my heart’s desire for a book.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
I began with that dream, but tucked it away when the contract was withdrawn.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
I’ve already mentioned the contract issue, but more importantly, I’ve struggled with my own self-talk. I needed those seven years to really believe I had what it takes to carry the message- in a book and in my speaking.
What has been the best part about being published?
Hearing from readers that what you wrote helped them through a difficult time. On the funny side, it tickles me when I say to people I have a book published and when they ask with whom and I say “Beacon Hill” their eyes get big. Then I say, “Yes, I know, I did it the hard way.”
Will you share how you come up with ideas for your books?
My first book is about an issue I struggled with for years- knowing God’s will, or more to the point, how to discern God’s will. My second book (I’m awaiting a contract offer) came about because of my love of the Church and my heartache for those who view her as irrelevant. I believe we need to have passion for the subjects we write about.
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
LOL, all writers must begin with a skeleton outline as publishers need to know where we are going and if we have enough “there” for a book. However, there is a big difference between this sort of an outline and a detailed outline. When I was writing this book, I had fallen a bit behind and was fearful I’d not meet my deadline- a big mistake. So, I decided to try my hand at a detailed outline. I spent two days working on this outline- two days from writing. I then set about to write that chapter. Well, it didn’t take long before I was no where near my outline, but I liked what God and I were doing so I kept on writing. My chapter didn’t look anything like my outline, but I was happy with the end product. (I did meet my deadline after all.)
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your book?
That decision-making God’s Way is about a process; it’s not a hidden will we are to find. God loves us so much more than that. He wants you to grow in relationship with Him so much so that your will and His are the same. The six-question process my book reveals is a means for developing that intimate relationship.
What are your dreams for your writing?
I am blessed to be attending Asbury Theological Seminary where I’m earning a Masters in Theological Studies. My goal is to take the wonderful things I’m learning and translate that for the building up of the body of Christ.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given/learned in your life as a writer?
Seek to serve and not to be served; writers write everyday; writers are readers; and the more you learn the more you know how much you need to learn.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out as a writer for publication?
That the writing journey is just that- a journey and the relationships you begin when you first start out are ones you’ll carry with you for life. Therefore, every person you meet is worthy of your time and attention.
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?
In some ways it was bumpy, and at the time it felt downright pot-holed. But looking back I can see how I was saved from the monster of defeat. That monster steals more dreams than rocky roads.
For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?
I was an unusual case. It was 13 months. My publisher had an opening in their pub schedule and asked if I could meet their deadlines. If I could I had a contract. “Of course,” was my answer.
Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
My agent is Les Stobbe, a giant in the publishing industry. I got him by accident; I wasn’t looking for an agent. I had a proposal I couldn’t get interest in and so I submitted it at a writers’ conference to be examined by an expert. Les was the expert who received my proposal and he like it and offered me a contract.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?
A publicist. I received a scholarship for a six-month contract with Kathy Carlton Willis. She has been a blessing. I’ve tripled my output working with her and will find a way to hire her for the next book release.
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?
I planned and executed my own book tour, speaking in churches and doing book-signings. I increased my speaking to promote the book, and I’ve written numerous articles tying themes from the book to current events.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
My website www.DirectionAndDiscernment.com, Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and your local Christian bookstores.