Interview with Author Mary Lou Cheatham and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m pleased to introduce you to Mary Lou Cheatham. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mary Lou at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this September, and I’m so excited that she asked to be on my blog!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Hello, Hallee. Thank you for this opportunity. I grew up in south Mississippi between Hot Coffee and Taylorsville on a hill farm.When I was a child, we didn’t have television. For entertainment and edification, my family listened to the radio, read, played games, and visited relatives. In the evenings, my siblings, cousins, and I sat by the fire or on the front porch and listened to tall tales my parents delighted in sharing. They were two of the best story tellers who have ever lived.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher used to let me go outside and sit on the walkway if I finished my work before some of the others. She encouraged me to write poems. In the sixth grade I decided to write novels, but I didn’t get back to my writing plans until I was fifty something.

At every opportunity I took college courses. I taught high school English, as well as other grades and subjects. At the age of forty-two I became a registered nurse. My late husband, who was a musician and college band director, suffered from Guillain Barré Syndrome. Permanently paralyzed, he required constant nursing for five years. After he passed away, I devoted my time to writing.

Here are a few personal notes about my relationships. My daughter and her husband are agricultural advisors. She consults with dairymen throughout the nation about their calves and heifers. He works with farmers in Texas. Three years ago I married John Cooke, a retired petroleum landman. I inherited four stepchildren, their mates, and four grandchildren. John and I live in north Louisiana.

I’ve never been so happy about my occupation. I spend every minute possible writing novels. When I self-publish, it is necessary to contribute book covers. John has designed some of these.

Tell us about your current release: As Doves Fly in the Wind, was published in October 2017. It is available in paperback, audible, Kindle, and Nook forms. Here’s a synopsis:

Jessica Boudreaux Hays, a retired music professor, has recently moved to Rousseauville to open a bed and breakfast in her grandparents’ house. An attractive and talented fifty-five-year-old widow, Jessica loves to cook, entertain, and play the piano. Her life is filled with problems. Emmie, her younger sister who lives with her, cannot be left alone. The sisters recently lost their parents in an automobile accident. The residents of the village are charitable but superstitious. For some mysterious reason, they refuse to go near her or the bed and breakfast. Another frustration in Jessica’s life is her cyber romance with a mysterious stranger. 

Dale Bonnier, a fifty-five-year-old widower, pastors two small churches in rural south Louisiana. He inspires the people in Rousseauville with his compelling sermons. He is considerate and approachable but at times disorganized and impetuous. His parishioners, especially Jessica, find his preaching inspiring. 

Dale has a recurring problem with his past. In the 1980’s, when he was an intense young man, he destroyed his home and family as he sought to satisfy his cravings for illicit drugs. Thirty years have passed. God has forgiven him, but the past has left indelible scars. Can Dale forgive himself? He cannot turn his past around, but he hopes it will be used to influence and inspire others. 

Jessica tries to start over in Rousseauville, but she encounters unpredicted stormy times. Can she find acceptance? Will she ever find a man she can love and trust?

Do you have a particular character that you fell in love with and keep them alive in your mind? Trudy Cameron—I wrote a series, The Covington Chronicles. The third book, The Dream Bucket, has become the most popular. Trudy, a ten-year-old girl, loves Papa morethan anybody else until she hears him slap Zoe, her mother. Trudy is so angryat him she wishes he’d die. When he accidentally sets fire to the familymansion and dies in the fire, she is not prepared for the shock. In The Dream Bucket, Trudy is a spunkyred-haired girl who thinks she can fix any situation. My readers tell me theylike Trudy. In reviews people have asked for a sequel.

The next book in the series, Manuela Blayne, features Trudy telling a story in her own words about an African American friend who is sexually abused.

The following book, Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, shows Trudy in her young teen years as she becomes a love interest for her best friend Jeremy, who suffers from the stress of watching his mother die and being abused by his father.

One of these days, I plan to return to the series and write a love story about the grown-up Trudy during World War I. Did I say that this series occurs in the early twentieth century, a time I love?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes. My daughter asked me to write a daily devotional book for her. It was a delight to sit down and write all the things I wanted to tell her. Maybe I’d shared some of what I wrote, but it was good to give herthis book for Christmas. She thought of the title: Do You Know How God Loves You? This devotional book has touchedlives of readers, mostly missionaries, throughout the world. It has not soldwell, but readers download it when I give it away.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Writer’s block is not, in my experience, a problem. I have countless books in my head waiting to get out. If I’m stuck working on one, I go to another and come back later. Also, if I’m not feeling creative one day, it’s okay. That’s a good day for editing.

Isthere a book you wrote that you didn’t think would do well and it did?The Dream Bucket is a book I wrote the way I wanted to. I didn’t expect anyone to want to read it, but I didn’t care. I tell it from two different heads at once. The first few chapters are ten-year-old Trudy’s story. Then abruptly I hop over to her mother’s head and tell the story in Zoe the mother’s distinctly different voice. I was surprised when it won a prize from International Writers Alive, received a stipend from ACX, and sold enough copies to give me QIP (qualified independently published) status with ACFW.

Doyou feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a largeraudience or be more successful? I don’t compromise my moral standards to reach alarger audience. A novel I’m writing now may be a little edgy to be accepted inChristian Fiction, but I am a Christian writing fiction, not a ChristianFiction writer. So far, as an independent publisher, I’ve written whatever Iwanted, but now I’m seeking a traditional publisher. Who knows how my writingwill change?

Back to The Dream Bucket, some reviewers have thought it was young adult fiction, but it is family fiction. It seems sad that some readers write reviews without reading the entire book.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?  Spend more time in the chair in front of a page foryou to fill it with your unique words.

Develop a thick skin.

Where can people find your books?Any bookstore can order them.

All my books are available on Amazon.com. Most of them are available at Audible.com

Secret Promise is available on the Lighthouse Page of Westbow Press. As Doves Fly in the Wind is also available at Westbow Press. These two books are available at Barnes and Noble.

Create Space sells several of my books in paperback form.

I use the name Mary Lou Cheatham, because I started signing with that name before I became a Cooke. At some point, I may start writing as Mary Cooke.

Find Mary online:

Facebook, Collard Patch Blog, Website, Amazon

Mary is giving away a paperback of The Dream Bucket. Here’s how you can enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway halleeLOGOspinefinal Pin It
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About Hallee

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2 Responses to Interview with Author Mary Lou Cheatham and a Giveaway!

  1. bn100 says:

    nice answers

  2. Vivian Furbay says:

    Sounds like a serious and interesting book.

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