Wednesday, June 29, 2011


“The Life, It is like a voyage to some known point.—I stand at the rudder, I have chosen my path—but God rules the storm and the sea. He may direct it otherwise; and then, happen what may, it will be the best for me … My life will be the best illustration of all my work.” Hans Christian Andersen, The True Story of My Life. 1847

I grew up listening to and reading Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, and watching Danny Kaye portray him in movies, so I have a special regard for him. And I am part Danish, after all.

His life wasn’t easy. His father and best support died while Hans was still young. His mother was an alcoholic. He grew up very poor, and he wasn’t handsome. He never married, and had no family.
 Yet, though he had no born-in opportunities such as family wealth, he achieved a lot during his lifetime. A friend paid for his schooling, yet there he was abused by his schoolmaster. He was a poor student, and told by some of his teachers that he should never take up writing. Through all of his discouragements and setbacks, he took his measly talent that the Lord had given him and traded it in for ten through hard work and perseverance.
When I get discouraged, I have to remember that life isn’t easy for everyone except me. Life is meant to be challenging, full of trials, and other lovely experiences. Will we (meaning me) turn our Ugly Duckling into a beautiful swan? Will we multiply our talents? Doing this requires the purging and purifying fire of life. That’s why the above quote from Hans Christian Andersen hits a chord with me. I stand at the rudder, I know where I want to go and what I want to do with my life, but God rules the storm and the sea, and He might direct me otherwise.
At the HCA museum, Odense Denmark
They act out his stories here.
Also on the grounds of the HCA museum

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It’s all Greek to me, no wait … Is it Vikingish? Of course the Vikings knew how to interpret their writing, but I haven’t a clue. I took this picture at the Viking Museum (grounds) in Ribe, Denmark. (I heard it from a good source that the Viking Chieftan is explaining the elements of writing to his clan.)
This is just a little example that it doesn’t matter how good the directions are if you can’t read them. With today’s technology, we can sometimes be overwhelmed with good information. And, even though it might all be good, it’s seldom the same, and we have to decide which is best and what pertains to us and our situation.
It’s the same with writing.
We want to write something, but what? How do we go about it? The answer to these questions are as different as our various situations. One person’s path to good writing is not the same as another person’s. We’re all different.
One thing that is widely recommended is to attend writer’s conferences. Here lies another problem. So many classes, so little time, and then it’s always information overload. How to process all that great information? I’ve never been very good at that.
It has taken years of attending conferences and hearing similar things told over and over again for it to finally sift down into my brain. Of course if I had a Master's Degree in English, I'd have learned a lot of this in school. Nonetheless, conferences put people together who have the same goal and who have similar experiences. Everyone's experiences and excitement charge the air with synergy. WE CAN WRITE! WE WILL WRITE! Published or not, WE ARE AUTHORS!
One of the best classes I took at last May’s LDStorymakers Conference was Tristi Pinkston’s class on blogging. I was able to come home and immediately apply what I’d learned to my blog (although it is still a work in progress).
Another really good help to my writing this year was through attending the ANWA writer’s conference in Phoenix this past February. Agent Kelly Mortimer gave a huge handout of things agents and editors hate to see in writing. This list has helped me immensely because I don't have to depend on my memory.

My ANWA writer's group also helps because they give me help a little at a time. I can go back to my story and utilize their suggestions right away.

So, what are the foundations for a good story? Plot; the taking of a MAIN CHARACTER through a myriad of activities, experiencing life full on, and coming through the story a better person and having achieved his/her goal. Structure goes hand in hand with plot, because a story can have all the elements of plot and still miss the mark if it isn't structured well. There should be a hook at the beginning of each chapter, a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter, a character arc, a black moment where the MC thinks all is lost, and then the rainbow at the end.
The Vikings forged their way through history. We can too. Just like the picture below shows the foundational stones for several large Viking buildings, we need our foundation (for anything) before we can build on it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I have a request from Tristi Pinkston to publish this post from Cheri about her friend with cancer:

My friend, Rebecca White, is 35 years old and has breast cancer. She got her diagnosis May 11th. She had a mastectomy May 13th. Three days later, she went back to the doctor to have the bandages removed. She confessed, almost in a whisper, that she just wasn't ready to see under the bandages.

Rebecca is an amazing, strong person. She's so skilled in all those craft-type things that leave me with glue on my fingers and glitter in my hair. She has a happy marriage and three great kids age 10 and under. Rebecca could be me. She could be your sister, your friend, your mother. She could be you. You can meet her and get to know her on her blog,

Cancer can strike anyone at any time. It's not an old person's disease anymore. It strikes children, mothers; anyone. Soon Rebecca will start her chemotherapy. We're all optimistic for a positive outcome, but cancer surgeries and treatments do not come cheaply. Since she won't let me shave my head, I've decided to show my support for Rebecca in other ways.

This is more than taking her meals and taking her kids to and from church. I wanted to take it a step further.

I'm donating all my book sales income through August 31st to help Rebecca and her family pay their medical expenses. This is something they need, and in order to make it the most effective I need all the help I can get. And this is why I'm appealing to everyone I can. My book sales don't just mean the royalties from selling print copies of The Peasant Queen (which, incidentally, is on LDS Living's Summer Reading List), but also all income from my two e-books--The Wild Queen and my short story, Ghost Bride.

It's so easy. All you have to do is purchase depending on your interests and ability to help. The Wild Queen and Ghost Bride can be found at, which not only offers the e-books for every e-reader including simply your home computer, but also offers the highest revenues.

Printed copies of The Peasant Queen can be found, or ordered, at your local bookstores. You can also find it online at Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

And Borders:[search%3A+14%2Cparse%3A+89]&searchData={productId%3Anull%2Csku%3Anull%2Ctype%3A0%2Csort%3Anull%2CcurrPage%3A1%2CresultsPerPage%3A25%2CsimpleSearch%3Atrue%2Cnavigation%3A0%2CmoreValue%3Anull%2CcoverView%3Afalse%2Curl%3Arpp%3D25%26view%3D2%26all_search%3Dthe%2Bpeasant%2Bqueen%2Bby%2Bcheri%2Bchesley%26type%3D0%26nav%3D0%26simple%3Dtrue%2Cterms%3A{all_search%3Dthe+peasant+queen+by+cheri+chesley}}&storeId=13551&sku=159955416X&ddkey=http:SearchResults

Amazon and Barnes and Noble also offer each book for the Kindle or Nook, respectively.

Thank you in advance for your help, and happy reading!

Blog post:

Friday, June 10, 2011


I’ve been moving this past month (it seems as though I’ve spent my whole life moving—I’m weary.) Nonetheless, I’ve found some delightful treasures among it all, parts of my past that I hadn’t remembered. Among the dreariness and never-ending-ness of it all, I’m happy to unpack boxes that have been in storage for a year, and to also see my paintings on the wall—I didn’t paint all of them, but their presence there means I’m home.Among the things I’ve found is a five-page handout titled, 45 Days or Less to the Completion of Your Book.

Some of the information is good, however the premise that a novice writer can follow this outline and write a publish-worthy book, is flawed. There are things in a good novel that can’t be learned, or taught, in five pages.

My art teacher, James Farrah, said: “People come to one or two classes and they want to paint well, and it just doesn’t happen. It takes years of practice.”

There are some (in the writing world) who have had their years of practice before ever going to the computer with the intent of writing a book, people like Conrad Storad who is/was a degreed professor at ASU. I was so immersed in “mommy world” that it has taken me significantly longer.

Although I sometimes dream of being a recluse writer (Nim’s Island comes to mind. Ah yes, a tropical island with almost everything I need on it, with a computer and Internet service to send for other supplies), my eternal goal, however, is substantially different. I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and many other things. So, although being a world famous published author is fairly high on my personal list, I still need to take care that I spend enough time with my husband and family.

I’m not sure how men do it. They spend 8 – 10 – 12 hours away from home five days a week for their work. If I spent that amount of time on my writing, the whole house would collapse.
The 45 DoLTCoYB gives me hope. It says to spend two hours a day, six days a week while following the three R’s of writing. I can do that.

The Three R’s:
Reserve time to write (it doesn’t have to be the same time each day. Just make getting it a priority)
Remove all distractions (this is the hardest one for me)
Relax (take deep breaths, close eyes, allow the muse full access to your right brain)

Monday, June 6, 2011


While we were in Denmark, my sister and I were taken (by our bed and breakfast host) to Tranekaer Castle. He thought it would be an interesting place for us to visit while he worked on his cabin on Langeland (one of Denmark's many islands).

He dropped us off in the parking lot and bid us well. We didn't really know what we were looking at. The castle was great, but not opened to visitors. We were supposed to walk around the grounds. My sister had broken her toe and by the time we got inside the garden, she was ready to go back. And then it started raining.

We kept on however, and came across an outdoor natural art museum (of sorts). This is what our friend wanted us to see. Tranekaer International Centre for Art and Nature. After slipping in the mud a couple of times, we came across the piece of art shown above. It's called: Between the copper beech and the oak, by Alfio Bonanno. It was my favorite.

Although we didn't stay there nearly as long as we would have if we knew where we were going (we didn't quite understand the map), it was a pretty great find and not something that most tourists would see. We loved it.

The moral of my story is: Sometimes in our life and in our writing, it's a good thing to break away from our schedule. Who knows what delightful or interesting treasure we might discover if we allow ourselves the freedom to do so? Have our characters lived a rich enough life? Have we made the most of their story?

Sometimes, if we follow one suggestion, it can lead us to a cornucopia of new experiences.