This month I’m talking to author Cherrilynn Bisbano. Many of you may know her, she is the Associate Editor of Almost an Author. Cherrilynn writes Christian fiction and non-fiction. She has published articles in various Christian publications.
Cherrilynn knows first-hand what it’s like to be a writer with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia. Cherrilynn also deals with ADHD and homeschools her son, Michael, who is Autistic.
Cherrilynn didn’t start out wanting to be a writer. She accepted a calling from God to spread His message further using her speaking and teaching abilities and the research and notes collected over time.
Cherrilynn transformed these into written words to produce her first book, True Star Quality– Shine in a Dark World. The book is scheduled to be released Fall 2017.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity but doesn’t improve with rest.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, tender points throughout the body.
*Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It exhausts me. I try to write early in the morning before I go to the gym. However, today, I didn’t get up until six o’clock. I normally get up at five and I try to write for two hours. Sometimes if I’m feeling alright I’ll write for an hour in the afternoon, but writing usually exhausts me unless I’m writing scripture–I’m energized when I read and write scripture.
*What motivated you to write despite the challenges you face?
Obedience to God. I did not want to write. I asked Him to show me beyond any shadow of a doubt that He wanted me to write. He enabled me to attend four writing conferences in a year’s time. I won a book contract. Since I started writing two years ago, my first book is set to be published by Fall of this year . I acquired an agent for my next two books. God has made it clear that He wants me to write and encourage other writers in the process. I believe wholeheartedly my position at A3 is to help Cyle Young and encourage all our contributors. We have some amazing writers at A3. I learn from them daily, they motivate me to write.
*Tell us about your current and upcoming writing projects.
True Star Quality – Shine in a Dark World is my first book. I’m a speaker and teacher. People would ask me, “where’s the book?” I’d say, “I’m not a writer.” I transformed my writing notes into a book. The process was difficult.
I speak about what God is teaching me through His word and in life.
One morning I needed an attitude change. I read the verses, Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,…Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. (Philippians 2:14-15). The S.T.A.R. Principle developed. Over the last 20 years of speaking, I found when believers struggle in one or more of these four areas, our light is dimmed
S-See Yourself As God Sees You
T-Transform Mind With the Word
R-Refined to Shine
My prayer is that this book will encourage many.
My next two projects are a devotional titled Defying the Odds – 31 Prophesies Jesus fulfilled
The devotional matches 31 prophecies Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament, with the NT prophecy.
and a fiction mystery, Accidental Findings:
Shannon’s autistic son, Corban, heals from the loss of his father, her hero. Can she help Corban cope when his new friend, Amanda, goes missing? Will her detective sister find the girl in time? Shannon meets, Mr. Chauvin, a new love interest. He is rich, handsome and loves Corban. Will he bring stability to her life or be her worse nightmare? What do Mr. Chauvin and the missing girl have in common?
*How and where do you write? Do you use any special tools for your writing?
I use a laptop to write, and a good office chair! I finally have my own office.
What is your schedule like?
I begin at 5 am and write for about 2 hours. I homeschool my autistic son. He is helping me write my first fiction novel, Accidental Findings.
*Has the publishing process from your first book changed your process of writing? Or has your process changed?
It has changed it. I started writing about two years ago. I’d write at different times of the day. Anxiety would set in if I did not have time to write. I needed to schedule time. Not just say “I gotta do it,” but actually schedule the time to write. I learned from other writers that writing is a job, not a hobby. If I was serious, I would treat writing as a job. Over time I realized that morning was my best time to write. My brain was the clearest.
My writing has improved because I learn from amazing writers like Jerry B Jenkins and Cecil Murphy. I read blogs on writing. I attend writing conferences. To be a good writer one must continue to learn.
I use my sister Charlene as my writing barometer. My first attempt at a book she said, “I’m sorry, Cherrilynn, this is horrible, I can’t read it. It makes no sense.” She was right. I studied hard. Two years later my book was edited by Peter Lundell, he also coached me. He was hard on me. I took his advice and did the arduous work to improve the book. I’m grateful for his honesty, he made me a better writer. Now, my sister can read it and loves the book.
*Writers always seem to want to know about the writing habits of other writers. How do you edit and rewrite?
I get all my ideas on paper and I don’t edit as go along. If a mistake is blatant, I go back and change it. I was taught by other authors to “throw up on the paper and get it all out.” I wait a day or so and go back to read it and edit. I repeat the process until I feel the project is ready.
I pray before I write. I ask God to help me. I know I would never think of some of the words God gives me. I praise Him. I often find myself saying, “whoa, that’s good God, thank you! ” God gets all the credit. I get fearful when I focus on my ability to write, I think I’m going to fail Him. I know God works in me, using His words, to get His message out with my voice. It’s awesome. I’ve met many Christian writers to have the same experience. As writers, we cannot fail with God on our side.
*What advice would you give to aspiring or other writers who live with a disability?
Pace yourself. Schedule time to write. If you cannot write one day, don’t worry. God wants to use you. He will give you the energy, time and ability to get your story out. After all, we write for His glory. Pray over every project. The outcome is in God’s capable hands. My book was ten years in the making. It started as speaking notes.
*Is there anything would you give up to become a better writer?
I’m working for a non-profit right now, and I love, love, love the work, but I would give that up to become a full-time writer. I should stop watching TV and be on my computer, listening to training videos and stuff – that’s what I should give up.
*Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Education is vital. Bestselling authors like Jerry B. Jenkins, Cecil Murphy, Liz Curtis Higgs and others still educate themselves. Read writing blogs or listen to podcasts. Also, give back and encourage your fellow writers. Some of the most successful writers help others. God will use you even if you are a beginner like me.
Trust God with your writing. I never thought I would write let alone be an Associate Editor of a writing website. My number one job here at A3 is to encourage writers. I don’t have to be a best-selling author to do that. I know I have much to learn but God is with me every step of the way.
I admire anyone who has written a book. Congratulations. Writing is hard work. Don’t give up, if you are working on a project right now. You can do it with God at your side.
*What is Cherrilynn’s word for this year?
“Excellence.” I can be lazy. I could use my disability as an excuse, but I would know deep in my heart that I did not rely on God’s power to achieve the goal. I can be excellent in all I do for the Lord, even if it’s just writing a page a day. Excellence is not perfection. My son says, Excellence is two steps above good enough.” He is a witty kid.
One of my favorite quotes about the writing process during this interview with Cherrilynn has to be:
“That’s what [they] writers have taught me,”
“You need to be real, like talking to someone and having a cup of coffee with them.”
Indeed, talking with Cherrilynn is exactly like this.
- An Interview with Ann Pietrangelo, writer, author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis, the official book website:NoMoreSecs.com, and Catch That Look, Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, the official book website: CatchThatLook.com
- Part II of my interview with Cherrilynn F. Bisbano, on writing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
- An Interview with John Elders Robison living life with Asperger’s and author of Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening.
*Note: Parts of this interview were edited by Cherrilynn for clarity of her message.