Welcome, Cindy! Let's get right to the interview...
1.) You've been an editor and writer for many years. How do you turn off the editor part of you, to tap into your creative side?
Cindy -- I don't. For me it's helpful to have the editor side turned on at all times. It helps create better first drafts. It does have a down side though; I cannot just write a stream of consciousness thought. By the time I'm halfway through I've forgotten what it was.
2.) You have 6 books in your Angie Deacon detective/cozy mystery series. Will you tell us about your main character?
Cindy -- Angie is a conflicted (although she doesn't know it) woman that faces much growth and change throughout the series. At the outset she is very high-maintenance and materialistic. After the demise of her marriage she faces herself many times in the mirror and realizes who she really is as a person. So actually, even though the plots are twisty and complicated and people tell me all the time they couldn't figure out whodunnit, I think it's mostly about her as a person.
3.) You also have a Smith and Westen cozy mystery series. Clue us in as to what we'll find when we start reading this collection of books.
Cindy -- I wanted to get away from the standard murder mystery format. Although my books were never gory and descriptive (more like what you'd see on Murder She Wrote), I wanted to do something fun and nothing that could remotely be considered romance.
This began with creating unique and totally diverse characters. Phoebe (don't call me that unless you have a death wish) Smith plays tuba, loves heavy metal music and snakes, and doesn't believe in underwear. Westen Hughes is a widowed Susie Homemaker with sensible shoes and fresh baked blueberry muffins. Kendra Jean KJ Valentine is a hardworking insurance underwriter who strives for recognition, and who loves men. She and Westen have a past. They went to high school together and she stole the cheerleader position, the football star, and valedictorian award from her. Sergeant Charlene Charlie Bartowski is recently widowed, mother of two teens, who escapes her home life to work. She craves a lieutenant's position and keeps getting passed over for men...
In On the Hook I put them all together and added a stolen Picasso worth a ton of money, and let them loose to see who found it first and garnered the 10% finders fee.
4.) These days you've replaced the northern cold with the southern warmth. Have both locations played a part in how and what you write?
Cindy -- In a sense. I haven't written a single mystery since moving south. After meeting Rick and finding what an amazing plot designer he is, we have been co-authoring New Age fiction which, yes, is set in warm climes.
5.) Collaborating with Rick to write some books, was it easy to step out of your comfort zone and write with someone else?
Cindy -- Rick has always been an avid reader of many genres. Even so, he surprised me with his ability to understand story construction and character development. Which made the writing relationship smooth and fun. We hash out ideas for several chapters, then I construct them into what I hope is intelligible stuff, send it to him and he makes comments and suggestions.
6.) Speaking of adding genres to your dossier, you've recently embarked on publishing motivational and self-help books, as well as New Age spiritual fiction. I'm intrigued, and I'm sure my readers and yours are too. Tell us a little bit about these books.
Cindy -- Since we met on a dating site, we thought it would be fun to write a how-to (we'd heard numerous horror stories about online dating). It contains both the male and female perspective about each topic presented in what we hope is a humorous manner. We did the same on a few other books -- Dating After Divorce, Resuming Life After the Death of a Spouse (topics on which we had some connection), a tongue-in-cheek look at raising kids, then a couple of how-to's on raising dogs, which I did for 16 years.
Rick has his own book How I Lost a Thousand Pounds, Eating my Way to Better Health (he lost a hundred pounds over a 2 year period).
The New Age fiction... How to describe this? We are avid readers, and frequently read out loud to each other. One book we chose was The Celestine Prophecy. We loved the premise -- of a character discovering spirituality for the first time, and learning it was inside him all the time. We wanted to write on a similar topic since I had done much the same thing and could really identify with that character. Thus was born Zipacna's Legacy, Jade. The easiest way to explain is with the synopsis:
There is an energy vortex in Chi'pais, Mexico. Rumor has it the elderly Zipacna created the vortex to lure unsuspecting outsiders (and their tuition) to his school of shamanism. Within the spiritual world, it was a celebrated center for spiritual training, teaching at levels beyond the 'back to Mother Earth' that centuries of shamans learned.
Granddaughter Jade inherits the property thinking it's a hotel. When townspeople shun her, and someone tries to frighten her away, she is baffled, but believes they will come around in time. She discovers the energy vortex but all she knows is it makes her feel invigorated. Until the arrival of 8-year-old Miguel, who, through his spiritual connections to Zipacna, helps awaken a shocking asset: her seer and healer's abilities, which she comes to realize she had all along.
A secret room imparts the knowledge she needs to embrace her spirituality and find a way to bring it to the world. She comes to terms with her legacy, repairs relationships thought long lost, and reopens the school.
7.) The publishing industry has changed over the years and writers are free to independently publish now. If you could give these writers a great piece of advice, what would it be?
Cindy -- Learn learn learn and edit edit edit. (Rick read this part and added, "Don't even start writing!") Learn about the industry and the tremendous work it takes to get recognized. Write a good story and get it professionally edited. This will sound harsh but DO NOT just put out your unedited book and expect it will sell. I -- and thousands of other authors, many of whom become my editing clients -- can promise it won't.
8.) How do you balance your writing life and book promotion with all the great things that the sunshine state has to offer?
Cindy -- I am the luckiest person on earth. I married a person who loves marketing. Really? I didn't know anyone had that ability. I had given up on the promotions. Things were going nowhere -- Why? I hadn't taken the time to learn the industry; I'd only gone halfway.
Rick works MANY hours per week branding me and getting my books out there. Listen folks -- he works almost FULL TIME at it. That's how much there is to do, and it is forever changing. We typically work in the office from 5am to noon. After lunch we run errands, workout, and/or have fun.
9.) When you need to recharge, what kinds of things help you to relax the most? That inspire you the most?
Cindy -- So many things. We listen to bands (live music is available everywhere here), find unique restaurants, hike, go to the beach, walk in parks, watch nature, travel, and talk. No topic is taboo. We read out loud. It's not unusual to read a paragraph then spend 2 hours discussing it. We do not watch television except for football.
10.) What are you currently working on?
Cindy -- We just finished the sequel to Jade. The title is Zipacna's Legacy, Miguel. He is Jade's protege and on his own spiritual journey. It's set in Sedona, AZ. Our agent wants a third, but we're holding off writing it for now, although the plot is pretty much together. Yes, we do outlines. LOL.
We are also working on what is sure to be a very controversial book. I will share more on this once we get it better solidified. But it is sure to turn the New Age world on its ear...
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Cindy (and Rick), I am in awe of your talent and energy! Thank you for sharing your writing life, books, and wisdom. I hope you'll be my guest(s) again.
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