Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Exactly how I pictured it!

Have you ever imagined a place and when you finally got the chance to visit, it was exactly as you pictured? 

In my book, WILD GOOSE CHASE, Olivia Pence and Dezz Casey had a love-hate relationship since kindergarten. When they ended up working for the same magazine, all hell broke loose. Their boss had her fill of their back and forth taunts, and ordered them to take a two-week cooling off period. They were to travel separately and find serendipitous situations to write about and if the time away didn't fix their woes, the boss threatened to take drastic action. 

Of course, Dezz laughed in the face of danger (a/k/a being fired) and followed Olivia, who was on her way to Florida. Some funny situations took place along the way and so did some romantic ones. Of course, trouble also found it's way into their adventure. Dezz headed back to New York and Olivia continued on.

Olivia visited Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. When I wrote this scene for her, I'd never actually been to this amazing attraction and had to heavily rely on information from the internet. WILD GOOSE CHASE was published in May 2016 by the Wild Rose Press. In February 2017, I finally got to visit the place I wrote about. I admit to being in awe when I realized how close I came with my descriptions in the book. The second I saw the albino peacocks I got all warm and gushy inside. There were also colorful male peacocks strutting around, making noise since they were in rut. I drank from the Fountain of Youth. The water tasted remarkably like well water. I'm still waiting for the 'youth' bit to kick in. At present, those pesky crows feet are still creasing the corners of my eyes. 

In my story, Olivia sat on a bench and tried to come to grips with her true feelings for Dezz. I think I sat on that same bench after I finished touring the park.  

For me, this after-the-fact research was surreal. It was a writer's retreat that not only helped me reconnect with the characters in the book, but also recharged my creative batteries for future stories. 

There's a lot of beauty and history to enjoy at Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. If you get a chance, check it out.

~ Jan


Monday, March 20, 2017

Special Guest: Cindy Dorminy

Today my special guest is Cindy Dorminy. She hails from The Volunteer State -- Tennessee. We'll talk to her about her latest book release, Left Hanging, and then discover the talent behind it.


Welcome, Cindy! It's great to have you here! 

* Thanks for having me, Jan.

On with the interview and a sneak peek at the cover for Left Hanging. 

Q: Cindy, what genre would best describe your book?

A: Left Hanging is a sweet contemporary romance, but it borders on women's fiction. 

Q: Setting is so important. It pulls the reader in and makes them feel like they're experiencing the story firsthand. Where does the bulk of Left Hanging take place?

A: Left Hanging is set in Nashville, TN. At first, it's in a university setting and the rest is based around a hospital. Both the female and male characters are from Nashville and work at the hospital.

Q: Without giving too much away about your main characters (because half the fun is discovering them as we read), can you tell us a little bit about them?

A: Theo is the second oldest of four children. His father is a pastor and his mother is an attorney. He's on the last leg of his medical training when he returns to Nashville and reunites with his 'Juliette' or at least that's what she said her name was in college. He loves games (hint: check out how the title of the book is laid out) and that's how the two main characters bonded.

Darla is a nurse and single mother. She figures 'Romeo' a/k/a Theo didn't want to have anything to do with his baby, so she's been going it alone. And out of the blue, he shows back up, which turns her life upside down.

Q: Sounds interesting, Cindy! Could you share with us the blurb? Perhaps one of your favorite passages from the story?

A: I'd be happy to. Here's the back cover content:

As a nurse and single mom, Darla Battle hides her loneliness behind a smile. But when she discovers that the new cute doctor everyone is talking about is her daughter's father, she knows she needs to keep her distance from the man who abandoned her and their child, Stella.

When Theo Edwards returns to Nashville to finish his medical training, he never expects to run into Darla, a girl he spent one night with seven years ago. For reasons he can't fathom, her attitude toward him is frosty, but he still hopes to ignite the spark they once felt.

Once Darla realizes Theo doesn't know he's Stella's father, she has no idea how to tell him the truth. And the longer she waits, the more difficult it becomes. When the situation spins out of control, can the two come together for the sake of their daughter? Or is forgiveness out of reach? 

And here's one of my favorite scenes when they bump into each other years later: (Theo's point of view)

Through her dark hair, which hides most of her face, she glances my way, not stopping her face washing or babbling. She tries to snatch some paper towels out of the dispenser, and they fly through the air, missing her shaking hands. "Are you lost? she asks as she kneels down to pick up the mess on the floor.

I take her arm to help her stand.

"This is the women's bathroom, you know," she adds.

Whoa. Not what I expected. Maybe our time together didn't mean very much to her. I thought we had something special. I wanted her real name, a real relationship. But she vanished after the fire, and no one I asked seemed to have a clue who she was. This little reunion is a shock to me too. I would like to know what she's been doing all these years, but I get the feeling she doesn't have the same curiosity.

"Yeah, well, we met in a bathroom, so I thought it was appropriate." I cannot stop the Cheshire Cat grin from spreading across my face.

She stands there, focusing on the hand dryer, the sink, everywhere except my eyes. Cat's got her tongue. I wish this cat did.

"Hello...Romeo." Finally, she speaks.

I throw my head back and chuckle as I lean against the counter, crossing my arms. The edge of my shirt absorbs a puddle of water. "It's you, after all this time."

She throws the paper towels in the trash can, and her eyes flit around the room. Sorry, girl. It's only you and me.

It's as if her hands can't figure out what to do. I can help her with that. Eventually, she's going to have to face me. She crosses her arms and huffs. I enjoy the scenery while she clenches and unclenches her fists. She is as beautiful as I remember. Not model, stop-and-stare beautiful, but purely, completely perfect-for-me beautiful. And she still wears that same uncertain "I'm not good enough" look on her face. But today, it's coupled with a nasty nail-spitting stare. She waxes and wanes from seeming upset to acting as if she's ready to smack me. Maybe I should take a step back in case she wants to make contact, and not the fun kind. I remember how much her face lit up when she finally realized I really liked her and that I wasn't playing her like some random hookup. We did hook up, but I was already gaga over her by that time. I remember later that night when she woke up in my arms, with one leg slung across mine, dangerously close to the fun zone. It's something I'll never forget. But here we are seven years later, and she seems scared again. Well, let's see what I can do to get rid of that feeling for good.

"So, how long has it been?" She wears a painted-on smile that doesn't reach her eyes.

I'm trying to be nice here, but she's not making it easy. "About seven years, give or take a few months and days." Actually, it's been seven years, one month, sixteen days, not that I'm counting.

"Nice to see you," she says.

She could have fooled me. I don't have a long history of girlfriends, and I'm certainly not a master of body language, but I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm not wanted. I take a step toward her anyway, knowing good and well that I might regret it. She steps back, bumping into the paper towel dispenser. I reach out to flip over her ID badge. She has conveniently clipped it on her shirt so her picture and name aren't showing. She swats my hand away.

"Whaaa? I still can't know your real name?"

She crinkles her forehead.

I lean against the counter again, and my entire face lights up. "It's really good to see you." Inside, I'm doing a happy dance and yelling, "Yes." This isn't the happy reunion I imagined we would have one day, but I can work with this.

"Well, I need to get back to work," she whispers. She tries to push past me, but she's not getting away that easily.

I put my hands on her shoulders. "Please."

Her eyes flick to mine for a second before she looks away again. She doesn't need to be afraid of me. It wasn't my fault a fire interrupted the best night of my life. I run my hands down her arms. "You can't leave before I know your name."

She stretches her lips into a tight line as she averts her eyes from me.

"I thought I'd lost you. You gotta at least give me a name. Preferably, a real one this time."

Q: Is there a central theme? Or, like many books, are there a few themes throughout the growth of your characters?

A: Everyone deserves a second chance at first love. Also, since Theo's a preacher's kid, the theme of forgiveness is woven throughout the story. It's not preachy, but it comes from his upbringing.

Q:  Is Left Hanging a stand-alone book or part of a series?
A:  It is a stand-alone...for now!! I do have ideas for three more in this family, but they are not ready for anyone to see.

Q:  As you wrote your story, were there any surprises you didn't see coming?

A: The ending is totally different than I originally planned. I was working with a writing coach and she said my ending was too obvious and I needed to "throw more apples" at my main characters. Sorry, Stella. It's Kristen's fault.

Q: What did you find the most challenging about Left Hanging?

A:  It is a sweet, low heat romance. Most publishers want super hot romance and this is definitely not that! I'm so glad Red Adept welcomes all levels of heat in their romance novels.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm finishing up edits on a romantic comedy, then will dive back into the Left Hanging family.

Q: Aspiring writers look to published authors for guidance and to give them a bit of our reality. Do you have any advice or experiences you'd like to share?

A: Several things actually:

1. Don't give up. If you enjoy writing, keep at it.
2. Be flexible with how you plan to get to your end goal. If you want to be published, getting an agent might work for you. Going with a traditional publisher may be for you. Being an indie author may be for you. They all can lead to the same end goal. Explore all options.
3. Make writer friends that can help you be a better writer, give you advice, and be there when you receive the one hundredth rejection letter.

Q: When you're not writing, what do you like to do? What helps you recharge your creativity?

A:  I work out every day. If I'm not lifting weights, I'm taking my dog for a walk, or I'm riding my recumbent bike. I love to read all kinds of novels too. Exercising and reading (sometimes at the same time) really helps with writer's block. Another way to recharge my batteries is to sleep. If I'm stuck on a scene, I'll try to go to sleep thinking about it. Many times, I'll wake up with a way to move forward. 

Q: You live in Nashville. Can you tell us what it's like to live in such an incredible city?

A:  Nashville is a great city. There is live music everywhere (see my bio - yes, the grocery store, the airport, even in the shoe department at Macy's). I love seeing new up and coming bands and it's not unusual to see famous musicians walking around doing normal activities. It's an unwritten rule in Nashville that we leave the celebrities alone. I think that's why they like to live here. They can go to the Pancake Pantry or the movies without anyone asking for an autograph or a selfie with them. Plus, there are countless people that live here most people don't even know about. Like the session players you'll hear on albums, or the writers who are the talent behind the big hits. One time, I was at a big concert sitting next to a writer friend. It was surreal when the band started playing a song he wrote and everyone in the place was singing HIS song.

Q: You're the proud owner of a four-legged fur friend. Tell us about her. What does she add to your life? Does she make an appearance in any of your books?

A: Daisy Mae is just the coolest little critter. She's a Chihuahua / something / something mix. We went about a year without a dog and when it was time, we went to 'Dog House' as my daughter called it. (Nashville HumaneAssociation) After several trips trying to find the right dog, we were wandering around the kennels when an employee asked us what type of dog we wanted. We told her what we had in the past and (I'm not kidding), she said, "Let me see what we have in the back." She rounded the corner with the cutest little 1 year old sweetheart and we knew immediately she was the one for us. She is a food hound. If we have food, she wants it, no matter if she's already eaten. She's also my writing companion. During the warm months, I sit outside on my screened-in porch and she hangs out with me (as long as I have food).

Q: Your husband is a musician. Do you care to give his music a plug while you're here?

A:  Yes he is, but not professionally. He's also a songwriter. Lately, he's devoted his performing time to the praise band at our church. Another unique aspect of Nashville:  Churches are overflowing with talent. He loves it and he doesn't have to deal with smoky bars anymore. He spent about ten years in the music publishing industry, so he was a big asset to have in my corner when it came to publishing contracts. The downside (he wouldn't think so) to being married to a musician is that there is always one more instrument to buy. I think he has more guitars than I have shoes.

Q: It's been a joy hearing about your book and learning who you are, Cindy. Can you tell us where we can follow your writing career?

A: Thanks so much for having me. I love connecting with readers. They can find me here:

Website: www.cindywrites. com (You can also sign up for my newsletter on my site)

Twitter: @cindydorminy

Facebook: CindyDWrites

Instagram: DorminyCindy


Red Adept Publishing/Cindy Dorminy:  Left Hanging


Check out Left Hanging on Amazon 

About the author:

Cindy Dorminy grew up on a steady diet of popcorn (the kind you pop in a sauce pan), Tab (pre-Diet Coke), and movies for teenagers. She can't let a day go by without quoting a line from one of her favorite films, so quirky dialogue is a must in her stories. When she's not at her research coordinator day job, Cindy is writing funny love stories, walking her dog, or slinging iron the old-fashioned way. She shares her house with her musician husband, her awesome daughter, and a cool, four-footed child that would eat all the cheese if she could figure out how to open the refrigerator. Cindy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Music City Romance Writers. She resides in Nashville, TN, where live music can be heard everywhere, even at the grocery store. 

Romance isn't everyone's cup of tea...

...but where would we be without it? (the romance, not the tea *grins*)

Romance is the special connection that provides a feeling of excitement, mystery, and an escape from our everyday lives. It's the extraordinary chase most of us want to engage in on a regular basis. Some might scoff at the notion, but deep down, they crave it too.

I admit to being a hopeless romantic; an inexhaustible, sentimental daydreamer. I believe in meet-cutes that ignite a spark, chemistry so strong it can melt plastic, and happily-ever-afters.

Writing romance is a good fit for me. Some shy away from the genre because the ending is always predictable. The characters are guaranteed a happy-ever-after or happy-for-now. The path to get all that happiness, however, is never easy. That's where the true test for the characters comes in. It's also where the height of endurance and love can be staggering. As the author, I try to throw as many obstacles as I can at the hero and heroine, and hope they can weather the storm so their hearts can sync.

Reading romance isn't everyone's cup of tea, I get it. In the past, you may have read romance novels filled with flowery prose or unrealistic situations. I think a lot has changed in the genre over the years. If you haven't read romance for a while, you might want to give it another try. There's a good chance you'll find writing that's intelligent, entertaining, and filled with personality. ♥♥

~ Jan