Tuesday, March 26, 2019

An interview with author/editor Cindy Davis!

It's always a pleasure to have a fellow author on my blog. Today my guest is author and editor, Cindy Davis. 

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...

* ~ *

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. 

If you'd like to follow Cindy and Rick...

@cdavis461 (Twitter)


Sunday, March 3, 2019

A funny excerpt from WINE SISTERS FOREVER!

I recently published book #5 in my Wine and Sweat Pants Series and titled it WINE SISTERS FOREVER. So many fun things happened in this book as I wrote Elaina, Tawny, Steph, and Grace's newest adventures. I laughed a lot, so I thought I'd share one particular scene that had me cracking up. I hope it has the same effect on you. (For those who haven't read the earlier books, in book #3 the girls moved to Maine, and opened The Four Sassy Chicks Bed and Breakfast) 

* ~~ *

This scene is from Chapter Four in Wine Sisters Forever:

Elaina huddled Tawny, Steph, and Grace together, and spoke as quietly as possible. Their guests Gordie and Ruth couldn't see three feet in front of them; nothing said they didn't have the exceptional hearing of bats. "I kid you not. They're eighty-four, have no credit cards or any form of ID, including no driver's licenses. They drove here from Bangor on I-95."

A series of repetitive thuds coming from Gordie and Ruth's room put them on high alert.

Grace's light blue eyes darkened with concern. "I hope they're not trying to signal us for help. Maybe we should have call-buttons installed in each room."

Tawny mocked with a head tilt. "We're not having call-buttons installed and I doubt they're trying to signal us. They're probably propped up against the headboard watching TV and every time they shift around the wood hits the wall."

"It's a heavy four-post bed. The headboard shouldn't hit the wall when they move to get comfortable."

Steph tiptoed to their door and cupped her ear against the wood. She shook her head and crept back to the kitchen. "Their TV isn't on and I swear I heard moaning."

Elaina was getting more concerned by the second. "What do we do?"

"We wait," Tawny stated matter-of-factly.

"For the stench of decomposing bodies?"

Tawny rolled her eyes at Steph. "Get real."

"Steph might be on to something. How do I word this delicately?"

"To heck with being delicate, just say it," Tawny urged.

Elaina shared the sad reality. "Time isn't something that Gordie and Ruth have on their side."

"Did they come here to...?" Grace splayed a hand across her face. "Ugh. I can't even."

"I'm sure their plan wasn't to check in and extinguish their...lights. It could be a matter of all that living fast and loose catching up with them."

Tawny's brows twitched with confusion. "Say again?"

"You heard me."

"Geez. Leave you in charge for a week and you interrogate our customers about their past. Are you that bored?" Tawny's mouth split into an ornery grin.

Elaina gave her a playful shove. “They volunteered the information.”

“Sure they did.”

“The three of you can stand there and wait for whatever might or might not be happening. I’m going upstairs to shower.” Grace pulled at the t-shirt with splotches of beige paint on the front. “Philip got his way as you can see. I wanted to paint the parlor a deep blue, but noooo, he bought beige.”

“Is he still being a grouch?”

“Nope. He’s had a magical transformation.” Grace started to leave.

“Graaaace, hold up.” Steph grabbed the back of Grace’s shirt. “You can’t dangle a carrot and walk away.”

“Unhand me.” Grace wrinkled her nose with amusement. “I told him to straighten up or I would check into those dating sites you ladies love.”

Elaina bunched her face into a teasing frown. "You’re a mean little woman.”

“Philip said the same thing.” Grace made it as far as the first step on the staircase.

Gordie and Ruth’s door flung open. Gordie stood in the doorway shirtless. Tufts of gray hair went every which way.

“Gordie, these are the other sassy chicks.” She introduced Grace as the business manager, Steph as their kitchen goddess, and Tawny as the resident nurse.

“I don’t need a nurse, Eloise. I need water. All that ‘action’ has made me thirsty.” He clicked his tongue.


“Long story, Tawn’,” Elaina whispered out of the side of her mouth and hoped Tawny and the others wouldn’t make a huge deal out of his reference to ‘action’. “There’s a small refrigerator near the desk, Gordie.” The amenities were explained when she’d shown them the room. It now appeared that they were more excited to get ‘busy’ rather than to actually listen. Instinct made her feet move, but Gordie stopped her by jutting out a spindly arm.

“You might not want to come closer. Ruth’s too hot to put clothes on or to cover with a blanket. Give her a few minutes.”

“Right.” Elaina heard Tawny’s restrained tee-hee’ing behind her. To keep her own laughter from spilling out, she bit the inside of her cheek and diverted her gaze to Grace, who noiselessly mouthed the word, “Unbelievable.”

“On second thought, do you have any energy drinks? The pill’s doing what it’s supposed to, but I’m drained.”

Steph had yet to put two and two together. “Has your sugar level dropped?”

Elaina glanced at Steph. “His sugar’s fine.”

“Then what?”

Tawny blurted, “Do we really need to spell it out?”

Steph got huffy right away. “No!” Awareness hit her a milli-second later. “Ohhhh.”

The nurse in Tawny took over. “I don’t want to boss you around, but it isn’t wise to combine an energy drink with that particular pill, or any pill for that matter.”

“That’s what Ruth says.”

Elaina could no longer contain her laughter. She giggled until she snorted. “Gordie, you and Ruth are a hoot. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like you.”

“Did you hear that, Ruth? Eloise thinks we’re a hoot.”

Ruth’s reprimand was wobbly and low. “Gordie, get it together. Her name is Elaina, not Eloise.”

Gordie’s whiskery face fell. “Sorry, Elaina.”

“No worries. Really.” She didn’t want to him to dwell on the mistake, so she changed the subject. “I noticed that you and Ruth skipped dinner.”

“We don’t know our way around Portland. We thought we’d wait until morning and eat a big breakfast.”

Breakfast wasn’t for another twelve hours. There’s no way Elaina could make them wait that long. They had likely expended their calorie reserves by knocking the headboard against the wall. “Are you interested in leftover meatloaf, cheesy potatoes, and applesauce?”

“Dear girl, you’re a godsend.”

“She’s more motherly than godsend-ish,” Tawny teased.

I’m more of a sap than godsend-ish, but hey, I am what I am.

** If you'd like to check out the adventures (or misadventures) of these four mischievous women, you can find them on AMAZON -- <---just click the link. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to pop in and read this scene! 

(Cover art by Deborah with Tugboat Design)