My Books!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here's Cindy



Hi, Cindy. Welcome to the blog. I know the readers are eager to meet you, so tell me about yourself.

Life has been pretty much a struggle for me. I have multiple health issues, including Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), Fibromyalgia, Diabetes and Liver disease to name a few. Some of these illnesses started in my early twenties. I began writing in bed to keep sane after being too ill to hold a job. I had always enjoyed writing but had never attempted a full novel. After seven years of marriage, my husband and I gave up on the idea of having children. The doctors said I was too ill. Shortly after that, I became pregnant with my first son. I now have two boys diagnosed with co-morbid conditions, which includes autism. Despite the struggles we face daily, I love my life and have found writing over the years to bless my life, provide enjoyment, and an escape. I think one thing I bring to my writing is compassion for my characters.

It sounds to me as if you've met life's challenges with grace and courage. My grandson is autistic, so I know a little about that. How many books do you have published?

I have three published books. Here is a blurb for each of them:
Legacy of Lies – May 2008 – Romantic Suspense
When a strong-minded daughter starts stirring in the past to find out about her estranged father, she digs up a past she didn’t know existed, trouble for the town, and danger for herself.
The Royal Pain – July 2008 – Romantic Suspense
When an abused woman gets stranded on a remote dairy, she accidentally uncovers an old murder and stirs up the whole town.
Household Repairs – April 2009 – Romantic Comedy
A determined daughter escapes the grip of her over-protective father when she buys a 1911 bungalow only to discover the hunky restoration specialist she hired comes with his own protection manual.

Tell me about your current and upcoming releases.

On April 1, 2009, I released my first romantic comedy called, Household Repairs. I am so proud of this book. My previous two titles I began writing years ago and they had to be worked and reworked as times have changed. They were both romantic suspense. Household Repairs, however, I wrote during this last year.
The publisher is Wings ePress, Inc. Their website is: www.wings-press.com.
You can also find out more information on my website at: http://c.a.dragonfly.googlepages.com.

What genre do you write? What drew you to write in that genre?

I love romantic suspense and it is typically what I read. Household Repairs is a break from all the seriousness of life, especially during these economic struggles. The characters take things in stride; the bad guys wouldn’t harm a flea, and yet the book has depth and a poignant message.

Tell me about your writing day.

Well, here’s a little sample of what goes on in my world:
My whole family is in the great room. My husband watches the news on the TV in the corner of the kitchen while the meat burns on the grill outside. My oldest son is at the island building his millionth car out of Legos while his younger brother is watching Qubo, the cartoon channel, on the big TV set behind me and building a ramp out of chairs, pillows and blankets to race his Hot Wheels down. I am at the computer with my headphones on, listening to Brooks and Dunn. The volume is turned up, but I can still hear the boys fighting over whose chair my youngest is using for his ramp. The two TV’s compete with each other for attention. The smell of burnt steak drifts in through the sliding door. A pan of potatoes boils over on the stove.
I look up and then back at my writing. Can I leave Dallas stuck in a 3,000 gallon milk tank about to drown to death with no one to save her? “Honey, please turn the heat down on the potatoes and go check on the steaks. Boys, quit fighting or you’ll both go to your rooms. Let me finish helping Dallas and then we’ll have dinner.”
My fingers fly over the keyboard. There. Another scene done.
Most of my writing takes place like this. Does it matter? Not if you are caught up in the moment of your writing. Not if your characters matter to you. You make time for them like you would an old friend.

It's amazing how real our characters become to us! When writing a new book how do you decide on the theme, genre or topic?

So far I haven’t had to come up with any ideas. I don’t sit down and say, “Gee, what should I write about today?” Something I feel strongly about hits me in the head and insists I write about it. Usually I can’t stop thinking about it. The story needs to be told and the characters say, “Write me”. There is such a fine line between reality and fiction; it’s probable that my characters will show up on my genealogy charts one day as real people.

Is there anything that people would be surprised to find out about you?

I used to be a wildlife artist. I still enjoy painting but don’t often get the time. My son’s school is the Heartland Huskies and I did a painting of a husky for their school. I also have paintings in doctor’s offices and a law library.

Wow, a wildlife artist! You have more than one talent. I think I'm jealous. What would be the perfect weekend getaway for you?

Here is a little something I wrote for my local Romance Writers of America chapter about my favorite vacation spot:
Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island─Hawaii is a masterpiece of beauty. Imagine the fresh plumeria floral air as you step off the plane. The dark, viral men of the islands pounding their drums, their rippling muscles and bare-chests arousing you. You soak up the tranquility of the warm radiance of the sun on your cheeks. Sapphire waters engulf your senses as you relax on the beach. Your tension floats away on the waters, romance awaits. You open your eyes to a handsome, dark stranger. He takes your hand and leads you to a beautiful crafted canoe made of koa. You float gently down the river in each other’s arms, taking in the plush emerald-green ancient rainforests and breathtaking waterfalls. He starts to sing gently in your ear, that beautiful charismatic voice. It’s the King. Oh, sorry. I’ve been watching too many Elvis Presley movies.

Elvis. Sigh. As a child, what were your favorite foods?

On our farm we raised our own meat and grew our own vegetables and fruit. Pizza, casseroles, and seafood were unusual dishes around the farm. Pork chops, young fresh peas, mashed potatoes and milk gravy, homemade bread and butter, with cold milk; this was one of my favorites. My mother was an excellent cook. Funny how the doorbell always rang about suppertime and we had company for dinner.

Have you ever started a book and then had it completely turn around and chance course? Tell us about it.

Yes, most definitely. Those darn characters like to write themselves. The Royal Pain is about an abused woman who finds herself stranded on a remote dairy after an accident. When I originally planned the book, she was to solve an old murder case. I had her asking questions. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. One day I was typing along and Dallas was told the information without asking a thing. I soon realized that based on her past she wouldn’t be a Nancy Drew type trying to solve a murder. I began re-writing. Through the whole book, the heroine, Dallas, doesn’t ask one question. With her just showing up at the dairy with her horse, she uncovers the whole truth. It was really a light-bulb moment.

How long does it take you to write a book? How many books do you produce in a year?

As I said, my first two books took me years with lots of rewrites, writing classes, and critique groups. At times, I put them away for several years. After my first book got published, I took the workings of my second book and rewrote it in third-person and added a sub-plot. My first and second books were published within two months of each other. My third book took me about a year to write. (I’m not talking about eight hours a day of writing.) The average writer can produce four books a year. I’m not discouraged though. My love of writing is too great to let that get me down. The point is the thrill of accomplishment I get from being able to do it at all. I know people with CFIDS who aren’t even able to read a book, let alone write one. Although it is a struggle with the cognitive issues I have, I still enjoy the journey very much.

Any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

A number of years ago, I was in a critique group and a young gal was very inexperienced at writing. Recently I met her again. She asked me if I remembered bringing a white board to teach her correct punctuation, grammar, and formatting. I said no. She said I had really helped her, and she thanked me. She is now a multi-published author. My advice is never give up the dream.

How much of yourself are in your books? Your personality and personal experiences?

I absolutely put myself in my books. Experiences, events, emotions, epiphanies…they have all made their way into my books, some more embarrassing than others.

What prompted you to submit your first book?

Laura Hillenbrand who wrote Seabiscuit was a real inspiration for me to get published. My first novel had been filed away for years. I read that she had CFIDS and I decided I could do it too.

Could you tell us about your path to publication, any sprints or stumbles?

I had a difficult time publishing my first book. I kept taking everyone’s advice and changing it and changing it. I even had it professionally edited and changed the ending. They said the book needed to end at the climactic scene so I deleted my ending. I got rejection after rejection. Finally I submitted it to my current publisher and they sent it back for rewrites. They told me I had ended it too soon and I needed a wrap up scene. I simply added my original ending and they offered me a contract. I learned that I needed to listen to my own instincts and write what I wanted to write. You still can learn from others, but stay true to yourself. I’ve been happy with that decision.

Stay true to yourself is wonderful advice. Are you published in print, epublished or both?

I am published in both. They have both been very successful outlets and the writing community is starting to recognize that. There are people out there that turn up their noses when you say you are e-published, but it has worked well for me.

Do you have any hot news or contests?

If readers go to my website over the next week, I will enter them in my contest to win a beautifully beaded dragonfly bookmark. Just drop me an email from my contact page at my website.

Readers, don't forget to enter the contest. Is writing one particular character easier than another?

For some reason, I like writing from the male’s POV. My dad used to bring home a group of men after work, and they would sit around the kitchen and drink coffee, laugh, and share stories. My sister would head for the basement. I would climb right up on someone’s lap and settle in. There is nothing I love more than hearing a group of men “one-up” each other and laugh.

Do you like the element of surprise while you’re writing?

I don’t mind when the characters decide to write themselves as long as they don’t find too many flaws in my plot. What I hate is surprises like when I said the character got hurt snow skiing and it’s summer, or when I said the character’s grandfather died an early death (get it?). Those kinds of surprises I hate.

What’s the number one thing you want your fans to know?

I write outside the box. I like to escape into my books and I hope you will do the same thing when you read them. I have had fans say that they can’t put my books down, that they had to stay up all night reading, and that they wanted my book to go on after they had finished it. There is no greater compliment than knowing readers enjoy your books. I have found it especially exciting that men are enjoying my books. I also want to thank everyone for their support.

Where can we find out about you and your books?

I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems. Trying not to give my age away, it was before the internet and video games. I have enjoyed building my own website and hope you check it out and drop me an email. My website is: http://c.a.dragonfly.googlepages.com.
My blog is: www.cadragonfly.blogspot.com. You can also check out my publisher’s website at: www.wings-press.com. Dealing with Wings has been a wonderful experience.

What is the best part of writing?

Writing is very cathartic for me and I love it. But I would have to say that sharing my life with other writers and fans has been the most amazing experience. When someone reaches out to me and shares their life story, it is so powerful, moving and special to me. I have met the most wonderful, aspiring people through this journey. I would love to have you share your story with me.

Cindy, thank you so much for your interview. Could you share an excerpt with us?

I'd be glad to.


Household Repairs Excerpt
By Cindy A. Christiansen

“Did you want to keep your claw-foot tub?” Ryan questioned. “You keep looking at the jetted tubs.”
Tatum tried to pull herself together with a deep breath. “Oh, I love my tub. These are nice, too.” She'd always dreamed of making love under water. She tried to shake the mental picture of his washboard stomach from her mind. She could have done without seeing that last night.
“Are you sure you're feeling well?” His innocent touch on her upper arm left her trembling.
“No, I'm fine. Let's get to the shower heads, please.”
But as he described each of the hydro-massage settings she knew she was doomed. All she could see was their naked entwined bodies in the shower, using each different massage setting to further each other's pleasure.
“Would you like a dimmer switch in your bathroom?” he innocently asked.
“Okay that’s it. I…I just remembered I…I’m supposed to be… You know what? Get whatever you think I need.”

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Elaine, what thoughtful questions. This is a great interview.

Cindy, I had the same problem you did. I did everything anyone told me to do whether it was right or not for my story. That comes from lack of experience. Smile.