Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Guest Interview with Cindy Jacks and May Prize Winner
Before I introduce today's guest, let me announce L_Hogg@comcast.net is the May prize winner. Laura, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your snail mail address. The prize consists of a steampunk pocket watch necklace, a Bath and Body Works gift basket, and a couple of other things. Thanks to each of you who commented on a post. Dawn, if you'll send me your email, I have a runner's up prize for you. Secondly, I want to welcome you to the first day of my participation in the 2010 Summer Reading Trail.
Now that that's out of the way, I'm pleased to welcome Cindy Jacks, who's stopping by on her whirlwind Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cindy will share information about her writing and her new book ALL THE GOOD MEN. Prior to becoming a writer of romantic and erotic fiction, Cindy was a 'jacks' of all trades. Besides obtaining a BFA in sculpture, interning as a pastry-chef, and learning the art of furniture restoration, she worked for ten years in the corporate arena, but now happily spends her days as a full time author. Her first published work--"The Point of Distraction Series"--was inspired by a collection of short stories she wrote to entertain her best friend. Since then she's explored her inner bad girl and penchant for love stories by producing books full of humor and packed with real emotion. When not chained to her laptop, she enjoys belly dancing, international cooking, and making jewelry. She and her family call the Washington, DC area home.
Thanks so much for having me here today to launch my virtual book tour! I can't wait to dive into these questions.
Before we get to the questions, let me say that is one hunky guy on the cover of your book! Congratulations on such a great cover.
Thanks. As you can imagine, I'm thrilled with the cover!
Give readers an idea of your creative process. Do you plot, do a lot of research, do characterization charts? Or, are you a seat-of-the-pants writer?
My creative process involves a lot of obsessing. When I'm writing a novel, I think about it 24/7. I dream about it. Sometimes the characters wake me up at obscene times of the night to talk to me. So, I'm definitely a plotter. I have to know where I'm going with a book or 'the voices' keep annoying me, lol. That being said, once I'm knee deep in my plot outline, I'm flexible. I'll change the action to match the characters as they evolve or as new ideas come to me.
What fuels your muse? I don't mean just chocolate--LOL--but the ideas. What inspires you?
I take inspiration from the people around me. Friends, family, long-term acquaintances—everyone has a story to share. I love listening to people's life experience and learning from it. Many of my characters have a basis in real people. I think this process adds richness and depth to the story.
Oh, I agree! Do you listen to music as you write? Do you require silence or can you write anywhere?
While I'm more efficient when I write without distractions, I have a very low tolerance for absolute quiet, lol. I'm very much about being in the thick of things so I really can write anywhere, but if I can force myself to shut off the internet, barricade myself in the bedroom, and resist the urge to join whatever frivolity my son is engaged in, I get more words written in a shorter amount of time. I do, however, need to listen to music when I write. Music is another thing that inspires me. My mood is very much affected by it so I keep genre appropriate playlists handy to keep me in the correct frame of mind while I write. For romance, I listen to Michael Buble or Harry Connick Jr. For action sequences, Korn or Limp Bizkit does the job. And for super hot sex scenes, it's a specific song that gets my blood pumping, “Sadeness, Part 1,” by Enigma.
Do you use a laptop or a desktop. Where do you write?
My laptop is an extension of my body these days. I feel like I'm missing a limb without it! And judging from my butt print on the far right end of the couch in the living room, I've taken up residence there. It's the most comfortable spot in the house for me. You know, close proximity to the kitchen and the TV.
What are some of the books you reread or have on your keeper shelf? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Chick lit is one of my favorite genres. Bridget Jones's Diary was life changing for me in my late twenties. I felt suddenly like my fears and insecurities were normal. Watermelon helped me feel understood after I had my son as well. Sex and the City gave me a sense of empowerment. So, Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, and Candance Bushnell are among my faves.
I also love Agatha Christie. I became a fan in high school because I chose Evil Under the Sun for a book report. After that I was hooked. Christie is one of the authors who inspired me to become a writer as is Margaret Atwood. Again, The Handmaiden's Tale was life changing for me. I read it at sixteen and began to ask all sorts of questions about sexual politics. Yep, Atwood brought out the burgeoning feminist in me.
Is there any advice you'd like to give pre-published authors?
Surround yourself with people who know more about the publishing industry than you do and other writers whose style you envy. And then be open to their advice (that's the hard part!) No act of creation happens in a vacuum. The more you collaborate and pass your work by those who can give you valuable feedback—both positive and negative—the more you'll grow. I think, in our society, we have this 'myth of the lone genius,' like an artist has to create something all by him/herself to be great. That really is crap, lol. And I mean that in a good way. Once you abandon that idea, writing isn't such a lonely process. I assure you, every novel you've ever read has been worked over by beta-readers, pre-editors, editors, and proofreaders. Though the vision may be yours, the polish comes from your support team.
Excellent advice, Cindy. Tell us anything else you'd like to share.
I'd just like to say that I know first-hand how tough times are for many people right now. My life-partner went through a layoff and a career-change because his trade evaporated with housing market. It was a rough road getting back to the point that we had a little extra 'fun money.' Those lean days, I think, shaped my attitude toward my writing. My goal, as an author, is to give my readers the best story I can produce. If I can help someone relieve the stress of a hard day or provide escape into another world, even for just a few hours, I feel like I've done my job well. It's in this spirit that I offer All the Good Men to the public. And I always love feedback from readers so please feel free to drop me a line!
Cindy, tell us a little about ALL THE GOOD MEN. Can you share a blurb with us.
Book Title: ALL THE GOOD MEN from Moongypsy Press.
Tagline: Good things come in forty-something firefighter packages...
Dahlia is sure the hackneyed platitude is true: After a certain age, all the good men are married or gay. She feels her thirty-eight years put her well past that 'certain age.' Her best friend and her sisters dare her to put her fate where her mouth is. The terms of the challenge? During the month of October, she has to end her five-year-long man fast and go on dates with men of their choosing. Oh, and she also has to go out with anyone else who asks.
As the date disasters pile up, the vindication almost makes the torturous evenings bearable for Dahlia. But a handsome new neighbor, Jackson Carmichael, moves in, changing the rules of the game. Retired after twenty-six years as a pro firefighter in Boston, he volunteers with the local fire department, coaches a youth hockey team, and appears for all the world to be the perfect man. He just might throw a wrench into Dahlia's plan to die lonely and single...that is if she doesn't scare him away first.
I can tell this book is filled with humor as well as romance. Can you give us an excerpt?
Here's a PG excerpt of ALL THE GOOD MEN.
Skipper's, McGrady's, the Dew Drop Inn. Dahlia didn’t find her father at any of his regular hangouts. As a last ditch effort, she drove home, hoping to find him there. No such luck.
She called Beck. “Hi, it’s Dahlia. I haven’t found him, but if for some reason he turns up at the VFW, please give me a call.”
“Will do, ma’am. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry I am he got away from me.”
“No, no. It’s not your fault. I felt like I should’ve stayed home with him, but with all the orders at work—” The doorbell interrupted her thoughts. “Beck, there’s someone here. I’ll call you back.”
As she clamped the cell phone shut its hinge snarled in a lock of hair. Dahlia tugged at the accursed thing as she trotted to the front door. When she opened it, Dahlia abandoned her efforts to disentangle the phone. There stood her father, soaking wet, draped against the shoulder of a man she’d never seen before.
“Hi.” The stranger flashed an apologetic smile. “Does he belong to you? I feel like I've seen him pruning the hedges out front.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. Perhaps if she blocked out the image of her piss-drunk father long enough, he might disappear. Opening one eye she found she’d had no such luck.
“Yes, I’m so sorry. Where did he wind up, Mr…?”
“Carmichael. Jackson Carmichael. I found him floating in my koi pond.”
“Oh, good Lord. I’m really sorry. We’ll pay for any damages.” Dahlia reached for her dad, but Jackson scooped up the old man using a fireman’s carry.
“Not to worry. I’m just glad I found him when I did. Is it okay to set him on the couch?”
“Please. I’ll get some towels.” She hurried from the room if only to hide her flaming embarrassment. Upon return, she made a vain attempt to blot up the water that pooled around the passed out lump she usually called Dad.
“Thank you, Mr. Carmichael. I can’t apologize enough. Daddy’s a bit of a handful.”
“No apology necessary, but may I…?” He reached out a hand.
“Of course.” Dahlia thrust a dry towel at him.
“No, no. I meant—” Jackson made a gentle twist and tug that freed the forgotten cell phone from her hair. “There you go.”
“Christ almighty. Lovely first impression I’ve made,” she said and shoved the phone in her pocket.
“Nah, no biggie.” He stripped off his shirt and dried himself. “I meant to come by to introduce myself a couple days ago, but I’ve been swamped trying to get settled.”
Though a half naked man in her living room—and a rather physically fit one at that—was a rare occurrence, Dahlia did her best to avert her eyes. “I’m sure Daddy and I have made you want to run for the hills.”
“Not at all, Ms…?”
“Foster, but please, anyone who finds my father in his fishpond can call me Dahli.”
“A pleasure,” he said and handed her the towel. “Thanks.”
“Would you like something to drink?”
“I’d love something, but I have to get back. Rain check?”
“Sure. Come by anytime.” But I won’t hold my breath...not that I blame you, she added silently. Dahlia walked him to the front door, thanking him again. After closing the door behind Mr. Carmichael, she plodded into the living room to check on her father.
“Daddy,” she said to deaf ears and sank into the loveseat. “What am I going to do with you?”
Cindy, this book sounds like one for the keeper shelf. I can hardly wait to read the whole book. Thanks for stopping by to share it with us.
Caroline, thank you so much for having me. It's been fun.
Cindy will be giving away a signed copy of ALL THE GOOD MEN and a branded "Fiction For The Bad Girl In Every Woman" book bag for one randomly drawn lucky winner. To enter, please visit each day's tour stop listed below and comment.on Cindy's post. A winner will be drawn at the conclusion of her tour and the winner notified. (Please make sure you include your email address with your comment.)
June 2: Diary of a Literary Goddess
June 3: The Amber Scott Project
June 4: Alisha Paige
June 7: Love Romance Passion
June 8: The Book Junkie's Bookshelf
June 9: Book Junkie
June 10: Roxanne's Realm
June 11: You Gotta Read Guest
June 14: Whipped Cream Reviews Guest Blog
June 15: Romancing the Pen
June 16: Marianne Arkins
June 17: Authors by Authors
June 18: The Epic Rat
June 21: Romance Alley
June 22: Jacqueline Paige
June 23: The Cozy Page
June 24: Amber Skyze
June 25: The Life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object
You can learn more about Cindy Jacks and her books from her website