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Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome Author Cynthia Selwin

    As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
I never wanted to grow up, so what I wanted to be wasn't something I thought about too much.  I did spend lots of time indoors, alone, reading or writing. So maybe I knew all along I'd be a writer and an editor. Wordcrafting is what I did then and still do now.
Maybe one thing deciding to never grow up has helped me to maintain is my imagination, my creativity and my ability to see the wonder in the world. People ask me how I manage to notice the little details they usually miss—a turkey peeking out of the bushes on the side of the road, the way the sky colors immediately before the sun sets, the funny way that man over there is gesturing while he yells into his cell…I guess I keep my eyes open despite grown-up worries; most adults have forgotten how to look. (Anyone who has small children know about this phenomenon. "Look. See! What's that?")
I've also maintained the ability to turn everything into make believe and pretend…because really, that's what writers do, isn't it? We spin pretend worlds for readers to make-believe in, don't we? J
    What do you do for fun?
Um…I write. And I read. Honestly, I'm so-o-o-o boring. Everything else is just making time until I can write and read again.
    How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
I think being the youngest child at the end of a parade of children has affected me; I'm always going to be "the baby". Even now, though I'm forty-six and the mother of three children, my sisters somehow make me feel like an incompetent, child-like dork. Although maybe that has something to do with my answer to question number one. Maybe I am a child-like dork…who does laundry, plans meals, balances a checkbook, raises people to be responsible citizens, (and keeps them alive and healthy), pays a mortgage, pays taxes…
Anyhow. This theme of having to prove oneself to one's siblings or other significant people—even a town of people—seems to pop up quite a bit in my books. In fact, I think most of my books feature self-confident, competent people who are constantly trying to show that they're not what people see them as because it's not who they are…
    Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Ooh. Speaking of people who have to prove themselves—my current project features a teacher in a small town in New Hampshire where everyone knows everybody and anyone's business is fodder for the gossip mill. She's recently been dumped by her fiancé (who eloped with her childhood nemesis) and everyone knew about his affair before she did. Now she's not only the most recent bit of news, but she feels like her every action is being observed. Especially by her impressionable eighth-grade students. (Don't forget—small town. This year's eighth graders are siblings/cousins/ friends to tomorrow's eighth graders. How Katie acts now can become legend.) So she takes herself off to regroup and recoup in her brother-in-law's fishing cabin. Where there is this bagpiper…from Scotland…and he won't leave her alone. Now she's not only Miss O'Grady-who-might-go-ballistic-any-minute-on-Tim's-new-wife-or-something, she's Miss O'Grady-seen-in-town-with-that-stranger…in-a-skirt? (Only once, by the way. Euan couldn't find any clean clothes so he wore his kilt to town.) But ultimately it's about staying true to yourself and…proving yourself to others. Or…not. I'm still struggling with the ending.
    How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
Usually I think about the theme or an incident in the book and work from there, playing with the titles until the right one occurs. Dog-Gone But Not Forgotten, my most recent release, is titled that way because there's a dog and a dead grandmother and a romance never forgotten. (Um…that sounds kind of rude, but because Nana died, Carrie had to return and can't help but bump into her ex-boyfriend.) Another recent release, my erotica, In the Cards,has that name because the heroine is given a deck of sexy suggestion cards and the hero offers to help her try them out. (Gives a whole new meaning to three card stud. Darn. That would have a been a good title, too!) A book I wrote as C.D. Yates is titled, Kissing Trick (published by The Wild Rose Press). The hero's name is Patrick, but the heroine calls him Trick. During the course of the story, they have to kiss, and she knows that kissing Trick is going to change everything about their relationship. Because Trick works magic with his kisses.  Oh, and then, there's my Christmas erotic novella, Naughty Can Be Nice, featuring the son of everyone's favorite elf. He hears your dreams and he makes them come true…do you want to be on his naughty list? It can be nice.
Incidentally, the book I'm working on now is called The Piper's Calling, because whenever Euan plays his bagpipes, Katie is compelled to go to him. Or, as she thinks of it—he's the Pied Piper and she's…a…rat. Well…you know, it's a work in progress. LOL.
I love creating titles. I love writing blurbs, too. I think I need professional help.
    Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Yes. My children. They challenge it all the time. Just when I start on a good tear—bam!—they're there, demanding something. Like a pair of socks that match. Honestly. Just. Let. Me. Write!
    How did you deal with rejection letters?
Ah. Once upon a time, I took them personally. What does "I just didn't fall in love with it" mean, anyway? Why do editors hate me? I'm going to go sulk and eat chocolate and never write again. Waaah!
Then, I started working as an editor. And I can honestly say, "I just didn't fall in love with it" means…just that. It's not my cup of story and I know I can't do it justice. And no, editors don't hate you—or any writers (well…not some. Divas, maybe, but most writers are really awesome people). It's just that sometimes a story—even the most well-conceived one—isn't ready yet. It might need more work than the editor can put into it. It might have problems the author doesn't see. Many times, it's a simple need for a critique group who can find the plot holes and help the writer patch them…and fix their spelling and grammar, too.
So now I realize rejections aren't rejections, per se. It's more like they're letters telling you "not yet" or "not what our readers will buy". It's business. It's not personal and it's nothing to cry about. Unless the editor writes "This sucks donkey hooves!" in red marker (or red font) across your title page; then, there's a problem. And even then, it's not you, it's them. Keep writing. Keep submitting. And find a supportive critique group!
    What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
1)      A good dictionary. Many publishers use Merriam-Webster's dictionary. I like that one because it's online and easy to navigate.
2)      A style guide. The publishing houses I've worked for all use The Chicago Manual of Style as the go-to guide for grammar and spellings.
3)      A thesaurus. You can only use the word "look" so many times in one manuscript. Find some synonyms for the words you tend to use the most (or know that you'll need to use a lot. In romance, people are always looking at each other. Gazing. Staring. Contemplating. Studying. Paying attention to. They peer and leer, too.)
4)      As far as books about writing itself—I think what works for some people doesn’t work at all for others. We all learn differently and absorb information different ways. So the best thing a writer—especially a beginning writer can do is to read, read, read. Sit at Barnes&Nobles or the library and see what's out there. Borrow books from writer friends. Eventually, you'll find the ones that make you say, "Aha!" For me, it was Scene and Sequel, by Jack Bickham and a screenwriting book titled, Emotional Structure:Creating the Story Beneath the Plot by Peter Dunne.
5)      Creativity. It's a tool. Utilize it. Exercise it.
6)      A pen and paper; sometimes the physicality of writing with a pen on paper can encourage right brain thinking and creativity. It's also easier to doodle with a pen than a computer.
7)      A computer, preferably a portable one. I love my netbook; it's small enough to stick in a purse and even better—no one else in the family likes the size of the screen so they don't "borrow" it.
8)      A thick skin.
9)      Lots of patience.
10)   Caffeine, caffeine and more caffeine.
    Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
LOL. You might as well ask which of my children is my favorite. I love them all; they all have positive and negative attributes but as a whole, each one of them is special to me.
        Where can we find out more about your books?
You can find out more about me and my books at my blog at www.cynthiaselwyn.blogspot.com, where you can read blurbs and reviews. You can also check out my guest authors there. By the way, any author who's interested in free promotion can participate in my blog's First Page Friday; they're certainly welcome to contact me at cyn@cynselwyn.com. Readers, too!
In addition, you can check out my lovely (yet not often updated) website at cynselwyn.com.

Doggone But Not Forgotten: She needs to get out of there, fast.
Eighteen years ago, Jack Radigan took Carrie Moore’s  virginity—then broke her heart by marrying her best friend. Now Carrie’s Nana has died, forcing her back to Rhode Island, where she’s trying to sell off Nana’s estate before she runs into him. But Nana had a dog not even her lawyer knew about, and it appears Carrie’s plan is doomed. Because the Irish wolfhound seems to have an agenda all her own, and it involves making Carrie deal with Jack—the  town’s animal control officer—on a daily basis. The havoc the beast wreaks is costing Carrie a fortune. Hopefully, it won’t cost the last whole bits of her heart, too.
Jack married Becky…but he didn’t love her.
She was pregnant and he needed to be a father to the child. Now, Becky’s gone, and Carrie’s back home. So when her dog runs amok in their town of  Narragansett, it’s his job to get the animal under control. But first, he has to control his desire to kiss Carrie, the woman he was meant to marry many  years before.

In the Cards: Alexandrea Taylor writes historical fiction, not erotica. She can’t even think the word…um…p-e-n-i-s. But she wishes she could. When her editor wants her to write a story about a cowboy and a bordello using a pack of sex-aid cards, she fantasizes about buying her dream home. Except she’s sure she’s too boring in bed to imagine erotic scenarios. She can’t even keep her fiance satisfied—she caught him in their bed with another woman. If it wasn’t for her friend Zach, she doubts she’d feel attractive at all.
Zach O’Connor would do anything for his friend, Alex. She’s the only woman he’s ever met who doesn’t treat him like a piece of meat. And now that they’re sharing a hotel room at a conference, it’s his opportunity to show her what she means to him. When she asks for his help with a sexy role-playing assignment, he knows this is his chance to show Alex she’s not only the woman of his fantasies, but the woman of his heart as well.
With some silk scarves, massage oil and imagination, it’s all in the cards.


Nina Croft said...

I'm not going to agree with you on the "You can only use the word "look" so many times in one manuscript." comment - you wouldn't say that if you'd seen my last MS.

And I'm with you on the sibling thing, Cyn - I'm the youngest of four girls and I always feel inadequate around them.

Marketing Director said...

Great post Cynthia.
Marketing Director with Breathless Press