Interview with Cindy Cromer for AuthorMePro

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APKY/AMP: Hello, Cindy and welcome to our interview. You've mentioned how many books you’ve just sold at St Kitts. Cindy Cromer on AuthorMeProCongratulations. Sounds like the place to go for sales. Anyway could you please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?

I am originally from Freehold Township, New Jersey and currently reside in Stuart, Florida with my husband, son, and daughter. I am a scientist and executive, formally the president of a laboratory network. In this role I have written numerous laboratory procedures and research documents.

Ever since I was little, I’ve been an avid reader. I always said one day I’d write a book, if I ever had the time.  My family teased me mercilessly about reading and encouraged me to write a book, since I had read so many.  While reading a fiction book, I won’t mention the author or title, I counted four characters with the same name.  I slammed the book down and decided to do what I’d claimed.  I gave it a shot, started typing away, and created Caitlin, the protagonist.  I gave her a career utilizing my scientific and executive background.  Since my favorite genre is mystery and suspense, I thought about a story I’d like to read.  It didn’t take long for a plot and ending to formulate. I chose the main location as St. Kitts because my family and I do travel there frequently and the island is beautiful. It was really fun creating the characters.  Once I got going, the second book started to form.  When I finished DESPERATE MEASURES, I hoped for publication, but wasn’t sure. In writing the first book I’d achieved my dream and continued on with the second book.

 Desperate Measures by Cindy Cromer

APKY/AMP: The only way to go for most of us. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?

I write mystery/suspense because that is the genre I prefer to read. I have some funny scenes throughout the suspenseful plot of my books and would like to write a comedy someday but not sure I’m ready for that endeavor yet.  Writing a scene or two to make the reader laugh is quite different from writing a whole book. I can verbally tell hysterical stories though, so one day I might give it a try.

 

APKY/AMP: Well, go for it then, CindyJ Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I write fiction mystery/suspense but I suppose the reader could surmise that “Power and wealth comes at a high price and secrets ALWAYS come out.”

 

APKY/AMP: That’s a quote I’m going to steal. What have you had published to-date?

As far as mystery fiction is concerned, my first publication is my debut novel, Desperate Measures. I have published research and scientific papers regarding a Citrus Bitterness study and a Nutrient Study of the St. Lucie River pertaining to the release of Lake Okeechobee.

 

APKY/AMP: That’s an amazing combination of creativity and scientific knowledge. I’m impressed. Do you have any advice for other writers?

 

Be prepared for rejection, sometimes it’s brutal.  If you believe in your work, don’t give up.  Be persistent, if you were rejected by an agent or publisher before, don’t be shy and try again.  Grow thick skin and don’t be offended, embrace each criticism and rejection as an opportunity to edit and polish your work. 

 

Most importantly, ALWAYS carry a notepad when a computer is not readily available.

 

APKY/AMP: Very sound advice, considering our mimosa-like creative sensibilitiesJ Why should we buy your book?  

Desperate Measures is page turning suspense.  No reader has yet successfully identified the identity and motive of the villain until the very end.

APKY/AMP: Wow, could you kindly let me have the books? A PDF file would doJ How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?

I do quite a bit of the marketing and I’m struggling a bit to effectively get my book out there. I recently attended Mystery Writers of America Sleuthfest Conference in Orlando, FL.  At each of the sessions the message was consistent; Authors are expected to do more and more marketing and publicizing of their books. Of special note, I was chosen as a panelist for the Virtues of a Small Publisher panel, scheduled as the last session of the final day of the conference. I didn’t expect much of a turnout but boy was I wrong! It turned out to be the hottest session and created a heated debate regarding self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. The room was packed with many agents and publishers in attendance. I was astonished at the book signing afterwards, a few attendees actually bought my book in which I had the honor of signing.

APKY/AMP: That’s the kind of opportunity we (those of us not writing with a 200-strong team and prefabricated plots) really appreciate. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?

Not yet but I did enter Desperate Measures in the Smart Book Lovers/SharpWrit Awards contest.

APKY/AMP: Keep entering more, Cindy. I won the nomination for the 2012 Caine Prize from my publisher but didn’t make among the top five in London. But I intend to keep going for itJ  Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?

I have small office area set up but I can write anywhere quiet with no distractions.

APKY/AMP: I prefer it quiet too, perhaps with some music. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?

 I published my first novel as Cindy Huefner Cromer. Huefner is my maiden name but I intend publish my next novel as Cindy Cromer.

 

APKY/AMP: Sounds good and memorable. I have this monstrous name I have to live with. Using a pen name would make me feel as if I’m lying to my own children about my name. So I figured: if people can say Dostoyevsky… Oh, well. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?

I don’t have an agent and I’ve heard conflicting comments from other authors about how much the agent really does for them.

APKY/AMP: I’d appreciate someone selling the hot cakes while I bake new onesJ What are you working on at the moment / next?

I am currently finishing my second book, Desperate Deceptions which has some of the same characters from Desperate Measures. I have a rough outline of a medical thriller and a sports related mystery that I am anxious to dive into the plot development. These two books have completely different characters and I can’t wait to develop them and their mysterious past and secrets.  I do want to get back to some of the supporting characters I created in Desperate Measures. For example, Barry Solerno and Tomas Medina need their own plot.

APKY/AMP: Well then, go Cindy, go… Do you manage to write every day?

I try to write everyday even if it is just one scene.

APKY/AMP: Good practice, I’ve heard often enough. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?

I suffered some writer’s block when I wrote Desperate Measures and what helped me to get over it is to re-read the last scene I wrote over and over again. When that doesn’t work, I sometimes read a book that I have read before but didn’t particularly enjoy. This method boosts my confidence that I can write something better. In writing Desperate Deceptions, there were many times I froze and no matter what I did, those magic words and scenes would just not come. There were many reasons why this happened to me. The five star reviews Desperate Measures received scared me to death and I was afraid I couldn’t do it again. The next issue was I over analyzed and edited each and every word too much. I’ve finally gotten past this mental block and let the creative side of my brain take over and create suspenseful scenes then go back and edit.

APKY/AMP: Right. I tend to edit each completed chapter, for some reason, which only leads to procrastination really. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?  

I start with the beginning, write the ending from my draft of the plot, then fill in chunks in the middle.  When I reach this juncture I freeze and panic because I know I have to create a scene, character, and link that ties the whole plot together.  Once this happens, I soar with confidence and the book quickly comes to completion.  When this happened while I wrote Desperate Measures, I created Barry Solerno, who became my favorite character.  The same situation happened in writing Desperate Deceptions with one exception; I took the character on a more sinister path but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be one of my favorites…..

APKY/AMP: I’m always amazed with this method. I write beginnings, with middles and ends merely glimpses in my imagination through a film darkly... J Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

I utilized my scientific and executive experience to create Caitlin as a start, came up with a fiction plot revolving around family secrets, then created an eclectic cast of characters, each one holding bits and pieces of information pertinent to Caitlin’s survival. Essentially, I thought of a book I’d like to read. I think what makes a character believable is when an author gradually peels away a layer of the character without revealing their whole background and story at once, giving the reader a chance to form a bond or opinion. The names of my characters aren’t as important as the secrets they are hiding.

APKY/AMP: Yes, secrets do entice, although I must say that Darth Vader was a brilliant nameJ. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?

I have three, me, myself, and I. I’m very shy and protective when it comes to my writing. First I can’t shake the scientist embedded in me regarding writing and copywriting. I probably should join a writers and critique group. When my dad read Desperate Measures after it was published he gave me the greatest compliment, and believe me he doesn’t give them out lightly, there’s always a but…

Anyway the first thing my father told me that is was a great story and I had a knack for writing, so do what I need to do to keep going and get the second book out. Here comes the but… part of the praise, “I can’t believe you wrote that and never took any formal writing classes or did much research for your book.” I laughed and said, “Thanks, Dad, coming from you that means a five star review.”

APKY/AMP: (laughing) Creators tend to be autodidacts.  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?

As I stated above, with my second book I started to edit and over analyze it before the book was finished, but I am very happy with the book and in my opinion is much better and much more suspenseful than Desperate Measures.

APKY/AMP: They say the more you write the better you get, don’t they? Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?

Mostly computer but I do jot down notes from time to time. If I may I’d like to share a funny story that happened today. My son, daughter, and I walked over to the beach. I carried nothing but a small beach bag, chairs, and boogey boards. No cell-phone, pen, doodle pad, etc. Once my children raced into the water, the perfect scene that I had been struggling with came to life in my mind for some reason. So there I sat with nothing to write on, not even a line of communication to dictate to voice mail. A clap of thunder and small rain shower rescued me from my writing dilemma and we raced home. I resurrected my thoughts and typed away on the computer while my children played in the pool (the storm passed and they’ve become used to me when I go into writer’s mode and drop everything to get those words down). When I finished writing the scene I thought it was pretty darn good.

APKY/AMP: Those are the magic sterling moments. Tell me, what point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?

Third person and I am most comfortable writing in this point of view. I haven’t tried first of second person.

AMP: (laughing) I love trawling my nets all over the seven seas tooJ! What do you like to read?

My favorite genre is mystery and suspense. I’m not into sci-fi or horror much when it comes to reading. I do have to mention one of my favorite authors, Lisa Gardner. She has a knack for creating a suspenseful tale with an ending the reader doesn’t see coming; something I strive to do in my novels.

APKY/AMP: And no doubt you will achieve it. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?

I have a twelve year old son and seven year old daughter. Their homework, extra-curricular, and social activities keep me busy. When time permits we like to go boating.

APKY/AMP: (laughing) Is that what this Luo-British girl would call sailing? Anyway, where can we find out about you and your work?

My web-site is http://www.cindyhuefnercromer.com/index.html

APKY/AMP: Noted.  Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

2012 has started off well for me and opened many doors for promotional opportunities. I just returned from North Carolina from a writers conference at which I was the keynote speaker. I discussed my leap into the literary field, why I chose traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, how to write a query letter, resources to find an agent/publisher etc. After my presentation, I discovered that Nan Bauroth was in the audience, scheduled to speak at a round table discussion. When Nan started speaking about her background and experience, my mouth dropped and I thought, “What the heck did they pick me as the keynote speaker for?” Nan is an editor, journalist, and ghost writer. She played a major role in the publication and marketing of the book, “Jaws”. She relayed the history behind the book and troubles in getting it attention. After listening to Nan’s speech, I was further honored as a nobody new author to be in her presence and selected keynote speaker. Well, I guess James Patterson was a nobody a long time ago, right?

APKY/AMP: I guess he was, Cindy, but hope you don’t get into writing with a 220-strong team and software plot templatesJ. Thank you for this enjoyable interview, Cindy. I now invite you to include an extract of your writing:

This is a shortened synopsis of the back cover, “What should have been the perfect vacation on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, soon becomes a nightmare. Caitlin Martel has no idea that a forgotten secret is about to explode and put her life in jeopardy. The suspense escalates through twists, turns, and family secrets yet to be revealed. A powerful climax unveils an unlikely alliance between two deadly and dangerous enemies.”

Full a more detailed synopsis and first five chapter preview, please visit this link on my web-site http://www.cindyhuefnercromer.com/books.html

 APKY/AMP: Once again, thank you. And don’t forget to send me the books!