I'm pleased to welcome newly minted author Cynthia Wicklund to the blog today. Cynthia should have her portrait next to the word persistence in the dictionary. She's been a writer for a long time, but she never has been able to find an editor who appreciates her unique stories. Until now.
Her first book Lord of Always, ISBN 9781419925504, has been published by Jasmine Jade, an imprint of Cerridwen Press. I first purchased a download copy. Today, I discovered the Kindle edition had been published so I got that too. Read the first few sentences and you'll see why I wanted it on my Kindle too.
You can find this talented and persistent author hanging out at her website or on her Author Page at Cerridwen Press. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached by email at cynthia at CynthiaWicklund dot com.
First, we'll warm up our conversational engines with a couple of fun questions.
What's your fave? Star Trek (old or new) or Star Wars (old or new) and why?
Both of the older series, but forced to choose, I’d say the old Star Trek. I have a real soft spot for the original series and Captain Kirk. I have to say, though, I loved last year’s Star Trek remake. It paid homage to the 60's series while updating it brilliantly. What fun!
If they made a movie of your book, who would be cast to portray the characters?
For the hero, James Purefoy (The Philanthropist) as the character he played in A Knight’s Tale. Aristocratic in a casual way, refined, but not stuffy. Handsome without being perfect. Yep, he’d do. As for the heroine, maybe Rachel Weisz or someone like her?
Okay, Cindy! Now let's get to the Sweet 16 Interview - that's 16 questions.
1. How long have you been writing?
Almost 19 years off and on.
2. What number book was this? 5th, 7th?
This was my 5th completed novel. I finished it in 2005 and was fortunate enough to final in RWA’s Golden Heart that year. So I felt it had potential if I could just edit it properly. The first thing I did was remove a 10 page prologue (set up) and replace it with a one paragraph intro. I began to get more interest in it after that.
3. Would you tell us something about your journey from the idea that you wanted to write a book to finally getting a contract for one?
Unlike many writers I didn’t start writing until I was an adult. It was a gradual process for me, from being mostly a dabbler, to joining writers’ organizations, to taking classes, to becoming part of a critique group and entering contests. I knew I was serious about pursuing publication when I finished my first book and submitted it to a real publishing house. When I started getting requests, that was validation enough to keep me going.
4. How did you find that title and do you have a 1 sentence blurb or log line for us?
I have this fascination with the mystical and what part the soul plays in the human it inhabits. Does it guide through intellect or emotion? Both? Who knows? I wanted to show how my hero is transformed when his soul is exchanged for another one. His memories, however, along with his understanding of who he is, are left intact. Obviously, this change creates quite a bit of chaos in his life and the lives of his wife and family.
The title was somewhat evolutionary, and to be honest I don’t remember the sequence of events that got me there. All I remember is the original title was very bland and generic, and bland can be worse than bad.
This is the blurb I use, as it’s the basic premise of the story: How does a good and honorable man atone for wicked deeds he committed when he was neither good nor honorable?
5. How many under the bed books do you have?
Everything else I’ve ever written. But I still think about those books, and, occasionally, I’ll think of ways to revive one of them. Saying that, I think it’s a mistake never to let them go. Part of being a successful writer is learning to move on to the next project.
6. What do you plan to do with them?
Nothing. I keep them to remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go. And there’s always that vague hope that one day they’ll see the light of day. Unsold books are like your children – you love even the imperfect ones.
7. What keeps you going when you get rejected, and what's your favorite "oh crap I got a rejection" food and/or drink to soothe the savaged ego?
To answer the first part, for the first 24 hours, not much. After that, the worst of the sting eases, and I go back and look at the rejection – if I’ve received a personal note – to see if I can find anything positive to hang onto. An editor once apologized for being unable to buy my book, but she couldn’t get it past the final editorial stage. She did, however, tell me I had a great career ahead of me. That one comment kept me motivated for a very long time.
My favorite rejection food is something with hot apples and cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. Won’t fix anything but it helps. A lot.
8. Who are your writing influences?
I read a lot of Victoria Holt in the day. I think that’s where I learned to love the Gothic-style, darker, moody stories. Of course, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is top of my list in that category.
9. What are you working on now?
I have a traditional Historical (Victorian) that’s about two-thirds complete, probably most suitable for a market like Harlequin. I’m also plotting an Urban Fantasy. I know, I know, there are a lot of them out there right now. But that’s what interests me, and I have to like what I’m writing to have any hope of writing well.
10. What do you now know that you wish you'd known when you started?
The pall that trying to get published puts on the old muse. I’m not certain I’d have wanted to know that in advance, however, because I may never have written a word. And that would have been a shame because writing’s given me so much.
11. What's the best thing about writing?
The creative process. Not knowing how to put into words what you’re seeing in your head and then coming up with just the right phrase or sentence or paragraph that brings that image to life. Words can be tangible things like paint on a canvas. I love working with words.
12. What's the worst thing about writing?
The pursuit of publication. Working in a vacuum and feeling insecure. Not knowing whether you’re brilliant or deluded. Having many ideas but unable to choose a direction for fear of choosing badly because of that publication thing. That’s more than one worst, isn’t it?
13. Do you have writing goals? If so, would you share some with us?
My goals are somewhat fluid, subject to change. Probably explains why publication has been a long time coming for me. Those writers with the greatest focus, who let nothing derail them, get there the quickest. Talent is part of the equation, but talent alone won’t get you there.
14. What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Listen. Don’t take everything you hear as gospel, but be willing to learn. No matter how good you are, you don’t know it all. A little humility goes a long way. And make writer friends. They will understand and be there for you (thank you, Joan!) when no one else will.
15. Anything else you'd like to tell us?
Know your strengths and play to them regardless of what the newest trend is. I think it’s rare for writers to get published chasing the market unless they’re already established. Besides, if you’re writing something you don’t love, it’s most likely going to be obvious, and you’ve spent all that time writing the supposed next big thing and nobody wants to buy it.
16. Since this is the last question, I'll make it a two parter. First, name a book or 3 that you were forced to read in school that you think are a time waste and why. (In school because that means dead authors and we don't want to hurt feelings.) Second, name 3 books, any genre, that mean a lot to you and why.
Okay, I’m going to expose myself as one of the unwashed masses by admitting this, but I’d have to say the works of Shakespeare for books that I was forced to read. Truth is, I’m not all that intrigued by having to struggle to understand what an author is saying to me. I want to immerse myself in a story, not fight my way through it. And his works are just archaic enough to make them more work than fun. Having said that, I’m not denigrating his brilliance. Not for me in no way means not great.
Second, books that mean a lot to me. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was transformational for me as a young person. I asked a lot questions I’d never thought to ask before after reading that book. And the movie with Gregory Peck was just as exceptional.
The Warrior’s Apprentice (and subsequent Vorkosigan novels) by Lois McMaster Bujold. Ms. Bujold took a deformed little man (Miles) and gave him the mind and heart of a giant. To me that character is the poster child to the concept “bigger than life.”
The Jane Whitefield series by Thomas Perry. A strong Native American woman with a little James Bond in her. She fascinates me.
Cindy, thanks for visiting today and good luck with your book!
Okay, SlingWords readers. The rest is up to you. If you'd like to read some reviews of Lord of Always by Cynthia Wicklund, visit Single Titles and Night Owl Reviews.
If you like a romance novel with heart and soul, Lord of Always is your kind of book. Get it today