Cindy Procter-King writes romantic comedy, small-town romance, and a new genre she like to call “Sassy Suspense,” a mix of mystery and suspense with a humorous tone. Today she sits for an interview. Learn more about Cindy at her website and blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’ve written in one form or another for most of my life, but I didn’t try writing novels until my late twenties, when I was pregnant with my first child and just working part-time. It was originally my husband’s idea. A friend of his had a wife with a huge stack of romance novels, and if only I could whip off one of those, we’d be sitting on a gold mine! That’s not quite the way it worked out. ;)
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Too long to really count! At least a decade. This was before Indie publishing, when you needed an agent or an editor to take a chance on you. I just couldn’t seem to hit the right timing. I knew it was just a matter of TPT, a little mantra I came up with: “Talent, Persistence, and Timing.” But my timing sucked! I began epublishing before the Kindle came along and changed the industry. So I contracted with a number of “micro” publishers both as Cindy and under a pen name. Many of those publishers or lines are now defunct, like Amber Quill Press and Ellora’s Cave, and also the romance and women’s fiction line of library hardcover books formerly known as Five Star Expressions. I also sold to Red Sage Publishing under a pen name and published with Samhain before returning to my roots as Cindy, getting back the rights I could and venturing into the world of Indie publishing.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I come from a background of “traditional” epublishing and “traditional” small-press publishing, and now I’m indie publishing, so I guess I’m sort of a hybrid. Considering I never sold to a major publisher, in a way I have always been “independently” published. The traditional houses that bought my work were independent publishers in themselves, not part of a big conglomerate. So it depends on how you look at it.
Where do you write?
I have an office in the room that was our master bedroom before we put on an addition and renovated the old bedrooms. We banged out a wall between two small rooms and created a larger master bedroom. That left the old master bedroom empty. The old master bedroom had pine wall paneling, and I had a lot of pictures on the walls. When we took down the pictures, you could see the pine had faded and it occurred to us that the previous owner had put up the pine shortly before selling to us. We took down the pine, expecting to find bare studs underneath. Instead, we found more painted wood paneling with dozens, and I mean dozens, of hearts drawn all over the walls, with initials inside of them. The initials of the couple from whom we’d bought the house. Yes, I intend to put that in a story some day. But that is my writing office. We put up drywall, but the spirit of those hand-drawn hearts stays with me.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I draw from tidbits of real life, inspiration or idea germs, but the characters are real people in my mind. When I first began writing novels, the advice was to “write what you know.” So I wrote a book set in a tiny forestry community that was based on a town we lived in for five years (Where She Belongs, which includes a scene of the hero getting treed by a bear, which really happened to my husband), and I wrote a romantic comedy about a klutz with a heart of gold (Head Over Heels, in which there is a mountain-biking scene based on a real life experience, and I am one of the klutziest people I know). But I can assure you I’ve never kidnapped someone (Borrowing Alex) or tossed piles of underwear on a police detective’s desk (Deceiving Derek) or charged into my boss’s office to discover him in the “middle of things,” shall we say, with a girlfriend (Picture Imperfect).
Describe your process for naming your character?
A lot of times the character names just pop into my head when I visualize them. And I can’t change them. This happened with Ursula Scott (Picture Imperfect) and Adam Wright (Where She Belongs). I tried changing Ursula’s name, because I thought it might remind people of Phoebe’s twin sister’s name on the old Friends TV show, or isn’t there a cartoon Ursula who’s evil? Why would I want to name my character Ursula? But no matter what other name I tried, it wouldn’t stick. She was Ursula, and that was that.
Same with Adam Wright. Once I realized his name pretty much says “a damn right,” I tried hard to change his last name, but nothing fit. I can get the same way with settings. I was advised many times not to set my books in Canada, because that made them hard to sell to American publishers. So about half my books remain set in Canada and about half in the States, depending on the story and characters.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Both. If it’s a big city, then I go with a real place, but if it’s a small town then it’s fictional. I’ve never written a fictional big city.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
I prefer not to label my characters as quirky because then it makes them sound weird.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
I can’t name a specific book, because it wouldn’t be “my” book. I admire a lot of different writers, literary, mainstream, and genre. I am extremely fond of Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Kristan Higgans, but I recently read Girl on a Train and thought it was very well done. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood is probably my favorite book read this year.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
That my brother-in-law hadn’t died at 25. How I would have loved to see him get married and have kids. He was my husband’s best friend and older brother. I often wonder how many kids he might have had. Would he and my husband have remained close? Would we be having him and his wife over for dinner this weekend?
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When I go into a store and know more about the products being sold than the person who’s trying to sell them. So frustrating!
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
A microwave. Popcorn. Butter.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I once sat around for several weeks with my hands in freezing water cutting fins off baby fish for ID purposes. Does that count? I worked in a prison, but it was a friendly enough place and the guards were protective of me.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Right now The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. She is my fav author. Cat’s Eye, another of hers, is a favorite.
Ocean or mountains?
Mountains and lakes.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Somewhere in between.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I need to start moving my butt toward writing series! Series are all the rage in Indie publishing. I have a few series started but need to complete a couple before starting another.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I have a 15-year-old beagle named Allie McBeagle (after Ally McBeal). She’s my boon companion, and, man, it’s gonna be tough when she leaves this earth. She’s a great brainstorming partner!
Just when she thought she had her life on autofocus...
Photographer Ursula Scott is six short months from buying her boss's studio and helping her family knock down a massive debt. She can put up with his hairball antics for that long, right?
But, oh, he makes life difficult. She can barely restrain herself when he hogs credit for her assignments, and now half-naked weirdos are responding to his ad for her first magazine photo spread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging the studio. Worse, she discovers her sexy apprentice is a former cop practicing his newbie PI skills on the case—and she's a suspect!
Suddenly, Ursula's dreams and hard work seem about to go up in smoke. In more ways than one.
Well, not on her watch.
When Gabe McKenzie moves home following the shooting that kyboshed his career, he doesn't expect to get sucked into finding the culprit wreaking havoc at his uncle's photography studio. He certainly doesn't expect to fall for Ursula Scott, a long-legged brunette with a definite motive and a desire to play Nancy Drew. Even as he clears her, the sabotage escalates into a bizarre stalking, placing Ursula...and Gabe's hopes for their future...in danger.
If only he can convince her to stop snooping around and let him do his job as a PI, before an unknown menace threatens not only her dreams—but her life.