The Long and the Short of It is very excited to have Cyndia Depre visiting with us this week.
Cyndia and her husband currently live in the Twin Cities. They also keep what Cyndia calls "an old, but much loved" boat on Lake Minnetonka and use it as much as possible. They are also seeking to find a new dog. Unfortunately, they lost their previous one, a miniature Schnauzer, on September 11. It's not been an easy task because her husband wants a hunting dog and she wants a little cuddler. If you have any suggestions for Cyndia, you can share them with her tomorrow, as she joins us in Long and Short Romance Reviews for a Q&A session.
Cyndia is currently working on her third novel. Her first two: Amanda's Rib and Oblivious (which is just being released) are the prizes in our weekly contest. She ran her own business for ten years, but now writes full-time…or when the mood strikes her. She admitted to me that she doesn't have a set schedule for writing. "I write when the mood hits, for the joy of it," she said. "If I'm not in the mood, it isn't fun. Since I don't worry about it, I don't have writer's block."
Cyndia keeps paper and pencils in every room and in her car, because, as she says, "my best ideas seem to come at the oddest times. Most of my writing is done in the middle of the night, sitting on the bathroom floor with a tablet."
She then gathers all her notes together and forms them into completed scenes. "When I [do that]," she said, "I need huge blocks of time with no interruptions or noise. It's like entering another world, and I love it."
I asked her about multitasking while she was writing. She laughed. "No. Absolutely not. People with children, especially small ones, amaze me. They do eight things at once and still carry on a conversation. Just watching makes my head spin. I do one task at a time, with all my effort. Then move on to the next. I'd like to learn to multitask, but I'd have to do it when I have nothing else going on."
Cyndia always has a lot going on in her mind, that's for sure. I asked her what she wanted to know about the future. She informed me, "I want to know everything. How far will we go with computers? What diseases will we cure? Will nations ever learn to live in peace? Who really will be the next Food Network star? Big or small, I want to know it all. I feel like I'm reading a book I'll never be able to finish, and it's frustrating. If there's an afterlife, I'll be peeking at everyone and everything."
Cyndia always loved reading and began dabbling with words at an early age. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, with a second major in finance, but dreamed of writing a novel. "About ten years ago," she told me, "when I hit my mid-forties, I wondered when I planned on starting that book. It was a 'now or never' moment. I went to my office and wrote the ending of Amanda's Rib. Over the next several years I wrote the rest of the book. Then rewrote it and rewrote it and rewrote it, each time learning a little more about how to put words on paper."
Her work on Amanda's Rib paid off. She told me that some of her readers have become so invested in Jack and Amanda they write to her asking more details. For instance, at the end of the book, Jack gives Amanda a gift. "People want to know what it looked like," she said. "It never occurred to me to describe it, but that's a detail many want. I keep that in mind when I write now. It may not seem significant to me, but readers may want to know."
She also has received mail from readers telling her how Amanda's Rib has helped them and that after reading it they didn't feel so alone. "It boggles my mind to think something I wrote actually helped someone," she told me.
I asked Cyndia what advice she would give to new writers just starting out. "Realize you have a lot to learn and it won't be easy. Master the mechanics," she said. "Understand POV and only use one per scene. I've heard people say it's okay to head-hop if you do it smoothly. Piffle. If you head-hop, you risk confusing your readers. I think it's just plain lazy. Pick the character with the most to gain or lose in a scene, get into his or her head, and stay there. Resist the urge to stuff big chunks of back story into first chapters. Only give readers the back story absolutely necessary. You'll be surprised how little that is. If your protagonist is interesting and/or likeable, your reader is hooked and you can fill them in on the character's past in later chapters. Finally, don't let anyone tell you there is a right or wrong way to do the actual writing. Do what works for you. When I wrote Oblivious, I started with the ending, just as I did with Amanda's Rib. You don't have to write in any particular order. First chapter to last. Write what you want and weave it together. I always think of my first draft as my outline."
A little known fact about Cyndia? She has a friend who calls her "Weather Weenie," because thunderstorm terrify her, and for good reason. "I was once caught in my car during a tornado," she said, "and I think it scarred me for life. Every spring I put a radio, snacks and a mini 4-pack of wine in a corner of the basement. In a room with no windows."
Please visit Cyndia's website http://www.cyndiadepre.com/.