I am thrilled to have Cyndi Tefft as my featured author this week. Fascinated with all things Scotland, her novel, Between,, was released June 1 to a great reception, including her very first recent book signing. Cyndi had plenty of things to discuss about Between and all other things writing.
1.Thanks for taking the time for an interview this week. Let's begin by you telling our readers about Between and what inspired you to write it.
My debut YA paranormal romance is a love story between a modern American girl who dies in a car accident and the 18th century Scottish Highlander who comes to take her to heaven. Here's the blurb from the cover:
It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile and Scottish accent.
After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.
Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.
I wanted to write a good-versus-evil story but I felt that angels and demons had already been done quite a bit. The grim reaper is a well-known concept, but hasn’t shown up much in romance novels. I figured that I could do whatever I wanted in the afterlife, since there are no set rules. The hero is Scottish because I was reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series at the time and was completely enamored with Scotland. Still am!
2. When did you begin writing for the first time?
When I was a teenager, I journaled nearly every day and often wrote poetry (mostly about This Boy or That Boy who didn't know I was alive). Writing was a way for me to scream out all the emotions swirling around in my head that I didn't have an opportunity to voice.
3. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My mother often kept a journal, so she introduced me to writing. She's written a book of poetry and has a popular blog written from the POV of her sheepdog. Music, writing and creativity has always been a part of my life and I thank her for that.
4. Which comes first for you, the character's story or idea for your novel?
The idea came first and I got to know the characters as I went along. I ended up cutting the first 50 pages of the manuscript because I realized those pages were necessary for me to define the characters, but the reader didn't need them.
I knew I wanted an 18th century Scottish Highlander for my hero, but it wasn't until I was poking around online and found Eilean Donan Castle that Aiden's history clicked into place for me. When I stumbled across a website about the castle and read its fascinating history, I knew I'd found exactly what I needed. I danced around the kitchen, hardly able to contain my excitement. My husband thought I'd lost it! Ha!
5. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
Not at all! I work a full-time job, so I only have time to write in the evenings and weekends. I've also got two kids and am active in my church, so there is very little time left over for writing, even when I'm on fire to get a scene down on paper. So I squeeze in bits of time whenever I can. It certainly helps if I've been thinking of how a scene will unfold as I go about my day so that when I have time to write, the words start to flow.
6. What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Anything I write has to have a love story in it. It could be teen or adult, but love is what makes me tick. I actually really enjoy writing steamy scenes, so I may try my hand at an adult romance in the future. It all depends on the story and how it best fits in.
7. What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
To me, good writing is good storytelling. An author can craft beautiful prose, but if I am not emotionally invested in the characters and what happens to them, the mastery of the language is not enough to sustain my interest. That being said, if the words get in the way of the story because of clichés, typos, grammatical errors or poor dialogue, I'm going to be irritated and check out.
My advice would be to get the story down as best you can, then go back and read all you can about editing. It isn't the easiest route because it means you'll have to rewrite much of what you've done, but if you spend all your time learning how to write instead of actually doing it, you'll end up an educated person without a book to show for it! Critiques from other readers and writers are essential part of the toolbox as well.
8. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Absolutely! When I'm really stuck on a scene, I like to go for a walk and just talk to myself about it. Hopefully people who see me think I'm on the phone instead of crazy! I spend so much time in my head, imagining the scene and the dialogue, that it helps sometimes to verbalize what I'm thinking. The physical activity stimulates my brain as well.
9. What book(s)/author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
As I mentioned, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series inspired my love of all things Scottish. Stephenie Meyer is the one who really inspired me to start writing Between. I was watching a video where she described having a dream and writing it down. It sounded simple (and she seemed normal enough to me) so I thought maybe I'd try my hand at it, too. I can tell you now that it's not simple, but I'm glad I didn't know that back then.
10. What are some of your future projects?
Now that Between has officially launched, I am starting work on the sequel, Hell Transporter. Aiden transports people from earth to heaven and the sequel is about his counterpart. I am looking forward to spending time with Aiden and Lindsey again, since they are wonderful characters!
11. Where can readers find your books to purchase?
Between is available in both print and ebook format from a variety of online retailers:
Ebook only: Smashwords, Apple
Print only: Createspace, My website (signed copy)
Print and ebook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
12. Do you have online social network pages and/or web sites? If so, what are they?
There are a variety of ways to connect with me online: My blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. I love to interact with readers so stop on over and say hi.
Thanks for having me on the site. I had a great time!