Describe your latest book.
DYING FOR A DATE is my first book, a romantic mystery with tons of humor and a few homicides thrown in to keep it entertaining. Recently divorced Laurel McKay gets talked into joining the “Love Club” the safe alternative to on-line dating. Not sure if she is looking for Mr. Right or just Mr. every other Saturday night, she goes out on her first date in 20 years. After her date decides he wants her for dessert, Laurel dispatches him with her cell phone. The next day she finds out he’s been murdered and she was the last person to see him alive.
How did your main character, Laurel McKay, come to you?
In a former life, I was a single mom, and CEO of a nationwide mortgage banking company. I traveled frequently so after a few days of dull spreadsheets and even duller meetings I would reward myself with the treat of a light airport read (preferably a mystery) on my way home. I could never find a series with a single mom as the protagonist and I vowed that someday I would write a series about the difficulties of being a single mom, juggling career, family, and dating.
What was the most difficult part of developing her character?
The most difficult part for me was creating a protagonist who was a unique individual and not merely a reflection of me. I even made her short, red haired with big boobs so no one would think she was me, but I will admit our voices are amazingly similar. She has a great sense of humor!
Which of the Bachelor characters are based on personal experience?
So many bachelors to pick from. Let’s just say that any of the bachelors in the book may have crossed my path at one time. But they are all still alive as far as I know.
What is your writing process?
I am an incredibly social person so the most difficult part of the writing process is sitting still and writing. In order to be productive I need to block out several days or a week which will be devoted entirely to writing. I find this process requires copious amounts of chocolate but it works as long as my chocolate supply doesn’t run out. I’ve been known to write 14 hours a day for a full week when I’m on a roll.
How do you develop a story?
I am a total pantser. When I begin I always know who my killer is and who my victims will be although occasionally an extra body has to bite the dust. I love letting my imagination tell my fingers how to proceed on the keyboard. As many authors know, it’s such a thrill when a new character walks into a chapter and your story changes direction. Sometimes I’m surprised at the events that occur on my pages.
Tell us about your next novel.
I have a very fertile imagination so right now I have more titles than I may have time to sit down and write, DYING FOR A DAIQUIRI, DYING FOR A DIVE, DYING FOR A DIET and my current sequel, DYING FOR A DANCE, which is a ballroom dance mystery that takes place amid the glamour and deadly competition of the ballroom dance world. With an active imagination it’s amazing what you can do with sequins, stilettos and feather boas.
What has been your best marketing venue & why?
DYING FOR A DATE has only been out two months so I’ve been exploring all marketing aspects. Despite the fact that the book is fiction, people seem to think I’m a dating expert so I’ve received numerous invitations to speak. I still haven’t decided whether to share some of my own dating experiences, many of which are hilarious, with the exception of the guy whose best friend was an assassin. That’s a pickup line that could use a little work.
I do have a blog on my website http://www.cindysamplebooks.com. Rather than discuss writing tips which so many authors do so well on their own sites, I give dating tips and talk about the issues that many of us in our hot flash years are encountering. Recent blogs are “Who Needs Cupid” and “The Girl’s Guide to Golfers” which advises women to take their new dates on the golf course to really determine the character of a man.
Which book/author influenced you the most as a child?
The Nancy Drew series started my long time love affair with mysteries. Due to an illness, I learned how to read at four, and discovered Nancy Drew by the time I hit first grade. Since I was an incredible dork, I lived my life vicariously through her adventures. I also discovered Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart in junior high. My two ambitions were to become a mystery author and own a powder blue roadster. I’ve achieved both my ambitions although I need to sell a lot of books to pay the maintenance costs on that roadster.
What do you love about where you live? — we love travel.
I live in a beautiful area in the gold country foothills, about 35 miles east of Sacramento, California, on the way to Lake Tahoe. My book is set in Placerville, a former gold mining town formerly known as Hangtown. In fact my character is a loan underwriter for the imaginary “Hangtown Bank.” Besides wonderful local venues and characters which are described in the book, we are privileged to live near an area called Apple Hill which is populated with beautiful apple farms and award winning wineries. I’m dying to write a mystery that takes place in one of the wineries so I’ll have an excuse for frequent visits but I have yet to come up with an appropriate DYING FOR A D… word that fits a wine murder mystery theme. I’ll send a free book to anyone who comes up with a killer title.
What advice do you have for first time authors?
Every published author basically repeats the same refrain which is absolutely true. You need the three P’s which are normally described as persistence, persistence, persistence. I’ve modified my three P’s to persistence, patience and passion. If you have a passion for writing AND the desire to become published you can do it. The entire process took me eight years but it was filled with improving my writing skills, learning marketing techniques, and producing a book that is receiving five star reviews. Now that is cool.
Why do you write?
This may seem like my oddest response yet, but I recently told someone that once you have the writing bug it’s kind of like malaria. It just won’t go away. You may put your writing dream aside for a few years or decades as in my case, but ultimately you have to put your pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard and create. I love entertaining people so my mysteries are light, and filled with engaging, highly relatable characters that my readers can identify with and root for.