Welcome to the three hundred and ninety-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with military mystery / suspense / action author Cindy Bring. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Cindy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Cindy: I grew up in Helena, Montana, USA. I now live in Livingston, Montana with my husband of thirty one years. I always loved mysteries in either movies or books. My favourite cartoon was even Scooby Doo when I was young. I began writing about fifteen years ago. I had a story in my head and I sat down began to write down! That simple.
Morgen: 🙂 I was just as easily hooked when I went to an evening workshop (three years later, I was running it and still am :)). What genre do you write?
Cindy: I write Military Mystery / Suspense / Action and humour blended in. I’ll stay in this genre for a while, not really feeling anything else at this point.
Morgen: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (sorry, terrible English) and I’d say a varied enough mixture not to get bored with it (and action’s always fun). What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Cindy: My pen name is CN Bring. THE CELIA KELLY SERIES: About a female Commander who is head of Intelligence for the Navy SEALs – The Pact, The Lie, The Truth, The Disappearance.
THE JACK SLEUTH SERIES: About three best friends who help an FBI Agent solve all his cases – The House Across The Street
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Cindy: Several, we all do. I learned to take what I could from them, improve, move forward and continued on.
Morgen: Good plan. It’s just the right thing for the wrong person. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Cindy: I won best 2011 Mystery for ‘The Pact’ by Books & Authors.Net this past year.
Morgen: Well done. That must have been thrilling. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Cindy: No, I don’t have an agent. As far as an agent being vital to an author’s success, I think it depends on finding the right person and everything coming together. My problem with finding an agent is I don’t want someone who gets me published. I want to keep the project moving from book to media to whatever else is out there. It’s kind of like finding the right guy… you’ll know when it happens and until then you are wondering if it really exists.
Morgen: I’m yet to find either but I’m happy as I am… for now. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Cindy: My books are available on eBooks. My publisher presents my books in hard cover, soft cover and eBooks. I love to hold a book in my hand when I read. I do have eBooks on a reader when I travel, but I still prefer a real book.
Morgen: Me too, and I think most people are the same. I do love not having a spine to damage with an eBook. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Cindy: Marketing I’ve discovered is about 75% of one’s success, maybe more. Because of that, I’ve decided a marketing company makes more sense than an agent. Book signings are a small attempt at marketing and not all that successful until you start to build an audience. Facebook, twitter, website, etc., are the typical social networks out there to take advantage of. At the end of the day it’s about getting the story out there and read, and hoping that your readers want more!
Morgen: They do tend to love a series so you’re right by doing that and the genres you’ve chosen are always going to be popular. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Cindy: My favourite book is always the newest one I’m working on. I like all my characters for different reasons, but Celia, Gwen, Georgie and Jack McDonald are the most fun to write.
As far as actors to play them… I don’t know… Just writing for now.
Morgen: 🙂 Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Cindy: I have say in all of it. When it comes to the final product everything is important.
Morgen: I’m a big titles fan, although I still bought James Patterson’s ‘The Quickie’ which I think is a terrible title and the cover isn’t much better but then I really bought it because Michael Letwidge co-wrote it and their ‘Step on a Crack’ was brilliant. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Cindy: I am working on the fifth book in The Celia Kelly Series and the second book in my Jack Sleuth Series for youth.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Cindy: For two hours in the morning I catch up on e-mails and website, ect. Then for the next six hours I research and write. It’s my job. I take weekends off, though if I’m involved in a deadline of sorts, I work all the time.
Morgen: I should have more of a structure like you. I have too many days dealing with emails but that’s unavoidable today as they’ve been stacking up from a recent holiday and I have 212 at the moment… people will start chasing me soon. 😦 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Cindy: Yes, as I end one book it cliff hangs into the next book. That means I have to know where the next book is going as I write the one I’m working on at present.
Morgen: That’s the advantage of a series. I’ve not written a series yet and all but one of mine end really too well to keep going unless I just pick one of the characters and do something different. I grow fond of my characters so it wouldn’t be a hardship. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Cindy: I write thinking of them as real people with likes, dislikes, and lives that readers or even I can relate to.
Morgen: Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Cindy: No, I have no desire to try.
Morgen: I love short stories more than any other format but do say that I don’t ‘get’ poetry so it’s good to know I’m not alone. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Cindy: I have a couple of different edits. As I go, a final military edit and then a final text edit. I’ve struggled through a few text editors.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Cindy: A great deal of research. I have family in the military so I can pull some first hand info, but I also study different countries and technology as I plan missions and rescues.
Morgen: For which we have the joy of the internet these days. 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Cindy: The Celia Kelly is in the third person and Jack Sleuth is in the first person. No, I haven’t tried second person yet.
Morgen: “Yet” yay. It’s not to everyone’s taste but I love it and it has its own page on this blog. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Cindy: Of course! Everybody does.
Morgen: I do. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Cindy: My favourite thing is creating the story… writing! My least favourite thing about writing… marketing! Takes time away from writing. The thing about writing that has surprised me is how much I get out of it. I have learned a lot about myself and the world around me and I’ve met some amazing people along the way!
Morgen: I concur wholeheartedly. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Cindy: Keep writing!
Morgen: 🙂 Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Cindy: My word would be Integrity. My quote is: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Cindy: I support the Lupus Awareness PDX (one of my daughters has lupus), my husband and I are in The Christian Motorcyclist Association, Church, and I spend as much time with family and grandchildren whenever I can.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Cindy: Women’s National Book Association and LinkedIn.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Cindy: Website & CN Salutes Blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I think a website always gives the best impression of who we are as writers. My blog is dedicated the real men and women who serve our country. I am a very big supporter of all branches of the military and their families.
Morgen: We’ve just had the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations here in the UK (last day of a 4-day bank holiday) and it’s great seeing everyone being so patriotic. 🙂 What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Cindy: Good question. I think the business is in transition as all the traditional ways give way to new technology. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Morgen: We will and having grown up with an older brother (no sisters), I’m a technology geek. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Cindy: Website www.cnbring.org and Amazon.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Cindy: What is the future of the writer in the UK? You seeing the same things in traditional versus eBook?
Morgen: I’d say so, yes. Personally I think they’ll sit alongside each other nicely. Almost all of the people I’ve interviewed have said they read both. I’ve only published my writing so far as eBooks and never say never to paperbacks (because who doesn’t love holding their own book in their hands – I was published in a charity anthology Telling Tales). Thank you, Cindy.
I then invited Cindy to include an extract of her writing…
THE PACT: CHAPTER 1 – Page 1
She could feel her feet pounding the pavement as she picked up the pace. Heavy steps behind her were closing in. Without looking back, Celia Kelly pressed on. Hearing breathless gasps, she wasn’t sure if they were his or her own. Celia dug deep inside, pushing herself into longer, quicker strides. In her peripheral vision she could see him now. He was close.
Faster . . . she had to go faster . . .
The last park bench along the West side of the Potomac River, Arlington Cemetery was in view. Celia gave it all she had. So did he. Celia won, barely, by less than seven inches. The race was over.
“I won.” Celia was breathless, smiling.
“Again,” Commander Frank Scott said, shaking his head, “One of these days, Kelly . . .”
“Frank, what’s wrong?”
Finally he spoke, softening his tone. “Celia, if I don’t come into work by noon today, go into my office and get all my files. I have a safe behind the Defence Manuals on the bookcase. My combination is 23 right-6 left-76 right…I have to go.”
“What’s going on? Do you want me to come over? I can be there in ten minutes,” Celia told him.
“No!” He said abruptly. “I’ll tell you about it later.” He hung up.
“Frank?” The only reply she received was a dial tone…
CN Bring has an Associates Degree in Criminal Investigation. She has been married 31 years with four children and three grandchildren. Though most of her family is in the Army, Bring became interested in The Navy SEALS when she began writing fifteen years ago. Bring lives with her husband in Livingston, Montana, USA.
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