Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cynthia D'Alba Two Steps over to Five Scribes

Five Scribe Readers, I’ve known Cynthia D’Alba for a few years now, but I must confess I never had any idea that she was ed-u-ca-ted.  She’s worked as an RN, taught Obstetrics in an RN program, coordinated a prenatal screening program and then was Medical Services Director at the University of Tennessee, Memphis.  Cynthia ended her medical career as an Administrator for a private group medical practice, then  missed academia and left medicine to return to the University of Memphis as Director of Graduate Programs at the Fogelman College of Business. She grabbed the opportunity to return to Arkansas by taking a position as Assistant Dean for Executive Programs in the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. There she finished her education by earning a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. In 2002, she retired.  Always an avid reader, she decided to try her hand at writing.  Is it any surprise then that this woman who holds a doctorate accomplished her dream of publication?  I’d never bet against this woman at anything she puts her mind at to succeed.  Last but not least, she's also the debut author of TEXAS TWO STEP!!!  Please welcome my firend, the lovely and generous Cynthia D’Alba to the Five Scribes.

CDA: Wow. You make me sound so good in the intro. *Fluffs hair* Thank you.

D.B.:  My pleasure, Hi, Cyndi, by the way, I do believe that’s one of the longest bios I’ve ever written. But, damn, I’m impressed.  Congratulations on your debut of Texas Two Step by Samhain Publishing.  I read that you wrote a doctorate, but that you think writing fiction is harder than writing your thesis.  Why is that?

CDA: Writing fiction is harder than writing my dissertation. With my dissertation, it was fact-fact-fact, then test, then analysis. Nothing from my imagination. I was working within the constraints of the facts and research findings. With fiction, the only limits are the ones I put on myself. The other problem is there are some rules with writing fiction, like keeping your point of view consistent, and I had to learn those rules to make my work acceptable to publishers. I had a huge learning curve.

D.B:  Texas Two Step is a fun, sexy read.  It’s the story of Olivia Montgomery-Gentry and Mitch Landry.  They share a strong attraction and a tumultuous past, and part of this past is that they have a son that Mitch knows nothing about.  First question, this is a reunion story, and then of course the secret baby.  Why do you think romance readers are so drawn to this type of novel?  And tell us what inspired you to write this book?

CDA: I think what makes reunion stories so much fun is all the emotional trauma that has to be dealt with. Reunion stories and second chance stories look at the fork in the road we’ve all faced at some point. Choosing the left turn instead of the right turn and our lives would be totally different. I suspect many of us also have a story about the guy (or girl) from our past that we wonder, what if…

Why this story? Mitch started out as an Italian Prince for a Harlequin Presents contest. After a couple of chapters, he fired his rifle in the air to get my attention and announced that: 1) I had his last name wrong, and 2) put him back into his jeans and cowboy boots or else. Gunfire always makes me sit and pay attention.

D.B:  Olivia is a dynamite character.  Strong, sexy, she’s come into her own.  Mitch is sexy as all get out, and you have a gift for describing these characters.  How long have you been working on Texas Two Step, and you just seem to know these characters like they are part of you.  When Olivia spoke, I even could hear her Texas twang, and I could easily see these characters.  Tell us what inspired them and how much fun (or not) was it while working with them?

CDA: What everyone is missing is that this book is from the Texas Montgomery Mavericks. When most people think of “mavericks,” they think male or hero. But Olivia is the Montgomery Maverick in this book. She’s strong. Self-assured. Determined to not let life’s hurdles defeat her.

Mitch is a very alpha male. He makes decisions that he thinks is best…including decisions that affect lots of people without consulting them because he’s sure he’s made the best decision. There aren’t many women who can handle that kind of challenge.

The two most important women in his life are Olivia and his mother.

D.B.  I enjoyed the wedding portion of this book very much.  Mitch’s jealousy over this guy named Adam.  The wedding planner was wonderful and you force these two estranged partners together at every turn.  Note:  For any aspiring authors out there, when you’re writing romance, you must get your hero and heroine together.  If you need an example of an author who does it extremely well, please check out TEXAS TWO STEP.  Has this scene changed very much from draft to draft, or did you just envision getting your protagonists together from the start?

CDA: That scene didn’t change much from draft to final version. I just kept asking myself…How can I make this worse for Olivia.

D.B:  This book is book one in a series.  You have just completed a very successful book tour.  Are you glad/relieved that the tour is over with? And are you getting back to writing?  Tell us about a typical day of writing, and how are you doing with the word DEADLINE?

CDA: Thanks for the nice compliment on my book blog tour. It was quite an undertaking. I’ve written one blog on the tour and am in the process of putting together a workshop on setting up book blog tour. If I’d know then what I know now, I would have done some things differently. I am just getting back to writing. I found the blog tour to be very draining to my creativity. I was using up my creative juices to write entertaining blogs instead of putting that effort into my next book. I don’t have a deadline as the next two books in the series are not contracted. Personally I do much better with a deadline. I love deadlines. If I have one, I WILL have it done by then. Without a deadline, I have a tendency to fiddle around. J

D.B:  You have quite a list of characters in Texas Two Step, and I suspect we’ll see them again.  I wonder if Drake and Magda might show up in book two?  You did an excellent job of showing their attraction –and resolving a conflict as a result. Do you use charts, spreadsheets, do you know these characters and there you don’t need them.  Personally I love a book with lots of characters.  It gives it a richer cinematic feel in my opinion.  Was this intentional on your part? Did the cast of characters just start to grow?  And was it your intention from the start to create a series?

CDA: Quite a list of questions, DB! I’ve had a number of inquiries about Drake, including a phone call from sister! If I won’t tell her what happens I sure can’t put it here. (hee hee) Book two is Travis Montgomery’s story. He and Drake are life-long friends. Since Drake moved back to Dallas in book one, then I expect that he might show up in book two. Do him and Magda end up together? Can’t say.

Do I use charts and spreadsheets…One of my degrees is a master of business. I LOVE my spreadsheets. So yes, I have spreadsheets, particularly timeline spreadsheets. I have a spreadsheet of all the male and female names and their relationship. Did I plan to have so many characters? No. Sometimes the character walks on stage and announces himself. Hobbs did that, as did his daughter, Magda. Neither of these characters were in my plans. 

D.B:  It's my job to ask questions, CDA. :) Talk to us about writing for Samhain?  What did you learn as a debut author about publishing, and will it help you simplify your writing life in book two?

CDA: My experience working with Samhain Publishing has been incredible, awesome, wonderful! It’s the kind of experience I would wish on every new author. An editor who didn’t try to change my voice or interject her own into my story. She didn’t try to change my story, only improve or clarify my story. I had a line editor who found the tiniest mistakes. And then the cover artist…WOW. What a wonderful job Scott Carpenter did with my cover.

As far as making the second book “easier,”…I have to say no. Every book is different…new characters and new challenges while trying to integrate the previous characters as I know readers want those glances into the lives of earlier characters.

I think my overarching problem is my own insecurity about my writing. Fear of failure is the hurdle I have to climb over every day when I sit down to write. One book doesn’t ease that much, at least not for me.

D.B:  Speaking of book two, when should we expect it?  And could you give us a blurb?

CDA: Book two isn’t contracted so I don’t have a date for that. The working title is Texas Tango Tangle. Here’s a brief blurb:

Travis Montgomery thinks Caroline Graham’s idea to state a fake wedding to ease the passing of her dying grandmother is nuts. But Caroline hold the deed to a piece of land Travis has coveted for  years. The only way to get his hands on the property is to go along with this crazy plan. After all, Caroline will only be in town another six months and she’s promised to quick claim the land to him when she leaves.

Neither of them expects to be attracted to the other. Caroline doesn’t want to put down roots and Travis doesn’t want another wife. Unfortunately, an obscure state law throws their perfect plan out the window. Can they confess their love before it’s too late?

D.B.  What advice would you give today’s aspiring author?

CDA: 1) Write. Write. Write. The only way to get good is to write. 2) Don’t just keep writing the same story over and over. Start something new. 3) Don’t get in too big of a hurry to publish. Yes, we can all self-publish but be sure your work is ready for the public.

D.B:  Cyndi, I enjoyed Texas Two Step, and I know I will love book two as well.  Thank you for being with us today.  You’ve earned a long rest. 
Thank you so much for having me here today. I’ve never been able to keep a secret so ask me anything! To learn more about me check out these links:

Cynthia D'Alba 

Texas Two Step - A Samhain Best Seller

I have one digital copy of Texas Two Step to give to one lucky person who comments.  

Blogger's Note:  I'll be attending a Writing Conference this weekend so comments will be left open until Sunday the 22nd. 

Thanks again, Donnell!  ~ My pleasure, Cynthia D'Alba.  Come back again.


Jenna Rutland said...

Cynthia, Congratulations on your new book. Love the cover. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Jeanna! Thanks for leaving a message.

I think my cover is awesome. Every once in a while I think about people will new babies. Every new mom and dad thinks their newborn is the most beautiful child every created while the rest of us cringe because the newborn looks a little like Igor from New Frankenstein!

I worry I'm that new mom...Look at beautiful baby! HAHAHA

Judy said...

Cyndi, loved the blog! Wow! I'm very impressed with all your degrees and your professional background and love the leap you made from it to writing. I think you can eliminate the fear of failing from your writing days...Good luck and keep on writing!!

Melanie Atkins said...

Great interview! I loved it... and your book sounds fabulous. I've got to get it on my Kindle. Woohoo!

Hope you sell a zillion copies!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Thanks Judy. You know what? I suspect that "fear of failure" when writing will always be with me.

Can you tell I loved being a student? LOL There are lots of days I miss academia. I think I'm going to do some workshops just to make that side of my brain happy

THanks for coming by

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Melanie! Thanks for coming by. I hope people enjoy my story. You know how it is. You put yourself out there in a story...kind of exposed and pray people enjoy your voice.

Thanks for leaving a message

Janna4014 said...

Congratulations on your new book! I know how hard you worked in the medical field and college. I throughly enjoyed when I went back too. When I saw your email on Samhain Cafe I knew I had to tell you Good Luck with your new venture and I cannot wait for the book. Jan

Joanne said...

Thanks for such a great interview. You certainly have had a busy life. How do you find time to write? I can't wait to read Travis's story. Before I forget, " Samhain Cafe". Continued success.

Joanne B

Elle James said...

Dang, girl! Your bio intimidates the heck out of me! Your accomplishments are fantastic and I'm proud to call you friend. Congrats on the debut of Texas Two Step. I know it's a book of your heart.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Janna! You Samhain readers are THE BEST! Thanks for coming. I hope you get a chance to read Texas Two Step and love it.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Joanne! Sometimes I look at my resume and think...did I really do all that! HAHAHA But yeah, I did.

thanks for coming by. I hope you enjoy Travis's story. The scene I'm working on is heavy on emotion so I'm struggling!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Elle...Oh yeah. I know you're impressed with me. HAHAHAHA

Elle is a good friend. She knows the real me. Kind of scary, isn't it, Elle? :)

Rachel Hauck said...

Cyndi, so great to see behind the book! So thrilled for you!!


Edie Ramer said...

Texas Two Step is a great book! It was fun reading more about it here. I'm looking forward to more books in the series.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Rachel! Thanks for much for dropping by! We all have the "behind the book" stories! I'll have to tap into your some day

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Edie...You know, I am so impressed with what you've done with all your books. I hope at some time to catch up with your productivity!

Megan Mitcham said...

Cynthia, you should be a character in a book! Highly educated, driven, successful beautiful heroine. Sounds good to me. Congratulations on the success of your release!!

Donnell said...

I've been crazy busy, and right before I go get on my dumb old exercise bike, I wanted to thank Cyndi for the interview. In addition to being smart, she's genuine. I think that's an even bigger compliment.

Wishing you great success with Texas Two Step, Cyndi!!!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Megan. I would be the WORST heroine material. I'm moody, bossy, temperamental, and fat.

Plus, I cantz spel.

But hey, I think I might kiss pretty good. Hard to say about yourself but I've never had any complaints, if you don't count the ex-husband. And let's face it...NOBODY counts the ex's opinions. LOL

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Thanks for having me, Donnell. I need to get on my bike too. My exercise buddy flaked out on me. :(

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Cyndi,
I loved the interview! I'm impressed with your degrees. Wow! I gave up after a masters and swore never to return. :) Good for you! Good luck with your writing! And per your directions, I'm from DARA. :)

Have a great evening!

Brenda Sparks said...

I love your new cover. Congratulations on the second book. Great interview, learned lots about you. Fantastic!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Fun fun fun interview Cynthia and Donnell. I love reading about life journey's and how writing seems to come to the forefront.

TTS is on my list, I can't wait to see how you make the story magic work for this "reunion" story. And I agree, most of us have a "I wonder how such and such is faring..."

Thanks for being with us today.

LA of the scribes.

Mary Marvella said...

The Donnell and Cyndi Show! Donnell asks the great questions and Cyndi's answers are always cool! Cyndi has been a busy woman! I'm impressed!

Liz Lipperman said...

Great interview, you two. TTS is on my kindle waiting for me to find some time to read it. I can't wait.

Marsha said...

Great interview, Donnell and Cindy. Fun to see you hitting this success, Cindy, after seeing your name so often on the RWA PRO Loop. I gotta tell you the name of your book--and it sounds really cool--always catches my attention. I'm past president of NTRWA and our every other year conferenc (we alternate with DARA) is called the Texas 2-Step. Can't wait to read this. Many sales to you, Cindy.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Karilyn

School isn't for everybody. I totally loved it. I love learning something new. I'm a "project" person so I always had something I was supposed to be doing.

Thanks for coming by and leaving a message

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Brenda! Thanks for coming by. What a wonderful picture of you (your icon)

Second books are TOUGH. I'd hope it would get easier but no. Sigh.

Thanks for leaving a message

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi LA! I'm seriously THRILLED to hear TTS is on your TBR pile. I hope your enjoy it!

Thanks for leaving a message

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Momma Mary! Cyndi is a busy woman because it keeps her out of trouble. HAHAHA

Donnell does great interviews. I can't take much credit.

thanks for leaving a message

Cynthia D'Alba said...

HI Marsha. I should have send some of my Texas Two Step promo items to your conference! Two of my good friends went this year (Elle James and Delilah Devlin). I was out of town or I would have been there!

I WILL be there in two years! I'll save some TTS stuff! :)

Send me a private email and I'll send some TTS magnets to your chapter.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

HI Liz! Thank you for having TTS on your ereader. I KNOW how hard it is to read when you're supposed to be writing. I really enjoyed your Liver Let Die book! So cute.

Thanks for coming by

Barbara White Daille said...

Late to the party, gang!

Donnell - awesome questions, as usual.

Cynthia - great to get more of the scoop on you and your hero and heroine!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Hi Barbara! Better late than never! :)

I know how slammed you are with your writing so thanks for coming by and leaving us a message.

Donnell does a great interview!

Christina Lasswell said...

Congrats on your book! I was a school person, but never felt better when I was finally finished. I've come into writing later in my career, and so far it's been a blast! I appreciate your advice for writers; that's why I check out this blog. That, and to hear from new-to-me authors like you. Thanks.

Cynthia D'Alba said...



You are the winner of my giveaway. Please contact me.

thanks everybody.