Blessed with the gift of “Irish Blarney,” Loucinda McGary (everyone calls her Cindy) became a storyteller shortly after she learned to read. If she didn’t like the way a story ended, she made up her own ending. In high school, between history and algebra homework, Cindy wrote stories featuring herself, her friends, and their favorite movie and rock stars.
After college, Cindy published a couple dozen poems in “little magazines” (the equivalent of e-zines in those pre-internet days) and even wrote a couple of novels. Then life intervened. Family and career became her top priorities, though she could never quite stop dabbling in writing. Along about this time, vacations became a must, and she developed an almost legendary love of travel that took her all over the United States and abroad in one and two-week stints.
A long-time reader of romances, Cindy discovered and joined Romance Writers of America® in 2001. But her stressful career as the manager of a multi-million dollar state and federally funded program prevented her from doing much writing or traveling. She still managed to squeeze in a little of both, but not enough of either to be truly satisfying. Finally, at the end of 2003 she decided to take an early retirement from her career to fully pursue her twin passions of travel and writing. Cindy likes to set her novels of romance and suspense in some of the fascinating places she’s visited.
I first met Cindy at The Golden Network reception held during RWA® Nationals this past summer. She sported that lovely pink “First Sale” ribbon and got “booted” from the chapter that evening, a ritual during which each debut author who sold since the last conference is promoted to alumni status. I have the privilege of seeing Cindy at meetings of our local RWA chapter, the Sacramento Valley Rose.
I invite you to read on to learn more about Cindy, her journey to publication and her debut novel, The Wild Sight. All those who leave her a comment will be entered in a drawing for special prizes, including an autographed copy of her “firstborn.”
•Cindy, as you look back over the five years since you began actively pursing publication, what would you say was the turning point, that moment when you began to believe you were actually going to make it?
There were several. 🙂 My first BIG turning point was when I signed with my first agent. I was CERTAIN that having an agent meant I was going to sell my manuscript. Um, nope. The agent gave up after a year and nine submissions, and I’m sorry to say that manuscript is still unsold at this point in time. 😦 .
Next, I finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart® contest! WOW! This was totally unexpected, especially since it was the first (and only) time I ever entered. I knew FOR SURE I was going to sell that manuscript. Wrong again. See above. Though I will say that being a Golden Heart finalist did lead, albeit indirectly, to my first sale.
Finally, on July 27, 2007 an editor called my house to ask for the full manuscript of my novel that eventually became my first sale. But for the next month and a half, I actually talked myself out of believing I was going to sell. After all, you NEVER sell to the very first editor who asks to see the manuscript. Sometimes I really don’t mind being wrong.
•Life as you knew it changed on September 14, 2007. You received The Call. I love to hear stories of that momentous occasion. Would you share yours with us?
It actually started in an elevator at the 2006 RWA® conference in Atlanta. My roomie and I were on the 20th floor and got in the elevator one morning to go to breakfast. A man and a woman were already in the elevator when we got on. The woman introduced herself as an editor and noticed the Golden Heart Finalist ribbon on my name badge. She asked about my Golden Heart manuscript. I told her it was a romantic suspense, and she said she would really like to read it and gave me her card.
I did send her the manuscript, and eventually she rejected it, but it took her awhile, so while waiting, I sent her a “nudge” email asking for the status of the manuscript. While I was at it, I pitched my current work-in-progress. I distinctly remember when I emailed her because it was Valentine’s Day 2007. Three months to the day later, May 14, 2007, she emailed me and asked for a partial of my WIP. Then on July 27th (see above) she called my house and asked for the full manuscript. My poor DH was so rattled when he answered the phone (I wasn’t home) that he wrote down every word she said because he knew “Cindy will kill me if I screw this up!”
On September 14th at 8:45 a.m., my phone rang. Since everyone knows better than to call me before nine in the morning, I picked it up expecting bad news. Instead, it was my editor, Deb Werksman, calling to say she wanted by buy “my Irish book!” I started screaming and jumping around! My DH wasn’t home, but my two dogs thought I’d gone crazy. I spent the rest of the day phoning and emailing everyone I knew. I had also planned to meet three friends for lunch that day, so I got to tell them in person, and we all screamed and jumped around some more!
It was such a fun day that I swore from then on I would have my major holiday celebration on September 14th. And this year, I celebrated on board a cruise ship!
•What has the last year been like as you’ve awaited the release of your debut novel? How do you plan to celebrate the birth of your “firstborn”? A launch party? A private celebration with your closest supporters?
I am not a patient person … . I know, I’m in the WRONG business! So sometimes the waiting has seemed interminable. But the last couple of months have really flown by, and now the day after tomorrow, October 1, is IT! THE BIG DAY!
Yes, there will be a couple of online launch parties at both my group blogs, Casablanca Authors and Romance Bandits, where I’ll be giving away copies of the book. I also plan to have a “public” launch party on Sunday afternoon for all my friends and supporters and anyone who would like to eat some pizza and have their book autographed.
I’ve been handing out postcards of my cover since the end of July and promising everyone I would autograph their copy of The Wild Sight if they wanted me to. After I told my pharmacist, her assistant and everyone standing in line behind me, my DH later said, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get tired of signing all those books?” I said, “Not for at least ten years.”
•Your tagline states, “Romantic Suspense in Exotic Settings.” I read on one of your blogs that you’ve visited the places where all three of your completed manuscripts are set, including Ireland where dreamy Donovan O’Shea meets Rylie Powell in The Wild Sight. What do you like best about the Emerald Isle? About its people?
I love just about everything about Ireland! Okay, you don’t really go to any of the British Isles for the food. If you want great food, go to France or Italy. Except, my DH loves the beer, especially Guinness, but I’m not a beer drinker, so that hardly counts. Everything else about Ireland is wonderful, and the people most of all! (Even the ones not related to me.)
In both the Republic and the North, anyone who has an extra bedroom can call themselves a Bed & Breakfast. We always stay in B&Bs (not that there are very many hotels, except in the large cities), and they are a blast! Ninety-five percent of the time, your host and/or hostess is so thrilled to have you there (they love Americans) that they can’t stop talking to you. The most difficult thing about staying in B&Bs in Ireland is leaving in the morning. The host and/or hostess will tell you every scrap of interest in the area, and most of the time they will wait up for you to get back in the evening and have a pot of tea ready when you arrive. The Irish truly are the most garrulous and charming people on the face of the earth (though I may be a wee bit biased).
•Traveling is one of your passions. You’ve visited forty-seven states and twenty-five foreign countries. Which places stand out as favorites and why? What locations are on your to-be-visited list?
I’ve never been to a place that I didn’t find something fascinating about it. They are all unique and worthwhile in their own special ways. Let me recommend a couple of interesting things I’ve done within the U.S. that people might not think to do.
The first is visit state capitol buildings. Since I live in a state capitol and used to work very near the capitol building, I have made it a point to visit others and compare and contrast them. Most state capitols are open to the public, and many have guided or self-guided tours. The majority of the state capitol buildings (including mine) are modeled on the U.S. Capitol with the domed rotunda. But a couple of the more interesting ones I’ve visited include Honolulu, which is a modern high-rise; Dover, which resembles a Victorian carriage house; and Albany, which looks like a French chateau.
The second thing I recommend is visiting Civil War battlefields. I’ve been to a number of them, and they are both fascinating and awe-inspiring. Of course, Gettysburg is the ultimate of the Civil War sites. They even have costumed docents who lead tours totally in character. But there are also excellent sites at Chicamauga (on the Tennessee/Georgia border), Antiedam (on the Maryland/West Virginia border) and Manassas, Virginia. I also loved the Revolutionary battlefield site at Yorktown.
As for places on my to-be-visited list, I just returned from my twelfth cruise. This was my eighth visit to the Mexican Riviera, and I love it! In a couple of months, the DH and I are taking a thirteen day guided tour of Turkey. This is actually our second trip to Turkey, and I’m looking forward to our return. The Turks are lovely, friendly people, and the history in their country is incredible. We will visit some places we’ve seen before (Istanbul and Ephesus) and a few we haven’t (Ankara and Capadocia).
For places I haven’t been but want to see, New Zealand is at the top of my list. Ever since I saw The Lord of the Rings films, I’ve been dying to see all that beautiful scenery up close and personal. However, the DH has been muttering more and more about the pyramids. We almost went to Egypt about ten years ago but wound up going to Thailand instead and had a great time! But Egypt may be next on the agenda, and I won’t complain at all.
•Another of your interests is blogging. I work to keep up with two blogs, and yet you’re involved in several group blogs as well as your personal one, Aunty Cindy Explains It All. Impressive. How much time do you devote to your blogging, and where do you come up with material for your posts?
Um, honestly I devote waaay too much time, and I need to reform in order to meet my deadlines. This is why group blogs are great! Romance Bandits has twenty members, and Casablanca Authors has fifteen, so the wealth and the workload are nicely distributed.
I originally started my Aunty Cindy blog because I was enjoying Romance Bandits so much and felt like I wasn’t getting to blog enough! A prime example of “careful what you wish for.” HA! Now I try to post something at Aunty Cindy once a week. Because of the membership on the other two blogs, I only have to post once or twice a month. I also have blogs on my Amazon page and MySpace page about my journey to publication, but those are mostly recycled posts from my Aunty Cindy.
Just like story ideas, material for blog posts come from everywhere. I limit the posts on Aunty Cindy to tidbits about my personal writing and experiences, travel tales (I have a million of those!) and an occasional meme. On Casablanca Authors, we use the blog to promote ourselves and our books, and on Romance Bandits we host a lot of “guest bloggers” like you do here.
We have a gratifyingly large number of loyal readers and commenters on the Bandit blog, and have a lot of fun interacting with them. We’ve developed our own community, which we call the Lair (as in Bandit Lair), and each of the twenty Banditas has our own distinct personality, a schtick if you will. I am the strict disciplinarian Aunty Cindy who tries to keep order (rather unsuccessfully) by brandishing a riding crop. This year at the RWA National conference, we threw a private party (The Bandit Bash), and I brought a toy riding crop, which I happened to be wielding in the midst of a raucous crowd when in walked my editor and my publisher (whom I had never met before)! Thank goodness they both have great senses of humor.
•Your first book is out of your hands and will soon be in your readers’. Your career as a published author has been launched with amazing reviews. What story can we expect next—and where in the world will it be set?
I am both thrilled and humbled by all my positive reviews. Having people read and enjoy one of my stories is truly a dream come true. The Publishers Weekly starred review (scroll to Mass Market in link) was totally unexpected and led to another instance of crazy screaming and jumping around by me. 🙂 Some of my online reviews have been so insightful and full of praise that I’m sure I must owe a few reviewers some body parts, if not my firstborn!
Right now, I am working on another Irish tale, but it is set on the rugged northern coast of County Donegal, which is in the Republic. It will be another romantic suspense with paranormal elements, an Irish hunk for a hero, and an Irish-American heroine.
I would love to hear from readers. Please tell me what you would like to read in settings and characters. As I mentioned, I’ve visited a lot of places in the U.S. and abroad that I think would make a great setting, but I am in this business first and foremost to entertain, so I need to know what you would like. Italy? China? Hawaii? All are possibilities!
•In closing, what words of encouragement would you offer to writers eager to land that first contract?
Keep writing and keep submitting!
There are many things in the publishing business that are beyond the writer’s control, but these two you very definitely can control. As long as you keep writing and keep sending your work out, eventually you will get there! You must believe that and believe in your work.
I also encourage all writers, but especially beginners, to find a good critique partner or group. Getting another (and at least somewhat objective) perspective of your work is invaluable. Finding a good partner or group can be difficult and take some effort, but is well worth it.
Rejections are difficult and inevitable. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Woody Allen and goes something like this, “If you’re not failing now and again, you’re not in the business.”
Do you have a favorite quote or saying? Please share it with us in the comments. Keli and I will pick the ones that resonate most with us, and I’ll give away an autographed copy of The Wild Sight and some chocolate to the winners.
The Wild Sight: Cover and Blurb
He was cursed with a “gift.”
Born with the clairvoyance known to the Irish as “The Sight,” Donovan O’Shea fled to America to escape his visions. On a return trip to Ireland to see his ailing father, staggering family secrets threaten to turn his world upside down. And then beautiful, sensual Rylie Powell shows up, claiming to be his half-sister . . .
She’s just looking for the family she never knew . . .
After her mother’s death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues that send her off to Ireland to find the man listed on her birth certificate as her father. She needs the truth—but how can she and Donovan be brother and sister when the chemistry between them is nearly irresistible?
Uncovering the past leads them dangerously close to madness . . .
Donovan’s visions lead them into mystery and murder, and only by going deep into the fens can they defeat an ancient enemy and bring the truth to light . . . but will they ever be able to get out?
You can read an excerpt from the first chapter on the Casablanca Authors blog. I invite you to check it out. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself whisked away to the Emerald Isle, immersed in the story and eager to get your hands on The Wild Sight after reading just this short portion of Cindy’s brilliantly crafted tale.
Leave a Comment for Cindy
Cindy will drop by throughout the day to chat, so take advantage of the opportunity to ask her about herself, her writing journey and her debut novel, The Wild Sight.
You’re invited to share your thoughts about settings and characters you would like to see Cindy use in future books. In addition, be sure to include your favorite quote or saying. As Cindy said, we’ll each choose a winner.
On the evening of September 29, I will select one person whose quotation or saying touched me who will receive a copy of a mini book of Irish blessings.
Congratulations to Pat, winner of the itty bitty book of Irish blessings.
On October 1, the day The Wild Sight is officially released, Cindy will chose one person from among all those who left her comments who will receive the grand prize, an autographed copy of her book as well as some chocolate. Such a deal!
Congratulations to Fedora, whom Cindy has chosen as the grand prize winner. An autographed copy of The Wild Sight and some Irish chocolate are yours. Food for the mind. Food for the body. Cool!
If you don’t wish to participate, note that in your comment, and your request will be honored.
If you don’t see a comment form below, please use the link by the post title.
Learn More About Cindy:
Cindy’s Website: www.LoucindaMcGary.com
Cindy’s Personal Blog: Aunty Cindy Explains It All
Visit Cindy on MySpace
Visit the Sourcebooks Website