Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My parents were ministers in the Salvation Army so we moved all around the Southern US for my entire childhood. I lived in Florida, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. I think of myself as a Southerner, though not a redneck. I think that implies a certain courtesy towards others and I always take time to think twice before I answer an email or post to a blog or board somewhere.
When did you first start writing?
Oh my, I remember making up stories to myself in preschool but I guess I started writing them down in high school. I used to write really dirty stories (well, they seemed dirty back then but I was 16, what did I know?) and burn them in the fireplace to avoid scandalizing my parents.
Then, back in 2002 I discovered fanfiction. I read a lot of it and wanted to try writing it. I found a message board where they were writing a round robin. I posted the beginning of a story and waited for someone else to continue it. I was both thrilled and surprised when a number of the other people on the board asked me to continue the story instead. I wound up writing and posting the entire thing and got tons of feedback…from then on I was hooked. By 2003 I took a writing class at my local community college. By 2004 I had sold my first story. A few years later, writing had become my second job. And by 2011, I was able to quit my day job as an MRI tech and write full time. I just love it. : )
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Actually, I had already published multiple times both with a New York house (Kensington’s Aphrodisia line) and other E-book publishers such as Loose id and Ellora’s Cave. But I have a reader who is a good friend named Barb (you’ll see her listed as one of my editors) who pushed me to try self publishing. I believe that I have been successful as an indie author because I already had a readership who looked for my books. I’m both blessed and lucky to be writing for myself now. I don’t have any restrictions on my content or plots which pleases me so much. I love what I write and I write what I love.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love making up a whole new world and new people to inhabit it. It is like playing God on a very small scale. Completely intoxicating. I also love the high of good “book flow”. That is, when a book is flowing out and I’m in love with my characters and my world, it’s better than chocolate and sex put together. Nothing beats that creative high. It’s like a drug–completely addicting.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are amazing. So many women (and some men) have written to tell me that my work enables them to escape from their troubles and everyday lives. I cherish that and I try to live up to it and never put out a book that isn’t up to my standards. After the death of my mother, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels helped me get away from my grief for a little while. I will always be grateful that I had those books as a way to cope with my pain and loss. It means a lot to me to be able to offer that same kind of escape to my readers.
What are you working on next?
The third book in my Born to Darkness series entitled Ruby Shadows. It’s about a witch and a demon who go on a road trip through Hell and wind up falling in love. After that, another Kindred novel. After that, who knows? I go where the muse takes me.
Who are your favorite authors?
Readers ask me this a lot but my dirty secret is that I don’t read a lot of romance even though that’s the genre I write. I will list a few romance authors–JR Ward and Charlain Harris. But I also like to read a lot of science fiction and Young Adult. Orson Scott Card, Octavia Butler (try her Xenogenisis series. Seriously, her writing is amazing) Ray Bradbury to name a few more. My favorite book is the same one I’ve had since high school–the Beginning Place by Ursula K LeGuin. Amazing book and her writing is so lyrical. Also try The Left Hand of Darkness and the Wizard of Earthsea by her. Oh, and I can’t forget Robin McKinley. Beauty and The Hero and the Crown are still some of my favorites.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My little boy! I’m a mom and that means I HAVE to get up and get the family going. They would fall apart without me. Seriously, : )
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading (of course) Binge watching shows on Netflix (Orange is the new Black is my new favorite) I am also a huge nerd and I love playing Diablo 3. I have a level 39 monk called baddude who totally kicks ass. (Told you I was a nerd ; )
What is your writing process?
First I get an idea. Then I let it stew a little bit. I sit down and write the general premise. If it seems like it’s going somewhere, I name the characters and flesh out the plot. I MAKE SURE I HAVE AN ENDING. This keeps me from writing myself into a brick wall. Then and only then do I start writing. As I write, I may plot and replot different points in the book and especially the ending. By the time I finish a 300 page manuscript, I will probably have at least 20-30 pages of plotting and notes. This is a good thing because if for some reason I have to abandon the book in the middle, I can come back to it later and have a full set of notes on how to finish it. Sometimes I start a book and don’t finish it until years later. That’s just how my muse works.
How do you approach cover design?
You need a professional cover artist for your cover if you want to be competitive. I have an excellent working relationship with my cover artist, Reese Dante. She is an amazing woman and we seem to have this almost psychic connection. She just knows exactly what the characters in my books are supposed to look like. I love her talent but she’s also VERY professional. She never misses a deadline or leaves me hanging. What a great lady–I hope to still be working with her for as long as I’m writing.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle baby! All the way. Love my Kindle fire.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I read somewhere that the best marketing technique you can have is just to write the very best book you can and don’t put out anything that’s second best. I try to adhere to that although I do also advertise on some romance book blogs and sites.
Describe your desk
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
Hi! I’m Cynthia St. Aubin and I write snarky, deliciously twisted paranormal romance and contemporary mystery. I like to play with paranormal, mythological, and art historical characters (Vincent Van Gogh makes a great werewolf, by the way), and more than anything, I love to make my readers laugh. I live in Colorado with the love of my life and three surly cats.
2. What inspired you to write your first book?
I tried my hand at other things, earning a master’s degree in art history and taking a turn as a cube monkey in the corporate warren, but because the voices—er, characters—in my head kept talking to me, and they discourage drinking at work, I started writing instead. It’s my one true love (besides all things fried) and the reason I wake up with a big dopey grin on my face every morning.
3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Literally everywhere. I always have a notebook on me, and am constantly jotting down snippets of interesting conversations I overhear, people or places that would be fun for me to describe, and so forth. Just to provide a more extreme example, I passed an unfortunate squirrel the other day that had ended his life in a state far more two-dimensional than he began it. Before I know it, my brain is spinning out a short story about zombie squirrels that take over the city. My imagination is pretty much like a ball pit for crazy.
4. Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
I’m a certified night owl, and my muse typically doesn’t drag herself out of bed until around sunset. I’m also the fidgety-est person in the history of the world, so I tend to wander from my desk, to the couch, to the bed, to the fridge with my laptop in tow.
5. What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
Hmmm. That’s a toughie! I’m going to have to say my biggest accomplishment is having lived a perfect moment. I know it sounds a little silly, but traveling to Europe had been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl. I took a semester off college and worked some really crappy jobs and barely managed to scrape together the money. There was this moment when I was walking through Florence as evening fell, and the streetlights looked like melted gold in the Arno river. A violinist was playing “Hey Jude” for the evening tourist traffic in one of those long, columned archways, and it hit me that I was living my dream. For just that moment, everything was perfect, and I was lucky enough to be there to see it.
6. What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
The Matilda Schmidt, Paranormal Psychologist series. There will be eight novellas total in the series, and I’ve been delighted with how positive the response has been so far.
7. Who has influenced your writing the most?
If I had to pick just one person, I would have to say Janet Evanovich. She was the first writer who ever made me laugh out loud, and I was totally addicted from the start.
8. Do you have a favorite author?
There are so many! Thomas Harris, Barbara Kingsolver, Janet Evanovich, Maya Angelou, Oscar Wilde, Ann Rice, Erma Bombeck, and Stephen King, just to name way more than a few. They each represent something I love about the written word, and I like to think that informs how I approach my own stories—whether it be artful prose, irreverent humor, snarky satire, or emotionally compelling characters.
9. Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Horrible confession time: I have a doctorate in procrastination. When a deadline is breathing down my neck (and they often are, due to the aforementioned procrastination), I will find anything and everything to do except sitting down to put words on the page. Once I’ve pushed myself to the point of overwhelming anxiety and fear of failure, I’m galvanized into action. It’s ridiculously painful and probably far less effective than good old-fashioned self-discipline, but it will probably be something I battle for the long haul.
10. Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?
Absolutely. I’m a magnet for all kinds of situations most normal people likely don’t attract. Case in point: I once managed to pull a muscle while getting a massage. The massage therapist asked me to roll over and I wasn’t sure which way I was supposed to go, so I panicked and got my arm caught under myself. Or there was the time I locked myself out of the locker room where my pants were. I often tell people that I could make these things up, but luckily I don’t have to.
11. Do you have any advice for other authors?
Putting my work out into the real world has been such a learning experience for me. What follows is just a few of the lessons this process has brought me. Take what’s useful to you and leave the rest. Write the story that you love. Let it be something that you’re passionate about and willing to fight for. Speaking of fights, be ready for one. You’re going to have to be your own biggest fan, your most ardent supporter, and at times, your own cheerleader. You have to be willing to believe in your dream when no one else does, and that can be a real challenge. Do study the craft. Even if that means ordering discount grammar and style books on Amazon. Find a critique group and listen to criticism when it comes. Be willing to find out where there’s room for improvement in your work. Look at authors whose careers you admire and learn from them. Make friends in the writing community and be supportive. That support finds its way back to you when it’s your turn to put yourself out there. Don’t compare your first drafts to anyone else’s finished product. Finally, put your ass in the chair.
12. Is there a particular niche or direction you would like to expand your writing portfolio into?
In the coming year, I’m going to be focusing more on my contemporary mystery series and letting paranormal hang out on the backburner for a bit.
13. Describe your latest WIP.
Right now, it’s all about Unassailable—novella five in the Matilda Schmidt, Paranormal Psychologist series. In this adventure, Doctor Schmidt finds herself up against a pants-less ghost pirate with some unfinished business to attend to. Her two suitors (a hot hit man and a delicious demigod) are back and more insistent than ever, which results in some steamy, if awkward moments. Don’t you just hate it when great tub secks gets interrupted by a ghost pirate sword fight? 😉
14. How can readers reach you?
So many ways!
My Amazon Author Page:
FB Author Page:
FB Profile Page:
Cyn’s Minions (my amazing street team!) :
Or you can follow the trail of doughnut crumbs. Probably that will lead you to me as well. ☺
Feed an author! Buy mah books!
Click here for the Amazon buy link for Unbearable
My name is Viola Rivard and I will have been published three years in February. While many authors say they’ve been writing since they could hold a pen, that wasn’t the case for me. I grew up in a rural and impoverished mountain region of western Virginia and was often lectured for “wasting paper” when I tried to write recreationally. So instead, I created elaborate fantasy worlds in my mind. My schoolteachers often reported to my confused mother that I was severely antisocial, but in reality I often had more fun imagining adventures on the playground than playing with the mere mortals of my first grade class.
I was eleven and it was the year I got my first computer. Well, it was actually the family computer. It used dial-up and ran slow as molasses, but it got me on the internet and expanded my universe. It was then that I discovered fanfiction.net and, craftily disguised as fan fiction of popular television shows, I began to tell my stories to the world.
Much like many of my current readers don’t realize I’m in my mid-twenties, none of my fans back then knew that I was a pre-teen girl. My romance fan fiction became wildly popular and it was then that I realized I had a knack for telling a good story.
Sadly, being that I was a pre-teen girl, I was at the mercy of greater forces in the universe. Over the course of the next year, my family endured an upheaval and by the time the dust settled, I’d forgotten all about fan fiction and my writing became limited to the notes I could scribble down in my composition books during school hours.
Not long after graduating high school, I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent nearly two years of chemotherapy. While I could never downplay how difficult cancer is, I’d have to say that the hardest part of my life was the year and a half that followed treatment. During my treatment I accumulated a lot of debt and couldn’t afford to go back to school. I was forced to take a series of entry-level jobs that I was overqualified for and any creativity I had left in me was horribly stifled.
Even so, I did my best to stay positive. I’d beaten cancer and I came out of it with a wonderful husband. Did I mention that Mr. Rivard (who was then my boyfriend of six months) proposed to me the night I was diagnosed with a cancer so rare we couldn’t even Google it? Yep, he’s my soul mate.
My breaking point came in January of 2014. Our car had stopped working five months prior and we couldn’t afford a new one, so I was walking about four miles a day in the snow to get to and from work. Do any New Englanders remember the winter of 2013-2014? In a word, it was atrocious. Not surprisingly, I caught the flu and was out of work for a few days. When I came back, my manager told me that my sick days, even a doctor’s note, counted as absences and I was at risk of being fired. To his credit, he was very nice about it.
So the very next week, I trudged to work in a snowstorm. Around the time that the fourth coworker of mine drove past me, splashing cold, dirty slush on me, I looked up at the sky and said “something’s gotta give.” Did I beat cancer just so that I could settle for a life in which I was unhappy? So, I turned around, called out of work (hah!), went home, and began writing my first book, Claimed by the Alphas: Part One.
It was an idea I’d been bouncing around in my head for a while. I loved paranormal romance, but a lot of times the heroes seemed a little too perfect, almost like the author took two normal guys, excised all of their imperfections, and then stitched them together to make an unnervingly-flawless Franken-alpha. My idea was pretty simple. What if I took two sexy, but imperfect werewolves, and instead of creating a Twilight-esque love-triangle, make them share one lucky heroine in (almost) perfect harmony?
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was a good idea, because my very first book became a bestseller, and so did every book after that! A week after publishing, I handed in my notice at work. Don’t tell my boss, but everyone who was lucky enough to get me as their phone rep those two weeks had ALL of their absurdly overpriced late fees waived.
So fast forward to now, a couple of years later. My werewolf books are still selling like crazy and I have some pretty cool dragon books. I also hit New York Times and USA Today (with a bit of help from a lot of friends!) and I finally have a working car!
I hope my story is at least a little inspirational for anyone who’s waiting for their lucky break. Stop waiting and pursue your passion. People always say it’s never too late, I like to say it’s never too early. Oh, and check out my books, too. They’re pretty darn good, or so my fans tell me.
Out Now in Audiobook
Star Strauss has always been a fighter. From the time she was born prematurely to her life on the road as a circus performer. She has never let her small stature keep her from achieving her dreams. She is one of the best aerial performers in the world. Her love of being up high and flying free has helped her overcome the challenges she faces when she is on the ground. Only her circus family, her sister, and her best friend have ever really understood her need for freedom. Her life changes when she finds herself on a distant world where every creature seems to tower over her.
Jazin Ja Kel Coradon is the third son of the ruling House of Kassis. He is known not only for his skills as a fierce warrior but for his knowledge of communication, security, and weapons systems. This knowledge has increased the effectiveness of the Kassis defenses protecting their world from attack from a new group of rebels who threaten their very existence. He will fight until his last breath to protect his people.
His life changes when he meets a tiny creature who is unlike anything he has ever seen. She is tiny, delicate, and beautiful. The problem is she is also the strongest, most stubborn female he has ever met. She refuses to do what he tells her, she defies him at every turn, and doesn’t seem to understand that all he wants to do is protect her. If he could just get her to stay in the nice safe bubble he has created for her, his life would be so much simpler!
I had such fun talking with readers about Jaguin’s Love. You all ask the best questions! I hope you enjoy discovering more about Jaguin’s Love.