Today is our first author interview! To celebrate this debut, I am interviewing a debut author who is currently on cloud nine with her fantastic start: Cindy M. Hogan, originally a self-published author of the newly released Watched, the first in a series, who picked up a distributor when they saw great potential in her work. You will see more from Cindy here next week, where this blog will be participating in a Blog Blast in honor of this major milestone in her writing career. There will be prizes here and elsewhere, so stay tuned!
A Short Introduction to Cindy M. Hogan: Cindy earned a BA in secondary education at BYU. She has spent the last nine years teaching and is inspired by the teens she teaches. She ahs two teenage daughters who she loves at their current age and who in return love her writing and urge her on. If she isn’t reading or writing, you’ll find her doing something outdoors or watching a flick with her "astoundingly patient and fun husband" (her words!), Bill. Cindy's debut novel, Watched, arrived on e-Book mid May and had a hard-copy launch June 6th. She has been featured in the Deseret News, was in the top 250 finalists out of over 10,000 entrants in powerhouse Amazon.com's Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and during the June 6 multi-author signing and debut at the Layton, Utah Barnes and Nobles became the biggest seller at an author signing that location had ever seen.
About Watched: It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy's life. It takes murder. A witness to the brutal murder of a Senator's aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys. She discovers that if she can't help the FBI, who wants to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.
Matt: What prompted you to create the story surrounding Watched and the main character Christie?
Cindy: The idea for Watched came from a dream. The funny thing is that the vivid scene that drove me
to write about Christy doesn’t show up until the end of Book 2-Protected!
Matt: Was it an easy process for you?
Cindy: Not at first. I wrote my first book on paper and then transferred it all to the computer. It was a very slow way to write a book. Now I write everything right onto my laptop. It took me about 4 years to totally complete Watched. Experience speeds things up. I finished Protected [the next book in the series] in only six
months and hope to have it completely edited in another six.
Matt: When did you know your story had a shot at success?
Cindy: I knew I was born to write when a group of teens, including my own daughters, who were
reading rough versions of Watched, begged and begged me to keep writing.
Matt: Most of the time we hear of family being too nice to critique, but not begging for more. What a great compliment! Did you have any help while writing Watched?
Cindy: Aside from my daughters and other teens, I am a part of several critique groups and writers’ groups. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. They are an invaluable resource.
Matt: What methods do you use to write?
Cindy: I have to be able to see outside in order to write. Actually, I need to be able to see out to do just about anything. I’m quite claustrophobic! I never outline—I’d never finish a book. I write what I see in my mind and then let my critique groups help me fill in the blanks. I also talk to myself. I can’t help it. My characters just pop up and take over sometimes. I think all writers suffer from this to some degree.
Matt: I think talking to ourselves is normal. It really makes those quiet alone times that much more interesting. I've actually been tempted to create a split personality just to keep things interesting. I hope me saying so makes you feel a bit less odd in comparison.
So what advice would you offer to budding authors?
Cindy: My advice to unpublished authors is two-fold: Go to a writers' conferences and get in a critique
group. Writers' conferences put you in front of editors and agents as well as fellow writers. They also help you hone your craft. After writing my first chapter, I went to my sister, who, surprise, surprise, had just finished a middle-grade book, and she told me about a writers’ conference that she was going to in the near future. We went together and that’s all she wrote. Ha ha. Critique groups take your manuscripts to a higher level.
Matt: Can you share what you are working on right now?
Cindy: I just finished the sequel to Watched, Protected, and have started the first chapter of the third
book in the series (still unnamed). I also have this awesome adult contemporary suspense idea. One day I will write that book.
Here’s a peek into Protected:
“Over the last three weeks, I’d moved like a ninja through the halls of Helena High— Invisible, stealthy—going from class to class. At least that’s what I’d convinced myself. It took the horrible, sing song voice of Katie Lee to realize I was no ninja master. More like a giant target with a bull’s eye painted on my forehead.”Matt: Sounds great. I like the use of both physical size and stealth being juxtaposed to an audible sense unmasking our perceptions. It's great that you haven't hung up the hat after your first success.
Matt: Any final words for our readers and your devotees?
Cindy: I am most passionate about creating real characters, that people identify with. I want my readers to FEEL what my characters feel. You know, cry when they cry, be scared when they are scared, worry when they worry and laugh when they laugh.
My target audience is young adult. I hope they are able to see themselves in my writing. I love it
when a reader says, “That is me in your book. It’s me you’re writing about.” While I will always write about real events in teenagers’ lives, my books will be safe for all teens to read. Parents won’t have to read my books first to see if they are appropriate.
Matt: Cindy, thank you for putting the time in to write down these answers. You've done amazing things with your writing and I hope to see you continue to do so for many years to come
You can purchase a copy of Watched at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble Online. It is also available for the Kindle and the Nook as an eBook at the fantastic price of $2.99.
You can follow Cindy at http://cindymhogan.blogspot.com/ and visit the Watched blog at http://watched-thebook.blogspot.com/.
*** Contest Day 4: Entries are low, so if you enter (ie, you comment on any day) each day, your chances of winning are pretty high! Lest anyone feel that I am shocked with low commenting levels, I am not! I am actually quite pleased with the amount of comments to followers so far! Just keep commenting. An awesome prize awaits one lucky winner! ***