This week Deanna and Louise welcome Cindy Huefner Cromer to Reader's Haven. Cindy is chatting with us via St. Kitts Island in the Carribean Sea; the setting for her debut novel Desperate Measures. Cindy describes the area and scenery a lot better than we ever could. Guess that's because we've never been there. We can only imagine!
Cindy is featuring a giveaway! The details are below.
As I write this, my feet dangle over a cliff. Forty feet below me the turquoise blue sea roars. Each wave crashes into the large black rocks, spraying seawater into the air. I breathe in the scent and it rejuvenates me. I look below at the jagged rocks and formations; some rising twenty feet in the air. The monumental structures were formed from the lava of the once active volcano on Mount Liamuiga in St.Kitts. These same structures are on the cover of my book, Desperate Measures. From my tranquil view there is no blood dripping down the cliff or the rocks. I reflect on the fiction I created and the secrets that were revealed in the climax of the book.
I glance at my watch, almost 2:00 p.m. I need to hustle to make my flight and reach my next destination; New York City, the location in which my second book, Desperate Deceptions takes place. I hit send to transmit this interview and shout to the wind blowing off of the sea, “I never say good-bye but see you later. I will be back to St. Kitts soon.” As I stand and turn, the lush green rainforest looms before me. Ah, the scene and pivotal role those mountains played in the plot in Desperate Measures. Enough melancholy, I race to the cab that is waiting for me. Some secrets were revealed here but not all of them…. I have big plans for Caitlin and have to get a move on.
Reader’s Haven: Hi Cindy! We're so glad you could join us for a chat. Tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.
Cindy: I am originally from Freehold Township, New Jersey and currently reside in Stuart, Florida with my husband, son, and daughter. I am a scientist and executive, formally the president of a laboratory network. In this role I have written numerous laboratory procedures and research documents.
Now for what readers might not know about me, I’ll have to take you back to my teenage years. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote a descriptive essay. On my way to basketball practice one day, I saw my father come out of the Principal’s office. I immediately became nervous and thought I had gotten into trouble, for what I had no idea. My father informed me that my essay was written so well, that I’d been placed in the honors English and Literature classes. You may ask if this bit of my history has anything to do with where I am today. The answer is yes and no. At the time, I had plans of grandeur and envisioned myself as a bestselling author but I focused on my favorite subject in school, science, and earned my degree in chemistry in college. Through the many technical papers, contracts, and invaluable experience in my career, I’ve come full circle, realized my dream, and have begun my writing career.
Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?
Cindy: Ever since I was little, I’ve been an avid reader. I always said one day I’d write a book, if I ever had the time. My family teased me mercilessly about reading and encouraged me to write a book, since I had read so many. Also, my friends, colleagues, and employees have continually told me I am a great story teller.
Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release without giving away any spoilers.
Cindy: This is the back cover blurb and below is the first chapter of Desperate Measures.
The secret is out AGAIN…! This time lives are in jeopardy.
What should have been the perfect vacation soon became a nightmare. Caitlin Martel made a stop before meeting her family at Miami International Airport. A cryptic message waited for her. She dismissed the threat and assumed it was directed toward the brilliant scientist that she recently hired. Caitlin has no idea that a forgotten secret was about to explode and put her life in jeopardy.
When Caitlin and her family arrive on the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts, they find their dream home vandalized. In the kitchen, another message has been left. In blood, leaving no doubt that Caitlin personally is the target.
In a flashback Caitlin recalls the secret that her father, Jack Spencer, revealed to her sixteen years ago. He didn’t tell her everything. Will Jack be able to confront the truth and reconstruct the past in time to save his daughter?
Caitlin’s husband Scott, FBI Assistant Director, also believes the threats are related to Caitlin’s professional life. Once Caitlin points out the significance of what was left in their home, Scott unofficially brings his top FBI agent, Tomas Medina, to St. Kitts.
When Tomas arrives, his status is quickly upgraded and the investigation becomes official. The third threat creates a direct link to multi-billionaire Lukas Bucklin. The suspense escalates through twists, turns, and family secrets yet to be revealed. A powerful climax unveils an unlikely alliance between two deadly and dangerous enemies.
Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?
Cindy: My maiden name is Huefner and for my debut novel I published under Cindy Huefner Cromer.
Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?
Cindy: I like strong independent heroines who shirk off help and are determined to solve their own problems. Hint # 1: This is how Caitlin gets herself into trouble in Desperate Measures and Desperate Deceptions. I love a hero that takes matters into his own hands. He’s usually on the up and up but verges on breaking the law if it is in the best interest of his family. Hint # 2: Lukas Bucklin has his share of secrets. When they explode and are revealed, some lives are shattered but he’s confident he did the right thing.
I don’t like the typical storyline of a heroine and hero thrust together who are at odds with each other and in the end fall in love and live happily ever after. Now to give you a sneak preview of my second book, Desperate Deceptions, when it is finalized and released some readers may call me a hypocrite with my above statement. Caitlin Martel finds herself in a moment of weakness with no one to turn to but her gorgeous body guard, Chris Dobbs. They almost become intimate but Caitlin maintains her integrity and doesn’t break her marriage vows.
Reader’s Haven: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.
Cindy: This is the most difficult question for me to answer. I have an eight year old daughter and a thirteen year old son, with completely different school schedules. In summary, I get up at 4:30 a.m. to workout, pack lunches, get the kids off to school, then sit down at my computer. To get the momentum going, I re-read the last scene I wrote then tap-tap away at my computer. Some days that dreaded writer’s block rears its ugly head and I go back and do some edits which usually gives me a burst of inspiration. Thankfully my husband is the cook in the family, so while he’s cooking dinner I usually utilize that time to check correspondences and e-mails. In a nutshell, an author’s job is 24-7 and I never know when the results of a scene I’ve been struggling with resolve itself in my mind and the plot. On occasion I have woken up in the middle of the night to turn on my computer and at least get a draft of what came to mind in my slumber.
Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
Cindy: So far they are all suspense and I can’t seem to create a character, major or minor role in the plot, without giving them some sort of mysterious background. Just the other day in editing Desperate Deceptions, I had every intention of scrapping a scene and character then Voila! Suddenly a burst of inspiration hit and this character now plays a pivotal role in the suspense and has earned a larger role in the plot.
I have some funny scenes in my books intertwined in the suspense and would like to write a comedy one day. I’m comfortable writing a few comic scenes here and there but not sure at this time if I could conjure up an entire comedy plot.
Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?
Cindy: Desperate Measures didn’t take me very long to write, I’d estimate three months. Obtaining a publishing contract took a year. Desperate Deceptions is taking much longer. Since I’ve been through the editing process, the analytical side of my brain took over for a while. I’ll explain what I mean in that statement a bit further. I’ve received great reviews, know what the editor is going to look for as far as mistakes, and I began overanalyzing every word of the book. To summarize, I found myself scared to death of failure. I’ve gotten past this stage and have continued the plot. The creative side of my brain is now connected directly to my fingers tips, by- passing the editing side, to write and create then edit when done. Hey, maybe I have found a new invention! Cardiac surgeons use the by-pass technology; I have the author/editor by-pass! I wonder what those royalties would pay? Just trying to be humorous here.
Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?
Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?
Cindy: Typically, yes I have to be alone to write with no distractions. However, there are occasions when a scene comes to mind and I drop everything to get those magic words down before I forget them. My family has gotten used to me now when I go into writers mode. Sometimes when working out a plot I pace the house, not only talking to myself but answering myself back. This gets embarrassing sometimes when my children have friends over. One day during this process, my eight year old daughter’s friend said to me, “Mrs. Cromer, could you speak English?” My daughter responded, “Oh, ignore my mom, she’s writing.” I laughed!
Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?
Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?
Cindy: My characters names aren’t as important as the secrets and mysterious pasts I create for them. I do try to keep their names simple, traditionally spelled, and easy for the reader to pronounce.
Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?
Cindy: I write and create the characters based on my imagination and their story in the book. Though when I finished Desperate Measures , I envisioned some actors playing the roles if the book were ever turned into a movie. Josh Duhamel could play Tomas Medina perfectly. Tomas, FBI Senior Special Agent, has some serious scenes with some comedy scenes as well. Sandra Bullock would be a great Caitlin Martel and Clint Eastwood as Lukas Bucklin. A few others include: Nick Holland-Robert Dinero, Drew Porter-Martin Lawrence, Jack Spencer-Nick Nolte, Scott Martel-Nicholas Cage. Oops, I’ve gotten off track and having dreams of grandeur again, reaching higher and higher to the next level. That would be a big production budget wouldn’t it?
Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?
Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?
Cindy: I would never pick a location for my book that I hadn’t been to personally and be able to describe in detail to my readers. I chose St. Kitts as the location of Desperate Measures for a few reasons. One being that I love to read books about tropical locations. Second, I’ve been to many Caribbean Islands but St. Kitts is my favorite. My husband, son, daughter, and I go there at least once a year. In my book I also cover some historical facts about the island. Due to the developments in Desperate Measures most of the plot of my second book Desperate Deceptions takes place in New York City. My third book, the medical thriller, is still in the draft format and I don’t have a defined location yet. I’ve been to Europe, Belgium and France, so that may become an interesting location. For the sports related NFL mystery, that will have to take place somewhere in the United States. I live in Florida now but I’m originally from New Jersey. Miami might be a good choice or New Jersey/New York again. I could also cover the discrepancy of how the Jets and Giants are both called New York teams yet they play in the Meadowlands which is located in New Jersey. That would spark some controversy in the suspenseful plot, wouldn’t it?
Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?
Cindy: I am currently putting the finishing touches and edits to my second book, DESPERATE DECEPTIONS, and it involves more family drama and suspense. It is focused on the newly formed but strained relationship between Caitlin and her biological grandfather. It could be considered a sequel, but I have written it as a stand-alone and the reader won’t be lost if they haven’t read DESPERATE MEASURES. Of course, my goal is to propel the sales of my first book and make the reader want to read both. I have a third and fourth book in rough draft format that are completely different from the first two. They are mysteries but totally different characters and plots. One is a sports related mystery revolving around the NFL and the other is a medical thriller. Once I finish those two I would like to get back to a few of the characters I created in DESPERATE MEASURES, especially Tomas. I created him as a minor role to provide a bit of comic relief to the reader, but he took on a life of his own and I want to create his own story line. Barry Solerno also needs to be the main focus of a book. I have no idea where I came up with him, but he became my favorite character. Also, I a have children's book I've been dabbling with, no title yet, but this one shouldn't take me long to finish.
Below is a preview of what I envision on the back cover of Desperate Deceptions:
Lukas Bucklin has it all, money, wealth, power, and most importantly control; or so he thought. He has finally formed a bond with his granddaughter, Caitlin Spencer Martel, and intends to name her the heir of his empire worth billions. On the eve of a board meeting he receives a threatening phone call. The caller knows what he has done. He revises his will again. He can’t make the announcement, not yet. He has some loose ends to wrap up and flush out another devious loose cannon that is on a rampage to destroy his family and legacy.
Lukas flies Caitlin to New York City on his private Learjet for the board meeting. He devastates her when he doesn’t acknowledge her as a viable board member nor his granddaughter. She doesn’t know her grandfather is protecting her and he doesn’t know that she has her own agenda for the meeting. She rises to the occasion and proves that she is Lukas Bucklin’s heir and unwittingly aligns herself with Lukas in the path of a revengeful greedy psychopath.
Lukas is forced to distance himself from everyone close to him, especially Caitlin. She can never know the truth, no one can. It would be devastating and cause a rippling affect that would tear the family apart; the family Lukas strived to protect for decades.
Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
Cindy: My web site is Cindy’sWriting Studio
Desperate Measures is available at:
Amazon Print or Kindle
Reader, I'll giveaway an eBook or signed copy (Winner's choice). You can enter through the Rafflecopter below. Rafflecopter will draw the winner. Good luck!
Here's an interview with Lucas so the Readers can get to know him better.
Television Host: Thank you audience for tuning in. I have an exclusive interview with ‘The Lukas Bucklin’, a multi-billionaire with a take charge attitude. He has secrets, let’s see if we can get him to expose them!
Host: Mr. Bucklin, you look nervous. This interview is very informal and I’ll start out with an easy question. What’s your favorite food?
Lukas: What kind of question is that? I can afford any delicacy I want, delivered whenever I want. Caviar, lobster, you name it!
Host: Okay, so my attempt to ease into the interview back fired, I’ll get down to business and ask my next question. Who was your first girlfriend and how old were you when you met?
Lukas: I was seventeen when I met the love of my life and she is the mother of my son. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who I mean. You’ll have to read it in Desperate Measures, the novel in which that damn author, Cindy something or other, chose to write my life story.
Host: You don’t want to talk about that book do you, so I’ll ask about your career. How long have you worked at your current job?
Lukas: Job? I don’t have a menial job! I’m the CEO and Chairman of the Board of my own company. I built an empire.
Host: What’s your greatest pet peeve with you Mother/Father? Why?
Lukas: My father was ruthless but a peon. Oh, he may have started a gourmet grocery store but I turned it into a national chain. That move on my part started the foundation on which I built Bucklin Enterprises.
Host: Mr. Bucklin, you looked lost in thought there for a moment. Could there be some truth in the saying, “Like Father Like Son?”
Lukas: Absolutley NOT!!
Lukas slams his fist on the table.
Host: Lukas, if you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be and why?
Lukas: HA! What kind of question is that? Anyone in their right mind would love to meet me. Didn’t you read what I did to protect…, Oh, well never mind that, you can read the story in Desperate Measures but I am a force to be reckoned with, let me tell you that!
Host: Who’s your favorite artist, singer, etc.?
Lukas: I don’t have time for such nonsense! I have secrets that I have to scramble to keep hidden. Desperate Deceptions, the next novel by that newbie author, is keeping me hopping and I can’t let my past catch up with me. So if you’ll excuse me I have to protect my family and…..
And an article I'd like to share with authors and readers:
Technical Writing vs. fiction writing – The similarities and differences
As I scientist and executive I have written many research papers, laboratory procedures, safety manuals, and bid proposals. This doesn’t include the letters to regulatory agencies, statement of qualifications of myself and staff, client correspondences, and reports to the Board of Directors.
Many are misled and assume it was an easy transition into the mystery fiction writing arena. When I am asked about this topic I sometimes find myself bumbling for an answer and will try explain some of the similarities and differences.
Technical writing of, proposals, bids, and grants, are for the most part boiler plate. Once you have a template it just takes some tweaking to modify it to the specification of the project; focusing in detail on previous relevant projects and this is where some creative writing comes into play. At this juncture a first time author and a newly hired Ph.D scientist are attempting to delve into their careers. The author has to first write his/her manuscript, edit it numerous times then find an agent and publisher. The first step is that all important query letter to attract someone’s attention. The scientist has just graduated, received a job offer and salary but now must obtain grants and funding.
At this stage the advantage leans toward the scientist who most likely has a research dissertation under their belt and platform for a research project worth funding and a base salary.
The author has no income pertaining to writing but strives to obtain a publisher and agent with the hope of a contract and possibly an advance.
Both the scientist and author wait in anticipation of positive news and have dreams of grandeur. One imagines receiving the Nobel Prize and the other envisions reaching the # 1 Best Sellers list. Each has to be patient and endure rejections but never give up.
Scientific research papers and a fiction manuscript also have some areas of comparison. A scientist utilizes their area of expertise to produce a study and laboratory project. A detailed method and laboratory procedure with supplies and specific high tech equipment are outlined. The scientist hopes the results will support and prove the hypothesis resulting in a publication, copyright, or even a patent.
In writing a manuscript, an author has a draft and idea of the plot with some characters developed. They may or may not have an ending in mind at the beginning but are not bound by any guidelines and have free reign to create a story where their creative mind takes them. The scientist does not have much freedom to deviate from the specified procedure.
Most authors suffer some bouts of writers block. They stare at their computer screen, re-reading scene after scene, willing a burst of inspiration and creativity to burst through. A similar situation occurs with the scientist. The laboratory tests are under way and the paper cannot be written until all of the data is submitted and evaluated. The scientist is in a holding pattern.
In summary there are some parallels in fiction and scientific writing yet drastic contrasts. For me personally I can’t honestly say that my science background is what propelled me to embark on a career as a mystery/suspense author. The only co-relation I can make is that I created the protagonist of Desperate Measures, Caitlin Martel, utilizing my background to give her an interesting career. The rest of the plot was based on my wild imagination. As an avid reader I thought of a book I would like to read and the story took off from there. While writing my first book the plot of my second, Desperate Deceptions, formed.
I hope my somewhat technical dissertation above didn’t scare off any potential readers. I assure you I don’t use scientific jargon or acronyms that overwhelm the reader. In the scenes where some science is introduced there is some light comedy involved. One particular scene features Caitlin describing the testing her company, CSM Technologies, is involved with to the St. Kitts Chief of Police and the FBI. She suddenly realizes her audience is struggling to comprehend and their eyes are glazing over. She then recites what she needs to in simple layman’s terms.