Today’s writer is a mom, a movie buff, a former bodybuilder, and an author. Cindy Dorminy’s debut, Tuned Into You, is out now. Read her Q&A below, and make sure you check out her book and follow her on social media. All the links you need are below!
Let’s start with a little about you! When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing many years ago because my husband was in a band and it was either be bored to tears night after night in smoky bars or find a hobby. I wanted to learn more about the American Civil War and an idea came to me after reading a book called Patriots in Disguise. I wrote my first novel, Sister Soldier, about a female soldier that follows her brother into war. That manuscript got a few nibbles, but nothing ever came of it and it rests at the bottom of my drawer. Maybe one day, I’ll resurrect it. After we moved to Nashville, a co-worker was writing screenplays and I fell in love with the craft. If you think getting a novel published is a daunting task, try getting the motion picture industry interested in your script. I switched back to novel writing after five scripts landed me nowhere. I still kind of write like a scriptwriter because I love dialogue.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
PANSTER!! I will draft a very loose idea of what I want to happen and at the most, I’ll make note cards for scenes, but if I do any more than that, I lose interest.
I read that you’re a movie buff. How has your love of film influenced your writing?
Oh yes! And I like to write screenplays so it definitely has influenced me. John Hughes movies are the best influence for YA. The Duff was a great book-turned-movie for this generation of teens too. The Rocky franchise is a motivator all by itself. Sylvester Stallone was a struggling actor when he wrote the first Rocky script. He believed in it so much, he wouldn’t sell the script unless he could play the leading role. That was a gutsy move on his part, but I think we can all agree, it turned out alright for him. He won an Academy award and his life was never the same.
Tell me about your journey to publication.
My first novel, Sister Soldier, went nowhere. I didn’t write another novel for about 10 years. I was one semester shy of finishing nursing school when I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I had a full-time job, but I was so tired of spending every spare moment reading text books. I didn’t even have time to READ a novel, much less write one. I told my husband I wanted to quit and focus on my writing again and he said…. Do whatever makes you happy. A ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. Immediately, I started back on an idea that would not leave my brain for ten years and that’s when I finished my second novel, Left Hanging. I have queried that one to death, edited until there are only shreds of the original manuscript left hanging (no pun intended) and I’m still working on getting someone’s attention.
Last spring (April, 2015), I went to a writing conference in Kentucky. It was only an hour’s drive and it was FREE! They also had a session you could get your first chapter critiqued. I didn’t get into that session and I was bummed because I really needed to talk to someone about what was keeping agents / publishing companies from loving my adult romance novel. I had two choices: go home early, or attend a ‘how to write YA’ session. I figured why not? I like reading YA. What’s the harm? I felt like the presenter was speaking to me and only me. Every example she used was a John Hughes movie (go back to a previous question and remind yourself how much I loooooove John Hughes movies). After the session was over, I spoke to her and she suggested I give YA a try. Before I knew it, I had an idea for a novel and wrote like crazy for the next three months. A writer friend of mine encouraged me to enter PitchWars. Without going into much detail, I stink at contests and this one was no different. I was heartbroken I didn’t get a mentor because I really thought this novel was going to be different for me.
I almost gave up writing.
After I licked my wounds, made some revisions based on some wonderful critique partners, I went to another local conference where I had a chance to pitch straight to an agent. She liked the idea and asked for a partial!
YAY! Renewed confidence. While I was waiting on her to get back with me, BookFish Books was having a twitter pitch party, so I pitched to them. I researched other books they published and the cover designs were so pretty. Before the day was up, they requested the first chapter. Within two days, they asked for the full! And before I knew it, they were offering me a contract. I almost deleted the email to discuss the contract because I thought it was a joke. I took a few days to think about the offer, allowed the agent time to reply (she declined) and then decided for me, it was the right move to accept the offer. I didn’t jump up and down or do a happy dance. It was more surreal than anything else.
But the real work was about to start. I was assigned an editor and when her first words in an email are ‘don’t panic’, I tend to panic. She sent me two documents. One was a summary of what she thought was working and what needed some improvements. The second document was a chapter-by-chapter suggestions….. thirty pages long. Holy cow. I almost hyperventilated. When I got over the shock, I agreed with 99% of her suggestions.
We went through two major rounds of edits, then two rounds of line edits before it was ready for print. It was hard work, but I loved every minute of it.
Where did you draw your inspiration for Tuned Into You?
I get asked this question all the time and I really don’t have an idea. Abe and Lydia in the back of the police car being hauled to jail was the catalyst for the story. One of my best friends when I was growing up was a preacher’s kid and she also was very athletic, so I think a lot of Lydia’s personality came from her. I’m not sure where Abe came from. I wanted two teens with tarnished reputations to come together and realize you really need to make your own decision about people.
What can we expect from you next?
I’ve got three other manuscripts at least in draft form.
1. Tuned #2 – West and Camille’s Story
2. Friday Night Lights – YA fantasy
3. Champagne Jam – Adult romantic comedy
What is your most challenging aspect of writing?
Finding time to write. I work full time, have a husband, a teenager, a dog, a house, a yard, etc so it’s extremely hard to carve out time to write. I have to find little segments of time where I can. I write on my lunch break. I write while my daughter is having figure skating lessons. My husband screened in the back porch, so I’m out there from the time I get home until it’s too dark to see anymore. I’m thankful my husband and daughter know how to feed themselves because they don’t expect me to do the cooking.
The other challenge is believing in myself. Every time I get a rejection letter, it brings me down a notch. No matter how much I believe in myself, the ‘it’s not for me’ hurts. That’s when my amazing family and writer friends keep me moving forward.
Another challenge is calling myself a writer. Even after I completed my first manuscript, even after I got a publishing contract and even after I saw MY novel in print, it’s still hard to call myself a writer. That title is reserved for John Green and Rick Riordan, not me. If you want to know the truth, it really didn’t feel right to call myself an author until this past weekend when I had my very first book signing. To see my friends come out and support me was the best feeling in the world!
What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
I guess it was last month at my book signing. It was terrifying because I’m such an introvert, but exhilarating because it validated all the hard work I’ve been putting into the craft. Right before I walked in the bookstore, my thirteen year-old daughter said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
Who are some of your favorite and/or most influential authors?
Tracie Banister (chick lit) was so helpful with publishing advice. I love reading all sorts of Authors, including James Dashner, Tracy March, Rick Riordan, Neal Schusterman, Robert Muchamore, Rich Amooi, Jennifer Peel, Melanie Marks, Cora Cormack, Bert Murray, Monique McDonell, Matt Dunn, Megan Erickson, etc. Right now, I’m reading a series by David Estes. (Slip, Grip, Flip). I’m on Flip right now. Super good.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Back in the day, I was a competitive bodybuilder. I don’t compete anymore but I still like to work out. We have a gym in our house and we (try) to work out most days at 5 AM. It’s the only time I can fit it in. I used to like to garden, but I don’t have the tolerance to heat like I used to. Other than that, I’m doing whatever my daughter needs / wants me to do.
Where can we find you on social media?
A summer party is the last place Lydia Flowers wants to be. Beer pong? Stupid, foot-wrecking shoes? Random hookups? No thanks. Lydia would rather be in her cleats practicing her bat handling skills.
Enter Abe Fischer, the Nashville Teen Idol superstar. He’s a lip-syncing party animal with a short fuse; or at least that’s what the tabloids say. Except, Abe turns out to be nothing like the guy Lydia’s read about online. He’s sweet, and the way he talks to his horse…sigh.
Then life throws Lydia and Abe a curveball. They are wrongfully arrested for destruction of property. Their choices? Either work on the Fischer Farm for the summer earning nothing more than blisters and a sunburn, or have the arrest go on their records, which would ruin Lydia’s shot at a softball scholarship. It’s a no-brainer. Lydia picks up a pitchfork, pulls out the SPF 40, and prepares for the worst two months of her life.
When the press gets wind of a big secret Abe’s family has been keeping, things become even more complicated. Now Lydia has another choice to make: stick around for Abe’s messed-up life in the spotlight, or go for the scholarship of her dreams.
Cindy Dorminy grew up on a steady diet of popcorn (the kind you pop in a sauce pan), Tab (pre-Diet Coke), and movies for teenagers. She can’t let a day go by without quoting a line from one of her favorite films, so quirky dialogue is a must in her stories. When she’s not at her research coordinator day job, Cindy is writing funny love stories, walking her dog, or slinging iron the old-fashioned way. She shares her house with her musician husband, her awesome daughter, and a cool, four-footed child that would eat all the cheese if she could figure out how to open the refrigerator. Cindy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Music City Romance Writers. She resides in Nashville, TN where live music can be heard everywhere, even at the grocery store.
Huge thanks to Cindy! If you have any other questions that I missed, leave them in the comments below.