Thursday, August 30, 2012

VBTC Last Tour Stop & Giveaway - Chatting with Cindy Vine, author of C U @ 8

Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today at Cape Town.

BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...
Although I am a South African by birth I view myself more as a global citizen as I have lived in ten different countries around the world.  At the moment I am living in Tanzania at the foot of Kilimanjaro.  I am a single mother of three children, only have one left at home, and am the principal of the elementary section of an international school.  My writing takes place on weekends, so I guess you can call me a weekend writer.

BK: Please tell us a little about your book....’
C U @ 8 is about two middle-aged women who still feel compelled to help their adult children sort out their lives.  Suki’s son is a cocaine addict whose son has been accused of fathering a sick child on a visit to the UK; and Fenella’s daughter has just ended a bad relationship.  Fenella decides to put an ad on an online dating site and interview prospective candidates for her daughter.

BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?
C U @ 8 came about when my eldest daughter and I were discussing her latest disastrous relationship.  I joked about advertising in the local newspapers and internet to find her a decent man, and the story grew out from there.

BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Right from elementary school I believed I could write as teachers always raved about my stories.  So I guess I believed I could be a writer long before I actually became one.

BK: How do you keep your story flowing?
I work out an outline and plan quite carefully so that I know more or less what will be happening in each chapter before I start.  Of course once writing I do add in extra chapters, remove some, or combine others together.

BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?
If I hit a block I leave my writing alone and start reading.  For me reading ends every block and I go back to my writing inspired.

BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?
I am not a fly by the seat of my pants type of writer.  I get an idea, do some research then come up with a title.  I find I have to have a title before I can do any writing.  It just seems to make the whole story seem more real to me.  Then I mull it around in my mind for a couple of weeks, play around with some dialogue, so by the time I come to write an outline I have a good idea where I am going. The next step is deciding on the characters.  Usually I write a character sketch for each character.  On the current novel I’m working on, Hush Baby, I approached the character sketches slightly differently.  Using Google images I searched for images of people who looked similar to the characters I was imagining in my head, and then printed out those images.  Next I came up with their name, date of birth, character traits and what problems they were facing in life.  I gave every character 4-5 problems because the problems you are facing in life dictates how you handle everything else.  I figured that would give my characters more depth.  Then  I list the chapters and say roughly what each chapter will be about just using keywords.  That becomes my outline.  Finally I start to write the story.  Sometimes I might veer off the outline or think of a twist I can add, but I will always return to the basic outline.  As I finish about 3-4 chapters, I email off to my editor who proofreads for me.  After I’ve finished I take a couple of weeks off and then the editing starts and I follow most of my editor’s suggestions.

BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?
My hope is to give up my job and become a full-time writer.

BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope my books will give them something to think about and will stimulate discussion.

BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Have a good strong story, let each chapter end with a hook of sorts, and make sure you develop your characters.

BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and learn how to manage your time.  Oops, that’s two pieces of advice.

BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently working on 2 projects.  Hush Baby will explore a little of Munchausens by Proxy and Diary of a Dancer incorporates the diary my late cousin wrote in the last year of his fight against AIDS.

BK: Where can readers find you?
My username is cindyvine on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google +, Goodreads.

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.


Cindy is offering 2 lucky commenters the chance to win a copy of C U @ 8, one paperback and one e-book. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter :).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do your kids ever really leave? 

Fenella Fisher and Suki Rabinowitz are middle-aged single mothers whose children have left home and started on their own lives and careers. But Suki’s son Josh is a cocaine-addict who supposedly fathered a baby on a visit to the UK; and Fenella’s daughter Kirsty has just been dumped and is feeling miserable. Fenella and Suki decide they need to step in to help their children and hatch a plan to sort out Josh’s mess and find Kirsty a suitable man, with some hilarious consequences. After interviewing prospective husbands for Kirsty at Waves Restaurant and Bar, they discover that a good man is hard to find.

Publisher:  Createspace
Release Date:  March 2012
Book Genre:  Chick Lit/Women’s Contemporary

Chapter 11

Fenella was so nervous that it affected her driving.  She forgot to stop at a pedestrian crossing and nearly knocked over an old woman in a tweed skirt with a walking frame.  Before she could shout an apology out of the window the woman gave her the middle finger.  “Oh dear God I don’t think I can do this,” she said to her reflection in her car mirror as she watched the old woman make her way slowly across the road. 
Conversely, Suki was in a state of euphoria, overflowing with excitement and had been driving Fenella crazy by calling her every five minutes throughout the day.  They had agreed not to meet for their usual lunch date.  Suki had the password and username and had been chatting to some of the prospects on email throughout the day.  She’d even set up a fake Hotmail account and emailed the details to Fenella in case she wanted to add to the conversations.  Fenella had to be honest - the choice of name did bother her, and when she’d plucked up the courage to check out some of the emails, they had given her a reason to be bothered.  Some of the men were quite lewd and quite explicit with their descriptions of what they planned to do to Kirsty when they met her.  It made Fenella very uneasy indeed which was made worse by the fact that Suki was actively flirting with these men and egging them on, encouraging them.  Fenella was anything but a prude, but some of those things some men were saying nearly made her blush.
 “Am definitely feeling all of my fifty years tonight,” Fenella mumbled as she pulled her car into a parking spot in front of Waves Restaurant and Bar.  “And if Suki doesn’t turn up, I’ll…I’ll…I’ll frigging kill her!”
There were only three other cars in the car park.  Fenella and Suki had planned to arrive early at 5.30pm and have a few cocktails before eating the fabulous grilled calamari for dinner; the male prospects would only be arriving at 8pm.  Fenella wasn’t sure her nerves would hold the length of time of the wait.  She hated waiting for anything; it was her pet hate, and the anticipation for the arrival of these men was definitely going to kill her.  She could hear her heart beating in her ears and she was sure she was going to have a panic attack.  A car pulled into the vacant spot next to her and Fenella was relieved to see the comforting figure of Suki behind the wheel.
Suki was dressed to kill.  Stiletto’s so high she looked like she had the Petronas Towers tied to the soles of her shoes, which made her shapely legs look even longer and slimmer than normal.  Her short bright orange dress which showed off her fabulous tan fluttered in the sea breeze making her look youthful, at least twenty years younger much to Fenella’s disgust.  Her long dark hair had been professionally styled; she looked amazing.  Fenella in comparison felt like an old frump.  She’d gone for a pair of what her kids called ‘mommy-jeans’ because they had an elastic waist, Ugg boots, a white shirt and a short black jacket.  Silver hoop earrings completed her ensemble.  “Fenella!” shouted Suki as she tottered towards her.
“Thank God you came,” said Fenella with such a feeling of relief it made her almost light-headed.
“What do you mean, ‘Thank God you came’?  Of course I came!  I helped set this all up and wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Come along, time for some drinky-poos!”  Fenella shook her head as Suki tried to walk across the gravel on those heels.  They should be sold with a ‘hazardous to your health’ sticker on them.  Definitely a dangerous pair of shoes.  Fenella wondered if you would be able to stab someone through the heart with a heel.  Maybe the shoes would come in useful if they needed to defend themselves against too-amorous men.
“Hold on!  Give me your arm and let me support you before you break a leg or something.”  Fenella couldn’t believe how Suki had changed since her husband had died.  The years of forced demureness and conservatism when she’d been an Orthodox wife had been dumped faster than Hollywood actors dumped girlfriends.  This was the Suki she’d known as a teenager, the dowdy Suki had been a stranger inhabiting her body.  This Suki had reclaimed her youth.
“Oh Fenella, you are not going to believe some of the emails I got today,” said Suki as she stumbled onto her chair at the table on the balcony overlooking the beach the waiter had shown them to.  “Did you manage to log in and read any of them?”
“I read a couple, but some of them are just too creepy for my liking.  All they want is sex.”
“Well, they are men after all you know.  Hunters, gatherers, procreators.  You know, little bundles of hormones.  Oops, here comes little Mister Macho himself,” as an obviously testosterone-challenged waiter minced his way over to take their drinks order in his painted on black jeans.
“Your usual?” Fenella asked Suki.  They both ordered Screwdrivers without fail every time they went for cocktails.
“No,” said Suki staring out at the waves breaking on the beach, “Sex on the Beach for me please.  It’s good to try something new and expand your comfort zone,” she added when she saw Fenella look at her with a raised brow.
“Whatever.”  Fenella still had an uneasy feeling about the evening.  “So tell me about some of the guys coming.”
“Well, 357 replied to my initial response to their response to Kirsty’s profile ad.  I’ve been chatting with about 180 or so of them all day.  It’s draining, I tell you.  I got clever though, typed up a couple of standard responses which I just copied and pasted and tweaked a bit.  Most of them ask the same things, so it was easy to come up with a standard template.”  Suki rolled her eyes.  “I have to say this is definitely using up my limited computer skills.”
Fenella looked at Suki in horror.  “There are going to be 180 men arriving here tonight?  Are you frigging crazy?  How are they all going to fit in here and not know something is going on?”
Suki held up a hand.  “Calm down and stop sounding hysterical.  I said I was chatting to 180, I didn’t say they were all coming.”  Fenella sunk back in her chair, feeling only slightly relieved.  “Only about thirty or so confirmed they were actually coming.  Some tried to change it to a lunch meeting.  My guess is those ones are married and trying to arrange a matinee performance so that their wife doesn’t find out.  A few others had other arrangements, busy little boys that they are.  And the others never bothered to reply to the invitation.”
“Maybe they hadn’t checked their emails yet.”  Fenella found Suki’s nonchalant attitude quite disconcerting.
“Their loss.  The time, date and name of the restaurant was quite clear.  I didn’t give directions.  I figured that would be a part of the test.  If they wanted to meet Kirsty badly enough, they’d Google it and find out how to get here.  It would be a sign of creative ingenuity.”
“So how many did you actually send the invitation email to?”  Fenella had a horrible gut feeling she knew the answer, but hoped and prayed that she was wrong.
“The 357.”
“What!”  Fenella stood up so quickly she knocked her chair over, causing the waiter to hurry over in his skin-tight black jeans.
“Sit down and stop causing a scene,” Suki commanded.  “We’ll be lucky if ten arrive.  Men are all talk, you know that.  I thought it’s a bit like cold-calling when you do sales and marketing.  You have to call 80 people to get one sale.’
Fenella couldn’t help but speak through gritted teeth.  “That is selling vacuum cleaners, Suki.  From those flirtatious emails you sent this is selling sex.  You’ll get far more bites at the cherry selling sex than vacuum cleaners you idiot!”  Fenella covered her eyes with her hand.  Maybe if she tried hard enough, she could will a migraine to develop so that she could leave and go home sick.  “Why did I ever listen to you?  Why, why, why!” Fenella uncovered her eyes and banged her fist on the table.
“It’ll be okay; stop panicking.  Seriously, this is going to be the funnest evening of your life.”
“There’s no such word as funnest,” Fenella said dryly.
“I know that you moron.  God, where’s you sense of humour?  Funnest sounds cute.”  Suki made her mouth go down at the corners in a mock sulk.
“Cute is for babies, toddlers and puppies.  Not for old women of fifty!  Waiter!  Can I please have a double vodka and orange juice?  Actually, bring me two.  I’m suddenly feeling in need of a couple of stiff drinks.”
“Fenella,” Suki called in a stage whisper, “Don’t make it obvious and turn around, but one of our prospects has just arrived and is sitting about five tables behind you.  I recognise him from the photo he sent.  Hmm, he’s early; must have decided to have dinner first like us.”
“How can I look at him without turning if he’s behind me, you fool!” Fenella hissed.
“Those two at the bar, could be as well.  Oo, this is getting exciting.”  Suki took her sip of her drink.  Fenella thought Suki was definitely enjoying this way too much.
“So run it by me again,” said Fenella as the waiter placed two drinks in front of her, “How exactly is this going to work?”
“They all think that they are going to be meeting Kirsty.  They know what she looks like because they’ve seen the photo.  They all think they are the only one she’s meeting.  I didn’t let on it’s going to be a mass date.  I said she’d be wearing a white mini dress, so they’ll be looking for a woman wearing that.”
“Kirsty would never wear a white mini dress!  Her skin is much too fair”
“But Kirsty isn’t really going to be here in that dress now, is she?”
“How are we supposed to suss them out and find the perfect one without letting on who we are?”  Suki’s plan was starting to sound more and more flawed by the minute.  What they were doing was crazy.
“Another one has arrived.  They all seem to be coming early!”  Suki was not being discreet about checking the men out at all.
“Suki, I have a feeling we might have a lot more than ten.  I think we need to order our food quickly, eat and then get the hell out of here.”  Fenella signalled the waiter.
“You might be right,” whispered Suki.  “Look outside.”  Men seemed to be appearing from everywhere.  Standing casually on the beach looking at the waves, parking their cars, walking along the beachfront; and the bar was starting to fill up as well.
“You didn’t think the men would get annoyed when Kirsty never turned up?”  Fenella’s stomach constricted when she glanced up to see a beautiful blonde girl with a dark tan and a white mini dress walk up to the bar.  “Oh shit!  I don’t believe it!”
“What?  What?”  Suki craned her neck to see what had alerted Fenella.  “Oh God, no!”  Suki gave a giggle.  “Of all the rotten luck!”
“This is not funny Suki!  That poor girl is going to be harassed by hordes of men.”
Suki gave another giggle, “It is funny Fenella, you have to admit it’s hilarious.”
Fenella chuckled, “A dark haired girl in a white sun dress has just arrived.  Actually, it is quite funny.  The best laid plans of mice and men eh?  Ah waiter.  Can you bring us our bill please?  We won’t be having dinner here after all.”
“KFC or Macdonalds drive-thru?” suggested Suki downing her drink in one swallow. “And then come to my house for a night cap and we can discuss our next plan of action.”

“This plan didn’t work at all.”  Fenella was tempted to say ‘I told you so.’
“You’re right, but at least we know that now.  We wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t try it.  Haha these guys are going to be so pissed.  How many can you count?”
“At least thirty and it’s only six thirty!  Far too much testosterone and naked aggression in this room; we need to leave now.”  Fenella stood up and swung her bag over her shoulder.  “We can settle the bill as we go out.  Some guy has just made a move on the blonde.” 
As they walked to their respective cars, they noted men just milling about, some staring at the sea and others looking up at Waves Restaurant and Bar.  Definitely more than the ten Suki had anticipated had actually turned up!


Ara @ My Book and My Coffee said...

Great interview. I do write but I don’t think I can write a novel so I really have this utmost respect for authors who are able to create a whole situation and story that will make you want to read and know more about it.

“If I hit a block I leave my writing alone and start reading. For me reading ends every block and I go back to my writing inspired.” – What a great tactic. Maybe I should try this in the future when I decide to take the this path.

“Believe in yourself and learn how to manage your time.” – Thank you, I will remember this one, for sure! Great advice.

C U @ 8 looks really interesting and something that I would read. Oooh. I hope I win this! :D