Please welcome thriller author Cindy Ponds Newell to the blog today! Read on to learn more about her novels, and some of the fun challenges of writing in the thriller genre.
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Cindy Ponds Newell
Tell us your name, and a link to where we can find you (blog, Facebook, etc).
Hi! My name is Cindy Ponds Newell. I’m giving you information as it appears on your page, so here we go. You can find me on Facebook, under Author, Cindy Ponds Newell and also on Goodreads and Amazon.
How many books have you written? This can include both published and unpublished works. Describe each of them in 1-2 sentences apiece (if published, feel free to include the links as well).
I’ve published three novels: Don’t Say Her Name, The Kept: A Ghost Story and One Grave Secret. Don’t Say Her Name is based in part on actual events that plagued me while living in a haunted house. The story begins in the 1800’s and continues to the present. I wrote this with a historical background so that the reader would understand who the ghosts are and what they want. There are many characters, but the story follows the house itself, so when one family moves out, another one moves in and the tale continues.
The Kept was written with the same basic beginning. I love history and enjoy intertwining my passion into what I write. This novel has some twists and turns and it’s up to one brave character to solve the mystery behind the haunting in her home.
One Grave Secret isn’t at all like the first two. This is a serial killer thriller. It is, however set in an earlier time. The reader follows Freddy, the main character as he falls in love with the wrong woman at the wrong time. When he can no longer have her, he must “replace her”.
Tell me a little bit about your current WIP.
I’m now the first stages of writing my fourth novel, A is for Attached. This one will focus on a teacher that delves into the spirit world, finding that not all ghosts are innocent, lost souls. This one will be ready for publication by early spring.
I’m also planning to write Two Grave Mistakes, the second installment in the Freddy Lee Trilogy this summer and have it available by Halloween of 2014.
When I wrote Don’t Say Her Name, I had an idea of what I’d write, because so many of those things actually happened to me. It was a terrifying experience and my goal was to write in a way that others could relate to and perhaps find solace in.
What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?
I didn’t have an outline or even a plot when I started The Kept. It just kind of happened! One Grave Secret was one I really thought about before writing, but the story kept changing in my mind. I had written in a second “bad boy” that I eventually omitted all together.
The stories I write tend to just pop into my mind and I go with it. Writing the character of Freddy Lee took several months of researching mental illness. I wanted him to be sick, but also twisted because of his childhood. I have a very close relative struggling with mental illness and I had to be careful not to make Freddy resemble him.
Research is another challenge that writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?
I have found that the best research comes from people living the experience. For example, those who lived through the Great Depression are sure to have better stories than a book can offer. I don’t depend too much on internet research as I have found that many sites contradict information. The best thing for me to do is to find someone I can trust to have accurate, detailed memories.
Writing from a historical standpoint is easy for me because when writing about crime scenes, as in One Grave Secret, I didn’t have to worry about the forensics and technology offered today. It was much easier for victims to “disappear” without GPS or cellphones.
If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?
All three of my novels were published by Createspace, self publishing. I have been very blessed with huge support from my local library and libraries in surrounding counties. I’ve found that town fairs and small bookstores also give me a bigger audience. I’m very bold and straight forward, so calling libraries just to give them the heads up on what I’ve published seems to work for me. I’m getting ready now to appear at an authors spotlight in a large city, simply because I called to inform them that I’m local and published. They were very eager to sign me up for the event!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been turned down and appeared for book signings where no one, or either only one or two people came out.
The least helpful thing I tried was sending emails to every public library in my state. Yes, there were many and it took me three days of finding email addresses, branch manager names and sending them out. I sold one novel as a result. Granted, it was a University library, but only one. I was even told by one branch that I was soliciting and they were not willing to purchase or have me for a signing. Oops!
What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?
I’m sure you know by now what genre I write, but writing thrillers is fun for me and it comes easy. The only drawback I’ve faced is the amount of other books in this genre. There is a lot of competition!
I’ve also found it difficult to make each novel creepy without using the same ideas over and over again. Coming up with spooky scenes for one novel is easy, but try doing it for four or five! My challenge is to scare my audience without being repetitive and that’s not always easy.
What advice would you give to a writer who is starting out?
My advice to a writer starting out? Don’t give up on your dreams! If you can write it, you can publish it. I’m no famous writer, and doubt I ever will be. But I can say that if you find the genre you feel comfortable with, roll with it! You’ll find your audience and they’ll love you!
What are your writing, editing, marketing, and research goals for 2014?
As I said earlier, I have plans to write another ghost story and the second in my trilogy in the very near future. Will those be complete by the end of 2013? No, they won’t. But having those are my goals keep me on target.
I don’t edit my own work. I never will. So I have no editing goals, but I depend on my editor to do a fine job, as I know he will. I guess my goal with editing would be to never upset him or have him no longer interested in helping me!
Marketing wise, I will depend on my Facebook page to sell my novels along with my wonderful reading community and libraries.
Pitch your work to us in 1-2 paragraphs.
Although thrillers are a dime a dozen, readers will be intrigued by my work because I write from an average persons standpoint. My characters are realistic and believable because I mold them from people I know. Their language, behavior and personalities can be related to easily. These novels are creepy and if you love ghost stories as I do, you’ll readily pick them up and you won’t put them down until every last word is read. Be assured, you’ll sleep with a lamp on and one eye open!
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