NiFtY Author: Cindy Sample

Cindy Sample doesn’t quite fit the mold for my typical, Not-Famous-Yet author interview. For one, she’s jumped ahead of the rest of us and actually published her book, and two, she’s a romance/mystery writer. She’s also funny – much funnier than I am – so without further blather, here’s the interview!

BH: So, published! How does it feel?

CS:  It feels wonderful.  Sort of like giving birth to my children.  It just took longer.

BH: Tell us a little about your book, Dying for a Date.

CS:  Dying for a Date is a humorous romantic mystery about a single mom who gets talked into joining a matchmaking service called “The Love Club,” the safe alternative to on-line dating. I discuss the trials of dating as a single mom, and throw in a few dead bodies just to keep it entertaining.

BH: Laurel McKay, the heroine in Dying for a Date, sounds funny, charming, and feisty. Is she based on anyone you know in real life?

CS:  There is a slight possibility that my protagonist is based on me twenty years ago.  I was 39 and a newly single working Mom as well.

BH: What was the greatest challenge in finishing Dying for a Date and getting it ready for publication?

CS:   The hardest part was letting it go and knowing I could never revise one more word again.

BH: Can you tell us a little about your path to publication? Did you get an agent first, or did you go directly to a publisher?

CS:  I did get an agent and we had great responses from NY publishers but February 2009 was not a great time to sell a mystery series from a debut author.  I ended up receiving offers from two smaller publishers.  I liked the feedback that I received from the other authors published with L&L Dreamspell and chose to go with them. It’s been a great experience working with my publisher. They did a great job of editing and I love the cover they designed.

BH: Where do you get most of your ideas and inspiration?

CS:  I seem to have an incredibly fertile imagination. Right now I have more plot concepts than I would ever have time to complete in this lifetime. An example would be one time when I was in a spa and they asked if I was allergic to shellfish.  Minutes later I had concocted a plot where I killed someone allergic to shellfish with a seaweed wrap.  Yes, I know I’m kind of strange but they say mystery authors are very well balanced because we just off the people who annoy us on paper.

BH: Are you currently working on another project, or are you focusing more on publicity for Dying for a Date, or something else entirely?

CS:  Right now I’m marketing and writing.  I’ve been planning events all over the 4 county area.  I’ll be visiting several local libraries in the area and giving presentations along with several other authors from Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime.  We’re a group of mystery writers (published and pre-published) as well as mystery fans. I’m also attempting to squeeze in time to complete the sequel, Dying for a Dance, a murder mystery that takes place in the glamorous world of competition ballroom dancing.

BH: Do you have a set writing schedule, or are you more of a “when the mood hits” kind of girl?

CS:  I am a very social person so the most difficult part of writing for me is to sit my butt down in my chair.  What I’ve discovered works best is to block out an entire week and just write.  On those weeks I can start at 8 AM and work until midnight almost every day.  One of my friends refers to my rather unusual technique as binge writing.

BH: Binge writing – I love it. What does your writing workspace look like?

CS:  I have a beautiful office overlooking Folsom Lake.  The walls are crammed with books and photos.  But where I write is usually in the kitchen just because it’s cozy.  Plus it’s closer to my coffeepot.

BH: You’re the first mystery writer I’ve interviewed. Can you share anything that’s unique to the mystery-writing process?

CS:  A friend of mine who has authored over 40 non-fiction books and is working on her first novel says mysteries are by far the most complex books to write. You have to ensure that your clues are subtle yet give the reader the ability to guess who the villain is, along with red herrings to lead them astray.

BH: Who is your favorite author?

CS:   Too many to choose from.  Of the greats I think Leon Uris and James Clavell.  In the mystery/thriller spectrum, I enjoy Michael Connolly, Lisa Scottoline, and Robert Crais. In Women’s fiction Jennifer Crusie, Claire Cook and Jennifer Weiner are my favorites.

BH: How about your favorite book on the writing craft?

CS:   I have two full shelves of books on the craft of writing, particularly mysteries.  I think my favorite is Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.

BH: I’m already drawing comparisons between your novel and Janet Evanovich’s writing. Have you read her books? What do you think of them?

CS:  I love her Stephanie Plum series, at least most of the books. When I was pitching my book I used the pitch that my protagonist, Laurel McKay, was like Stephanie Plum as a soccer mom.

BH: One of your strengths as a writer is your sense of humor. Do you have any tips for other writers on how to develop humor in their writing?

CS:  For some reason whatever can go wrong normally does go wrong in my life and I learned years ago that the most annoying mishaps can usually be turned into a wonderfully funny anecdote. It’s rare for anything to bother me because I know that it will become an entertaining story down the road. Many writers keep daily journals. If you’re interested in incorporating humor in your work, jot down those things that strike you as funny during the course of a normal day.  You’ll be surprised how much material you end up with.

BH: What is the best advice anyone has given you with regards to your writing?

CS:   The three P’s which are persistence, persistence, persistence. My first version of Dying for a Date was at best, mediocre.  But after taking classes and attending mystery conferences, reading every recommended book on fiction, reading and analyzing the work of my favorite authors, and being persistent with my own numerous revisions, I’m thrilled with the published version.  It is an enormous amount of work to publish a novel but the joy it brings is unparalleled. Follow your passion, be patient, and definitely be persistent.

It sounds like there are two alternate P’s there: passion and patience.

Thank you so much, Cindy, for joining me for an interview. Free t-shirts to the studio audience! (Um, there is no studio audience. And no t-shirts.)

For more information on Cindy and her writing, as well as Where To Buy Her Book (so cool!), you can visit her website.


  1. sfcatty · July 16, 2010

    Great interview. Looking forward to reading this one and the next sounds great as well.

  2. Sharon Bitz · July 16, 2010

    I love this interview and I loved reading Cindy’s book. I also compare her humor and writing style to Janet Evanovich’s writing. If you know Cindy you can certainly hear when reading her book, which is one of my favorite things about her. Cindy, you are great…keep being authentic!

  3. christytilleryfrench · July 16, 2010

    I really enjoyed this interview, Cindy and Beth. Your protagonist sounds like my favorite type of character, Cindy. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing the book!


  4. bethhull · July 16, 2010

    Glad everyone’s enjoying the interview! I can’t wait to read Cindy’s book.

    • Cindy Sample · July 16, 2010

      THanks everyone and thank you Beth for the great questions. THey were fun to answer. Okay, back to the keyboard and the dance floor. It’s time for Twinkletoes Cindy to wrap up DYING FOR A DANCE.

  5. David · July 16, 2010

    Hi Cindy! What a great interview. It’s always inspiring to hear about other writer’s creative journey. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of your book. Good luck with “Dying for a Date” promotion and with your next project. All the best, David

  6. Jacqueline Seewald · July 16, 2010


    Congrats on the publication of your mystery novel! very interesting interview and your novel sounds like a wonderful cozy. There’s nothing as much fun as a mystery with humor.

  7. Liz · July 16, 2010

    What a fun interview. I can’t wait to read this book. I love the cover and the premise, and I can tell by the interview that it’s going to be a hoot to read anything Cindy writes!


  8. Sunny Frazier · July 16, 2010

    Great interview Cindy and Beth! Cindy’s vivacious voice bleed through every word. The book is going to be a hit.

  9. Susan Whitfield · July 16, 2010

    Great interview, gals! Cindy, I need to interview a fellow Dreamspell author too. And Sunny, send Barbara right over.

    • Cindy Sample · July 16, 2010

      Hi Susan. I would love to be interviewed by you. Your interviews are always inspiring. Let’s do it!

  10. Betty Gordon · July 16, 2010

    Absolutely loved the interview — humor, romance and mystery, great combinations!!

    Good luck w/your promotions. You are a busy gal.

    Betty Gordon

  11. JD Webb · July 17, 2010

    Great interview. Cindy you’re a true delight. Much luck with your new baby.

  12. W.S. Gager · July 17, 2010

    Great interview. I loved the binge writing definition. November is one of my most productive months because I can write a really rough draft as part of National Novel Writing Month (NANO, for short). I call it my throw-up draft because everything I think of gets thrown in and then spend several months editing it until it makes sense. I agree that mysteries require more work to get the clues in. My second mystery, A Case of Accidental Intersection, was just published and has lots of humorous elements as well. I think we have a lot in common!
    W.S. Gager

  13. Pauline Baird Jones · July 17, 2010

    Congrats on the novel! fun interview! I think all debut books are a tough sell in NY right now!

  14. Pingback: Dying for a Date by Cindy Sample « Nebula

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