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Monday, September 18, 2017

Today I have the good fortune of sharing with you the undeniable talent of my friend and fellow author, Cyn Ley.

Cyn and I were introduced through our mutual publisher, Solstice Publishing and had the opportunity to meet this past July at one of our many signings. I have since been graced from the universe with a lovely friend and on occasion, mentor. I hope after reading this interview you not only get to know her better but understand why I love her bunches.

Okay, you've waited long enough. Meet, Cyn Ley!

Author: Cyn Ley
Date: June 2017
Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Hi Vicki! Thank you for this opportunity!

1. Tell us about your Latest Book/Book about to be released? Release Date? And can you give us a teaser?
My latest book is The Ossuary Playground and Other Unexpected Tales. It is a collection of four stories, three paranormal in nature, and one quite off the wall. It was released in June 2017. Some teasers for you:

Remains” – The Civil War has long since come and gone on a lonely and forgotten battlefield. What of those who linger there?

Calling You Out” – Many a historic house has its ghosts, and the Miller mansion is no exception. For one of them, all he yearns to hear is his own name.

Stilts” – A house up in Portland’s West Hills bears a terrible stain and a terrifying manifestation to those who live therein. What will bring peace and solace to them all?

The Ossuary Playground” – It remains to children to recall the past, as only children can.

An excerpt from “Remains”: There comes a time that Millicent finds a tattered boy, torn by ball and cannon. For him, each day begins whole and shining, glory on the horizon.
By mid-day, he is scrap, his limbs and blood mingling with those around him. His eyes have borne witness to his own dissolution.

2. What other books/short stories have you written?
I published several collections of short stories in 2014 through Solstice Publishing. In 2016, the best of those tales were combined, revamped, and in some cases left totally unchanged for Encounters Tales Recounted and Reborn. I have had numerous stories published in Solstice’s seasonal anthologies. These stories also appear in Encounters. The collection ranges from humor to paranormal to social satire to friendship, and things in between.

My latest story, “Plot Twist,” will be appearing in Solstice’s annual horror fest, a deliciously scary anthology by various authors entitled Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. It will be released in October.

3. Are they available in e-book, print, or both?

4. Where can readers find your books?
On amazon.com (both print and Kindle editions) Just look under “Cyn Ley.” If I may say so, I have been blessed with excellent reviews by people who have no reason to be nice to me. LOL

6. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the type of writing that you do?
Conveying the ephemeral in such a way that readers will recognize and connect with it, yet retain its exquisite mystery. Language is a carefully nuanced thing.

7. How did you get started in writing?
A longtime friend, herself a Solstice author, nudged me into it. She started me on flash fiction and the floodgates were open! Before that, I did extensive research writing, and was a nationally certified college writing and research tutor for years. Nowadays, I’m a bestselling author and a top-ranked editor.

But really, it all started long ago, when unicorns roamed the earth. I have always loved good writing, even as a small child.

8. Where and How can readers get in touch with you? www.facebook.com/groups/Cleyfiction4

And on my blog, where I not only share my own ramblings but offer interviews with great Solstice authors! https:authorcjl.wordpress.com

9. So with your latest work released/or being released, what comes next? What can we expect from you in the future?
I have several stories in the works right now, but have no idea which one’s going to be done first. Let’s just say I’m playing with history a bit.

10. How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
A fair bit. But of course they’re wrapped differently in a story.

11. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
Go with the flow. Writing for me doesn’t mean sitting down and going non-stop for hours. It may be as basic as sketching out a concept, and returning to it later once it’s had time to ferment.

12. What is your routine once you start writing a book?
I don’t really have one. I’m an intuitive writer, so words like “schedule” and “outline” are sort of anathema to me. I may sit down and write pages, or I may scribble down a concept to ponder the what-if’s.

13. What about you in general? What is it that makes you tick? Makes you you? Things you like to do and what prompted you into writing?
I’m hyper-observant by nature, and have a sneaky sense of humor. There’s not much that doesn’t interest me. I’ve had many experiences that some might classify as straight out of cuckoo land, but that’s ok. More story material for me!

14. Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite Hero or Heroine?
I love Gerald in “Calling You Out” (The Ossuary Playground). He is the consummate working man, with a caring and noble heart. My beloved husband inspired Gerald just by living his life the way he lived it.

15. What kind of research do you do when writing one of your works?
Whatever is necessary at the time. It may be a matter of subject, or a matter of language usage. For instance, in American lingo your character might say “lawyer,” but your British character would refer to the same individual as a “solicitor.” It’s important to get words right, regardless of their infinite contexts and variety. The tiniest detail can really throw a reader off.

Researching the subject matter around which your story revolves is really important too. You can always tell whether a writer has done their homework, or just scribbled something down because they thought it sounded good when it was really just being lazy. Trust me – it really does show. And I firmly believe that fiction writers have something to teach us through their stories.

16. Do you ever ask friends/family for advice or ideas to go into your works?
I ask for feedback from time to time, mostly to see if something makes sense. But I also trust my instincts.

17. Have you ever experienced Writer's Block? If so, how did you work through it? Yes. And then my writing Muse kicked me in the head. “But Muse, it’s 3 in the morning….” “Write NOW!!!” tappity tap tap tappity….. She has very interesting ideas, my patron Muse does! And she kicks hard.

18. Who are some of your favorite authors to read?
As an editor, I read many an excellent story by diverse authors. Beyond that, I read all kinds of things on all kinds of subjects, so it’s really hard to pin down.

19. Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Don’t let writing PTSD hold you back. Remember those horrible times in creative writing class when you were a kid and the teacher assigned you a project, so you could read it aloud in class the next day? Awful. Write freely and share as you wish. No one’s going to take away your birthday. Just remember that both writing and reading are extremely subjective exercises. If someone likes your writing, halloo, hallay, o frubjous day! But if they don’t, at least they read it, and that’s a good thing too. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. Thank all of your critics, including the negative ones, and invite them to stick with you. They might like your next work.

20. Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Check out the indies (independent publishing houses). If they like your stuff, you’re far less likely to be sitting around for the better part of a year waiting for your manuscript to hit the editing department. You may have to wait months just to hear a yes or no from the big houses!
One advantage gained by going through a publishing house is you are provided with an editor, proofreader, formatter, cover art, and a market that carries your work. In these days of self-publishing, people often don’t stop to think about how costly and trap-ridden that path can get. You need to hire people to provide the services mentioned above, and that runs up a tab real fast.
It’s extremely important to read and follow the Rules For Submission that any given publisher provides. Long story short: they have a system that works for them. Don’t quibble with it or try to change it. Don’t set yourself apart as that special little snowflake who won’t melt in the sun. When you submit a work, you are doing two very important things: 1) asking someone to take a chance on your work, and 2) showing a publisher that you can follow directions in a manner becoming a professional.
Once your work is accepted, be prepared to be your own publicist unless you decide to hire one. The internet has changed everything about how publicity works, and there’s always something new to learn. Publishers, both big and small, don’t shell out for publicity like they used to. Start a blog, use facebook and twitter, join writing groups. Pick up tips and share your own. You have a huge advantage here in that you control your publicity to a large degree, and that means you can choose how you wish to represent yourself honestly and engagingly.
Your publisher will provide some venues (for instance, Solstice uses GoodReads and Amazon, among others), but the rest is up to you. It’s the new norm, but it is not a difficult norm to navigate.
So, here you are, ready to take the leap. You wrote a book and you think it’s pretty good. There are some important steps to take before you submit it for consideration. First, have some folks read it with a critical eye, people you can trust to give you honest and helpful feedback. You are not looking for yes-men here. You want them to tell you where you went astray and where things are good and bad. Next, bring their critiques into your reviewing of your book. Adjust what you need to. Make sure everything works in the story like it’s supposed to. And lastly, proofread it. Put another pair of eyes on it for this step. Our brains have a habit of “seeing” what’s supposed to be on the page when in fact you might have an accidently omitted word.
And now, you’ve followed the Rules For Submission. You press “send.”
We wish you well.

Additional titles available at Amazon - 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

An Author's Pause

As authors we are always busy waiting. We wait to hear from a publisher, an agent, a contest or a review. The list can go on and on. It feels at times like three quarters of our lives are spent in a state of suspension. Not knowing where we are headed, barely recognizing where we were and muddling through what we need to do today.

We are writing the next big hit, editing for the fifth time and trying to stay on social media with quick quirky tweets, fun Facebook posts, instantly amusing Instagram and the plethora of other sites I'd rather not take the time to list.

That's it isn't though? Time. Everything takes time—every day. No weekends or holidays. Not really. We may say we're disconnecting, dropping out but we never really do ... do we?

We take a quick peek. Check an Amazon status. Graze Twitter for a second and check our emails for a sign someone reacted positive to your submission and wants YOU. All the while still waiting.

And why do we do this daily ritualistic self infliction of agony? The answer is simple. We are authors and couldn't imagine our life any other way. It's the love of words and a relationship that binds us, holds us up, comforts us, drives us crazy, gives us doubt and at times lifts us higher than we ever thought possible. The words know us, understand us and we deliver them so that they may be heard. It's the lifetime partnership of quiet perfection.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mother's Day

I wanted to write a lovely Mother's Day message but my fingers are touching all the wrong keys. I love the idea of Mother's day. When the girls were small getting up on that special Sunday morning was always such a joy for me. Breakfast as a family (Ronnie usually made pancakes and let me tell you, he makes the best ever!) on a Spring day set aside just for me was nirvana. Flowers on the table, sometimes bought and other times picked from our yard represented life to me.

As the girls grew up and eventually moved out, Mother's Day took on a new tradition. Stevie would bake homemade scones (a fave of mine) and Chris and Fi would go to the International Market for Devonshire Cream. Some jam, tea & coffee with the four of us and our precious Olive around Stevie's table completed the morning and were some of my most treasured memories.

Now all the kids have moved out of state and have their own traditions. Stevie has Olive and Chris two very precocious fir babies. My mom is close by and for me, the day is focused only on her. We get together with my brother and his family and usually have lunch at our house. Mom prefers not to go to a crowded restaurant. And this suites me just fine. It's more intimate and less stress. 

I don't feel the same about this day. It's not a pity me party, it's just what is. Ronnie tries so hard to capture the day and make it what he would hope I could feel, but I just can't. I'm still the mother of two beautiful, talented and unique kids but my time to surround myself with them on this Sunday morning is gone. A new tradition. I celebrate it for everyone else. 

I take joy in the smiles of my sister in-law, my mom, my friends and the sounds of the girls voices over the phone. The countless wishes on social media, the cute pics everyone posts and the look in my husbands eyes when he gives everything he's got to make things special for me.

Time changes all, hearts remain full.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Art of Not Writing

Now I know this title sounds strange. How could not writing be considered an art? I'm speaking for myself, although I have spoken to many authors who have the same issue as I do. That is the time after you have completed your "baby" and it's in the hands of an editor or beta reader. You're in a state of suspension. Every morning, evening, or whenever you chose to write, you diligently sat down and let the characters in your mind spill out and unfold a story that has been your focus ... your purpose. And when that time is over, I personally am left with a hollow emptiness. Somewhat like empty nest syndrome.

I've created it, nurtured it and soon I will send it out into the world. However, it's not quite time. There are the edits that will be made after it is fingers crossed submitted and accepted, the cover search, the preview and then the availing. But in the silence of the in between I must figure out what to do. I don't want to jump right into the next story. I need time for closure. I usually give myself a week or two. I could read a new book and sometimes I do. But most of the time I can't concentrate because I find myself consumed in the in between. So I search for things to occupy my mind as it finds its way back to a place where I can let the new voices out.

Promo is great because it does take time. I try to get creative, well as much as I can. I'm not very skilled in this aspect of my writing career. Nonetheless, I'm out there plugging away. I find projects. The closet needs to be cleaned out, clothes for Goodwill, new recipes to try for dinner. You get the picture. This is where the art form comes in. Fine tuning and cultivating time. It's actually hard work. Exhausting at times. I'd rather be writing.

So here's to the art of not writing. May it never last long, always result in something productive and never leave you wanting for more.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winter Holiday 2016 - Get your Pre-Order in Now! Great for a gift too!!!

The end of year holidays are filled with joy as decorations go up worldwide. Parades give everyone a chance to join with others in happiness. Families make plans to gather for meals and celebrations.

A season for joy…

A season for celebration…

A season for family…

Solstice Publishing presents eleven talented authors with a dozen stories that portray the winter holiday season in many ways. Each tale will fill you with wonder, joy, and a sense of earned togetherness.

Celebrate with K.C. Sprayberry, Donna Alice Patton, Johnny Gunn, Susan Lynn Solomon, Debbie De Louise, Elle Marlow, Leah Hamrick, Eden S. Clark, E.B. Sullivan, M.A. Cortez, and Rebecca L. Frencl this winter holiday season.