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AUTHOR: Cheryl B. Dale
BOOK TITLE: Losing David
Please tell us your latest news. I’ve just put out my vintage mystery, Losing David. This particular story is a favorite of mine, so that probably means no one else will like it. But I’ve worked on it for so long, I’m excited just to get it out there!
What inspired you to write your first book? A neighbor kid noticed how often I went to the library and told me I ought to write a book. Then someone gave me a typewriter and... See how long ago that was?
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? I’ve recently started taking bridge lessons, but they aren’t going very well. I’m also battling squirrels in our bird feeder. And we have two cats who are quite demanding. I have to feed them and clean their litter boxes several times a day, take naps with them, brush them out, protect them from birds flying into our sliding patio doors, figure out what they’re meowing about... Very tiring.
What are your thoughts about promotion? Hate it.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? A total rewriting of my words by a critique partner. It was upsetting at the time, and later I realized she was putting her voice into my writing. It did teach me to separate unjustified criticism from helpful criticism. What was the biggest compliment? Editors saying they loved my writing. Did those change how or what you did in your next novel? I think any criticism helps because it spurs you to improve. And compliments always boost your confidence. At least for a while!
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? Silhouette, MuseItUp, and Five Star. I’m also self-publishing.
What is your marketing plan? To put more books out there. Hopefully, when readers like one of them, they’ll buy the others.
What do you plan for the future? To still be here and writing!
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Emails are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m also on Spotify, where I have a playlist for the songs in Losing David.
What genre do you write in and why? Romantic mystery and mystery.
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
GENRE: Vintage mystery with romantic elements
PUBLISHER: J&H Press
Losing David is a vintage mystery with romantic elements, set on the Georgia coast in 1963.
Setting: Even with its inequities, this was still a polite era. Men tipped hats; women wore gloves. Men worked hard and ran communities; women married and raised families. This was the period after World War II when peacetime prosperity was about to give way to turbulent change.
Story: When an elderly attorney asks an actor to impersonate a boy who vanished at sea years before, he says it’s to flush out a killer. He says the boy was heir to a fortune but was murdered by a man now about to inherit everything.
But there's a lot of money at stake and the attorney has been sole trustee of the estate for years. Though suspicious, the actor agrees to act as bait. He never intends to fall for the only woman who can expose him, a woman who soon realizes he’s an imposter.
Now he has to persuade her to keep quiet while he waits for the murderer’s next move. And hope he'll survive to make it up to her.
Do you outline before you write? No. If not, what’s your initial process? I usually see a scene in my head and then I have to figure out what led up to it and what happens afterward.
What comes first: the plot or characters? For me, they’re pretty intertwined. As I said, I see a scene. Then I have to develop the characters to find out why they were in that scene.
What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book? You don’t want to know!
I wrote it in first person, rewrote it in third person, changed it back to first person, finally ended up doing a complete rewrite in third person when I realized the story needed more than one viewpoint.
It started as a contemporary story set on a north Georgia lake, but a visit to Sapelo Island convinced me it needed to be set in the early sixties on the south Georgia coast. I went through several critique partners and used several editors and readers before getting it close to what I wanted.
How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process? I’m very slow. The fastest book I’ve written has been my two tax mysteries, maybe a year or so on each. I’m trying to figure out the plot in the third one right now.
What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
Treacherous Beauties (updated revision of my first book made into a TV movie)
The Man in the Boat
The Warwicks of Slumber Mountain
Taxed to the Max
Overtaxed and Underappreciated
Losing David (Just out; vintage mystery with strong romantic elements)
What advice would you give a new writer starting out? Keep honing your craft. No matter how great a story you have, if the craft isn’t there, no one will want to read it.
Oh, and definitely develop a thick skin! There’s always someone who will criticize your work. Don’t take it personally. Look at the criticism when you’ve cooled off and decide if it’s valid. This goes back to trying to improve your craft. Valid criticism helps a writer progress more than meaningless compliments.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Read, what else? Several books a week. Also, I’m learning to play bridge. My guy and I go for walks on the beach. And I have two cats who demand attention.
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel? Misuse of soundalike words like: you’re for your, they’re or their for there, compliment for complement, peak for peek, discrete for discreet, et cetera.
Describe your writing space. A corner facing the wall!
THREE DAYS AFTER THEIR first meeting and the morning after his proposition was accepted, Lawrence ushered a drooping, weak-eyed Nick Downing into his bed-sitter.
Humph. Hung over. “Looks like you were out on the town last night.”
Downing grunted before sitting on the bed and plumping a pillow.
My bed! He’s lying on my bed!
Reprimands were not a good way to start a relationship, but really! A good tongue-lashing might bring the fellow to heel.
No. Not the time. “Watch the shoes. Ahem. I’ve given your story some thought.”
Half-reclining, Downing dragged out his cigar case and lighter.
Lawrence’s chest tightened. The fumes would permeate his pillows and sheets like last time, but perhaps the maid would give him fresh linen again.
“The only way we can convincingly turn Nick Downing into David Harmony is to have the two switch identities right after David’s death. Your own origins are too easily traceable for any other plan to work.”
Nick’s lids closed halfway. “Sensible. I’m a believer in sticking to the truth whenever possible. A firm believer.”
Confound the man. He wouldn’t know the truth if it knocked him down. He was not taking this seriously. “Are you fit enough to do this?”
“I’m fine. Do you have any aspirin?”
“What about whiskey?”
“It’s ten in the morning.”
“That’s the problem. I don’t usually get up till noon. Never mind. I’ll be better directly.”
Lawrence bit back a tart response. “Ahem. Your story. When you got out of the hospital, you flew to Acapulco. What if you met David there?”
“Acapulco. Ah, such fond memories of Acapulco. I made some less-than-honest money working for a few heavies. I delivered their—but you don’t need to know all that, do you?”
Indeed not. He didn’t want to hear about any illegal jobs Nick Downing had undertaken.
“Never mind, Lawrence. I won’t make you an accomplice in crime. Acapulco is the perfect place for me to change identities with David. I met a lot of people there.” Guileless gray eyes opened. “Such a varied lot of people.”
He sucked on his cigar.
Lawrence distrusted the guilelessness.