WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
CH: Being an army brat, I moved around a bit until the age of eleven when we settled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. I grew up in a family of storytellers, and love having the opportunity to put stories to paper.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
CH: My first published book, Fudge-Laced Felonies, was written on a dare. When the publisher announced they were opening a new cozy mystery line, a friend of mine dared me to write a book and submit it to them. I looked up what a cozy was, wrote the book and voila! I got my first contract.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
CH: I've been making up stories my whole life, even writing them, but it wasn't until 2006 that I actually took the craft of writing seriously and joined American Christian Fiction Writers Association. The lessons and networks I've gained from there are invaluable. While I still receive the occasional rejection, submissions are more regular now and I'm having the time of my life.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
CH: I wrote one book before getting published, and have recently self-published it.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
CH: At the conference I attend every year, Barbour publishing hands out a contract to a debut author. I received my first contract there in 2007 in front of over five hundred people. It was a surreal experience.
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
CH: In May of 2013, I took the leap of faith, quit the day job, and became a full time writer. I haven't looked back since.
WG: What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
CH: The need the author has to do most of their own marketing. I'm not a born salesperson and so this is difficult for me.
WG: What about your writing process?
CH: I write from 8 to 2, Monday through Friday, setting a daily/weekly word count goal. If I don't make that goal, I'll make it up on the weekend. I look at writing as my job.
WG: Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
CH: A typical day starts with answering emails, then responding to those emails. By eight o'clock, I'm settling down to write.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
CH: No, I like complete silence while writing.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
CH: Mysteries need plotting. My other genres are more seat-of-the-pants, but in a mystery, I have my main characters, suspects, motives, and the culprit before starting the story.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
CH: Usually a glimmer of a storyline.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
CH: Let Go and Let God is the most common theme.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
CH: Real characters. No sickly sweet heroines for me. I write about characters who deal with the same issues we deal with.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
CH: Not so much anymore. I have one child left at home who will be a senior next year. He and my husband respect my writing time.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
CH: If writing is something you crave, never give up.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
CH: Romantic suspense.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
CH: Not really. I've dabbled in everything that interests me.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
CH: Keep pressing toward the goal.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
CH: That persistence is the goal. That came about when I received my fourth book contract.
WG: Rejections, less than stellar reviews and notes from unhappy readers are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
CH: Usually I grin and move on. Reading is subjective. Not everyone will like what I write.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
CH: Not to spread myself too thin. Concentrate on one or two genres.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
CH: The ability to make an income doing what I love. Staying off social media is the biggest struggle.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
CH: I love to read and crochet. Both of those help clear my head.
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
CH: A teacher. I did work as a Detention Monitor in a school for ten years while getting my feet wet as a writer.
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
CH: I am very shy.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
CH: I love Criminal Minds and Blacklist. They give me fodder for my stories.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
CH: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'." - Erma Bombeck
CH: I am reaching the end of Killer Plot, the second cozy mystery to the bestselling, Anything for A Story.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
CH: I thought it would be great fun to write a series about a reclusive author forced to rejoin society to keep her characters from becoming too stale and stumbling across a dead body.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
CH: Not a lot, actually. Being a writer, I'm familiar with the lifestyle.
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
CH: I've just released one historical series through Harlequin's Heartsong Presents line and have submitted another multi-book project to them.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
CH: Website: www.cynthiahickey.com
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!