Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tales Of Cindy And Ms. Crankypants

I work with authors who go through a grueling couple of months, after the book is released, meeting their fans either in person or on blogs. All the time, creativity, and plain hard work they do so you can enjoy their books. And the whole time, chances are, their Muse is screaming at them and telling them they should be using those skills for the next project. You know, the one with the current deadline?

Loucinda McGary (aka Aunty Cindy) has just such a muse,  aka Ms Crankypants.  She is not at all quiet about her thoughts on the matter either. Ms. CP  is a highly creative but argumentative wench. Also well loved by Cindy. But I'll let her tell you all about it. 

Thanks so much, Sia, for inviting me to join you today Over Coffee. But first let me get this one thing out of the way:

Buy my book, PLEASE!

According to my grumpy muse, this is the only reason to go on a blog tour – it’s all about pushing your current book.

I’ve tried to argue with her. I pointed out that it is not just trying to sell books. Blog tours are all about connecting with readers, developing a rapport with your audience, networking and promoting yourself and your work in the book world.

She just snorts (and rather rudely at that) and reminds me in no uncertain terms that if I don’t get my butt back in the chair and work on my WIP (work-in-progress) that there will be nothing for my readers to read, much less a reason for me to promote. (Aunty sighs heavily.)

She’s correct, of course, but does she have to be Ms. Crankypants? This entire blog tour has been a real test of wills. I sit down to write another guest blog post, and she throws a major hissy that I need to get back to my characters. I mutter about promotion, and she counters with my need to have a product to promote.

Yes, my muse is a harsh task-mistress… Not unlike what some people say about yours truly (and that would be my son and DH waving from the front of the crowd), but they hardly count because most of them make little effort to appease me. I, on the other hand, try really hard to obey Ms. Crankypants, even though she takes my story off in completely unexpected directions and has my characters doing and saying things I never imagined they would.

So why do I put up with her bossy and contradictory ways?

Because she never leads me astray, and this is critical for a seat-of-the-pants writer like moi. I can’t be wasting a lot of time and effort traipsing down the wrong path with my story, and as long as I trust Ms. Crankypants, I don’t.

I’ll give you a recent example. I love to end my chapters with a strong “hook” so that the reader has a hard time putting the book down (yes, I LOVE hearing that someone stayed up all night to finish one of my books). Being that die-hard seat-of-the-pants writer who never exactly knows where I’m going in my story at any given time, I sometimes have a difficult time finding that chapter ending hook.

Such was the case as I was writing my first draft of Chapter 4 of The Wild Irish Sea. I needed to find a hooky ending and I was utterly clueless what it might be. Enter my muse, aka Ms. Crankypants. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth over trying to figure out an ending for my chapter, I left my office and headed to the kitchen for a large dose of chocolate therapy. As I walked past the dining room table, I tripped over one of my DH’s sneakers. Do not ask me why, but the man insists on changing his shoes in the dining room (see my above comment about being a harsh task-mistress, but apparently not harsh enough). As I muttered a curse and kicked the shoe farther under the table to rest nearer its mate, Ms. Crankypants whispered, “What if that was Parker’s shoe, and it was washed up on the beach?”

Oh. My. Gosh!

I grabbed three Hershey’s kisses from the dish on the buffet and rushed back to my office to type the perfect ending for the chapter:

“The rain and the waves had swept smooth the sand around the half-buried boulders just as Kevin suspected. A few pieces of driftwood, hunks of seaweed and other debris lay tangled in the crevices around the rocks. If anyone had been through here, even as recently as this morning, no trace of their passing remained.

“While he breathed in a large draught of fresh, clean air, Amber sunk to her knees in the wet sand at the base of the closest rock. She clapped both palms flat against the sides of her head and squeezed her eyes shut.

Still trying to contact her brother.

…Through the remaining mist of rain, he spied the jutting black prow of the curragh at the same moment a shrill cry rang out. ‘Hallo! Kevin! Hallo! Amber!’

For the first time in the ten hours since they’d met, Kevin was genuinely glad to see Connor Magee. The boy stood and waved his cap in the air, while someone else, undoubtedly Michael Coyle, sat in the stern of the boat steering it.

Connor shouted again, and Kevin waved back.

"We’re about to be rescued," he called over his shoulder to Amber while the curragh angled toward shore.

…Her shoulders slumped and her head drooped in defeat. Behind him, Kevin heard the hull of the curragh scraping on sand. A moment later, Connor raced up to them.

“Kevin! Amber! I told Uncle Michael we’d find you," the boy breathlessly exclaimed.

“…C’mon!" Michael Coyle called out from the beached curragh. "You can talk later."

“Stall the ball half a minute," Connor yelled back. He plunked his hat on Amber’s head and grasped her by the elbow. "Tis only a short ride back to Malin Head."

While ConnerConnor towed Amber toward the curragh, Kevin took one more quick glance up the small crescent of sand.


But then his gaze moved over the rocks. Sticking up in the midst of the greenish-brown kelp, he spotted an object that didn’t belong—a shoe.

A large shoe. The red and gray treads on the sole were unmistakably those of a trainer.

An American trainer.

So, my muse may be grumpy and cantankerous, but she really does deliver! I think I’ll be keeping her around for a good long while. After all, what’s a little orneriness between friends?

Thanks again for having me as a guest and listening to my tale of woe. Please pass the chocolate!

Wild Irish Sea back cover blurb:

Drawn together by a force they can't resist...

The telepathic image of her twin brother fighting for his life sends Amber O'Neill rushing to the rocky shores of Ireland. Desperate to find him, she turns to reclusive local inspector, Kevin Hennessy.

Bound together with a passion as relentless as the tide...

His past full of pain, Kevin has withdrawn from the world. But when the rain-drenched American appears on his doorstep with her wild tales of danger, something more than her sensuous beauty makes it impossible for him to turn her away.

The wildness of the sea, the mystery of a selkie prince, and a dangerous band of ruthless smugglers bring two lost souls together in a connection of mind, body, and spirit that can't be denied...

Buy Wild Irish Sea: Amazon, Borders, Barnes &Noble

A long-time reader of romances, Cindy discovered and joined Romance Writers of America in 2001. But her stressful career as the manager of a multi-million dollar State and Federally funded program prevented her from doing much writing or traveling. She still managed to squeeze in a little of both, but not enough of either to be truly satisfying. Finally, at the end of 2003 she decided to take an early retirement from her career to fully pursue her twin passions of travel and writing. Cindy likes to set her novels of romance and suspense in some of the fascinating places she has visited.

Other books: Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice


Jane said...

Hey Aunty Cindy,
Congrats on the new release. Can't imagine how you could live without Ms. Crankypants.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome Aunty Cindy, and Ms Crankypants

Cindy I have plenty of tea and coffee. You'll notice I've two crystal candy dishes with and assortment of Chocolates, including Hershey Kisses00one of my personal favs!

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Cindy! I love Ms Crankypants. My muse is Lucky Lucy, well....when she wants to be lucky. She'd love to have the day off to blog or sign books for my readers. I'm the one trying to kick her in the butt and get her off my chaise lounge!

Elle J Rossi said...

I completely understand why you keep Ms. Crankypants around. She's worth her weight in gold and then some!

Inspires me to name my muse...hmmm...

Happy blog touring!

sherilynwinrose said...

My Ms. Crankypants has abandon me; maybe you have her? smile

VA said...

What is it with men and their shoes? I swear. My husband loves leaving his in the living room near the sofa, yeah...real convenient for midnight wanderings. Can't tell you how many times I've almost done a header into the fireplace.

Off to read the excerpt.

VA said...

Crap. That's a great excerpt, Loucinda. Just as I'm going to the bookstore, too. All I can say to people who are not familiar with the fickle nature of the sea-- don't mess with her. I love sailing, but the sea is an unforgiving taskmaster.

Sia, awesome guest. Of course, I expect as much.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Sia!

Yes, it's still morning here on the Left Coast. I think Ms. Crankypants is still asleep. She usually doesn't put in an appearance until the afternoon. ;-)

Have you tried the new purple Hershey's kisses? They are dark chocolate and YUMMY!!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Jane!
Thank you for sticking with me through this long and winding blog tour. Ms. Crankypants salutes your persistence and wants you to pass along more to moi! ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Tonya!

Sounds like your Lucky Lucy is at the opposite end of the muse spectrum from Ms. Crankypants. WHY oh WHY is there no happy medium?!?! Tell Lucy OFF the chaise or Ms. Crankypants will come and chase her off. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanks for dropping by today, Elle!

I'm surprised your muse hasn't named herself. Tell her she could get stuck with a moniker like Ms. Crankypants and she'll cough up a name, I'm sure.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh NO, Sherilyn!
We can't have muse abandonment! Perhaps your is another like Lucy that my Ms. Crankypants must chase off the chaise? I'm sure she's up for the task!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I just checked and both those red and black sneakers AND a pair of sandals are under the dining room table even as we speak. I don't know WHAT he wore to work today, but as soon as he gets home those shoes will probably join the others. MEN! And muses!

Glad you liked the excerpt on my website and hope you enjoy The Wild Irish Sea! We are giving away at least one copy today. :-)


~Sia McKye~ said...

Cindy, sorry to have abandoned you. Root canal yesterday. Blech.

Yes, I have tried the purple kissess an I love dark chocolate. I think I will refrain today, :-)

When's your next book and can you tell us anything about it?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Elle, don't feel bad. Mine goes by several names, some unmentionable, lol!

Tonya, I like that one. Lucky Lucy.

Sherilyn, Sweetie, she'll be back. I find they tend to hibernate when lots of critical life issue pop up. But she IS a keeper.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Sia,
My SINCERE condolences on the root canal. I've had more than one and they are NO FUN!!! Don't worry, I'll make the sacrifice and eat the purple kisses! ;-)

When is a VERY GOOD question about my next book. I really don't know since I have parted ways with Sourcebooks. My current WIP is what I hope will be the first in a series of romantic suspense books centered around a fictitious cruise line. Please keep your fingers xxed for me that I find a new publisher.


Olivia Cunning said...

I wish I had a task master Muse. Mine will do anything to get off task. Except housework. If I threaten her with housework, she comes out and insists that NOW is the time to write. Flighty thing. I need to give her a name.

Ms. Slob maybe. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'd say she was Ms. Smartypants! I'm sure if she's anything like mine she'll tell you she is a MUSE not a MAID. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by,

~Sia McKye~ said...

Cindy, can't imagine anything else, given your writing. But proposals are tricky things aren't they. I'm sure your agent will find a home for your new series--she really wouldn't want to deal with Mz Crankypants, now would she? lol!

Christine Wells said...

The thing I hate most about the men and their shoes thing is that my husband work shoes actually hurt when I stub my toe on them!

Congrats on your new release, AC! It appears Ms. Crankypants should be redubbed Queen Crankypants as she is certainly worthy of respect. What a brilliant idea to have the shoe wash up on the shore!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hey Christine! Good to see you. I've finally tackled the shoe issue, but now is the battle with my kid on his penchant for dropping and leaving his clothes where ever he happens to take them off. Oh and towels too. gah.

PinkPeony said...

Hi AC!! Still not done with your book but at least I know that __ is___ now and__ is__. :)
I'n always tripping over my husband's shoes..but last night, hubby didn't turn on the light in the front hall and he tripped over two huge Pottery Barn boxes and fell flat on his face. Good thing I ordered chaise lounge cushions and not shelving. I was thinking about your other post about time management. Maybe you should lock the muse up in a room so you can enjoy the blog've certainly earned it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Greetings Mme!
(Aunty waves madly at her bandita)

You are right, men's shoes are so heavy that they HURT when you bump into them! :-P

But SHHHHH! Don't be giving Ms. Crankypants delusions of grandeur. She's hard enough to deal with as it is.


Helen Ginger said...

Always listen to Ms. Crankypants! She knows what she's doing, I think.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


Your son must be a teenager. Teen boys have this penchant for dropping clothes where ever they go. If it is any consolation, eventually they do get better...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Pink!
I'm glad __ is __ now! ;-)

OUCH on the Pottery Barn boxes! But I will selfishly say I'm glad it wasn't YOU who took the spill. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I know you are correct when it comes to Ms. Crankypants, but PLEASE don't encourage her! ;-)


~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh yah, he's a teen alright. sigh...glad to see there is light at the end of the tunnel on clothes. I swear I've thought of a recording rig up for when he walks into a room, "Jake, pick those clothes up and put them in your room." Jake, hang that towel on the towel rack and put your dad's back up there too." Don't ask me why he pulls all the towels off the shower rod and towel rack, but he does.

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't read romance novels. But I had to laugh at the name Ms. Crankypants. Hope she is Ms. Happypants when its all said and done.

flchen1 said...

LOL, AC! I'm sorry Ms. Crankypants is so... cranky! But I have to say that the results are eventually spectacular ;) Yay, you!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Stephen,
She is only Ms. Happypants when she is bossing me around and I'm obeying. :-)

Hey Fedora!

Thanks for dropping by and giving Ms. Crankypants her deserved kudos. She's a great source of inspiration, which is why, cranky or not, I'm gonna keep her around!


~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephen, I'm curious. Does your muse have a name?

~Sia McKye~ said...

I've had fun seeing the comments. Aunty C you know I love yah and Wild Irish Sea. I'm tired so I'm heading off to bed.

We're giving away two books, you want to do the honors or do you want me to do so? The Bog will still be open tomorrow, so maybe we might want to wait til then. Your calls :-)