Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cindy Blackburn - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Cindy Blackburn. She is the author of Cue Ball Mysteries and some truly awful poetry.

Author Genre: Mystery

Website: Cindy Blackburn - The Cue Ball Mysteries
Author's Blog: Cindy Blackburn
Twitter: @cbmysteries
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Cindy Blackburn has a confession to make–she does not play pool. It’s that whole eye-hand coordination thing. What Cindy does do well is school. So when she’s not writing silly stories she’s teaching serious history. European history is her favorite subject, and the ancient stuff is best of all. The deader the better! A native Vermonter who hates cold weather, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. During the school year you’ll find her in South Carolina, but come summer she’ll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Cindy has a fat cat named Betty and a cute husband named John. Betty the muse meows constantly while Cindy tries to type. John provides the technical support. Both are extremely lovable.

When Cindy isn’t writing, grading papers, or feeding the cat, she likes to take long walks or paddle her kayak around the lake. Her favorite travel destinations are all in Europe, her favorite TV show is NCIS, her favorite movie is Moonstruck, her favorite color is orange, and her favorite authors (if she must choose) are Joan Hess and Spencer Quinn. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Four Play. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’m giving the Cue Ball Mysteries a short break, so number five “Five Spot” will be out late in 2014 or early 2015. Right now I’m starting a new series, the Cassie Baxter Mysteries. The first book is “Unbelievable,” and will be available sometime this summer. A murder that was witnessed by a blind woman, two goats, and a Bassett hound. Oh, and by Cassie Baxter. But other than those goats, no one even believes a murder has happened. How will Cassie prove a murder did occur, and then catch the killer? Stay tuned.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

I love twitter! I love reading twitter bios and following new people every day. That’s how I built up my “followers.” I participate a lot. I love the back and forth with people. I look at twitter like a big party. It’s fun! I don’t have a newsletter or belong to any forums on twitter. I do have a website for folks who would like to learn more about me and the Cue Ball Mysteries. Come by for a visit!

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Karen Phillips is my cover designer. I fax her the basic ideas, plans, and colors I am hoping for, and she takes it from there. I never have gotten help from readers in choosing a cover. Thanks for that idea. Maybe I’ll try that approach for future books.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and attend the meetings in Upstate SC. It’s a great group and I get a lot of support and help from these folks. I hope it’s mutual. The RWA (Romance Writers of America) is also a great group to get involved with. I was part of that group when I lived in Charleston, SC.

I like the idea of interacting with Book Clubs and Reading Groups. What is your goal in networking with these groups? Do they help you with feedback about your novels, provide reviews and increase sales?

I have only done a few book club “gigs.” It’s great fun to answer questions and get “live” feedback on my books.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I occasionally have put the first Cue Ball Mystery, Playing With Poison, for free (e-book only). It helps people find the Cue Ball Mysteries and give them a try. Then, if they like Playing With Poison, they can buy the other 3 books in the series. It’s a great tool for both readers and authors.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

I use the internet and mostly twitter to alert everyone a new book is on the way. There are LOTS of steps in the process to create a book. Write it (HUGE), get the cover done, get some beta readers to review it, revise, revise, and revise some more, and then format the finished product. I’m lucky to have people willing to help me with everything other than the actual writing!

You have a great blog. I liked the poem about the Beatles. What is your blog’s primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

I use my blog—a funny, silly poem posted every Sunday—as a way to tell folks what’s been on my mind that week. It’s my “news” really. Time is a huge issue. Between writing mysteries, keeping up with my blog, twitter, and other social media, I’m almost always working. And even when I’m doing something else, I have my current work in progress and characters in my head, nagging me. Good thing I love my job!

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

Mostly I rely on my reading audience for reviews. But I also seek out reviewers who blog and specialize in reviewing cozy mysteries. Several reviewers have read and reviewed the whole series because they like it so much. That’s very gratifying!

You are writing novels and poetry. Does moving from one to the other give you a change of pace?

Absolutely! I look forward to time out from my mystery novel writing every week to write a poem. MUCH faster, more instant gratification on those little poems!

Thanks for a great interview, James. Excellent questions!

Author's Book List
Four Play - A Humorous and Romantic Cozy (Book 4 The Cue Ball Mysteries Series
Bad news comes in . . . fours? For romance author and former pool shark Jessie Hewitt it does. She hasn't written a decent sex scene in months, she hasn't shot a decent game of eight ball all year, and don't even ask about her supposed love life. And just when Jessie thinks things can't get any worse, a body lands on her car. Uber-hunky and altogether infuriating cop Wilson Rye suggests she concentrate on solving her other problems and leave the murder investigation to the experts. But does Jessie agree? Take a guess.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Three Odd Balls - A Humorous and Romantic Cozy (Book 3 The Cue Ball Mysteries Series
A romantic vacation for...five? This wasn't exactly what Jessie and Wilson had in mind when they planned their trip to the tropics. But when Jessie's delightfully spry mother, Wilson's surfer dude son, and Jessie's rabidly hyperactive New York agent decide to tag along the fun begins. What kind of trouble can these three oddest of odd balls possibly get into? Take a guess.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Double Shot - A Humorous and Romantic Cozy (Book 2 The Cue Ball Mysteries Series
Jessie Hewitt thought her pool-hustling days were long gone. But when uber-hunky cop Wilson Rye asks her to go undercover to catch a killer, she jumps at the chance to return to a sleazy poolroom. Jessie is confident she can handle a double homicide, but the doubly-annoying Wilson Rye is another matter altogether. What's he doing flirting with a woman half his age? Will Jessie have what it takes to deal with Tiffany La-Dee-Doo-Da Sass and solve the murders? Take a guess.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Playing with Poison - Book 1 The Cue Ball Mysteries Series
Pool shark Jessie Hewitt usually knows where the balls will fall and how the game will end. But when a body lands on her couch, and the cute cop in her kitchen accuses her of murder, even Jessie isn't sure what will happen next. Playing With Poison is a cozy mystery with a lot of humor, a little romance, and far too much champagne.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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