How did this story idea come about?
I was on a trip to the mountains, on the way we passed a prison compound and the idea jumped out at me. It was later developed when I visited Alcatraz in San Francisco. In the truth is stranger than fiction category when I finished writing the novel, I wound up running across a real life story that embodied similar circumstances to what I had been writing about: a hostage befriending their captor.
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Fantasy novelist Ben Haskins has taken a remote cabin in the wilderness to revive his shaky marriage and failing career. Within the peaceful surroundings he runs into real trouble when convicted murderer Sam Mitchell breaks into the cabin after she escapes from prison. Marked by a dark past of abuse Sam is volatile and ready to snap. It is up to Ben to use his writer’s gift of words to diffuse the situation before time runs out for them both.
Talk to us about the journey of writing the book. How easy, difficult was it? What pushed you to write this idea to its completion?
The journey ebbed and flowed. I wrote it a few years back when I wasn’t so jaded as a writer and still had my young ideals…ha ha. In all seriousness, I was able to get into both the antagonist Sam Mitchell and the protagonist Ben Haskins a bit easier than I have been some of my other characters. Sam is a woman dealing with a great deal of angst from her past, and Ben being a frustrated writer were things I could really explore as they related to my own life very much. I know I sound nuts, but all artists are to a degree. The reason I was driven to complete this particular tale is because it addressed some very real topics such as abuse, infidelity, etc. I felt a lot of passion in these characters, and I wanted to see them through to the end if nothing else to see what happens. When I write, it is like I’m reading it for the first time as well.
Talk to us about your journey to publish your book. Did you attempt to get an agent? A publisher? How did that fare? Did you go the self-publishing route? If so, talk to us about that journey.
For Sins and Virtues, I felt it was a strong contemporary piece that would do well on the market. I shopped it around for a while. A name over at Mira Publishing was very interested in seeing it, but as we all know you need to submit to them through an agent (which didn’t make sense to me at the time, if she like the premise why not just accept it from me right then and there?) For whatever reason, I couldn’t get an agent to represent the piece, even going in with the fact that Mira was interested in it. See, this is the part of the business that gets very, very frustrating. I decided on Musa Publishing because I know the ladies who run the company, and they work their collective asses off! I knew Sins would find a nice home with them, and I really wanted this story to see the light of day. The process through Musa runs very professionally and very smoothly. I had an editor and a line editor go through and clean up the pages, pacing, etc. The cover concept was mine, I wanted to depict a bit of a yin-yang quality, and I had seen some pictures of a woman that was half devil-half angel. I told them what I was looking for and Kelly Shorten at Musa developed a stunning and grabbing cover for me. I’m very happy with how it all turned out overall.
What avenues have you used to promote your book? Which ones have been the most successful? Why do you think that is?
Ah marketing and promotion…this is where writing becomes your full time job if it isn’t already. You have to put in the time. Unfortunately as I juggle so many different things, I don’t get as much time to visit certain aspects of promotion as I would like. In my experience, not only with this novel but others as well, I have found reviews to be the best sales ticket. Reason being is because you have an outside, unbiased third party that is reading your work and giving an honest opinion about it. For the most part I’ve received some really awesome reviews so I feel comfortable in the fact that I’m doing good work. Basically I just want to know the reader had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Cynthia Vespia, “The Original Cyn,” has a background as a certified personal trainer; licensed private security guard; award winning video editor, and graphic designer. But the allure of writing has always remained her first love.
As a skilled wordsmith she established a successful career as a journalist and promotional writer. Throughout that time she remained true to her pursuit of writing novels, a passion she’s held since she was a very young.
Today Cynthia writes quality, character driven novels full of suspense as well as dark fantasy. With a plot pace to stir the adrenaline and keep the pages turning, Cynthia likes to refer to her novels as “Real life situations that you could find yourself in but hope to God you never do.” In her spare time she enjoys reading, movies that involve a strong plot/characters, and keeping active through various forms of martial arts and as an active fitness competitor.
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