Welcome to Across the Plain of Shining Books, Cynthia. Tell us a little about yourself. What sparked your interest in writing?
I’m very fond of the creative process. Everything from building worlds and characters to laying the plot out on the page in really juices me. It is always different, always engaging. Plus, I read a lot so I always aspired to follow in the footsteps of great authors like C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, etc.What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
I like good flow. Dean Koontz and Mary Higgins Clark have good flow. The put in just enough detail that flushes out the image for you but they don’t go on and on like some other writers do. Characters are also very important. I want a sense of having known someone like or that you could run across a person like that. They should jump off the page and engage you. Some of the best writers do that with just dialogue alone. And of course plot and pacing round up what I look for in a story.What inspired you to write Sins and Virtues?
Life. Life inspired me to write this one merely because it is based on events that could happen but you hope to God they never do. I was on a trip up to the mountains and we passed a prison compound. At that moment I got a sudden flash of inspiration to write this novel.What was the hardest part of the story to write?
The hardest part of writing Sins and Virtues was when Sam Mitchell explains her time spent in prison. I’ve never been in prison, the closest I came to being behind bars was a trip to Alcatraz. So having to explain about being in a high security correctional facility was challenging.What was the easiest part of the story to write?
The easiest part was writing about Ben Haskins’ career as a writer. From the writer’s block to the passion of getting that first novel in print it all came easy to me because I could draw from my own emotions as a writer whether it be anguish, anticipation, or excitement.What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I feel as though my biggest strength in writing is dialogue. I have an ear, not just for language but also for dialect. Speech patterns can develop a character as much as eye color or wardrobe. But you have to type them in subtly. I’m not one for going off the reservation with big drawn out and complex lines of speech. I just want the words to match the character and the overall story. And also to relate to the reader in a way where they feel a connection.When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
I was surprised at word length. What I mean is at first I was only writing novella length pieces and finding it difficult to reach the more traditional novel length. What I learned was that the story is going to lend itself to whatever word count it winds up as. And through editing you either add or subtract to round out and perfect your original idea, but not necessarily to extend or cut it to a specific word count. If that makes sense.It makes perfect sense to me. Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
My writing space will almost always have coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Other than that my writing space changes because I’m not always in the same spot. I either go to a coffee house, bookstore, or stay at home. But coffee is the constant.Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
I’m in the process of moving and trying to travel light so I actually agonized about giving away some of my favorite collections, Chronicles of Narnia; Dean Koontz; C.S. Lewis Magic of Xanth. So at the moment I’ve got a box full of new writers I’d like to experience. Most of them have come from conventions where I’ll pick up a new book and sometimes a new friend.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
I have so many ideas and so little time. At the moment I have some contemporary thrillers/suspense that I’m working on publishing. After that I’m going to begin on a follow up to my Demon Hunter series that will lean a little more towards young adults. Keep it fresh, keep it new and fun!What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Lately I’ve been sought out for advice from a lot of different people. They want to know about publishing a book. What steps do you take, etc. My first piece of advice is ALWAYS finish the book first. After the manuscript is polished then you can get into publishing and marketing. Other than that when writing the actual book I say avoid the trends. I say deliver me from Swedish furniture, deliver me from clever art…wait, that’s a Fight Club flashback. In actuality I say avoid the trends because what is popular today will be so five minutes ago once you’ve gone out and written the same type of novel. Just write what’s in your heart and what you enjoy and you’ll be fine.Excellent advice. Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I love staying active especially because writing is such a sedentary lifestyle. So if I’m not writing you’ll find me in the gym. I love to workout. I lift weights and enjoy martial arts. A little known fact about me is that I used to compete in fitness from 2005 until 2008. Other than that I’m a laid back personality and I really just enjoy a good movie or a nice meal with some good conversation and laughs.Thanks so much for visiting today, Cynthia. All right, let’s take a peek at Sins and Virtues.
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.
Ben brought up his hands to signify he was not hostile, but before he could speak the woman made a surprising move. She dashed backwards and slipped a long knife from the wood block that stood on the counter. By chance or choice she’d yielded the butcher knife. Its large, flat edge gleamed from a spot of yellow sunlight breaking through the kitchen window as its master twisted it in her grip.
Now Ben was certain there was trouble. She could be unstable from a mental disorder, or drug abuse. Either way, she was now armed and double the threat.
Ben wasn’t about to take any chances with his life, woman or man. He had a family to support, a son to watch grow into a man.
His most logical decision now would be to bring the odds decidedly back to his favor. The mental image of the .12 gauge shotgun, flawlessly polished and resting inside the tomb of the foyer closet, sprung to mind.
The woman was about five feet in front of him, clutching the knife tightly in her right hand. Her eyes were steely and locked onto Ben’s every move. The lines of her body were contoured into an athletic looking frame, poised and ready to strike. She could be on him like a jungle cat, stealthy and quick, that he was well aware of.
The pulsing of his heart grew rapid and his adrenaline surmounted once again. But unlike the level attained in the weight room, it was now at a pace he could not voluntarily control. His shirt was pasted to his skin, clinging and delivering a feeling of constriction to his chest.
He wondered if he should speak, say something to let her know he wasn’t a threat to her. But in the back of his mind he wanted nothing more than to be out of harm’s way. Hoping to gain positive ground by using an obstacle as interference, Ben knocked over one of the chairs from the wicker dining set. Turning on heel he made a swift vault for the closet where the shotgun was located.
As he reached the handle to the door he looked back just in time to see the woman hurdle the chair with ease. Stunned at her athleticism he fumbled for the shotgun, unable and unwilling to take his eyes off of her.
Rather than pursue him, she stopped at her landing with a soft pad of her feet and marked him in her sights. She flipped the knife around to grasp its steel edge and launched it through the air with precision.
Ben tipped back just in time to narrowly avoid being struck in the face by the airborne blade. Instead, it grazed his left ear and temple as he fell ass backwards to the hardwood floor. His hand instinctively shot up to attend to the sudden coarse burning that spread out over his damaged flesh.
In mere seconds the woman was across the room and upon him. Ben had been on target about her cat-like quickness. A solid, brutal heel strike landed squarely upon his groin. Before he could even wail out in pain another kick caught him flush under the chin, gnashing his teeth together, almost severing his tongue.
Sparks of blackness rattled his vision. His body was overloaded with pain and dizziness soon followed. Regaining his bearings Ben thought for a moment he was dreaming. As his vision cleared he realized he was in a very real and waking nightmare. The woman stood above him, the barrel of the shotgun aimed at his chest.
* * * * *About Cynthia Vespia:
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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Sins and Virtues / Available from