Interview with Loucinda McGary

I have the pleasure of interviewing Loucinda McGary today.  I hope you’ll leave a comment for a chance to win a download of her new book.

1.    How did you get started writing?

I’ve been a story-teller all my life. Once I learned to read, if I didn’t like the way a story ended, I made up my own ending. Somewhere along about junior high school, I started writing my stories down. I took creative writing and journalism classes whenever I could in high school and college and dabbled in writing fiction for years. Finally, at the end of 2003 I decided to get serious about writing and publishing a novel, so I quit my day job and began a serious pursuit of publication. Almost four years to the day later (Sept. 2007), I sold my first novel.

2.    What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write contemporary romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal. I grew up reading the great old Gothic novels of Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Stewart. When I sat down to make a concerted effort to write a publishable novel, my natural inclination was to write what I always love to read. I love reading romance but I want a little suspense or mystery going on too, so that’s what I put in my own stories.

3.    Tell us about your current series.

High Seas Deception is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of books set on a fictional cruise line. I love cruising and have just returned from #21, so I have quite a bit of background material. I hope to incorporate some of the unique aspects of cruise ships and some of the exotic ports they visit.

4.    What inspired your latest book?

The DH and I were sitting out on the deck overlooking the port in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and we started discussing ways a person could sneak on board a cruise ship. Of course, I had to take it one step further and speculate on reasons why someone would need to sneak on, and the idea for High Seas Deception was born.

5.    What is your favorite part of writing?

When the characters ‘take over’ and start dictating the story.  I’m a notorious pantser, but I know my characters very well before I start writing a story, and I depend on them to keep moving the plot forward. Luckily, they are usually pretty good about telling me what to do.

6.    What is your least favorite part of writing?

Reviews. I know not everyone likes the same thing, but I put a lot of time and effort (and even some heart and soul) into creating the most entertaining stories for my readers. When someone posts a nasty review, it is hard not to take it personally, especially when they are obviously biased or miss the whole point of the story. Reviews that say things like “booorrriinng!” or “EW! This book had sex in it!” (yes, I’ve received both these), leave me discouraged and wondering why I bother.

Good reviews, on the other hand, or reviews that have constructive criticism (like, “I felt there wasn’t enough attraction between the hero and heroine”) can be wonderfully uplifting and never fail to brighten my day. So why is it I always remember the bad ones?

7.    What is your next project and when will it be released?

I’m hoping to have my next full-length romantic suspense novel available on Amazon Kindle and SmashWords before the end of December. As I’ve already mentioned, this book High Seas Deception is the first in what I hope will be a series (my first!) of stories centered around the fictional Adventure Cruise Lines.

8.    How much time do you spend promoting your books?  What works best for you?

Too much! LOL! And I honestly don’t know what is working. In my previous career, I was an analyst and I am frustrated at being unable to capture hard data on how readers decide which books to buy and read. Most of my promotion is online. In addition to my personal blog (Aunty Cindy Explains It All), I’m a member of a group blog called Romance Bandits, and I do lots of guest appearances (Thank you again, Cindy!). I’m also active on FaceBook and still figuring out Twitter.

9.  How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Pretty frustrating and humbling. The frustrating parts were doing the formatting and the file conversions. I’m a total techno-dummy, but my friends who should know kept telling me I could do it myself. Eventually I bumbled my way through, and that was humbling. Then came the frustration of trying to promote and seeing my sales dwindle down to nothing. Making two sales in an entire week was very humbling. I’m still trying to figure out how to spark more sales. If you have any insights, please pass them on!

On the positive side, I love having final say-so on my work. No trying to squeeze my story into a publisher’s guidelines. No having to rewrite to an editor’s vision of my story instead of my own. And best of all, I got input on my covers for the first time! I have an awesome cover artist — Kimberly Van Meter.

10.  Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Literally anywhere and everywhere. I never know when something will spark an idea that turns into a story. Hearing a piece of music (the overture to the opera The Jewels of the Madonna) is what led to an idea that eventually became my book The Treasures of Venice. While researching Ireland, an obscure article on a genetic marker became one of the critical turning points in my first release The Wild Sight. The movie The Secret of Roan Inish led me to research selkie mythology and eventually provided the inspiration for The Wild Irish Sea.

11.  What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is: You get to do everything yourself. The bad news is: You get to do everything yourself.

Seriously, there’s a lot more work involved than you think, if you are going to have a professional product.  Plus there’s no guarantee of success (just like in traditional publishing). I don’t mean to sound like Debbie Downer, but self-publishing is not the magic answer for all authors. Some books and some authors will do better than others, that’s the nature of the business. Just remember that it is a business.

Thank you so much, Cindy, for hosting me on your blog today. I’d love to ask the blog readers what it is that makes them decide to buy a particular book. Is it the cover? The blurb? The author? Or something else entirely? I’ll give away a free download of my new release High Seas Deception to one randomly selected commenter.


22 thoughts on “Interview with Loucinda McGary

  1. Hola AC!

    You’re so right about knowing your characters. I’ve read many books with weak or convulted plots, but the characters were well developed and that’s the only thing that kept me reading.

    Looking forward to HSD! I hope you have a scene with an ice sculpture. What’s next? Mambo to Murder on the Forward Deck?
    Happy HOlidays!

  2. Hi Loucinda,
    I’m so glad that you are blogging with me today. I hope it is a lot of fun. Your book sounds really fun and I want it myself. But I’ll let some other lucky commenter win. 🙂

    • Hi Cindy,
      Thanks so much for hosting me today. I love the romantic header on your site, and “cowboys to space captains” sounds right up my alley!

      It’s going to be a real challenge for me to get this book up in the next two weeks, but I’m going to give it my best shot. 🙂


  3. Waving Auntie Cindy. You write awesome stories and they hold a prime spot on my library shelf. 🙂

    I am a Gemini so I jump all over the place with how I choose a story. I’d say first it would be favorite authors who’ve proven to me they write the kind of stories I enjoy. I am one of those who are influenced by a cover. I like colorful and (you knew this was coming) a bare chested Highlander in a kilt will stop me every time. I can’t help myself considering my addiction. 😉

    Best of luck with all of your stories. And, thank you for all your support in my writing career. It means a great deal to me.

    • Paisley M’dear!

      Thanks a bunch for dropping by today! I hear ya on those bare-chested Highlanders. I don’t think I’d turn one down either. 😉

      I’m thrilled about your exciting contract news and always wish you the best of everything with your writing!


  4. Cindy, I always love hearing about your trav–er, research! *g* This book sounds great–tropical settings are so romantic.

  5. Hi Aunty Cindy! What a lovely site this is to be a guest at!

    I did not know that you also love Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. I have 2 complete shelves in my library of their books.

    And I can’t wait for High Seas Deception. My boss just gave me a Kindle for Christmas so now I’m eager to load up on some e-books!

    Very nice post (as usual). Merry Christmas!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Hi Patricia!
      (Aunty waves madly at another lovely chaptermate!)
      YAY on the Kindle! Santa brought me one too, but I’ve been so busy I’ve hardly had a chance to touch it. 🙁 We’ll have to trade e-book suggestions in January!

      My mom always had Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney’s paperbacks lying around the house. GREAT BOOKS! I still read them occasionally.

      Thanks again for stopping by today and I agree about Cindy’s site — VERY NICE!


  6. Hi Aunty. You always have such entertaining interviews and very sage advice on writing and publishing. One of the negatives of being with a traditional publisher is not having the freedom to choose my cover, pricing etc. But great writing eventually capture readers and you have that nailed. As for cover art, if Paisley has anything to do with it, we’ll have a bare chested Highlander climbing on board your cruise ship, maybe with a Mai Tai in one hand and bagpipes in the other?

  7. Hi Cindy!
    (Aunty waves to her lovely chaptermate!)

    Thanks so much for dropping by, as I know how busy you are. You’re right about pricing and cover art. I loved my 3 covers for my traditionally pubbed books, but they are not what I’d have chosen myself. Still, the marketing and art dept. did fabulous jobs.

    LOL! I think the bare-chested Highlander coming aboard with Mai Tai and pipes sounds really intriguing. 😉 Must keep in mind for future books!


  8. Hi Aunty Cindy

    Great interview

    I am soo looking forward to reading this new one I love your stories they always pull me in and I feel the characters.

    For me when buying a book I have auto buy authors and I also will buy them from the blurb loves the blurbs and have very rarely been disappointed.

    Have Fun

  9. Hi Loucinda,

    I was interested to read your take on self-publishing. To date, I’ve hesitated because of the amount of work involved. It is tempting to take total control though!

    I also read lots of gothic romances during my younger years. I’m a fan of cruising too, although hubby and I are nowhere near #21. It’s such a relaxing way to travel.

    Good luck with your book and your self-pub bing career.

    • Hi Shelley,
      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Cruising is my favorite way to travel. You never have to move your luggage and you have plenty of great food!

      Several of my writer-friends have had a lot of success with their self-publishing efforts and I’m thrilled for them. However, I want folks to know that not everyone experiences the same thing and there really is a LOT of work involved.

      Thanks again,

  10. Great interview, Cynthia and Cindy! One of the links didn’t work so I’m just now dropping by. Every time I read an interview about Cindy, I learn MORE!

    I almost never buy a book because of the cover. I know, I’m weird. But I WILL buy a KEEPER if I particularly like the cover, fewer and fewer of those, though, since I got my Kindle.

  11. Hi Alexa!

    Thanks for stopping by. Luckily, with self-publishing you can hire other talented people to do some aspects for you. My covers, for example, I’d have never attempted on my own. I was lucky that one of my chaptermates is a talented designer and was willing to work with me to create two terrific covers (thus far)!

    I also have a CP who is an excellent proof-reader and was willing to trade some tasks with me.

    It has been a real learning experience and I’ve enjoyed the process so far.


  12. I look at the cover and read the first two pages. If it doesn’t have a good hook, I don’t buy it. Of course I do have my favorite authors I look for to.

    Happy Holidays!

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