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Interview: Cynthia Gail, Author of Winter’s Magic

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Cynthia Gail and her husband reside in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, with their teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy and never dull, but when she has free time, she loves to read.

A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, Ms. Gail never thought she would one day find herself writing romance. That all changed, however, when one day, a story popped into her head and she discovered that she just had to write it down. “The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.”

Each of Ms. Gail’s stories touch on  issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. Each one also illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open.  Cynthia Gail feels that: “Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.”

Cynthia Gail’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

To learn more about Cynthia Gail and her work, please visit the following links:

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Website ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?

Winter’s Magic is the first of four books in my Music City Hearts series. Spring’s Surprise, Summer’s Family Affair, and Fall’s Redeeming Grace will follow in 2013.

Beth Sergeant is probably my favorite heroine in the series. Her parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of 30, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Winter’s Magic is a fun, fast read. I think my readers will relate to Nick and Beth and cheer them on as they overcome their trust and identity issues.

How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?

Winter’s Magic was originally called Raising the Bar, a reflection of the opening scene between two co-workers, and a title I simply loved. After signing my publishing contract, I started looking at the bigger picture and decided a name change was necessary to brand the series more effectively. I came up with a list of words that I thought described the book  — from there, the four seasons came to mind and fit with the timing and theme of the whole group.

Deborah Gilbert, from Soul Mate Publishing, is absolutely wonderful to work with. Each author completes a questionnaire for her graphic artist, Rae Monet, describing her vision for the cover. Rae does an amazing job of interpreting our information. I requested a font change, but otherwise, she nailed it the first time.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?

I’d love to. In the following scene, Nick and Beth have just met for the second time. She’s reluctantly attending a Christmas party with her parents at the Chester family estate. Despite the attraction, she knows he’s out of her league. She had hoped to avoid him as much as possible and stick close to her best friend, Jenny, who hasn’t arrived yet.

Beth made her way over to the tree to get a closer view. Several handmade pieces intermingled with the sparkling crystal ornaments and gold strands of glass beads. She fingered the row of cotton balls that ran along the edge of a red felt Santa hat. On the top, in glitter writing, it said 1982. “Who made these?”

Nick laughed, but when she turned her head, she caught a hint of sadness in his eyes. “I made them with my mother when I was in grade school. Every year, on the first day of holiday break, we would go to the craft store and buy materials to make a dozen ornaments.”

“A dozen?” She wondered how a person ever got over losing a parent, much less losing both. Or if you even could. And his poor grandfather, losing a child … Her chest tightened at the thought.

“One for our tree at home, one for Grandfather’s, several neighbors, and the mailman. And I’ll never forget Mrs. Sawyer at the bakery. She used to give me a free cinnamon roll when I came in with my grandfather.”

“We weren’t very crafty at my house. But Mom and I would bake like a storm. Candy, cookies, fudge. We always took packages to our neighbors on Christmas Eve, right before we went to church for Midnight Mass.”

“Do you still go?” The reflection of the tree lights sparkled in his eyes as he spoke. At this very moment, he didn’t look, or act, like the city’s most eligible bachelor. She could feel her resolve slipping. She needed Jenny.

“I haven’t been in years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been since I graduated high school.”

“I haven’t, either. You can imagine my surprise when Grandfather asked me to take him this year.” He glanced back at the tree. “Would you like to come with us?”

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?

When I first started promoting Winter’s Magic, I had no idea how much I’d enjoy social media and blogging. I was on-again, off-again with my personal Facebook page and managing a website felt like a daunting task. As warned, I will admit that marketing can be time-consuming, though I’ve also found it to be very enjoyable. I do use my blog to promote other authors — every other week I post What’s New Wednesday. But I also blog about things I like and my new Fantastic Friday posts are quickly becoming my favorite. I talk about recipes, shopping, poems, funny stories. I love reaching out to readers and getting their feedback.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I have a Monday through Friday day job, so most of my writing happens on the weekends. A typical Saturday starts with my husband and I having coffee together on the back porch (weather permitting), we alternate cooking breakfast, then we split up for much of the day. He goes to the garage or backyard to tinker, while I grab my laptop. Whether I choose the lounger or recliner, I put my feet up on a pillow, and write in a relatively peaceful environment. For as long as I possibly can. Some weekends, I write all day Saturday and again on Sunday. Other times, I barely get in a half-day. Life doesn’t stop, but my family is supportive and flexible. My husband and I have a commitment to always spend Saturday evenings together and my son knows he has to join us for dinner on Sunday nights.

What are some ways that you like to relax?

Girly stuff. I love to get a facial, a pedicure, and have my hair and nails done. A good book. Our neighbors have a boat they keep on Old Hickory Lake and we find ourselves regular guests on Sunday afternoons. I like to entertain, grill, and relax with friends on the patio. Life is busy, but even on the most chaotic weekend, I try to chisel out a fraction of time for just me.

What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?

I’m not sure about ‘overlooked’ because I don’t really watch the rankings or follow lists. I tend to stumble on new-to-me authors based on friend or site recommendations or newsletters where the cover catches my eye. I recently found historical romance writer Elaine Golden. Darcy Flynn is a brand new sweet contemporary author who released Keeper of My Heart early in 2012. Rebecca Heflin just released her second book, Rescuing Lacey, and it’s on the top of my to-be-read pile.

What author would you most like to meet and why?

Definitely Lisa Kleypas. Because I used to read only mystery, until a book publisher gave me an autographed hardcover of Sugar Daddy and guaranteed I would love it. I politely accepted the copy and set it on the shelf in my office. A year later, I saw a marketing sheet for Blue Eyed Devil, so I finally decided to pick up the dusty copy and give it a try. She was absolutely right — I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the Travis series and quickly found the Wallflowers. Before I knew it, I’d read every one of her historicals.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

I have a book called Sweet Tooth that I started during NaNoWriMo 2011. I plan to get back to it within the next few months. Angela Preston is a single mother, struggling to make ends meet with a bakery and catering business. When her car is totaled by a local delivery truck, she meets Lance Stone, whom she assumes is the driver’s regional manager. He eats lunch at her diner several days in a row before she finally agrees to a date. Only after she’s given him her heart does she realize he’s the CEO of the company who’s planning to tear down the blind school her son attends.

What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?

Everyone I know was surprised that I’d written a book. English was one of my worst subjects growing up. I loved math and science, and I’ve never considered myself creative. It’s funny how we change over time and find niches where we least expect.

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