Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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Cindy Kirk


February 2013


WG:      Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.

CK:      Well, I’m married to my high-school sweetheart. We have a grown daughter who is married with one little girl and, in April, will have another baby girl. I’m an RN, but I now write full time. I love, love, love animals. My husband and I live on an acreage and have three dogs and one cat.

WG:      Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.

CK:      I’d always wanted to write, always made up stories in my head. But I had no idea how to get started. Then, I saw our local community college was offering a course in “How to Write a Romance Novel.”

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

CK:      I had my eye on publication from the very beginning. I went to local, regional and national writing conferences and worked hard at honing my craft. The difficulty I had wasn’t in the story, it was in creating three dimensional characters. It took me 3 ½ years of writing/submitting to sell my first book.

WG:      How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?

CK:      The fifth book I wrote was the first one that sold. I sold book #4 within that first year. The first book I completely redid (just keeping the premise) and sold it a couple years ago. Books #2 and #3—it’s best those pages never see the light of day.

WG:      Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?

CK:      I’d won a contest and the prize was a critique by Patience Smith (now Patience Bloom) from Harlequin. (BTW, she’s still my editor today). She did the critique, told me she liked the book so much she was sending it to the senior editor to review and would be getting back to me. Three weeks later the phone rang and I hear someone say my name. I honestly thought “Telemarketer” and considered hanging up. Thank goodness I didn’t!

WG:      How has being a published author impacted your life?

CK:      It allows me to pursue my passion while earning money.

WG:      What aspect of life as a published author surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?

CK:      All the writing friends I’ve made over the years.

WG:      Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

CK:      When I worked full time and wrote (which I did up until two years ago) I would write all my new pages on Saturday and then fine tune them during the week. Now, I go to the gym every morning, run errands, then return home around noon and get to work. I write seven days a week.

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

CK:      The deadlines are my goals.

WG:      Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?

CK:      Actually no, I simply sit down and write. When writing new pages, I do set a timer to twelve minutes and write in twelve minute bursts. During these bursts I don’t allow myself to check email, check facebook, throw clothes into the washer etc.

WG:      Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?

CK:      I usually have a fully formed synopsis before I start writing. I want to make sure that there is enough conflict to carry the story.

WG:      Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

CK:      I’d say the storyline is what comes to me first.

WG:      Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?

CK:      I’ve actually looked at the plots of the 30+ books I’ve sold and the theme of “what lies beneath” is a recurring one..

WG:      What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?

CK:      I’m very disciplined so I get the pages done. And, I’m always interested in getting better as a writer.

WG:      Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?

CK:      Not really. Writing is my passion. We all make time for what’s important to us.

WG:      Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?

CK:      I now write a first draft in 14 days, writing 20 pages per day. Then I go back and fine tune those pages.

WG:      Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?

CK:      I love everything except heavy paranormal and erotica.

WG:      Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?

CK:      Perhaps YA. I have a story idea but haven’t had time to develop it.

WG:      Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?

CK:      Set goals to finish a book. Continue to go to workshops and try to improve your writing.

WG:      Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?

CK:      My characterization improved when I started writing inspirational romance (which I no longer write) because when you get into a character’s head about forgiveness and faith, it brings them to life.

WG:      Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?

CK:      I don’t read any reviews. As far as I’m concerned they’re one person’s opinion. As long as my sales are good, that tells me readers are happy with my story. Rejections are a part of the business, especially when you try something new. I try not to take them personally. But you have to have a thick skin to stay in the business.

WG:      Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?

CK:      Not really. Most of the advice I received was pretty good.

WG:      What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?

CK:      I love making up stories and having the words come together. I can’t think of any particular struggle.

WG:      When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?

CK:      I love to read.

WG:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

CK:      In my diary (when I was in high school) I wrote “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.”

WG:      What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

CK:      That I’ve been to Iceland and swam in the Blue Lagoon.

WG:      What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?

CK:      I love most romantic comedies. If the critics pan a movie because of its unrealistic happy ending, I know I’ll love it. Favorite TV shows are NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles. Downton Abbey. I love the interaction between the characters.

WG:      I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.

CK:      Most failures could have been converted into successes if someone had held on for another minute or made one more effort

WG:      Please tell us about your current project.

CK:      My current project is another book set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It will be the 10th book in my RX for Love mini-series. The thing I like most about doing a continuing series is that while each book stands alone, if you’ve read the others you see familiar characters and can catch up on where they’re at now.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

CK:      The characters showed up fleetingly in another book and I thought they’d make a good couple.

WG:      What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?

CK:      I’ve done a lot of research about Jackson Hole. It’s a great place to set a story because of the beautiful setting and all the events they hold in the community.

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

CK:      I have four books coming out in 2013: February, April, May and June. I just sold 3 more books to Harlequin Special Edition and those will be out in 2014.

WG:      And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.

CK:      My website is I’m also on Facebook, so send me a friend request so we can keep in touch. And I’m occasionally on Twitter @authorcindykirk

WG:      Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!