If Clean Indie Reads were the Starship Enterprise, Cynthia Port would stand in the spot of Number One, the trusted and capable one who can take the comm whenever the captain is absent. Nicknamed “Sparkle Hammer” for her cheerful but firm ways of keeping us in adherence with CIR guidelines, she adds humor and wisdom to any interaction. Please meet Cynthia and see why she is CIR Strong…
CIR: There now, I just said what I think about your involvement in CIR, but what’s your version of the story?
CYNTHIA: One of the best things I did as an early writer was send a little join request to this curiously titled writers group that had about 300 members at the time. I was also new to FB, and I still remember all the welcome messages I got and how warm that made me feel–my first experience of connection on FB. Somehow I wormed my way into being an admin, the greatest bonus of which is getting to virtually hang out with Ms. Lia Londen-Gubelin, who is a force for love and wisdom in this world.
CIR: Aw, shucks! Let’s stick to talking about you! Which of your works makes you most proud? Why?
CYNTHIA: My first book still has the biggest chunk of my heart. It’s finished at around 75K, but it’s not published yet due to story structure issues I’ve yet to solve (hence my advice to new writers below!). I’m probably most proud of the Kibble Talk books, because I finished them all by myself from soup to nuts, because people of all ages love them so, and because they have a message the world needs.
CIR: Okay, let’s hear that advice you mentioned. What would be your top one, two, or three pieces of advice for someone who says, “I think I want to write a book, but I’m not sure how to get started.”
CYNTHIA: 1. Find and join a writing group. It will keep you writing at a more regular pace.
3. Read a few books on plotting and then reread some of your favorite books in your genre to see how they fit the advice. Plotting seems to be the hardest thing for new writers– we all just think we can do it, then we get bogged down in the soggy middles and end up with forty-seven unfinished books and a crisis of confidence. Story structure is everybody’s friend!
3. Never write your first book. (Start with your second one.)
CIR: How did you decide to publish independently?
CYNTHIA: I landed a pretty big name agent for my first book, Kibble Talk, who shopped it to the top tier children’s publishers. The feedback was terrific, but in the end, nobody bit. That’s when I learned my agent wasn’t really MY agent. He lost all interest and didn’t even want to shop it to the second tier children’s publishers. We parted ways amicably, and I decided to self-publish. I didn’t realize at the time how difficult MG marketing was, or I might have pushed him harder, but I’ve had a lot of fun as a self-pubber and have learned a great deal about the publishing market that will serve me well in more marketable genres.
CIR: Like what genres? What are you writing now?
CYNTHIA: I promised myself I’d write three rom coms in a series before releasing any of them. I’ve finished the first one, and am just getting started with the second. It’s a Christmas disaster theme, so that’s fun!
CIR: And when you’re not writing or helping keep Clean Indie Reads running smoothly, what do you like to do?
CYNTHIA: I can’t stop collecting hobbies. My husband says I have an unfinished project for every day of the year, to which I say…and? I cook and knit and do ceramics and paint and sing and play piano and volunteer etc. etc. I’m always on the look out for something new to try, and nothing makes my brain happier than the creative process.
CIR: Well, I for one am awfully glad you share that creative spirit with all of us in Clean Indie Reads. You inspire and entertain and teach us all. Thank you for making it a great place to be.