Another fantastic guest interview! Today is with author, Cindy L. Shirley! Thank you so much for answering our questions for us. It was a pleasure to read, and I know our readers will feel the same! 1. What inspired you to write this book? Answer: I wanted to write a story that deals with Animal Advocacy 2. Can you tell me about the book? Answer: Kitty Ballou’s Sanctuary Zoo After graduating college, animal advocate Kitty Ballou heads out West to start her new career as a Veterinarian. Her family's old home stead will be the perfect place to settle down and open her very own veterinary clinic. What happens next is truly amazing. This wonderful story will leave readers with a new-found appreciation for all animals, big or small. Their unbelievable talent and personalities leave an impression in the hearts of everyone they come in contact with. 3. What is your writing process like? Answer: I usually think of ideas at night when I’m in bed. Once I get the images in my mind, I can visualize the characters, background, and scenery. The stories can take off very quickly from that point. 4. What did you learn when writing the book? Answer: I researched different agencies that deal with animal rights and advocacy. 5. What surprised you the most? Answer: The unbelievable number of endangered animals. Some of these beautiful creatures are amazing. My book includes a list of the names of each animal that is currently considered endangered. 6. What does the title mean? Answer: Kitty Ballou is the young lady’s name. The Sanctuary Zoo is the place where the animals are welcomed and cared for. Kitty has loved animals since she was a child. So, it was no surprise that she chose to become a Veterinarian as her career. She dreamed of one day opening her very own veterinary clinic. Her plan was to take in unwanted and disabled animals. 7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who? Answer: Not this one. 8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? Answer: I think Kitty’s clinic continues to thrive. The unique animals become an example of finding beauty in all things and acceptance of others. As for Kitty and Jasper, they marry one day and raise their family on the land. 9. What advice do you have for writers? Answer: Write stories that have meaning and bring awareness to current issues. 10. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Answer: Developing the storyline is exciting and energizes me to keep going. I want to bring the characters to life and see where they go. The exhausting part is the constant marketing and promoting. That’s tough stuff! 11. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Answer: It’s hard to decide whether to self-publish or go after a traditional publisher. There are a lot of vanity publishers out there that just want your money. You really need to do your homework and check out these companies BEFORE you pay a dime. Facebook is full of wonderful support groups for writers and illustrators that are happy to help answer questions. There are no dumb questions! Just ask! We’ve all been there and understand how intimidating it can be. 12. What is your writing Kryptonite? Answer: Wanting to take my main characters in different directions to see what happens. I make myself crazy doing this. Focus… 13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Answer: No 14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Answer: I try to do both. I like to call my books, Fictional Nonfiction. 15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Answer: I have two books in a series called, The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick. These stories are the only ones with a connection so far. My others stand alone. I do tend to write books that empower girls. I didn’t realize I was doing this until my sister pointed it out. I guess I need to get busy creating a story for boys 😊 16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: Six published and Kitty Ballou’s Sanctuary Zoo will be the seventh. I have another four unpublished and saved on my computer. 17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Answer: I write about my personal life for the most part, so there’s no need for research. 18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? Answer: I’m still a part time writer and consider it to be a fun hobby. 19. How many hours a day do you write? Answer: It depends. I can write for eight hours in a day if a story is stuck in my mind. 20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) Answer: Childhood 21. What did you edit out of this book? Answer: Kitty’s family involvement. 22. How do you select the names of your characters? Answer: Some are family members, or people I grew up with. 23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Answer: I actually have another business that does birthday parties for girls. It’s called, Let’s Pretend Spa Parties. I love to be around children! 24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: There is a scene where Kitty goes before the town council to plead for their help. She is in tears explaining her love of the animals and how the community needs to come together and help them. 25. What is your favorite childhood book? Answer: I loved Christmas books. Rudolph and Frosty were my favorites. 26. How long on average does it take you to write a book? Answer: Six months 27. Do you believe in writer’s block? Answer: YES 28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? Answer: My desk top or lap top 29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Answer: Christmas 2017 30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? Answer: Yes. It’s hard to find a starting point. 31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? Answer: Not really. Some scenes have to be written when they pop in my mind. 32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? Answer: I start a scene and close my eyes. I can see where it takes me and the story begins. 33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? Answer: I stop and think about the reality factor. I want it to be believable but still have a bit of imagination added. 34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Answer: A little. My favorite authors are Beverly Cleary, J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter. 35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? Answer: It brings awareness to animal advocacy and animal rights 36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? Answer: Disappointed of course. We all want to feel like we have reached someone with our stories. 37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? Answer: I used to read Harlequin Romance novels every day. I actually had a book club membership for them. I worked as a CSR at a local cable company and the ladies passed these books around like candy 😊 38. How much of yourself do you put into your books? Answer: A lot! I definitely insert my values and opinions in the storylines 39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to? Answer: My family 40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? Answer: My husband Randall and my daughter Cailey. 41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that? Answer: Funny you asked… My sister’s crazy pet chickens have been the subject of several stories. I’m always getting pictures in texts messages about the silly things they do. 42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? Answer: LOL, we wish 😊 I think the majority of us have a true passion for sharing our stories. If you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong profession. I work two jobs and write in my spare time. 43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? Answer: I’ll let everyone else answer that. Personally, It takes a couple of drafts to get it dialed in. 44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? Answer: I did send a couple copies of my manuscript; A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism to a few traditional publishers. The story is for a specific audience, so I wasn’t surprised it was rejected. 45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? Answer: I think it’s up to the writers involved. I’ve never co-authored a book but have no problem with it. 46. Is writing book series more challenging? Answer: I think it’s easier. You have the story and characters already established. 47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier? Answer: Yes! 48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts? Answer: Yes 49. Can you tell us about your current projects? Answer: 50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day? Answer: No. However, I did recently do a book signing and discussion at the request of my sixth grade English teacher, Mrs. Shirley Bretch. She is part of a local teacher’s sorority, and they invited me to be a guest speaker at one of their meetings. We are Facebook friends and she has followed my writing journey. 51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid? Answer: No 52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their input? Answer: Yes. I bounce ideas off him all the time. I listen to his input and try to incorporate it whenever possible. 53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece? Answer: Yes. I have dreamed about a story and took material from it. Links: www.amazon.com/author/cindyshirley www.facebook.com/letspretendpublishing www.twitter.com/C.L.Shirley@Preferredclean www.instagram.com/cindy.shriley,Author
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