Today we’re off to Colorado, USA to visit with Cynthia Woolf, the author of Tame a Wild Heart and Tame a Wild Wind. She’s also penned the Centauri and Swords Gregara series. At her blog, she says “From cowboys to space captains… true love has no boundaries”.
Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.
Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.
Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.
She worked her way through college and went to work full-time straight after graduation and there was little time to write. Then in 1990 she and two friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates. She found that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories. In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. Unfortunately, the loss of her job demanded the she not renew her memberships and her writing stagnated for many years.
In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writer’s conference being put on by CRW and decided she’d attend. One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker. Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter’s table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing. She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn’t looked back.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she’s made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
Jim : Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Cynthia: Well as you can see from my bio, I’m married and I live in Colorado. Until last year when I got laid off, I worked as the Sales and Use Tax Manager for a large multi-national corporation. Now I write full-time and look for a job.
Jim : What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Cynthia: I pretty much write all the time. My husband has been trying to get me away from it some. I write or promote or answer emails etc for about 18 hours a day.
Jim : Do you have a day job?
Cynthia: I used to. As a sales and use tax manager.
Jim : When did you start writing, and when did you finish your first book?
Cynthia: I started writing when I was 10. My first story was about me and a little boy I had a crush on. So even then I was writing romance. LOL I also like to garden, read and fish.
Jim : From where do the ideas for your stories come?
Cynthia: The idea for my first book was sort of from my parents history. They met on a dude and cattle ranch in Creede, Colorado. Which is in Southwestern Colorado. I decided to set my western romance there on that ranch.
The idea for my second book, a scifi romance, came from a dream that I had when I was about fifteen. I dreamt that I was a princess from another planet, placed here on earth to save my life but that my people would come and get me so I could go home and rule the planet. Tell me what teenager hasn’t thought that they didn’t belong to the family they had.
Jim : Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Cynthia: Always when I get to the middle of my manuscript. Probably because I don’t plot out my books before I write them.
Jim : Do you outline or write “by the seat of your pants”?
Cynthia: I’m a definite pantser, which is why I end up with sagging middles. I always know the beginning and the end, it’s what’s in between that stumps me. LOL
Jim : What author or book influenced you most in your writing?
Cynthia: I think Johanna Lindsey’s work has influenced me most. She writes all kinds of historical romance, all time periods and even has a series of sci-fi romance, which I loved.
Jim : What challenges did you face in getting your book published?
Cynthia: I faced all the same challenges that every author does. Submitting it to agents and editors and having it rejected because it didn’t fit in their mold. Then self publishing began in earnest and I hoped on the bandwagon. It’s been the most rewarding experience for me.
Jim : If you had to go back and do it again, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published you’d do differently?
Cynthia: I’d self publish and not waste my time with editors and agents.
Jim : How do you market your work? What works best for you?
Cynthia: I market it every way I can. Facebook, twitter, blogs, some advertising, you name it and I’ve probably done it.
Jim : What was your favorite part of this story to write?
Cynthia: My favorite part is always “THE END”
Jim : Do your characters lead you on merry chases, creating new plots or do you have to pull it out of them?
Cynthia: I definitely have to pull it out of them.
Jim : What’s the most amusing thing that happened during the writing of this book?
Cynthia: Can’t think of anything I’d call amusing.
Jim : Why this story? What was your inspiration?
Cynthia: This was my first book and I think my best book. It always called to me because my dad was a cowboy and trapper. Both very western occupations
Jim : Tell us about your writing environment. Is it messy or neat? Is there a cat on the desk or a dog at your feet? Do you use pen and paper, laptop?
Cynthia: I write in an office. My desk is a disaster. We have no pets, so no cat on the desk. I use pen and paper for my first draft, then my computer for edits.
Jim : What about your process? Do you produce consistent daily or weekly word counts or do the words rush out all at once and leave you with a dry spell?
Cynthia: I don’t have a process and I don’t have word count goals. I just write as the feeling takes me.
Jim : What project are you working on now?
Cynthia: I’m working on the third book in the Tame series called Tame A Wild Bride. It also takes place in Creede, Colorado, this time in 1890. The first in the series is Tame A Wild Heart and it’s set in 1885. The second book in the series is Tame A Wild Wind and it’s set in 1895.
Jim : What was the toughest criticism you received as an author? What was the best compliment?
Cynthia: The best compliment I can get is for someone to buy my book, read it and like it. The toughest criticism I have is when they don’t like my story, for whatever reason. I want to please everyone.
Jim : Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Cynthia: Go for it. Self publish your work. Just make sure you do it well. Get a good cover artist, get a critique group, and have a great editor.
Jim : Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Cynthia: Thank you. Thank you for buying and liking my books.
Jim : Where can we find you on the web?
Flames licked through the canvas wagon cover. Great billows of black smoke escaped through the top. Horses whinnied. Men shouted. Cattle bawled. The scene was utter chaos.
Catherine Evans shouted orders, turning as a big black stallion charged into the fray. The large man on his back countermanded her orders and barked out his own.
Nudging her own stallion, Wildfire, with her knees, she intercepted them. “This is my ranch and my men. I give the orders here. Where the hell have you been? You’re a week late.”
“I came when I could.” Duncan turned to join the men.
“No, you stay.” She whipped around to face the men beating at the fire on the wagon. “Forget the wagon. It’s lost. Get those cows. Now.”
After the men scattered she rounded on Duncan. “When you could, isn’t a good enough answer. This is a working ranch. I have to be able to depend on every man here. And if I can’t, then I don’t want them. I don’t even know why Dad sent for you anyway. We don’t need a gunslinger.”
“James has his reasons for asking me to come. As for a gunslinger, the need has yet to be seen.”
She disregarded his response. “You know about field dressings and I’ve got a man missing and probably hurt. Zeke was driving one of these supply wagons. I could use your help.”
She galloped to the other side of the camp, riding around debris thrown from the supply wagon. Burlap sacks once full of coffee and beans littered the ground beside empty flour and sugar sacks. Tinned food lay bent, smashed under cattle and horse hooves. Ignoring the destruction, she went straight to an overturned supply wagon.
Duncan reined in beside her. “The whole place looks like a battlefield.”
“It is a battlefield and if you’re here to help, then do it.”
“I don’t see anyone.”
She stopped rifling through loose pieces of debris and cocked her head toward the wagon. “Did you hear that?”
There was a weak and distant groan. Catherine saw a muddied, work worn black boot sticking out from underneath.
“It must have upended during the stampede. Zeke was driving. We have to get him out.” She let out a shrill whistle and Wildfire came running to her side. “Good boy.”
She freed her lasso from the saddlehorn, dallying up the front wagon wheel. Duncan did the same to the rear wheel.
“Let’s flip the wagon over. When I holler, you have that horse of yours pull.” She made sure both ropes were tight.
“Now! Pull. You too, Wildfire, come on boy.” The wagon came slowly up and over onto its wheels, wood creaking as it bounced on its axles but it held together in one piece.
She ran around the wagon to the man on the ground, checked for bullet wounds and found none. The wound on his head bled profusely, as they are want to do, but didn’t appear too deep. Running her hands over him, she found his right leg broken. “Zeke, are you all right? Zeke, can you hear me?”
She looked up at Duncan. “It’s broken. It’ll need to be set before we can move him. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t have the strength to set the leg properly. Will you help?”
“Sure. I need two straight pieces of wood and something to bind them.” He took his knife and cut Zeke’s pant leg open to see how badly the leg was injured. She could see the bone hadn’t broken the skin and there was no bleeding, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. He could stabilize it enough to get the man to a real doctor.
Catherine returned with a couple of loose boards she’d ripped from the wagon as Duncan started to cut off Zeke’s boot. He hesitated when Zeke moaned, clearly in agony.
“Miss Catherine, is that you? What happened?” He was in obvious pain, but still lucid.
She smiled at him and gently brushed the hair back out of his eyes. “I was about to ask you the same thing. You’ve got a broken leg and I know it hurts, but before we set it tell me what you remember. All I heard was the cattle rushin’. By the time I got out of the timber, it was all over.”
Zeke closed his eyes. “It happened so fast. Roy Walker and his men rode in. Next thing I hear gunshots. I tried to control the team but the wagon got pounded by the cows and tipped…I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened after that.” He closed his eyes then opened them wide. “The team! Where’s Abel and Bessie?”
She shook her head, “Don’t worry, they’re fine.”
Zeke nodded then looked at Duncan. “Who’s this? A new ranch hand? Replacing me already?” He tried to smile, but winced in pain instead.
She patted his hand. “Don’t be silly Zeke, you know you’re irreplaceable. Besides, I can’t let your Sarah and little Jacob go, so I guess you have to stay too. This is Duncan McKenzie.”
“Mr. McKenzie, any friend of James Evans’ is a friend o’ mine.” Zeke lifted his hand. “But if you continue cuttin’ on my boot, I’m goin’ to kick you with my other leg. They’re the only boots I got.”
“Pleased to meet you. I’ve got to get this boot off so I can set your leg and if you kick me I’ll have to knock you out.”
“No way.” Zeke ripped his hand from Duncan’s and tried to rise, but Duncan held him down.
Catherine grabbed Zeke’s hand and gently held it. “Don’t worry. I’m gonna buy you the best boots in Creede. I’ll make Gordon send all the way to Chicago if I have to. I’ll even make sure that Jacob has a pair to match his Daddy’s.”
Zeke stopped struggling and relaxed. “The best, huh?”
“The best. I promise,”
“Catherine’s promised and I’m a witness. Let’s set your leg and get you home.”
“Can you hold him down while I set it?”
She took a deep breath and nodded.
Duncan turned to Zeke and said calmly, “This is going to hurt like hell, but I’ve got to do it. I’ll be as quick as I can. Yell, if you want.”
“Here, bite down on this, it’ll help.” Catherine handed him the leather sheath from her knife.
“Just get it done.” Zeke closed his eyes, put the leather between his teeth and locked his jaw.
“Wait a minute. You’ll need something to bind it.” She pulled her shirt from her pants and tore two strips from the bottom. She laid the cloth next to the boards within Duncan’s reach.
“All right, hold him still.” Duncan pulled hard with both hands to set the bones back into place, while Catherine put all her weight on Zeke’s shoulders to hold him down. Placing one board on either side of the leg, he tied them tight with the strips of cloth from her shirt.
Zeke had not uttered a sound. He’d fainted.
Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your time with us today, Cynthia. My readers and I wish you continued success!