Thursday, October 27, 2011
I first met Cindy Bokma about 9 years ago on an online writers' forum; she was so bubbly and charming and so excited about the process of writing--I immediately knew I wanted to be her friend. When I met her in person at a writers' conference, that feeling was amply confirmed; I am lucky to be able to call her my friend indeed (and I love that we live less than an hour away from one another so we can meet midway for breakfast every once in a while--although not often enough!) Cindy is a treasure. It's been so wonderful to watch her grow as a writer, crafting one funny, lively manuscript with insanely commercial potential after another. My only frustration is the fact that she hasn't gotten the recognition she deserves yet--this woman should have multiple best selling books and blockbuster movies and her own tv show and line of perfume by now. One day (as I keep telling) her, her work is going to break through and hit the big time. Until then, we are lucky to be able to read her first novel, Here if You Need Me as an ebook, and we can also get regular Cindy infusions through her beauty blog, Hello Dollface and her book blog, Cindy Reads.
I asked Cindy a few questions about her writing (I was especially interested in her ebook experience, as I am going to be launching my own ebook, The Book of Live Wires--the sequel to The Book of Dead Birds--next week. Stay tuned for more info...)
1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have a copy of the little school newspaper from the third grade where I wrote a short story and a notebook full of poems and stories from when I was a kid. I worked on my highschool newspaper, yearbook and literary club. Ever since a young age, I loved to read and always had a book in my hands!
2. You've had quite a journey with this book. Could you tell a bit about the inspiration for the novel?
I began it at the time I ran my celebrity gossip website. I wondered what would happen if someone with a normal, non famous life got caught up in the glamorous life of a celebrity. I wanted my character to be a bitchy girl who really gets sucked into the whole Hollywood lifestyle and has a big character arc where she changes completely. I ended up having to rewrite my main character because people (and every single agent I queried) did not have any sympathy for her.
3. I'd love to hear why you chose to re-release the novel as an ebook, with a new title.
I wasn’t totally happy with the way A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss turned out. I felt the editing wasn’t as tight as it should have been. I read all the reviews and took some of the harsh critiques to heart. I knew the plot needed some work and the main character needed to be softened up a bit. I left an ambiguous ending with one of the characters but realized she needed her story wrapped up.
I rewrote much of the book and gave it a new title, Here If You Need Me, which pertains to the character of Barrett wanting so badly to be a part of pop star Kat’s life. I felt like releasing it as an ebook would give new life to the book and expose my writing to a whole other pool of readers- those with Kindles and Nooks and ipads!
4. How has the process of e-publishing been different from the process of more traditional publishing? What are your thoughts about ebooks and ereaders, in general?
With the e-publishing, you don’t need a publishing contract, an agent or an editor. You can do everything yourself via places like Smashwords or Kindle Publishing which is good and bad. I think its very helpful to have someone to give you a critique and point out what the manuscript needs as well as edit the grammar. I’ve been working with a publisher for a girls book I have coming out in the spring and I love the process of working with an editor and having a time line.
I was very, very resistant to having an ereader myself. I love books and pages and holding a book in my hands. But for travel, I think its very handy to have a Kindle in my purse! I can have several books with me and not have to fill up a carry-on which is what I usually do. I normally take no less than six novels with me! So for travel, an e-reader for sure. But for everyday, I want a real book. I go to bed every night and read for an hour or two.
5. You are one of the most ambitious people I know--I so admire your persistence and drive. What are your deepest dreams and hopes for your writing career?
Thank you Gayle! You’ve been such a mentor from day one and I appreciate it. My dream for many years has been to be a best- selling novelist. My stories are very commercial and I want to see them translated on to the big screen. I wish for a book contract to write a novel a year and have a hand in the process of bringing the stories to film or television. I have a big imagination and a lot of creativity so my hopes would be to earn a living doing what I love- writing and creating.
6. What are you working on now?
I try to do daily updates on my beauty blog, HelloDollface and weekly updates on CindyReads, my book review site. I have a kids TV show I’d like to pitch, a novel about Marilyn Monroe I’m trying to edit and I am getting ready to commit to National Novel Writing Month!
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I’ve been rejected by more agents than I can count over the years and I’m still at my little desk, writing every single day. I would tell aspiring writers to keep writing and not to stop. And don’t take rejection personally. Get back on that proverbial horse and keep going! Work towards those dreams.
Thanks so much, Cindy. I look forward to our next breakfast together (and to reading more of your work. Good luck with all of your projects!)