Here today is Rosalee Richland, on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Tours, who is the author of RIGHT AND LEFT GRAND. Which really means here today are co-authors Cyndi Riccio and Rhonda Brinkmann who joined forces to create the Darla King cozy mystery series. Darla and her friends portray the best of the square community, the warmth and friendship among people in it, and the enjoyment square dancing brings worldwide. When not writing, Darla’s co-authors enjoy reading, traveling, meeting readers and fans, networking with other authors, and – of course – square dancing. Welcome, ladies.
I am always fascinated by people who write together because it is something I could never do. And I notice your blog is just written by Cindi. I would think blogging jointly would be easy. Alternate posting or different points of view in one post. So how do you write a book together? Who does what? Do you physically get together at one of your kitchen tables and just start writing? Do you have a routine you follow daily?
First of all, thank you for hosting Right and Left Grand today! Yes, we do physically get together at various points in the process to discuss plot and characters, but most of the time one of us writes for a while taking the story a little further. Then that author sends it to the other, who then reads through and tweaks, elaborates, and adds the next few scenes. A daily routine would be wonderful, but since both us work, writing tends to happen in spurts for both of us.
The reason you’ll see Cyndi doing most of the blogging is because we separate our responsibilities so we can get everything covered. While we can both do any of the marketing and other activities, mainly Cyndi handles cyberspace and Rhonda handles activities such as setting up book signings and keeping track of sales.
What prepared you to become writers? Past career? Written since you were a child?
Both of our careers include writing, more technical than fiction. Writing for fun, reading, and writing some more — we’re still learning. Rhonda has been very active in writing groups, and we’ve both attended writing conferences to continue learning as we go.
How do you balance the demands of home, square dancing, and writing? What do you do to just chill?
Square dancing with friendly people of all ages IS how we chill. Square dancing is fun and exercise and requires just enough concentration that you have to leave all the stress aside. In addition to the square dancing, there’s line dancing, country western dancing, and even ballroom dance, as well as reading and travel.
Did you know each other and get involved in square dancing together or did you meet through square dancing?
We met through square dancing. We were talking about various cozy mysteries we both we were reading and decided that square dancing would be a great background theme. The Darla King novels just naturally evolved from that.
Modern Western Square or Traditional Square?
We do the modern western square dance which has many more calls (or dance moves) than the traditional. Also there is not usually a band or live musicians. The music is usually recorded and only the caller is “live.”
Are you married and are your husbands square dancers as well, or do you have other partners?
Cyndi met her husband through square dancing and Rhonda’s sweetheart has taken up square dancing since they met.
I don’t know a lot about square dancing other than it is similar to some forms of Irish dancing, which I am very familiar with. Both have elaborate costumes. I know for Irish dancing, they are so expensive that many people have just the one. Is that the case with you or are either of you so handy with a needle you have closets full of colorful costumes?
Square dancing costumes can be a bit pricey, especially for the ladies, and the crinoline petticoats take up a lot of closet space! Each square dance club has their “club dress” and in fact that comes into play in Right and Left Grand. So we have the “club dress” and then a few other favorites. The men either have shirts with the same pattern or wear a tie that matches the ladies dress. Today most square dance clubs are loosening up on requiring traditional garb for informal dances, though, which makes things less expensive.
Is there anything you wish I (or anyone) had asked or anything else you want to tell the readers, be it about the book, your dancing, yourselves?
Well, one thing would be that this book, Right and Left Grand, is the first in a series that we hope will continue for a long time. The second book is due out before the end of this year, and the third one is in progress. We anticipate that we will keep Darla and her friends dancing for years to come, and we hope her readers will stay in touch with her as she grows!
In this first Darla King novel, Darla returns to square dancing in midlife following tragedies in both her personal and professional lives. She moves from Florida to Texas and from high-powered investigator to life in a small town and a job as far removed from crime as she can think of—she becomes a square dance caller. But when an unconscious stranger turns up on the ranch of one of her dance club members, her specialized knowledge may hold the key to the identity of his assailants. At first, Darla is concerned that her friend Doug is the target. When the same square dancer is assaulted not once but twice, she realizes something else is wrong. Even more telling is the secretive but disturbingly handsome FBI agent that enters the picture.
This is a remarkably well written first novel. Darla is a great cozy character. She has a sad recent history, but she is trying to move on as a single, middle-aged woman and a parent. She has had some trying times with her daughter, Heather, who is away at college, but they seem to be working through them. She is trying to get to know Doug better and considering whether she is ready to have a relationship with him. Carlotta makes a perfect best friend and shows she will have just the right dose of zany needed in a cozy best friend. Sam is the perfect rascal older man. I learned quite a lot about square dancing without it overpowering. The climatic scene, a getaway by Darla and Carlotta, is so well written that even though you know this is a cozy and everything will be all right, you will find yourself holding your breath. This first book has every element to show this is going to be a great series. Except one. There’s no body. Sure there is a body in a ditch at the beginning and the mystery is finding out why. But he recovers. This is something that comes up in every reader or writer’s group I have ever been in. Do you need a body in a mystery? There will always be a small group who will say no and cite examples. But the overwhelming response is always yes. Overwhelming. Not even close. I once took a class with a very successful mystery writer and she said that the first thing you need is a body and it’s better you get it in there within the first ten pages. So I can’t give this very well written book the five hearts I wanted to. But keep in mind, the story is so good I was at the halfway point before it occurred to me what was missing. ♥♥♥♥
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August 27 – StoreyBook Reviews Review
August 28 – Brooke Blogs Guest Post
August 29 – A Blue Million Books Interview
August 30 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner Review
September 2 – readalot blog Review
September 3 – Books Are Life – Vita Libri Review
September 4 – Melina’s Book Blog Review
September 5 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading Review, Interview
September 6 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK Review