Monday, August 27, 2012

An Unbridled Adventure: Interview with Author Cindy McDonald

Join author Cindy McDonald at Westwood Thoroughbred Farm as we talk about her unbridled series. Welcome Cindy!

Tell us a little about yourself.   

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack.

Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is much more…racy. The drama is outrageous--not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do, but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.

I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid, turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. This past year has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

I like to spend as much time as possible with my girlfriends. I love to go to lunch, laugh a lot, and catch up. I love to travel—one of my favorite trips is the one I take with seven of my friends to New York City every year. We have a blast on Broadway, at cool restaurants, and of course the subway.

If you had to sum it up HOT COCO in 30 or less words, what would you say?

A gorgeous blonde klutz wreaks havoc on Mike West after his attraction for her sticks him with a mischievous horse that mimics its owner’s ability to screw things up.

Tell us about your favorite character in this book! 

Honestly, I love all my characters. Each one holds a special place in my heart, but if I had to pick one to write about today, it would be Lugowski—Lieutenant Carl Lugowski that is. He is a homicide detective at the Rosemount Police Department, and he dates Mike West’s ex-wife, Ava. Now here’s the kicker—he’s in love with Mike’s younger sister, Kate. Ouch! He wrestles and wrangles with his feelings for Kate because he has always been in love with Ava. And now Ava is exactly where he always wanted her to be—in his life and in his bed.

Lugowski also has a nicotine addiction. Boy oh boy do I have a blast writing in his struggle to give up those cigarettes, and all the little quirks that he has with the cancer sticks. Eric West once said to him (in the first book, Deadly.Com) “I thought you quit smoking.” Lugowski answer was—“It’s on my bucket list.”

Will Lugowski ever be able to kick the habit? Mmmm, not on my watch—he’s just too much fun to torment.

What message do you hope readers take away from the book?

We are all capable of change—no matter how young, old, klutzy, attractive, or unattractive. It is within our reach to grow—but one must desire that growth in order for it to begin.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

The Unbridled stories are fiction. That said there are pieces of my life experiences weaved into the storylines, small reminders of what was going on at the time of writing the book. Many of the Thoroughbreds mentioned in Hot Coco are horses that have actually raced for our stable, Salty Silver Sally, Call Me CJ, and the mischievous Charlatan. Of course included within the anecdotes are situations (exaggerated upon of course) that have actually happened. Example: the burning down of Coco’s kitchen-almost a true story-enough said. ;}

What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book?   

Unbeknownst to myself, I’ve been researching the Unbridled books for years. I’ve watched the characters on the backside of racetracks, I’ve made mental notes of situations that my husband and his colleagues have found themselves in—whether it has been with a horse or with another trainer etc. When I sat down to write the series (TV or books) I was amazed at the wealth of information that I had stored in my brain and how the stories (exaggerated upon of course) unfolded at the tips of my fingers to the computer’s screen

Did you have a part in the design of all the covers in the series?

Createspace designed the cover for DEADLY.COM but Todd Aune was the designer for HOT COCO. He is wonderful to work with. This wasn’t the first cover for HOT COCO, oh no, we adjusted the design four times before we decided upon this one.

The first one had the same two characters on the front, only she was clutching his gathered shirt in her hands, exposing his chiseled abs, whispering in his ear, as he gazed upon her longingly, clinging to every sultry word. Okay, at least that’s the way I interpreted the pose. It was hot! I was enamored! My publishing manager, Lauren Carr—God bless her—let me enjoy a full day of dancing around my living room in love with the really hot cover for HOT COCO, until she decided it was time to reason with me.  “If that’s the cover you want, that’s fine,” Lauren carefully began, “but I think it projects the wrong image for your book.” She took a deep breath, “This cover will insinuate that there is sex in the story. You don’t do sex scenes, Cindy your scenes are suggestive but not sexual. Therefore, some readers that are looking for erotica will be disappointed, and those readers that are not, won’t read the book because the cover gives them the wrong idea. You will have upset two groups of people that will never buy your books again.” Drats! She was one hundred percent correct. The fact of the matter is you must choose your cover very carefully. You want to tell a story with your cover, but you don’t want to tell too much, and you certainly don’t want to tell the wrong one. Todd and I are working on the cover for my November release, DANGEROUS DECEPTION as we speak.

As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre?      I know this question was directed toward the multi-genre authors; however, the Unbridled Series actually is a multi-genre series. What do I mean by that? Well, when I began writing the Unbridled Series I wanted each book to be an individual—the series does not follow a formula. Case-in-point: My first book of The Unbridled Series, DEADLY.COM, is a murder/suspense. My antagonist, George Smuts, is creepy beyond belief; he is mentally deranged. He makes my reader’s skin crawl—they’ve told me so via emails, reviews on Amazon, and blog sites. I love George and I love the freaked-out reaction that he extracts from people. So am I obligated to provide the same/similar scenario in book two?

I released my second book from the series, HOT COCO, in June and this is more of a romantic comedy, if you will. Yes, we are dealing with the same group of characters in the same location, except for Coco—she is not a regular character of the series. HOT COCO will make you laugh, make you think, and bring you to some surprising conclusions. So far HOT COCO has received very positive reviews, but will people be confused as to what to expect from this author in book number three?

That is yet to be seen, as the third book will release in November, DANGEROUS DECEPTION, and I am back to making the reader wince, bite their lip in anticipation, and hope that the characters are able to pull through. However, I believe that I am doing a good job at blending the storylines—at least, I’m hoping so.

Do you have plans for a new book?  Is this book part of a series?

The next book in the Unbridled Series is set to release in November. It is called DANGEROUS DECEPTION. It is about an aged jockey, Vic Deveaux, whose glory days have ended, but he refuses to accept that pile of horse hockey! 

When the West family asks Vic to take an easier position at their Thoroughbred farm, Westwood, he becomes enraged and teams up with two greedy stable hands in a scheme to kidnap the youngest son, Shane. 

When Vic discovers that his new-found friends have murder on their minds, things turn ugly. Suddenly Vic finds himself between the rock and the hard place. He has betrayed his good friend, Eric West, but will he participate in his son’s murder as well?

Not content to sit at home and wait for the her men to bring her brother home, Kate West convinces homicide detective, Carl Lugowski, to check out a hunch at an old abandoned mansion. Soon they’re trapped in a hornet’s nest of a notorious biker gang. Vic’s deception has placed the West family in more danger than they know what to do with!

What is your favorite scene in HOT COCO?

Chapter 5 in general. I had a blast writing this entire debacle. Poor Mike West, he just doesn’t know what to do with this woman—she is gorgeous, but she is such a train wreck. I have provided an excerpt from chapter 5, and I think you’ll enjoy the short read and understand exactly why I enjoyed it so, and what Mike West is dealing with.

Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?

I didn’t want the hassle of trying to find an agent or a publishing house. I published DEADLY.COM through Createspace, but HOT COCO and DANGEROUS DECEPTION are through Acorn Book Services—I’m very happy with the work they do, the editing process, the layout, and their cover designer are terrific—I’m most happy as an indie and plan to remain as such.

How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process?

It takes me approximately ten months to write one of my books, and then I close the file and let it “marinate” for up to six weeks before I begin tweaking and editing, and there lies the most grueling part of being a writer—editing. I do the best that I can, but I leave the guts of the chore to Acorn, because the fact is we simply don’t see our own mistakes—the book always reads as we think it should. As indies we need to make sure that we get our books to a professional editor or those embarrassing  mistakes will raise their ugly heads and slap you in the face after publishing.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your reader’s today?

HOT COCO isn’t just a story about a dumb/klutzy/big-boobed blonde. Please know that everyone is touched and changed in this story—read between the lines, watch the subtext, it is there for you—if you pay attention.

I also left behind bread crumbs of my former life as a dancer/choreographer in this book—you will see them—I couldn’t resist! I would like to mention one more thing: there are no hot sex scenes in this book—my writing can be very suggestive, but not sexual.

Is your book in Print, eBook or both?

All the Unbridled books are available in print and as an ebook.

The Book
HOT: Coco Beardmore
NOT: Coco’s calamities
HOT: Mike West’s fantasies
NOT: Mike’s reality

That’s right, Coco Beardmore is sizzling hot and she’s landed in Mike West’s Lap. The problem is Coco’s middle name is chaos! Her driving skills are a real bang--into Mike’s horse trailer, and her sultry seduction will set the room on fire--the kitchen that is.
What’s worse is her Thoroughbreds ability to mimic their owner’s habit of screwing things up. It’s enough to drive a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.
But Mike’s not the only one having problems with women. His father Eric has taken on more than he can chew, and he’s about to get spit out by two women: one that he’s in love with and one that thinks he’s in love with her.
Oh yeah, things are hot around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm… and someone’s about to get burned!

To find out more about future books of the Unbridled Series, please visit Cindy’s website at:

Yep, I’m on twitter. Here’s my handle: @cindymcdonald7

My books, DEADLY.COM and HOT COCO are available on amazon:


  1. It's great having you with us here today Cindy! I love horses and so it was fun to hear about your work on the Thoroughbred farm.

  2. wow it is really interesting post. glad to came across your blog. keep sharing,

  3. Thanks MK, I'm so very happy to be here today. And thank you Hussain. My Thoroughbred farm is known as Fly By Night Stables and we are located near Pittsburgh, PA. Huge Steeler fans. At this time we are racing 3 horses at Mountaineer Racetrack in Newell, WV which is approx 16 miles from my farm. My daughter and I also show Quarter Horses.

  4. Hey, I'd like to thank MK for letting me visit on her blog today! Have a great week everyone!