#IndieFallFest: Cynthia Witherspoon

Today we're highlight Cynthia Witherspoon for the Indie Fall Fest!
Don't forget to drop by the kick-off post and enter our HUGE giveaway!

Over on Kira Adams' blog, she's hosting Sarah Darlington today! So don't forget to stop by!

1. Describe The Sibyl in one word.

2. You’ve written both by yourself and with a co-writer. Do you have a preference between the two?
I really don’t. Gail (K.G. McAbee) and I work so well together that even when we are writing solo, we can still bounce ideas off one another. It’s really nice to have that support system. When we are writing together, it’s dynamite. We work out a plan and if our characters decide to take us elsewhere, we just let the other one know so they can adjust accordingly.

3. If you could have the career of any author, self or traditionally published, who would you pick?
Back when I started writing professionally, I would have said traditional publishing. But that was ten years ago, and the market has changed so much since then. Now, I am a self-published author. I love the freedom I have over when, where, and how my books are presented to the world. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4. I love the concept behind The Sibyl combining reality television and paranormal. What inspired you to take that direction?
When I first started writing The Sibyl, I wanted to explore how real paranormal experiences can change even the most stubborn of minds. I decided to use reality television as a background for this story because there is an ironic parallel with the whole genre. Eva McRayne doesn’t want to believe in the paranormal. But by doing the reality show, she is forced to accept that her former beliefs were nothing more than fiction.

5. How old were you when you realized you loved to write?
I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve been able to read. I would read a story, not like the ending, then write down how I thought the story should have finished. But I discovered my passion for writing when I was in college. I loved to read, so I was an English minor. I took a creative writing intro course and got hooked. There is something so addictive about seeing your worlds come alive. It’s pure magic.

6. ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE! You only have time to grab one book from your shelf before you have to flee the zombies. Which one are you taking? 
A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

7. Bookmarks or dog-eared pages?
Dog-eared pages filled with notes on what I liked, what I loved, and what I want to read more about.

8. What’s next for you?
I am currently working on The Fanatic, which is book two in the Oracle Series. Then at the beginning of next year, Gail and I will start writing book two in the Gilded Cages saga.
As for releases, the second book in our The Witchfinder Wars series, Deception, is coming out November 1st, with the third book slated for December. This winter is going to be a little crazy, but I can’t wait to get started!

Already Damned
I had turned into my own twisted version of Nancy Drew when I found the watch on my husband's nightstand three weeks ago. As I held the thin gold band, I remembered his sudden cancellations. I thought of all the nights he came in after midnight full of excuses.
Now I knew his excuses were hollow. Gerald Johnston was cheating on me. I should have expected it. My husband had always had a wandering eye.
Tonight he called to tell me he was working late. But I knew better. I'd followed him to an abandoned house on Villa Avenue. The same one said to be haunted by the family who had died there when a drunk had plowed his car through the front door. I could see my husband through the dirty window and he wasn't alone.
"Reverend Johnston, are we ready?"
A tall man stepped into view. Then another. Then another.
"We are." Gerald smiled as he rubbed his hands together. "Reverend Willard, light the candles. The Dark One has graced us with a most worthy gift this time."
Reverend? I leaned as close to the glass as I could get. Gerald wasn't a reverend. He was an accountant.
"What in the world is going on?" I murmured as I watched the room get brighter with each candle lit. "Is this a joke?"
There were five of them total; each dressed in long black robes except for Gerald. His was a rich red. I wondered where he had been hiding it.
Even through the dust, I could see large pentagram painted on the floor. The men had started chanting to themselves as Gerald moved to stand behind a large table set up in the middle. After a few minutes, my husband gestured towards the door. Two of the men disappeared from my sight.
"Lucifer, the most earthly angel, has demanded blood. He seeks a soul as proof of our devotion and we will not disappoint him."
I was so focused on trying to understand the scene playing out before me that I cried out when two sets of hands grabbed my arms. I struggled as they pulled me inside.
"Let me go!"
The strangers took me to the middle of a blood red circle. I stopped struggling to face the man I'd sworn my life to.
A man I thought I knew.
"Gerald, what is going on here? Tell them to let me go."
"No, Diana." Gerald sighed as he approached us. Even in the candlelight, I could see the large knife in his right hand. "You see, our dark god has called for a sacrifice. The last one was...unsatisfactory."
"Damn you, Gerald, stop it! This is not funny!"
I felt my blood turn to ice as he raised the blade and spoke the last words I would ever hear.
"It is far too late for curses, Diana. We are already damned."

Some tragedies are best left forgotten.

Eva McRayne wanted a steady paycheck, not a television show. But when Elliot Lancaster hands her the opportunity to discredit his paranormal findings on camera, she finds it impossible to turn him down. Her life changes in more ways than one after she goes to New York to learn more about the theories she will be shooting down on television. Eva McRayne encounters a Sibyl desperate to be free of the shackles which bind her to Apollo.

Shackles she binds onto Eva - a disbeliever who learns the hard way just how real the paranormal can be.

  I was really intrigued in the premise behind The Sibyl. As a skeptic myself, I thought that the idea of combining skepticism with reality television in a novel was so unique and refreshing. Eva was a very well developed character that was easy to follow. Along with her and the pacing of this book, I was immediately swept up in the world that Cynthia Witherspoon had created.

  There are so many elements to this book, and I enjoyed every single one of them. There are several parts to the plot, but I found the author's writing to make this an enjoyable read. She showed so much talent for story telling and I cannot wait to dive into more of her works!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Breaking Through the Block: Why Does Music Inspire Us?
by Cynthia Witherspoon

Hello, my name is Cynthia and I'm currently recovering from writer's block.

Yes, I know. Writer's block is the bane to every writer's existence. You get your creative space just perfect. You go through your pre-writing ritual, sit down at the keyboard ready to type out the best book to hit the shelves in years, and what do you get?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So you check Facebook, the news, anything in an attempt to get the creative juices flowing. But when your words refuse to come out, or you're stuck on a particular scene, what can you do to get past it? How can you break the writer's block?

Ask any writer out there what inspires them to write and I'll guarantee that you'll get the same answer: everything. Inspiration comes from in the form of any media, experience, or conversation overheard from the darkest corners of a coffee shop.

I know this answer well enough because I've used it time and time again. Even when I couldn't find my muse to save my life.

It is certainly true that inspiration can come from anywhere. I've written stories based on pictures, conversations, even the location used in a Ghost Adventures episode once. But we all have our triggers - our muses if you will - that get the creative juices flowing like no other.

For me, it was music which finally broke through my writer's block. Each of my stories have a soundtrack because when I'm writing them, I'm listening to a song that mirrors the emotions I am trying to capture through a particular scene. For example, my chapters in Gilded Cages (my collaboration with the great K.G. McAbee) were written while listening to Taylor Swift's Red album. The Sibyl? Matchbox Twenty's North.

And I am not alone. There are numerous articles throughout the internet about how to use music as a trigger to recover from writer's block. According to a paper published in Scientific American, studies have found that humans respond to music as a stimulus because it makes us feel. "Music is exquisitely emotionally evocative..."[source]

So what does this mean for those of us trying to recover from writer's block? Simple. Music in itself is a trigger for emotional response, which we try to immolate on the page. If you are working on a fight scene, listening to a song which triggers images of violence could help you work out the action sequences. If you are writing a love scene, then songs about lovers could help you focus on that aspect of your dialogue.

So yes, it is perfectly ok - normal even - to suffer from writer's block. It can be frustrating. Heart wrenching. Devastating. But there are ways to get around your dilemma.

Get your writing space ready and put on some music. Listen, think, but make sure you do the most important thing of all.

Put those feelings down on paper. Work through your scene and move on. Break the block and keep writing!

You'll be grateful that you did.

Cynthia D. Witherspoon is an award winning writer of Southern Gothic, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy. She currently resides in South Carolina, but spent three years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Always an avid reader, she began writing short stories in college. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in History from Converse College, and earned a Masters in Forensic Science at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences.


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