Friday, January 20, 2012

Cindy Procter-King: An Author With A Touch Of Humor, Romance, Present Day Issues, And One Fine Dog

Everyone's Story welcomes contemporary fiction author Cindy Procter-King who lives in gorgeous British Columbia, Canada. I've met Cindy back some years ago during my RWA days and I'm glad we've remained in contact. A multi-published author, Cindy reveals how the right attitude has helped her pen her novels as well as to cope through difficult times.

Cindy would enjoy hearing from you...perhaps with your anecdote of the right attitude that has gotten you through a trying time. Or, a mention of your grandpa and the age he lived!

The February 2012 RT Book Reviews gave your new contemporary romance a 4-star review. Congratulations! Two things caught my attention. First, one of the themes explores the need for a child/adult-child to come to grips that a parent needs their own life and love. And second, that out of anguish comes hope. Can you please address this, perhaps relating it to your own experiences?

Thank you very much for the kudos on the nice review, Elaine, and thank you for having me on Everyone’s Story! It’s great to be here. Wow, you’re starting with a difficult question. 

As far as the mother-daughter relationship in WHERE SHE BELONGS goes, let me say up front that it is entirely fictional. I have a close relationship with my own mother. However, when I was 21, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I backpacked through Europe. Upon our return, both my parents remarked that I now saw them as people rather than as authority figures. My mother felt a lot more freedom to share her emotional life experiences with me, and we have related to one another in a “friend” as well as a mother-daughter capacity ever since. I’ve often wondered what it would be like NOT to have a close relationship with one’s mother, because it’s such a vital relationship. So I explored that in WHERE SHE BELONGS.

Most of the anguish I’ve experienced in my life has been from losing those I love, usually to old age, but sometimes a precious soul is just snatched away from you and it’s difficult to understand why. I lost someone I was very close to when I was 21 (a pivotal year!). It was very difficult, but eventually  I chose to view his unexpected passing as a life lesson—that his death could teach  me how to live, to not be bitter and drown in what-ifs and what-might-have-beens, but to embrace the future with a positive attitude. When I hear people complaining about aging, for example, hey, I’m no more eager to turn 80 than the next person, but with every birthday I think of the years and love and joy I’ve experienced that the person I lost was not given the opportunity to experience. To me, that’s hope.

Danny in WHERE SHE BELONGS is nothing like the person I lost. Not the same age or personality or relationship or reason for passing. However, I was able to draw from the experience of losing a dear friend at a young age to explore how it might affect Jess if the boy she thought she would marry died.

You have two novels, HEAD OVER HEELS and BORROWING ALEX, released on audio. What was your reaction when you learned about this opportunity? How much of a role did you, the author, have over the recording of the books?

HEAD OVER HEELS and BORROWING ALEX were both originally published in trade paperback and ebook formats, and my contracts allowed me to retain subsidiary rights (like audio and foreign rights). I’ve always been interested in pursuing those rights. However, I’m not agented and that makes it more difficult. When I learned about the new (at the time) audio publisher, AudioLark, I asked some of the authors who had signed with them about their experiences. I liked what I heard and so I submitted my two novels. I was thrilled when they were accepted. AudioLark’s third-party distribution has grown since I became one of their authors, and in the summer of 2011 the audio book for HEAD OVER HEELS appeared on Audible’s ChickLit Bestseller list for several weeks. BORROWING ALEX is in the queue for uploading to Audible and will hopefully be available around mid-February,  as well as being available (as HEAD OVER HEELS currently is) on iTunes and Overdrive. Now, WHERE SHE BELONGS is in production, with a targeted publication date of March 2012.

As for author involvement, when you sell to an audio publisher (as compared to hiring narrators and producers and paying their expenses up front yourself, which would be the equivalent of audio self-publishing), the audio publisher has final say in all facets of production. They create a new cover and story blurb that differs from the paper versions, and they hire the narrators. The author doesn’t pay a dime and isn’t involved with production until the narration is complete. When narration is complete, I’m given a chance to proof the audio files (listen to them on my computer and advise the publisher of any errors). The narrator makes the corrections, and the publisher puts the audio book up for sale on their website and third-party vendors.

The books that I’ve sold to audio have all already been through the editing process with their “paper” editors, so it’s not necessary to do more editing. They go to audio “unabridged,” that is, narrated as they were originally published in paperback. The books are not shortened for audio (which is what “abridged” means).

You’ve traveled to many exotic and fascinating countries that some of us can only imagine. Do you have an experience(s) from one of these trips that perhaps inspired your writing, whether story-wise or personal motivation-wise?

I did travel when I was young, the backpacking trip to Europe part way through university, but other than writing conferences and taking the kids to Disneyland and Disney World, my husband and I didn’t begin to travel again until our children were in their late teens/early twenties. For our 25th anniversary, we went to Peru for three weeks and we are now planning a trip to Ecuador. We also had an opportunity to visit Newfoundland last year, and in the future we plan to visit Australia (he has cousins there) and Chile. To be truthful, my traveling has not inspired my writing story-wise, but it might some day. For example, if I wanted to write a story set in South America, I like knowing I’ve been there (I’m a research hound). As far as motivation goes, I suppose I’m motivated to finish a project before I leave on a trip!  However, traveling has taught me, more than anything, that life is about more than the next publishing contract. It’s necessary to refill the creative well, and traveling helps me do that. Plus, learning about other cultures broadens the mind, in my opinion. If travel motivates me in any way, it’s to do more of it! I just love “exploring.” 

Tell us about your beloved grandfather, William, and how he had inspired you to persevere in the face of tough times. 

Cindy's Grandpa is the smiling man in the middle.

My grandfather, William Procter, was always known as Duke. The story has it that when he was three, he strutted around “like the Duke of Wellington” (if you can imagine the Duke of Wellington strutting around in the backwoods of British Columbia). His father, William George Procter, started calling him Duke, and he was Duke until the day he died at 106…and a half. 

Duke enlisted to fight in the Great War (WWI) when he was 16. He might have been 17 by the time he got to England (I’m not sure), but he was still underage. Many underage men were sent to France to fight in the trenches, and Duke planned to be one of them. They felt they were doing their duty. One of the reasons Duke volunteered for the army was because he didn’t want to get sucked into logging back home. Well, somebody upstairs had a different plan in mind for him, because the very day he was lined up prepared to board the train to travel to the English Channel and cross over to France, he was plucked from the line-up not only for being underage but also because he knew how to log. They needed men in Scotland to log wood required to build the trenches in France. My grandfather was sent to Scotland for the duration of his time in the War (three years). He felt a great guilt about this, because most of his regiment/battalion (I can’t keep the terms straight) were killed in France. Those who didn’t die overseas were affected by the gas. Duke carried his survivor’s guilt throughout his life, but he also believed in living life to the fullest, especially as he aged, to, in a way, help atone for the young men who died in his stead.

He was a man who didn’t know the meaning of “can’t”. He raised three sons during the Great Depression as a farmer/rancher. I once asked him what it was like living through the Roaring Twenties. His reply? “The Twenties didn’t roar down on the farm. It was just darn hard work.” He darn-hard-worked his entire life.

When he was in his early sixties, I believe it was, a tree fell on his head while he was clearing land for a pasture, and he required surgery. He nearly died. For the rest of his life, he had this soft spot in his skull, like a baby.  They didn’t have steel plates to put in his head in the sixties, I guess. But did that slow him down? No. When he was 81 or 82, he participated in the first Terry Fox Run (a run that raises funds for cancer research, named for Canadian Terry Fox, who had to end his cross-country fundraising venture when his own cancer returned). Now, Duke had never run as a sport in his life. In fact, he didn’t own runners. He wore his square-dancing shoes. My grandmother died when Duke was around 90. He took up five-pin bowling and didn’t stop square-dancing (he became very popular with the widows). He bowled his last strike at 104 or 105, before the last of three falls (that had occurred over a period of years) that finally made him have to move to a nursing home at 105. He lived on his own from about 90-105, albeit beside my parents. He canned his own fruit, changed his own tires in his nineties, drove until 100, and played horseshoes every day in the front yard from the time he was 75. At one time, he was the oldest competing horseshoe player in Canada, and when he died he was the oldest surviving British Columbian WWI veteran. So he knew a lot about perseverance!

Did I mention that he went skydiving for his 100th birthday? What can I say? He was a Leo.

I grew up either down the road or next door to him until I left for university. It’s hard NOT to be affected by such a strong personality. How can I not persevere when I had this fellow as a role model? When I think of all he achieved when he didn’t have a formal education, to me, with the opportunities available to me and my children that just were not available to Duke in his youth, it’s silly not to persevere. It’s practically disrespectful.

You’ve done an amazing job designing your own website and blog. Kudos. Are you a techie at heart? Any advice on how-to or what not to do?

Thanks! Oh, gosh, no, I’m not a techie at heart. I’m a terminal do-it-yourselfer, and also, when I first published, I could not afford a website designer. So I bought the necessary software, bought a bunch of how-to books, and taught myself enough HTML web design to build my first website. My current website was the third I designed. I also designed a site for an author friend and another for a business.

I discovered that I love web design! But it’s a time-suck. So I had to choose—web design or writing. I chose writing.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer and have time to take away from your writing to devote to web design, the great thing is YOU’RE in control. And it’s fun! But, for example, when I built my website, free software like WordPress, which a lot of web designers now use to build entire sites, not just blogs, was around but not in common use for web design. If I had it to do over again, I would probably design a site (the look) and then hire a professional to transport my design into WordPress. These types of sites are easy to update on your own. Even with my current site design, I had to hire a professional designer to code the blog so it looked like the rest of my site. I can understand HTML but CSS layout is like Martian to me.

And for fun: which authors do you tend to gush over during the writing conferences you attend?

I don’t gush because I don’t want to make authors feel uncomfortable. Can you imagine being a celebrity and people are gushing all over you? That sounds like a weird experience to me! After all, to you you’re just…you. But my favorite romance authors are Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have sat in on their workshops and talked to them briefly at signings, but I can’t say that I’ve gushed. I’m more likely to gush over my personal author friends, because then they’ll buy me cheesecake. 

I’m in it for the cheesecake.  

Author Bio:
As a child, Cindy dreamed of becoming a writer. Well, okay, thanks to her grade three teacher reading a chapter of The Little House on the Prairie books to Cindy's class everyday, Cindy actually dreamed of becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder. It made so much sense. After all, Cindy's blond older sister always got to wear blue while Cindy with the "dark as cinders" hair was often relegated to wearing dull old pink­just like Laura. Laura was part of a pioneer family, and until Cindy went to school she lived in a minuscule farming community where her father and grandparents were born. What further confirmation for her future does an eight-year-old with an avid imagination require?

When Cindy realized becoming Laura meant learning to travel back in time and using­gasp!­outhouses where she believed evil trolls were hiding to gobble her up, she decided to remain in the present and become a writer instead. Her first poem began, "My father is a logger, He stirs his coffee with his thumb, He has a dog named Blackie, And in his truck they both look dumb." Thus another illustrious literary career was born.

Cindy earned a first class B.A. in English Lit. from the University of Victoria before unleashing herself on the unsuspecting workforce. However, she quickly realized her aversion to fluorescent lights and the numbers 9-2-5 wouldn't gain her kudos from her various bosses. Luckily, she married Steven King (note the lack of a "ph"), who whisked her to a tiny logging town where she couldn't find a job...unless you count her stint as secretary to the warden of a minimum security prison. There, Cindy began writing novels, and she hasn't looked back. Because, honestly, what other employer in their right mind would want her?

A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® nominee, Cindy's mission in life is to see her surname spelled properly­with an E. So take heed. That's P-r-o-c-t-E-r. Not, no, never, under any flippin' circumstances should you spell it with two O's. Cindy lives in Canada with her husband, their two amazing sons, a tortoiseshell cat obsessed with dripping tap water, and Allie McBeagle.

Website: www.cindyprocter-king.comFacebook: Author Page:


  1. Great interview, Cindy! I always love reading about your grandpa. He seemed like such 'let's get it done' type of guy. :) Btw, I love my copy of Where She Belongs! Such a heartwarming story. It's a keeper on my shelf. :)
    PS--Thanks, Elaine, for bringing Cindy to your blog.

  2. So nice for you to visit, Mary. I also think Cindy did an awesome job replying to my questions. I've been told by a few guests that I make 'em think--LOL. Just grateful to have guests and viewers, especially international ones--so exciting!

  3. Thank you, Mary, and thank you again to Elaine for hosting me.

    I hope to meet a lot of interesting people here over the next week.

    And, Mary, "get 'er done" was exactly Grampa's style. That's how he came to fall off the roof in his nineties. He was cleaning the gutters. Broke his leg. After it was healed, he still cleaned the gutters, but tied himself to the roof with a rope around his waist. The thought of what would have happened to his spine if he'd fallen... But he never fell off the roof again. It just amazes me that someone in their nineties would even think about going on the roof to clean their gutters, LOL.

  4. What a great interview, Cindy. You are so talented. I remember stories of your grandfather and am sorry to be reminded he passed away. But he was a remarkable man and I know that's where you come by some of your spunk.

  5. Great questions & answers!

    Kudos Cindy.

  6. Hi, Cindy,

    So nice to learn more about you as a person and as a writer! Wishing you every success.

  7. I'm not only entertianed by your Grandfather, Duke, I'm inspired. Sometime I think I'm a mental case facing things and technology I know next to nothing about but he has showed me Ineed not be embarrassed being so 'gung ho' at 84 (I won't be 85 till March 22nd-LOL)I'm gong to write as long as I can see the monitor. And wish off of us readers and writers a great 2012 - thank you for your blog and sharing.
    Jackie Griffey
    I think I may check out Audio Lark...

  8. Hi Cindy and Elaine - thanks for the great interview. It's always nice to know the people behind the author, and I love hearing tales of Cindy's grandfather. I can't wait to read Where She Belongs...

  9. Cindy and Elaine,
    Fabulous interview! I was surprised that your travels haven't - yet - influenced your writing. I have confidence they will. Cheesecake huh? You know, the more I read about your Grandfather, Duke, the more I see where you got your focus, drive and determination. :) I'm so proud of you and wish you continued success! *Hugs*

  10. Sorry everyone for the delay in posting. I don't know whether it was the little snow storm we had this morning, but my internet service was down which is strange because it's never down.

  11. Welcome new visitors: Pamela, Jacqueline, Jackie, Robin, and returning guests Caroline & Diana! I'm so glad you've enjoyed Cindy's interview.

    If you like, I'd be pleased if you Follow Everyone's Story... or even better, pass the word around.


  12. Great interview, and it was fun to learn what authors Cindy gushes over at conferences! I have to say SHE is one of my favorite authors to hang with at conferences! =) Anaheim Romance Writers of America in July, here we come?

  13. Hi Caroline, thanks for coming by!

    It's hard to believe my grandfather has been gone for 6 years now. He continues not only to influence me, but his memory still has an impact on his great-grandchildren.

    Pamela and Jacqueline, hello! Thank you for your good wishes.

  14. Welcome, Tina to Everyone's Story. You're making me miss RWA. Hmm.

  15. Jackie, I hope I'm still writing at 84. Good for you!!! Now that's an inspiration. I'm impressed.

    Robin, I hope you enjoy WHERE SHE BELONGS. If not, just, uh, don't tell me to my face. If so, shout it all over the place, LOL.

  16. Hi, Diana, thank you, as always, for your support.

    Before Elaine asked the question, I never really considered if my travels have influenced my writing. They haven't influenced me in terms of story or character, because I tend to write my settings fairly close to home. Most of my stories are set in western Canada, where I live. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Newfoundland, for example, but if I set a story there, I'd worry I wouldn't get the characterization right. That readers from Newfoundland would spot the flaws.

    That doesn't mean I'll never write a story set in Newfoundland, however. I just haven't yet.

    I do believe my travels have broadened my view of the world, but that, IMO, is true for anyone who travels and isn't individual to me, the writer.


  17. Really enjoyed this fulsome interview.
    What strikes me most about it is that wonderful relationship pyou had with your granddad. I never met either of my grandfathers: my dad's father died before my dad was born; my mom's father died a couple of months before I was born. But even tho I 'missed' him by those few months, he knew I was on the way and I've always felt very close to him. He, by the way, was also a WWI vet, and served in the trenches in France in the final months of the war.

  18. What a fun interview, Cindy. Your Granddad sounds like an amazing man---guess that apple didn't fall far from the tree.

  19. Wonderful to read about your grandfather. He is a reminder of the possibilities in life! Thanks for sharing.


  20. Enjoyed the interview and loved meeting "Duke". Those stories of men who felt the call to serve so strongly they enlisted at such young ages are always so touching. Sad in some respects to think of children going off to war, yet there is something noble about it.

  21. Nice to see Jeff, Gwynlyn Maryann, and a return visit from Sara. Thanks for taking the chill out of this frigid January day for me with your visits.

  22. Hey, Tina, yes, I can't wait to hang out with you. It's been too long, my friend.

    Hi, Jeff, so we have something in common - except your grandfather actually fought in the War. Yes, my Grampa, as we called him, was an interesting person to grow up "next door to." I can understand feeling close to a grandparent you haven't met. It depends on how others in the family keep the person "alive." One of my sons was influenced enough by my grandfather, his great-grandfather, that he had a memory tattoo put on his back - it's intricate and is in memory of more than one person, but the part that represents Grampa is a horseshoe. And my son did this at the age of 19. The other person who is symbolized in the memorial tattoo is someone my son has never met, as he died before our kids were born. But his memory is so very much alive.

  23. Thanks, Gwynlyn, Sara and Maryann.

    Maryann, you're right, it is sad to think of kids going off to War, but "childhood" was a very different experience growing up on a farm in the early part of the 20th century than it is for most children today. I think they saw themselves as "adults" much earlier, even though they technically weren't. And because they didn't have TV and all the communication we have today, they went off to War believing in the cause but having no earthly idea what they were getting into. It's not like they had the nightly news to tell them. What a shock it must have been to most of those young men.

  24. Cindy, what an interesting visual you've painted, one that can explain the realm of shell-shockness & PTS: going off into something one can not imagine. Such brave men!

  25. Great interview, ladies! Grandparents are such a blessing.

  26. You're so right, Melanie. I have very fond memories of my Grandma Shirly.

    Thanks for your visit!

  27. Hi Melanie, thanks for popping by.

    Hopefully I won't be made into a blessing"too soon, LOL.

  28. Wow, your grandfather was one inspiring man! Great interview, ladies!

  29. Nice seeing you again, J.C. Thanks for the sweet words.

  30. Cindy, heartfelt thanks for your guest appearance on Everyone's Blog this past week. Not only have you and your story been enjoyed by many commenters, but you've also brought in viewers for the first time from Belize, El Salvador, Mexico, Cyprus, Moldova, and the Bahamas... a very exciting time here. I love thinking how you've helped to encourage others in their writing journey and persevering through life based on your grandfather's beautiful example.

    I wish you well in your writing career and personal journey.


    ♥ Elaine

  31. Wow, Elaine, I can understand Mexico because my parents winter there, but very cool that visitors from other places have come. Maybe the mention of Peru?

    Cyprus..I might know the reason for Cyprus, but I can't say right now. ;)

    Thank you for hosting me! And thank you to everyone who came by.


  32. Hi, Cindy. Hi, Elaine.
    Oh, what a post to read. I'm hopelessly addicted to stories about beloved family members...the way people find themselves enriched by the lives of others, especially grandparents, aunts, uncles..etc. Your story of your grandfather, Cindy, is wonderful. Though my own grandfather is a youngster compared your own (WWII vet instead), there are stories that I keep with me daily. I think I understand (a little) of how much you much miss your Grampa, and how much he is still a part of your daily life.



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