Monday, June 24, 2013

Michigan Author Spotlight with Cindy Ullery

Today is the start of a weeklong blog-fest I have planned with some pretty cool people. I'm talking to authors this week. All of them are in varying stages of author-hood but have at least one common thread tying them all together. We are all Michigan Authors.

My first guest is Cindy Ullery. Cindy why don't you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Married at sixteen, I have two children, two grandchildren and, amazingly, my original husband.  Though I’ve worked a multitude of jobs (store clerk, housekeeper, secretary, book-keeper, construction worker, kindergarten aide), I have written, in one form or another, for as long as I can remember.  What started out as write-to-keep-myself-sane poetry soon turned into personalized poems I sold to gift-givers, and it wasn’t long before my love of reading romances had my overactive brain itching to give that a try as well.  I’ve written Historical Romances and just recently crossed over into Contemporary.  Since my romance writing has been another tool used to keep my sanity, I am seriously beginning to worry that I am teetering on the edge on any given day.
Funny you should say that I've always sort of thought that one has to be a little bit crazy to be any good at writing. :) Are you published Cindy? 
No, I am not.  Thirty years ago, I sent three of my very first romances sailing into the slush pile, receiving personal letters and comments on all three from publishers such as Kensington and Avon.  Unfortunately I was too stupid at the time to realize how lucky I was.  One of the romances, a historical, actually had the publisher asking for changes and a chance to view it once those changes were made.  But life, being life, had my hubby injured on the  job and by the time we came to terms with our new existence and I managed a rewrite, the requesting editor had been replaced, policy had changed, and my manuscript was sent back unopened.  I’ve not attempted submissions since, but have never stopped writing – that sanity issue again.  My family thinks it’s a waste of time to write without submitting.  Me?  I kind of like my sanity, thank you very much.
What about now? Do you ever think of trying again? Is your work  (or at least parts of it) available to be read anywhere on the internet?
No, but I have seriously been considering making a few submissions once again.
Good! I'd be glad to point you in a few good directions. Now onto the good stuff. Are You
originally from Michigan or just residing here now?   

A born and raised Michigander – that’s me.
We know you are a Michigan Author but do you consider yourself a “Michigan Author”? Do the stories you write take place in Michigan?   
 All of my books are set here in Michigan.  It’s an accuracy thing with me.  If I had the opportunity and means to become a world traveler, I might branch out a bit, but I’m a firm believer in writing what, or in this case where, you know.
I hear yah! Do you write about areas that actually exist here? 

I do.  Usually.  My Historical Romances are set in the Upper Peninsula, late 1890’s, in Grand Marais, Seney, and the Au Sable Lighthouse, which also happens to be my very favorite place in this world.  My contemporary, however, takes place in a small-minded, fictional, Lower Peninsula town.
Au Sable Lighthouse
Is your fictitious Michigan towns ever based on actual towns?    

I suppose my fictional town could be based on any number of small towns, anywhere across our great country.  Small-mindedness doesn’t seem to be confined to Michigan, darn it all.  
Ha! You're right. It doesn't ;) Tell us a bit about one of your recent works. 
 Okay.  I’ll give you part of a scene from my contemporary, Maddie’s Mistake, the story of two best friends facing their worst fears while dealing with a friendship suddenly twisted about by love and desire.  In this scene, a slightly inebriated Maddie has decided to throw caution to the wind and have a taste of what she’s always secretly desired: her best friend Jake. 
 Here goes….
    “Don’t be stupid, Jake.”  She was glaring now, her gorgeous eyes the color of the whiskey sloshing about in her glass.  “Are you serious about this one – this Tessa?”
    Smiling slightly, he shook his head.  “She’s just a friend, Madison.”
    “What’s that supposed to mean?” he found himself demanding with her tone.
    “Just one more pretty to add to your little harem?”
    “For pity’s sake, Maddie.”   
    “Are you sleeping with her?”
    “Are you….”
    “I heard you the first time,” he snapped, interrupting her.
    “Then answer the question,” she directed, tone reasonable.
    “No.  I will not.  My sex life,” he shifted uncomfortably, “is none of your concern.”
    To his surprise, she laughed.  “It wasn’t my concern when you were in the back seat of your little red Mustang with Sheila Ferguson either, Jake, but I managed to get every little detail on that one.”
    “Good God.  That was a dozen years ago, Maddie.  How….”
    “Hair dye.”
    “What?”  He was beginning to think it was his new favorite word.
    “I bribed her with hair dye.  Her roots were showing, and her parents were refusing to hand over any more money.  So I paid her off in hair dye to tell me every single thing you did to her that night.”
    “Oh, my God….”
    “She said you weren’t all that good at it either,” she added, tone disappointed.  “I wanted to punch her when she started spreading that all around school.”
    Bristling, he sat straighter on her couch.  “It was my first time, for Christ’s sake.”
    Those doe eyes of hers swung up to his, a definite sparkle in them now.  “Was it?  I didn’t realize.  Peggy Sue Terwillegar had been telling anyone who’d listen that you and she had….”
    “Stop!  I did nothing with Peggy Sue.  Well, next to nothing,” he added, color creeping when she just stared at him.
    She gifted him with a giggle.  “I didn’t think what she told me was anatomically possible anyway, but Peggy Sue swore….”
    “I don’t want to know what Peggy Sue swore,” he broke in, cutting her off.  “It’s bad enough that Sheila was strolling around the countryside advertising I didn’t know what the Hell I was doing in the back seat of that Mustang.”
    “You scored points for trying,” she soothed, “in my book, at least.”
    To his horror, he felt a grin forming.  “Thank you, Maddie.  That really helps.”  Falling silent, he finally muttered, “Christ.  My reputation in shreds for one small bottle of hair dye.”
    “It was a case, Jake.  She made me buy her a whole case.”
    His grin widened.  “That makes me feel so much better, Mad.  Thanks.”
    “Don’t mention it.”
    Those eyes were on him again, in places he’d rather not acknowledge and, this time, he squirmed a lot on his couch.
    “So, you’re not planning on marrying anyone in the near future?”
    “And you accuse me of being drunk.”  She shook her head, wobbling a bit on her chair.  “Listen carefully, Jacob.  Try to follow the conversation.”
    “I don’t want to follow the conversation, Maddie.  I don’t even want to guess where it might lead.  I think you should go to bed now.”
    Her gaze ran over him again, oh so slowly this time.  “Funny you should mention that, Jake.  I’ve been thinking about that very thing.”

First of all I just have to say I am a complete sucker for friends to lovers romances. So you already had a point from me in that aspect but I loved this excerpt. I want to read more! What happens? I think you better get to submitting I'm sure I'm not the only one out there dying to know what comes next for Maddie and Jacob.
You said before your set your books in Michigan because of that old adage “Write what you know” is that all of it or is there something else behind it too?  
I think it’s mainly the ‘write what you know’, but my love of our state’s history and the beauty of the terrain may also play a part in my decision.

What is your favorite thing about Michigan?    

I should lie and say the people, but we have some not-so-nice and none-too-friendly people in our state.  So, being a lover of honesty, I’m going with the Great Lakes.
Good choice!  4 out of 5 Great Lakes Prefer Michigan ;)
Okay now some just for fun questions …

Salt Water Taffy or Mackinaw Island Fudge:    Mackinaw Island Fudge, hands down. The Island or the city:    The Island.
Trolls VS. Yoopers – your vote:    Yoopers.  I was born on the wrong peninsula; I’m a Yooper at heart.
Psst. Me too Cindy. Me too.
Your favorite Michigan Season:    Autumn.  There is nothing more breathtaking. Michigan or Michigan State:    Sorry, not answering.  I have lovers of both in my family, and I have vowed neutrality.
Just call Cindy Switzerland ;)
Football or Hockey:    Definitely hockey.
Your favorite Michigan City:    Grand Marais.
Your favorite Michigan Lake:    Lake Superior.

We are Michigan soul-sisters you and I. I love that frigid lake. The series I'm currently writing is basically an ode to her.
Your favorite Michigan Hideaway:    My no-electricity, wood-burning, gas-lit, outhouse-sporting cabin in Grand Marais.
Paradise or Hell:    Paradise.  I have tried my best to avoid visiting Hell and, if I ever felt the urge, it’s in the wrong peninsula anyway.What’s your favorite Michigan Highway :  H-58.
Portions of H-58 are left unplowed during the winter and used as a snowmobile trail.

Favorite Michigan tourist activity:   Agate-picking on Lake Superior or salmon fishing on the Two-Hearted River.  It’s pretty much a draw.

I almost don't feel right putting this out there because I'm greedy and want to keep the spot all to myself but my favorite place in the world is where those two waterways meet.

Your favorite book that showcases Michigan:  Please don’t make me choose.  I’m a sucker for every book written about the history of Michigan.  Hmmm….  My favorite?  I guess it would have to be the short little ditty with funny Michigan outhouse stories.  And the title escapes me.  Makes me wonder what that choice says about me.
I don't know but once you remember the title let me know it sounds like it's right up my alley - not sure what that says about me either. 
What’s next for you?
 I’m thinking, if I want to be published before I’m dead, I’d better get moving.  I plan on dragging out my last four manuscripts for rewriting, revisions, and polishing before trying out the ePublishing market.  Should be fun.  At my age, it’ll be like writing a whole new book.

Hey judging by the excerpt I bet your books are fun and well-written. If you're looking for a beta reader, look no further!
How can we keep up with you?
  My email.  If you promise you’re not one of those Facebook stalkers who keep propositioning me in broken English, Kelli has my email address.  Although the broken-English propositions ARE rather funny, now that I think about it….  :o) 

Cindy, thank you so much for hanging out with me here today! You were such fun!
Leave a note or question for either Cindy or I in the comments. I can get back to you today and Cindy will probably get back to you when she's home from her amazing Michigan vacation. The lucky duck.

Either way come back tomorrow and meet the next Michigan Author on the roster.


  1. I think you should keep trying. With the changes in publishing these days, you are sure to become a published author! All the best!

    1. I agree Cindy!
      Especially since I really would like to read your stuff.