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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook) and @thewritepen (Twitter). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Interview with D.M. Cuffie, Author of At Least Once

Author’s Bio: D.M. Cuffie currently lives in her hometown of Columbia, MD where the main character is from and a few of her beloved locations are highlighted. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park (GO TERPS) and a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.  She serves as an usher in her church, line dances throughout the DMV, and runs to keep away the crazy. She absolutely loves football and her Baltimore Ravens (GO RAVENS!).

Cuffie rediscovered the love of a good book in high school, and experienced complete joy when reading novels was offered as a class in college. She discovered she could tell a better story on paper, rather than writing emails to her friends.  At Least Once is her first of five novels she plans to write.

What inspired you to write your book?
Two Reasons: 1) I suggested my cousin take a particular singles course. And the first thing out the facilitator’s mouth was, “not everyone is going to get married.” Albeit true, no one wants to hear that when getting married is their heart’s desire and are searching for answers or just some comfort during their season of singleness. 2) I watched a documentary called ‘Soul Mates’ and the married subjects were almost begging singles to enjoy their ‘singlenesss’ for as long as they could. There was one woman who said, “I’m not trying to hear that!” I had her, her fight and determination in mind, when I wrote this book. There are too many African American women 35 and over who have never been married and have no children. Why is that? What can be done about it? How can we endure with the wait?

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 
So many books come to mind. Books with the characters jumping off the page, mastering the dialect and not necessarily the English language, wrapping up a story neatly, to laughing out loud where ever you are, were all factors of influence and I have plenty of books to choose from. However, NPR’s National Story Project, I Thought My Father was God, had an absolute strong influence to write a story. The book showed me everyone has that one compelling story to tell that will resonate with someone else. I want my readers to remember the characters, their lines, nodding their heads in agreement, or shaking their heads with disbelief, and a scene that will cause anyone to laugh out loud, anywhere, like I did with this one book.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book? 
Yes, this is my first book. I always thought of myself as a reader. However, sharing a story is easier for me on paper.  I worked on this book collectively, for 11 years. However, those years allowed me to grow, making my characters grow as well.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically? 
I need my outline to keep the scene, my characters, and what I want to convey in the chapter, in line. The dialogue among the characters just flow, sometimes it take over.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book? 
I have a ‘Just Music’ playlist, with very little lyrics. Words get in the way. Plus, my playlist sets a timer for me to write. Even though I have a mental soundtrack for certain scenes, Joe Sample and Lalah Hathaway’s One Day I’ll Fly Away was going through my head while writing the first part of the book, while Bebel Gilberto’s version of Summer Samba belongs to the second half.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public? Mastering Social Media. I put my book launch social primarily on Facebook. Not one book left. Joining a writer’s organization is another way to guide you to introduce your book to the universe, eventually reaching your actual target audience.

What advice would you give to new authors? 
Do not cut corners. Make a decision if you want to go the traditional route or self-publish. And when you do, listen and jot down the good advice, and let it sink. Then do it!! If someone is offering “publishing and promoting” services, please, please, please, check their references first!! If you can accept what you see, arrange to pay half or a certain amount first and pay the rest when services are rendered.  

How about sharing an excerpt from At Least Once
“There is a lot of disgruntled, disgraced, displaced, discontented, dismissive, disenchanted, disheveled, disinterest, and just plain dissed faces, hearts, and minds in this room. We will examine and discuss whatever dis-ease you are feeling. But ladies, we will not stay here.  I want you to learn and grow from your past, not just run away from it.

“Now some of you have given up finding him. Some of you are tired of waiting for him to find you. But each of you, in some way, is hiding His best. And that is unacceptable. I am not here to show or tell you what you are doing wrong. I want to enhance what you are doing right.

“Ladies, according to your bios you got it going on: properties, careers, side hustles, and exotic trips. You are in situations of prosperity your parents did not dream of doing by themselves. Each of you has never been married and have no children. All of you are over 35, except for one.  Your faith and trust is somewhat strong in Him and are quite active in your place of worship. You have a strong foundation of support from your family and friends, which love and care for you deeply.

“However, for some reason, you are letting your heart and mind dwell in an extremely dark place. We will spend the next eight months getting you out of that dark place and let your light shine bright even if you find yourself visiting that dark place again.

“Ladies, if you do not want to stay, are not willing to stay or cannot stay, you are welcome to leave. And yes, I will give you your money back, tonight. But I would love for you to stay, share with me, and grow with your sisters. I will leave the room to allow you to think it over.” She smiled while her white line ensemble made her float out of the room.

What’s next for you? I plan to write five (5) books total. The next two books deal with enjoying our season through vacations for Breeze and her classmate Iris. Once I come down from my writer’s bliss, I plan to dive into story on her ‘cruise like no other’ journey, called “How Quickly We Forget.”

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)? Stay tuned for more, but for now…
It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

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