Jo: Welcome to the blog, Mindy! I’m over the moon to have you here. You’re such an awesome supporter of other Indies, and I’m pleased you’ve agreed to grace us with your presence. You ready?
Mindy: Hell, yes!
Jo: Awesome! Let’s jump right in with both feet. Your series, Game of Hearts, heavily uses elements of Greek mythology. Why did you choose to include that genre, and what can we expect out of the rest of the series?
Mindy: Great question! The whole series came about because Lady GaGa’s song, Poker Face, played right after Katy Perry’s Waking Up in Las Vegas. I loved the idea of exploring the Suits in a deck of cards as if they were living, breathing people. Plus, I’m totally obsessed with anything Royal, so marrying the world of the Cards and Greek mythology was a no-brainer. I needed a back story and a nemesis and who better than to fill those shoes than the man obsessed with everything glittery and gold but King Midas himself.
The House of Midas was born. But something was still missing. I needed a cohesive unit that tied the two powers together but still kept them under thumb. The myth of Midas and Dionysus provided the answer: I needed more Greek gods! The gods are the ultimate authority both The House of Midas and the ruling Cards fear and serve. The gods are to the Game of Hearts series what the shark was to Jaws.
In the final book, Cassie and the other Queens (Spades, Diamonds, and Clubs) uncover a devious plan that threatens all of humanities’ freedoms. Shadows and rogue factions play a huge part in the epic conclusion to free the Titans from Tartarus. Cassie has to make the ultimate decision whether to serve as the Queen of the House of Hearts or forget everything and everyone she’s experienced the last three years of her life.
Jo: I'm the biggest geek in the world, and that just made my inner-goddess sing! I can tell you love your novels. You heard it here, folks! Go check out this series! Moving on. How much is your character, Olivia, like you? Do you feel it’s a help or hindrance to be close with a character? Why?
Mindy: I’d like to say Olivia is all me, but not true. I based Olivia’s sass and in-your-face honesty off of a life-long friend, Rochelle Spears. Nothing, no past, no secret, no future prediction fazes Olivia. She’s going to experience life on her terms and be loyal to a freaking fault. Okay, the loyal to a freaking fault might be me.
I think it’s vital that you feel a connection or closeness with your characters because we all can write the paper cutout Disney prince or princess, it’s the complex tortured hero, heroine, and yes, villain, that really tugs at our and our reader’s hearts. I believe exploring those pieces, both the good and the bad, of you and those around you is how you create believable, likable, swoon-worthy characters.
Jo: Awesome picture! Great answer. I get asked all the time if I'm like my characters. I have to admit, they have a trait or two, but mostly they're based on people I know. I agree 100% on the need to be close to them. You must. *smiles* I know you’re a huge advocate of encouraging authors to keep learning. So, tell us, what writerly educational books grace your shelves? Which is your favorite and why?
Mindy: Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
If you think you know it all, then you really know nothing at all. I never want to be the smartest person in a room and luckily, I have yet ever to be. :) That being said, I have way too many writing books on my shelves. My favorites, because they’re totally like kids and I can’t choose one, are:
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I was a pantser forever, and with C. J. Redwine’s online plotting & world building classes and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, I’ve cut down on the plot lines I chase down rabbit holes. Painless Grammar by Rebeca Elliott, Ph.D.
Why? I may have daydreamed through all my English classes when they didn’t relate to Literature. Seriously, where was my Grammar Godmother when I needed her?!
Last one, the www.ce.SavvyAuthors.com website because, truly, Liz Pelletier and the crew over there are brilliant geniuses that make the technical side of creative writing easy to understand. One day I will share a chocolate martini with the lady. Maybe even in Las Vegas. *giggles*
Jo: I haven't heard of either of those books. *adds to list* I love that quote; it's so dang true, huh? Sooooo, I hear you aren’t a girly-girl (don’t judge; a little bird told me). So I’d like to know what your perfect date-night outfit and location would be. Why?
Mindy: Buahaha! Your birds are crazy accurate! I’m so not a girly-girl. I was raised with four brothers, have three sons, a nephew who is my fourth son, and seven more nephews to top off my testosterone world of wonder. I would die a slow, GI-Joe death if I didn’t suppress my estrogen. LOL.
Perfect date outfit would be blue jeans, a rockin’ hot top that was comfortable but still screamed ‘oh, yeah, she’s a girl!’ and flip-flops to show off my hot-pink pedicured toes.
Perfect location: I’m a beach girl. Give me salted sea air, waves crashing on the shore, and a bucket of Dungeness crab legs and I’m all yours. The husband threw in peach mojitos and laughed when I bombed him with crab shell shrapnel. It was true love from there on.
Jo: I feed those birds lots and lots of cookies! *wink* Sounds like a fabulous date! I know all about suppressing the estrogen. Ha! Let's not get too far off the question line, because I could talk all day about being a tom boy. You have two books out in the Game of Hearts Series: Enchanted Hearts and Lying, Cheating Hearts. What’s next? Care to share a little snippet of the blurb?
Mindy: The last book in the Game of Hearts series is in the hopper right now.
I’m also working on a paranormal category romance called: Cupid’s Curse. Yep, that’s what I’m going to give to you.
My name is Jack. Oh, don’t let the manly sounding nickname fool you; I’m all girl. From my waist length blonde hair, over every curve of my five-foot-six frame, down to my pedicured toes, I scream female. But when it comes to matters of the heart, well, I’m a bitch.
That’s not my technical title.
Officially, I’m a Cupid. Turns out the god of love, Eros, doesn’t like it when you curse amore. He gets down right bitter when you swear to never be a sucker for the swoon. That one phrase, “I’ll never love again,” with the right amount of fortitude behind it, will land you cursed in Eros’s Cupid Corps.
Yep, I’m totally cursed to play Cupid until I believe in love. If I don’t, well, my heart goes all petrified and I become immortal. Sounds damn good to me.
Ha! Looks like I really do have a thing for Greek gods.
Jo: That sounds fan-freaking-tastic! I can't wait to check it out. You did a marketing thing at UtopYA last year I thought was absolutely brilliant. Tell me about the Enchanted Heart screen cleaners, and how you came up with the idea, please! I still have mine.
Mindy: *big ole toothy grin* OH. MY. GAWD!!!! You have no idea how stinking happy that makes me! I would love to take all the credit for Enchanted Heart screen cleaners, but that fabulous find lies at the feet of my darling husband. Luckily, he is in real estate and is required to attend numerous conferences and conventions. I may sweet talk him into bringing home an extra swag bag. Seriously, I go through their swag bags like I’m discovering buried treasures.
Jo: Yeah, I totally do. People ask me about it all the time. *grin* Now that we’re on the subject of UtopYA, talk to me about the panel you’re on for newbies and introverts. What can people hope to take away from that experience?
Mindy: Confession time: I’m painfully shy and awkward. It took me a long time to shatter the wall-flower vase and really own who I am. Before writing became both my passion and my career, I was in the family business of selling Real Estate. Cold calls and open houses and strangers all around brought me face-to-face with my biggest fear, talking to people. Anyone who knows me knows I hate talking on the phone and the thought of face-to-face tends to break me out in hives. That being said, I knew I could either have my excuse of being shy or I could, full force and despite being shy, put myself out there and chase my dream. It came down to do I want the excuse or do I want the dream. I chose to chase after the dream.
At my first UtopYA conference, where I climbed back into my wall-flower vase, (no, really, sat up in my hotel room with flowered pajamas), my darling friend Megan Curd, kicked me out of the hotel room and told me to find my freaking mojo.
After the conference, I read online that there were so many people who had traveled to UtopYA and had done the exact same thing I did! The overall themes:
I don’t know what to say?
I don’t want to be “that” crazy fan-girl!
And, I’m new and shy.
That was it.
I embraced Janet’s “lift as you climb” mantra and decided to apply what I’d learned successfully practicing real estate and networking at conferences for twenty years to writers and share that knowledge. Megan and I tapped some amazing people who have successfully networked both online and at conferences to help: New York Times Best Selling Author: Rachel Harris, Misty Provencher, and Eva Pohler will be adding their tips and tricks to the panel.
The Newbie and Introvert panel is an interactive session.
You will leave knowing at least three people you didn’t before.
You’ll be armed with three open-ended questions to get your conversations past, “I love your book” and on to more substantial chats with authors and readers you love.
Finally, you’ll leave the panel with a starter toolbox with basic how to’s:
* How to comfortably step out of your comfort zone.
* How to be able to identify when you’re starting to slip back into your wall-flower ways and what to do.
* How to approach an author you love.
* How to spot a fellow wallflower and build your own wacky clump or tribe.
Jo: Oh man. Even seasoned veterans can benefit from that panel! I'm so stealing this (with credit, of course) for something the bloggers have coming. *grin* Rapid-fire question time! White, dark, or milk chocolate?
Mindy: *cue big pimpin’ music*
White chocolate Kit-Kats, if I’m totally honest.
Jo: Paper or computer (for writing)?
Mindy: Computer. I’d go through too many erasers and trees if I went the long hand route.
Jo: Up or Down?
Mindy: Up! The ever-eternal optimist says UP!
Jo: Right? Somehow, I knew you'd choose up. *grins* Time travel question! Because the theme of UtopYA 2015 is time travel, I’m asking everyone a themed question. *grins* If you built a time machine, where would you go, what would you do while you were there, and would you tell anyone of your creation? Why/why not?
Mindy: Ooooh. Yikes. The practical girl in me says time travel = bad. But the caution-to-the-wall hellion in me says, Hell, yes! Time Travel? Where be the seatbelts?!
I’d totally go to the past and whack some Eleanor Roosevelt spine into the people-pleasing girl I thought I had to be. I’d tell her she was fine just the way she was and she should totally chase after the story-telling dreams her dad told her were “useless lies.” Now, because I’d messed with the space-time continuum like Marty McFly’d done in Back to the Future, I’d leave my mom a note and picture of my uber hunky husband and tell her not to let me settle for anyone else except this man. One: Mom’s Italian and no matter what moxy I’d gain from my Roosevelt spine whipping I’d still fear the woman. Two: the man is truly the love of my life. He loved me when I was bald, filled with chemo, and begged him to leave. He stayed and fought for us both, and I’m so blessed.
Would I share the technology? Nope! Not even hesitating about that one. Refer back to my Marty McFly Back to the Future reference.
Jo: Okay, can I just say I LOVE that photo? It's awesome! I hope you had fun taking these. Haha! Heck yeah. I love answers that involve going back to your younger self and giving advice! Don't we all wish we could do that? Speaking of road trips, did you ever get to go to Vegas? If yes, what did you see while there? If no, what do you plan to see while there when (notice I didn’t say if) you get to visit?
Mindy: The lady who inspired Olivia moved to Las Vegas a few years ago, so I visit as often as possible. Plus, living in Southern California makes it all too easy to jump a forty-five minute Jet Blue flight to get lost in Sin City.
When I was plotting the Game of Hearts Series, I knew I didn’t want to highlight the typical Las Vegas sites. I wanted to explore the history and the off-the-beaten-tourist traps of the desert oasis. The catacombs were based on an article my girlfriend sent me about Las Vegas’s Homeless living in the underground sewers after the 2007 financial crash. The Neon Graveyard (they call it a boneyard) where we first meet Isaac actually exists. I HIGHLY recommend taking the tour. Freemont Street and the digital canopy, for realz. Umm, OOOH, the water preserve where A. J. introduces Cassie to the forgotten and the declaration stones, they’re for real. The quote from John F. Kennedy carved in the side of a boulder, totally in the water preserve. I’m still ninety percent certain he really was from the House of Hearts. ;)
Jo: I read a book recently called The Underground that was about the people living under Seattle after the city's destruction. Awesome story. I'll have to check out the spots you've suggested if I ever make it back to Vegas. I'm totally psyched you and Tia live in the same state. All I can say is: expect coffee in the future! *winks* I adore anything outside the box. Anything you’d like to throw out there that I didn’t already ask?
Mindy: Ummm, I wish I could say something really prolific, but … nope! I’m all good. Oh, wait! If you see me at UtopYA, Penned Con, Indie Bookfest in Orlando, or Great Lake Book Bash, please don’t hesitate to come up and squeeze me. I tend to walk around in a haze of “holy shiz! I can’t believe I’m here.” Enhance my experience and say Hi, Mindy. Send me over the moon and tell me you love my books or make my millennium and leave me a fun review.
Jo, thanks so much for having me. I just adore you and your readers and can’t wait to have a peach mojito with ya!
Jo: I do hope to see you this year. It's so crazy, I'm surprised I saw my table mate last year. HA! I've never had a peach mojito, but I'm totally blushing at your compliment. Thank you. Sorry to take up so much of your time! I appreciate you being here. I really enjoyed researching you for this interview. You sound a lot like me (low-maintenance, has many sons—I have four, and I’m someone who just adores books), and I can’t wait to see you at the conference! Not long now!
Now, it’s time to tell you all about the featured book of the week!
Title: Enchanted Heart
Author: Mindy Ruiz
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
Length (print): 322 pages.
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $0.99 US and UK ~ Smashwords $0.99 ~ iBooks $0.99 US and UK ~ B&N $0.99 US and UK
Cassandra Vera never ever broke the rules.
She’s also had a nonexistent social life since her best friend moved to Vegas. Armed with a new set of resolutions, the promise of a hot date, and her adoptive parents out of town, seventeen-year-old Cassandra agrees to a road trip, which is the perfect way to celebrate her birthday and ring in the New Year. After all, she’s headed to Vegas, the city where secrets are meant to stay hidden. Little does Cassandra know her past is buried there as well.
Cloaked in the shadows of the glitz and gaudy lights of Vegas lies a power struggle centuries old. One wrong step and Cassandra could destroy the delicate web of secrets. Now an enemy she never knew existed is after her, and the one boy who may be the missing piece to the puzzle — and her heart— is the one person she can’t afford to trust.
While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Mindy a follow on every social media platform I could think of when writing up the template for these interviews (plus some)?
Pinterest: Mindy Ruiz Books
Instagram: Mindy Ruiz
Google +: Mindy Ruiz Books
Facebook: Mindy Ruiz Books
Street Team: Heart Breakers 4 Ever
Goodreads: Mindy Ruiz
Amazon Author Page: Mindy Ruiz
LinkedIN: Mindy Ruiz
Tsu: Mindy Ruiz
Time for the Rafflecopter giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you have any questions, pop them into the comments below. Ms. Ruiz (pronounced Reese) will be around to answer and/or respond!
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!