Author Spotlight- James Cudney IV
I’m thrilled to have James Cudney on the blog today! He is as kind as he is handsome, and a darn good writer to boot. 🙂
I’ve followed his blog, This is My Truth Now, for some time and appreciate his generosity as much as the informative reviews he shares. If you need a good book to read, look no further than James Cudney IV!
About the Author
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.
When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’m already writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…
Websites & Blog
Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney
Social Media Links
Let’s Get to Know You
What do you write?
I have seven (7) published books. Two (2) are stand-alone family drama novels (Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure) and five (5) are part of the Braxton Campus Mysteries. Both the family drama novels include some amount of romance / relationship sub-plots. The mystery series follows all the cozy rules (no graphic sex, violence, vulgar language), but they are not very light anymore… they’ve gotten complex and push the envelope. I’d deem them murder mysteries with a twist. I’m working on three books for 2020, and there will be one from each of these two genres plus a third I will share more on early next year.
Ooh, I’m looking forward to that!
What genre do you favor?
At my core, I’m a mystery guy… but I intend to write a book in all major genres within the next ten years.Tweet
I can’t help but want to try all styles and angles to fully develop my writing skills and hone my areas of expertise. There will always be twists and cliffhangers (in my series) because that’s what I love doing.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I loved writing as a child, but it wouldn’t pay the bills, so it was only a hobby. After nearly 15 years in the workforce, I took a break to begin my writing career. Almost three years later, I will have 10 books published in 2020. Now, I think about finding a happy medium – both writing and part-time work in technology and corporate operations. I don’t know how to not be busy or multi-task.
You’re well on the road to success!
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
That’s a tough question! Couldn’t you ask my favorite drink instead? Oh, wait… that’s coming up later. LOL Let’s see… finding an agent and securing a publisher rarely happens when you look across the wider industry. I think that’s often the best opportunity to get your work noticed by the bigger sites and marketing companies; however, given the amount of time you might have to wait to even get lucky, it’s probably not ideal anymore. I tried for six (6) months, then decided to just jump in the water and navigate it myself.
Becoming ‘famous’ is fine balance of networking, strong writing, unique personality, and luck.Tweet
Sometimes you’re in a writing group and a literary agent notices you. Other times you’re writing an article or short story and the right publisher stumbles upon it. For many of us in the digital age, we build our following though book reviewing, blogging, and social media interaction. Ultimately, I think that’s the future… publishing companies don’t want to pay for expensive marketing, and if you don’t have your own following somehow, they often won’t take a big risk on you. That said, I’d suggest a compromise in between the two spectrums. Don’t do all the work yourself; you have to pay someone to help with either editing, promoting, marketing, or sales management. Know your own skills and use those first; let others with stronger talent handle the other aspects.
Good advice- obviously it’s working for you.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
Cozy mystery, historical fiction, and thrillers. I like suspense a lot. I’ve read a few romance novels, and as long as they are about the relationship and the drama between the lovers, I enjoy them. (Hence why I like yours!!!) I was reading something lately where the term bodice-ripper was used (any idea where that came from? LOL). I’ve heard it before, and it’s kinda funny… under the right conditions, I could be caught reading one or two. But they would mess with my head too much, so I have to balance them with lighthearted fun and massive gore! 😊
I think bodice-ripper came from historicals featuring pirates ‘capturing’ fair maidens’ hearts 🙂 This from Urban Dictionary: An historical romance where the heroine has lots of non-consensual sex, which becomes consensual.
How do you approach starting a new book?
Outline. Outline. Outline. Outline. Should I keep going? Phew, it’s exhausting, but I first dream about it. I lose sleep until the main plot is worked out. I write it out, then edit it until I love the story. Then I can write the book based on pre-determined scenes in my chapter by chapter breakdown. Within those scenes, it’s totally on the fly. I just know where it needs to start and where it needs to end up. Whether the characters laugh, cry, cheat, or kill… it’s all up to them at that point!
Sounds like you’re a plotser- part plotter, part pantser 🙂
What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
Oh, you won’t like my answer. Ummmm… none? I don’t mean that how it sounds. I don’t learn from reading ‘how-to’ books. I learn from experience, conversation, and reading other people’s works. I see how they write, decide what works for me, incorporate pieces into my style, and end up with my own version of an approach. On the flip side, I’ve read some of the biggies and always find advice that makes perfect sense. I just struggle to read a ‘how-to’ book without actually doing the writing work while I’m reading.
That makes perfect sense to me- I’m the same way 🙂
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
Genealogy. Cooking. Gardening. Exercising. Playing with my dog. Theater. TV. Reading. I’m more of a homebody, but I do like to travel a lot too.
Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?
Oddly enough, not really. I admire something in everyone I meet. Even when I dislike someone, they do something I think is good / acceptable enough that I figure out what I can learn from them. As a kid, I adored JFK, but as an adult, when I learned more about him, there were things I found troublesome to accept. In the end, I like personality types rather than specific individuals. For instance, JFK was a strong communicator and had amazing ideas to change the future, but if he truly had affairs, I am disappointed in some ways. I choose to focus on a person’s most common traits and actions, then I can consider them someone to admire, a hero to some degree.
I like that idea.
Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?
Nothing too atypical… but I did teach people how to bowl. I worked in a bowling alley for two years and learned the entire operation from 14 to 15. My favorite job was a grocery store clerk when I was 16 to 17.
What was your best date ever?
What’s a date? I think I remember those from a very long time ago. Is that when two people do something fun before they move in together or get married? Just kidding!!! I’m not sure I have a favorite one, but I do recall my second date with W (significant other) the most. We had our first date right before Christmas in 2011, but W left the next day to visit family and then travel to Europe for two weeks. The anticipation of having our second date was intense, and I always remember how nervous I was… I worked in Manhattan but lived in Long Island. It took 90 minutes by train each way, and I kept thinking… we’re not meeting for dinner until 8… I’m not getting home until well after midnight, then I have to come right back into the city for work the next morning. It helped me decide to sell my house in Long Island and buy a place in Manhattan. And the date lasted well past midnight, so I was a very tired guy the next morning after that ridiculous commute. (Keep those thoughts clean, friends… you didn’t think I stayed over in the city that night, did you?)
Sounds like you were already committed to the relationship- a romance in the making!
Tell us something you are really proud of.
For someone as shy and nervous around other people as me, and for someone who absolutely hates conflict and being judged, I wrote and published 7 books and deal with the negative feedback in a much healthier manner now. It’s simple. If you didn’t like my book, there’s something wrong with you, right? Ha! Just kidding… about that last statement. I get angry or upset when it happens on occasion, but it takes a day to feel better now. It used to take me weeks to recover.
Readers don’t realize how much courage it takes to put our precious book babies in their hands.
Can you confide something you wish you were better at?
Relaxing. I can’t stop my mind from working in overdrive. Ever. I try to do nothing, but it never works out. I have to drink a bunch, but then I feel bad the next morning, so it’s a vicious cycle.
Chocolate or chips?
Chocolate all the way. I am a sweet dessert guy, not a salty snack guy. Feed me chocolate and I am yours forever.
Good to know 😉
If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?
Read people’s minds or move from place to place more quickly. I don’t like not knowing what someone’s thinking, so I’d rather hear it and deal with the consequences than let the worry eat me alive. Plus, if I moved quickly enough, no one could catch me!
Fancy restaurant or picnic?
Picnic, but I do go to my fair share of fancy restaurants. I enjoy it, but there’s something comforting and thrilling about a stunning picnic in nature.
Beer or wine?
Wine. I drank beer in college. I like the occasional one now at a picnic or BBQ, but I’d rather have a glass of wine with dinner. And Jack Daniels and ginger ale as a pre-dinner cocktail. Or seven. Whatever is appropriate for the evening.
Agatha Christie. Kate Morton. Henry James. Ken Follett.
Smooth or hairy?
Oh! Hmm… are you asking if I am, or what I prefer? Now this is an interesting question… Based on reading your past interviews, a majority of your interviewed authors are female. Now I’ve got a spotlight on me and have to figure out how to respond appropriately. Can we jump back to the beer or wine question?
Lol- put you on the spot, did I?
I have a little bit of hair. If you follow my social media accounts, there was a recent shirtless picture (which I hemmed and hawed over for at least thirty minutes before posting), so you know it’s just a small amount. I HATE shaving my face too, so I tend to have 3-day growth all the time. I get too itchy after a week, so the sweet spot is twice per week to shave, often based on meetings or other events.
In others… I am an appreciator of all varieties. There are days when I think smooth is much cleaner to look at and ogle from a distance. On some occasions, the rugged and rough look can really be an intense picture to drool over, right? I think I’d settle on somewhere in the middle… then it’s up to the moment to decide what to do or how naughty to be.
I think I navigated that well unless you were actually talking about furry or non-furry throw pillows on couches and beds. Did I mess up this question? Let’s see what Jacquie actually prints. I think I need to go hide now… I say with a scarlet red complexion cascading from my ashamed forehead down to my shaking toes.
You did fine, though now I want to see the shirtless photo!
Books by the Author
Watching Glass Shatter (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)
The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family. Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death. We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits. https://amzn.to/2ol6IHe
Father Figure (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)
Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies. Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent. Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense. https://amzn.to/2NagJiD
BRAXTON CAMPUS MYSTERY SERIES
Academic Curveball: Death at the Sports Complex (#1)
When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever. In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss. https://amzn.to/2JlmHMw
Broken Heart Attack: Death at the Theater (#2)
When an extra ticket becomes available to attend the dress rehearsal of Braxton’s King Lear production, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies, sisters-in-law Eustacia and Gwendolyn Paddington, to show support for the rest of the Paddington family. When one of them appears to have a heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate who killed her friend. Amidst family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But did one of them commit murder for an inheritance? Kellan is back in his second adventure since returning home to Pennsylvania. With his personal life in upheaval and his new boss, Myriam, making life difficult, will he be able to find a killer or will he get caught up in his own version of stage fright? https://amzn.to/2qGofKB
Flower Power Trip: Death at the Masquerade Ball (#3)
Braxton College is throwing the Heroes & Villains Costume Extravaganza to raise money for renovations to the antiquated Memorial Library. While attending, Kellan stumbles upon a close family friend standing over a dead body that’s dressed as Dr. Evil. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill an annoying guest at the Roarke and Daughters Inn or does the victim have a more intimate connection to someone else on campus? As Kellan helps the school’s president, Ursula, bury a scandalous secret from her past and unearth the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his own family who’s reappeared after a lengthy absence. When all the peculiar events around town trace back to the Stoddards, a new family who recently moved to Wharton County, the explosive discovery only offers more confusion. Between the special flower exhibit that’s made an unplanned stop on campus and strange postcards arriving each week from all around the world, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. Unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to arrive at his doorstep. When it does, Kellan won’t know what hit him. https://amzn.to/2Jm7E5r
Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death on the Cable Car (#4)
A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he must make a few ruthless sacrifices. Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat settles in Wharton County. https://amzn.to/2N67tw4
Haunted House Ghost: Death at the Fall Festival (#5)
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost. https://amzn.to/2Pdc5TT
Frozen Ice Bank: Death at Danby Landing (#6) – Coming in 2020
A winter blizzard unlike any other descends upon Wharton County. Everyone’s so busy preparing for the four towns to shut down that they don’t realize Nana D has gone missing until it’s too late. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed psychic never could’ve prepared him for this level of massive damages. Once a dead body turns up beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must turn to April to face his worst fear of all. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother? Meanwhile, Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. April wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward with an unremitting vengeance. Between helping Kellan locate Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of a prominent Braxton citizen, April’s world explodes with more turmoil than she can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about Madam Zenya’s latest premonition—the suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.
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