Interview & Review with Author Cindy McDonald

Today I have the pleasure of hosting author Cindy McDonald to my blog! Cindy is on tour for her new novel, "Hot Coco" and today we are going to be chatting a little bit about that along with how she became a writer.

Welcome Cindy!

KL: I read in your author bio that you made a living for years as a professional dancer and choreographer. How did you go from dancer to writer?

CD: That’s right, for the past twenty-six years my life has whirled around a song and a dance: I have been a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005.  I  seriously wish that  I knew what took place, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack.
Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is much more…racy. The drama is outrageous--not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do, but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.
I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid, turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!
Last spring I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. This past year has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books.

KL: Where did you find the inspiration for “Hot Coco”?
CD: Blondes—everyone loves to think of gorgeous blondes as klutzy, air-headed, and basically stupid. I wanted to take a character and introduce her as one thing, and then morph her into another. I think I did a very good job with Coco. I started her out as a stereotypical blonde bimbo and turned her into something else—no, I’m not going to tell you what, but just know that everyone is touched and changed in this story—read between the lines, watch the subtext, it is there for you—if you pay attention.
I also left behind bread crumbs of my former life as a dancer/choreographer in this book—you will see them—I couldn’t help myself!
KL: Without giving too much away, tell us a little bit about your newest novel, “Hot Coco”.
CD:  Let’s face it, everyone knows a beautiful woman who can’t walk through a room without tripping over the coffee table, or turning every situation into a total debacle. Trainers at Keystone Downs have been dumping Coco Beardmore and she’s landed in Mike West’s lap. The problem is that Coco is a complete klutz! Her driving skills are a real bang—into Mike’s horse trailer, and right through the barn wall!
What’s more are her Thoroughbreds: one flips while being saddled, one sits down like a dog in the starting gate, and then there’s the one that’s an escape artist.  It’s enough to drive a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.
Mike’s not the only one having problems with women. His father Eric has taken on more than he can chew, and he’s about to get spit out by two women: One that he’s in love with and one that thinks he’s in love with her.
Things have never been hotter around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm—and someone’s about to get burned!

KL: “Hot Coco” is the second book in your “Unbridled” Series. How many more books do you have planned to follow this one?
CD: When I wrote the scripts to the TV series, there were approximately seventeen scripts (an entire seasons worth of shows) I’m planning on at least ten to fifteen books—perhaps more, if the books find a solid fan base.
KL: Was there a particular scene or chapter in “Hot Coco” that you really enjoyed writing?
CD:   *Giggle*—I loved the kitchen scene in Chapter five. It was an absolute blast to write: Mike West shows up at Coco’s townhouse for a romantic dinner and well, let’s just say things go up in flames. As I noted in the back of the book, this is somewhat of a true story—enough said. ;}
KL: Your “Unbridled” series originally started out as a TV series. Did you have any particular actors in mind to play the parts of your characters?
CD:  I love this question! How fun! When I started my FB page for the Unbridled Series I posed this question to my “followers”. Each week I would post a picture of a character, be it a celebrity or a model as to the person that I thought fit my characters, and then I asked my followers to post pics of whom they thought would fit said character.
Here were just some of those results:

Mike West—I chose a photo of a male model from the UK, Stuart Reardon—minus the tattoos, I’m afraid. But I thought this fabulous specimen of man candy fit Mike to a T. Well, hands down! Mr. Reardon got everyone’s vote.

Eric West—the imposing patriarch of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm conjured different visions for different people. I thought Tom Selleck would be a great choice, but I got posts for James Brolin—hmmm, too old but not a bad suggestion. Another person thought Bruce Boxleitner might be good…interesting.

Punch McMinn—the West’s farm manager is a huge black man with the heart of a teddy bear—he reminds me of Hoss Cartwright when I write about him, although Dan Blocker is dead and of course he was a white man, my daughter suggested that Michael Clarke Duncan would be the perfect actor to play this role.

Most of the Unbridled cast was actually models rather than actors or actresses, for example Shane West was portrayed by an Australian soccer player that was incredibly handsome, but I must admit that Jennifer Landon would get my vote for the role of Kate.

KL: What kind of a writer would you say you are – a planner or a pantser?
CD: Wow, that’s kind of a tough one to call—I’m probably a bit of both. I have all the Unbridled scripts which serve as wonderful outlines for my books. Everything is there—the beginning, the middle, the climax, and the resolution, which qualifies me as a planner, for sure. That said, as I write the books with the scripts to guide me, I find that I tend to add unforeseen plots, sub-stories, and even unexpected characters somehow show up in the books, which is definitely done by the seat of my pants! But I’m always happy with the results.

KL: As authors, we all have our little writing quirks. Some of us like to listen to music while we write and others need complete silence. Do you have any particular writing quirks that you’d like to share?
CD:  Well, if I listen to music while writing, it tends to be instrumental, but when I’ve finished a manuscript I do the same thing most authors do—I start over from the beginning and read, tweak, read, tweak, and then read and tweak some more. And after I’ve gone through this procedure several times, I close the file and let it marinate. I let the file sit for up to six weeks without opening it, without re-reading or tweaking it. But I never stop thinking about it. I keep a notepad close by and jot down thoughts during those six weeks that the manuscript is becoming juicy and succulent. It is definitely an exercise in fortitude, but hey, ya know what? It always pays off in a very big way because when I open the file to re-visit the story, I’m reading it with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts and the results are always well, fresh.

KL: What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
CD: I spend a lot of my “spare” time with friends having lunch, laughing, and catching up. I make sure that I make time for family and friends because it is an essential part of my life and I am by nature a social creature.  I’m afraid that I am not a recluse as writers have a reputation for being—I am out and about often—and I have a passion for clothes and shoes and purses!

KL: What do you have in store next for your readers?
CD:  My latest manuscript DANGEROUS DECEPTION has just finished “marinating” and after a little more tweaking, will be sent to the editor. We have a November release planned for DANGEROUS DECECPTION. When an aging jockey is asked to take an easier position at the farm he becomes enraged and teams up with two greedy stable hands in a scheme to kidnap Shane, but he finds himself between the rock and the hard place when he soon discovers that his partners have murder on their minds.

That’s right, Coco Beardmore is sizzling hot and she’s landed in Mike West’s lap. Problem is Coco’s middle name is chaos! Her driving skills are a real bang-into Mike’s horse trailer. Her sultry seduction will set the room on fire-the kitchen that is.

But what’s worse is her mischievous Thoroughbreds ability to mimic their owner’s habit of screwing things up. It’s enough to send a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.

But Mike’s not the only one having problems with women, his father Eric has bitten off more that he can chew, and he’s about to get spit out by two women: One that he’s in love with, and one that thinks he’s in love with her. Oh yeah, things are hot around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm… and someone’s about to get burned! 

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Hot Coco"
The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 5. Coco has invited Mike to her home for
dinner after she had accidentally wrecked her Escalade into his horse trailer that afternoon...

While waiting on the steps of Coco’s brown stone townhouse, Mike hoped his evening would be
worth the trashed trailer and rather acute case of heartburn that he was anticipating. He cocked his head when he heard what sounded like a large dog growling and barking from behind the lavishly, beveled front door. He looked around at the meticulously landscaped townhouses with sporty Mercedes, Porsches, and BMW’s parked in the driveways before glancing over his shoulder at his pickup parked next to Coco’s wrecked SUV. When the door finally opened the Cocker Spaniel sprung out to circle his legs while sniffing, barking, and snarling at him.

“Booger, behave.” Coco looked like forgiveness wrapped in a little black peel-me-off when she
appeared in the doorway. “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite. Come in, Mike.” She said like a spider coaxing a fly.

She guided him through the foyer into a living room decked-to- the-hilt with stylish, French
provincial furnishings. Booger sniffed and nipped at Mike’s legs while following close behind.

Beautiful paintings hung on the walls in ornate frames. Mike knew exactly one thing about artists
or artwork: Jackshit. But it was obvious, even to him, that these pieces had come from a gallery, rather than a retail store. The vibrant colors splashed across the canvas were thick, and sweeping, and perhaps a little angry, that much he could appreciate—kinda.

A large, gilded mirror hung on the wall behind the sofa. Crystal framed photographs of Coco and
her father filled the coffee tables. Classy.

“Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right back.” She slipped through the doorway into the

Mike buried his hands into the pockets of his Levis and studied an abstract work of art on the
wall. What the hell is that supposed to be?

Booger’s growl thinned to a low grouse. His curly ears perked, and he stomped his paws against
the white carpet.

“What’s the matter, boy?” Purring cautiously at the spunky spaniel, he patted Booger on the
head, and then turned his attention to a photo of Stanley Beardmore, with his arms wrapped around
Coco. Booger sprung at him, clamped his little body around Mike’s leg. Wagging his tiny tail, he
humped and panted erotically.

Holy shit. Mike’s eyes widened. Shaking his leg frantically, he danced around the room while
trying to free himself from the dog’s nirvanas grip. He braced against a table while kicking his leg, but Booger, enjoying the ride, hung on tight.

“Booger, that’s not nice.” Holding two full wine glasses, Coco trotted toward them. After
hurriedly setting one of the glasses on the table, she slapped Booger on the top of his head, during which the wine in the glass splashed down Mike’s white shirt. Booger shrunk away from his leg with a yelp and scampered out of the room with his tail-tucked between his legs.

“Oh Mike, I’m sorry!”

Hoping that he wouldn’t only have to envision this butterfingered beauty naked tonight, he took
a deep breath. He truly hoped that it would be an evening of pleasure worth the abyss of calamities that seemed to suck her in.

“Quick, take that shirt off, and I’ll soak it in seltzer water.” She fumbled with the buttons until
she opened the shirt to reveal his muscled pecks and tight abs. Her fingers fluttered over his shoulders
and down his strong arms when she slipped the shirt from his torso. Blushing, she averted her gaze to
the red stain on his shirt. She wet her pink, full lips and looked into his eyes. Good God, he’s setting me on fire. Can I make it through dinner?

Smiling, she brushed a wisp of his dark hair away from his brow. “I’ll be right back.”
Listening to her trot up the stairs, he found his thoughts going to Ava’s cat. He hated that cat.
She was an evil little thing. He wasn’t exactly in love with Coco’s Cocker Spaniel. Go figure.
When he spied the glass on the table, he drank down the remaining wine to wet his dry mouth.
He heard her footsteps on the stairs, and she reappeared with a shirt draped over her arm. She
held up the over-sized nightshirt, which she helped him slip into. Although it was over-sized for her, it
was a quite taut for him.

Stepping back to take a look, she giggled.

He looked down and groaned. The shirt was brown with pink lettering that read: “Chocolate and
men, the richer, the better.”

“Well, it’s better than nothing.” She felt how the shirt clung to his firm torso and outlined every
detail of his pecs and abs. “Although, nothing would be fine, too.” Her hands traced his shoulders, down his arms, through his fingertips, and then lightly across the crotch of his jeans. “Come sit at the table,” she whispered. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

Mike was feeling the heat, but he managed to ask, “What are we having?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“I can hardly wait.”

She led him into a spacious, gourmet kitchen. The stainless steel appliances gleamed in the
bright lights. The white cabinetry swooped around dark, granite counters.

Mike took a seat at the table, which was dressed in white, satin linens and delicate, fine china.
The light from the crystal chandelier glinted off the silverware. Booger scooted under the table to mope.

The kitchen was most impressive, but when he sat at the table with a fresh glass of wine, it
wasn’t the cabinetry that he was admiring. Christ, she looks so damned tasty in that tight little rip-it-offme-now dress. He took a big gulp of wine and swallowed hard while trying to keep other hard thingsunder wraps.

Coco carefully placed several pieces of meat into a skillet. It spit and sizzled in the hot oil. She
cradled her wine glass in her fingers. “Your shirt should be ready for the dryer after dinner.”

“That’s fine.” He felt the squeeze of the dog latching around his shin again. Sonofabitch. He
kicked. The dog yelped. He grinned.

Coco was attracted to this handsome man sitting at her table. She was more aroused by the fact
that he didn’t cancel their dinner date after she had smashed his horse trailer. He’s definitely a gentleman cowboy. How sexy is that? Her lips curled at the thought. With a sultry gleam, in her sapphire eyes, she strode toward him.

More than the meat was sizzling.

Mike knew what that look meant. Oh, yeah, no imagination needed. The ballerina is about to do
her little dance.

She leaned over him.

While she paused to take in his hazel eyes, he could feel her breath on his face.
“I wanted to cook something fancy,” she whispered, “because it makes me feel fancy,” Her lips
crashed against his. Her tongue searched his mouth.

He ran his fingers through her hair. Cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her back with

The meat crackled in the skillet.

She ran her hands over his chest and down to his hips. Her fingers found the outline of his
erection pressing against his jeans. She groped at his belt.

Kissing her neck, he slipped a sleeve of the dress off her shoulder and nipped at her shoulder.
Tasting her skin, he made his way hungrily down her chest.

Crunch! The force of a body wrapped around his leg broke through the lust. Booger humped and
pushed, which made it impossible to ignore.

Damn it. Mike’s eyes popped open. He attempted to kick the dog, but he was fastened on tight
and going at it strong.

Abruptly, he became aware that Booger’s love connection to his leg wasn’t the biggest problem
at hand. Smoke billowed from the skillet. Flames leapt from the stove. Greasy fireballs ignited dish
towels. The curtains were already ablaze.

Shoving Coco onto the table, Mike sprung to his feet.

Her face lit up with intense desire. “Oh Mike, you are naughty,” she gasped.

“Coco, where’s your fire extinguisher?”

“You wanna be a fireman?” Coco was giddy.

Booger was rapt.
Mike was exasperated. “No, your fire extinguisher, where is it?”

Flames shot across the counter top. The smoking skillet spit sparks and fire like a cannon.
He snatched the tablecloth from under Coco and ripped it off the table. China, glassware, silver,
crashed and broke against the wall and on the floor. He beat the flames while dragging the horny,
Cocker Spaniel, still humping his leg, across the room with him.

“Call the fire department.”

“Wha—” Coco stammered while trying to get a grasp on the situation.

“9-1-1,” Mike shrieked while thrashing the flames, kicking his leg, and cursing her calamity.

My Review:
I must say that "Hot Coco" was a very entertaining read. As stated in the interview, these books were originally designed to be a television series and that's just how I envisioned everything when I read it. I loved the setting of the horse farms and dipping into the life of Thoroughbred racing. The characters were very likable (although some of them I absolutely hated at first but then they grew on me). Coco seriously is the most klutzy person I have ever read about, lol. How that girl managed to walk sometimes without falling over amazed me:) Mike's interactions with his family (especially the constant jabs from his younger brother, Shane, and vice versa) were very entertaining. The one character that just completely broke my heart was Margie. She is a 33 year old woman who still lives at home with her controlling father and is unfortunately lacking in the looks department. And there is a secret about her that I won't disclose but when I realized what it was I just felt so bad for her. It was wonderful to see her blossom throughout the story and I was a little scared when I saw her turning in a not so nice direction -- but everything turns out for the good:) All in all I enjoyed this novel very much. It is an easy read and keeps you interested throughout the duration of the story.

This novel was provided to me for this blog tour in return for a honest review, which I have provided.

My Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
For the past twenty years Cindy has helped her husband, raise, train, and race thoroughbreds at their forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables.
During those years Cindy has paid close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the track. She found the situations and life style intriguing. In 2005 she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life that few understand.

Cindy has recently retired from making her living as a professional choreographer and owned and operated a dance school since 1985. She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon University to name a few. She has choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.

Cindy’s Unbridled telescripts has received recommends from three film industry readers and has been a semi-finalist in the Scriptapalooza Contest, and finalist in the Extreme Screenwriting Contest, and now will become a book series. The first telescript to become a book is Deadly.Com which is available NOW on and Kindle as well!



#1-We are doing a drawing at the end of the tour to include anyone who
commented or participated in the conversation at the blogs I visited
for a free signed copy OR ebook of Hot Coco.

#2- A drawing at the end of the tour for a $25.00 amazon gift card for
anyone who purchased a book/ebook of Hot Coco during the

#3-is actually a surprise at the end of the tour--I hate coming in
second, so the second person's name that is drawn from giveaway #1
will receive a copy OR ebook of Deadly.Com-the first book of the
Unbridled Series.


Lauren Carr said…
Hot Coco is a fun-fun book with great characters. You should also check out the first book in Cindy's series,

MK said…
Great interview! It's fun to come across new authors and the like the idea of all the horses!
Kimberly Lewis said…
Cindy thank you so much for visiting my blog today! It was a pleasure hosting you and your interview was a lot of fun:) Good luck with the rest of your tour and best wishes for the success of "Hot Coco"!

Thanks for the recomendation Lauren! I actually have "" on my TBR list:)

MK, the horses (as well as the human characters) were a hoot! You've got one that flips while being saddled, an escape artist, and one that sits like a dog. Their havoc around the track and the farm was rather humorous at times:)
Cindy McDonald said…
Thank you Ladies for the lovely comments! Yes, I hope that you will find time to read Deadly.Com-more horses in the action. we've actually had a racehorse that liked to flip and an escape artist as well, and I've seen horses sit down like a dog in the starting gate and refuse to go--thankfully non of ours. :)

And I'd like to thank Kimberly for having me on her blog today--it was fun! I'd love to visit back, again, anytime you'd like to have me. Have a lovely day!
Anonymous said…
I am going to buy the book right away! I wish you the best of luck Cindy and many books to follow!

Great interview Kimberly, congrats!
Cindy McDonald said…
Thanks Penny--enjoy Hot Coco!