Cedar Key and Terri Dulong

Fans have asked where I get my ideas for my stories.  In all of my writing, setting has always been very important to me.  When I read, I like to know where I’m at and then immerse myself in places I have visited or places I’ve never been.

So when we moved to Cedar Key six years ago, I knew I had my setting for future novels and I was inspired by the small town community, the people, the sense of family and love and the beautiful scenery surrounding this island fishing village.

I write women’s fiction so my stories focus on relationships.  In book one of my Cedar Key Series, Spinning Forward, my main character was coming to grips with her self-identity.  In book two, Casting About, I wanted to write about the father’s side of a custody battle in addition to the difficulties of becoming a new step-mom.

Book three in my series, Sunrise on Cedar Key, will be released on October 25.  Readers will remember Grace Stone from book two and this is Grace’s story.  My focus for this novel is friendships, the sister relationship, a past love and a present love.  And of course . . . knitting.  My novels have a knitting theme because in Spinning Forward Sydney has relocated to Cedar Key and opens a knitting shop where she also spins dog and cat fur into yarn.  I’m a dedicated knitter, so using this theme came easily for me, but I also needed to be realistic.  Sydney needed a means to support herself financially.  Jobs on Cedar Key are not that plentiful.  We don’t have any major stores, hospitals, doctor offices, or factories.  I needed to give Sydney a job that made sense for this island and opening a yarn shop was perfect.  In book two, her daughter Monica now owns the yarn shop and in Sunrise on Cedar Key, Grace’s aunt Maude has begun a new venture . . . she’s offering knitting retreat weekends for women across the country, to come for a weekend of knitting and bonding at the Blue Moon Knitting Retreat.

Sunrise on Cedar Key also focuses on the sister relationship.  I’m an only child so I’ve never had the experience of sibling rivalry or sibling love.  However, growing up I was fascinated by the on again, off again, up and down relationship between my mother and her sister.  So the idea for Grace and Chloe stemmed from that.

Having been to France many times and being half French, I’m a confirmed Francophile so it was easy to develop Grace’s love interest into the Frenchman of Lucas Trudeau who opens the new book shop and coffee café on Cedar Key.

So as you can see, I take a bit of my own history and then I let my imagination go wild to create characters and plots which result in another novel for my Cedar Key Series.  At the moment I’m on deadline for book four which will be released in 2012 and tentatively titled, Postcards From Cedar Key.  A little sneak preview:  You’ll meet Berkley Whitmore toward the end of Sunrise On Cedar Key and she’s the main character for book four.  Berkley comes to the island first just to check it out for possible relocation from Salem, Massachusetts, where she had owned a chocolate shop with her mother and grandmother.  She immediately falls in love with the town, meets Chloe, Grace and Suellen and decides the island is the perfect place to open a chocolate shop.  But that isn’t the only reason that she’s been drawn to Cedar Key because the past collides with the present, finally giving Berkley answers that she has searched for most of her life.

I want to thank each and every one of you for the support you’ve shown for my books.  I know all authors say they have the best fans, but I truly know that I do!  So I hope you’ll enjoy Sunrise On Cedar Key, because writing these novels continues to fulfill my passion and love for writing and sharing my stories with you completes that passion.

Visit Terri

Visiting Cedar Key with Terri Dulong

Hey Terri, Welcome to Manic Readers!  I’m so glad you were able to visit.

First off, congrats on being a finalist in the 2010 New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Awards and the deal with Reader’s Digest Condensed!  I’m betting you were tickled no end.

Thank you for inviting me here and yes, I was quite honored about the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot award and ended up winning third place.

Can you tell us a bit about CASTING ABOUT and your contribution to the HOLIDAY MAGIC anthology?  How excited were you about being asked to contribute to the anthology?

CASTING ABOUT is book 2 in the CEDAR KEY SERIES and is Monica’s story.  Monica is Sydney’s daughter and readers met both of them in SPINNING FORWARD.  Monica is now newly married and has taken over her mother’s yarn shop.  But when her husband gains full custody of his eight-year old daughter, the normally even-keeled Monica doubts herself at every turn as she goes from honeymoon to new step-mom.

I think the excitement of being asked to do a Christmas novella in an anthology with Fern Michaels headlining is still lingering!  I was beyond thrilled and honored.  My contribution was A CEDAR KEY CHRISTMAS.  My editor requested that I stay with the setting of Cedar Key, which is where I reside.  My main character in this story is single mother, Josie Sullivan.  Josie’s eleven-year old daughter, Orli, teaches the entire community what the true meaning of Christmas should be.

How did you celebrate your 2 book deal for SPINNING FORWARD and CASTING ABOUT with Kensington?

A bottle of French champagne, followed by a flight to Paris to celebrate.  Only kidding!  Although I’m a confirmed Francophile and I normally visit France quite frequently, I’m afraid I’ve had no time to get back there since my first contract.  However, my husband and I did celebrate with a lovely dinner and wine at the Island Room restaurant here on Cedar Key.

There’s a difference between your Cedar Key Series, your Lost Souls Series and the suspense you co-wrote with William Bonner.  Can you tell us a bit about those previous books?

Lost Souls of the Witches’ Castle is also women’s fiction but more of a “fiction based on fact” because the plot goes back and forth in time and is based on Danvers State, the mental facility north of Boston where I did my RN psychiatric training and it’s also a love story that transcends time with a bit of a paranormal twist to it.

Immoral Symphony, written with Bill Bonner, is a romantic suspense and deals with the issues of homelessness, health care in the country, and sexual harassment in the workplace.  We wrote the novel via emails, using first person, with Bill taking the male character and I wrote the female character.  It was a lot of fun to work on because we treated it as “real life.”  In other words, when I received his current chapter, I had to pick it up from there and continue with the plot, but except for the main themes…….we never really knew what the other had planned plot-wise.

Did you finish the third in the Lost Souls Series?

I didn’t finish the third book, however, I still have about ten chapters in my computer.  I did end up writing a prequel to Lost Souls though……Daughters of the Mill and that was published in 2004.

What took you from them and brought you to your Cedar Key Series?

The seed for my Cedar Key series was born five years ago when my husband retired and we relocated to the island off the Northwest coast of Florida.  I was captivated by this very friendly and small fishing village.  It was the actual setting and the sense of family and community here that compelled me to write SPINNING FORWARD.  My writing deals with relationships, which of course involves family, friends and community…….and Cedar Key itself was my major inspiration.

Any chance you’ll revisit those roots?

Well, right now I’m still getting established building my reader base with the Cedar Key Series, but yes, if readers would eventually like something a bit different, there’s a strong possibility that my three previous books could be reprinted.

How has having been a nurse influenced your writing?

Being an RN has specifically influenced my writing because of all the close contact I’ve had with patients over the years.  I worked Oncology, ICU, Emergency Room and then Home Health Nursing…….so I was exposed to many various character traits and human nature in both good and bad situations.  I think it allowed me to see and feel emotions in a stronger way, which I think many times gets unconsciously transferred as a composite to my fictional characters.

Do you have a favorite place you’ve lived or has each been special in its own way?

I love Salem, Massachusetts, the home town where I was raised and went to school.  It will always be special to me and continues to evoke good feelings.  But I also love Paris, France where we lived off and on while my husband was working there.  And now….Cedar Key has wound its way around my soul.  I love living here and I know, without a doubt, that I’m in my element.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?  If the latter, have you ever been surprised?

Actually, we’re both in control.  I start out with some ideas and the characters then jump in forcing me to take a detour.  For the better, I might add.  So yes, they often surprise me.

Do you plot and outline or just go with the flow?

This is similar to my characters.  I start out with a main theme that I want to focus on in my story.  In SPINNING FORWARD, it was “identity” and finding oneself after age fifty.  In CASTING ABOUT, I wanted to focus on “is every female cut out to be a mother and father’s rights with custody.”  So yes, I do a fair amount of both plotting and research, but then…when the characters step in, I never know what the destination will end up being.

Do you have favorite authors?  Influences?

All of my favorite authors write women’s fiction.  But a few at the top of my list are Fern Michaels, Sue Miller, Eileen Goudge and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Currently reading anything good?

At the moment I’m reading the re-issue of Fern Michaels, Sins of Omission.  And loving it!

3 pet peeves?

Greed and selfishness, jealousy and lack of compassion.  Opps!  I guess that was four.

Your dogs are precious, do they keep you entertained?

Oh, gosh, yes!  I’m a huge animal lover and Duncan and Brie constantly bring a smile to my face and make me know how great life is……if we pay attention to the small things.

What’s one thing you would change if you were Empress of the Universe?

I’m not sure how I’d accomplish it…….but I’d want to change the lack of understanding among people of the world.

Is there anything you’d care to share with us that I might have missed?

I’d like to share that my editor recently called to offer me another two book contract and yes, I’m beyond thrilled to now be contracted with Kensington through 2012.  Book 3 in the Cedar Key Series will be out November 2011 and book 4 will hit bookshelves in November of 2012.  Therefore, I want to thank all of my readers and fans that helped to make this possible with their huge support!

And thank you, Ivy, so much for inviting me here.  You had some great questions!

WOOHOO Terri!!   That’s wonderful news..*G*

Thanks so much Terri!   I’ve really enjoyed it!

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