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Interview & Giveaway with Cynthia Ellingsen, author of The Whole Package!

Please help me welcome author Cynthia Ellingsen to Reading with Holly!

Holly: Hi Cynthia! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, Reading With Holly. Thank you so much for hosting me! A little about myself... alright, I’m a contemporary women’s fiction author with Penguin-Berkley. My debut novel, “The Whole Package”, came out this year. My second novel, “Marriage Matters”, is slated for April, 2013.

Holly: Can you tell us a few do’s and don’ts for aspiring authors?

Cynthia Ellingsen: Do:

-   Write! Set aside writing time every week - or heck, every day. Even if it’s just half an hour, it’s so important to get used to putting words on a page.
-   Set goals for yourself. If you want to write a book, commit to a time frame to complete a rough draft. Figure out how many pages you’ll have to finish per day and set a due date. Put this in writing and hang it up somewhere you can see it every day. Then, go for it! 
-   Use caution when signing up for critique groups. I’m a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. In it, she discusses the importance of protecting your work in its early stages and too often, critique groups are eager to... critique. In my opinion, you should only share your work with people who you trust and that have your best interests at heart.


-   Send out something before it’s ready. I know too many people who finish a book and are like, Okay! Let’s get this bad-boy published. What agent can I send it to? Typically, a book needs to be written at least three times before it’s ready to be seen. Wait until your work is ready because as always, you only get one chance to make that first impression. 
-   Stop reading. As a writer, you must read. It’s so important. Especially in your genre, and especially the titles that are selling well. Not only will reading make you a better writer, it will help you to be in tune with what readers are buying and why. 
-   Quit. Regardless of your goal, anything worth doing takes time and determination. Odds are good that it will take awhile to meet your goals. Hang in there and most of all, keep writing. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

Holly: Can you tell us a little bit about your book [title here]?

Cynthia Ellingsen: “The Whole Package” is about three women who have been best friends since they were in Junior High. They’re about to turn forty and one loses a job, one loses a fortune and one loses a husband. They decide it would be a great “revenge on the world” tactic to open The Whole Package, a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men.

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Cynthia Ellingsen: I thought of the What first - that three women open a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men. Then came the Who, Why, Where and How. That’s typically the format I use when creating story ideas. I was always that kid who, when playing in the playground, wouldn’t feel comfortable playing a game until I knew What we were doing. I think it’s the Aries in me.

Holly: Why this genre(s)?

Cynthia Ellingsen: Writing contemporary women’s fiction is fun for me because it’s what I read. Typically, when I read a good contemporary women’s fiction book, I’m sad to see it end because the characters have become my “friends”. I want my readers to feel that way when reading my work.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Cynthia Ellingsen: Thank you so much for the support! Come chat with me at Facebook and Twitter. I’m online at least once a day and love connecting with readers and writers.

Holly: Where can we purchase The Whole Package?

Cynthia Ellingsen: The Whole Package is available at Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle format. It’s also available at Barnes and Noble and bookstores across the country.

French is a sexy language. Except, of course, if you are standing in line at a French café and the French you hear is a nasal, drawn out, “Fat American.“ Unnecessary, especially if you are simply trying to buy a chocolate croissant to dip into the first cappuccino of the day.

Jackie - and yes, it was Jackie and not Jacqueline even though she was closing in on forty instead of the throat of the snickering girl behind her – whirled around.

“Did you just call me fat?”

A French girl stared back at her. The girl had the audacity to cock her head. A yes.

Jackie was stunned. Okay, fine – and a little hurt. Such a judgment was the last thing she expected in this cheerful neighborhood cafe with its brightly painted walls, kitschy produce art and erratically placed wildflowers. Even the French sayings on the wall, written in such careful, scrolling script were meant to inspire good cheer, not snappy little insults.

 “Well, I am not fat!” Jackie said. And this was not in French, because after two years in the country she spoke French perfectly and proving it was no longer important. “I am sexy.

A mustached host had been writing out specials on a blackboard with squeaking chalk. At this, he paused and took a look. Jackie ran her palms over her curvy hips and considered giving a slight shimmy. The man gave a nod in agreement and went back to the specials.

The French girl sniffed. She was dressed all in black, a total cliché. She was holding a sniveling, trendy dog. Its shaky face was framed by a bejeweled collar and its droopy eyes stared, along with everyone else in the cinnamon scented café.

“Perhaps you should order something to eat,” Jackie said, pointedly eyeing the girl’s bony frame . “You’re probably just suffering from low blood sugar.”


Jackie’s jaw dropped. Drawing herself up to her full height of 5’3” (5’6” with her three inch pumps), Jackie said, “If you want to live off of cigarettes and red wine and ignore the delicacies your country has to offer, you go right ahead. But I would rather get chased out of Le Bon Marche by a firing squad than strut around in a body that looks like it was stolen from an eight-year-old boy.”

The French girl gasped.

“I am going to embrace my sensuality,” Jackie said. “I am going to improve upon it. And,” she stood a bit taller, “it is gonna happen with a chocolate croissant.”


"The friendship between the women is realistic, the characters funny, and the premise well-executed. Readers will giggle and grin from start to finish, and will surely be eager for Ellingsen's next novel."

“The Whole Package is a delightfully frivolous romp. An excellent beach read, this light but enjoyable fare will have you chuckling (and likely blushing!) throughout...”--RT Reviews

Title: The Whole Package
Author: Cynthia Ellingsen
Publisher: Penguin/BerkleyLength: 409 pages
Genres: Contemporary Women's Fiction (Comedy)

Available at:

Life has thrown childhood friends Jackie, Cheryl, and Doris a few curveballs. Widowed and broke, Jackie returns home after an extravagant life in Paris, Doris is reliant on anti-depressants, and Cheryl’s plans for a corporate take-over are replaced with walking papers. But after a drunken night sampling the delights at strip club for women, the ladies stumble upon a genius idea and decide to open up The Whole Package—the world’s first restaurant staffed exclusively by very attractive men. Armed with Jackie’s connections, Doris’ ambition, and Cheryl’s business sense the ladies set out to make their mark in the world.

Cynthia Ellingsen is a fiction writer and screenwriter. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband.

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