If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Monday, September 21, 2015

Guest Post: How to Write An Emotional Scene with Cindy McDonald / @MyFamHrtBookRvw @CindyMcDonald7


Many of you know I love a story that resonates in my heart and soul, one that demands a reaction from me and leaves me drained. Regardless of the emotion I feel when reading a story, I am happy to have felt something.

But what about the author? What's the hardest scene for him/her to write in a novel? What helps him/her get through writing it?

I had the chance to ask Cindy McDonald, author of Into the Crossfire, these questions, referencing an excerpt I read on the original publisher's website. She's been kind enough to join me today and share her answer.

I believe I know the scene that you are speaking of—when Rayne decides to tell Jack Haliday about how her family was brutally murdered and she was taken prisoner by a group of hostile guerillas in Peru. While I’m pleased that I was able to touch your emotions, this was not the most difficult scene for me to write. Let me explain while trying not to give too much away:

After ex-Navy SEAL Jack Haliday’s, home is attacked by a biker gang set on revenge, Jack and his four-year-old daughter, Lil, are taken to the First Forced Headquarters where Dr. Rayne Lee, the head First Force medic, surgically removes the bullet from Jack’s side, but more, she must deal with his little daughter and the devastation that has just been put upon her—the loss of her mother.

The scene between Rayne and Lil in the kitchen sharing Oreo cookies was the hardest scene for me to write. I must admit I had to pause several times to blow my nose. In this scene, Rayne must comfort this innocent child while still trying to recover from her own grief—the murder of her husband and her daughter, Sierra.

To write this scene, I had to ask myself, how would this child grieve? How would she use her defense mechanism at such an early age and how would Rayne react to it?

Small children have such strong faith because of their innocence. Unlike adults who are damaged by betrayal or manipulation by a lover/parent/friend/co-worker, children tend to be more trusting because they’ve yet to experience life’s nasty lessons—if they are lucky, of course—there are plenty of children who have horrific experiences very early in life—I’m perfectly aware of that, but I’m talking about a child who has not—a child who has been fortunate enough to experience that innocent faith, like my character, Lil Haliday.

I had to dig deep. I wanted my readers to share her loss but to revel in her courage right along with Rayne—this was no easy challenge. While my books are not “Christian based reading”, I wanted to show that Lil was able to draw strength from what she knew about being a Christian. I wanted Lil to consider her mom an angel and to find solace in the fact that her mom was with Jesus and the angels…

“I wonder if they dip Oreos in milk in Heaven.”
Rayne sucked in a ragged breath before she said, “I—I’ll bet they do.”
“Jesus probably wikes it, so the angels probably do too. That’s good, cuz Mommy wikes to dip her Oreos in milk.”
Rayne cupped her hand over her mouth. Tears welled in her eyes. How brave this child was to think of her mother sharing Oreos with Jesus and his angels. It was Lil’s coping mechanism kicking in. Rayne wasn’t sure that her coping mechanism had ever truly functioned.
Yeah, it was a hard one to write. The scene goes on, and as I said, I had to take breaks. I’ve had many people mention the scene to me—“I cried all the way through,” one reader told me.

It is one of my favorite scenes in Into the Crossfire because I believe that our faith begins at a very early age. Yes, it is an innocent faith that becomes marred by the deceit we experience as we age, but if we feed that faith it will always provide us with the strength that we need to get us through our darkest hours.


Thank you, Cindy. *smiles* You have no idea how much it means to me to know that you are just as affected by what you as I am.

Keep reading to find out more about Into the Crossfire.

Title: Into the Crossfire
Series: First Force, Book 1
Publisher: McWriter Books
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Military, Romance

It had been four years since ex-Navy SEAL, Jack Haliday, had an explosive run-in with a biker gang wounding their leader, Gunner. During those years Jack had acquired everything he ever wanted: a beautiful wife, an adorable daughter, and a lovely home in the suburbs—everything was as perfect as it could get, until Gunner returned to twist Jack’s world inside-out with a vengeance that he could never have prepared for. Critically injured, he found himself surrounded in the security of First Force International and in the care of their head medic, Dr. Rayne Lee, a beautiful and compassionate woman who knows firsthand the sharp slice of loss and grief.

Now Jack has a score to settle and he’s got some new friends to help him, but in the end, can Rayne help to ease his grief and encourage him to start a new life with team First Force?

For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things that I have experienced with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack—she muses: they are greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born. Currently there are five books in the series.

Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series’, especially with a military ops theme. Although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one. Most recently, Secret Cravings Publishing has picked up her First Force Series. Currently available: Into the Crossfire, coming very soon: Book #2, To the Breaking Pointe, Book #3 Into the Dark,  and 2016 will bring Book #4 To the Brink.

People are always asking Cindy: Do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love writing my books, and I love sharing them with my readers.

Cindy resides on her forty-five acre horse farm with her husband, Bill, and her Cocker Spaniel, Allister, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


  1. Thank you so much for hosting Into the Crossfire!

    1. You're welcome :) Thank you for letting me Q&A with you!