I had the pleasure of reading James J. Cudney’s debut novel Watching Glass Shatter last week and what a treat it was! You can read my review of the book below and also check out my interview with this incredible author. You’ll learn more about James J. Cudney as a reader and writer as we discuss the book and also his plans for the future.
I’ve come to know James through our blog communications and he quickly became an inspiration to me. I follow his blog @ thisismytruthnow and enjoy every post I read from his book reviews to the 365-day challenges. He’s a wonderful writer and I was so excited to learn that he was publishing his first novel. It seems to have happened so quickly and I’m ecstatic to be part of the blog tour! I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post about his new book.
Watching Glass Shatter
Blurb: 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. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family.
Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. It’s a debut novel about a family with secrets. These secrets have the potential to tear the family apart.
The matriarch of the family is Olivia. Her husband Ben, the patriarch, has just died unexpectedly and she is left with their five grown sons, their families, and her sister Diane. She’s also left with a secret from Ben regarding one of their sons. Olivia decides to take some time to spend which each of the boys and in doing so, she discovers that each and every one of them has their own little secrets they’ve been hiding.
I was sucked into this story as soon as I started reading it. A worry that I had was that with all the characters in the book, I would get confused and lost because each of the sons have their own family members as well, but not once did I have an issue with it. The characters are so well detailed and described. After reading about each one, I felt that I knew this family and they all felt so realistic to me. I think overall my favorite character was Diane, but as the story moved on, it became Olivia. In the beginning, I almost couldn’t stand Olivia, but she begins to change. As she discovers so many new things about her sons and their spouses, she starts to realize that she’s too much of a control freak and needs to let people make their own decisions. I loved this transformation, although it may not have been complete, she becomes more understanding, more kind, and less judgmental which I admired. The boys…where can I start? Each one is unique in their own way. I loved all of them, but my favorite son was Ethan. I had issues with Zach and a certain situation between him, Teddy and his wife, but it came together in the end which was unexpected. I couldn’t wait to find out whether the Glass family would heal or simply fall apart. I was literally astonished by this book because it has many twists and turns. You just won’t know unless you read it from beginning to end.
I enjoyed the writing and the plot was unique to me. I thought the book was put together perfectly. Readers know that it takes more than just a good writer to offer a great book and everyone has their own opinions on this. Some say they need to be captivated and that the characters need good development. Others say they really want to ‘think’ or be taken on an adventure, but a good book to me is one that makes you feel, and this book did that for me. I had a myriad of emotions. I laughed, cried, jumped for joy, and got angry at times throughout the book. It’s truly heart-wrenching at times! I can’t remember the last time I was this emotionally involved with characters. It’s definitely been a while!
As far as the end, I liked it, but I expected something different. I wasn’t sure if I was happy with Olivia’s choices, or Rowena’s choice for that matter, but it turned out that I was pleased with it.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’d recommend this book to anyone. What a ride. I can’t wait for the next book! Every star for Watching Glass Shatter!
- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 24, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1978233434
- ISBN-13: 978-1978233430
Interview with James J. Cudney
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I think I knew somewhere around 6 or 7 that I loved to read and write. I once wanted to be an architect, then a teacher, but I ended up focusing on literature and business in college. I wrote many short stories, poems and novellas in my early twenties, but I took a job in Corporate America to survive. I needed to get back to writing for the sake of my own sanity; I think I ultimately always knew from the beginning. I just didn’t do it right away!
Q: I was amazed after discovering the short amount of time it took you to write Watching Glass Shatter. It’s such a stunning read! Would you say writing comes pretty easy for you? What do you find most challenging about writing?
A: Thank you, that’s very kind. I did write the outline and first draft in less than 3 months, but with editing and beta feedback, it was around 6 months in total to produce Watching Glass Shatter. I just finished writing a second novel and it went a bit quicker; the initial outline and first draft (350 pages) took 2 months. Writing does come easily to me, but that’s not really the whole picture when I think about the editing components that need to happen afterward. The challenging part is finding the voice and the point of view for the key characters. Setting, plot and character are easy to decide when you have a passion for the story, but determining how to win over readers to feel everything you feel is the hardest part. It’s finding the rhythm to keep the pages turning and not get too far astray where readers feel disconnected. It needs to be seamless, and choosing the right words can be the reason I stumble or take longer than I hope.
Q: What do you love most about writing?
A: The emotions I can deliver, whether it’s laughter, fear, inspiration or tears. My characters are people I have a relationship with… this might sound a bit funny, but it feels like I’m their therapist, listening to their story as we sit together in my office (dining room). I listen, ask questions, throw out ideas… then it gels into something that feels quite real. It’s almost like my responsibility is to tell their story as best as I possibly can, which requires readers feel the same emotions I do when I discover it the first time.
Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what are some of your favorites?
A: I did! I have been on a quest to review on Goodreads every book I ever read, but remembering the ones from my childhood are not as easy. I’m getting old! Yes, I can say that aloud now. It happens. I loved reading serial fiction and anything about nature. I adored Return of the Native and Nancy Drew books. There’s something about visiting the same characters repeatedly that makes me feel like they’re part of the family.
Q: As of now, how many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A: I have 1 published book. I have a second written and in an editing stage, which will be delivered to 5 beta readers before 12/1. It should be published in early 2018. I am also working on a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, due out sometime in mid to late 2018. I have 1 other writing project planned for 2018, but I will be announcing that in the coming weeks. Watching Glass Shatter is probably my favorite because of the connection I feel to the Glass family; however, in the second book, tentatively titled Father Figure, there are 2 primary characters instead of 10, which allowed me to dive even further into their psyche and emotions. There are a few parts of this book that I absolutely adore, and if I can pull off some of the editing changes I think need to happen in the coming weeks, it may be my new favorite. Father Figure is a fine balance between love and villains; I seem to like writing for villains based on what’s happened in this next book! I scared myself a few times.
Q: When it comes to writing, what tools do you use?
A: I have a laptop and a leatherbound journal. The laptop, using MS Word, has all the writing, but the journal has my ‘to do’ list for edits and ideas. I don’t use any other software, but my Dad just convinced me today to stop reading aloud my own work and instead to buy an application that reads it to me. I’ll hear mistakes and potentially awkward language more easily if all I’m doing is listening. He’s a smart guy!
Check out this post titled “What’s on your Desk, Wednesday?” by Sassy Brit where James discusses his writing routine and his desk @ Alternativeread.com
Q: What are some of your writing tactics? Do you outline? Do you do all your own editing?
A: I begin with an outline that includes plot, timeline, character and setting details. I list a few bullets for each chapter on what needs to happen, then I dive into writing. Editing is complicated as there are at least ten different types of editing that need to happen. I did them all myself in Watching Glass Shatter, which is both good and bad. I had help from several fantastic beta readers who caught lots of proofreading issues, including things like tone, character voice and point of view. Without their feedback, Watching Glass Shatter would not have been as good as it turned out. I am interviewing a few editors for Father Figure. I believe that no matter how strong I think I am at reviewing my own work, someone else with a bit more experience and a separation between the words will help turn a great book into a stellar book. I want a stellar book, so I’m likely going to take that step quite soon.
Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?
A: I initially searched for a literary agent, which is always one of the first important steps. The process could take years, but I preferred to get my work out in the hands of readers sooner than years. After 3-months of searching for a good agent, I got lucky as an author I met on my blog connected me directly with a publisher, Creativia. It’s not often you connect with a publisher this quickly, and I am quite grateful. Marketing responsibilities are split between Creativia and me; they handle Amazon, Bookbub and a few other key tools and advertising. I applaud them as they took me directly to the #1 spot last weekend in multiple categories on the Amazon Kindle FREE book list. I’m also still pretty high in their ranks for Kindle PAID books this week, which I would not have been able to do on my own. I am incorporating insight from some great bloggers on how to build a marketing plan, which I will put into effect in 2018 once the blog tour and holiday season comes to an end. I will have more on that in the coming weeks, as there will be more opportunities for others to participate in fun ways with marketing in 2018.
Q: I love the cover as it fits the book perfectly! Who designed it and did you have a part in the actual design?
A: I’ll say right out of the gate, I have no design sense whatsoever. I know what I like, but I cannot draw, paint, sketch or do anything artistic (except write). I provided a summary of what I thought would be a good cover; Creativia loved the idea but didn’t think it would sell very well for my target audience. We looked at some photos and incorporated colors and ideas from different angles. In the end, I adore the cover. It is absolutely beautiful, but there has been some pushback from a few readers who think it makes the book look more like a thriller mystery when it’s more a family drama with some suspense and mystery. I understand that point, but I also think the entire shattering image and the leaf represents the Glass family perfectly – just like you said!
Q: What do you think makes a great book?
A: I’m first and foremost a plot guy. When I read, I need to fall for the story, then the characters. I can love a book if the characters are only so-so, but I can’t love a book with great characters and a bad story. I tend to prefer something emotional or humorous. If you can combine all those things, plus add something unique, I think you’ve got your readers sold on a great book.
Q: Do you think your writing will stay in this genre?
A: Not entirely, no. I will always write in the family drama/saga genre, weaving in suspense and mystery, but I have plans to write across a few genres. I will be writing a mystery series starting in 2019 with a male protagonist in a small college town who stumbles into various incidents. I haven’t decided if it will be a cozy or somewhere in the middle, but it won’t be the violent or scary kind (although I love those books too). I have written 2 outlines for other books which both have historical fiction and fantasy involved in them, which may be surprising since I don’t read a lot of fantasy. It’ll be light, but enough that the intrigue is pretty intense.
Q: How many books do you plan to write regarding the Glass family?
A: My goal is to write 2 books per year for the foreseeable future. I’d like 1 to be a GLASS book and 1 to be something else. I currently have 2 full plots worked out for the GLASS family which would be 2018 and 2019. I plan to create some polls and forums to discuss with readers which characters they’d want to explore more, as I could also write stories from the past, e.g. Grandpa and Grandma Glass, who were both mentioned. Or perhaps how Olivia and Ben met, maybe Diane and Olivia’s upbringing… so many options! I feel a connection with the 5 brothers, so I think the stories will focus on them in 2018 and 2019.
Q: How did you come up with the character names in the book and are any characters or events based on anything true?
A: None of the events are based on truth; however, a few character lines or actions were pulled from people I know because I like having a few notable connections for my friends and family to figure out. Since I’m an only-child, I don’t have any brothers for things to happen such as the movie 54, the cicada incident or the memories of the fishing trips. I was a bit scared people would think that I described something that happened to me – and that would be embarrassing! The last name GLASS is a family name, and on Blog Tour Day 13, Linda @ Maine Paper Pusher revealed how that all came together!
Q: Did you have to do much research for the book or were the characters and events just all in mind?
A: I had very little research for this book, but that was a conscious decision. I selected plots and characters that were common or real people we all know or have in our lives. The only areas I spent a few hours researching were in assigning personality traits to siblings based on birth order. I wanted to ensure it was clear why each brother chose the life they chose and how they ended up with their own particular secret. In my next book, I did have a fair bit of research to pull off the plot twists.
Q: Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?
A: Yes, a few things were edited out. I’m still not sure it was the right decision, but it was also nothing serious. The memories for Ben and Olivia’s engagement and wedding were much longer. I also had a scene with all the brothers at the anniversary party before Ben died, letting readers get to know them early on. I removed it because it was too much ‘information dropping’ and chose to slowly disseminate that level of detail. I will say that the brother I ultimately chose as the brother discussed in the initial secret revealed in the will is not the one I originally plotted out. There was an alternate ending and some readers will absolutely hate it. I ended the book without revealing the original secret, clearly building a major cliffhanger where it was narrowed down to 3 of them. Ultimately, beta readers felt you needed closure to that secret, so I didn’t end on a cliffhanger of that magnitude. But I left in a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios and questions which will be covered in the sequel.
Q: What else do you like to do outside of writing?
A: When I had free time, which is never currently, I spent it doing genealogy research, reading 2 or 3 books each week, watching more TV shows and running around the city to different plays, museums and parks. I miss it, but I also love the writing life. I’m a creature of routine. I’m done by 7 each night… we either cook or eat out, then watch an hour of TV together and play with Ryder… and by about 10ish, I’m in bed to read for 30 to 45 minutes. W, my other half, stays up a bit later, but I get up earlier. It’s a good balance for us to each of a little bit of alone time to get our own stuff done!
I’d like to thank author James J. Cudney for his time in completing this interview. I do hope you enjoyed reading about James and if you haven’t read Watching Glass Shatter, you can find it at the links shared above.
Follow the blog tour!
Things you can go do now!
Listen to the Artist First radio interview with James J. Cudney HERE!
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite character HERE!
Also, check out Alex@coffeelovingbookaholic to vote who you would choose for the characters if the book were adapted into a movie HERE!
Enter the giveaway which ends November 30th!
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance.
To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?