July 31, 2015

Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) : Mindy Ruiz


Time for another interview with a UtopYA Lovely. Please welcome, Mindy Ruiz. I met her at the Nashville airport. Together, we began to melt waiting for the hotel shuttle. As California girls, we weren’t holding up too well in the humidity. Still, her welcoming spirit drew me in, and I immediately felt like I’d known her for years.


Thanks so much for hanging out on my blog today.

MR: Ohmigoodness, thank you for having me! And thanks for having the air conditioner kickin’! hee-hee. I swear I lost seven pounds of weight and gained seven pounds of frizzy hair waiting for our hotel shuttle.

Right! Me, too! First, I want to congratulate you on your Best Debut Novel award for Enchanted Heart at UtopYA2015. To make it even more special, your best friend was in the audience. What was your first thought when your name was called?

MR: First thought: Wait, wha?! No. Freaking. WAY!

I really truly didn’t think they’d called my name. The Best Debut Novel category was stacked with some seriously awesome books and writers.  I was seated next to the lovely Delphina, (Best Debut Novel Nominee for her “Unless You Can Be a Unicorn.”) and ready to squeeze her neck when I saw my name on the screen. My best friend turned and squealed, “That’s you!!!” Then she pushed me out of my seat. I know I hugged Carol Kunz, slapped Adam Kunz a high-five, but, truly, nothing processed until I saw Regina Womba, my cover designer, and Janet Wallace.  It all started clicking and by the time I got on stage well, my Holy Skittles! (substitute skittles for the other S word) came flying out. 

Tina Donnelly with Mindy Ruiz & her dear friend
I loved it. It was such a special moment. So, tell us a little about Enchanted Heart. Also, any exciting news about The Game of Hearts series?

MR: Enchanted Heart is about a deck of cards that controls the gambling and gaming in Las Vegas. Greek gods and a condemned-man-with-a-golden-touch, Midas, oversee the Cards.  

When the Queen of Hearts’ hidden daughter, Cassandra, comes back to Las Vegas, she triggers an ancient curse that upsets the balance of power. Cassandra's thrown into an underworld ruled by four powerful families with paranormal powers & her face on a mythological hit list.

Lying, Cheating Heart will be coming out at the end of July.

The final book in The Game of Hearts series will be out at the end of the year with the title Fatal Heart.

You mentioned the awesome Janet Wallace. How has she (and UtopYA) affected the writer you are today?

Mindy with Janet Wallace
MR: Ohmilord, that’s like asking how does the sun affect a flower’s growth.  

UtopYA (Utopia Con) and Janet have affected every aspect of my writing career.  I wanted to go to the first UtopYA Con but was terrified of my own shadow. After watching Myra McEntire’s keynote speech, I swore I’d never miss out on a moment like that again.  The second year of UtopYA, I went to Nashville and successfully hugged every wall and blended in with every potted plant I could find.  I was terrified, but I was there meeting amazing people like Janet Wallace, Carol and Adam Kunz, Misty Provencher, Amy Evans, B.J. Sheldon and K.P. Simmon.  I sat in the awards ceremony that year and said to myself, “I want to be up there. I want to win an award.”

Six weeks before UtopYA Con three, Heather Hildenbrand had Janet on her call-in as a special guest. One of the crazy-awesome benefits of the call was a one-on-one hour chat with the Janet Wallace.

I scheduled my call, and my life was changed. 

People talk about that tipping point, or the x-factor, Janet, and Social Deviants were these things to me.  Through the Stand Up classes, which you can still purchase, I was able to root out all the excuses on why I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t be a successful author. I found my voice. I found my target audience, and I found a confidence buried under all the years of negative thoughts and self-talk. 

UtopYA and Janet affect every aspect of my life.  Each year I see the people, my tribe, at UtopYA (Utopia Con) I’m recharged to take on another year of standing naked in an Amazon or Barnes and Noble purchase Que. You just don’t find that at other conventions or in other people. 

Amen! So, please share your favorite inspirational quote and what it means to you.

MR:  No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt.

I love Eleanor Roosevelt. She’s a lot like my Grandma, Victoria.  Eleanor was tough as nails and didn’t take shiz from anyone. And yet she had this kind, caring quality toward people. She was the weak persons’ voice when they couldn’t speak or were too afraid. I love this quote because I allowed people, insignificant people, to make me feel inferior my entire life.  I try not to anymore, but words are powerful weapons, and when a really mean review or a blatant comment about me as a person is floating around the virtual universe, I hold on to this quote.

What do you think makes UtopYA, renamed Utopia for its fifth year in 2016, so special?

MR: The people and Janet make this place special. Janet set out to make a convention where book lovers and authors could come and be together. Hugs and squeals are encouraged along with awkward fan-girl moments. You celebrate everyone’s victories and lift as you climb to the next level of success. You may go down to breakfast a party of one, but by the time you sit down, you’re a party of four.  

Not many people find their “one place” on this earth where EVERYONE is just like them.  

Earlier I said my best friend came to Nashville with me this year. I freaking adore this girl; she’s been my friend through twenty years of really amazing highs and near-fatal lows. Halfway through the convention she turned, looked at me and said, “This place … this is how your brain works? These are your people.” It was like she was seeing the real, inside-my-head, me for the very first time. I’m goofy. I’m a recovering introvert. I’m crazy awkward. I love playing an active role in the imaginary worlds that go on in my head, and I go bonkers when others can see that side.  I’m the colorblind dog who could not only see the rainbow, but had the audacity to talk about the adventure to those who couldn’t. 

Utopia is where I found other rainbow lovers like me. UtopYA rebranding itself to Utopia, it’s perfect because this convention, the people involved, this is my little slice of heaven on earth.  It’s exactly how I would have imagined a book lover’s utopia!

I love it. I'm a rainbow lover, too! Please share a photo you loved from UtopYA.

MR: I loved this photo Stacey Marie Brown captured.  My best friend is in the lower left and it’s like she’s using the screen to actually see who I am. Her very own looking glass, if you will.


✮ Quick Answers 

Last Movie you saw: Trainwreck (Bethany Lopez and a movie theater that served Daiquiris. I’ll let you imagine the scene.) 
Comedy, Romance, Drama, or Horror? Romance. Always romance!
Last book you read: Heather Lyons, The Collector Society. Fabulous book! 
First job: Courtesy Clerk at Sports Authority.  
Gift cards or cash? Cash. Make it rain, baby! Make it rain!!!! 
Favorite Vacation Spot:  Anywhere with a pretty beach, an umbrella drink, and wifi for my kindle downloads. 

More about Mindy

Mindy Ruiz is the author of Utopia Con’s 2015 Best Debut Novel: ENCHANTED HEART, as well as, LYING, CHEATING HEART in the Game of Hearts Series. Since her first story about a magical, museum hopping chair in the fourth grade, she’s loved exploring those things that can not be explained, and must simply be believed.

Now, Mindy writes paranormal romance guaranteed to make your heart race. Her stories combine snarky heroines, tormented heroes and buckets of swoon.  Mindy is the lover of a good romance, the underdog, and all things John Hughes. She spends her free time chasing after three boys or flirting with her hunky husband. In the quiet moments, she’s watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, or hanging out at the beach with her very large and loud Italian family.

Mindy lives in a sleepy Beach Town in Southern California with her toes in the sand and her mind in the clouds.

Social media:
newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bkjTAH

Please visit often for more UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) interviews, 
and check out the announcement post to see 
the schedule and links to past interviews.

2 comments:

Krystol Diggs said...

Tia,

It was so awesome to read that you got to go to this event! And you met one of the winners. Very cool!

Jo Michaels said...

LOVE Mindy! She's such a sweetheart. :) Great interview, ladies! Congratulations again to Mindy for the award!