Today we welcome Cindy Huff to Love Lines from God. Her new book, Secrets and Charades, debuts today.
Cindy was the winner of the 2014 Editor’s Choice Award from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributor to Splickety Publishing Group’s anthology and has been featured on Christian Communicator, Suburban Dog, Christian Devotions, and the Splickety Lightning Blog. She is the president of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois.
Welcome, Cindy. Tell us when you decided to become a writer and what made you actually sit down and write something?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I wrote a short piece as a school assignment in eighth grade. My English teacher encouraged me to enter it in a contest. It didn’t even get honorable mention, but my interest was sparked. I served on the newspaper staff in high school and wrote skits for church and the Thespian Club. Over the last forty plus years, I’ve written for different markets.
Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?
Where do the ideas not come from is a better question. My mind has always been a well of stories. I used to tell myself stories when I couldn’t sleep at night. I’d watch a movie or television show and think of how I would have told the story differently. Ideas come to me when I study the scripture, while the minister is preaching, and from life experiences. Tidbits from history also set my writer’s imagination all a twitter.
I write to encourage and bring hope. My debut novel, Secrets and Charades, is a historical romance. Evangeline and Jake must learn to trust and not paint their present experience with the same brush of negativity from their past. Isn’t that how we all are? The God of the universe has sent His Son to cover all our sins, yet we still question our worthiness. We judge people based on preconceived notions based on past mistakes or hurts.
When I’m writing devotionals or articles—even sketches—I want to challenge those who read my words to consider taking the higher ground. Encourage them to receive the healing God has for them and examine those dark places in their hearts in the light of God’s truth.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Ideas form in my head. I write the scenes and see where it takes me. Then I jot down an outline. Perhaps create a character sketch of the main characters. I have an idea where the characters will end up and what problems they may meet along the way. But it is still more organic. I’ve rewritten chapters because the characters revealed some things I wasn’t expecting.
I’ve evolved creatively because I’m able to write characters who would do or say things I would not. My first attempt at a novel years ago had a heroine who was too much like me. It got pretty boring to write and I never finished it. Unfamiliar characters are more fun because you get to discover their inner need as you write. The outcome can be a bit of a mystery for me. And that mystery causes me to dig deeper to bring forth a believable story.
What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
Rewriting is where the work is. A rough draft can spill out on the pages. I just write and don’t think about grammar, flow, point of view, or any other part of the craft. Once it’s done, I have the task of scraping away all the parts that don’t tell the story, don’t make sense, and are just bad writing. Layering, tweaking, and shaping each chapter to flow into the next is the hardest part of the process. This is why I find editors and critique groups so helpful. They see what I don’t. After rereading and rewriting my manuscript many times, the flaws become a blur. Treating the editor’s corrections and suggestions with respect rather than responding like a mother whose baby’s just been thrown off a cliff is a learned skill for sure.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
Marketing: I’d rather crank out the prose and let someone else sell it.
Time management: I have a part-time job, an elderly mother, and grandchildren to be available for. It’s easy to get distracted from writing in the everyday drama of life. This also applies to the time taken from writing to market myself on social media.
Doubt: When I doubt myself, I stall out and stop writing. I drag my feet and question whether this is something I should be wasting my time on.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
Formulating the story in my mind and seeing it take shape on paper. I love working out the scenes. Research is fun for me. I learn so much more than will ever go into my story. The process of birthing the words is my favorite part.
What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
I just finished Five Brides for Five Texans—a novella collection of some of my favorite historical authors. I’m presently reading Candee Flick’s Dance over Me, a contemporary romance.
I am addicted to reading. My favorite authors currently are Tamera Alexander and Mary Conneally for historicals, DiAnn Mills for suspense, and Cynthia Ruchti and Shelley Arnold for contemporary. I say presently because there are so many excellent novels out there. I read several books a month. My favorite classical writers are Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Lucy Montgomery.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My historical romance, Secrets and Charades, debuts today. Here is the back-cover copy:
Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece Juliet needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.
Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.
Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage?
The theme of this book and upcoming novels is God’s ability to make all things new. Jake and Evangeline need to forgive themselves, forget their past, and trust God as they move forward. A familiar theme in the real world.
Can you give readers your social media links and website so they can follow you?
What is the buy link for your book?
Thank you, Cindy, for joining Love Lines from God today. We wish you much success with your new book and in all your writing endeavors.