Posted on

Cindy L. Freeman   – Getting Real –  4/25/18

As an author, a challenging task for me is to create characters who possess value systems different from my own. I struggle to express, on paper, attitudes and actions that are contrary to my own belief system. Take, for example, swearing—or “cussin’,” as my sweet mother-in-law used to say. I don’t believe in taking God’s name in vain, and I find the “f-bomb” repugnant. Yet, what if one of my characters would be more authentic by spewing obscenities or by being sexually explicit or abhorrently cruel?

Some horrific stories, as in my novel, The Dark Room, are just too important not to be told. The Dark Roomdescribes the physical, emotional, and verbal abuse of a woman, her child, and her grandchild. Often Stella’s husband, Hank is drunk or high on drugs when he administers the abusive language and beatings. While the story is fiction, it represents too many true accounts of battered women and abused children.

I wanted The Dark Room and its characters to be authentic. I wanted real victims to recognize themselves in Stella and realize that whether the abuse is overt or subtle, they don’t deserve it, and help is available if they reach out.

To make Hank plausible, I had to create a persona that is wholly egregious to my sensibilities. Hank is cruel, controlling, filled with rage, and unable to express his grief in a healthy way. Instead, he tries to numb his emotional pain with drugs and alcohol. He lashes out and alienates the very people who could provide support.

Through research for this book, I discovered case studies that verified the authenticity of my accounts. The cruelty described in The Dark Roomis more prevalent in American society than most people realize or are willing to admit. Men from all walks of life beat and belittle women and children every day. These men are emotionally damaged and have a need to control and overpower others. They are attracted to those who seem least likely to fight back or tostand up for their rights as human beings. They convince their victims that they are worthless and at fault for their behavior.

If I have an important story like The Dark Room to tell, should I dilute its impact by writing a cleaned-up version? Do I tread on the side of caution or do I set aside my own discomfort to develop authentic characters? It’s a decision with which I struggle, knowing that my written words will outlive me. Perhaps I’ll never completely reconcile this issue. Overall, I feel a responsibility to my readers to give them authentic characters, but I draw the line at adding sensationalism and obscenity just to sell books.

 

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Diary in the AtticUnrevealed and The Dark Room. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

 

 

 

Posted on

Cindy L. Freeman – My Sunroom – April 13, 2018

Cindy Freeman

I’ve always wanted a sunroom. The sun is my panacea for every ill. It’s warmth and brilliance make me feel alive and whole.

Before retirement, I’d start my day in a second-floor bedroom that faced northeast. With only two windows, it served as my make-shift sunroom. After an early-morning walk, I’d sit in my big, upholstered chair with a cup of coffee and my Bible. All of this took place before 7:00 a.m. Then, I would eat breakfast, shower, dress, and rush off to a twelve-hour workday spent inside. I loved my work, but I yearned to write, and I knew my muse required sunshine.

Now that I’m retired, and we live in a condo, I have a bona fide sunroom. My morning routine is quite different. I no longer wake up at 5:45 a.m., dress in the dark, and take my walk before sunrise. Sometimes I even sleep until 7:00 or 7:30.

I still start my day in communion with the Creator, but now I meet God in my sunroom. With windows on three sides, I can bask in the wonder of God’s amazing creation whichever way I swivel in my chair. The ambience is wholly inspirational.

Today, I felt inspired to write a poem. Poetry is not my usual genre, but as I sat in my sunroom, gazing upon the brave daffodils that have survived a temperamental spring, it came to me.

 

Daffodil is fooled into thinking it is spring.

Donning a yellow sundress, she opens her mouth to sing.

The temperature plays tricks on her, expelling winter gloom,

Dancing upon her budded face and coaxing it to bloom,

Now her leaves pop forth, reaching toward the sun.

She lets the warmth deceive her, “There’s lots of time for fun.”

Yesterday the sun shone bright. The temperature climbed to sixty.

Daffodil said, “Look at me! Aren’t I just nifty?”

“I’ll come out to play and revel in the breezing.

Uh-oh! I took a chance but now the air is freezing.

What to do? Stay or go? Too late to reconsider.

I wish I’d brought a coat with me to guard against the bitter.

I promise that next year I won’t rush to arrive

I’ll wait till spring is earnest, when flowers can survive.”

But memory fails our golden friend, for last year was the same;

The sunshine fooled her that year too, in February she came.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Diary in the AtticUnrevealed and The Dark Room. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

Posted on

Cindy L. Freeman – The Dark Years

Cindy Freeman

I’ve been blogging about my career path which started in music education. Teaching general music and chorus in middle school turned out to be a great experience, but soon my husband’s job took us to Fredericksburg, Virginia where no positions in my field were available. I had discovered a passion for teaching music to children only to have that door close.

Survival dictated that I search for a job, any job, and I ended up working as a personnel clerk in a retail business. I felt lost and frustrated, hidden away in a dark office with no windows doing work that didn’t interest or inspire me. But I was bringing home a paycheck. I saved enough to buy a used piano and began taking piano students. I joined a church choir and a community chorus where there were solo opportunities. Good, I thought. At least I’m using my music degree and keeping my skills honed. I’ll bide my time.

Nine months later, my husband landed his dream job as an aerospace engineer for NASA. I was thrilled for him, but it meant another move, this time to Hampton, Virginia. I transferred within the same retail organization, but now I was working in the credit department at a job I grew quickly to despise. I was expected to make abusive phone calls to customers whose payments were delinquent and to lie to applicants about why their credit was denied. I couldn’t follow these directions in good conscience, and I quit after a few months of barely surviving each work week. Once again, I built my piano studio and prayed for spiritual direction. I also became pregnant with our first child.

Soon my prayers were answered. I saw an advertisement for a music ministry position in a United Methodist Church. I sent my resume, went for an interview, and was hired, pregnancy and all. This job rescued me from darkness and gave me four satisfying years as a choir director for adults and children. It also resulted in many valued relationships and ignited two more passions, choral conducting and music ministry.

 

But how did I become a writer? Arriving at that career took many more years. Stay tuned to my weekly blogs to find out.

 

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories, and three published novels: Diary in the AtticUnrevealed (second edition now released) and The Dark Room. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com