Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Dark Years

This blog post is the third in a series documenting my journey from musician to author:

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:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Next Step Revealed

My previous blog was about the important role singing has played in my life. It concluded with the question, “How did a singer/teacher/choral director become a writer?” The answer can’t be revealed in one blog post. This is the second blog of five documenting my journey from musician to author.

After my senior recital, my voice professor suggested I audition for the Charlotte Opera Company. As I began a semester of student teaching, I promised to consider it. That was my quest, wasn’t it? To become an opera singer? But dreams can change, and mine did.

I realized I loved working with children and discovered a passion for teaching. As graduation approached, I began to weigh the pros and cons of teaching versus performing. What I would do was never in doubt. Of course, I would continue singing. But soon I realized I wanted to be the kind of music teacher/choral conductor I never had.

My elementary music teacher was wholly uninspiring, my high school choral director was crazy, and my private piano teacher was at least a hundred years old when I started lessons at age seven, making her one hundred eleven when I graduated from high school. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

I accepted a position in Manassas, Virginia teaching middle school general music and chorus. To say the experience was challenging is an understatement. The kids were bigger and tougher than I was, and I stood behind the piano all day, with one eye on the music and one eye on the students. Keeping them singing was the best way to maintain discipline. But, each afternoon, I went home with a backache and laryngitis.

Although there were two full-time general music teachers in this school, each with her own classroom, the situation was far from ideal. The school had a limited choral library and no curriculum in place. So, that first year (1972), I spent the evenings arranging music for my sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders. With purple fingers, I would arrive early each morning to print copies on the school’s only mimeograph machine.

When James Taylor released You’ve Got a Friend, my three hundred-or-so students begged to sing it… everyday... all day. It was my saving grace. It hooked them, inspired them, and kept them singing without coercion.

My room was next to the industrial arts classroom. One day, I met the industrial arts teacher in the corridor. He said, “If I never hear You’ve Got a Friend again, it’ll be too soon.” I could have complained about his wood-working machines that bellowed through the wall, but I didn’t. I understood his pain.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Diary in the AtticUnrevealed (second edition now available) and The Dark Room (Don't let the title scare you. It has a happy ending). Website:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Vivid Memory

This blog post is the first of five documenting my journey from musician to novelist.

When I was a child, singing was my outlet. It afforded me the opportunity to express deep emotions, both positive and negative. Singing was a vehicle for praising God and witnessing to my faith, but it was satisfying on a personal level, too. I was blessed with a good instrument; I received positive feedback when I sang; and I felt compelled to develop my God-given talent. My goal was to become an opera singer.

Majoring in Voice in college was not only the next logical step after high school, but also the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Finally, the time came to prepare my senior recital. I loved every minute of it, and it consumed every waking hour that I wasn’t studying Music History, Music Theory, Vocal Pedagogy, Piano, Chorus, and Conducting.

In addition to practicing piano, I spent five to six hours singing daily. I’d get up before anyone in my dorm began to stir, walk to the music building and practice until the cafeteria opened for breakfast. Between classes, I’d slip into a practice room and vocalize. On the weekends, when my suitemates played bridge, watched TV, or went on dates, I was holed up in a practice room, singing and studying my recital repertoire. There was nowhere else I wanted to be and no activity I found more satisfying.

When recital day arrived, my Voice professor declared me ready, and my parents, sister, and grandmother drove some 600 miles from Central New York to Greensboro, North Carolina to attend. I didn’t feel the least bit nervous. Rather I felt excited. I had managed to stay healthy through the winter months (a miracle in itself), the dress rehearsal had gone smoothly, and my voice was in peak condition.

Other than our wedding and the births of our children, no event in life stands out more vividly. For that one euphoric hour, performing Corelli, Brahms, Debussy, Saint Saens and Britten, I was transported to a realm beyond my earthly existence. It was an out-of-body experience that had little to do with the standing ovation or the A my professor gave me. Today, 51 years later, the memory remains as vivid as the moment I stepped onto that stage.

By the second semester, I was immersed in student teaching. I suppose majoring in Music Education—as opposed to Music Performance—was my insurance policy against future unemployment. If I didn’t make it as a professional singer, I could still teach music . . . and I did for 45 years. But, it was by choice, not by default.

So, how did a singer/teacher/choir director become an author? That’s a story for another blog.

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 (Don't let the title scare you. It has a happy ending). Website:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Unrevealed, Take 2

I believe many authors look back at their first published work(s) with disdain, maybe even embarrassment, as I did. Fortunately, my publisher, Jeanne Johansen of High Tide Publications, has been gracious enough to let me re-write Unrevealed, one of my first novels.

I haven't changed the plot. I still like the original story about a family secret that the protagonist, Allison Harmon, is compelled to uncover. After Marcus Harmon’s death, Allison inherits Wellington Manor, her childhood home, and Harmon & Harmon Enterprises, her father’s multi-billion-dollar textile industry. She also begins to suffer what she thinks are hallucinations but soon learns they are memories from her childhood.

Allison discovers her family has kept something significant from her, and she resolves to uncover the truth. But first she must travel to Paris for Fashion Week. Still reeling from her father’s death, she seeks to remain incognito to avoid the paparazzi. When she meets Jack Sanderling, an American doctoral art student, they experience an instant connection. While they spend several hours talking, Allison never divulges her identity. Jack knows her only as Allie. But I’ll stop there and leave the rest for you to read.

I still like the main characters, Jack and Allison, and the secondary characters: Theo, Allison’s assistant at H&H Enterprises; Zavie, Jack’s roommate at the New York Academy of Art; Silvia, Jack’s widowed mother; and Martha, Wellington Manor’s long-time housekeeper and the key to revealing the secret.

I still like the settings of Manhattan (site of H&H Enterprises and New York Academy of Art), Long Island (locale of Wellington Manor), Paris (where Jack and Allie meet), and Bedford, Virginia (Jack’s hometown). 

So, why did I want to re-write Unrevealed? The more I write, the more I learn about writing. I’ve been a published author only since 2010. While I’ve taken many workshops and seminars since retiring from a forty-five-year career in music education and music ministry, I plunged into writing without a degree in English or a career in journalism. I’ve been learning on the fly. So, when Jeanne asked me why I made so many changes to the original version of Unrevealed, my answer was, “I hope it’s because I’m growing as a writer.” 

The second edition of Unrevealed launched on Amazon February 3rd. I plan to hold a re-launch party in March. Stay tuned to my blog posts for details. Who knows? You might even get a personal invitation.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of Diary in the AtticUnrevealed (second edition now released) and The Dark Room (Don't let the title scare you. It has a happy ending). Website: