Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Dark Room

What causes men, or women, to become abusers? Are they born with an abusive personality? Are they evil? Are they monsters?

In my novel, The Dark Room, I explore the issue of abuse which can manifest in three ways: physical, psychological and verbal. Some abusers employ all three ways of controlling their victim(s). But why? Through extensive research for this book, I learned that many factors contribute to the need for power and control over another human being.

In The Dark Room, Hank, the antagonist experiences a traumatic event that precipitates his downward spiral into violence. He begins to abuse alcohol and drugs, attempting to dull the pain of  dark memories. In his drunken stupors, he beats and humiliates his wife, Stella, their daughter, Amy, and granddaughter, Jodie. After Hank forces Amy to buy his drugs, she ends up in prison. He locks Amy’s illegitimate daughter, Jodie, in a dark room and chains her to a bed. He beats her and her grandmother, Stella, nearly every day.

Later, the reader learns that Hank’s father abused him, his mother, and his brothers. Often such behaviors are perpetuated through generations. Without intervention, the abused becomes the abuser.

Battered Woman Syndrome and child abuse result from fear of losing control. By overpowering the vulnerable in their lives, people like Hank maintain control the only way they think they can.

Why would anyone want to read about such horrors? Sometimes at book events, women say to me, “I can’t read that. I lived it.” I don’t even try to convince them that The Dark Room is a good story, worth their time; that it includes a beautiful romance and a happy ending. I understand. If I hadn’t married a good, kind man and raised good, kind children, I couldn’t have written The Dark Room. It would have hit too close to home for me, too.

In The Dark Room, Stella is befriended by her boss, Edith, who recognizes the signs of abuse. Edith is determined to help Stella escape her seemingly hopeless situation. Edith enlists the help of Mike a police sergeant who eventually becomes her love interest. In Edith, Stella finds a trusted friend. Edith is supported by Mike, a good, kind man who provides balance and reason.

I wrote The Dark Room to bring attention to a subject most of us prefer to ignore. It’s uncomfortable to think about innocent children being beaten, starved or hidden away. It’s unpleasant to think about women like Stella being pushed, punched, and called demeaning names until they believe they are worthless and powerless, convinced they deserve the abuse. 

I wrote The Dark Room to enlighten those who refuse to believe the horror exists across all races, ages, educational levels, and socio-economic conditions. It does.

I wrote The Dark Room for people who suspect someone in their lives is being abused. It’s possible (and common) for her to be in denial. Give her this book. Perhaps she will recognize herself in Stella or one of the women Stella meets at the shelter. You could save her life.

I wrote The Dark Room for women who think they are trapped in abusive relationships with no way out. I want them to recognize there are steps they can take, people they can trust, and organizations that can empower them and save them.

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:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through or

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Making of an Author

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

Isn’t it interesting how our lives take unexpected twists and turns? In my youth, I enjoyed writing poems, stories and plays. Like most teenage girls, I kept a diary in which I expressed the angst of adolescence. But I never thought I would become a writer. I certainly never thought I could be a published author.

As I reflect on my forty-five years in the field of music, I realize that while I was fulfilling one of my life’s aspirations, I was preparing for another. I wrote articles for a church newsletter and produced a monthly newsletter for my music school clientele. I wrote curricula, grants, staff notices, policy manuals, parent orientation speeches, and closing program speeches. As I developed five levels of weekly handouts for parents, I discovered how important it was to use precise wording so that even the parents with no musical background could use them to help their children at home. Without realizing it, I was becoming a writer.

A few years ago, I wrote a memoir about my childhood experiences living on a dairy farm, but I knew I couldn’t publish it without hurting or offending some family members. Chalking it up to catharsis, I set it aside. Recently, I resurrected this work and found that, through God’s grace and many edits, I had let go of any resentments I felt as I wrote it. Although it still lacks a title, I’m turning it into a short-story collection about growing up during the 1950s and 60s.

In 2010, I entered a contest in an online newspaper, the with a story entitled, “A Christmas Memory” which won first place. Soon God was placing all kinds of opportunities in my path. I signed up for a writer’s workshop with a local writer/publisher, Greg Lilly. From there, I participated in the inaugural Williamsburg Book Festival, organized by Greg.

In the meantime, I had written a novel, Unrevealed. Three years ago, as I approached retirement, I yearned for more time to write. I realized there were stories in my head that I wanted to express on paper. My first effort was a novella, Diary in the Attic. I had no idea how to navigate the publishing world but through research found a company that was happy to take my money. Since then, I’ve learned that legitimate publishers don’t require money in advance. They make their profit from selling their author’s books. That was an expensive lesson, but now at least I had a book to promote.

The following year’s Williamsburg Book Festival was a turning point. It was where I met Jeanne Johansen, CEO of High Tide Publications. Unlike other legitimate publishers I had contacted, High Tide was accepting submissions. Immediately, I prepared a query letter and synopsis for Unrevealed and was shocked and thrilled when Jeanne accepted it. Last year High Tide published my second novel, The Dark Room, and recently released Edition Two of Unrevealed.

Becoming an author is a dream-come-true. I’ve discovered that I love writing as much as I loved teaching and performing music.

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Almost There

This blog post is the fourth in a series of five, documenting my journey from musician to author.

After the birth of our second child, Carl and I moved again, this time to the Denbigh area of Newport News. Reluctantly, I quit my church job in Hampton, but immediately discovered that a friend from college was serving as Director of Music Ministries/Organist at a United Methodist Church in Denbigh. She needed an accompanist for one adult choir and a director for the youth choir. I accepted the job and continued teaching piano. It was good to be immersed in music again.

Not only did she and I work together in perfect synchrony, but soon we learned that a former professor at our alma mater, Greensboro College, was doing something revolutionary. Shortly after we had graduated, Lorna Heyge traveled to Germany to earn her PhD. While there, she discovered a groundbreaking method of teaching music to young children. It was more like captivating children with music through singing, moving, focused listening and playing age-appropriate instruments. After translating the curriculum into English, Dr. Heyge launched a successful pilot program at Greensboro College and asked us to become involved. It was a turning point in my career.

Dr. Heyge settled in Princeton, New Jersey so she could train and certify teachers through Westminster Choir College. My friend and I, leaving our young families behind, traveled to Princeton to be educated in the philosophy and pedagogy of what eventually became Musikgarten.

When we returned, we established an early childhood music school at the United Methodist Church in Denbigh. It became a successful endeavor that my friend has kept going for some thirty years. Eventually, Carl and I moved to Williamsburg where I founded the Early Childhood Music School (ECMS) of Williamsburg United Methodist Church.

It was no secret. I had found my true calling. I fulfilled my passion for conducting by directing three choirs at the church and the Williamsburg Women’s Chorus. I started ECMS with two classes of four-year-olds. The next year I had two classes of five-year-olds and two new classes of four-year-olds. As the school grew steadily, I hired and trained more teachers. 

Eventually Dr. Heyge moved back to Greensboro where she established the permanent home base for Musikgarten. The company has flourished internationally because of ethical business practices, outstanding teacher-trainers and age-appropriate curricula backed by research. Musikgarten addresses music-and-movement education from infancy through age ten, including group piano. There’s even a group piano program for adults.

When I retired after twenty-seven years as director of ECMS, where I taught ten classes per week, the school had expanded to a staff of twelve instructors teaching four hundred students on-site and another three hundred preschool children in an outreach program to Head Start, Bright Beginnings and Child Development Resources. I had fulfilled my life’s calling, or so I thought.  

Stay tuned for the next installment . . .  

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: