Thursday, April 26, 2018

Getting Real

A challenging task for me as an author 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 Room describes 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 Room is 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 to stand 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 using 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:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through or

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Happy Endings

All my novels have happy endings, but happy endings aren’t always possible in real life, especially where the legal system is involved.

Last fall, I was finishing my daily walk. As I neared home, a car pulled up beside me and the young driver began to ask for directions. Trusting my instincts, I kept my distance, moving only close enough for him to hear me. I began to direct him, but when I took my eyes off his face and looked down, I saw that his jeans were pulled down, exposing his genitals and he was masturbating. Stunned, I yelled, “Shove off!” and headed in the opposite direction.

I was too shocked to memorize his license plate number, but later I realized I could identify him, and I remembered enough about his car to know it was an older-make, faded, red sedan. I called the police, thinking that very little could be done to locate the perpetrator.

I didn’t sleep well that night. I kept seeing the man and thinking about the incident. I felt violated. Then I felt ridiculous for reacting that way. After all, he hadn’t touched me or threatened me, but I kept thinking about the children on our quiet streets. What if he had exposed himself to one of them? 

Since that experience, I’ve researched Exhibitionist Disorder and learned that my reaction was normal and that the desire to shock their victims is exactly what motivates exhibitionists.

As disturbing as the episode was, it resulted in a positive outcome, a happy ending, if you will. The police officers were respectful and attentive to my complaint, following up numerous times and keeping me posted as the case progressed. As it turned out, there were other reports about this individual, and he was apprehended three days later. After that, he spent six months in jail awaiting trial. I began to put the occurrence behind me. 

A few days ago, I received a call from a witness/victim’s advocate asking if I wanted to attend the trial. When I said, “no” she assured me that my witness statement by phone was sufficient. She asked how I was coping and what I would like to see happen to the young man. He had a juvenile record of non-violent misdemeanors and several more recent DUI’s. I said I hoped he could be rehabilitated since he appeared to be in his twenties. I hoped he could be helped and could have a productive life. 

Next, I heard from the prosecuting attorney who explained in detail how the trial would proceed. She said the young man intended to plead guilty and that there were mental health concerns. During his incarceration, a psychologist had evaluated him and recommended treatment for substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.  
After the trial, the victim’s advocate called again and informed me that the judge sentenced the accused to time served, license revocation, and mandatory treatment for alcohol addiction. She said he stated that he was sorry for his actions and wished to apologize to his victims. According to her, this remorseful attitude in perpetrators is extremely rare. He must attend AA meetings and regular counseling sessions and will be monitored closely. Both his mother and his fiancĂ©e agreed to drive him.

In my opinion, this is how the legal system should work. Like the characters in my novels, this young man’s story can have a happy ending, if he chooses to make the most of his second chance. As for me, after this experience, my faith in the local police force and legal system is rock-solid. 

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Sunroom

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 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 promised that this year I wouldn’t rush to arrive.
I’d wait till spring was earnest, when flowers could 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:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through or

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Every family has its secrets. Most are insignificant, harmless little privacies or even white lies that are perpetuated through the generations. We may guard them because they are painful or embarrassing. Human nature dictates that we protect the family name from ill-repute.

When I was a child, I sensed that my mother held a well-protected secret. As I grew older, it became evident that she had been molested as a child. Had she told me the truth, I might have understood her over-protection of my sister and me, especially her warnings about men. I’m sure I would have responded with empathy. She never shared her secret until I was middle-aged with children of my own. Yet, I knew. I’m convinced that if painful secrets are not shared, they manifest in the behavior and attitude of the secret-holder.

Sometimes secrets are used to manipulate or harm others. In my novel, Unrevealed, Allison Harmon, the twenty-seven-year-old protagonist is plagued by what she thinks are hallucinations. She begins to wonder if she is going crazy. Soon she discovers that a family secret has been scrupulously hidden from her throughout her life. We learn that this secret is the result of her powerful grandfather’s antiquated prejudice.

Even as a child, Allison senses that something significant happened at her childhood home, Wellington Manor, something her parents and grandparents, even her housekeeper, kept from her. Were they trying to protect her or themselves? Had they planned to reveal the truth to her one day?

Allison realizes that, rather than hallucinating, she is experiencing flashbacks to actual childhood experiences. Now, with her father’s recent death, both parents are gone, and she is left with an intense need to uncover the truth. She turns to Wellington Manor’s housekeeper, Martha, the only person who knows enough Harmon family history to enlighten her. But will Martha share what she knows, or will she continue to guard the secret?

I’m convinced that secrets can destroy families and leave individuals with strained relationships and unresolved issues. Will Allison Harmon struggle against her family’s demons forever or will she finally find the freedom to experience a life of love and possibility? Read Unrevealed to find out.

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