Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Missed Opportunity

My husband and I enjoy riding the Amtrak train from our home in Williamsburg to Alexandria, Virginia. We often take this trip after Christmas to celebrate our January first anniversary. It’s a chance to enjoy the shops and restaurants that line King Street and take in an opera at the Kennedy Center. The streets of Alexandria are still decorated with sparkling lights and sometimes a sprinkling of snow. At sunset each day, we bundle up and walk from our hotel near the train station to the riverfront to experience the post-Christmas ambiance. 

At the end of one such visit, we had checked out of the motel, deciding to wait in the lobby for our train rather than schlepping our luggage to the station in an icy downpour. With two hours to spare, we made ourselves comfortable near the cozy fireplace with hot beverages and settled in to read on our Kindles, basking in the afterglow of another memorable anniversary celebration.

The man pacing back and forth scarcely garnered my attention, caught up as I was in a riveting plot. I recall a fleeting thought that he was a hotel employee beginning to remove the lavish Christmas decorations or perhaps a contractor working to restore power to a broken elevator. Occasionally, he would step outside for a smoke under the covered portico. It didn’t occur to me until several hours later that his light tee-shirt was soaked with rain, not sweat, and his khaki pants weren’t stained from working in the hotel. Rather, they were filthy from not being washed for who-knows-how-long. With rain-soaked clothing and no coat, his pacing through the lobby was an attempt to shelter from the bitter weather. 

Each time he passed the snack bar, his empty stomach must have growled in response to the aromas of fresh popcorn, roasted peanuts, and coffee.  

How could we not have noticed that he was homeless? How could we have been so wrapped up in our own comfort that we were oblivious to this man’s plight? It would have been easy to pull a sweatshirt from my husband's suitcase and offer it to him. We could have bought him a cup of coffee and a snack. We could have tucked a twenty dollar bill into his hand. Such simple gestures would have meant everything to him while posing no sacrifice for us. But it wasn’t until our train pulled into the Williamsburg station hours later that the reality of the situation dawned on us. 

Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Whenever I recall the incident, I am reminded of Christ’s parable about the good Samaritan, whose benevolence is contrasted with the priest who “passed by on the other side.”  

I wonder if God whispered to us in that hotel lobby. When we failed to hear the whisper, did God nudge us, but we were too self involved to notice? To this day, years later, I still carry guilt when I think about our missed opportunity to minister to that homeless man. I’d like to think it was someone else’s turn, that God was nudging them instead of us. Even so, I learned an important lesson from that experience, a lesson that has taught me to pray, “Oh, God, make me aware of human need, and show me how I can meet that need before it’s too late.”

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of four award-winning essays and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Her latest book, After Rain, is a collection of devotions offering comfort and peace in times of trial.

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

Friday, December 18, 2020

After Rain

The other day, a friend asked, “What inspires your writing?” It was a good question that I couldn’t answer immediately. I guess I hadn’t considered the idea of inspiration until I began writing my latest book, After Rain.

I’ve published a novella and three novels, but After Rain is a departure from novel writing. Rather it is a book of weekly Christian devotions.

The inspiration for After Rain came last spring shortly after the pandemic reached America’s shores. During my daily prayer time, I began to hear what I like to call holy whispers. I had finished reading 1 Thessalonians 4:18 where Paul says, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Paul is encouraging the Christians at Thessalonica to comfort each other with words of hope. The early Christians were often faced with persecution, even to the point of martyrdom. But because of Christ’s sacrifice and the promise of resurrection, they were never left hopeless, even in death.

By March, the pandemic had been identified as COVID-19, and already millions worldwide were infected with this mysterious illness. Fear spread quickly, especially when the death toll began to rise. As businesses were forced to close, many families found themselves without income and housing.

That was the situation prompting me to write fifty-two devotions, but I never intended to share them. The words were for me, only... or so I thought. Then one morning as I meditated, embracing the silence, the holy whisper came: People need comfort and peace. They need to hear words of hope, not only for a vaccine but hope that comes from embracing the message of Jesus Christ. Keep writing and trust the outcome to me.

I prayed for inspiration, searched the scriptures, and wrote. Remembering some previous blog posts that seemed to fit, I included them. From there, After Rain became a collection of devotions and then a book. When I told my publisher I wanted to donate all proceeds from the sale of After Rain, High Tide climbed aboard and pledged to donate the publishing costs. We chose Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg as the recipient.

After Rain will soon be available in paperback and hardback. Within its pages, I hope you will find comfort and peace. While you wait for it to be launched on Amazon, you can read a FREE excerpt on my website:

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of four award-winning essays and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Her latest book, After Rain, is a collection of devotions offering  comfort and peace in times of trial. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available from or

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Writer's Life


I am a writer. Does that sound romantic? Think again. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, and I’ve always wanted to be an author. I waited sixty-five years to acquire that title. But did I just wake up one morning and--voila!--I was an author? No! Here’s how it happened.

I retired from a long career in music education and music ministry. In 2010, I wrote a novella and not an especially good one. I searched the internet for months trying to find a publisher. I had no idea how the process worked, whether I needed an agent, how to write a query letter, or where to turn for help.  

What I quickly discovered is that, while writing is fun, it is a lot of hard work. As with any craft, there is much to learn. Beyond the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation, fiction writing includes the elements of plot, characterization, viewpoint, dialogue, and pace. Whatever the genre, all of these elements must work together to craft a novel. 

The good news is that there are many books, blogs, workshops, and organizations out there to help aspiring authors succeed. I wish I had known this when I started my writing journey. Like many fledgling writers, I put the cart before the horse. Instead of taking the time to lay a solid foundation upon which to build my writing career, I plunged into the deep end, aiming straight for the publishing goal. That was my dream, after all! By the way, relying on cliches like “put the cart before the horse” is a major pitfall for writers; and mixed metaphors like “laying the foundation” and “plunged into the deep end” are, by definition, “a succession of incongruous or ludicrous comparisons” Authors are tasked with being original, not filling their books with tired cliches. Too bad! I happen to love cliches. 

Since that first pathetic novella, I have published three novels. So, what is my advice to aspiring authors? 

  1. Read, read, read! Then read some more.

  2. Find a critique group. Most public libraries keep a list of local groups. Working with other writers who give honest feedback is the best way to grow as a writer. 

  3. Join a local writers’ association, preferably one that is associated with your state’s writers association. Attend their workshops and conferences. If you learn one new thing about writing, the registration fee is worth it.

  4. Have someone (several someones, actually) other than a loved one, proofread your work.

  5. Hire a professional editor. Note: if your manuscript is accepted by a traditional publisher, an editor will be provided.  

  6. Don’t be tempted to submit your manuscript to publishers until it is both complete and polished. Not only is the competition fierce, but once your book is out there, you can’t take it back. 

  7. Avoid vanity presses. Whereas traditional (mainstream) publishers make their money from the sale of your books, vanity presses charge the author thousands of dollars up front. 

  8. Do your research. Be sure you know the difference between self-publishing, vanity publishing, hybrid publishing and mainstream publishing so you can make an informed decision. Then find out which publishers are interested in your genre.

  9. Don’t be afraid of rejection letters. Rather, use them as tools for improvement.  

  10. Be prepared to spend a good deal of time marketing your work. No one, not even an agent, will do it for you. 

Finally, don’t give up! If you are a writer who dreams of becoming a published author, you must be prepared to put in the work. No author, except J.K. Rowling, became an overnight sensation. In truth, even Rowling, who seemed to rise to the top overnight, struggled, but she never gave up on her dream.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning essays and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Last Laugh


I've never written in the genre known as flash fiction, so I decided to give it a try. What is flash fiction? you ask. According to Wikipedia, "Flash fiction is a fictional work of extreme brevity [usually around 1,000 words] that still offers character and plot development." The idea is to hint at or imply a larger story.
     Here's what I came up with. Let me know what you think. 

The Last Laugh

Cindy L. Freeman

    Unlike George and Stephanie, Rebecca had returned to the family home after college. Marshall Worthington trusted only his youngest daughter to run the business and manage his considerable estate.
    After the divorce, Marshall’s first wife had succeeded in vilifying him to his eldest children. Rebecca--born ten years later to Lily, the deceased love of his life--scarcely knew her half brother and sister.
    Now, a mere two years after Rebecca’s homecoming, nurses provided around-the-clock care for her father, allowing her to soak up the precious hours of his final days.
    During the months since Marshall’s diagnosis, George and Stephanie couldn’t be bothered to visit or even call to check on their father. Why had they shown up now when he drifted in and out of a morphine stupor?
    Rebecca hadn’t intended to eavesdrop that day, but hearing her name, she slipped behind the half-open door to Marshall's study. It wasn’t the first time she had caught them discussing her in hushed tones.
    “We need to find it before it’s too late.” It was Stephanie’s voice mingled with the furious tapping of computer keys.
    “Rebecca will get everything if we don’t change it. She already has the business.”
    “He’s barely conscious, George.”
    “No problem. I’ve mastered his signature.”
    “Are you serious? Forgery is a felony!”
    “Sh! Not so loud. Only if I get caught.”
    “Even if we find the original will, Father’s attorney will have a copy. Hurry up! Before somebody comes.”
    “I can’t crack the passcode. It’s encrypted.”
    “Great, just great! I thought you were an expert hacker.”
    Raising a hand to cover her mouth, Rebecca slipped from her hiding place. Her stockinged feet charged up the marble staircase, reaching the plush master suite just as Mount Vesuvius erupted. As she collapsed onto Marshall's hospital bed, her muffled laughter sent shivers through the mattress. Marshall started, but his dark-rimmed eyes remained closed. A pale limp hand reached to stroke his daughter’s silken hair.
    “Oh, Papa! You were right. How could I have been so naïve? They’re downstairs right now hatching a plan. But you’ll have the last laugh, won’t you, Papa? The joke will be on them.
    A weak smile lifted the corners of Marshall Worthington’s lips. Then, with one final puff of air, he lay motionless. It was over. Rebecca wept until evening shadows darkened the room. 
    The next day, George and Stephanie discovered deposits of two million dollars to each of their checking accounts. 

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of four award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or  Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fulfillment or Destiny?

Have you considered what contributes to your fulfillment? Not just enjoyment, but that deep sense of “This is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” How does one go about discovering one’s life’s purpose or destiny? Somehow, I don’t feel fulfilled unless I’m expressing myself creatively.

At one time, I was sure my destiny was to be a singer. At another stage, my destiny was to be a teacher and choral director. Then, I saw my destiny as founding a music school. Upon retirement, my destiny became publishing a novel. Have all of these things happened? Yes. Have they fulfilled my life's purpose? Perhaps these career goals have contributed, but career goals don’t necessarily equate with destiny.

Some years ago, I read Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring book, A New Earth. It had such a profound effect on my thinking that I decided to read it again. In it, Tolle refers to this idea of
fulfillment as “awakened doing.” He defines "awakened doing" as “the alignment of your outer
purpose--what you do--with your inner purpose--awakening and staying awake.” It’s about discovering your destiny and then thinking and doing life in such a way as to fulfill that purpose.

Do you think every human is born with a destiny, a life’s purpose? While Tolle describes destiny as becoming “one with the universe,” I’m convinced that true fulfillment comes from becoming one with God. Actually, that’s what Tolle is saying, too, when he writes about “align[ing] your life with the creative power of the universe.”

If one is moving through life in a constant state of awareness or “awakening,” this process of finding one’s destiny is possible according to Tolle. However, it may also be gradual, even changing with different life stages. Why? Because finding and accepting one’s God-given purpose involves purging the ego. Ouch! Try accomplishing that in one sitting! Or even in one lifetime!

Yet, it’s exactly what Jesus calls us to do when he says in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).” Who are the meek? The meek are those without egos or rather those who are not controlled by their egos.

Ego tells us that we are better than/more deserving than others, that we must be famous, wealthy, and top in our field to live a fulfilled, purposeful life. Ego wants us to step on other peoples’ toes to get where we think we’re supposed to be, to achieve what we think we deserve. Ego encourages us to boast about our accomplishments instead of supporting and affirming others. Ego keeps us focused on ourselves and constantly seeking approval.

It is challenging to sort out whether one’s personal goals are in alignment with one’s destiny (God’s purpose for one’s life). It's even more challenging to rid oneself of ego. At my stage of life, God is inspiring me to write...not to become a New York Times best-selling author, but as another step toward fulfilling God’s purpose for me. How God uses my destiny is up to God, not me.

What creative fulfillment is God awakening in you?

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of four award-winning short stories and three published
novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Overcoming Writer's Block

Let’s be honest. Writer’s block plagues every writer from time to time. For me, it happens when I’m especially busy. I still spend time writing when deadlines or other responsibilities are looming, but I find it harder to be productive--to “enter the zone.” 

Here are some practices I’ve found helpful in staying on track with my writing:

  1. If the words just won’t flow, get up and do something physical. I prefer walking, but any type of physical activity can reignite a sluggish brain. 


  1. If your thoughts are constantly interrupted by a mental to-do list, make a list of everything that needs to get done that day or that week. Then, set it aside until your allotted writing time is over. The act of listing tasks seems to free your conscious mind of its nagging until you are ready to tackle them. 


  1. Move from your usual writing space. If you usually write at a desk, try taking your laptop to a recliner or sofa and vice versa. Sometimes a change in venue will be enough to spark your creativity. On nice days, try writing outside on the patio or deck. In the days B.C. (Before COVID) I would occasionally spend my writing time at Panera Bread or my favorite coffeehouse. I was shocked at how well I was able to concentrate in those public places. Of course, I always ordered food or a beverage so as not to take seating from paying customers.

  1. If you are a blocked fiction writer, stop and read a chapter or two of a classic novel. For me, nothing works better to start the creative juices flowing than reading Brontë, Dickens, Tolstoy or Steinbeck. After only a few sentences, I’m feeling inspired by the beauty of language as demonstrated by great literary masters.

  1. Free-write like you would in a journal, without making corrections, without deep thinking. I admit to finding this practice difficult. As an editor, I tend to want to edit as I go. But I’ve tried writing a first draft without correcting and it does work. You simply write whatever comes to mind without structure. You don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation. This process seems to help me get past bludgeoning my brain for the perfect synonym or metaphor. 

  1. If you typically use a word-processing program, try writing long-hand for thirty minutes. Likewise, if you’re used to writing with a pen, try thirty minutes of typing into a computer. This sounds simplistic, but it seems to function like a factory reset for the brain. 


If you’ve tried everything and are still blocked, consider Rachael Cayley's advice. In her March 2018 blog post, she says: "Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking." Cayley suggests that writing through writer’s block is the best way to conquer it. She recommends changing fonts to indicate that what you write next is for your eyes only and will be deleted from the paper before it is submitted. Then, write exactly what your misgivings are: “I'm worried that what I'm writing here…” followed by “To figure this out, I need to…”1

Have you suffered from writer’s block? What have you done to unblock? Please share your suggestions. We’re all in this struggle together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

So Little Time

Had I known I would one day become a writer, I would have done far more reading in my early years. Reading good literature is probably the most important preparation there is for becoming a writer. I wish I had devoured all the classics as I was growing up: Dickens, Brontë, Austen, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck and others. Of course, many of these authors’ works were covered on my required reading for school, but I should have consumed so many more...when I had the time...instead of playing catch-up in my sixties and seventies. 

Classic literature, like classic music, has stood the test of time for a reason. By definition, it is recognized to be of the highest rank of excellence. The classics are works of enduring significance that I could have studied all these years, learning at the knees of the great masters. 

The ability to express one’s thoughts on paper with accuracy and elegance is a craft which, like any craft, requires study, practice, critique, rewrites, and more practice. In many cases, talent plays a miniscule role in producing a good essay, poem, or novel.  

Perhaps the Brontës were inherently gifted as writers, but according to Juliet Barker, author of the biography, The Brontës, their literary upbringing served their talent well. They were voracious readers. On page 169, Barker writes:

“From the books that we know the Brontës possessed, it is possible to deduce something of the education Patrick [Brontë] offered his children.” 

Barker goes on to list history, geography and grammar texts. “Each,” she says, “was heavily annotated” by the children and undoubtedly provided inspiration for the people and places they would invent. But, according to Barker’s research, the Brontë household’s collection of books also included second-hand volumes of classic literature by Homer, Horace, and Virgil, to name a few--second-hand because books were expensive in the nineteenth century and were considered an extravagance--and these other literary treasures:

“...a 1743 edition of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a 1791 edition of the hymn writer, Isaac Watts’ Doctrine of the Passions and a 1797 edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.”

Also displayed prominently in the Brontës' home library were numerous volumes of the Bible, plus poetry books, texts from their father’s Cambridge education, and a copy of The Union Dictionary. What I find incredible is that they mastered the art of writing without the benefit of internet research or a readily available Thesaurus. Theirs was a thorough, well-rounded education whose teachers were books. 

As a late-blooming author, I am envious of the Brontë sisters who were encouraged to start early in life and fill their days reading. At my age, I’ve had to adopt the mantra, “So many books; so little time.” 

Now, please excuse me while I curl up in my favorite chair and whittle away at my reading list.  

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available at or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.


Friday, September 11, 2020

A Day I'll Never Forget

That Tuesday morning in September 2001, I dressed for my school’s first day of classes. Good Morning America aired on the bedroom TV nearby, but I wasn’t tuned in to Charles Gibson. Rather, I focused on reviewing my lesson plans and checking off the mental list of preparations necessary for a successful start of the school year.

At 8:59, the television’s abrupt silence caught my attention. Wondering if the power had failed, I turned from the bathroom mirror toward the screen to witness a rare occurrence: a confused, mute host of a popular, upbeat morning show. Gibson’s too-calm demeanor belied a palpable tension. For a moment, he shuffled the papers on his desk and manipulated his earpiece. I expected the “Breaking News” warning to flash like it had in November 1963, the day of JFK’s assassination...another unforgettable moment in history--the kind of day when you recall exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt.

The difference was that, nearly sixty years before, I had been sitting in my eighth grade math class when the announcement came over the loudspeaker, unable to watch Walter Cronkite’s profound reaction to breaking news until that evening. Like every family in America, my family gathered around our black-and-white TV until bedtime when we lay awake wondering if the world was ending.

Precisely at 9:00 am, a plane headed straight for one of the Twin Towers in New York City not far from Times Square where Charles Gibson sat in his GMA studio. A sickening explosion followed. Somehow, an eye-witness had caught the exact moment of impact. It was happening in real time. Gibson could only try to make sense of what his audience was already seeing. Was it a tragic accident? What actually was happening? Wait! Wasn’t that an American Airlines plane? When a second plane crashed into the South Tower, we knew. Every viewer had caught the indelible image, and fear engulfed a nation.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

Just as Gibson began to make sense of the unfolding event, sorting the jumbled messages that surely deluged his earpiece, he learned of a plane crash in Pennsylvania and another plane crashing into the Pentagon. Could they be related? Had war reached our Atlantic shore? Surely not. This is America, after all--“land of the free and home of the brave.” Wars happen in faraway places, not here.

Within moments, President Bush had grounded every American airplane and put the U.S. military on high alert. Eyewitness reports, including photographs and videos taken by reporters and ordinary citizens, alike, flooded news stations. They were surreal; they were grim.

It was just the beginning.

I sank to the bed, paralysis gripping me. Yet I knew I had to go to work. Teachers, parents, and children would converge on the school at 9:30. Children needing reassurance would ask questions I couldn’t answer. I had a ten-minute drive in which to prepare.

On September 20th, 2001, President George W. Bush declared that the United States of America was at war. Life would never be the same.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories, three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home, and After Rain, a book of weekly devotions prompted by the pandemic.  To learn more, visit her website: Her books are available at or

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Words Have Power

Recently, an interviewer asked me who inspired my desire to become a writer. Certainly there have been numerous “writer heroes” whose work I admire, some famous, others more obscure. But one person stands out as leaving the greatest impression upon me. Her name was Mrs. Davis, and she was my seventh-grade English teacher.

From an early age, I knew I would be a singer and a music teacher. That’s what I had studied in college, and, indeed, music education became my long career. But for many years, I set aside another persistent dream. Starting from an early age, I wrote journal entries, poems, stories, and plays. I couldn't help myself. I had a love affair with words and a burgeoning appreciation for the beauty of language.

Mrs. Davis’ job was to teach English to a bunch of pimply faced preteens. I remember her as young--probably straight out of college--beautiful, and kind. Yes, she taught us grammar, punctuation, and the importance of correct spelling, but the most important thing I learned from her was that carefully chosen words have power...the power to influence and the power to stir deep emotions.

Mrs. Davis assigned her students a weekly essay topic. Some of my classmates balked at this assignment, but I couldn’t wait for Mondays when we would see the week’s writing topic displayed on the blackboard in her classroom. I always wanted to get started immediately. Why? Partly because I loved to write but also because Mrs. Davis appreciated my writing. She never graded my essays below an A and always included an encouraging, affirming note. Additionally, she displayed my work on the bulletin board outside her classroom, and, as I learned later that year, she read my essays aloud to all of her classes.

I recall one instance in particular. As she was sharing my essay with the class, she began to cry. I don’t remember the topic, but I will never forget the euphoria I felt in realizing my words had stirred my favorite teacher to tears. That was the moment I realized that words have power.

If, in my teaching career, I have touched even one student as profoundly as Mrs. Davis touched me, it has all been worth it. To have your hero believe in you and admire your work is, indeed, powerful. Through the years, I’ve tried to locate Mrs. thank her for her inspiration. Chances are, she is no longer alive, but she lives on in the heart of this "literary late bloomer" who finally fulfilled her dream of becoming an author.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Monday, August 10, 2020

A Timely Story

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be homeless through no fault of your own? Suppose you are a teenager looking forward to her senior year with dreams of going to college. Imagine you live with your college-professor dad, your stay-at-home mom and two younger brothers in a comfortable home in an average middle-class neighborhood. Now imagine that idyllic picture, painted with the colors of hope and a bright future, fading to black.

In 2018, when I wrote my novel, I Want to Go Home (click title for Amazon link), I was trying to understand homelessness at its core. I found it challenging to create a plausible situation where Abby, the teenager, and her brothers lost their home and their security. After all, what events could possibly be extreme enough to plunge a comfortable middle-class family of Williamsburg, Virginia into financial ruin and a situation dire enough to compel the children to run away, avoiding foster care and ending up in a shelter in Washington, DC?

Little did I know that only two years later, the events of 2020 with its pandemic, political and racial unrest, and economic nosedive would happen. I could not have predicted that some breadwinners would die of COVID-19, that business owners would suddenly be left without their source of income or that families, many already forced to live paycheck to paycheck, would find themselves in danger of eviction. Had I waited to write I Want to Go Home, my research into the causes of homelessness would have been unnecessary. Now there is clear evidence of how quickly peoples’ lives and livelihoods can change.

On the news, I see a single mother with four children standing outside her apartment house in Chicago, tears running down her cheeks. She has lost her job because the company she worked for had to close. She wants to work; she wants to support her children, not lavishly, but with basic food and shelter. She cannot pay her rent. I see the owners of a popular restaurant in Washington, DC forced to close for three months, unable to pay their loyal staff. The business this couple poured their finances and energy into for twenty-five years is now in danger of foreclosure. It is their only source of income, which means they could also lose their home. These are only two examples from thousands of true stories that reveal how fragile life is and how easily whole families, even in the USA, can become homeless.

Little did I know that my fictional story would be so timely only two years after I wrote it. I was determined to depict a plausible homeless journey, but I was just as determined to end it with Abby’s survival and triumph. I wish I could do the same for my fellow citizens who are experiencing uncertainty, anxiety, and hopelessness. I wish I could guarantee happy endings for them, too. Unfortunately, I have no control over the current situation or their uncertain futures. But there are leaders who do have a degree of control. It’s time they set aside their partisan differences and worked together to create happy endings for real people experiencing real struggles.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Marketing During a Pandemic

We authors are perfectly content sitting in our favorite comfy chairs, wearing our furry bunny slippers, with a cup of coffee nearby, and pecking away on our laptops all day. If truth be told, the pandemic has provided us with a socially acceptable reason to be socially distant.

But, if we want to sell books, we must market them. Marketing is the most challenging and odious aspect of being an author, doubly so during a pandemic or economic recession, triply so--is triply a word?--because, unless our last name is Patterson or Baldacci, most of us can’t afford to hire an agent or distributor.

Without our usual in-person book signings, tours, and festivals, we must rely on Amazon to sell books and keep our publishers happy. And as my publisher, Jeanne Johansen of High Tide Publications, knows, I live to make her heart sing. “Cha-ching” is her favorite song. So, she has been holding Zoom workshops with her authors to help us understand the confusing world of branding, metadata and search engine optimization. Oh my!

I’ve learned that my brand is Cindy L. Freeman, my author name. The key is to use that name consistently in my online presence: website, Facebook page, blog spot, Amazon bio and wherever my name appears on the internet. Okay, that’s not so hard to understand, but metadata is another story. Yikes!

According to the dictionary, “metadata is data that describes other data, as in describing the origin, structure, or characteristics of computer files, web pages, databases, or other digital resources.” Yawn! More simply put--for those of us with more simple minds--it is data about data. I’ll have to trust Jeanne on that one. But now I think I understand how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to market my books.

Whenever I learn something new--rather, when something finally sinks in--I get excited and have to share. So, here goes. For each of our books, Jeanne challenged us to come up with multiple keywords. Keywords are words that are most frequently typed into Amazon’s search engine by readers looking for books like ours. For fiction, these words might relate to genre, topic, and character type. For nonfiction, they might identify a problem, solution, and audience.

So, my novel, Unrevealed, might come up in an Amazon search if someone entered any of these words or combinations: fiction, intrigue, romance, mystery, secret, heiress, business woman, lost sibling, powerful father, or family conflict. The goal is to optimize the chances of this happening.

My novel, The Dark Room, could be tagged with any of these keywords: fiction, family dynamics, child abuse, domestic abuse, hidden child, abuser, abused women, abused children, dysfunctional family, power and control and others.

Possible keywords for my novel, I Want to Go Home, include but are not limited to: fiction, homelessness, kids alone, teenager, brothers, protector, homeless kids, child protection, homeless shelters, etc. You get the idea.

So, how do authors ensure that our books pop up in searches? We must use the keywords often in our book descriptions, blog posts, websites, and social media posts. In this way we maximize the number of visitors and potential instances of our books being tagged. Okay, as long as I don't have to take off my bunny slippers, I think I can do that.

Wish me luck!

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Best Medicine

“Laughter is the best medicine.” The origin of this quote goes back to Proverbs 17:22 in the Old Testament which says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” or literally “...causes good healing.” It’s true. Scientists have studied the physical benefits of a good laugh and found that laughing can actually strengthen the immune system and promote healing of diseases. There’s even a name for the science of laughter. Gelotology is the term coined in the 1960s by Dr. William F. Fry, a psychiatrist from Stanford University, California. According to Fry, laughter produces chemicals (endorphins) in the body that relieve stress and enhance physical and mental health.

Throughout the four months in which COVID-19 has ravaged the earth, many of us have shared jokes and comic strips with each other via text, email and social media as a way to ease the stress of isolation and quell the worry about ourselves, our loved ones, and our world. At this writing, more than 120,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus, and while there are areas of our country where the spread of this terribly contagious disease seems to be leveling off, cases are spiking in other areas. That’s no laughing matter, especially to those who are ill or have lost loved ones or watched in helplessness as patients in their care died of the disease.

The second part of that quote from Proverbs is “But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” I’m convinced it is the loss of hope that causes a spirit to break. When someone’s spirit is broken, it cannot be restored by reading a joke or taking a laughter pill. To one who has lost hope, laughter is empty and mocking. To one who is hopeless, people who make jokes seem insensitive and devoid of empathy.

People who are brokenhearted and broken-spirited need time to grieve. Trying to cajole them out of their sadness, trying to make them laugh when they need a good cry serves only to stall their healing. If we encounter someone on a window ledge contemplating suicide, do we tell them a joke? Of course not! Instead, we attempt to offer them a glimmer of hope. Once we have talked them off the ledge, we must allow them time to grieve, time to deal with the cause of their despair. We need to assure them that even in their darkest hour, there is hope, that life is worth living. They might require professional help, but they also need a reminder of God’s faithful promise in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So, let’s take another look at King Solomon’s proverb. It doesn’t actually say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Rather it says, “A joyful heart causes good healing.” Yes, laughter promotes the release of healing chemicals. Yes, laughter is good for us, but we can’t expect those whose hearts are broken by suffering and hopelessness to feel like laughing again until first they have walked through the dark valley and shed cleansing tears of grief.

During this pandemic, it’s important to remind each other that our sovereign God loves us and wants to hear us laugh again. When we place our trust in the God of the universe, God infuses our fear and sadness with comfort, comfort that we can share with others. When we feel weak and anxious, God gives us His strength and replaces our hopelessness with joy...if we remember to call on Him...yes, joy even amid problems, disappointments, and seemingly impossible circumstances. Only God can give us a joyful spirit amid tragedy, sustaining our hope until we can laugh again.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Her books are available through or 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

I'm Ashamed

I’m ashamed; ashamed to be white; ashamed to be American.

I’m ashamed to live in a country where the so-called justice system is blatantly unjust; ashamed of the few white policemen who condone and participate in violence against fellow humans because of their skin color; ashamed of the looters and inciters who would take advantage of a situation for their own selfish gain. As a Caucasian parent and grandparent, I’m ashamed that Black parents must teach their children, for their very safety, not to trust the police, not to wear hoodies in public, not to jog in parks, and not to walk down the street with their hands in their pockets.

After all the gains made in the 1960s by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through intelligent rhetoric and non-violent demonstrations, how is it possible that our nation has scarcely moved an inch closer to sanity or equality?

Where do we go from here? For how long will we, as a country, tolerate the white men and women who think they are superior to anyone who is not white? When will we stop tolerating white people who control because they can; privileged white people who get away with overpowering people of color because they can? When will we stop teaching our children to avoid, shun, or bully non-white children?

When will it stop? When will the legal system, the judicial system, and the penal system finally uphold the Constitution of the United States of America? When will Native Americans and Black Americans and Mexican Americans and Asian Americans and Latino Americans finally be protected from the minority group of racist whites who think they are in charge because they are allowed to be in charge?

I’m convinced that nothing in America will change or improve until the sector of honorable, respectful, honest, ethical, just, and lawful white men and women--and there are many--stands up, once and for all, for what is honorable, respectful, honest, ethical, just, and lawful. Honorable white men and women need to take action, to stand up and be counted. Americans of color are tired of fighting battle after battle while white men and women let the war rage on because it perpetuates their position of privilege.

Last Sunday afternoon I attended an inspiring, unifying “Black Lives Matter” rally in Colonial Williamsburg. At least as many whites gathered in front of the Capitol as people of color. It was organized and led by the Williamsburg Police Department and clergy representing numerous religious denominations. The speakers, both black and white, were articulate, informed and respectful. It was so uplifting! I wanted to shout, “Finally the message is getting through!” At least maybe it’s getting through in our small community that until Black Lives Matter, no lives matter. But it’s only the beginning. We must keep the momentum going.

Honorable white men and women are the only ones who can affect positive reform in this country. Honorable white cops, business owners, clergy, and elected officials. Why? Because they/we are the “privileged white.” Our communities need confident, brave white citizens who refuse to remain silent, who refuse to be racist or oppressive or abusive, men and women who refuse to tolerate hateful speech and behavior from other privileged whites.

Relinquishing our white privilege does not weaken us. On the contrary, it simply trades white supremacy for mutual respect.

America needs to hear from respectful white men and women who believe that every human is created in the image of God, possessing the absolute, inherent right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I’m convinced this is how we make America great.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Her books are available from or