Author Cindy Ervin Huff
Dear Friends, I would like to introduce you to a fascinating writer, Cindy Ervin Huff.
Cindy, tell my readers exactly what you write. Can you give us a brief (paragraph or so ) synopsis of your stories to lure us in?
I write Historical Romance and Contemporary Romance. As a Christian I don’t write heated love scenes, but the attraction is noticeable. My characters have real-life problems like PTSD and abuse. And all of them have dogs. My historical romances Secrets & Charades, The Cowboys and my upcoming releases Rescuing Her Heart and Angelina’s Resolve all have strong female characters who can take care of themselves until they can’t. And my heroes aren’t perfect but determined to solve whatever problem comes their way in typical male fashion. New Duet, my only contemporary romance in print, has a wounded warrior, and an abused widow trying to find who they are after their individual traumas. They are all traditionally published and are available on Amazon in paperback and e-book. New Duet and Secrets & Charades are available in audiobook too.
Cindy, when did you start writing? Is it something you thought about for a long time or is it something that you woke up one morning and said, today I have a story to tell...
I’ve always had characters floating around in my head. My imagination and I had great fun as I doze off for the night. In eighth grade I turned in a short story and my teacher asked if she could submit it to a magazine contest. I was over -the-moon. I didn’t win or even place, but her encouragement that it was good enough to submit set my course for writing. Through high school I served on the newspaper staff and wrote skits for both my Thespian Troupe and church youth group. After I married and started a family. (Yes, I married right out of high school- it was the 70s.) I wrote children’s stories and radio scripts for a children’s program. I continued to write sketches for my church and later for my children’s homeschool group to perform. I did a monthly editorial column for the local paper for a few years before I abandoned writing for ten years. When God nudged me to get back at it I began my novel journey freeing all those characters in my head to find their home on paper.
How do you write? Long hand and then type into your computer? Directly to your computer? Do you know what the outcome is before you start? And how long does it take you to take a story from the first words to completion?
Usually I go directly to my computer and start typing. I have done scenes long hand if I’m in a waiting room or the passenger in a car. Long hand sometimes frees my creativity if I am stuck. Before I retired I’d come home with lots of little slips of paper in my pockets or purse of notes or scenes that came to mind during my downtime.
How long from start to finish? Secrets & Charades took five months to write and ten-years to revise while getting 22 rejects and improving my writing craft. The other novels took less time. I’m writing book nine and finished the first draft in about five months. The rewrite takes a few extra months and then I edit before submitting. Total time is about 8 months now.
Are you represented?
Yes, Cyle Young from Hartline Literary
Why historic stories? Are you drawn to the past? Do you have a history background or just a love for a time before you?
I’m a history geek. My ideal vacation is visiting museums and historical sites. I have a head full of historical tidbits. Historical romance has parameters that make for an interesting read. Women were very limited in what careers they could follow. Any women who crossed those lines were in for a battle. I love imagining how those battles would be fought, and what kind of man would be attracted to a strong-willed woman. When I read historical accounts of strong women, it makes me appreciate all they went through to pave the way for women today. And as Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. My characters deal with many of the same problems we do today. I can speak to my reads deeper need, as my stories unfold. I’ve had readers tell me how relatable my characters are.
What about names? I myself am always playing with names and looking or them, or using favorite ones from favorite people. ( or bad ones from naughty people) How do you come up with your names?
Often the character tells me their name. They’ve made me change them too. Historical stories need to have names that were common during that era I am writing, for example, is a modern name. It became fashionable well after Tiffany jewelery set up shop. It’s a 20th Century name. I sometimes use my own ancestor’s names, especially last names. A way of honoring them.
What about your settings? Tell us where they come from.
I lived in Texas for a while as a child and that is why I set Secret & Charades is set there. I’ve lived in Aurora, Illinois for over 40 years. Setting my contemporary romance, New Duet, here worked because there are so many interesting places to set scenes. The Cowboys is a part of a novella collection. The editor suggested Kansas and three of the four stories are set there. I thought that was fun, as I was born there. The history of Kansas has lots of fodder for stories. Rescuing Her Heart is also set in Kansas because it is the sequel to my novella Healing Hearts in The Cowboy Collection. And Angelina’s Resolve focuses on a female architect trying to prove her worth and ability and Kansas had whole towns pop up after the Civil War.
Your covers are so tender, do you help with your artwork? Do you have an idea that your publisher expands on? Where do those covers come from?
I usually get to give some direction. I provide pictures of the characters from websites that offer cover models and photos of settings. I even get to approve the cover font and back cover copy. But the publisher gets the final say. They hire a professional cover designer. I also get to see the initial draft of the cover and make suggestions of changes. They do great work.
Do you add personal experiences in your stories? I am guessing most writers cannot help themselves but in your case with historical, do you weave in your own experiences or do you simply dream them up?
Depending on the story. Most on based on others experiences and my research. But the emotions they feel come from my own heart. I might not have experienced the same losses, but I have experience for example, a panic attack. I know what stirs up in me having to share an unpleasant truth or suffering the loss of a loved one. There are books available that help writers describe those emotions. The Emotional Thesaurus is a great resource.
Can you explain to us what a Jubilee writer is? It is a term I have not heard.
My writer’s blog is called Jubilee Writer because I want to encourage older writers. Those who are taking the plunge toward publication after age 50. In the old testament there is made mention of the year of Jubilee. The Jews who fell on hard times might have to sell their family land or themselves into slavey to survive. Their fellow-jews purchased the land and their kinsmen served them. On the year of Jubilee- every fifty years those slaves were freed, and their land returned. I mentioned earlier that I stopped writing for a decade. I lost my zeal for writing and moved on to other things. God got my attention on a mission trip and told me to take it back up. I felt it was too late, and I was too old. Then I heard about the Year of Jubilee. I was turning fifty that year. Once I began my journey I wanted to reach back and help others. Now my blog has expanded to anyone of any age who feels the call to write.
I know your faith is an important part of your life, how do you incorporate it in your stories?
I try to make it a natural part of their lives without being preachy. The characters pray, seek advice from those of faith. They sense God’s leading in various situations. I don’t want to limit my readership only to Christians, so the faith is sprinkled rather than frosted all over the story.
Tell us about your family.