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Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories


by Guest Cynthia Herron

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

 

Hi Seekerville friends ~ Great to join you again today! It’s been a while. 

Settle in. We’re hunkering down for the long haul. But stay with me! Pssst…There’s a giveaway at the end!

Since I last visited, I’ve had my fingers to the keyboard, meeting deadlines and writing books. Speaking of books, today I wanted to touch on something that a reader recently shared with me—I love your voice! You give me warm fuzzies through your word pictures!

Huh? I do? Well, thank you!

Sometimes, an author’s “voice” is hard to describe.

No kidding, right?

I never really thought that much about it when I jumped back into writing ten or so years ago. I established my tagline early—Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction—and I just kind of went from there.

I write in the same vein that’s uniquely me. I’m a simple, unpretentious Ozarks’ gal who grew up the hard way and learned at an early age the true importance of wealth. Not the material kind.

With that in mind, I pen heartwarming, second chance stories with complex, quirky, lovable characters. I blend nostalgia, simplicity, and homespun with twenty-first century reality.

Writing in our own voice isn’t imitating others. It’s staying true to our brand and who we are at our core. That doesn’t mean we put ourselves in a box or erect glass houses that limit us. 

When driven by passion and story, writers’ fictional worlds resuscitate lackluster reality. Our words (and worlds) infuse inspirational oxygen into ordinary life.

In other words, we take the mundane—normal day-to-day chores, work, and perhaps, the boring—and add the wow factor. That unique spin that’s intrinsic to us. (Our voice.)

But let’s dig deeper. 

Maybe it will help to describe “me” so you understand what I mean. In other words, let me share some insight into my“voice.”

Now you might guess that family is very important to me. So is my heritage and the region where I was born and raised. The Ozarks are where “my people” are. 

When we’re children, I don’t know that we can fully appreciate our roots. In fact, I’m sure we can’t.

Things like culture, heritage, family history, and geographic locale aren’t on our “live in the moment” radar.

Children live in the now.

A child’s world is immediacy. It’s Mama’s smile at breakfast. Daddy’s hug as he leaves for work. It’s macaroni and cheese, crayons and coloring books, and stinky socks on a summer day.

Little ones don’t think in terms of tomorrow. They understand the concrete—the tangible. The things that adults so often take for granted.

I once heard it said, “I loved being a child. Though I didn’t realize it then, those years were the best years of my life.

As I’ve matured, I understand that statement and I fully embrace it. (My experiences have given wings to my voice.)

In the present, I have a full and happy life. I know Jesus. I have a loving family, my health, and a beautiful home.

Despite this, life hasn’t always been fair, kind, or easy.

I’ve worked hard.

I’ve survived loss.

I’ve known heartache.

Just like you.

The learning curve’s been chock-full of twists and turns.

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories
 

I’ve grown from where I’ve been, and I’m thankful for the journey and how my roots and milestones influenced me and the stories I write. (Again, this is voice, friends.)

Let’s dig even deeper.

As a youngster, growing up in the Ozarks was an interesting mix of old and new. Life meandered along at a steady, but snail-like pace. Change in some areas arrived slowly, while in larger towns, transformation was more obvious.

I grew up in one of those smaller regions where “new” and “different” had to be mulled over and left to simmer for a while. A long while.

At the little elementary school I attended, most of us shared similar backgrounds and breeding. There was a rump roast sale on Fridays at our local market, and church on Sundays was the town norm. Our mamas and daddies were hard workers who knew the value of a dollar and waste was a foreign concept.

Where I lived, summer was less about boredom and more of an adventure. There was always a bike to ride, a fort to build, and cousins to visit.

We had a drug store that had a real soda fountain, a hardware store that sold everything from A to Z, and a department store that boasted bib overalls for the men, and dresses and aprons for the women. (Yes, it’s different now. But that was then.)

Each business establishment was locally owned and operated and closed on Sundays. Big box stores and shopping meccas hadn’t arrived yet and neither had the hustle and bustle of life in the fast lane.

In the Ozarks along the expanse of old Route 66, the hills and hollows were lush, green, and scented with honeysuckle. Folks who lived in the nearby, little niches were self-made, salt-of-the-earth, not-afraid-to-get-their-hands-dirty kind of people. They were passionate about God and country, family and friends.

Though I no longer live in the same town where I grew up, my little neck of the woods is still a subtle blend of yesteryear and today. Time has given way to progress, and our growth and change reflect this, but our culture is still unique and our heritage the same.

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

Now, think about your past. Your present. Your future. Think about the lens with which you view life. Write your story from that perspective using your own voice, because your voice is the most powerful persuader.

In my recent release His Love Revealed, book two in the Welcome to Ruby series, I used my beloved Ozarks as the backdrop to introduce you to new friends in the region where no one is a stranger. 

There’s always room at the table for “just one more,” and to make you feel at home, we’ll even let you wash a dish or two. No need to wear your fancy duds. Just come as you are and limber up those arms for a big, ol’ bear hug! (COVID can’t last forever!)

Writers, please give us a sense of your voice. Please share what makes you “you.” Drop a snippet of your current WIP in the comments. We’d love to get to know you!

Readers, what draws you to an author’s voice? What great books have you read lately that define what you mean?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of His Love Revealed. (Due to postage, U.S. readers only.) 

 

*** 

Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful Stories

Author Bio

Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. His Love Revealed, book two in the Welcome to Ruby series released October 2020.

“Cindy” has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA. 

She is a 2020 Selah Award (Double) Finalist, a 2017 ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist, and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions Winner. Her work is represented by WordServe Literary.

Besides writing, Cindy enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. She also adores a great cup of coffee and she never met a sticky note she didn’t like.

Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online homeShe also hangs out on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

For love, fun, and encouragement ~

Sign up for Cindy’s monthly e-NEWSLETTERS

 

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

By Guest Cynthia Herron

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)


Hi Seekerville friends!
I’m delighted to join you today! And guess what? I recently sailed off Unpubbed Island! Today I join you as a published author. *tosses confetti* Hooray!
There are so many things I’d love to chat about—lessons learned, wisdom gleaned—that sort of thing, but in planning this blog post, something I continued circling back to was time management.
It’s a discipline we grow into. Baby writers write and chase squirrels. Savvy writers write while others chase squirrels. Veteran authors fry those squirrels and serve them to their readers—in the form of “story.” Stay with me, friends! It’s just an analogy to illustrate my point—although, fried squirrel isn’t terrible. Oops! See what I did there. 😉

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

Reality check.
Writing is a full-time job. For those who work outside the home and write, they have double the fun…er, responsibility. If that’s you, you have my deepest respect.
Although it wasn’t always the case, writing is now my full-time job. After my husband heads out the door for work each morning, I tuck myself away in my home office, slug back coffee, and start my own workday. 
And yet…when writers work from home, distractions abound.
We care for families and homes, chauffeur kids, tackle laundry, prepare meals, and handle the day-to-day affairs that go with the territory.
We also field infringements on our time from outside sources. Those come by way of well-intentioned friends and family who may not realize that while we’re home, we are indeed still working. We’re writing. Yes—that.
And though we are home, our time still matters.

But how do we manage our time…and still be nice?
The truth is if we don’t value our time and treat writing as our career, no one else will either.
Prioritizing our work load isn’t something that always comes naturally. We must be intentional, focused, and goal-oriented. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some leeway involved.
Life ebbs and flows. Of course, there’s bound to be those unforeseen things that crop up and upend our schedule. We know we have a problem, though, when we begin to see a pattern—when we allow those things that could wait to hijack our day.
For people-pleasers, time management is difficult. We want to be approachable (and available), yet we also understand the rigors of working from home. We have X number of hours during the day to get our work done before our families arrive home and our evening routine begins.
Sometimes, we think we can juggle it all and we have to learn the hard way that we can’t.
Writing is our job. Maybe we don’t yet earn the income from it we’d like. Maybe we’re still pursuing career goals. Maybe we’re still wrangling a few squirrels.

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Does that mean our work is less meaningful?
Many years ago, Sally Sue (not her real name) used to call me—usually more than once a day. I dreaded answering the phone because I knew what was coming.
“Hey, gal. Whatcha doin’? There’s a great meat sale down at the market. Of course, they tried to cheat me out of some deals, but I got everything worked out. Let me tell you about it.”
As usual, I tried the polite approach. “I’m working just now, Sally Sue. Can I call you back when I take a break later?”
“Oh, this will only take a minute. Five, tops.”
What do you think happened? Well, of course those just take a minute/five, tops phone calls morphed into thirty-minute commentaries.
And Sally Sue was always in a tizzy. Nothing ever went right. The world was against her. 
Her calls left me resentful and deflated. For this see-the-glass-half-full gal, I was thoroughly parched by the time the calls ended.
As much as I wanted to be there for Sally Sue, it became apparent I needed to distance myself from what had become a disturbing pattern.
Here’s how I handled it.
“Sally Sue, I won’t be available to talk as often,” I announced one day. Subtle hints hadn’t worked and neither had direct cues. It was time to cut to the chase. Tactfully. Truthfully. Lovingly. (Did I mention truthfully?)
“Oh, what do you mean?” The sound of an electric mixer whirred in the background.
I sighed and plunged ahead. “My time matters, Sally Sue. I work from home and when you call, that’s time away from work.”
“So, you want me to call in the evenings? I can do that.”
No.
That’s not what I wanted at all. Evenings were family time.
Long story short, I nipped this situation in the bud. I regretted not doing it sooner.
I told Sally Sue I could only take calls on Friday afternoons and I would no longer chat beyond the ten-minute mark.
And when she pushed the envelope, as I feared she would, I didn’t budge. I refused to answer her calls other than on Fridays, and when ten minutes passed, I ended the conversation. Politely, but firmly.
Her parting sentence was always: “Wow. I guess you’re serious. Your time really matters, huh?”
Yes. And yes.
I eventually lost touch with Sally Sue.
Fast-forward twenty years…
Since I’m a firm believer that God brings folks together for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, I recognize that period as a defining point in my writing career.
When I got serious about managing my time, I began to think in a new way. My craft (my work) no longer took a backseat to other “nobler” professions. I approached my job with a new mindset, having learned a valuable lesson in the process.
There will be times of sacrifice, but self-respect is non-negotiable.
For instance…
  • I may not always answer the phone.
  • I may not answer my door.
  • Dusting may have to wait, as well as clothes-folding, toilet-scrubbing, and errand-running.
And call me a “meanie,” BUT
  • I will no longer serve on every committee, join every club, or attend social functions for the sake of “putting in an appearance.”
  • I can’t walk your dog.
  • I don’t do laundry (other than my own).
  • I won’t organize your closets, clean your kitchen, or mow your lawn.
  • I know nothing about stamp-collecting, bee-keeping, or turnip-growing.
Now, I love folks. I really do. But because writing is my full-time profession, I find if I don’t value my time and my career, no one else will. 

The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)
via Simon Hattinga Verschure on Unsplash

Sometimes, I have to say this.
“No, thank you” and “I’m sorry—I’d like to, but I’ll have to pass.”
Trust me, wordsmiths—you’ll get better at this. Some folks will understand. Others won’t. That’s when we love them anyway.
And then we silence our phones. Pound keys. Craft stories. And eat chocolate. 😊 
While we work.
Rah-rah-rah!!!
***
Have you navigated a time-management issue? How did you address it?
What are your best time-saving tips? Please share!
I’m giving away a print copy of Her Hope Discovered, my debut novel! Let me know in the comments if you’d like your name tossed in the hat! (Due to mailing costs, drawing open to U.S. residents only.) 
  
The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

Author Bio
Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her Hope Discovered, her début novel and the first in a three-book series, released December 2018 with Mountain Brook Ink. 

“Cindy” has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA. 

She is a 2017 ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist, and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions Winner. Her work is represented by WordServe Literary.

Besides writing, Cindy enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. She also adores a great cup of coffee and she never met a sticky note she didn’t like.
Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online homeShe also hangs out onTwitterFacebook,Pinterest, and Instagram.
For love, fun, and encouragement ~

***


The One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

Her Hope Discovered
Welcome to Ruby, Book one
Is the sure thing worth risking for the possibility of maybe?

Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. 
Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents.
Nestled in the Ozarks’ hills and hollows is Ruby, Missouri, a quaint, cozy town where “neighbor” is merely another word for “friend.” Ruby will charm and delight as will her quirky, lovable characters who will steal your heart, but hand it right back—with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Savor your new friends’ sorrows and successes in the community where offbeat is perfect and mishaps and mayhem never tasted so good!




Using Our “Voice” to Share Powerful StoriesThe One Thing Writers Must Do Well (Besides Write)

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