Hello, readers! I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer weather…even if it is a little hot and a bit stormy at times. Seems like the right time to curl up with a good book to me. At the beach, in the mountains, on the back porch, at the pool…wherever! ESPECIALLY if it’s raining. Nothing better than a cozy house with a blanket, a coffee (insert “tea” if you’d prefer), and a good book.
My guest today is here to introduce us to her newest release which promises to be such a book. Romance, internal struggles, connection, overcoming…sounds like a good read to me! But I’m getting ahead of myself…and her. Let me let her share…
Welcome, Cindy! And thanks for joining us today. First, can you tell us a little about New Duet?
The idea for this novel came to me while I was part of a church’s worship team. A what if moment. What if the worship leader dropped dead. I have the greatest respect for that worship leader, so the idea was nothing personal. Several years earlier a missionary had dropped dead during an elders’ meeting due to an aneurysm. That idea germinated into the story line of an abused widow starting over in a new town. (Why not make it my town Aurora, Illinois) and meeting a wounded warrior who was adjusting to life minus a leg and aided by his service dog. Each need to start over and come to understand themselves and grow in faith.
I’m in a military town and come from a military family (my grandfather was a career military man) and there is hardly a family in the area who is not touched by the army in some way. The concept of your novel definitely speaks to me. What was the inspiration for New Duet?
The emotional issues Isabella and Dan struggle with are the same as some of my friends and family. My oldest son works hard to keep his PTSD under control. It is not as violent as the media portrays it. But depression and panic attacks are often a part. The issues of domestic violence are common, sadly, even in the church.
Wow. So you write from a place of deep knowledge. The media definitely doesn’t do the best job portraying many mental illnesses. I am still in recovery from postpartum depression (experienced after each of my three children). It’s not exactly what the media portrays either. What they show is usually postpartum psychosis. Not quite the same.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?
I did. But I also wanted to be an actress. I think writing novels is a great way to create characters too.
So true. Brandilyn Collins writes books about developing characters utilizing what she learned pursuing theater. It’s an interesting concept. One I wouldn’t have thought of.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When my 8th grade teacher entered my short story in a writing contest. I didn’t win or even place, but the die was cast.
I imagine so! It only takes a taste, doesn’t it? But, as you know, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine…there are things we don’t like as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?
Truth. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
Keep writing every day. It doesn’t have to be good writing just consistent. Keep a notebook in your purse and others around your house so you can jot down ideas. And read, read, read in the genre you want to write in and craft books. Attend conferences and network, network, network. What I learned there was priceless. And the critique groups I’m in has grown my writing by leaps and bounds.
Well said. I noticed that you founded a Word Weavers group. I have recently discovered that these exist. I hope to become part of a nearby group soon or start my own! I am currently in a critique group, but I like what Word Weavers has to offer.
What are you currently reading?
A novella collection The Cowboys of Summer. I just finished Backcountry Brides Romance Collection, these help me focus on correcting stuff in my own novella that has a deadline this August.
I LOVE those Barbour novella collections! They are great for a great quick read or getting yourself in a setting (i.e. I was writing in a ranch setting and grabbed the “Cowboy Bride Collection” – not for research, but to put me in that mood.)
What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
I prefer quiet or instrumental only, otherwise I tend to sing along.
I’m the same way 🙂 Instrumental only. Or it’s a one-woman Sara show.
Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
Early morning. I take my laptop to wherever the quietest place is at the time. I’ve had to write all different times when on deadline.
One of those questions that everyone is curious about is: How long does it take you to write a book?
Let’s see. I wrote my Historical romance, Secrets and Charades in five months, but did rewrites for years. I wrote the first draft of New Duet in two months and spent another year (not daily) in rewrites. My historical novella took four weeks to write. I’ll need another few weeks to edit before submitting. That’s 20,000 words compared to 80,000.
Great! Well, Cindy, thanks again for being on my blog. For sharing about your novel and your process. Do not fear, dear readers, we will certainly dive more deeply into New Duet below. AND Cindy has a GIVEAWAY offer below as well. So, without further ado, I’ll let you check it all out:
Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.
Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.
Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?
Enjoy an Excerpt
Isabella Melinda Marklin scurried ahead of her husband Ron. She reached the driver’s side door of the red Dodge Durango first. Ron closed the gap between. His breath brushing across the top of her head. “I’m driving.”
She faced him feeling for the handle and pulling the door open.
Anger flashed in his dark brown eyes. Melinda stood her ground.
“You have one of your migraines. “I’ll drive.” She climbed in before he could grab her arm.
“Fine.” Ron moved to the passenger’s side, slammed the door, and leaned back on the gray leather head rest. “It’s so bright.” His forearm covered his face.
“Here’s your sunglasses.” Melinda took them from the visor before gazing into the rearview mirror. The gravel driveway flowed beneath the tires. Her chest tightened with the gears shift into drive.
Ron adjusted the sunglasses. “Can you drive a little faster?”
“No.” A tremble escaped her lips. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel. Fear wrestled her confident tone. “We’ve got time.”
“You’d better be right.” Ron massaged his temples with his index fingers. “If we’re late it’s all on you.”
Everything always seemed on her lately. Always her fault, always her problem. Blame had been the morning focus.
“What’d you do with my socks?”
“Why haven’t you folded the laundry?”
“Did you break the iron? I wouldn’t hand off this shirt to the homeless”
“You forgot to charge my phone again.”
His harsh words produced her own headache which found solace in a bottle of pain reliever.
The silent treatment a welcome change. Sweet worship music streamed into the car comforting her soul relaxing her thoughts. Peace flowed from the melody. She turned the wheel and panic assailed her. Her wrist was bare. I left my witnessing bracelet on the bathroom sink. The colorful beads used to share the gospel. Oh, how she hated it. He gets so mad when I forget it. Please, please don’t notice. Another reminder of her failure in the ministry.
“Turn off the radio. The music’s killing my head.”
“Maybe we should return home and you can rest.”
Ron raised his head, lifted his sunglasses, and glared. “And give you another excuse. Six Sundays, Melinda, six times sitting in the pews and not helping with worship. Well, my migraine will not be your seventh excuse.”
Melinda’s knuckles ached on the steering wheel. Tight lips held back tears. Arriving at church in the middle of an argument would make things worse later. God forbid anyone would see them arguing. That would be my fault too. She hated being in ministry, on the worship team and under a magnifying glass in this congregation. If I don’t get away soon, I’ll go insane. God forgive me.
Ron made no mention of the headache once they arrived at the church. His spotless dress shirt and neat pressed Dockers (no thanks to her imperfect ironing ability) added to his confident air. His look had changed over the past few years from casual jeans and collar-length hair to short moussed hair and black dress shoes.
Ron wanted her to get a make-over. The CDs sales had switched her husband’s focus. When they first married, Ron asked her to grow her hair out. “Sweetheart, the Scripture says long hair is a woman’s glory.” Now a file folder of acceptable hairstyles created by the church secretary lay in the bottom of her underwear drawer.
Maybe I should bleach my hair and spike it, wear my bra outside my blouse if he is so interested in a professional image. The bitter taste of her thoughts convicted her. Father, I seek your peace again. Please be with Ron when he shares his new song and don’t let my attitude hamper what you’re going to do here today.
“Blessing.” Ron hugged each member of the worship team in turn. “How’s the new baby, Mark.” Ron’s smile never giving time for a response before he continued.
“Angelina, nice dress.”
He seemed to have pushed through the headache, making Melinda wonder if it was all an act to keep her in line.
“Melinda, sweetheart, go tell Graham to watch for my cues.”
Mister sweetie pie is back. I swear… Every Sunday Ron used the same syrupy tone to issue the same instructions.
“Graham, you know.” Melinda tried on a sincere smile.
The sound tech took a sip of his coffee and grinned. “Yeah, yeah.”
Melinda headed back to the front of the auditorium muttering. “The mics worked. Why doesn’t he tell Graham himself? Another irritating thing to add to my I-Hate-My-Life List.” Her face warmed as people filled the pews. Fake smile in place. Wave at a few friends. Don’t dare stop during the warm up to chat.
Once the worship team prayed together she gained composure. Ron was presenting his newest song, “I Am Your Bond Servant”. The worship team had worked hard to get it right. Graham was recording it to add to Ron’s growing collection of songs for his latest CD. Next month would be his first live concert.
She’d told Ron she was done. He’d laughed. “Sugar, you know you love it as much as I do.” Then he’d squeezed her arm. The bruise covered by her sleeve.
Today would be her last performance. His last critique of her performance, her last time to pretend she cared.
Melinda took her place left of Trevor, the bass player with Angelina and Griffin the other backup singers. She preferred not being center stage. The service started with announcements and prayer. God’s presence filled the stage when worship began. “I Am Your Bond Servant” was the last song in the set before the pastor’s sermon. Ron, for once had given equal parts to all three singers as well as special orchestration for all the instruments. Her husband, in great form. He seemed connected with the Lord in a way Melinda hadn’t seen in years. The crescendo before the last line seemed to lift everyone’s hearts to God.
Ron finished the song, lifted his hand in praise and crumbled to the floor, knocking music stands and microphones in all directions. The clatter echoed through the sound system reverberating off the walls.
Melinda stood dazed, hands shook at her side, and legs rooted in place.
Trevor started CPR. Andrew, the guitarist, called 911.
Ron’s vacant eyes stared heavenward.
Clamminess covered her skin.
The congregation erupted in screams, weeping, and concerts of prayer all over the sanctuary.
Her heart reached out to Ron, but her body betrayed her.
The paramedics entered the sanctuary in a slow-motion run. Before they reached the stage, blackness enveloped her.
The coolness of the stage floor greeted dulled senses. Muffled words. Gentle arms held her.
“Melinda.” Maureen, her mother-in-law, hovered. “He’s dead, dear. What are we going to do?”
Her blunt announcement rambled through Melinda’s numb brain. He’s dead. Who’s dead? Ron’s dead.
“Oh God! Oh God!” Her shrieks joined the congregation’s. Guilt shrouded her. Relief mixed with guilt ate at her, and the packed suitcase in the trunk of her car.
Cindy Ervin Huff received the Editor’s Choice Award for her debut novel Secrets and Charades, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Secrets & Charades placed third in the Maxwell Awards.
Over the past forty years her by-line has appeared in numerous publications. Her latest release a Contemporary Romance New Duet is set in Aurora, Illinois. Healing Hearts, part of The Cowboys novella collection is slated for release in August 2019.
Cindy is the founding member of the Aurora Illinois chapter of Word Weavers and a member of ACFW. Her blog Jubilee Writer offers writing encouragement to all newbies, especially those starting later in life. www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com
Visit Cindy on her Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyehuff or follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Huff/e/B01N9UAOZA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Cindy is offering one (1) e-copy of her book, New Duet, to a winner, chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the directions below to enter.