Hey, welcome to August everyone!
Let's not waste any time. I've got a great guest today, with lots of wonderful amazing books and stories for you to check out.
Cynthia L. Winfield (1960-present) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where she was raised by professional parents—a physicist and a social worker—to value the worth of every individual. She lived in the suburbs of Boston for most of five decades and taught middle school English Language Arts in Arlington before moving to Middle Tennessee. She became active in LGBT+ rights issues beginning in the mid-1980s by volunteering with the AIDS Action Committee of Boston, serving on the McLean Association of Gay and Lesbian Issues committee while working at McLean Hospital, teaching a social justice curriculum in Arlington Public Schools, and served a Nashville church with an active social justice ministry for over a decade. As a consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Correction in the 1990s, she wrote and piloted two curricula to effect behavioral change using writing and literature; during this time she edited a book for the American Correctional Association under her then-current name of Cynthia L. Blinn. She is passionate about education and educating people such that they can navigate their days with grace, peace, and optimal health. Always, she writes to empower others with the knowledge and tools necessary to make the reader’s world a better place. She currently resides high in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky where she is publishing new and old works (yet unpublished) to Kindle Vella. Please visit her on Kindle Vella!
Thanks to The Advocate editorial team for naming Gender Identity as one of their "Ultimate Guidebooks for LGBTQ+ Youth in 2019."
Find Cynthia's stories on Kindle Vella, where the first three episodes of every thread are free!
A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)? Just released: Island Man by Joanne Skerrett
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? From daily life. Once upon a time it was from the headlines, and then I began to live a full life that offers more than enough stories within each day!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Flexible yet sometimes punishing. I have a daily gratitude journal that gets dictated into my phone whenever I can snatch a few minutes to capture a thought, and last week found some of these neared 3,000 words when edited the next day. When I wrote Sovereign Souls: Whosoever Edition, a YA/NA novel-in-verse, I spent hours a day sitting in a warm bathtub (for hip pain but also for the creative energy flow provided by water) and I would write the first stanza of a character’s piece myself. Youth voices were told in sestinas (39 lines in 7 stanzas featuring 6 repeated words). I would write the first stanza, structure the spine of the poem by listing the 6 repeated words in their order for the next 6 stanzas, and then wait. Once the download was received, and it always came – I did not write this book myself – the characters or the Universe wrote the rest.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Although I’m no longer limber enough to climb in and out of the tub, I firmly believe in the power of water to move energy, and I firmly believe that often my characters drive the story – leaving me to somply be their conduit.
I know this because while writing Sovereign Souls: Whosoever Edition I tried to turn one chapter/poem into a song, and – since I’m not a songwriter – I offered tunes I knew on a trial basis, only to be shot down by that character. We had an argument and she won! Thereupon I learned my place: sit still and listen, then channel those characters’ messages as they request, not as I see fit!
When did you write your first book and how old were you? The first “book” I claim to have written was penned in fourth grade on lined paper with black ink and hand drawn illustrations. “The Ant that Climbed the Eiffel Tower” was a tale of an enterprising ant who chose to ride in a businessman’s lunchbag from America all the way to France for his adventure. While I remember the book’s pages were housed in a purple-and-white mottled folder with prongs to hold the pages in place, I don’t recall the ending – but I assume the ant returned to his family with the businessman, somehow!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I’m a lightworker and a Yoko Farmer, meaning that I raise my plants and livestock with True Light and prayer. I love gardening – getting my hands in the soil – and I love animals. We currently have goats, ducks, hens, dogs and cats. This spring I planted 100 varieties of daylilies around the farm and the color this summer has been glorious. I also love the phases and ways of Nature. I have a Worm Wigwam, a bin for collecting green and brown matter, adding red wiggler worms and turning it into garden soil. This summer I’ve been entertained to discover myriad ways of turning household and garden waste – banana peels, spent daylily blooms – into tasty chicken treats by leaving them for a few hours in a warm worm bin until a mass of writhing fly larvae. Sounds gross but the hens love them and the increased protein boosts egg production!
What does your family think of your writing? My partner is proud of me. He doesn’t read my writing, but on occasion will listen if I choose to read to him.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Write! Observe.
Do you like to create books for adults? Yes.
What do you think makes a good story? Angst, deeply felt emotions, and characters triumphing over adversity. When a story causes me to both laugh and cry, especially to guffaw and sob hard, then it’s a winner!
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? As a child I knew that I wanted to write books! When I was young, elementary school age, my mom had an astrological chart drawn up for me. When the result revealed, “Cynthia, you’re going to be an author!” I wanted them to tell me something I did not already know deeply within my soul.
What is the first book that made you cry? I’m in my seventh decade, no way do I remember the first book that made me cry. I do wish I could recall the name of a women’s fiction author whose books I avidly consumed for years and with whom I exchanged many handwritten letters. When she switched pen names, I stayed with her for a bit but then lost track of her. Her books were about triumph over adversity, and the personal growth and transformation of her female lead characters.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Generally, writing energizes me; however, writing Gender Identity: The Ultimate Teen Guide, Second Edition was a long, tedious process. For the chapter on intersex variations alone, I recall spending full afternoons in the library to just put together a paragraph’s worth of material about one such variation. For the first edition, I had consulted with a transwoman through the International Foundation for Gender Education. A review of that book showed I had missed the mark for intersex readers. So, for the second edition, I consulted with someone from interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth whose patient reading and careful comments taught me much.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Evernote! It’s an app I use in my phone to keep notes before transferring these thoughts into Word for further editing.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I currently have 4 pen names.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? Without strong emotions, I would guide prospective writers into the nonfiction space where a more journalistic, less emotional sort of writing works better.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a number of accountability partners and we often help each other with learning new tasks, rethinking ideas, choosing titles and covers, and more. My writer friends do not necessarily even write in the same genres in which I write.
What does literary success look like to you? Literary success is when my stories get into the hands of readers who somehow need the tales I’ve told.
What do you have coming next? Although the title may change, I have a novel I wrote a good decade ago currently titled “With Hallelujiah in Her Heart,” a pastoral story about a divorced woman who moved to a farm in Middle Tennessee to find herself. I’m told that it needs more excitement early on, and so it sits, waiting for me to have the mental space to revisit the manuscript.
I’ve recently begun a thread on Kindle Vella that’s unfolding as the ideas coalesce titled “A Course in Gratitude” by Cynthia Lees. Under the pseudonym Willow Sage I recently published a gratitude workbook that’s a combination of a coloring book and a guided journal which I envisioned as the first in a series. I want to teach others the immense possibilities that open in life when one focuses on that which for they feel grateful. The Law of Attraction truly does work! The “A Course in Gratitude” is my reaching out to teachers, parents, anyone who works with youth to ask and encourage them to introduce younger people to how this works. If they can learn this while young, I can only imagine the heights to which they can soar in this life!
We are incarnated to enjoy, to laugh, to love, to have fun in life while serving those around us – doing God’s work, and by that I mean whatever Creator Being you hold true and real, for the God particle is within. We are all children of Divine Creation, and we carry this within every cell. When we can know that, understand that, and feel that fully – our lives move with an ease and grace not previously understood, and it’s simply magical!