Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dusty Hidden Places

Today's guest is Cynthia Toney. I know her from a young adult writers small group in ACFW. Her gift and ideas for books has launched her writing career.

Dusty Hidden Places

I love the writing world. I feel as though I have finally come home.

A long career in art, advertising design, and marketing distracted me from pursuing what I always wanted to do but didn’t quiet the urge. When people asked if I drew or painted in my leisure hours, the answer was always no. Did I dare tell them my dirty little secret? That in quiet solitude I put on paper (no personal computer then) ideas for greeting cards, instructional articles, and advice columns? 

In performing my duties as advertising artist and graphic designer, I took every opportunity to write when the job offered it. I couldn’t help but attempt to improve advertising copy that came across my desk for use in an ad I designed. Not everyone in the business appreciated my editorial efforts, however.  Once, I was chastised by a sales rep for changing some advertising copy ever so slightly. “You’re not a writer,” she said. 

If she had known me better, she would’ve realized that derisively telling me what I’m not, or what I can’t accomplish, is a sure-fire way to get me to become or do that very thing. 

I began to write more often—for websites and newsletters, including my own newsletter about using salvaged materials to create home décor. Then came a job with an educational publisher, where I created all the copy for its catalogs and direct-response mail. 

Hey, I was on a roll! Why couldn’t I write a book? (Yes, I was that naïve.) A few ideas for nonfiction came to me because of my experience in advertising and design, but… 

I’d always enjoyed being with pre teens and young teens—especially those gangly, awkward kids who spoke without thinking and were full of love but didn’t know where to direct it. Memories of my childhood and my daughter’s made me want to write a novel that would show kids how wonderful and powerful they are. I wanted to title it BIRD FACE before I was sure what the story would be. 

But a finished book wasn’t meant to happen for a couple of years. My commute between cities for the publishing job put the novel on a back burner. Finally, tired of both the commute and lack of leisure time with my family, I resigned. I returned to the manuscript bursting with excitement. 

I had so much to learn. Fortunately, a couple of self-help books for writers were recommended to me. The next year was spent learning the basic mechanics of writing a novel and linking plot and subplots. 


My husband took a job in Mississippi. We bought a house—three months before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. In the chaos of the move, Katrina, and a new computer, my manuscript files were lost. 

My new job as a decorator stole novel writing time. I mentioned my novel to coworkers and relatives even though I couldn't find time to make writing a priority. I didn’t abandon my passion altogether, though. There were opportunities for articles about things I loved, such as cooking, decorating, and dogs. 

Much later, a friend asked how my book was progressing. I suddenly realized I didn’t know how to find chapters dissolved in cyber space. Her encouragement inspired me to search my closets. There I found a partial hard copy. Sad to say it was several versions old.  Yech. I didn’t look forward to retyping the whole thing, and my memory was foggy on missing pieces of the story. 


In my search through dusty hidden places, my husband, bless his little pack-rat heart, had saved a copy of the manuscript on a zip disc. Zip discs were no longer being used for storage, but he was able to find an old zip drive to access the information. Back in business! (Kiss, kiss.) 

I jumped into rewriting the novel with a fresh perspective. Soon I fell knee-deep in revisions. 

An adventurous publisher willingly took me on. She and her skilled editors gave my book, BIRD FACE, the expert attention it needed. It released in 2014. 

This novel has been on a journey for over a decade. I started a new novel, set in the 1920’s, last year, and  plan to begin a sequel to BIRD FACE soon. 

If God has given you a dream, don’t give up. You’ll likely encounter distractions and face roadblocks. Sometimes eyes will glaze over at the mention of the dream. It’s okay if everyone doesn’t share your passion or even believes you can achieve it.  Believe it yourself, and don’t give up. Ever.

Thank you, Cynthia!!

So, Reader, do have a hidden dream you've been aching to follow?

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