Today I am spotlighting Cynthia Simmons. Cynthia has served as president of the Christian Authors Guild, and currently is co-coordinator of the Catch The Wave Christian writers conference. Cynthia’s book, Struggles and Triumphs, was published in 2008 and she has recently published a study guide companion.
Cynthia, tell us a little about the study guide.
What’s wrong with our world? Shouldn’t a God who claims to be all powerful and flawless prevent suffering? How can we continue to believe when storms rage on in our lives? If you’ve ever had tough questions like these Struggles and Triumphs Study Guide is the book for you. Author Cynthia L. Simmons will guide you toward answers with her unique and enlightening approach. Her twelve-week Bible study for ladies comes from stories of real women as told in Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame. As you study, you’ll come to understand God’s perspective on timeless issues that impact your life. The carefully chosen Scriptures combined with interesting historical information will challenge and encourage you.
Watch the trailer at: http://youtu.be/HOP9HY7xTXU
You also have a popular interview podcast. Tell readers a little about it.
While I promoted my first book, I did a lot of radio interviews. It required some work, but I loved it. My publicist and I put together a list of questions, and I prepared answers. I practiced my sound bites so I’d be smooth. When other possible topics came to mind, I prepared a short answer to them also.
The day of the interview, I reviewed important names and dates and sent off an email to my friends requesting prayer. As the time drew nearer, I warned anyone at home to maintain silence and set up my office. First, I spread out notes, then I added a stack of clean paper, a box of tissues, pencil, and water. A few moments before the call, I’d pray. Once the call came through, I moved notes about so I made no sound. At times, I’d have to answer a question I didn’t prepare for. If I repeated it first, it gave me time to think and jot down notes. I found interviews invigorating. After hanging up, I usually had to pace to calm down.
At the time I served as president of my writing group, Christian Authors Guild (CAG). I realized I could use what I learned to promote our events, like our annual fall conference. My friend and co-leader, Susan Schulz, and I recorded conversations using a digital recorder. I uploaded them to my website and sent a link out to my authors. Those first recordings contained tons of mistakes, but everyone applauded my efforts, even though I felt like an amateur. So, I kept doing it, and experimented with using different rooms to get a better sound.
One day my oldest son handed me a box of audio software. He told me to mess with it and figure it out. Right away I started playing around with its features. The program allowed me to view individual sound waves. I discovered I could cut out silences and delete mistakes.
Next I searched online for the best way to record. I discovered Skype worked well but I needed digital headphones and a call recording program. Once I purchased supplies, I had an itch to get started. My first call went to my husband’s cell phone. It recorded well, and after a few trial runs I was ready to go.
The goal of CAG Spotlight is to interview authors and VIPs in the writing industry to help new authors get published. By then I held membership in American Christian Fiction Writers, so I sent out a query for authors to interview. Tiffany Colter volunteered and my first podcast went live in December 2010.
My podcast forced me to learn interview skills. I find a candidate and set a date. Each person gets a list of possible interview questions, but I don’t stop there. Good research helps me establish pertinent facts and gives me even more topics. I still set up my desk, but I also check audio settings. Right before I make the call, I silence my cell phone, home phone, and door bell, and alert family members that I need silence. After praying for guidance, I put on headphones, adjust my mike, and dial. I chat with my author before recording. We discuss their introduction and possible topics. During the interview I take careful notes so I can follow up on interested topics that arise.
The edit comes next. I remove repeated words, mistakes, and smooth out rough places. Once I add the music, it’s ready to go on my website. The author gets to listen first, but once I have approval the interview goes live.
I’ve been so touched by authors who thanked me for what they learned, and I’ve made great friends. Every time I do an interview, I get exhilarated. How wonderful to share with others, and love every minute of it.
Where can readers find your interviews?
These interviews are posted on my blog at http://blog.clsimmons.com/. Each interview is between 20 to 30 minutes in length.
A little about Cynthia.
Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers. “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.