CBP: Cyndy Salzmann, tell me about yourself. How did you become a Christian?
Cyndy Salzmann: Well, Iím a mom Ė a real mom who feels guilt a lot of times about not being the perfect mom, but I feel having good friends is so important to realize that youíre not alone in the mom thing.
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and went to the University Of Missouri Columbia Journalism School, so I started out as a journalist in radio and television. I did television and radio for about eight years, and then I moved into public relations and decided after I had a baby that it would be so much better if I could work from home. So I had a little PR experience and decided I would start my own firm, because after all, I could run this business from home. I used to do communication audits Ė communication consulting and Iíd be talking to the VP of a company and the children would be fighting in the background and the dog barking, but we worked through it, and I enjoyed it.
About five years ago, I decided to give up the business and write full-time. It was very hard. I realized I didnít want to give up the business because I had created it, and I was doing well financially, and I realized that the feelings holding me to that business were pride and greed. And those arenít pretty things in the sight of the Lord. So for the last five years, I have been writing full-time. Iíve three non-fiction books for the encouragement of the domestically challenged.
CBP: They have funny names: Gobblers and Groundhogs. We have that on our site, too.
Cyndy Salzmann: I started writing non-fiction, and I just had this passion to write for women to Ė I wanted to encourage them to invest in friendship.
I became a Christian when I was fourteen years old. Kind of an embarrassing story because I went all through church; I went through confirmation and I was president of my church youth group because Steve Hanlan who was a very cute boy in eighth grade, was vice-president. Thatís the only reason I did it. They sent my to an evangelism conference for a weekend to learn how to spread the Gospel and deliver the Good News to people. And that first night of the retreat I understood the Gospel for the first time. And I had my little mentor there, and I kept saying, ďIs this true?Ē And I was so excited I wanted to fall to my knees; I didnít want anyone to know that I didnít know this. But I did accept Jesus for the first time, and I was so excited because the next day we went out to tell people the Good News and I was a brand-new Christian, and weíd knock on doors and Iíd say, ďGuess what?Ē And it was so fun Ė that passion.
Thatís what I want to do in my writing. I want moms to know that they can go to God about anything. There is nothing too small. I prayed one time because I am so terrible when it comes to laundry. I hate laundry. I donít know why. I just despise it.
CBP: You get that out of your novel a little bit. It comes out.
Cyndy Salzmann: Itís true. I prayed. I said, ďLord, please give me a better attitude about laundry.Ē And, you know, He led me to Genesis 2:20 that they were naked and not ashamed. What is does help Ė it doesnít help get the laundry done -- but it helps to make me realize that laundry isnít that big of a deal, you know? You just do the best you can, and as a mom, if you love your kids; things will be fine. And so I do the best I can. I want them to see me as imperfect.
CBP: Kind of up on a pedestal.
Cyndy Salzmann: She is. That mom is up on a pedestal as a perfect mom. I just want them to see me as a real person. I want other moms who may have feelings of inadequacy to see real people in my book.
CBP: Thatís good. What I like about your book, is has the recipes in it, and thereís another author on the ABA side, and I tried her recipes Ė herís mostly had cookies and desserts and things. And I tried one of your recipes.
Cyndy Salzmann: Which one?
CBP: Probably the simplest one in there. It was Pot Roast.
Cyndy Salzmann: Did you like that?
CBP: Oh, my gosh! My husband thought it was the best, and his mother had previously made the best pot roast. And I said, ďHoney, how does this compare?Ē And he said, ďWell, that will always be comfort food, but this is fantastic.Ē He was so excited. And then I made it for a friend who just had a baby and we bring dinners over, and everybody was bringing chicken she told me. So I did that and made some mashed potatoes.
So, yeah. I love to try the recipes in there.
Cyndy Salzmann: Try the Mile-High Coconut Cream Pie. It is very good.
CBP: Now, the story is around a group of ladies that get together every Friday, and itís not really a potluck club, but they get together and eat and share food, and share their lives.
Cyndy Salzmann: Right. Well, itís the Friday Afternoon Club. And itís based on a group of friends in Omaha from my block ever since we had babies, and we just wanted to get together because we needed a friend. And it was no crafts, no agenda, you donít have to have good food, you know how women are. Itís usually Marina in there, thatís really my friend Lizzy. Whenever she comes to my house she says, ďLet me have some of that from your garden.Ē And the raspberry.
We found Ė we made a commitment just to get together, first it was just for fun. ďLetís get together on Friday afternoon.Ē And as our kids got bigger Ė they gave me a baby shower for my youngest baby Ė as the kids got bigger, it was harder because we were busier. But we realized after those first couple of years, that we needed to invest in friendship. And as mothers we often donít do that, and friendship is an investment. You invest in your children, you invest in your marriage. You need, as a woman, to invest in friendship because, not only do you realize that youíre not the only one, but when hard times come, theyíre there.
I told you how they gave me a baby shower for my youngest daughter, Anna, who is my youngest daughter now. But two years after that I got pregnant again, with a little boy, and at six months I had had emergency surgery. So I had to have emergency abdominal surgery, and the surgery went well, but afterwards the trauma from it caused my water to break. So he was born early, and it was in 1994. Weíve been getting together for 15 years now. So in 1994 -- and he died. We didnít have the technology then. He was only six inches long. I named him Christian John, who I know Iím going to see in heaven again.
And it was so hard, losing a baby. I delivered him, and I had to leave him. I went home and I wasnít sure what I needed to do. But I felt that I just needed to be still and know God was God. And thatís where my friends had helped me. And so what they did is they just brought dinner, and they cleaned my house, and they did my laundry. And they gave me that time. It took about six weeks because of the abdominal surgery, I couldnít even move; to be still and know that He is God.
They gave me little presents with notes, and they were there when I needed them. Thatís why you need those friends. My brother, at the end of March of this year, died suddenly. They could have gotten together and sent flowers or whatever, but they know me. They know I needed, when I got back home, they got together and chipped in money and gave this money to my husband and I to go out to dinner, to have an evening out together, and a certificate for a massage. Now, who would know what I needed except for those people that know you.
So you need to invest in that. It doesnít just happen. And you donít have to have your Bible study; you donít have to have a structure. Bible study is wonderful, but sometimes you feel guilty because your house doesnít look just right, or I didnít do my lesson, or I donít like crafts, or I need to bring something. Itís very casual, you just know itís Friday afternoon. So thatís what I hope. Thatís why I started writing fiction because women likt to read fiction. My passion is just to encourage women to invest in friendships.
CBP: You know, the funny thing is that Iíve seen your other books, but I didnít actually try those recipes. But reading about them in the story, I thought, ďHey, I could make that. I want to try that.Ē So I think the combination was a really great one.
Cyndy Salzmann: I went through and I tried most of the recipes except for some of the really authentic ones. I went through it and tried to streamline them so they would taste really good, but they would be really ďmom friendlyĒ.
CBP: Okay, now. I have to say I read a lot of mysteries and Dying to Decorate, I thought there was going to be a death. Itís not that I crave death, but I kept waiting for, ďOkay, which one of them is it going to be?Ē Are there going to be more like this, not a murder mystery, but a ďI wonderĒ kind of mystery? What are you intending to do?
Cyndy Salzmann: I know in the mystery genre that you should have a body. I had a body drop Ė it isnít one of the women Ė but I had a body drop that related to the mystery and I thought, you know what, I want the mystery to just be something Ė you know I started thinking about having my friends really solve a murder, that probably wouldnít happen. I just didnít see us solving a murder. But we are serious, and we would investigate a mystery. I want the mystery to be something that really touches the heart.
The mystery in Crime and Clutter, Iím having a lot of fun with this mystery. Youíre probably not going to see a body drop, itís not about solving a murder, itís about solving a mystery. Stretching women beyond where they would go. Thatís what I want to do. When I saw the blood on the cover when they sent me the cover, I thought Ė I hope this isnít misleading but thereís not a lot of blood in there. They arenít murder mysteries.
CBP: Iím not bloodthirsty, really. Now, this main character, she writes a column. And she has a journalism background; Iím thinking is that Cyndy Salzmann in here? Do you write columns too?
Cyndy Salzmann: Yes. I worked in Christian radio as a morning show co-host and we had to write blogs. I had my blog.
CBP: Oh, do you? Whatís your blog?
Cyndy Salzmann: FromTheTrenches.com. And I just started it and Iím still working on it. I cancelled my simplify your life one. I was getting too Martha, and Iím not a Martha.
CBP: And thatís the transformation that we see.
Cyndy Salzmann: And thatís what happened to me because my first three books are home management for the domestically challenged, and yes, I do know what to do but I donít always do it. And I wanted people to see that Iím imperfect. We donít have to be Martha all the time. We need to get things done so we can live in a peaceful home and not live in chaos; I believe that. Iím not as perfectionistic as people Ė sometimes in my writing I find myself listing what should be done instead of really practical things. So I wanted Liz to struggle like I struggle. So, yes, Liz is based a lot on me.
CBP: Itís good to be honest because Iím sure a lot of people feel like theyíre not up to those standards, and when you see other people struggling the same way ĖIs each character someone that you know, or is it just the concept itís based on?
Cyndy Salzmann: Yes. I made them all up from a lot of different friends. And itís a lot of fun because when my Friday Afternoon Club got their hands on the book last week, theyíre like, ďWho am I, who am I?Ē And theyíre like, ďWell, this could be me, but it also sounds like Mary.Ē But itís a lot of fun. And then thereís other people that Iíve pulled from. So theyíre not real women, but it was a lot of fun writing it. I write in my Starbucks, and a lot of women from the book are women who live in the neighborhood so I drive to the closest Starbucks, and Iíd be writing and laughing and they come in, ďOkay what are you doing?Ē
CBP: You have another book coming out, From Crime to Clutter?
Cyndy Salzmann: Yes, Crime and Clutter. It will be out next fall, not this fall but I think theyíre going to put it next fall.
CBP: Well, Motherhood Club is such an interesting idea, itís empowering. How did you get involved with that?
Cyndy Salzmann: Well, I just met Phyllis and Chris who founded the Motherhood Club at lunch one day at a writerís conference. And I was kicking around the idea of a Friday Afternoon Club and the mystery, and I mentioned to Chris Ė it was just a casual lunch conversation Ė I said, ďI think Iíd like to name one Dying to Decorate.Ē And she said, ďI love that title!Ē I have one friend who is such a decorator, and she is dying to decorate, so I thought it went well together. So she kind of bugged me.
My heart, as I said, is for moms. And the Motherhood Club is a perfect fit. I also get to write articles for the reading room. I think theyíve run out on rest. Rest Is Not A Four-Letter Word. And then thereís another one called Seven Minutes With God, and itís about her time. Having that quiet time and it just takes seven minutes. You can do a lot of talking with God in seven minutes. So Iím working on a back-to-school article that Iím getting ready for back-to-school.
Iím doing current events, conferences, motherhood clubs for moms; Iím having fun with it. I love it; itís a good fit for me.
As moms we need to stick together. We really need to encourage one another and be real. We have to be real with one another. And thatís why I like to speak. I speak all around the country, and I just love to encourage moms face to face. They need it. Our children need it, and our husbands need it.
CBP: Thank you.