Cynthia Ogren is a lifelong reader, writer, and self-described word nerd. Originally from Illinois, she has lived all over the United States and has traveled extensively. She attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, majoring in psychology and English literature. Her work resumé includes stints as a model, a retail department manager, and an assistant to a gynecological oncologist.
Her hobbies include: maniacal reading, coffee swilling, Facebooking, gabbing on the phone, creating wild fantasies in her head while on the treadmill, weight-lifting, travel, getting lost in films and pop culture, and the quiet subversion of the system. She also enjoys intriguing conversation, art, dogs, meditation, bohemianism, ghosts, and popcorn.
She’s not above exceeding the speed limit or wild flirtations–and would not necessarily refuse offers that involve exotic travel and dirty martinis.
Ms Ogren lives and works at her writer’s loft near Lexington, KY, which she shares with her miniature schnauzer, R-Dog. She’s a member of RWA and Passionate Ink.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and her website (www.cynthiaogren.com).
I believe one is born to his art. Unequivocally.
I smile as I read that declaration because, looking back, I didn’t always believe it. It’s clear to me now, however, that writing was my earliest calling. From a young age, I was a regular at the neighborhood library, devouring as many books as the librarian would allow me to check out. By the time I was ten years old, I was writing my own stories, spending weekends and summers lost in imagination and ink.
Throughout high school and college, I accrued many class honors for my writing skills and was encouraged by teachers to pursue journalism or creative writing as a career. But I wasn’t listening to my soul. I still didn’t get it. Instead, I majored in Psychology and worked in fashion merchandising to placate my practical father and my logical mind. I dabbled at writing while pursuing the flaccid jobs I could make a living at. But making a living is not necessarily the same thing as making an inspired life. Honestly, I just wasn’t happy.
My first “wake-up” sign came in the form of a deadly disease. I was a young married woman who was trying to get pregnant when cancer, the big C, came calling my name. And it came with a fury! Choriocarcinoma, a virulent, rapidly spreading cancer, wracked my body. By the time I was diagnosed, the cancer had metastasized widely. I was hit with massive doses of chemotherapy to stem its progression. But besides the awful nausea, physical pain, and disfigurement of this treatment, the experience had surprising gifts to impart: a near death experience, a miraculous healing, and the blossoming of my metaphysical journey. Not to mention, material for a yet-to-be published book. As odd as it sounds, my bout with cancer was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
With a couple of miracles under my belt, I gradually came to terms with my life during the next twenty years. I raised my two sons (who were miraculously born after the cancer), worked with female cancer patients through my job with an oncologist, and continued to read and write in what limited free time I enjoyed. I also grew in my spirituality, devouring books about Eastern religious philosophy as well as the works of many inspirational mentors—such as Joseph Campbell, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Marianne Williamson.
Once my boys were out of the nest, the proverbial writing loomed large on the wall—in bold, flashing letters that not even I could miss (pun intended). If I could survive cancer and the many ensuing trials of my life, I could be a writer. I should be a writer! I must add, however, that I’ve never regretted one second of those misspent years because of the gifts they imparted. They gave me rich life experience, perspective, and other valuable wake-up signs along the route to finding my art. All were fodder for the imagination of a good writer. So, armed with my best friend’s support and Joseph’s Campbell’s famous battle cry, “Follow your bliss,” I began my creative writing career.
Some authors hate it when other authors say this, but Beautiful Monsters came to me like an unexpected gift. It was as though the Universe was rewarding me for finally choosing the right path. Interestingly, the idea for the book came to me on social media soon after I took the vow to plunge into the world of publishing. So many friends would post lamentations that if only they were rich, famous, or beautiful, their lives would be wonderful. Having risen from the lower middle class to a well-to-do level, I knew this wasn’t true. All one has to do is look at the Hollywood lifestyle to realize this fallacy. It was this light-bulb idea and the desire to explore the karmic aspect of love that lit my fuse to write Beautiful Monsters.
As preposterous as it sounds, I felt like a conduit through which the storyline flowed from another dimension. I ate, breathed, and slept the manuscript for six months. When I wrote the last sentence, the word count came in at just under 180,000, too big for a contemporary romance (and twice the size of the present incarnation). In the ensuing three years, I cut the manuscript in two and trimmed away the excess verbiage. When I sent Beautiful Monsters out to beta readers, they loved it. Encouraged, I decided to query a publisher.
I chose Vigilante Publishing Group LLC because I’d heard the positive buzz that they are a young group of publishing professionals, dedicated to their authors and readers. My query to VPG soon brought a request for a synopsis, which I sent, expecting a polite rejection letter suitable for framing. What I received, instead, was a warm welcome to the publishing world from head honcho Erik Ekstrom. Another miracle! After hearing countless horror stories about publishers from other authors, I can only say that my experience with VPG has been nothing but inspiring. Indeed, they are a caring group of professionals who have guided and mentored me through the sometimes harrowing publishing process. I can’t thank them enough! Unfortunately, due to health and personal issues, VPG has recently decided to close. I wish them the very best of luck in any new endeavors.
After much reflection, I’ve decided to publish Beautiful Monsters under the imprint Subtext Literary Group. This is another chapter in my life, and I look forward to taking Beautiful Monsters and subsequent books to new levels. They will be listed widely online and, hopefully, find their way into bookstores soon! So as I hold Beautiful Monsters in my hands, I have come full circle. Facetiously, I tell people that I took the circuitous scenic route to a career in creative writing. Obviously, I’m a late bloomer. But I’ve finally blossomed—hopeful, positive, confident, and doing what I was born to do. Finally, I claim it!