Born on Fairchild Air Force Base, local author and columnist Cindy Hval spent the majority of her childhood traveling with her family from base to base. But throughout all those travels, one tradition remained.
“The first thing we did in any new town was to find the library and get a library card,” Hval said. All that time in libraries and airports left an impression. “I always wanted to be a librarian, a mom and a stewardess because I thought stewardesses had such cute shoes,” she said.
But when Hval started writing for her high school newspaper, her goals started to shift. And, well, 1 out of 3 isn’t bad. A mother of four sons, Hval has made a career of writing about the many joys and trials of life, love and parenting.
Before writing for The Spokesman-Review, Hval had already started writing a prototype of sorts of Front Porch for a newsletter. “When my youngest was a baby, I started journaling just because my kids were so damn funny, and I knew I was gonna miss things if I didn’t write it down,” she said.
She started journaling about her daily experiences with the boys and sharing them with friends and family, who soon convinced her to look into getting them all in print. So, she started writing for Moms of Preschoolers, a local newsletter, which eventually was picked up at the national level.
“One of my friends said, ‘you know you should really get paid for that,’ ” Hval said. She enrolled in a Write to Publish course at Spokane Falls Community College, and, not long after that, her writing mentor, local author Ruth McHaney Danner, encouraged her to start sending out her work to publications.
At the time, The Spokesman-Review ran a recurring feature written by members of the community. “I sent in a piece about driving by the cemetery on Wall Street,” Hval said. “And the editor emailed me and she said, ‘Would you like to come down to The Spokesman?’
“So I went down, she gave me a tour. Then I sent another column to the editor of the Voices section at that time, and he said, ‘Would you like to come down to The Spokesman?’ ”
“He said, ‘if you send me something every week, I’ll publish it and pay you.’ I think it was $60, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can be at home with my kids and earn 60 whole dollars a week!’ I was thrilled.”
Since launching her Front Porch column in 2005, Hval hasn’t missed a week of writing. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. In addition to her columns, Hval’s work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including 10 volumes of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.
And, in 2015, she published “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation” based on a collection of the Love Stories features she’d written for the newspaper. “You never realize how much you’ve really written until you sit down to write a book,” she said.
Hval spends most of her time writing or, at least, thinking about writing. But, if she isn’t writing, she’s reading. “I love the M&Ms – mysteries and memoirs,” she said. “My library stack is just … scarily large.”
To aspiring writers, Hval had the following advice: Whether you want to be a journalist or any kind of writer, read your local newspaper, and read as many books as you can get your hands on. “Find your own voice, read, and be connected to the community,” she said. For more information, visit cindyhval.com.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.