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Spa Daze

Soothing music. Delightful fragrances. The absolute absence of ringing phones or pinging emails. And best of all, the only time anyone says my name is to ask me how I’m feeling.

There’s nothing like a spa day to refresh my soul.

The Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area is blessed with ample places to bliss out, and I’ve visited most of them. For work. Seriously.

A few years ago, I took on a bunch of travel writing assignments for several regional magazines. Interestingly, most of them wanted me to cover spas and resorts. It was a rough gig, but somebody had to do it.

Not all experiences delighted. At a media day at one resort, my masseur looked like Bill Gates, and sounded like him, too. I closed my eyes and tried to relax, but all I could think about were the questions I’d like to ask Mr. Gates. Like would he care to subsidize my writing career? And what the heck is up with the Blue Screen of Death?

And sometimes the choice of music in the massage rooms isn’t exactly restful. Many places use the sound of ocean waves or a tinkling stream. It may sound soothing, but isn’t if you’ve had a mimosa or a cup of coffee before your appointment.

One of my favorite spa experiences involved my husband. An airline magazine had asked me to write about fun local activities for couples including a spa day at a local resort.

Derek had never been to a spa and was a little apprehensive.

“I don’t have to get my toenails painted, do I?” he asked.

“Only if you want to,” I replied.

The couple’s package included a soothing private aromatherapy bath in a huge jetted tub, and then a candlelight massage.

Derek followed a male attendant to the men’s changing room, and I went to the women’s. Luxurious robes with our names stitched on the lapels awaited us.

The attendants then ushered us into a suite, lit by flickering candles. They poured lovely smelling things into a tub that could easily hold a half dozen of our closest friends. Then they gave us each a glass of wine and told us they’d be back in an hour.

As they closed the door behind them, we got ready to climb into the tub.

That’s when I knew Derek was out of his depth. He dropped his robe and revealed he was wearing swim trunks.

I doubled over with laughter. He says I hooted and shrieked. I say I chuckled softly.

“Hey,the guy said I could wear them if I felt more comfortable! I didn’t know we were going to be ALONE,” he said.

I may have giggled intermittently throughout the hourlong massage that followed, but it was just because I was having such a fabulous time.

While I enjoy massages, manicures and pedicures, there’s one traditional spa activity that I haven’t cared for – facials. Be they European, aromatherapy, collagen or paraffin, I just haven’t found the facial experience relaxing. For one thing, I’m pretty claustrophobic and having my face wrapped in a hot towel with only my nostrils exposed feels suffocating. And once, the aesthetician got a little exuberant with an astringent and splashed some in my eye. My skin looked pink and rosy. So did my eye.

But recently with a gift card to my favorite spa burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to give facials another try.

And you know, it wasn’t that bad. The aesthetician explained each application and treatment, was careful with the hot towel mummification and didn’t splash anything in my eye.

One thing gave me pause: Most of the products used, she said, were to help with “fine lines and wrinkles.” After hearing “fine lines and wrinkles” for an hour, I started to get paranoid. Just how fine were those lines? And by wrinkles, did she mean laugh lines or wadded up linen blouse tucked in a drawer wrinkles? I was afraid to ask.

However, the organic masks, toners and scrubs smelled delicious, delectable even. There were applications of strawberry-rhubarb stuff, pink grapefruit potions and liberal lime mistings. In short, a fruit salad was applied to my face.

While facials still aren’t my favorite spa experience, I’d probably do it again. Especially if I’m hungry.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

War Bonds

Neverending Story

 

My cousin wrote this on her blog and I couldn’t agree more. What are your thoughts on reading reviews of your books? How about writing reviews?

CHALK the SUN

As a rule, I don’t read reader reviews of my work. By the time a book hits the shelves, my work is complete and the reading experience no longer belongs to me. I do read trade reviews and those from sources I’ve actively sought out, such as book blogs. Occasionally, friends will send their thoughts to me directly, but I try not to ingest their words.

Why such caution?

I’ve been a member of Goodreads, the online reader review community—which now numbers in the millions of members—for nearly ten years. I’ve written hundreds of reviews and formed wonderful connections with book lovers around the world. Writing reviews, thinking carefully about the books I read, their construction, style, themes, and storytelling, became a vital part of my self-directed MFA. It’s what led me to seek out writing instruction and begin to craft stories of my own. There is no better…

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War Bonds

Christmas in October!

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I LOVE Christmas and I received an early gift when the UPS man dropped off this box of books!

I’m thrilled that two of my stories “Christmas Glow” and “Wishing for a Silent Night” have been included in the latest addition to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series: The Joy of Christmas.

My work has been featured in 10 volumes of this wonderful franchise and I’m happy to be part of a series that offers words of inspiration and affirmation to readers all over the globe.

Pick up a copy today and spread the “Joy of Christmas”!

War Bonds

From War Bonds to Cindy’s All Write

Turning the page.

I launched this blog last year to coincide with the publication of my first book War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year celebrating and promoting War Bonds, and while I’ll continue to do readings, special events and signings, the time has come to start my next book, tentatively titled, Don’t Make Me Write a Column About This! More about that later.

To celebrate this new chapter, I’m renaming my blog to better reflect all of my writing adventures. From stories printed in new anthologies, to newspaper and magazine stories, to social media missives and points in between. There’s never been more ways for writers to see their words in print and to share the creative process with readers.

Thank you so much for joining me on the journey. I hope you’ll turn the page with me.

Business Card

War Bonds

A funny thing happened on the way to the Google

I admit it. I Googled myself. Don’t tell me you haven’t!  But what I found today, delighted me! Two reviews that I’d never seen.

The first was this lovely mention of War Bonds from a blog called Doodles and Words.

spring-time-reads[1]

“War Bonds– Love Stories of the Greatest Generation by Cindy Hval is a collection of beautiful and loving memories of couples who met during World War II. She recounts how these men and women met and stayed together for decades despite many obstacles. Who doesn’t love a good story? Well, what about 36 of them?

“Everything’s built on friendship. He’s been my best friend for 77 years.” – Betty Schott”

And the second came from Pearl Harbor!
Pearl Harbor Survivor Couple – Betty and Warren Schott

“We first heard about the Pearl Harbor Survivor Couple, Betty and Warren Schott, in an article in the Spokesman-Review by Cindy Hval. This remarkable couple was living on Ford Island when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

They heard an explosion and Warren quickly recognized that Pearl Harbor was under attack from an enemy. Many others on Oahu at the time thought that it was a drill, but Warren saw the rising sun on the wing of a Japanese plane flying overhead.

Warren Schott watched as the USS Utah was torpedoed. He then took his wife and another family living below them to safety. Warren did not seek safety himself, instead he returned to Battleship Row to help victims of the attack.

“I took one of the boats and picked up our fellows who were in the water,” he recalled. The men he pulled out were covered in oil.

Betty Schott did not sit idly by herself.

“They put us to work immediately, Betty said. “We unloaded guns and filled fire extinguishers.”

This Pearl Harbor Survival Couple was married for 76 years before Warren Schott passed away in May 2014. Betty lived another year and passed away on July 5, 2015.

We appreciate the excellent story from Cindy Hval about this fascinating couple and the impression they left on her. You can read Ms. Hval’s stories about the Schotts here and here or in her book below. We salute you Cindy Hval for your story and we salute the Schotts for their service to our country.

For more stories about love during wartime, read Hval’s highly rated book: War Bonds.”

Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to Google yourself– you might find nice surprises like these:-)