Kick-Ass Kentucky Women Writers

Cynthia Ellingsen

March 28, 2017

Cynthia Ellingsen kicks ass…and makes people laugh.

A contemporary women’s fiction writer with a flare for funny situations, snappy dialogue, and characters with abundant picadillos, Cynthia’s work makes for a relaxing break from reality. Tuck one of her books into your bag before you head out to the beach, picnic blanket, or hammock, and prepare to giggle your way through the antics.

Her first book, The Whole Package, focuses on three estranged friends who find their way back together when their lives take a turn for the worse. Doris, the stay-at-home mom, fights anxiety when her husband buys a motorcycle and takes off cross-country to “find himself”; Cheryl, the take-charge corporate dealer, wants revenge after being fired by an unscrupulous boss; and Jackie, the free-spirited painter and wealthy widow, struggles to maintain her fabulous façade despite being bankrupt and homeless. After a night of drinking lands them at a men’s strip club, the three decide to open a restaurant—like Hooter’s but with speedos instead of tight white t-shirts.

Marriage Matters, Cynthia’s follow-up, begins with a wedding, where three generations of women all catch a piece of the bouquet, and soon find themselves ready to walk the aisle. Chloe, an over-extended grad student, is reluctant to tell her best friend, Ben, the news of her engagement; her mother, Kristine, agrees to a vow renewal on her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary despite the nagging feeling that the best moments with her husband are behind them; and June, a plucky octogenarian and professional meddler in other people’s affairs, finds love where she least expects it. As they work through the details of this epic family wedding, not everything goes as planned.

Cynthia’s upcoming novel, The Lighthouse Keeper, is due out on April 4. The main character, Dawn Conners, was raised on a boat by her treasure-hunter parents, and is determined to be far more sensible in her own life than they were. But when a news exposé accuses her great-grandfather of stealing silver as his ship sank in Lake Michigan nearly a century before, Dawn finds herself without a job, boyfriend, or bearings. Determined to uncover the truth and clear her family’s name, she buys the lighthouse in Starlight Cove that overlooks the old shipwreck. Faced with suspicious locals, a looming legal battle, and a major historical renovation project, Dawn, teams up with the town’s hottest bachelor to find out what really happened to the lost silver. While digging into the history of Starlight Cove, she discovers more than she ever expected—about her family, herself, and what it means to call a place home.

I sat down with Cynthia recently to chat about lighthouses, women’s book clubs, and the intersection of chocolate and fiction. She also read an excerpt from The Lighthouse Keeper.

After you listen, make sure to get your hands on a copy of The Lighthouse Keeper. It’ll be out on April 4, but you can pre-order your copy today on Amazon. Or you can come out and meet her at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington on Saturday, April 8, at noon.

If you can’t see her in person, catch her on TV. Cynthia will be appearing on LEX 18 at noon on Wednesday, April 5, and on ABC 36 Good Day Kentucky at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 6.

To see what Cynthia’s up to next, follow her on Facebook or Twitter, or visit her website.


Frankie Wolf is an Appalachian myth-maker and teller of small tales. She was the first woman editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary magazine of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Her essays and short stories have been published in Nantahala Review, Appalachian Journal, New Madrid, and Still: The Journal. She was named a finalist in the Carnegie Center’s Next Great Writers Contest, has been a recipient of multiple Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment and Arts Meets Activism Grants, and earned an Emerging Artist Award for Nonfiction from the Kentucky Arts Council. She lives in Lexington, KY, where she is currently at work on a novel set in the Red River Gorge. You can sometimes find her teaching new writers aged 5 to 75 at the Carnegie Center. To see more of Frankie’s work, visit

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