Sartell woman’s novel began as a stress-reliever

by Dennis Dalman

Even though Cindy Fitzthum’s just-published novel is a work of fiction, some family members and acquaintances swear they see themselves in some of the characters.

Fitzthum is amused.

“It’s fiction,” she tells them. “I created those characters.”

While it’s true that some real-life bits and pieces, in one way or another, worked their way into her novel, it’s still a work of fiction, Fitzthum noted.

The book, titled “How Do You Choose the One?” was published recently by North Star Press of St. Cloud. The novel is so new Fitzthum has not had many reactions to the book yet, except by family and friends who’ve read it before its publication day.

The book is a “young-adult” novel. Its main character is Ellie, who is in her 20s and has just finished college with a degree in finance. She faces several crises because she is torn between two men, Dalton and Shane, whom she both loves dearly, and she must also make path decisions regarding her career. “How Do You Choose the One?” begins in the present when Ellie is an older woman. Much of the novel is told in memoir-style flashbacks as Ellie looks back and ponders the decisions she made in her life that brought her to her present situation. There are many surprises for readers along the way stemming from the twists and turns at critical junctions in Ellie’s long and complicated life.

Some of the book’s other prominent characters are Ellie’s friends and confidantes – Katie, Libby and Betsy.

Fitzthum began to write “How Do You Choose the One?” as a stress-reliever. At the time, 2010-11, she was a student at the University of Delaware, studying to earn her master’s degree in economics. It was a tough task, and the pressure mounted – to the point Fitzthum would break out with hives before most of the tests. Since she’d always found writing to be a relaxing activity, she began to work on a novel, and the writing of it was a huge help in getting her through her academic crises.

Fitzthum (nee Herold) was born in St. Cloud but has lived in Sartell since she was a girl. A 2003 graduate of Sartell High School, she still lives in Sartell and is an economics teacher at Princeton High School. She is married to Ryan Fitzthum, her high-school sweetheart, who serves as a Sartell-St. Stephen firefighter. They have a 2-month-old daughter, Carly.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” Fitzthum said.

When she was in high school, she entered a Minnesota/Wisconsin contest for young adult writers and had her poetry published. Later, she entered and won a creative-writing contest, which landed her a creative-writing scholarship to Mankato State University. She studied there, then transferred to St. Cloud State University where she earned her undergraduate degree in economics.

Fitzthum said she has several ideas simmering on the back burner for new novels, but she is not sure if she will actually write any more. She is also pondering writing an economics textbook.

In her spare time, she loves to unwind with her husband, daughter, friends and her two yellow labs. She also enjoys reading, writing and the study of economics.

“How Do You Choose the One?” is available online at, and at North Star Press in St. Cloud.

contributed photo
Cindy Fitzhum

contributed photo
This is the cover of Cindy Fitzthum’s just-published young-adult novel.


Dennis Dalman

Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.
Dennis Dalman

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