Opinion_Cover

What Being Anesthetized Showed Me about Life

I recently endured my first experience “under anesthesia.” The experience opened my eyes to a few things: namely how many people walk through life in this state.

Sure, all of us need a local anesthetic from time to time. Who wants the dentist drilling without a little Novacane? And isn’t that what a slice of pie is for after a hard day being misunderstood?

This post isn’t about those temporary moments of escapism from the ugliness of life. I spent an entire year escaping into books one time…because those fantasy worlds knew nothing of divorce and abandonment.

Adulthood means you have to face these disappointments, but nothing says you can’t take a break here and there with your local anesthetic of choice.

Living under the influence of the Big Bopper of general anesthesia? That’s what put our world in the ugly bind we’re facing.

Anesthetize: to render physically insensible, as by a substance that produces a general loss of the senses of feeling (pain, heat, cold, touch)

What it Means

anesthetize_defin

There’s the dictionary definition of the word (thank to dictionary.com).

Feeling nothing because a foreign substance has blocked the receptors in your brain.

That was great in the operating room. Scalpels cut into my abdomen. Scopes and tubes moved around in there to locate and remove the offending organs.

I didn’t want to feel any of that. And the doctors wouldn’t have been to concentrate if I had been feeling the pain.

That doesn’t mean my body wasn’t affected. Nope. That’s why I spent a few days with my feet up and holding my side whenever I engaged my abdominal muscles.

Without the anesthetic, my brain registered every dislocated cell.

If we put this on the societal scale, it means we’re allowing something to deaden our sensibilities.

Mental Anesthesia

I’m one of the first people who turns off the news and tunes out the media. They are the biggest perpetrators of spreading a foreign substance.

Most of the time it incites fury or riots. It encourages people to bicker and complain, call for the revocation of second amendment rights.

But it’s still a mental anesthesia.

Why? Because it dulls independent thought.

Rather than disseminating facts and allowing people to draw conclusions, the media anesthetizes us. They decide which bits of information they will share and how to twist it so hearers respond with emotion.

Anesthetize the higher thinking centers of the brain and stimulate the amygdala, where intense feelings come from.

No need for me to dredge up examples of news articles or videos that were constructed in this way. Just mentioning it has reminded everyone reading this of such a story.

Time to Recover

After my surgery, I woke up in the recovery room. It was here that I blinked sleepily and wondered where I was. The last thing I knew, I’d climbed onto the cold operating table.

And now my mouth was the Kalahari Desert and my eyelids refused to remain open.

What would the recovery room look like for your mind? Maybe you get news from independent sources that report facts. You double-check their sources.

Instead of getting emotional, try engaging your mind.

It took several hours before I was alert enough to walk out of the hospital. The rest of the day was mostly a haze of “what’s going on?” but after a good night’s sleep, my brain could function again.

Are we living under mental anesthesia?

If so, how can we sleep off the foreign substance that’s lulled us into such a state?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.


		
DAMAGED GOODS_banner

Welcome the Author of DAMAGED GOODS

The second book in the Blank Slate series, DAMAGED GOODS,  has finally been released into the world. Today, I’m chatting with the author of that YA Dystopian series.

Welcome, Jennifer!I’ve read both of these Blank Slate books and the universe intrigues me. I especially liked viewing too much online interaction as “evil.”

I’m insistent with my kids that we don’t have technology out while we’re having a family dinner, but it seems like texts, notifications and other things distract us from each other at every other time. What gave you the idea to have cell phones cause brain tumors and be seen as a “big evil” by The Vestal founder?

I’m addicted to my smartphone as much as the next person. In fact, I’m probably more addicted because I’m on social media so much. Turning off my phone and paying attention to the people in front of me is something I struggle with, but I try hard to be a good role model for my kids. They aren’t old enough for iPhones yet, but when they are, I don’t want them to copy bad habits.

The idea about phones and brain cancer came to me when a friend was describing what it was like visiting her old sorority house at college. At my college, everyone had normal dorm rooms, but at her sorority house, there was a sleeping room. One person was in charge of waking everyone up at the allotted time, that way there wasn’t a gazillion alarm clocks going off all morning. My friend was shocked when she visited because nowadays, instead of a person on duty waking people up, all the girls just slept with their cellphones right on their pillow with silent alarms. She wondered if that was safe, having Bluetooth, etc. right next to their brain matter. That’s what gave me the idea for GENESIS GIRL and the cancer epidemic.

I find the billboard advertising in the series somewhat ironic. In a totally tech society, shouldn’t advertising in that way be extinct?

In my imagination, they were more like digital billboards, with changing screens. In real life advertising infiltrates our lives at every possible moment. There’s Disney Princesses on my daughter’s chicken noodle soup! But in the future, who knows how advertising will evolve? It will be exciting to see.

Of course, Blanca’s attraction to the billboards is also interesting. I always loved reading them when we traveled by car. They seemed more “honest” than TV commercials to me, but why would I think that?(rhetorical question) And why does Blanca see being exposed there as acceptable while online media revelations are dirty and evil?

Blanca’s okay with the billboards because they are approved advertisements from the companies the Vestals represent. She wants complete control of how her image will be shared. So if McNeal solar shares a picture of her, Blanca is excited. But if a total stranger snaps a shot of her standing at a bus stop, Blanca would freak out. It’s kind of like how some people never want their friends to share pictures of them online unless their hair and makeup is perfect.

A major theme in the new book is trust. It’s interesting that Blanca keeps big secrets and doesn’t trust the right people but doesn’t see those things as a lack of trust or even a problem. What are you hoping your teenage readers take from this?

Knowing who to trust is one of those hard lessons everyone must learn on the path to adulthood. Don’t be the first person to fall asleep at a slumber party, for example. But for Blanca, trust is exceptionally challenging since she grew up in a controlling environment where she was brainwashed. My hope is that teen readers take inspiration from Blanca’s commitment to survive, think for herself, and follow her instincts.

Thanks so much for writing such “page turners” and for taking time out to stop by my blog. And now for a totally “fun” question. If you could have a super power, what would it be? Why would you choose it?

Thank you for having me! I would love to be able to fly—or make dog poop disappear. Either one!

Check out my FOUR STAR review of the book on Goodreads.

Read more about DAMAGED GOODS and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

DamagedGoods_Cover

Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub. Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Bardsley, authorJennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

The first novel in this series, GENESIS GIRL, released in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DAMAGED GOODS_banner

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/16/2017- The Avid Book Collector– Excerpt
1/16/2017- Sammeh Lurves Reading– Review

1/17/2017- Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course)– Guest Post
1/17/2017- I am not a bookworm!- Review

1/18/2017- Sharon Lee Hughson, Author– Interview
1/18/2017- Bookish Hollow– Review

1/19/2017- Hidden Worlds Books– Guest Post
1/19/2017- Taylicious Reads– Review

1/20/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview
1/20/2017- Abooktropolis– Review

See the rest of the tour schedule here.

Today is the Day for DAMAGED GOODS

I am so excited that DAMAGED GOODS by Jennifer Bardsley releases today and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Jennifer Bardsley, be sure to check out all the details below. AND come back tomorrow when the author stops by here to answer some of my questions about the characters, premise and themes.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only courtesy of Month9Books. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book:

 
Title: DAMAGED GOODS (Blank Slate #2)
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub.Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD
Blanca has everything she ever wanted, a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.
But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.
While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.
 
 

OR Start at the beginning with Genesis Girl!

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood
has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the
Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 
 
By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only
chance of escape is to go online. 

Enjoy the following SNEAK PEAK inside the cover of Damaged Goods. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post AND come back tomorrow to hear from the author!

Excerpt
 
I look to where he points, and the flash of thumb-cameras blinds me. Vestals must never have their pictures taken by random people. That privilege belongs to the companies that purchase them and market a Vestal’s privacy one
advertisement at a time. I reach my arms out by instinct, to protect my face from the public. “I’m fine with it,” I lie, pulling my hands down. “But we better leave now or we’ll be late to the restaurant.”
 
“My dad can wait a few minutes.” Seth scoops me in his arms.
 
“Blanca!” one of the spectators calls. “And Veritas Rex! Is that really you?”
 
Seth holds up his hand and wiggles his finger-chips. “The one and only!” Then he dips me back for a kiss.
 
I stiffen like cardboard. “Stop it,” I mumble, trying not to squirm. All I can think about is the cameras, my face flashed worldwide and weirdoes slobbering over my private moment with Seth. 
 
“We’ve got to go or we’ll be late.”
 
Seth kisses my nose. “I didn’t know you were so punctual.”
 
“Yes.” I pull myself out of his grasp. “Cal’s waiting.” The sooner I put my helmet on and get back on my motorcycle, the better.
 
“Blanca,” a man calls as we ride away. “I love you! I’ve watched you all year!”

Underneath my jacket, I shiver. The fame that surrounds me is chilling.

 

About Jennifer: 

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI.
She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA. 
Her first novel, GENESIS GIRL,  is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the sequel  is available now.
Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary AgencyLLC.
 
Follow the Jennifer on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Details:

 (1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book-Review

Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

Once you pick up this book from Julie Hunt, skip right to chapter 25 and you’ll see why a review of it appears on my “No Fear This Year” blog. I’M ABOUT TO GET UP is a memoir about grief written from a Christian perspective, but it has nuggets of truth to help anyone who wrings their hands when faced with death.

You’re at the funeral, next in line. The family stands there, red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears, hugging each person in turn. What will you say?

I’ll confess that I avoided a number of funerals in my younger years just because I couldn’t imagine how I would interact with the grieving family.

Until I was the grieving family. And I heard those cliché phrases that meant nothing or experienced the deep comfort of a wordless hug.

I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

about_to_get_up_coverThis book came to me before it released to the public. A publicist whose newsletter I follow invited me to be on the “launch team” for the book.

Since I’m intermittently writing my own grief memoir-ish book, I thought reading one would give me an idea how other approach the topic.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to read the book in December. Christmas has been a difficult time since 2009 when my grandmother graduated to Heaven a few days before the holiday.

Julie’s experiences are raw and real. She pulls you in to the Rainy Day with her and the grief she depicts resonates. It was too close to my own heart some days, so it took me a few weeks to get through the less-than-200-page book.

If you read nothing else, read the appendices. Here Julie lists all the things people want to know, the “where the rubber meets the road” practical things. Like what you can do for a grieving person, what NOT to say at the funeral (or any other time) and words that do offer help or hope.

In a world where people want to sweep the grieving process under the carpet, this book is just the dose of reality we need.

My Review

It was obvious from early in the book that Julie’s religious beliefs differed from mine. There were moments when my eyebrows scraped my scalp as I thought, “They did what?!”

Still, that’s not what this book is about. And Julie didn’t defend or expound on her specific spiritual ideals. Well, not the ones that had me gawping. The ones that had to do with facing grief head on? Yep, those she tackles.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. I speak from experience at the bedside of a terminally ill mother. When they go, you grieve. A part of you shatters and needs time and care to be repurposed.

Julie goes chronologically through her own grieving process. This approach worked well, making the book read like a novel. If you like “based on actual events” reading, this book fits that bill.

Advice and encouragement for both those struck by grief and those attempting to minister to them is sprinkled throughout the prose. You won’t find sermonizing or patronizing in these pages.

In fact, the best part of the book is the practical, pro-active lists given in the epilogue and appendices.

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

This book is a must-read for every person in ministry. The glimpse inside a grieving heart will offer the best hands-on training a person could get without facing an actual death in the family.

Julie admits that she couldn’t read books when she was grieving, but I think this book is the sort that could be read to a grieving person. It is certainly an exceptional handbook for someone who fumbles with how to comfort others in the face of loss.

If you’ve been grieving a loss for a while and feel like the pain is still more raw than it should be, pick up this book. I promise you’ll see yourself reflected from a page or chapter, and you’ll be able to take the next step toward healing.

Thank you, Julie Hunt, for being real with all of us. Your journey will empower others so they can get up and get back to living.

What books helped you deal with grief and loss on a practical level?

Friday Reveal Banner

Check out this Amazing Cover for THE SKY THRONE

Today Chris Ledbetter and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE SKY THRONE which releases April 18, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:
Since my father put the first book of mythology in my hand, I’ve loved myths and legends. I always favored Greek mythology. I actually think I was Greek in a past life. Beginning in 2011, I conceived a story to sit down and have Zeus tell me what his childhood was like, especially his teenage years. All I did was listen to what he told me and put it down on paper.

On to the reveal! 

 
Title: THE SKY THRONE
Author: Chris Ledbetter
Pub. Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 292
Find it: Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | TBD
Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family
on Crete.
When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.
Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to
ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.
Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his
birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.
On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONESince the moment I started at Eastern Crete Lower Academy two years ago, I’d felt like such an outcast. The guys, mostly Potamoi and sons of Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys, never regarded me as an equal. I didn’t even warrant bullying. It’s like I never even existed. If only I’d known how visible I’d become in the coming days. I always got picked last for swim team and crew in physical fitness class. I actually was the third best wrestler overall in school and peerless in javelin throwing due to superior training from my guardians, the Kouretes. When Eastern Crete competed in the Mediterranean Invitational Games against academies from Phoenicia, Egypt, and Libya, I placed first in the javelin event, beating Gurzil from Libya who was the reigning champion from years past. I even won my weight class, the lightest class there was, in wrestling by beating Melqart from Phoenicia. But none of that mattered.

I was still invisible.

I loved science class. The lessons where we studied energy and matter were like fresh spring water to a parched throat. But the rest of my classes bored me to tears. We had language arts, music, and math in the mornings. Physical fitness, agriculture, and science took up our afternoons. I wouldn’t say I was intellectually ahead of them, because, hey, that’d be conceited. But my mother prepared me well, with all the goat tending and such. And she always said when I came home from classes each night that they just didn’t know how to teach me on my level.

So, I was forced to make my own fun. No one would probably notice anyway.

After the big Invitational Games win, I was posted up at the school’s entry columns with my best friend, Anytos, watching the Oceanids as they arrived for classes one morning. Sisters to the Potamoi, the Oceanids were the sea nymph daughters of our headmasters. Okeanos and Tethys, aside from being our school administrators, were also Elder Deities of the vast ocean, which is why we at Eastern Crete dominated all water sports. Swimming. Cliff diving. Crew. We bested all comers. But not me. I dove and swam exactly the same … like an anvil.

The Oceanids descended upon the campus from their barracks like a wave crashing against the shore. Telesto, the most beautiful sea nymph by several stadia, smiled at me for the first time since I’d been going to the school. Okay, it wasn’t a full smile. The corner of her lip twitched upward as she flipped her wavy, aquamarine hair over her shoulder and glanced past me. But that counts, right?

I backhanded Anytos in the chest. “You saw that. That’s my opening. If I don’t make my move, she’ll be gone to the upper school next year.”

“Pssht, she is beyond the Mediterranean beautiful. Completely unattainable.”

“Did you see that come hither stare she flashed me?”

“Looked more like indigestion.”

“You are as wrong as you are false. Cover my back. I’m moving in.”

I crossed the courtyard in a flash and caught Telesto’s arm as she reached the weather-beaten front door to the main school hall.

“Telesto, you look as if the sun radiates from you.”

She paused and leaned back against the doorframe. “You’re just saying that because I wore my yellow tunic today.”

“You shine with such brilliance; you should wear yellow every day.”

She folded a strand or two of stunning teal hair behind her ear and twirled the ends. “But what happens when I wear my purple tunic?”

“A tunic hasn’t been invented that could dampen your beauty.”

She giggled and turned away from me for a moment. “Zeus, is it?”

I nodded, surprised she even knew my name.

“You’re the one who pulled that massive prank on my mother, Headmaster Tethys, aren’t you?”

Oh, that’s how she knew me. Not invisible after all. I bowed. “I am him. He is me. One and the same.”

“Crazy. She was so mad.” She shook her head, stifling a smile.

“As far as I can tell, language arts must be your favorite subject. Your tongue is spectacularly sharp-witted.”

“Not really. But I am feeling a little inspired right now.”

Several strands of her hair fell to cover half her face. “Are you going to the bonfire at the beach tomorrow night?”

“I wasn’t invite—”

Several of Telesto’s broad-shouldered, dark-haired brothers bumped into me from behind. “Those are uncharted waters, boy. Careful now,” One of them called over his shoulder. Those were the first words they’d ever spoken to me. Telesto rolled her eyes. “Pay them no mind. They’re harmless. You were saying?”

“Those bonfires are an Oceanids and Potamoi thing? It’s kind of a secret club that you have to be born into, right? Being brothers and sisters, children of Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys… young water deities in training… masters of rivers and streams…”

“I guess. But you should come out any way. It’s all night, under the stars. Eating, drinking, stargazing… What’s better than that?”

Gazing into her mesmerizing, iridescent eyes, my mouth fired before I could stop it. “Kissing you under the stars. That’s better.”

“Sprint much? You’re a fast mover.”

“I just go after what I want.”

“Well … ” A pink tint rose on her high cheek bones. “We shall see. But first you have to show up.” Her lips twitched gain. “I have to go to class. See you tomorrow?” She disappeared inside the school hall.

I turned to Tos with a pterodactyl-eating grin on my face. He shook his head and smiled.

The boring part of my daily routine was set to commence. School. Classes. Ugh. I wished the school day was already over so I could just go to games practice. As Tos and I walked to first period, I was struck by the overwhelming urge to liven my day up just a bit.

“Tos, I have a good one. You with me?”

“Oh heavens. Is it what I think it is?”

“I feel the need … the need to prank!”

Tos shook his head. “My pranking days are over.”

“Come on. Just one more. Promise it’s the last one.”

He glared at me.

I explained the entire idea to him. “It’ll be after language arts, all right? It’s going to be good.”

After class, Tos and I waited until all other students had left. He took his position at the door to make sure no one came in. I approached Professor Ceto at the front of the room. Tablets and scrolls decorated the top of her desk.

“Professor, do you have strong hands?”

Her intelligent eyes narrowed. “Sure, I do. Why?”

“I bet you a homework pass that you can’t balance a goblet on the back of your hand.”

Her forehead wrinkled.

“Place your hand on the desk, palm down,” I said.

She complied.

I filled her water goblet and placed it on the back of her hand.

She smiled. “See. No problem at all.”

I picked up the goblet. “Now place your other hand on top of this one.”

She sighed. “Why? Is that supposed to be harder? So, if I fail, you get a homework pass, yes? If I complete the task, what do I get?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Go ahead, then,” she said, placing her left hand atop her right.

“Get on with it.”

Barely able to contain my giddiness, I balanced the full water goblet on the top of her two hands.

“See,” she said with triumph in her voice. “I did it. Where’s my surprise?”

“All right then, I’ll see you next week. Have a good weekend.” I walked quickly to the door.

“What? Wait, I can’t move my hands without spilling water all over my scrolls.”

Tos opened the door and we both rounded the corner in a flash. We were halfway to period two music when I heard an unholy roar across campus.

“ZEUS!”

Tos and I laughed our behinds off and slapped hands as we passed a solitary blueish post in the center of the courtyard. No one knew much about it or who designed it. But its presence was striking.

Upon reaching music class, Tos and I took our positions near the kithara and lyre. Our teacher, Professor Leucosia and several more students entered and we prepared for instruction. Leucosia had the most beautiful singing voice. Simply spellbinding. Sometimes, I felt light-headed when she’d sing along with our accompaniment. Shortly after arriving in class, Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys shadowed the doorway to our room. The expression on Tethys’ face could have killed a wild boar at forty paces.

“Zeus, Anytos, we need you to step outside right now.” Tethys said. Her eyes mirrored the Aegean during a storm.

I looked at Tos. My heart rate quickened to a pace I’d only felt after running sprints. Slowly, I rose to my feet. This couldn’t have been good.

We walked over to Okeanos. I had to crane my neck just to see the Headmaster’s eyes. His biceps were bigger than my head, despite silvery blue hair atop his head and an aged, wrinkly face.

His somber and deliberate voice rumbled. “You are hereby expelled from Eastern Crete Lower Academy. This infraction and expulsion will go on your master record. You may apply again next term.”

“Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

Professor Tethys stepped forward to grab my arm. “Your little pranks have gotten you in deeper water than you can swim in, young man. You obviously need some time to think about how you can be a better contributor to the educational system.”

“No. You can’t expel me. Please!” I clasped my hands in front of my face. “My mother will kill me!”

“Not our concern.” Okeanos folded his gigantic arms. His voice rumbled again. “You must learn to be a better student. A better citizen.”

“But they were just pranks,” I pleaded.

“Yes. And this is the seventh such prank we’ve endured at your hands. And since Anytos helped you, he shall accompany you home.”

Tethys pointed east toward Mount Ida, the highest peak on Crete.

“You have until the sun chariot reaches its zenith to leave campus.”

She gazed upward. “By the looks of things, your time’s nearly at an end.”

 

 
Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.
After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.
He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.

3 winners will receive and eGalley of THE SKY THRONE, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

oldasyoufeel

What Makes a Woman Old?

I had a landmark birthday recently. And I totally expected to feel old. Which made me start to wonder: what does that even mean?

Old is a state of mind they say.

You’re only as old as you feel.

Don’t think of age as a number.

You’ve heard all the platitudes and sayings. But they are only words.

Wrong Thinking

I like Mark Twain. He had killer wit.

mindoverage-marktrwain

And in this case, I totally agree with him. Age, like enduring the pain in boot camp, is all about mind over matter.

As my birthday neared, I kept dreading the big five-zero.

But why?

Would I really be decrepit on my birthday when I was totally able-bodied the day before it?

In fact, since I was 23 and got my first gray hair (I thank my firstborn for this), I’ve had an interesting idea about age and getting old.

wisdom_highlights

Speaking of Which

While we’re on the subject of my firstborn, today is his birthday.

That’s right. Twenty-six years ago a cute little boy interrupted all the plans that went before him.

Because having kids does more than reshape your figure. And your finances. And your sleep schedule.

Suddenly the young couple becomes a young family. And family trumps all other things.

It’s hard to claim the age of 39 (which I found to be a perfect point in my life) when you’re standing beside a tall, handsome nearly-30-year-old to whom you gave birth.

Uh, yeah. I was still in middle school when I had him.

Not. (And even the thought of that is more terrifying than watching a scary movie marathon.)

My Body Has Other Ideas

The problem with this mind over matter thinking? Sometimes a body refuses to cooperate.

I’m not talking about those phantom aches and pains.

Imagine: You sit on the examining table and glance over at the ultrasound screen. Your name and date of birth are in bright characters at the top.

A neon sign blares “AGE: 50”

This test is in preparation for your first ever surgery the next week.

“Wow. You made it fifty years without ever needing anesthesia.” I didn’t imagine the hint of awe in the admission nurse’s voice.

Could someone stop reminding me of my age?

And my body—which refuses to act like the 30-year-old vessel I imagine– should be the engine of that train.

Let me say that when you’re recovering from a “minor procedure” you feel every second of your actual age. No matter what you claim, the 50-year-old cells don’t repair things at the rapid rate of 30-year-old ones.

Now back to the question posed in the title of this post. A woman is as old as the calendar says minus a decade or two if she’s taken care of her body.

Most people don’t look closely at the crow’s feet around my eyes or the brown spots on my jaw. They see the wide, white smile and twinkling eyes.

Those are the characteristics of someone whose age isn’t on her mind. She’s too busy living life to worry about some arbitrary number.

Ladies, the only thing that can make a woman old is her declaration that she is old.

What do you think makes a woman (or a man) old?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.


		
nofearthemememe

Surrendering Fear

It’s a new year with a new focus, but the old fear hovers nearby.

What’s with that anyway?

I mean, I’m determined to trust in God and let love banish fear and then…wham, something unexpected ties me in emotional knots.

Could it be that I’ve lost my focus so quickly?

Or maybe I haven’t truly opened my hands in surrender.

After all, this is spiritual warfare. And it a war, there’s struggle and death and fear galore. Until one side says “enough” and seeks peace.

psalm-27-3

Here’s some wise words from life coach Holley Gerth:

I tried to control everything so that I could get a specific outcome. Tests and temperatures, appointments and articles. I held on as tightly to my goal as I did to the one-lined pregnancy tests at the end of every month.

Then slowly, slowly I felt like God brought me to a point where I finally said, “Whatever.” Not “Whatever” (with the sarcastic tone and eye roll—although some days I did indeed want to say that). But “Whatever, Lord. I am surrendering my expectations. I’m surrendering what I’ve been demanding.” I waved the white flag and I let trust win.

People would ask, “How do you feel about your infertility?” And I would say, “I have a peace about it.” And they would look at me like, “Yeah, yeah, Sunday School answer.”

And I said, “No, it’s the kind of peace that comes after war. And I fought for it. I will surrender everything else but not that peace.”

It was that peace that replaced my fear, that set me free.

To read the rest of her post, click here.

So, are you still trying to defeat fear on your own terms?

Did something ugly sneak up on you and wrap your peace in chains?

You can be free from fear. It begins by surrendering to the Commander in Chief of the universe.

Remember, he’s the one that has mad lion taming skills. His is the heel that crushed the head of our enemy.

Let go of the anguish caused by fear. Wave the white flag. Let the peace that passes all understanding flood your heart instead.

What’s making you afraid today? Can you surrender it to the Prince of Peace?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

		
Friday Reveal Banner

PROJECT EMERGENCE Coming Soon

 
Today Jamie Zakian and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for PROJECT EMERGENCE which releases March 14, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
 
A quick note from the author:
 
I’ve always dreamed of writing an epic sci-fi thriller. I knew I wanted it to involve a group of teens leaving a dead Earth to start new lives on a terra formed Mars, but I didn’t have any ideas on how to make the plot exciting. Then, a song I never heard before played on my Pandora app. Escape by Rogue. As that song blasted through my headphones, the entire story that is Project Emergence streamed through my mind like a movie trailer. So, I went straight to work. It took months of frantic writing, almost a year of editing, and a mini rewrite, but that moment of inspiration became my first YA novel.
 
Project Emergence is a fast-paced thrill ride across the stars. It shows the extent people will go to uphold their beliefs, and that love can overcome any evil.

 

On to the reveal! 


 
Title: PROJECT EMERGENCE
Author: Jamie Zakian
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 292
Find it: Goodreads| Amazon | B&N | TBD
 
An ancient Hopi myth says people arrived on tiny silver pods that fell from the sky.
 
But the truth is far more terrifying.
 
Two-hundred fifty-eight teens are sent from a dying Earth to a terraformed Mars as part of the Emergence Program,
mankind’s last hope before solar flares finish off their planet and species. Among the brave pioneers are sixteen-year-old Joey Westen and her twin brother, Jesse.
 
After only minutes in space, something triggers a total ship lock down.
 
With the help of their roommates, the Matsuda twins (notorious hackers and shady secret-keepers), Joey and Jesse stumble onto an extremist plot to sabotage the Emergence Program.
But Joey and Jesse didn’t travel to the deepest pits of space and leave their mother behind to be picked off in a high-tech tin can. They’ll lie, hack, and even kill to survive the voyage and make it to Mars.

 

Excerpt

Chapter OneJoey squirmed in the seat of a large, airtight van as it sped along an empty road. A cloud of red sand kicked up outside her window, and the van’s tires hummed against cracked pavement. Solar flares had done a fine job of destroying this once beautiful planet. She never got to see Earth in its glory days, as she had been born into a scorched world, but could almost picture the way it used to be.

In her imagination, the reddish tint that covered the parched countryside outside her window transformed to crisp green meadows. The piles of stone and metal reconstructed to form the buildings they once were, reaching for a sky that was blue instead of crimson.

Her daydream ended when the nose of a spaceship peeked above maroon-crested hills. That massive shuttle was waiting to carry two hundred and fifty-eight lucky lottery winners off this dying planet, and she was one of them.

“Whoa,” Joey said, her breath fogging the glass. A light crinkle drew her stare to the paper in her now tight grip. She loosened her stiff fingers, smoothing a crease from the official seal of the Unified Nations of Earth.

…The letter in her hand still mesmerized her. Selected … Terraformed Mars … New home … Those words knocked the bottom from her stomach every time she read them. Things were getting way too real. No more tiny lead-lined home, school at the kitchen table, Mom. She turned to Jesse, her brother’s smirk brighter than an X1 flare.

“You’re a crappy twin. I’m freaking out right now; you should be too.”

Jesse rolled his stare her way. “Fraternal twins don’t work like that.”

“That’s not true.” She read the letter again, making sure both their names were listed for the umpteenth time.

“I can’t believe this is happening.” Jesse grew tense. A frown swept his lips for just a moment before his perma-smile returned. “No one from G-Sector ever goes anywhere.”

“Did you see the look on Mom’s face when we left?”

“I know. Buzzkill.”

“What’s she gonna do without us?” Joey asked in a near whisper.

“Finally be able to feed herself.” Jesse snickered.

She shook her head, folding the letter. “Maybe she’ll win the next lottery and meet up with us on Mars.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

Jesse leaned close, keeping his voice low. “Didn’t you hear what that kid behind us was saying?”

“No. What?”

“He said the lottery’s rigged.” Jesse eyed the soldier stationed at the front of the van, then the other two at the rear. “That everyone is selected for a specific purpose.”

“But that would mean the U.N.E. is lying to everyone,” Joey said, a bit too loud. Jesse’s eyes opened wide, and she shrugged.

“You’re gonna get us booted from this ride before we even launch.”

“Whatever,” she muttered. “It’s a stupid idea anyway ‘cause look, we’re here. What do we have to offer? All you can do is fix stuff, and me … well, I’m just good at being cute.” She batted her eyes, flaunting a sly smile.

“Yeah you’re right. That’s real flippin cute.” Jesse slanted toward the aisle, glancing around the cab. “There aren’t any adults on this van.”

“There’s the soldier guys.”

“Geez, dummy. I mean the passengers.”

Joey pinched her brother, who wriggled away. “Dummy,” she mimicked. With a failed attempt to appear casual, she popped her head up and scanned the seats. Sparkly clothes and bright makeup captured her stare. “They look like A-Sectors.” She didn’t mean to gawk at the people seated around her, but she’d never seen such lavish clothes, such flawless skin.

“Please remain seated while the vehicle’s in motion,” a soldier thundered.

Jesse grabbed Joey’s arm and pulled her down into the seat. “Smooth, sister. Real smooth.”

She shrank back, deploying her trusty get-out-of-messes frowny smile on her brother. “Oops. In trouble already. Figures.”

Grumbles erupted from Jesse’s lips, and she turned back to the dusty earth outside her window. Crazy how one day and a trip to the mailbox could change her entire life. Yesterday, she was painting a mural of Mars on their bedroom wall. Today, she was going to Mars.

The parched countryside vanished behind a tunnel wall. She sagged in her seat. For sixteen years, she clung to Jesse. Every time dust storms pelted their windowless metal house, she curled under his arm. Mom worked late, so Joey’s hand became glued to his. And now, when she actually needed the comfort of his touch, her brain decided it was time to man up. Her eyes narrowed. She zeroed in on his cozy-looking hand, her fingers drumming a steady beat on her leg.

***

Sabrina poked her head around a corner. Her fingers tightened around the rifle’s grip as she peered down a dim corridor. Shadows danced along the concrete wall, and she backed up, pressing her comms button. “Stone to dispatch. Come in, dispatch.”

Static crackled in her ear, a garbled voice cutting in and out.

“Dispatch, do you read? Where the hell is my backup?”

This time, only the fizz of dead air replied.

“Damn underground bright-out dens,” Sabrina mumbled.

These missions twisted her gut every time. There were very few people left alive on Earth. Many couldn’t afford specially designed homes or the rising cost of oxygen, and it didn’t sit right to bust folks just for trying to survive the scorching sun. But she was Captain Sabrina Stone of the Unified Nations of Earth, a high ranking officer in the sector that controlled every aspect of the entire planet, and she had a duty to protect what was left of that planet. Neither a heavy conscience nor lack of backup would hinder that.

Sabrina held her weapon close, skulking down the stone passage. Two men strolled around the bend, then stopped short, and she popped off two rounds. No sound emitted from the gun’s muzzle, just a flash that lit the graffiti-stained walls in white.

The men slumped to the ground. Tiny darts protruded from their chests, and pamphlets spilled from their limp hands.

“Earth-heads,” she muttered, glimpsing anti-Mars propaganda. The bang of a metal door slamming shut echoed from the dark tunnel on her left, so she headed toward it.

Men and woman dropped as Sabrina skated through shadows, firing her gun. Their tranquilized bodies slapped concrete, a trail to a solid door at the end of the long hallway. She reached into her vest and extracted a small explosive charge. Just as the magnet clinked to the steel slab, a voice flowed through her earpiece.

“Captain Stone, we’ve breeched the airlock. En route to your position.”

“Bout time,” she said beneath her breath. Her thumb glided over the button of the wireless detonator, and spikes of fear burrowed into her gut. U.N.E protocol, and the whirl in her stomach, said to wait for backup. Pride, however, was a persistent little sucker, one that set loose a torrent of electric shocks in her veins. She scurried back, covered her head, and pressed the detonation button.

An explosion rocked her chest, slamming her against the wall. Hunks of concrete crashed down, and the door slammed atop the rubble. Sabrina swung her rifle dead ahead. Adrenaline perked her lips into a smile as she charged through wisps of smoke, firing upon everybody that lunged her way.

“This is a raid of the U.N.E. Get down on the ground.”

Soldiers flooded the doorway behind her, and she bit back her grin. A woman needed an iron-clad stare amid this troop of grunts. “Took you guys long enough.” She turned, stumbling back as the five-stars of a general gleamed in her eyes. “Sir,” she roared, standing up straight.

“Captain Stone, I need you to come with me.”

Sabrina glanced around, as much as one could without moving a single muscle in their neck. Her men cleared the room as the general’s elite soldiers crowded around her.

“Am I in trouble, sir?”

“Quite the contrary, Captain. You’ve been selected for an important mission. You’re going to Mars, Soldier.”

***

Joey grabbed her brother’s hand the instant he climbed off the van’s step. People shuffled all around the wide-open room, probably watching her act like a baby, but she couldn’t let go. Fear stole her will. It could have been the towering room of glass walls and silver beams that encompassed her, the barrage of strange faces, or the fact that she’d never see her mother again, but gloom tainted this moment. Holding her brother’s hand quelled a fraction of her inner-turmoil, so she planned to keep doing it despite her sissy appearance.

A soft voice streamed from a kiosk of video screens, repeating the Space Center’s famed slogan.

Three days on the state-of-the-art R23 shuttle, strolling through green grass, swimming in cool oceans.

Everything she memorized from the letter in her backpack.

“Look, there’s check-in,” Jesse said, tugging her from the display of white sandy beaches.

She inched through the crowd, close to his side. They filed into a rowdy line, her palm sweating against his skin.

“The Westen twins, I presume,” a high-pitched voice echoed from behind them.

In one swift move, Joey shook free from Jesse’s grasp and whirled around. An ultra-posh Asian girl leered down, and Joey stood tall. Her eyes wandered to the near identical boy at her side, bearing the same long jet-black hair. Another set of twins.

“How did you know our name?” Jesse asked. Joey nudged his arm, pulling his gaze from the low cut of the girl’s sparkly shirt.

“We know the names of all the twins on this ship,” she said, her hand hoisting to her hip.

“First and last,” the boy added.

Joey stifled a chuckle. Twins who finished each other’s sentences; this trip was going to be stellar. The line shuffled forward, and the small group edged up a few paces.

“How many twins are on this flight?” Jesse asked, glancing between the pair.

“Fourteen, including us,” she replied.

“Well, fourteen sets,” the boy corrected, turning to his sister.

“That actually makes twenty-eight twins.”

“But twins is plural, so it would be fourteen,” she argued, a hint of red flaring her cheeks.

“Yeah, but, you knew who we were,” Joey said. “We didn’t even know there were other twins here. Is there, like, a manual we didn’t get or something?”

The girl laughed, slapping her brother’s chest. A stealthy glare clouded her delicate features as she leaned close to Joey. “We hacked the database.”

“We hack everything,” the boy whispered.

“Cool,” Joey said through a smile, glancing at Jesse.

“So you must be Jesse,” the girl said, staring at Joey, “Short for Jessica, right?”

“Ah, no,” Joey said. “I’m Joey. Short for Josephine, which I hate so … just Joey.”

“I’m Jesse, which … isn’t short for anything.” Jesse shoved his hands into his pockets, lowering his gaze.

“Ahem. The line is moving,” a redheaded girl groaned.

They all crept forward again, and then Jesse spun back around. “So are we supposed to hack to find out your names?”

The girl giggled, and Joey rolled her eyes. Her stare landed on the boy’s annoyed face. Once their gaze connected, his frown lifted to a grin.

“Kami Matsuda.” A rainbow of colors reflected off the girl’s clothes as she slinked in front of Jesse, looking up into his eyes. “That’s Rai,” she said, nodding to her brother but keeping her deep gaze on Jesse.

Jesse gulped. His hands began to tremble, and it became painfully obvious at how fast his breath flowed.

“Next in line.”

“That’s us,” Joey said. She all but ripped Jesse from Kami’s leer. “We’ll catch up with ya.” It took quite a massive tug, but she finally got Jesse moving toward the registration table. “Now who’s smooth, dorkus,” she whispered.

***

“Let me get this straight, Mr. Winslow,” Sabrina said, only able to mask a fraction of the edge in her tone. “You want me to be a glorified babysitter for a bunch of teens in space?” She walked across the large office of the Space Center, toward Director Winslow’s desk. Her boots sank into lush carpet as she strolled past stone statues, one of which lost its arm somewhere along the way. Such extravagance. If it were liquidated and spread out, every sector could afford a giant dome to protect its people from radioactive air instead of just the A-Sectors. She tore her gaze from art-adorned walls, catching an impatient glare from the man behind a glossy wooden desk.

“The situation on our hands goes far beyond babysitting, Captain Stone. We’re under attack. The commander of the U.N.E. herself assured me you were the best of the best.”

“Commander Sun said that? Huh.” She stepped closer to the desk. The man before her strained to appear confident, but she glimpsed the beads of sweat that trickled between his dark wrinkled skin and white hair.

“You’ve got my attention,” she said, cupping her hands behind her back.

“Of course you understand every word spoken within this room stays within this room.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ever since the inception of the Emergence program, a group of fanatics have targeted us. Are you familiar with the Earthisum Movement, Captain Stone?”

“Yes, sir. I took out an underground lair of them this morning. They seem to be, for the most part, harmless.”

“Perhaps on the outside.” He pulled a brown folder from his drawer and placed it on his desk. “Have a look.”

Sabrina flipped through the file. When she read a handwritten letter, which appeared to be scrawled in blood, her fingers actually shook.

“The threats made in that manifesto were not empty.”

Her head snapped up, and she gawked at the old man before regaining her composure. “Are you saying the Earth-heads blew up your first flight to Mars?”

His finely manicured fingers massaged his forehead, a ghostly shade of white claiming his cheeks. “Yes. After only hours in space.” He lowered his stare. “The second and third flights as well.”

“What?”

“Those maniacs sabotage every spacebus we launch. None have successfully made the voyage to Mars.”

“How could you hide this from the public? They think people are living, flourishing over there. You need to put a hold on this program. Now. I’ll need at least a week to investigate.”

He shook his head, and Sabrina slammed her hands on the desk. “That file says there are two hundred and fifty-eight children walking onto that shuttle as we speak, Mr. Winslow. Two hundred and fifty-eight lives you’re putting at risk.”

“If we stop the program, they’ve won. No! The survival of the human race is too important. This mission has to succeed, Captain Stone.”

“But why now with kids? If what you’re telling me is true, Mars is empty. There are no doctors, scientists, or security of any kind in place. They’ll eat each other alive out there.”

“It has to be them.” He rose from his seat, smoothed a crease on his pinstriped lapel, and strolled to the window. “Those young adults were born in the year of the massive solar flare.” While gazing out the lightly tinted glass, he motioned for Sabrina to join him.

“I don’t see why that matters.” As she approached, the doublewide spacecraft stole her focus. She allowed her stare to wander along the gleam of curved metal and sharp points of thin wings before she shifted her gaze to the man beside her.

“They’re genetically predisposed to elevated radiation. I handpicked each one of them—for their instincts, spark, and their odds of producing healthy offspring.”

“Look, I get that. But if you just postpone a few weeks I can—”

“Earth only has a few weeks left, Captain Stone.” His voice quavered. He cleared his throat, lifting his chin high. “The sun is set to flare in, approximately, ten days. The space program predicts its intensity will surpass our classification scale. Everything left above the surface will be eradicated. Not even the UV dome of A-Sector can deflect these waves.”

Sabrina gasped. She began to stagger back, but Winslow grabbed her arm.

“Captain Stone, Sabrina. Look at those children.”

Her legs wobbled for the first time in her memory, but she crept forward. People hurried along a glass-encased walkway, far below, like tiny ants marching into a trap.

“That’s the future of mankind walking onto that spacebus. If they don’t make it to Mars, our species will cease to exist. You have to get them to that planet safely. You’re the last hope of humanity, Captain Stone.”

 
Jamie Zakian is a full-time writer who consumes the written word as equally as oxygen. Living in South Jersey with her husband and rowdy family, she enjoys farming, archery, and blazing new trails on her 4WD quad, when not writing of course. She aspires to one day write at least one novel in every genre of fiction.


Connect with Jamie here:

 
 
 
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nofearthemememe

The Word for 2017

I took a page out of Kimberly and Veronica’s book this year. My word for 2017 is DAUNTLESS.

Dauntless: adj. Not to be daunted or intimidated; fearless; intrepid; bold

Who are these women I refer to by name in the opening paragraph? What book did they write? How the heck does it connect with the world of Sharon Lee Hughson, Author?

A Divergent World

Yes, I mean Veronica Roth of DIVERGENT fame. If you haven’t read the books (pick up the one with this title and skip the rest of the series), let me explain.

The dystopian world in Roth’s books (set in a future Chicago), divides people into factions. Each faction serves a specific function for society.

The faction of daring people who do too many dangerous things to name? Dauntless.

No, I don’t plan to jump off a train at any point this year.

But jumping out of a plane while wearing a parachute is on my bucket list.

dauntless_definition

Three years into the “writing gig” and I’ve been feeling a little…discouraged.

And let me tell you, that does not write interesting stories that other people care to read.

Nor does it pen compelling queries and synopses to hook prospective agents or publishers.

In fact, discouragement is a major enemy to writing success.

So this year, I’m banishing Fear and his buddy, Discouragement, from my world. Step by dauntless step.

Design Your Destiny

Last month, I mentioned Kimberly Job to you as I worked through her goal-setting course.

The way Kimberly designs her goals and plans her success revolves around a specific word for the year.

This is similar to my yearly themes. And since I had chosen my theme before I got to the part in her course that specified choosing one word, I decided to choose one that would complement “No Fear This Year.”

I came up with courage, confidence and fearless.

My brain was leaning toward courage. After all, even saying “fear” gave me a nudge of anxiety. Names have power right? If I speak that demon’s name, will he get a foothold?

Yes, even though I wanted to be fearless. The exercises Kimberly took us through for our top five words showed me that courage was closer to what I was going for.

As in…get thee behind me fear. I have a sword and I’m not afraid to use it.

Except…courage was so…overused.

Then we watched the third DIVERGENT movie (INSURGENT, which is quite different from the book, and if I had watched it rather than reading it, I might not have wanted to boot the whole series to the moon).

And there they were…Dauntless in all their black-geared glory.

word_2017

So courage was swallowed and my word was cemented.

What’s your “guiding word” or theme for 2017? What do you think of when you hear the word “dauntless”?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.


		
2016Word

New Year New Focus

Another New Year is here. Welcome 2017. What did you do with 2016? Hide his body in a calendar of HOT firefighters?

You all know what it means that we’ve started a new year. This author will choose a new focus.

Reviewing What Came Before

In 2014, I decided to BE THE CHANGE. This happened after July 2013 changed everything for me. How?

I graduated from college and committed to writing full-time.

Yes, there was a connection. It’s not easy to walk away from a guaranteed paycheck into the jungles of publishing.

The hard knocks I took that first eighteen months of full-time, professional writing did a number on my confidence. Which led to…

My theme for 2015. My posts were all about learning to have a positive attitude. Because, let’s be honest, the world is swamped with negativity. If you just go with the flow, you will become a huge downer.

And there are too many downers out there already.

So I went against the flow and took a friend’s advice to “accentuate the positive.” It’s pretty amazing what can happen when the two words you choose to focus on for 365 days are positive and attitude.

And that positive outlook carried over into 2016.

Do I need to remind you what happened this year? How about this?

#365DaysofGratitude

And a sample of what that looked like…

D52

And what it morphed into once a brand building expert set me straight…

Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.
Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.

These yearly focus words or phrases have been building blocks in the new life I’m carving out of the old one that held me stale and stagnant for forty-some years.

My decision to be the change I wanted to see in the world is a perfect foundation. What better architectural framing to use for the changed life than a positive attitude. And if you’ve experienced it, you know there isn’t a warmer, more welcoming color for the walls than gratitude.

So where does that leave me for 2017?

Looking Toward What is Yet to Come

It’s time to clean up the scraps around the building site. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those nails, lumber scraps, and broken boards that didn’t make it into the finished project.

What does that look like in my new life?

Banishing fear.

nofearthemememe

Yep, I’ve been talking about this lion over the past few weeks, and now I’m confronting him head on.

This year, I’ve even adopted at verse from the Bible to fortify my position. I know not every reader here ascribes to the Bible as God’s Word and the guidebook to truth, but I hope you’ll bear with me. I promise not to go all Bible-thumper on you.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment” 1 John 4:18

And to start things off right, I have to face down a fear. Tomorrow I’m going under for my first ever surgery. I know 50 years without s surgeon’s knife and now this.

Don’t worry, it’s “routine.” I should be back up and running in no time. But I appreciate all the positive thoughts and prayers.

This year while I’m sweeping out the shiny new space I’ve carved for my dream of author-ship, we’ll be looking fear in the face. By the time this year ends, I hope love will have relocated fear to some continent far away.

Won’t you join me on the journey to a life lived by love without fear?

What’s your goal for 2017? Do you have a word or phrase you like to build around?