A Different Way of Pitching

One of the biggest reasons to attend a writing conference is to pitch your writing projects to prospective agents, editors or publishers. Pitching face-to-face makes even the most experienced author feel queasy.
Check out my posts on crafting a winning pitch and my actual pitching experiences.
One thing that I liked about OCW Conference was the opportunity to pitch three projects (or one project to three different people) in advance. Three pitches were included in the price of the conference (rather than being an add-on as at every other conference I attended).


This advance pitching was nothing more than querying these agents or editors.

And what writer doesn’t need more practice creating a query that sells?

As soon as I registered for the conference, I scoped out the conference website for details on agents, editors and publishers who would be accepting pitches. Most of the time, this included clicking through to individual websites to discover all the necessary information.
This conference had a page for agents and one for editors that were accepting advance queriers. Which one sounded like a fit for my memoir project? Did any of them seem right for the women’s fiction novel I also wanted to shop at the conference?
In the end, I chose two agents to query about the memoir and an editor who might be interested in my fiction project.
The process looked the same for all of them:

  • Craft a query letter (specific requirements listed on the conference page)
  • Write a compelling single-page synopsis (so simple to boil a 75,000-word novel into one page)
  • Include ten pages of the manuscript.
  • Put each query in a manila envelope addressed to the chosen individual
  • Mail all of them in a larger envelope with a check for a $5 per submission handling fee

And then the waiting began. I sent the pages off nine weeks prior to the conference. Within a week, I had a confirmation email from the manuscript coordinator. A few days later, I received another email informing me that TWO of the people I’d queried wanted electronic submissions.

Image from www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

So I had to convert my files to PDFs and send them along.

And the waiting continued.

On the first full conference day, I will be able to pick these queries up. I can expect some notes from the agent/editor on the letters or manuscript pages.

If they’re interested, there will be an appointment card included with my manuscripts. (Really praying for THREE appointments.) At those meetings, we’ll discuss the project during the pitching sessions.

If they aren’t interested, I shouldn’t try to sell them the same project during the conference. But I can approach other buyers about the projects, if I want.

In the world of querying, nine weeks is an average waiting period for a response to a query. Many agencies won’t even respond if they aren’t interested (which feels rude to me), but most ask for 90 days to decide.
Generally, the more quickly a response is received, the more likely it is a “no thank you,” or “not for us” and “good luck with this.” In short: generic form rejections.

So with less than a week until I find out the fate of my queries, I’m perfecting my in-person pitches for these projects. I’m printing out copies of the sales sheet on Through the Valley of Shadows.

And I’m trying not to think about what these three individuals have to say about my project. Also, I’m imagining a scenario that would include one of these publishing professionals to show up at a meeting with a contract in hand.

After all, I’m a writer. I imagine outlandish things on a daily basis. Why not dream big for my writing career?

Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Kid: Part Four

Media and conversations continue to remind me how relieved I am NOT to be a kid these days. It’s like kids are expected to come from the womb knowing exactly who they are and what they want from life.

If you read my other posts in this series, you might recall that I wanted to be a secret agent at one point. Oh, and if I didn’t wish to be a horse, I pretended to be a boy. All of this to say school isn’t about learning the basics anymore.

Recently, I realized that I had another advantage over kids these days. Of course, movies and journalists will claim it means I was brainwashed, but I was expected to adhere to a specific set of rules. And my mother took me to the church she believed taught the right things.

So Many Beliefs

Our world is diverse in so many ways. There are different races and religions. People choose political affiliation.

Cultures stress family units or individual achievement. Books are written about things as vague as basketweaving to the ridiculous notion of a zombie apocalypse.

Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?

Well, in the world of what I want to believe, I get to decide what is right for me. And, as a parent, I’m responsible for teaching my child the difference between right behavior and wrong behavior.
How did any of us survive with our mothers feeding us cow’s mile in our bottles? Everyone knows babies can process all those harsh proteins. They need their mother’s milk or expensive formula.
But we did survive. Our parents fed us what they ate.
Medical research has since declared cow’s milk “unhealthy” for infants. But did babies die from drinking it back in the day when people didn’t know better?
Maybe. Most likely they developed some form of allergic reaction. Even I was allergic to the fat in milk. It made my skin bubble up and itch.
All this to say that no person can teach their child every different belief system. In fact, they should give due diligence to being consistent living their own beliefs and explaining them to their children.
This whole “We don’t take our kid to church because we want them to choose their own beliefs” mentality confuses me. Introducing your children to what you believe is choosing to believe it for them?
I think not. You’ll put the Crest toothpaste on the counter in the bathroom and watch them brush their teeth twice per day. Why Crest? Is it really better than Colgate or Aquafresh or the store brand?
How can you force your toothpaste choice on your child?
Even more to the point, why do you make them brush their teeth anyway? What if they believe bad breath is better?

Pressure to Conform

Children will face pressure to conform.
If the parents don’t give them a baseline of acceptable responses (based on their own worldviews and societal standards), they’re setting their child up to fall in with the loudest voice.
For a few years, parents can be the only voice a child hears. And believe me, they will choose to ignore that voice plenty of times. Hopefully there will be consequences when they do.
Fair and consistent outcomes won’t happen very often in the larger world, but parents can make sure they happen in their child’s pre-school world. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to do it?
Because you’re brainwashing your child to be a Christian or a person who bathes or someone who eats three balanced meals per day?
As soon as they begin interacting with other kids, the pressure is on. Eventually, they’ll want different toys, different clothes, and different opportunities.
Do they really need these things to become a well-rounded individual?
Or if they conform to these expectations, are they being brainwashed by larger society to believe and act a certain way?

Freedom to Choose

God created humans to have free will.
Every person should have freedom to choose for themselves. God said so. He set the universe in place on that truth.

But if there is a choice, there is a right one and a wrong one.

Just because being a doctor is right for some people, it’s wrong for me. I don’t like to listen to a sick person’s list of complaints. I don’t want to go to school for a decade and be exposed to every bodily fluid.

But that doesn’t mean being a doctor is wrong. We need conscientious doctors who care about the physical and emotional well-being of people.

I wouldn’t be that doctor.

This is a case where the freedom to choose will give individuals unique outcomes. What’s right for one isn’t right for all.

However, children need to eat protein and vitamins. If they don’t, their brains and bodies won’t grow to optimum potential.

And fortified cereal isn’t the same as fresh fruit and organic eggs. Even if all the nutrients are the same, we know the foods aren’t equal. One choice is healthier for the developing human than the other.

In this case, freedom to choose can have a negative outcome if you choose poorly. And there is a better, more healthy choice.

All choices aren’t created equal even if the right to make them is consistent across the board.

I’m glad my mother didn’t give me a choice. Even though it meant eating liver and butternut squash, I didn’t get to choose to have a bologna and cheese sandwich instead. It meant I had to pick up rocks, pull weeds and clean toilets, but I’m not afraid to work hard and I know how to take care of my yard, garden (ugh, or how to NOT have one) and home.

I wouldn’t have been able to make good choices about many things in my life when I was a kid. If I’m honest, I still make poor choices as a middle-aged adult woman.

Let’s face it the $5 lunch from Dairy Queen sound delicious. And so much easier to make than fresh fruit, plain yogurt and sliced red peppers. But which one is a healthier choice?

New Conference: New Benefits

Professionals attend conferences. Since deciding to be a professional writer, I have attended three conferences in person and two online conferences. The new conference I’m attending this year offered some benefits the others didn’t.

I’ve been eyeing the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference for a couple years, but in the past it didn’t meet my needs.

For one thing, I wasn’t focusing on writing exclusively for the Christian market. And I’m still not. But I do have two projects in a “sellable” state that fit this market.

For another thing, it seemed to be heavy on nonfiction the first time I looked into it. Nonfiction? That translates to “no fun.” Right?

Or not. This year, one of the manuscripts I’m pitching is nonfiction.

Why This Conference?

There are two large writer’s conferences in the Portland Metropolitan area each year. I’ll be writing a post comparing and contrasting these two events.

OCW is what I need at this point in my career.

Let’s talk about the women’s fiction manuscript I’ve been laboring over for a year. It has a slight Christian bent, and that could be accentuated if I found a publisher that wanted to market it in the Christian marketplace.

I’ve pitched this story to one editor that I hope to meet with at the conference. There are a few other editors that I hope to get an opportunity to pitch this novel to.

Then there’s the thing I’ve lovingly referred to as “the grief memoir” for the past three years. Not that I was even writing it until last year. And even then it was sporadic. This book sucks my emotions dry.

What else would you expect from a book about dealing with grief?

Two agencies look right for this project. Both of these agents prefer memoir-like writings and are looking for nonfiction. I pray I’ll meet with these women and they’ll see the gaping hole in the market that this book can fill.

At least one of these women also represents fiction writers. You know that’s the one I really want. And I want her to ask when she offers me a contract, “What else are you writing?”

This year, OCW meets my needs much better than WW ever did.

Included Benefits

One great thing about this conference is that the fee ($550) includes everything.

Okay, it doesn’t include a room at the hotel and breakfast. So maybe not everything. But it does include:

  • Personalized workshops where I will interact with the instructor
  • Two full meals each day
  • A bookstore where I can sell my own books
  • Free manuscript critiques
  • A 30-minute mentoring appointment
  • Three pre-conference pitches
  • Appointments for pitching projects during the conference
  • Classes on everything from indie publishing to writing a memoir to building your brand

It’s pretty amazing that so many things I paid extra for at the Willamette Writer’s Conference (WW) are included while the main fee isn’t that different.

Also, the organizers are so incredibly helpful. They’ve made themselves accessible via email. They created a Facebook group for first time conference attendees (where they posted everything from a packing list to critiques of pitches).

Expectations

Professionals should know what they’re getting when they attend a conference. What’s more? They should have expectations about what the take-away will be.

After all, this isn’t my employer shucking out the money from a multi-billion dollar budget. It’s me and my “I’ve yet to make a profit writing” business. Is this conference worth the time and money invested?

Well, if it meets these expectations, the answer will be yes.

As far as workshops:

  • I’ll learn new things about how to get published
  • My writing craft will improve
  • I’ll understand the nonfiction proposal process
  • The author of my daily class will help me form a plan for being a novelist

As far as networking:

  • I’ll meet published authors who are real, approachable and helpful
  • I’ll meet publishing professionals who want to connect with me
  • Other newer writers will interact with me
  • Perhaps they’ll be some like-minded authors who want to form a writing critique group

As far as career advancement:

  • Half the books I take to sell will sell
  • The agents I meet with will request pages
  • The editor I meet with will request pages
  • The mentor I meet will help me formulate a nonfiction proposal and writing schedule

So, really, I’m not expecting much for my $550. It should be easy-as-pie to get all these things.

Look for a post later this month detailing whether the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference met or exceeded my expectations. (Notice I’m not giving it the option of NOT meeting them.)

Do you attend professional conferences? Why or why not?

The Books of Summer

With the return of The Game of Thrones to HBO, people are into the groove of summer viewing. I’d rather be reading, and I know plenty of people who would rather READ George R. R. Martin’s next installment for this series.


Still, the anticipation of the show reminded me that summer’s long days encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book and head to the porch (or patio or deck)

What I’m Reading

I’m always reading something. This year, I’ve challenged myself to read 150 books. At the time I wrote this, I had read 102 (actually more since a couple were collections but Goodreads only counts them as one).
Recently, my reading choices have expanded to include more women’s fiction and Christian romance. These are genres I’m trying to break into with my writing, and the best way to understand what works is to read the genre.
As part of the First Street Church Kindle World, I’ve been reading the original series and some of the spin-offs.


I’ve been beta reading for some of my author friends. In this case, one of the books was a new take on vampire origins. (I’m NOT a fan of vampires.) I was intrigued by the twist on this, but still wasn’t convinced that I would invest myself in an entire series about them.
For my online book club, I read The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster for July. It sounded intriguing, but I had a hard time engaging with it.
On audiobook, I listened to a YA fantasy series from Tamora Pierce while cleaning, crocheting and coloring. (I love being able to multi-task.)
The second book in the Spellsmith & Carver series releases on July 31 (TODAY), and I’m excited to read it. I read Coiled by this author (H.L. Burke) earlier in the summer and couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling…pick this up.

What I’m Writing

I’ve written the final installment for my Virtual Match romance series.
The first draft of my debut into both Christian romance and Kindle Worlds has been wrapped. I’ll be rewriting it and getting it out to beta readers. I have until September 7 to get a copy to my editor.
My next writing project will probably be a short story I’m submitting for an anthology my publisher is putting out in 2018.
After that, things are up in the air. Once I know how my manuscripts are received at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, I’ll know if I’m going to work on another women’s fiction story.
I will finish writing Through the Valley of Shadows, the grief memoir that’s been in and out of my queue for several years. I’ve decided to pursue indie publishing for it if I can’t get an agent to contract it.
Some books fill a hole in the market, and that’s how I see this book. Everyone will grieve (at multiple times in life) and the idea of mourning in a healthy way for as long as it takes isn’t highly promoted in Western society.

What I’m Wishing For

I’m not much for paranormal romances…most of the time. Maybe it’s because I forced myself to read the Twilight series so I could discuss it with my students. So if there are vampires and werewolves? I’ll pass.
So color me shocked when I downloaded the first book in Melissa Haag’s Judgement of the Six young adult paranormal romance series a couple years ago.
To date, Hope(less) the first book, is still my favorite and Clay and Gabby are my favorite couple.
I love the integration of a society existing in our own world. It’s well-crafted and believable. For some time, I wondered if bulky blond men on motorcycles were actually werewolves.
Just as Stephanie Meyer created her own vampire history, Haag has given the wolves an interesting backstory. By starting with a skeptical character in the first book, she had a chance to show us the two sides of werewolves. Later we saw the “dark side” generally meant they were a different species.

What?

And each human girl that is the central character in the book has a special gift. Because truly she is something called a Judgement. Six women are born in a 100-year cycle and if all of them unite, they get to make a judgment.
Haag has kept us in the dark about all this entails. But there is one group of wolves trying to round up the girls and mate them with their kind so they can control the judgment.
The final book, Sur(real), doesn’t release until November, but I’m ready for it now. This year I intend on re-reading the entire series in the weeks leading up to the release.
If you haven’t read this series, check out the first book for free. I promise you’ll get hooked.
What books are you reading, writing or wishing for this summer?

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Wonder Woman: Being a Warrior is a Good Thing

Perhaps you’re finished with all the Wonder Woman hype. As long as there are new thoughts popping up about this superhero, I’ll be writing about her on my blog.

After all, in the realm of “holding out for a hero,” Wonder Woman has been worth the wait.

Last week, I wrote about Wonder Woman’s pure motives and how that makes her a better kind of superhero than most of the Marvel and DC creations.

When my Social Media Jedi shared an article on my Facebook timeline, I realized there was another reason to give Diana Prince accolades. She isn’t the original female warrior, that would be Eve.

Yes, I do mean Eve, the mother of all living. The one who God made to be a helper for Adam and who Satan convinced wasn’t living up to her full potential without the Fruit.

Woman as Warrior

As Ms. Sanchez pointed out in the article mentioned above, the very word translated “helper” is the same word used to describe God as a help during battle.

God created women to fight alongside their man (or their friends or family or whoever).

In another famous passage about women, Proverbs 31, several of the words used are generally used to describe soldier or battle. Even the word translated “virtuous” in Proverbs 31:10 is translated at “valiant” everywhere else in the Old Testament. And refers to warriors, men of valor, strong and might men.

Apparently, that seemed a little unfeminine for the translators. Shame on them for not seeing women as the warriors they were created to be.

Other words in the Proverbs 31 description of this woman also refer to soldiers. Like bringing her food from afar which refers to hunting (31:14) and girding up her loins (31:17) which is military terminology for suiting up for battle.

Women were never created as weaker or less than man. God intended for them to fight alongside others, helping win the battle against sin and evil.

Warrior with a Cause

It only takes once to get between a mother bear and her cub for an ignorant soul to learn a lesson. If they survive.

Women have many causes worth fighting for. Not the least of these is their marriage and their children. The world will try to weaken a marriage with everything from career promotions that take a spouse away to office romances.

And children arrive in our world helpless. Their mothers step up to provide everything the child needs for survival: food, drink, clothing, shelter and love. (And yes, people do need love as much as they need the physical necessities.)

When the child is sick, she fights the fever. When the child is in danger, she jumps to protect and shield him.

Women look on others with compassion and it gives them a passion to fight for the rights of the downtrodden. I love that Sanchez points out that shedding tears is not a weakness, but is a sign of having a heart closer to Christ’s.

The best part about a woman warrior is that her weapon doesn’t generally shed blood (but she will pick up that kind and use it when necessary). It cuts a conscience to the quick or snips through the BS and to the heart of the matter.

What are some other causes women fight for? Do you feel like a warrior in your life?

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

Already read one or more of my books? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. A review is the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

REALITY BITES: Virtual Match #2 is Available. Sneak Peek Inside.

The day you’ve all been waiting for (okay, maybe it’s just ME who’s been counting down the days) is finally here. The second book in the Virtual Match Romance series is available from your favorite online retailers. Click here to get your copy.

Maybe you still haven’t read Reality Meets its Match. If you’re like me, you don’t want to wait for the next installment, so why start a series if you have to wait?

Because this is a fun romance that will have you feeling good about life.

Still not sure it’s for you?
Well, today, I’m going to share a little Ronnie and Marcus interaction.

Keep scrolling down to read an excerpt (if you haven’t seen enough on my Facebook page for the past month or in my newsletter last week). At the bottom of the post, enter the giveaway for $10 of books from my publisher. Hey, you can pick up the first book in the series, some other fantastic novellas or read one of my earlier fiction stories in one of several anthologies.

Hello beautiful!

Reality Bites
Virtual Match #2
Ronnie wanted a Virtual Match, until she fell for the guy on the other end of the texts and emails. After real-life dating for only a few weeks, things start to heat up. Ronnie’s crazy family gets crazier, and her therapist gives her an ultimatum.
Marcus teeters on the edge of falling in love, but when he learns Ronnie’s secret, he’s afraid of moving too fast. The idea of life without her terrifies him more than anything else.
Ronnie runs back to the safety of her career, but can her heart ever be free from what Marcus has awakened?
 
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
Here’s an exclusive (YOU CAN’T READ IT ANYWHERE ELSE) peek inside the covers of Reality Bites:
(From Chapter Two)

She answered his knock before it resonated.
A pale blue polo clung to his sculpted chest. His bicep jerked when he raised a paper bag.
“Takeout?” Ronnie sidled out of the doorway.
“Not tonight,” Marcus said while sauntering in.
She watched his tight backside, nearly closing her fingers in the door. With a shake of her head, Ronnie relocked the door and followed him into the kitchen.
“My mom’s beef barley soup recipe. We’ll see if I did it justice.”
He withdrew a plastic container, dark with soup, and placed it on the counter. A package of wheat crackers and some sliced cheese followed.
Ronnie brushed behind him, inhaling the scent of ocean breeze and musk that was uniquely his. She pulled two bowls and small plates from the cupboard. “Soup weather is here already?” At least eight months of the year were gray and cool in their bayside city, making soup a perfect accouterments. Even some summer nights whispered for a steaming bowl of chowder or chili.
“An easy fix.”
Ronnie set the dishes beside the soup container and pulled spoons from one drawer and a ladle from another. When she swung back, she crashed into Marcus’ broad chest. His arms circled her waist at the same time his chin jerked out of the way of the swinging ladle. “Sorr—”
He cut off her apology with warm, soft lips.
Ronnie melted into his chest, opened up to his probing tongue. Kissing this man had quickly become one of her favorite activities. A faint taste of garlic and pepper echoed the soup’s delicious scent. Her pulse throbbed in her neck.
He pulled back slightly. “I missed you, gorgeous.” His husky whisper tickled her ear, sending a cascade of shivers down her spine.
Want more? Buy it now.
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
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~~~oOo~~~
 

GIVEAWAY!

A $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing’s marketing department.

Wonder Woman: The Pure Hero

Wonder Woman is topping the movie charts and breaking records, but better yet, she’s winning the hearts of a new generation of girls and boys. And she deserves their admiration because she is a hero with pure motives.
I’ve mentioned that I’m NOT a comic book reader. My eyes get too distracted by what’s going on to read everything in order. I tried (with Peanuts and Archie) but my brain is wired for words and a single picture (maybe, if it isn’t too distracting).
The things I say about Wonder Woman in this blog post are one-hundred percent from the cinematic DC universe. I have no idea what her superpowers were in the comics or where she came from.
Maybe she doesn’t resemble the Gal (Gadot) millions loved on the big screen. If not, that’s sad. Those filmmakers made a pretty decent story.
                        >Rambling over<
Wonder Woman is a hero with a pure heart and pristine motivation. As much as I love Captain America, he does have a prejudice that colors his thinking.

What’s not to love about this guy?

Our Gal Wonder Woman does not.

Backstory Baggage

Most fictional characters have a backstory that shapes who they are and what they want. And for the average Joe or Jane Fiction, that’s important.
But those things act like a chain on a superhero.


For example, Superman has a savior complex because his father had high expectations for him to “carry on” their extinct alien race.
Captain America despises the Nazis and Hydra and all the evil they represent and perpetuate in the world. This means he must stop them at any cost. It was the sole reason he was given Stark’s serum in the first place.
We could continue through some of the (mostly Marvel) comic book heroes I’m familiar with, but I think the point has been made.
Diana Prince has none of this backstory baggage. She was raised to believe that her race was created for a single purpose: to protect humanity from destroying itself.


She doesn’t cop a savior-complex or become a crusader. Instead, she walks on the battlefield and changes the things she has power to change. One little step at a time.

Personal Issues

Everyone has personal issues: secret or well-known. Making those have high stakes is what good fiction is all about.
But a superhero with personal issues can cause big problems.
Most of the time, if the issues are too big, the hero turns to the dark side (thinking of Mr. Freeze here) and becomes enemy number one for the good guys.
Why are these such a problem for heroes? Because they have the power to take matters into their hands and SOLVE that issue with resounding finality.
Spiderman is going to stop all the criminals because he didn’t stop the murder of his uncle. Batman is going to clean up Gotham because it’s what his murdered parents would want.
But dispelling their own ghosts isn’t a pure motive for superheroes. Their great power gives them great responsibility. And the responsibility is to those weaker than them.
Our Gal Wonder Woman faces her personal issues—being misinformed or misled—before she tries to save the world. Because the uncertainty Ares gave her by exposing her to his brand of “truth” paralyzed her.
She could have blown up everyone around her in order to get a little peace and think things over. Instead, she took in the truths around her, weighed them with what she’d seen firsthand and what she’d learned as a child, and took a stand.

Relationship Hangups

Even though I was a little disappointed that Diana and Steve Trevor didn’t get a little “happy for now” time together, his death freed her from one of the biggest snares for superheroes. They have relationship hangups that keep them from going after the greater good.
I’ve said Captain America doesn’t have these, but others say his friendship with Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) is his relationship Achilles heel. Pick your side. It doesn’t matter now because I’ve found my new “best superhero.”
Superman has to save Lois Lane rather than the world. Professor X won’t end Magneto because of their friendship. Spiderman and Iron Man are manipulated when the bad guys take their lady loves hostage.
Wonder Woman wanted to save Steve, but it was too late for him. Would she have done it? Not at the price of letting Ares go free.
She was raised to be a warrior in a culture of warriors. They trusted each other, watched each other’s back, but every warrior understands that there is an ultimate price. By putting on the uniform, you accept that risk. (Which is why I think Steve Rogers could have a relationship with Agent Sharon Carter because she can take care of herself and is willing to accept the risk if she can’t.)
Steve made his own choice, and Diana respected his choice. Even though it broke her heart.
Her motivation for protecting humanity? Duty maybe. Revenge, not at all. In her own words: love.

If you want to see how another viewer saw God’s view of women depicted in the film, click on over and check out this post by Marilette Sanchez titled “WONDER WOMAN might be the most accurate on-screen depiction of biblical womanhood.” 
Do you think Wonder Woman is the pure hero? Are there other things that keep superheroes from having pure hearts and just motives?

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

Already read one or more of my books? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. A review is the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Monday Morning Blahs

Monday is another day. It is the day following Sunday, generally a day of worship and rest for me, and the beginning of a new week of writing. Most of the time it is no more blah than Tuesday through Saturday.

And then there was this morning.

Ugh.

What made this Monday less-than-exciting? It could have been that I woke up at 3:30 to the call of nature. Except, it’s pretty standard that I will wake up at least once in the wee morning hours for that reason.

The first hint the day was not going to go as planned, I tried to sit up and my back screamed bloody murder. My husband is grateful (I’m sure) that I clenched my teeth so the agonized scream of my old muscles emerged into sound waves as a muffled groan.

You’re welcome, Honey.

It took longer than usual to walk four feet into the bathroom and take care of business. Every slight move from my core seized my lungs as my back caterwauled out displeasure.

When I returned to bed, my cat had curled up on my pillow. He’s been doing this lately. Sometimes, out youngest girl cat will move onto the spot where my body had been moments before. They’re always happy to take the human-warmed spots.

She’d remained huddled next to my husband’s legs, but the slant-eyed look my other cat gave me warned me off trying to relocate him. Truthfully, I didn’t think my body could manage. At least, that’s what my back was whimpering into my ears.

It’s difficult to find a comfortable spot when

  • your back is screaming
  • a cat’s butt is lodged where you want to pillow your head

As I tried to fall into oblivion, my mind kicked on. I really hate having a writer’s brain sometimes.

Here’s the thoughts that whirred in my head:

  • possible titles for the other Christian romances for First Street Church 2018 launches
  • list of things I would do when I woke up in the morning (HA! It was morning and I was awake.)
  • how to move the cat and earn another couple centimeters of pillow
  • replaying conversations with my kids the previous day
  • debating a menu for the week
  • outlining the known changes I want to make to Virtual Match #3 which I’m revising and polishing this week

and on it went.

The cat finally decided to relocate. I turned to my other side and he curled into my chest. My brain spun into neutral.

And the snoring began. Not from me. Or the cats. Process of elimination gives you…Mr. Wonderful.

I tried to nudge him, but my back seized up and I had to meditate my way back into a state of relaxation.

Eventually, I peered through my eyelids at the luminous numbers on my alarm clock. 4:20.

I maneuvered myself–and my uncooperative back–out of bed, snatched a light blanket and headed to the couch. Curling into a fetal position incited a sigh from the distraught muscles.

As I wondered if I would be able to do my workout that morning, I faded into happy nothingness.

At a few minutes after five, hubbs sat beside me, rubbed my shoulder and said, “I was snoring, huh?”

I rolled off the couch, my back proclaiming that I would NOT being doing the mixed martial arts workout I’d planned, and limped back to my bed. Once there, I cuddled into my husband’s warm pillow and…

My little cat jumped on the bed and stood on my back. Well, my side and back. Then she headed over to attack the fingers peeking out from beneath the pillow.

I did return to sleep. To be awakened around 6:00 by my husband’s ringing cell phone and his conversation held right outside the bedroom door.

I should have just gotten up at 4:20, because I didn’t feel better when I rolled out of bed at 6:25, thinking my husband had left for work without kissing me goodbye (a big no-no around here).

I stumbled around, wincing at every move, calling my old body all sorts of unflattering names.

And realized I didn’t have a blog post in the queue for this morning. I had intended to write one on Saturday, but I was over my head finishing the first draft of Love’s Late Arrival. (I was thinking about some needed additions to it during my early morning should-be-sleeping ponderings.)

There are bathrooms to clean (the Monday chore).

At least the sun is shining. I’m hoping the ibuprofen I took will relieve my back’s simpering enough that I’ll be able to take a walk later today.

The worst part? I’d rather go back to bed. Even after all this proof it won’t make anything better. Maybe I’m planning to sleep until Monday yields to Tuesday.

What makes Monday blah for you? Or is there another day of the week you generally struggle with? Also, any encouraging words for my back problems would be accepted with gratitude.

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

Already read one or more of my books? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. A review is the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Why I’m Glad I’m not a Kid These Days: Part Three

Reading headlines and listening to newscasts has given me a revelation: Being a kid these days is confusing. And with technology and convenience, and easy access to information and answers, this shouldn’t be so.
It makes me glad I grew up in the 70s and 80s. Things were so much simpler back then.
Angst is nothing new. Having an identity crisis when you’re a young person is part of “coming of age.”
But back when I struggled through it, no one confused me with platitudes like, “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t be whatever you want.”
Because—the truth was—when I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a boy. And without a surgery and complexities I don’t want to imagine, I could never be that.

Why Did I Want it?

When I was in first through fourth grade, we lived on a farm. For four years. Those were the happiest days of my life.

Those were the most painful times of my life.

How can it be both? Because that’s the way the world works. Happiness is fleeting. When it’s gone, what follows is magnified by the lack of the blissful state it isn’t.
We had a section of land in Rainier. There were cows and apple trees and fences and a section of woods filled with creaking pines and aromatic cedars. I remember the warm scent of cow manure and the gentle hum of bees pollinating the flowers.
I tried to keep up with my over-six-feet-tall father, but my legs were stubs compared to his. I trailed him to the barn, the pasture, the pond and down the rutted track in the woods.
I might as well have been invisible. Because I wasn’t what he wanted. I was just another daughter.

So I spend many years of my life wanted to be his son. Trying to be his son.

Nothing Would Have Changed


Let’s say that happened these days. And a well-intentioned teacher told me that it sounded like I wanted to “identify as a boy.”
I’d wonder if that’s all it will take to get my dad to finally see me?

But, no. That wouldn’t have changed anything.

In his eyes, I would still have been a girl. And what memes now decry as sexist: a tomboy.
No matter what I wanted to think of myself, I would never be the son he wanted. What I thought didn’t matter. The truth was in the anatomy: I was a girl.

Why This Makes Me Sad

When I started thinking about this post a few weeks ago, I started to experience melancholy.
It was so easy to recall the yearning I had in those days. Why wasn’t I enough? Why couldn’t he love me? Because I was a girl?
In the years since, I’ve realized the lack is not within me. In fact, the truth is probably that he did love me and was dealing with his own disappointment in the only way he knew how.
Which meant shutting me out.

You see, I didn’t want to be a boy because it was who I was, but because of what I wanted. Acceptance. Love. Camaraderie.

And none of that would have happened just because I “identified” as male.

I wanted to be a boy so badly that I pretended to be one in many ways and at many times.
Because I was a kid. I was trying to win my father’s approval.
That’s what kids do.
And that’s why I’m thankful I’m not a kid these days. It wouldn’t have helped me in the least to have someone encouraging me to accept my maleness and become the boy I wanted to be.

It would have led to more angst and more disillusionment for me.

Because true acceptance means looking in the mirror and seeing what is really there. And being okay with it.

Even if it means you don’t have a great relationship with your father. Or you can’t play baseball with the boys. Or you have to sit down to pee (yes, I really did just say that).
Acceptance isn’t about trying to be something you are not because you’re uncomfortable with what you are. That’s pretense, and it’s the gateway to a Disappointment Road.
Thank the Lord no one tried to tell me that my desire to be a boy meant I was supposed to be one. That all I had to do was decide I was one, and everyone would have to accept me as male.
Think of everything I would have missed out on in my life: a 29-year marriage, two sons and now two daughters. Being a sister, a wife, a mother.
Self-acceptance is hard enough for kids. Why do people want to make it even more difficult?

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

Already read one or more of my books? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. A review is the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Are Holidays Warping Society?

Now that we have a lull in holidays here in the United States, let’s talk about them. Some recent chatter on my Facebook profile has me thinking that holidays are being warped by society.
Or maybe society is being warped by the endless deluge of holidays.
Every day is National “something” Day, but no one pays attention except the marketers of whatever that something is.
Worse are the actual nationally recognized holidays that are treated as another excuse for a sale or to overeat (or drink to excess).
What is a holiday? Why is Mother’s Day sweet and Father’s Day swept over? And who decided everything (even selfies) needed a day of recognition?

Holiday Defined

According to Merriam-Webster, these are the top four definitions:

1. Holy day (does this need explanation?)
2. A day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
3. Vacation – chiefly the British definition
4. A period of exemption or relief

In the case of this blog post, we’ll accept the second definition. Most people consider a special day off of work as a holiday. We all prefer these are PAID holidays, but that’s not the point of this post.
So, the day is not just for sleeping in and throwing a party. Notice the last part of the definition: “in commemoration of an event.”
What’s commemoration? Again, Merriam-Webster helps us out. It’s a call to remembrance or mark significance by ceremony or observance.
On Mother’s Day we remember our mothers by bringing them cards and gifts. Perhaps taking them out to lunch or dinner.

No Love on Father’s Day

Father’s Day should include the remembrance of fathers. They should be showered with cards and gifts.
Recently, I observed an interesting (and I thought amusing) difference in the WAY mothers and fathers liked to observe their holidays. I posted on Facebook this innocent comparison:

Father’s Day: Dad wants to grill his meal
Mother’s Day: Mom doesn’t want to cook or clean

I found this entertaining because Mom generally cooks on EVERY day, so in honor of her special day, she’d like a break from that work. Isn’t that the very definition of holiday (see number two definition above)? But since Father’s aren’t generally (meaning I know this isn’t true in ALL cases, so no men need to get offended at my admitted generalization) responsible for cooking, they want to play with their grill and cook up some fatty brats and burgers (or steak and ribs).
One female friend responded that my observation was true.
Two male friends said they noticed that father’s were generally disregarded on Father’s Day in lieu of celebrating the women who were both mother and father to their children.
What about the single dads who were both mother and father? Why no commendation for them?
The truth is, I have little contact with my own father and haven’t given him a card or anything else in more than 35 years. But I spoil my husband (as much as he’ll let me) because he’s the most important father in my life these days: the father of my sons.
Is the culture of women’s equality affecting the way we observe Father’s Day?

National “Whatever” Day

The reason I think many holidays are getting bland treatment is because the marketing department heads work overtime to create days to sell products.
On National Flip-Flop Day, there will be a huge discount on the disposable footwear of summer. National Selfie Day promotes selfie sticks and smart phones.


The fact that we’ve made every day a commemoration of something has watered down the exclusivity and sacredness of actual national holidays.
“Oh, it’s just another day.” And so some great fathers get no recognition (or veteran’s or soldiers who died in battle—who are to be honored and remembered on Memorial Day).
I’d joked with one of the men who commented about this disparity on my Facebook post, “We should have a National Appreciate Someone Day.”

And we both claimed that Monday as the day to appreciate someone and we affirmed each other.

Because adding such a day would only exacerbate the problem. Stores would carry “I appreciate you” mugs and florists would sell “You’re appreciated” balloons. Money would be made, but the impact would be trampled beneath the push to commercialize the day meant for connection.
Every day of our lives should be marked by gratitude for the courtesy, hard work and dedication of those around us. It should be an automatic thing to say, “Thank you” (and mean it) and tell people how much we appreciate the things they do.
What do you think? Are the abundance of holidays warping the effectiveness of those days to commemorate special people or events?

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

Already read one or more of my books? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. A review is the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.