December in the Ozarks

Per the newest tradition in the world of Hughson vacationing, this post comes to you from Not-at-Home. We’re enjoying the sunny South with my cousins.

This is the third full day in Branson, MO, and the weather has been nearly ideal. Yesterday was the only “day” it wasn’t sunny. The breeze made out jaunt down the Landing in the morning a bit nippy, but since rain stayed away, I was content.

My husband wandered through a Bass Pro Shop (a small one according to my cousins) and we ate some authentic barbecue. No one in my family-of-four likes ribs but me, so I was happy to sample Famous Dave’s. They were smoky, but Tony Roma’s melt in your mouth and has a sweeter sauce (on their Carolina Honey’s).

The gentleman went to the car and tractor museum after we saw all the Landing had to offer us. We were happy to drop them (and their $2 off admission price coupons) at the door and head to another shopping destination.

Where we purchased a few Christmas gifts. ‘Tis the season. Chrystal assured me that as long as I purchased at least ONE time in a store as a gift, it counted wholly toward Christmas shopping. Have I mentioned I like the way she thinks?

There was an electrical storm…and rain. But that was AFTER friends I knew back in Oregon when I was in elementary and middle school stopped by for a visit.

No, they don’t live here, but it’s a common destination for their Christmas shopping goals. Obviously, December is the right time of year to visit the Nashville of the Ozarks…shopping destination extraordinaire.

When you wake up to this sort of view…

It makes being grumpy seem more than a mite ungrateful.

We have three more days to enjoy the sights…and sounds of our destination. Tonight is a trip to the Sight and Sound Theater (see what I did there?) to see THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS. Afterwards, we’ll eat out to honor my cousins’ third wedding anniversary.

Hopefully, we’ll finally see some Christmas lights.

But for now, it’s enough to chill on the balcony in the sunshine with the man who’s loved me for three decades.

What’s your take on Christmas shopping? What do you enjoy doing on your vacation?

Join Me on Vacation

It’s that time of year. No, not the one where we stress ourselves by chasing our tail to parties and shopping for gifts. Vacation time!

This year, my husband and I are heading to the South to visit family…and experience the joys of the holiday season in Branson, Missouri. Maybe while I’m gone, some angels will drop by my house and wrap all the gifts and spruce up the decorations.

I know I’ve been pretty quiet the past month, and it’s probably that December will be another “one post per week” time her at Sharon Lee Hughson, Author’s blog. I’ll try to jump online while I’m away (for ten days) and give you a sample of my trip to “Nashville of the Ozarks.” But I’m not making any promises.

To whet your appetite for the trip, here’s a brief itinerary:

  • Today: Fly to OKC
  • Tomorrow: Spend the day with my Aunt Betty
  • Sunday: Travel to Branson and see THIS
  • Monday: Vacate…yes, that’s the verb for what you do on vacation. I know you think it means something else, but right here and right now, it means I’m vacationing.
  • Tuesday: Watch the Miracle of Christmas
  • Wednesday & Thursday: Cruise the town, see some sights, sample some goodies, more vacating
  • Friday: Check out the Dixie Stampede
  • Saturday: Squeeze in any last minute “must see” action
  • Sunday: Return to OKC and fly home

No, that’s not all we’re going to do. But if you’ve read any of my other posts on vacation (like this one or this one), then you know I’m NOT a fan of booking every day with activities.

In short, that’s a key to stress for me…and I vacate to relax. (Notice what I did there? Using my new definition in a sentence. Oh, yeah. Oxford will be adding that definition to their dictionary soon.)

Christmas is first about Christ and second about the twinkling lights. While we’re in Branson, we also plan to check out the glory of the lights. Lights in the square and in one (two or even all three) of the drive through light shows they have in Nashville of the Ozarks.

Have you been to Branson? What would you suggest is a “must see”?

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I’m Thankful for YOU

Even though I’m hung over from too much cornbread dressing and pie, I still wanted to take this moment to thank you for reading my blog.

I know I don’t always post the most exciting and riveting things. Sometimes, you might even skim through the posts.

But you’re still here. You didn’t hit the “unsubscribe” button.

And for that my gratitude bubbles over.

To show my appreciation (and to celebrate the fact that the release is only TWO months away now), I’m going to share an excerpt from Reality Ever After.

Haven’t met Ronnie and Marcus yet? Read about their virtual romance here. Then find out how reality tried to take a bite out of it here.

Are you as excited about this release as I am (this is hard for me to imagine)? Click on the button below to help spread the word.

Enter an alternate Kindle World. I did.

Today is the day. I’ve crossed over and become a “fan fiction” author. Or so Amazon wants to say. That’s the premise behind Kindle Worlds.

I prefer to say, “Today is my Christian romance publishing debut.”

I’ve been talking about it for a few months now. And today, it will be all over Amazon when you hop online to buy a book.

Free advertising? Sure. I’m in.

I hope you’ll check it out. Maybe share this post with your friends who like Christian romance. Or sweet romance. I promise, I’m not a preachy writer.

Congratulations to me! Another book is published.

Congratulations to Kindle Direct Publishing! They’ve acquired full rights to this story – forever.

What are you reading today?

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BIG MAGIC for Creatives

At the suggestion of an author I follow, I checked the audiobook of BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR written by Elizabeth Gilbert. After all, I needed something to listen to while I cleaned the house and logged miles on the pavement.

In case you’re not familiar with authors, Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE, so she had a little authority in the are of creativity. As a bonus, she narrated the audiobook.

What’s the Magic?

Inspiration is the magic behind creativity. There’s tons of noise about listening to your muse and being inspired by certain things.

Gilbert has an interesting view on inspiration. She proposes that ideas are the offspring of inspiration. Ideas float freely through the air around us, buzzing into the hearts and minds of various people, looking for a receptive venue.

When they find an artist that pauses to consider them, they stay awhile. They plant their seedling concept into a ready mind where the willing artist considers it.

If the artist, waters and feeds and otherwise tends the idea, it happily grows and flourishes, until finally it becomes the premise for a novel, theme of a painting or thought behind a symphony. Then it goes fully formed into the wider world to be viewed and appreciated by everyone.

Should the artist give up on the idea, it won’t wait around forever. This is why sometimes when we set aside a project for awhile, when we come back to it, the magic is gone. We can’t get into the flow again. It suddenly feels stale and unimaginative.

Gilbert has proof for her hypothesis regarding ideas. It’s a real eyebrow-raiser, and involves an exchange of ideas with Ann Patchett through nothing more than a touch. That’s all I’ll say about that. Read (or listen to ) the book if you want to know the whole score.

Gilbert’s advice: consider art as a vocation rather than a career. Even if you do it full-time. Once you call it a career, the weight of responsibility (to pay the bills and feed the artist’s family) presses against ideas, stifling them.

She names many fears and addresses her own methods for counteracting them. She debunks the idea of a “suffering artist” and proposes creatives fill their well with love for their art. The art will reciprocate with kindness.

My Takeaway

I enjoyed the various anecdotes and personal experiences shared by Gilbert. This will be the only book of hers I have ever read (although I did see the film version of the best-seller mentioned above, but we all know it was NOWHERE as amazing as the book).

Although I’m not entirely convinced of her theory regarding ideas, I can see how she would have made the conclusion she did.

Ideas are inanimate. However, the Creator of all things could very well send them on the air and into the hearts and minds of people He wants to develop them.

I have said, “Inspiration struck. The words poured out of me.” However, this isn’t inspiration in the sense of “God-breathed” scriptures.

Instead, I mean an idea bloomed and was ready for harvest. It responded to my watering with introspection and my feeding through brainstorming or research. It’s growth can no longer be contained in my heart and mind,

Idea explosion makes me adore writing a first draft. Sure, some parts of it might be a struggle, but I’ve learned to skip to the part the muse want to expel. The other parts will fall in line–eventually. Or maybe they will end up being summarized, nothing more than connective tissue for the brain child birthed with a minimum of labor.

A few lines jumped out at me, and I scrawled them down. They’ll be fodder for reflection in the quiet corners of my mind.

It’s true fear dampens creativity, can destroy it altogether. This is why I chose “dauntless” for my word this year. And why I’ve embraced the unexpected opportunities that have flowed my way this year.

BIG MAGIC isn’t an especially long book, so I recommend it if fear is stifling your creativity. It can’t possibly hurt anything, right? And it might invite the Big Magic of Inspiration to drop an idea (or ten) in the fertile soil of your imagination.

If you’ve read this book, what was your takeaway? What fear stifles your creativity?

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.

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Paying the Ultimate Price: A Salute to Veterans

Veteran’s Day graces the November calendar, brightening it with red, white and blue. And although this isn’t a day to salute those who paid the ultimate price, it is a time to honor those WILLING to pay it.

Thank you to those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. I offer you the deepest respect. And to those who served in the Armed Forces in times past, thank you for your service.

Yes, I’m technically a veteran since I served in the US Army Reserve, but it feels like a cheap imitation of the service given by men and women who left their families behind to face enemy fire in a hostile place. I’m in awe of those people (and there was a time in my life when I would have gladly been one of them).

A couple months ago, I read a blog post that touched me. It featured a military veteran.

The Price of Giving it All by Kelly Balarie

Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.

Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter? 

All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”

He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”

Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.

I asked the man if I could take his photo.

To finish reading this post, click here.

I was touched by the idea that God used this bent soldier to speak to the heart of a normal woman. A woman who had never donned a uniform.

He used the old war memorial to remind her (and through her, me) that He will build a memorial of our faith when we give up everything for him.

Jesus promised to reward his followers if they willingly forsook all to follow him. This requires daily recommitting our future to him, picking up our cross and following.

Paul compares the Christian life to that of a soldier.

And let’s face it, most of us live in a cushy home and wear whatever uniform we want and eat things that make military chow resemble Dog Chow. So why aren’t we willing to give it all up for Christ?

As we enter these next few days, flags will fly. Memorials all over the U.S. will host special ceremonies to honor veterans.

If Christ is your savior, consider enlisting in his army, signing on for a lifetime of service. Suit up in the spiritual armor and step outside your comfort zone, committing to give Him all.

He already paid the ultimate price for you.

Are you serving Jesus? Can you commit to following him every day?

Get THROUGH THE FIRE Now

Now Available!
Through Fire
New Adult Romance
By Sage MacGowan
Release Date: November 6, 2017
Confidence. Faith. Redemption.
All her life Cass has been the wallflower, quietly content to make her mark from behind the scenes. As a cognitive psychologist in the research field she will use her intellect and tenacity to heal the “broken” brain. Because she learned long ago she isn’t capable of fixing broken minds, maybe not even broken hearts.
 
Possibility. Strength. Acceptance.
Bryan doesn’t even want to think about his present. To escape his past, he had always looked to the future. As a materials engineer he will use his ingenuity and talent to develop state-of-the-art products. But now an accident has drastically broad-sided his life…and the hits keep coming.
 
Force of will. Daring. Absolution.
They give each other the motive to step beyond self-consciousness, to reach outside themselves to touch the other. They discover the courage to pull one another close. To love. To be loved. From one another they draw the power and fortitude to move beyond mistakes.
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
Growing up, and for quite some time after, Sage was a reader and a dreamer, but didn’t often put pen to paper. After becoming addicted to romance novels, she would often rewrite the stories in her head. Then late one night, while listening to music, with story ideas dancing in her mind, she was overcome with an undeniable urge to actually write.
 
Sage is a nature-worshiper and spends a fair amount of time hiking and camping (real camping, not the wussy RV kind) with her family. She also rides horses as often as she can (which isn’t often) and gets her horse fix by volunteering at the local therapeutic riding center. Her other volunteer gig is a non-profit group that helps military veterans train dogs as support animals and service dogs. In her previous life (former career) she was a veterinary nurse for over 20 years, and has always had a passion for medicine, which is behind the presence of “medicalese” in her stories.
 
Links:
 
Website: Druidessepona.wixsite.com/sagewriter
~~~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.

Writing Insanity

November. National Novel Writing Month. It’s a brotherhood of insane writers, pounding out 1,700 words per day for thirty days.
Since I’m rather unsure if I am meant to be a novelist, I may be a rebel again this year.
In 2014 I wrote that path. It netted four short stories, one of which I fleshed out into a 70,000-word novel.
A novel I pitched to three agents this past summer. All of them said the same things:

  • Women’s fiction must be at least 80,000 words and closer to 100,000 is better
  • The stakes need to be upped for at least one of the characters

All that to tell me I needed to rethink the story and add another 10,000 words at least.
But it hasn’t called to me.
However, I’ve planned and plotted a follow-up novel starring the youngest woman from that story. I could write that story in November.
Or I could write the next novella or two for the Christian romance “series” set in Sweet Grove, Texas.
After all, my debut in that Kindle World will be here in two weeks.


I’m hoping readers will be panting for the next installment, a story featuring minor characters from this first one.

What about doing something fun?

I’ve been jotting ideas for another fantasy novel for several months. I want to tackle the idea of a realm that exists outside of time encroaching on a world that exists inside the restrictions and constructions of time.

My thought is to have the mentor figure and the villain brothers who live in the timeless realm. They’re competing (as brothers do) and have gotten caught up in trying to trip each other up…by planting prophecies and information along the timeline in the world where time exists.
The story could include elemental magic with atypical sources.

But I really don’t have a story for it. Just a ton of vague ideas. And that’s NOT the best way to be a winner during National Novel Writing Month.
With the release coming up on the 15th and the content edits for REALITY EVER AFTER due on the 13th, I’m not certain I’ll have the focus for NaNoWriMo.

But how can I NOT do it? I’ve done it for three years and won every time. It’s such a morale booster.

Sure, it’s a little bit crazy, too. Especially when I only have three days per week to get my words written. And I’d want to finish by November 22 because we’re heading to the Oregon coast to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my sister.

If I’m not finished, the story will be hanging over my head the entire time.

Part of me wants to write something “just for fun” and another part of me knows I need to stop procrastinating and get stories down on paper.

What’s your advice? What would you do?

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.

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If you like FREE books, this is for YOU

Happy Halloween Multi-Author Giveaway!

I promised you FREE books, and this is your chance to WIN them. Actual books that you can hold in your hands. Not one or even two. But EIGHT books, each signed by its author.

Still not sure it’s for you?

Do you like these genres?

  • Contemporary
  • Paranormal
  • Comedy
  • Fairy tale
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Holiday romance

If you said “yes” to even one, check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Here are the titles of the books you could win:

Go ahead and click on the author names. Check out their Facebook pages and see what other sorts of deals and offers they have going on with this giveaway. Follow them if they write books you’d like to read.

And now, for the GIVEAWAY LINK:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And here’s the fine print:

  • NO PURCHASE is necessary to enter this giveaway
  • Giveaway is International
  • Prize is as stated: 8 signed books for ONE winner
  • No cash alternative will be offered
  • Giveaway is open from 00:01am October 29th until 11:59pm October 31st 2017
  • How to enter is specified on the Rafflecopter entry form
  • Winner will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter within ONE week of the end of the giveaway
  • The winner will be contacted via the email address provided on the Rafflecopter entry form (so please make sure the one you provide is current and correct).
  • The winner will be asked to provide a mailing address in order for them to receive their prize
  • No addresses, emails, or other contact information will be shared with third parties, other than those responsible for delivery of your prize(s)–all information will be treated with the strictest confidence
  • Each of the stated prizes are donated by each corresponding, participating author, and each author is responsible for delivery of their donated prize. The giveaway organizer does not take responsibility for any prizes undelivered by anyone other than herself, nor does she take responsible for any prizes lost in transit
  • This giveaway is VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW

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Sometimes Blue is just Blue

Subbing in a high school language arts classroom recently, my thoughts turned toward symbolism in literature. And the fact that I don’t use it heavily in my own writing made me ponder a few things.

For those of you whose stint with literature in high school isn’t as recent as mine, let me refresh your memory.

The teacher would stop the reading of a story, play or novel and stare over the tops of reading glasses and ask, “Why was the room blue?”

Most of the time, I’m guessing the author made the room blue because they liked blue. Or maybe it reminded them of their character’s eyes or the bright orbs of the husky next door.

“Because the woman’s getting depressed.” This from the geeky person who always raised her hand when the teacher asked a question. (Hermione Granger or even me back in the day.)

Blue often symbolizes depression. Which I totally don’t get because a blue sky can make me content and happy faster than just about anything else.

The Story

The two freshman classes were reading “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst.

This story of two brothers is set in the 1910s. It’s narrated by the older brother, and chronicles the brothers’ journey to make the sick and invalid younger brother “just like all the normal boys” when he starts school.

The Symbol

You might guess from the title that the symbol is the ibis. What the heck is an ibis? Glad you joined the freshmen in asking such an important question. An ibis is a tropical bird.

However, if you look up different meanings for the color red or scarlet, you might see that it is often used to symbolize things: like blood, for example.

In the story, a scarlet ibis shows up in the tree outside of the boys’ home and drops to the ground: dead. The younger (invalid) brother is highly affected and decides to bury the bird. His mother warns him that to touch it would bring the death curse on himself. So he manipulates it with a rope.

This is foreshadowing, of course. And when the final image of the story in the younger brother bleeding from his nose beneath a red bush, it’s clear that the author used the bird and the color of its plumage as a symbol.

Sometimes the symbols are obvious. Other times they’re more obscure.

If they’re obscure, I tend to wonder if they are reader created rather than author intended.

After all, if I’m going to use symbolism, wouldn’t it be most effective if it was clear and plain?

Literary fiction is rife with symbolism. The genres I write? Not so much.

This reflection made me wonder if readers enjoyed the odd symbol now and again. Would they want the woman to be wearing a green shirt when she learned a new skill? Did they understand the plot and arcs better when symbols were used?

I can only speak for myself. A well-done symbol is fine, and even interesting or enlightening when it’s well-executed. Making the murderer wear black just because black is the color of death? Not so much.

There must be a point to it. A point other than using symbolism for the sake of symbolism.

Is symbolism important to you when you read? Does it add to your enjoyment? Does it add extra dimension to the story? Or is it something you pay very little attention to?

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