Author: Sharon Hughson

Sharon Lee spent her youth talking to animals, who never replied, until she escaped to Narnia, where animals did talk back. The magical portal of reading made her a dream weaver. Now, she invites fantasy addicts and dreamers to time travel into immortal, mystical realms.

What Does it MEAN to Change?

It’s week three of the Year of Metamorphosis and I’m not seeing a butterfly moment yet. In fact, my caterpillar’s looking a little lost. Where’s my change?
What does it even MEAN to change?
The dictionary says change means to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
In that case, there are a few little changes.
Like the colors I use on my website. And a few nifty social media templates I can use to “create” a new brand.
But who wants a little change? If that’s all I was looking for, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen the gold nugget “metamorphosis” for my annual theme.
I probably wouldn’t have even settled for the twenty-dollar transformation. We all know what that word brings to my fantasy-inspired thinking.

Image from comicbook.com

The thing is change happens a little bit at a time. Like erosion. The water runs down the side of the mountain. A decade later, it causes a crack. A century later the face of the mountain looks totally different.

But we don’t want erosion. We want an explosion.

But do we really? You want someone setting dynamite off in your life?
Backpedaling now, are you? I know I am. I’ve had a few explosions and I’ll beg for erosion. Even if it tries my patience.

Define Little

Small. Tiny. Minute. Unnoticeable.
It’s like that first five pounds you struggle to take off when you’ve got twenty-five to lose. It takes weeks to convince your body to give it up. You’ve worked out. You’ve stopped eating everything that tastes good (if it tastes good, it’s either bad for you or fattening).


And no one notices.

Even the mirror doesn’t see it.
You start questioning the scale. Did I really lose any weight?
But then you pull on that pair of shorts you couldn’t squeeze into last summer. And they button. No, they aren’t loose or even comfortable, but they’re zipped up.
It might be small and unremarkable, but it’s a start.
Change that is slow and steady will likely be long-lasting.

Define Big

Huge. Gigantic. Enormous. Monumental. Noteworthy.
In the weight loss scenario above, will twenty pounds be a BIG loss? Sure. You’re only five pounds short of the goal. You’re 4/5 done.
It’s time to celebrate. But probably not with a slice of New York Cheesecake and chocolate sauce. Better to go shopping for a new outfit.
However, if you’ve got to lose one hundred pounds, the twenty pounds doesn’t seem so big any more.
But why not? It’s still a chunk of lard gone from your frame. Why not celebrate it?
Why do we have to weight the importance based on percent of change or distance from the finish line? Let’s celebrate every step in the right direction.
Celebration is a mindset. Accentuate the positive.


Transformation vs. Metamorphosis

Transformation: the semi truck into a giant, alien robot who will kick butt on the bad guys.
The semi truck is bad news in its own way. If we want to take out the speedster in the Porsche, the semi will do the job. So, a transformation keeps many things the same, but changes enough to make it noticeable.
But a metamorphosis, that’s something altogether more amazing. It’s hard to see the caterpillar when the butterfly bats those gorgeous wings in your face.
Sure, if you go to a molecular and cellular level, you’ll see they’re basically the same thing. But no one walks around with a microscope in their pocket.

Metamorphosis is a huge change, a life-altering transformation.

The caterpillar crawled but the butterfly soars. A life on the other side of metamorphic revision is more dissimilar than similar.


So, maybe I’m not shooting for a metamorphosis this year (except in the way I think…more on that later). Maybe all I want is to transform my brand so my audience can find me.
It will still be my fifty-year-old body once I get it firmed into a certain weight and fitness range. And it probably won’t look much different on the outside, but I hope it will FEEL more healthy and alive on the inside.
One step at a time, I’m making these changes. Because that’s the only way real change happens.
How would you define change? What are you hoping to change this year?

Inside a Writer’s Brain

I thought the Professional Author’s Brain (PAB) would be different. Back when I started down this road to become a published author, I accepted that disparate ideas and motivation would war against my love of story writing. I was an amateur after all, and that creative writing/professional writing degree didn’t really prepare me for reality.
Four years into the real deal, I’m not sure anything could have given me a heads-up about being a professional author. Or what really went on behind the forehead inside a PAB.
True, continual writing and seeking feedback from more skilled writers could equip me with the TOOLS I needed. But there isn’t a book or course that can tame the beast inside my brain.
I know this because I’ve read an endless stream of writing craft and career books from successful authors, and I’m still scratching my head over some aspects of the whole “author gig.” I’ve also taken multiple courses offered online and at conferences from published authors who are also competent teachers (and as an educator, I can tell the difference).
What did I get? More knowledge. More tools.

Nothing to discipline the genius inside my heart, soul and mind.

The part some people call “The Muse,” but I’m inclined to agree with Elizabeth Gilbert’s assessment that we all have a genius at our disposal, and it isn’t subject to the spurious whims of the gods.


What? You didn’t know Muse is actually a Greek goddess, patron of artists everywhere.

Now you do. And that explains her fickle game plans and unpredictable work schedule.

What I’ve learned as a professional author is that you can NOT wait for the Muse to show up before you work. You have to sit your rear in the chair and do the work.
But, the truth is: Muse work reads like poetry and my work affects me like a C-level college essay. So why write the words are going to sound so…average?
Why didn’t my brain shift into a different gear once I decided to go “pro”? Surely professional authors with a string of best sellers and a backlist that fills five Amazon screens don’t have problems tricking their brains into work mode. And their Muse must show up for eighty percent of their writing sessions.
You’d be surprised what best-selling authors do to trick their brain to do its best work. But, I can’t rely on the bag of tricks they share as “writer’s gold” in their blogs, memoirs and books on writing best sellers.
Because most of it is nothing more than fool’s gold to my brain.

My Creative Brain

I come up with ideas for stories quite easily. Too bad that’s NOT the hard part.

I might be standing in the grocery line and here are some things that would grab my creative genius:

  • The cover of a gossip rag in the magazine stand
  • A snippet of overheard conversation
  • The set of the cashier’s shoulders
  • The look a stranger gives as he passes by
  • The contents scrolling across the belt about to be purchased by the person in front of me

There’s no shortage of ideas in the world. Anyone with a spark of imagination can come up with hundreds of ideas during a one-hour brainstorming session.
In fact, I never need to brainstorm story ideas. What I need to learn is how to multiply plot points that will compel readers to turn the pages.
Because while the idea pool is deeper than the Mariana Trench and wider than the Pacific Ocean, the number of ideas which will generate an entire, interesting story or novella (forget the gargantuan required for a novel) fit in an espresso cup.


The Other Half of my Brain

And that little puddle is where the other half of my brain refuses to play. It likes the splash of plenty in the ocean of ideas.

Why narrow things down? Won’t it be more fun to play with all the interesting water puppies?
No, Brain, it only leads to frustration.

Except for when it causes plot holes. Or there’s an off chance it will peter out in the dreaded middle of the story. Maybe it locks itself in a tower and conveniently misplaces the key.

The left brain has lots of fun, but at some point the right brain (PAB) must approve all the fantasy-babble. It has to contain enough truth to suspend the reader’s disbelief. And this half of the brain is like a wet blanket on the fiery creative half.
So why can’t I convince this half of my brain to “create” like a professional author?
Because it doesn’t tends to cage the fluttering explosion of ideas and the Muse doesn’t survive behind bars.
In other words, professional authors learn to write IN SPITE of the flibbertigibbet whiff of inspiration and genius.
Me? I’m still trying to escape the beast with all my limbs intact.
What sort of things do you imagine go through a PAB? Any questions for this full-time author that might light a fire beneath the Muse?

What You Should Be Reading this Weekend

Weekends are the perfect time for cuddling up in front of a fire with a good book. It’s even better if you can get a bite-sized story that fills the one or two free hours perfectly. And I have a recommendation that fits both bills: ONE SNOWY NIGHT.

This is a new collection of four short stories released by Roane Publishing only a few days ago. Because it’s my publisher, I read the advanced copy several weeks ago. And boy did it get me in the mood for snowy nights cuddled up with my honey.

I’m not going to give you the summary. You can click over to my blog earlier in the week to read the blurbs for all the stories.

My Review

You’ll enjoy four- and five-star reads in this collection. It includes stories with traditional tropes but all of them have a twist. That’s exactly the way I enjoy my tropes.

Melissa J. Crispin takes the “I lost my memory” trope and throws it into an interesting situation. What if you forgot you were divorced? What if you woke up after an accident expecting to see your husband? Asking these questions worked for the author because the husband under consideration hadn’t wanted the divorce in the first place.

These characters weren’t especially relatable as far as careers go, but their emotions were universally understood. Although I thought the story shifted too suddenly in some areas, it was still a powerful, feel-good read that made me tear up.

Four stars.

If you haven’t read anything by T.E. Hodden, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. I’ve read several of his stories, and this one has the most “feels” of any I’ve read. Again, he uses a common trope–friends to lovers–and freshens it up with incredible stakes.

He employs two devices I’m usually NOT impressed with. The first is that most of the story is a flashback. The reason this doesn’t really work for me is because I know where the story’s going and that takes away the tension in the progression.

That didn’t happen here. In fact, I kept turning pages wondering, “Well, how did this happen?” And although I figured out the big misunderstanding fairly early, I still wanted to keep reading.

The other thing is the use of first AND second person. I especially dislike second person because I never feel the “you.” In this case, the author pulled off this strange point of view. It came across as the narrator telling the story to the love interest (the “you” of the story). Some skilled writing went into this.

Five stars.

If you like the friends to lovers trope when it’s separated by a time lapse, you’ll like Laurie Treacy‘s story. While I felt like it told us the individual stories of Danielle and Quinn rather than truly building their romance, I still enjoyed it. Part of that could have been the hometown setting, which is one I generally adore.

The characters were well-developed and I could relate to their struggles. The plot progressed very much as expected in a romance, but I never felt the budding (or revisited?) relationship was in peril, so it didn’t have the sort of tension I need to fully engage with a romance-only story.

Four stars.

The final story I read in the collection was by Charlotte Snead. “One Snowy Day” took the trope of surrogate mother to wife and twisted it by giving an incredibly unique situation as the setup. It didn’t have the same “winter afternoon” feeling as the other stories, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable and engaging.

I never connected with these characters the way I did in the other stories. The only one who had my empathy was the little girl, Molly. I wanted the aunt and dad to get together so Molly would finally have a happy home.

Four stars.

My Recommendation

If you enjoy sweet romance, you’ll want to pick up this collection. Each story offers enough familiarity to pull you right in and enough originality to keep you reading.

These aren’t holiday stories. Yes, most of them center on events that happen in the winter, but many of them span several months or years.

Once you sample these authors, you’ll be back to Roane Publishing to read more from them. And that’s a perfect way to throw support to a small indie publisher.

Don’t forget the Giveaway for a $10 gift card.

What are you reading this weekend? I hope you’ll consider adding One Snowy Night to your pile.

Time for ONE SNOWY NIGHT of Romance

Another great short story anthology from my publisher, Roane Publishing. I’ve read this collection and will post a review later this week. If you’re ready for some sweet, snowy romance, grab your copy today.

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO

ONE SNOWY NIGHT!

 
 
One Snowy Night
A Sweet Romance Anthology 
By Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: Jan 8, 2018
Check out these blurbs for the FOUR great stories waiting to entertain you on those long winter nights.
 
All the Things I Should Have Told You
 
One snowy night, in an Accident and Emergency ward, a life hangs in the balance, and your best friend is going to tell you everything you don’t know about him, about your life, and what you both might be about to lose.
 
 
Unforeseen Circumstances
 
Marlene Martin wants to start over, to escape the sad past she can’t seem to leave behind. Between her marriage falling apart and her brother passing away, she has no reason left to stay in Mistport, New York. Her pending move across the country is exactly what she needs—or so she thinks.
 
Brady Miller doesn’t want to love Marlene, not after their agonizing divorce. His constant travel for work keeps his mind off of where they went wrong. But when he moves back to his small hometown to help with his brother’s business, seeing her again awakens the feelings he had long pushed aside. Each time they bump into each other, his interest in her only deepens.
 
When Marlene wakes up in the hospital after a terrible accident, she turns to the first person who enters her mind: Brady. Her world is shattered when he reveals that they’re divorced and her brother is gone. Brady helps her sort through the pain of memories she’s forgotten while he tries to avoid complicating her life even further.
 
Is Marlene’s memory loss a second chance for their love, or will history repeat itself?
 
 
Somewhere Between Falling
 
Recent college graduate Danielle Haviland had her future planned as a bride, band PR manager, and world traveler. Her dreams are ruined when her fiancée dumps her. On top of her heartbreak, Dani’s demanding mother issues an ultimatum: choose a viable life plan by the New Year, or assume a position picked out for her in the family real estate business. Dani runs away to the beloved town of her childhood summers to heal, refocus, and decide her future.
 
Still reeling from a family tragedy, Quinn Martin has been hoping for a second chance at happiness. His old friend Dani’s return might provide the opportunity he needs. When he offers Dani a job, the two grow closer and see that time hasn’t diminished their bond. Their chemistry sparks and broken hearts begin to heal. Will the plotting of a devious ex separate the couple before they can explore the relationship both desperately crave?
 
Somewhere between falling snowflakes, a chance kiss on a city sidewalk might offer childhood friends a new beginning. 
 
 
One Snowy Day
 
When tragedy strikes again, Aunt Evvie once more steps to the rescue. Her sister attempts to poison her daughter even after her own suicide, leaving behind chocolates tainted with arsenic in her daughter’s drawer and urging her to eat them in a note. Calling Molly’s beloved aunt for help, Phillip sees her convince her niece that she is both good and lovable. Evvie surrenders her job to stay home with Molly and in in the process comes to realize her brother-in-law no longer feels like a brother. Phillip convinces Evvie to enter into a psudo-marriage to provide stability for the hurting child. After rejection and betrayal, can Phillip trust romance again? Can the Evvie, the plain, older sister, compete with her beauty-queen sister? 
 
 
 
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.

Shake Up that Routine

Let’s face it, we all like our routine. Even those people who share they decide at the “spur of the moment” brush their teeth in the same pattern every day. We are creatures of habit, and in order to embrace metamorphosis, our routine needs to be upended, thrown in the dryer, sent on three rounds of a roller coaster, and get capsized.
Research shows that one way to keep your brain sharp (and those of us in mid-life know the mind is the first thing to slip) is to make slight changes to your daily habits. Maybe you take a different route to the grocery store than usual. Or you try a new store altogether.
Something about the thought it takes to deviate from the regular daily pattern keeps the electricity charging through your brain. That’s all it takes to keep it engaged enough that it won’t conveniently forget where you hid that anniversary gift so your spouse wouldn’t find it. (Don’t worry. You’ll find it in a few years, and it will be a happy reunion.)
I started my path to metamorphosis a little early. The day after my last birthday, I cleared my schedule so I could take my car to the dealer for application of the protective package they worked hard to sell us.
Here’s all the ways this little “detour” shook up my daily routine:

  1. I had to get dressed and “presentable” a full half-hour earlier than I would for any substitute teaching job (I missed this one by five or six minutes)
  2. I had to navigate big-city traffic on unfamiliar roads between my husband’s office and the dealership
  3. First time driving into the fancy auto-door service bays, filling out paperwork and driving off in a loaner car (a smaller and not as technologically advanced version of my car)
  4. Pack up my “office” and work in the Hillsboro Public Library
  5. Eat lunch with my husband

And there were more. In fact, it turned into a L-O-O-N-G day away from home. From 7am to 8:45pm. Believe me, my cats were NOT impressed.
Neither was I as my stomached tightened when the traffic closed around me. Or when my computer battery flashed low and I was scouting for a power outlet in an unfamiliar environment.

My stomach rebelled at more non-home-cooked food.

My brain cells? They were firing like an Independence Day fireworks barge. Sparks were flying. Old neural pathways were zapped while new neural highways settled into place.
In fact, I sense enough of a shake up that I can return to my daily routine for six to eight weeks without harm to my aging gray matter. (This is NOT research-based information. More like wishful thinking.)
This single day may have been an earthquake in my world of happy routines, but it didn’t hurt me. I managed to edit pages in the quiet of the library. My internal navigation system didn’t lead me into mighty detours.


Did I change into a butterfly-like creature of Portland traffic? Not hardly. After all, change is a process, not a single epic event.
What can you do to shake up your daily routine? Have you tried this will less-than-happy results?

Another New Year: Another New Word

It’s January. Again. Another new year. And around here that means a new theme or focus word.
This year’s word blindsided me shortly after we returned from our Branson vacation. I kept seeing a form of this word and as I was working through the ramblings from National Novel Writing Month that became some of December’s blog posts, I was struck by it.
Transform. Transforming. Transformation.
But that sounded too much like Transformers (”more than meets the eye”) so I immediately put my wordy nerd brain into thesaurus mode.
What did I come up with?

Was 2017 Dauntless?

Maybe you forgot that I’d chosen to be dauntless in 2017.


Just choosing the word was like a double-dog-dare to the enemy of the soul.
No matter how much I tried, I could never find the mindset of fearlessness I needed to plow ahead.
Instead, troubles, trials, and transitions bombarded me until I sat down in a heap with my arms over my head.
Hardly the image of a dauntless author chasing the publishing contract she KNEW she would get in 2017.
All of that makes me leery of choosing something daunting again for this year.

Metamorphosis Defined

When I think of metamorphosis, I think of the change of a furry caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. That’s probably why you’ll see so many butterflies in the next few months as I’m inundating myself with this word.
But, aside from the biological definition, what is a metamorphosis? Dictionary.com says it’s “a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic; any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.”
So what does that mean for me? Am I changing from human into something else? I don’t think so. And the only magic that will be used is the grace of God.
I’m hoping the make changes in a few areas of my life, though. The biggest one is right here in my writing world.
Maybe you’ve already noticed the difference in my website. I hope you like the changes, but they aren’t done. I’m working on making it “look” and “feel” more like me.
The other thing is that this year I will focus my writing—almost exclusively—on Christian markets. This is a huge change for me, and it makes me more than a tad nervous.
The biggest motivator of this change is the Kindle Worlds contracts. I have a minimum of three more novellas for the First Street Church in the works for 2018.
I’m still going to do at least two projects with my independent publisher—romances. They know I’m changing my focus, and they’re supportive of my decisions. It’s one of the things that I like the best about them.

How it will look in my Life

My metamorphosis isn’t going to take me from a size six to a size zero. Or in the other direction to a size sixteen.
I’m planning on being disciplined in my exercise and eating until I reach the optimal weight for my height and age, but it’s hardly going to look like a transformation.
No butterfly wings for this fluffy girl.
Since my focus in writing is becoming more spiritual, the area I expect to morph into something mega is in my spirit. I’ve got a planner that helps me align my thinking along these lines.
The two nonfiction projects I’m planning for this year are both Bible-based. It’s time I powered through the grief handbook once and for all. So that’s a priority for this year.
And I didn’t write a new study book in 2017. That’s the other project I’m requiring of myself. I’ve got tons of ideas (of course) but I need to narrow them into a single topic that can be dissected over ten to twelve lessons.
Your ideas are welcome, as always.
Do you choose a theme or word of the year? What was your 2017 word? What will you focus on this year.

Why Resistance to Change is Futile

Warning: in this post you will see a TON of cliches thrown around. It’s because I’m trying to make a point about facing life changes. The Borg in me knows “Resistance is Futile,” but still I resist.

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.

Words slung around with verve.

How ironic. Change means “to make different from what would be if left alone,” and constant means “not changing or varying; uniform; regular; invariable.” Although in this case the third definition for constant is more fitting: “regularly recurrent; continual.”

In other words, things are always changing.

But we often resist change.


If we have to change, then we want to snap our fingers and be changed. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s a process. It’s a journey.
In fact, life is the progressive change of an infant through adulthood. If considered in that way, we wouldn’t want to remain an infant forever. Some people are stuck in such a state and they’re deemed disabled.
Meaning, if you can’t change then you’re hindered at living.
The process of living is the pathway of change. A baby learns to eat and walk. It grows and can soon run and talk. The first few years are filled with rapid growth and change.

And if that growth doesn’t occur, parents are quick to consult a specialist. They need to fix it. It would be horrible to get stuck in a formative stage.
But when an older person is faced with change, the tables turn.

“It’s always been this way.”
“It’s worked this way for years, so why change now.”
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Bring on the cliches. As many of them exist indicating humanity’s resistance to change as those encouraging growth.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter M. Senge

Let’s analyze this saying in reference to Empty Nest Syndrome.

It isn’t that we don’t want our children to grow up into responsible adults that live on their own. It’s that we want to remain attached to them, an important part of their life.
We are still parents but our ROLE is being changed. And we don’t get to say how it will change. That’s up to our children.
Moving to an empty nest is one of the changes I faced in recent years. But it certainly wasn’t the hardest one.
It became easier to accept when I focused on what I was gaining rather than what I was losing. Sure, the kids were moving out and wouldn’t be around as much, relying on me as much. But that meant we had a guest room and I could redecorate it. It meant cooking less and less mess to clean up. Suddenly, I only had to consult one other person’s schedule before making plans.
Plenty of changes are forced on us. We lose a loved one, and you can bet we didn’t choose that. We know resistance is futile, but still we drag our feet about entering the valley of grief. We hold memories close, revel in the pity of loss.
And we can stay there a long time. It’s up to us to stop resisting, to get moving forward, to go through the process.

Remember, change is a process.

And, yes, I’m going somewhere with this post. In fact, writing and re-reading it was part of my process for evaluating 2017 and brainstorming words for my 2018 theme.

You’ll have to come back next year to see the end results.

What’s the biggest change you’ve faced? Did you resist it? Why or why not?

Merry Christmas from your Favorite Author

It’s Monday. But it’s a Monday like no other. Because today is Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

I pray it will be a day full of joy and family and contentment. If the Christ of Christmas has his way, it will be a day of peace and good will, in your heart if not in all the earth.

And if I have anything to say about it…there will be something sweet to eat and enough laughter to make your sides ache.

Since I didn’t take you on a tour of the Ozarks when I went there, how about a little Missouri for Christmas?

On the day we arrived, there was a parade through town and up to a lighted nativity displayed on the hill. These period actors were going the wrong way on the route about fifteen minutes before the parade started.

Adoration Parade, Branson, MO on December 3, 2107

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This parade consisted of a dozen floats (most sponsored by churches) and more marching bands than I’ve ever seen in one place before. Oh, and random shepherds.

This is one of the school bands whose uniforms I liked.

This is the sunrise I gasped over and made my husband get up early to photograph. And the picture doesn’t do it justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our shopping trip to Branson Landing. This is my cousin and his lovely wife. Yes, I’m short. Thanks for noticing.

We took a road trip on our road trip…to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Home of the Christ of the Ozarks. It’s 64 feet tall (the face is 15 feet tall). And, yes, that is a large nativity at the base of the sculpture. It was c-o-l-d up on that hill, even though the sun was shining.

Christ of the Ozarks overlooking Eureka Springs, AR

My favorite part of the trip to Branson was on the last evening. We attended the dinner show at the Dixie Stampede.

The pre-show act: a band of brothers singing bluegrass
This guy was too embarrassed to show his face, but his dressage was incredible.
One of the Palomino “sisters” involved in the Roman ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, there was a land grab in Oklahoma? Anyway, this huge sculpture is near the large Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma City.

Galloping your horse in a crowd on rough prairie land is dangerous.

The entire reason for the pit stop in Oklahoma City: my beautiful Aunt Betty.

Merry Christmas to my Oklahoma family who faithfully read this blog.

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

 

What’s in Your Garage?

My husband likes buying new cars. At least, it seems like he does because he’s doing it every few years—four years being the maximum he can endure without car shopping. So our garage sees plenty of inhabitants.

Me? I don’t like the car buying process.

I mean, it’s fun to see the pretty colors and drive the sporty models. The new car aroma is intoxicating in its own way.

But car salesmen…even the good ones…talk too much and listen too little.

Even walking in with “cash” didn’t make the process more speedy.

It’s like they have to play their little “numbers” game. No matter what.

And the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of new gadgetry, and that includes new vehicles. I learn the ins and outs of my rig, and it becomes a member of my extended family.

If I had my way, I’d still be driving my 1998 Durango. I adored that guy (Shari’s Tough Machine) but when gas prices sky-rocketed and my sons started driving their own vehicles rather than riding with us, my husband decided I needed something ….more economical? In truth, I’m rather vague on this point.

Anyway, he likes new and shiny. I’m not a fan of monthly payments. Usually we’re at an impasse.

Or he gets a new job one week and purchases a Mustang the next. Because…why not?

And if I say “I want a…” then he sees it as his mission in life to get that for me.

Five years ago, it was an Audi Q5. At the time, they were behind on the technology of syncing all your devices with your car and using it as a WiFi hot spot. But, man did that baby handle like a sports car. Acceleration…yep. Cornering at speed…oh, yeah.

*Grin stretches off her face*

But it was out of the price range. And I decided at that time, I would get a solid book contract with a $50,000 advance and pay cash for the amazing driving machine.

And boy did that motivate me to produce novels at the rate of four per year.

Not that I sold a single one of them. In fact, only one per year met the advanced rewriting, revising and editing stages so it could be pitched to agents and publishers.

But…there was a carrot dangling. And it was shiny…and hugged the road like a Porsche 911 (exact words the salesman used on my first test drive).

And now it’s in my garage. There’s a monthly payment attached.

And, no, I don’t have a book contract that paid a sizable advance. In fact, none of my book contracts (yes, I have many) includes advance payment. Which is fine. Because now that I know how that works, I’d rather wait until I’m a best-selling author before anyone bets on me that way.

But what’s going to motivate me to keep writing novels at a break-neck pace now that the sporty SUV is hanging out on the other side of my office wall? Maybe the idea of paying the loan of early.

It doesn’t have the same compulsive sound to it.

What’s in your garage? A car? Boxes? A crafting area?

Lessons from a Parking Lot

It’s going on 6:00 pm. I’ve got a date in a room with a dozen other writers for something called Late Night Write, a specific brand of National Novel Writing Month torture. And I promised them chocolate.

Fred Meyer is only a couple blocks from my house. On the way to the next town over where the librarian who is also the organizer of the write-ins reserved a room at the library after closing hours. I’ll stop by the store, rush into the Christmas candy section, snag a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures (something for everybody in there) and be on my way in a snap.

Or not.

Instead, everyone will choose to drive down the row where I parked. The man next to me will pull out at the same time I stick my vehicle in reverse without so much as a glance behind him. Good thing the guy in the pickup truck was respectfully waiting for me.

The armored vehicle is parked along the curb across from the exit from my row. All traffic is squished into a single line.
Here are the things I learned that night:

  • Trucks pulling trailers should not squeeze by in a single lane
  • There are polite drivers who will let you into the congested stream of unmoving traffic
  • Plenty of drivers are myopic. Watch out for them because they don’t see anyone else
  • The traffic flow from the gas pumps stymies the regular pattern
  • If someone lets you in, you need to pay it forward and let someone in
  • If you let too many someones in, the seemingly-polite driver who showed you favor might morph into a Gremlin who lays on the horn
  • People don’t walk and talk on the cell phone at the same time very effectively if it requires dodging a snaking snarl of slow-moving vehicles

All in all, I’ve determined that unless there is an emergency, I won’t be returning to Fred Meyer or any other grocery store with a gas station in its parking lot on a Friday in the vicinity of 6:00pm.

On a positive note, it gave me something fresh to write about when I got to the room powered by creative energy.

What lessons have you learned from a parking lot?