Writing on a Whim

More poetry from my vaults today. Hopefully, my writing whims aren’t spotlighting the whimsy within me.

(Yes, I do love my alliteration.)

Today’s offering is quite whimsical. I played with the words and penned them on the page.

Background: On this day, I had been brooding about the lack of new ideas and inspiration I’d been feeling. In the wake of National Novel Writing Month, I often find my creative soul a little parched. But I read a few turns of phrase in Proverbs 30 and an idea for a superhero-quest story spilled from nowhere.

Or somewhere. But us writerly types can never really pinpoint the exact source or motivation.

This untitled poem was only written a couple of months ago, December 30, 2016.

Ideas
spin through my pen
spurred by a word
inspired by a title
Wind in his Fists
Not the first time it called to me.

Notes
scribbled in dribbles
scattered by tatters
indulging a whim
Water in Garments
Superhero meet Elemental: A Trilogy

Heroes
stutter what they utter
strange what they arrange
involved with others
End of Earth
A quest against an unknown enemy.

Since this time, I’ve figured out who the villain is for these books. I know what he wants and why. Which means this could be a project that eventually comes front and center during my writing office hours.

All those pages of scribbles might find their way into a story after all.

Do you like to make notes in long hand? How do you get your best ideas? What process do you use to refine your ideas?

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

The Difference Between Heart and Soul

Writing is my calling. Sometimes the words pour directly from my heart onto the page.

Other times, it’s my soul that gets exposed.

Those creations are often the ones that remain secreted away in a spiral notebook or journal, too private for general consumption. A few of them make it into a document on the computer.

Most are locked away in the privacy of this writer’s treasure chest.

Some of them are more like blood stains than works of art. Although, some morbid artist might use blood stains to inspire a painting. Or prick a finger to add blood to the canvas she’s working on.

Here is an untitled poem from October 9, 2016. Hopefully it will give you an idea about how different forms of writing affect me.

A Novel
so many words
characters, arcs
a plot line, sub plot
all tied in a bow
with conflict and tension
more believable than life

A Story
burning from within
trails life on the page
fewer words with
a louder message
as much trouble
with less time

A Poem
bleeds emotions
metaphors, alliteration
pictures a moment
deep in heart or soul
whispers barren truth
in short bursts of verse

Yes, the process I use for each of these is as different as the outcome. The above poem is a first and final draft. Such a thing will never happen with a short story. A novel involves hours of preparation before the first words ever make it to the page.

Is it the length that causes the difference? The content? The method of delivery?

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

Life, Time and other Non-renewable Resources

Sometimes I still write in a journal. And every now and then that entry takes shape as a poem.

Here is one such poem written on July 11, 2014.

Life, Time & other Non-Renewable Resources

No ticking clocks
change the passage of time
Not one whit
Limited minutes
roll into hours
Carefully spend them
they can’t be regained.
Soon hours are days
Days, months
until years of time
sucked down the drain of
procrastination,
Broken promises,
reveal a life
past its prime
still waiting for a dream
Regretting the conservation of time
Neglected
In this non-renewable
resource know as
Life

What are some other non-renewable resources you wish you had conserved more wisely?

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

It’s the Future. What’s to Fear?

In the dauntless world of 2017, I’m facing down the future. I mean, it’s not even here, so how can it scare me?

Because the thing we don’t know is the one we fear the most.

Right?

I had complete confidence in my doctor when I had my surgery a few weeks ago. But I was a little uneasy about the whole idea of being put to sleep and waking up when it was all over.

Isn’t there a fine line between trust and stupidity?

Really, I was nervous because I’d never been under general anesthesia before. It was an unknown. Everyone could tell me all about how it happened for them (and believe me, none of them remember anything either. How do we know something crazy didn’t happen in that OR?), but I still wasn’t completely reassured.

Until I was prying open my eyelids and begging for ice chips in the recovery room.

Everything was over. It went according to plan. Nothing untoward was discovered.

Who was nervous? It wasn’t me.

Plans

I’m one of those people who makes plans. I outline the projects I’m going to work on and the vacations I want to take.

This makes me feel more comfortable about the future. I’ve got a handle on it now that there’s an inkling about what to expect.

Other people don’t want to plan because it raises their expectations. And then if things don’t turn out the way they planned, they get depressed or disillusioned.

Whatever floats your boat.

But if you know winter is coming and you don’t buy a heavy coat, who do you have to blame when you freeze your rear off at the bus stop?

Ignorance

Not everyone is all about planning for the future and setting goals. Maybe doing that makes them even more anxious.

But don’t swath yourself in garments of ignorance, as if tomorrow won’t come if you don’t think about it.

It’s coming. Time flows forward.

Isn’t it better to be prepared than caught unaware?

Do you fear the future? What about it makes you craziest?

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

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

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


		

I Want to be a Libriomancer

Books are magical. Reading transports you to a different place and time and introduces you to more people than you could ever hope to meet. That’s why I want to be a libriomancer.
You might be scratching your head, wondering what I’m talking about. If you’re a geek who knows some Latin, you might realize this has something to do with books and magic.

If you’re a fan of the Magic Ex Libris Series by Jim C. Hines, you know exactly what I’m talking about. (Still not sure, read my review of his earlier books in the series).

What is a Libriomancer?

Libriomancer-FullA libriomancer is a person who can draw magic from books.

I know, I think I’ve been one by that definition for most of my life. And I know C. S. Lewis was one because he transported me to Narnia via book dozens of times.

In Hines’ world, a libriomancer can access the magic inside a book to draw objects from the book.

You’d like an Invisibility Cloak? A libriomancer could grab one out of Harry Potter’s closet (if only those Harry Potter books weren’t locked. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read Libriomancer, book one of the series).

The “librarian” who is the hero of the series is pulling Lucy’s bottle of healing potion out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in every installment. Fighting evil is a dangerous business. Best to be prepared for the worst.

                                              How does this work?

People read books. The more people who read the book and suspend their disbelief to embrace the story, the more magic potential that waits inside a book.

There are limits. The object has to be small enough that it would fit through the covers of the book. I suggest huge hardbacks for working these spells, so you can make certain Excalibur makes it out of King Arthur’s hand intact.

The magician has an innate sense of magic. They must be able to fully picture the object they want to pull from the book in their mind. Small imaginations need not apply.

Why I Want to be One

I fit all the qualifications for libriomancy.

  • I read books.
  • I have a great imagination.
  • I can recall scenes with vivid detail that’s just crazy considering how many books I’ve read.
  • I have a desire to be innately connected to a magical continuum.

In fact, since I’ve been claiming books are magic portals for years, I should be at the front of the line for receiving the gift of libriomancy.
Also, I’m conscientious. I wouldn’t abuse my power.
What other qualities do I need?

Book-ReviewA Review of Revisionary

Recently, I joined a Facebook book club (more on that later—maybe). One of the founding authors for the group asked what the best book we’d read this year would be.

Revisionary by Jim C. Hines was at the top of my list.
Revisionary-199x300
Even though I didn’t give it five shiny stars (I found a few things a mite of a stretch), it was the book I wanted to read the most that didn’t disappoint me.

I love Isaac Vainio, and I was wondering how things were working out for him since the wider world discovered the existence of magic and magical creatures at the end of book three.

As you can imagine, governments are trying to regulate magic while also exploiting it for their own purposes.

Magical creatures are starting to unite against humans. Humans fear them, so they want them crowded onto reservations and registered like firearms. Since they aren’t human, they don’t have protection under the U.S. Constitution.

The political finagling in this book rivals spy novels.

And we know how much Isaac adores jumping through hoops and cutting through red tape.

Lots of action in this book to keep you turning pages. Plenty of clues and twists keep you guessing to the end whose the mastermind behind the plot behind the plot of the plotters.

Readers of fantasy will love this book. Yes, there is some foul language. However, other adult themes are kept to a minimum.

The Surprise

The most startling thing to me about reading this fourth book in this contemporary fantasy series was learned when I read the acknowledgements.

Most of the time I skim these things. I know! As an author, I should read them. I understand how it takes a village to get a book from the idea stage to a library shelf.

Still, I don’t know most of the people mentioned.

I also don’t know much of anything about most of my favorite authors. I’ve never been one of those people who joins fan clubs and follows every media account of a celebrity. Even one I like.

Color me shocked when I discovered Mr. Hines was not a full-time author.

Excuse me? He’s writing these amazing books at a rate of once per year or so and that’s not his JOB?

Well, it wasn’t his job. With four books in a successful series, Mr. Hines has now donned the cape of insanity. He joins the rest of us spending his days holed up in an office with imaginary friends.

I’m thrilled. I hope that means there will be more books in this series I dearly love.

And if he could grant me the power of libriomancy…all the better.

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

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

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

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

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

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

I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

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

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

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

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

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

Surrendering Fear

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

What’s with that anyway?

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

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

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

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

psalm-27-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the rest of her post, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

		

The Word for 2017

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

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

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

A Divergent World

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

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

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

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

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

dauntless_definition

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

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

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

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

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

Design Your Destiny

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

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

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

I came up with courage, confidence and fearless.

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

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

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

Except…courage was so…overused.

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

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

word_2017

So courage was swallowed and my word was cemented.

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

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

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

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


		

A Year of Gratitude

In 2016, I focused on building an attitude of gratitude.

And I really wanted to do it every single day.

So I created my own hashtag on Twitter and started bombarding my social media followers with a new meme every day. Remember? #365DaysofGratitude

You probably already saw them all, but I thought I’d share the favorites of my followers from each month. What better way to recap a year of gratitude, right?

January

d15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February

d47

March

d72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April

d114

May

d143

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June

d172

Whew! We made it half way. Believe me, I was struggling to come up with fresh ideas by this time. That’s why there may have been a few similarities.

And you’ll notice how the format of the memes changed slightly. That’s because I hired a social media Jedi Master to help me streamline my all-over-the-place brand.

Did she do a good job?

July

d201

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August

d228

September

d268

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October

d304

November

d324

And the Last Month of the Year (if you get the Christmas song reference, comment please!)

d341

And that’s a wrap. 366 days of memes to remind me of all I have to be grateful for.

Now. Let’s finish out 2016 with positive thoughts, and hold on to them for the rest of our lives.

What are you grateful for this year?

Setting Goals You Can Reach

Last week, I wrote about how small goals got me published. And I talked about the three-step process I used to attain that goal. But does that help you set goals you can reach?

Because if you can’t set reachable goals, you’re never going to move from where you are now to where you want to be.

During this month, I’ve been working through a weekly course by Kimberly Job. It’s helping me plan my writing and personal goals for 2017.

2017 is the year…

  • I sign a traditional publishing contract for a novel
  • I pitch my nonfiction book proposal at a conference
  • I get my first 1000 subscribers to my mailing list
  • I publish my third Bible study book

And all of these things are going to happen because I’m working step-by-step plans for each and every one of them.

These aren’t small goals. My post last week suggested starting small, so if you’re new to the whole “reaching goals” mentality, please read that post.

Starting small will keep you from giving up. I promise.

But if you’re ready to tackle something bigger, read on.

Evaluation

This is the most important step in setting goals.

Unfortunately, it’s also the one people tend to rush or ignore.

No wonder they aren’t reaching their goals.

Kimberly Job of Sublime Reflection spurred me to evaluate myself more deeply than I have in other years. She offered a free four-week course and the first week was all about this step.

You can check out that course here.

Here are the categories she uses in this process:

  • Memories and accomplishments
  • Self and relationships
  • Struggles and challenges
  • Lessons learned

Before you set out to make any goals, take time to journal through 2016 in each of these areas. You might be surprised what you discover about your successes.

Also, this reflection should focus your thoughts on what is possible and what doesn’t work. Both of these things are important to know before you can establish attainable goals.

Brainstorming

The Sublime Reflection course spends the entire second week on brainstorming.

If you’re not a fan of brainstorming, I know you screwed your face into a wrinkle-causing grimace.

Stop!

The way the course breaks your life into ten segments and has you generate ideas specific to those makes the process run smoothly.

My favorite part was coloring the Wheel of Balance. It also showed me which areas of my life needed my attention.

Wouldn’t you like to know where to focus your attention in 2017?

Why set another goal of “exercising more” if that’s really not what you need to do in order to reach the bottom line you want?

And what does “exercise more” even mean? You’ll need to make your goals narrow and specific in order to know if you’ve reached them.

Here are the ten areas of life according to Ms. Job:

  • Marriage/relationship
  • Family & friends
  • Fun
  • Spirituality
  • Finances
  • Giving
  • Personal development
  • Physical environment
  • Health & fitness
  • Career

Can you guess which areas received the lowest rank in my world? What tops your list?

After I discovered my three very weak and two additional not-strong categories, I brainstormed a list of things I would like to accomplish in each area. Job encouraged us to list at least five in every category…and to leave the lid off.

Yes, if there were no constraints, what would you like to do with your career? Or your physical environment?

The thing about letting out the crazy dreams during brainstorming is that sometimes we realize they might not be so crazy after all. Not if we can figure out how to build a series of baby steps to reach them.

Nailing it Down

You can’t do it all.

Thinking you can will lead to failure. Sure, it might give you a false sense of accomplishment for a few weeks or months.

Then the stress will blindside you. And the urge to pack up your pencils and bury yourself beneath the covers will rear up.

This is why I have limited myself to ONE goal in each of the four areas of my life. (These areas are spiritual, physical, relational and career.)

If I set the goal too low, I can always add another goal once the first is reached. But I’ll be able to check off a box.

“I reached that goal this year.”

It feels great to make that mark.

The important thing about your goals is to make them specific.

For example, my career goal is not “sign a publishing contract.” That’s pretty broad.

Instead, it looks like this:

Sign a contract for ELEPHANT IN THE TEAROOM with a major publishing house

If I sell the book to a small press, I won’t have reached this goal. Of course, I might decide that’s a fair compromise and don’t need to consider that a failure.

But setting a specific goal will make me work furiously on the rewrites and edits for this manuscript so I can start querying agencies in February or March. Because it will take six to nine months to get a response once they ask for the full manuscript.

Goals Require Plans

Each one of the goals you set for 2017 requires it’s own plan of action.

People don’t get published on accident.

People don’t lose weight without working at it (unless they’re ill and then that’s not a good thing).

Your life will not get better if you don’t take steps toward making it better.

I talked about creating a plan last week. Check out that post or follow the links to other wise planners below.

4 Tips

Setting Goals

Action 16

What’s the best goal-setting advice you’ve ever received?

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

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

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