Tag: love

My Love-Hate Relationship with Travel

It’s been a mild winter. And except for the excess of gray days, I’m dealing with it rather than dreaming about escaping to a land of blue skies, tank tops and all natural Vitamin D. Still, there are travel plans in my winter.
This time, it’s a “work” trip. I’m attending my first ever writer’s retreat, and it just happens to be in Destin, Florida. (I know, how sad to travel to Florida in February).
A couple days before my departure, Old Man Winter decides to make a visit to the Pacific Northwest. That nice guy dumped several inches of snow on the ground after teasing us with the idea several times during January and February. This storm will blow over before my flights are affected.
Or an Arctic system will drop on top of the mass of moisture, depositing more snow on my front lawn.
My husband drove through sideways snowfall to take me to the airport. It wasn’t bad enough to cancel or delay my flight, was it?

Nope.

I arrived in San Francisco (I’m taking a circuitous route to the Emerald Coast, one of the things I don’t love about traveling) early. Excellent. Plenty of time to find breakfast and lunch to take on the next flight.
There’s a funny story here about a misplaced spoon for consuming the yogurt parfait I purchased for breakfast. Punch line: I found the plastic utensil in my purse after I’d finished eating the yogurt.
Everything’s on time as we travelers board the plane heading to Houston (this is the longest flight on my trip). “All systems are go,” says the pilot (okay, he didn’t say that but that’s what he meant).
Then we sit at the gate. Alas, the plane backs up. This false hope is followed by a brief respite a few feet away from the gate.

“Our runway assignment is changed,” the pilot informs us. (Yes, he actually said that.)

He taxis the 737 away from the gates. San Francisco Bay comes into view (I didn’t realize it was so large until we flew over it earlier) to the right of the plane. My window seat offers me an impressive view of flocks of waterbirds living large in the eddies along the edge of the runways.
Blue skies mean nothing. There are gusting winds in San Francisco, forcing the Air Travel Know-alls to require all flights into SFO to use the same runway as those departing.

For once I didn’t envision a mid-air crash. I have places to be.

At some point (about 40 minutes after the stated departure time), the plane picks up speed and we’re in the air.
I won’t bore you with the mundane details.
Suffice it to say that this flight landed at Houston about 30 minutes before my final flight was supposed to depart.
It landed in Terminal C. My next flight is on a small express shuttle, and those depart from Terminal B.
I’ve never been to Houston. I have no idea how near (or far) these terminals are. My husband is texting me with details about some Sky Tram, but I see no signs for it. I do see arrows pointing to Terminal B.
So I walk. Make that a power walk (which is about 1 mph faster than my normal walk, 4 mph. Let’s face it some people don’t even jog at 5 mph, so I’m rushing through the airport, dodging slow travelers, and trying not to bowl over those people who wander like sleepwalkers.)

When I make it to the B Terminal, they haven’t announced my flight. Whew!

My shoulder throbs from the pressure of my laptop bag. My feet flame like the friction of walking ignited them.
The flight is announced. We head down stairs into another tunnel of gates. Then we stand in our respective boarding group lines for close to 30 minutes.
Waiting on a crew.
I ran through the airport for this? I’m panicking about missing my shuttle to the retreat and the CREW OF ONE meant to serve us a drink and hand us a pack of ten mini pretzels hasn’t arrived?
There are a few bags that haven’t made it either. Other people’s connecting flights arrived late. As a woman on my previous flight informed me, “If you have checked luggage, they won’t leave without it.”
Eventually, I made it to my destination. I didn’t miss the shuttle. There were four other women waiting to catch it too.


But all this heart-pounding had me thinking about my love-hate relationship with travel. What do I love about it? What do I not like?

Things I love about traveling:

  • Seeing new places
  • Escaping rain to find sunshine
  • An excuse to eat trail mix
  • Trying new food
  • Experiencing new cultures

A list of hateful travel possibilities:

  • Crowds of people
  • Late flights
  • Traffic
  • Delayed flights
  • Screaming babies and small children
  • Chatty seat mates
  • Airplane restrooms

Don’t judge me for these short lists. I really do enjoy traveling. But I’m not a huge fan of traveling by myself.
This is why I’m married to Mr. World Traveler (aka Mr. Wonderful) because he always takes care of the headache-inducing aspects of travel. And if that isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is.
Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite mode of travel? What don’t you like about that mode?

Love Summer Romance? Get ready for ONE SULTRY DAY

Another new book from me? Two in one week? Well, this one is in the early stages. This week my publisher is revealing the cover and blurb information.

I’ve always been a fan of summer romance. Last year, I got a great idea for a “meet cute” while I was hiking with my best friend from high school. She’ll be shocked to discover I’ve dedicated this story to her, I’m sure.

What? You don’t know what a meet cute is? That’s when the two individuals who will fall in love in the book (story) first meet.

If you’ve read my other stories, here are some examples. It’s when Ashlyn hit Dylan with her car (“Dream Architect” in the ACCIDENTAL VALENTINE anthology). For Marcus and Ronnie in the Virtual Match novellas, it’s when they first meet in the coffee shop. (“That geek is the one sending me those too hot to handle texts and emails?”)

Anyway, enough about this subject. You’re all here to see the amazing cover and hear about the new stories.

Roane Publishing proudly presents:

ONE SULTRY DAY – A Sweet Romance Anthology

Featuring FOUR summer romances by FOUR different authors

Buy it at your favorite online retailer August 6, 2018

Blurbs

Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar

University drop-out and current barista, Sandi Fletcher-Bain upgrades to a position as a quality controller for a new agency established by her friend Jess. An agency designed to provide escorts for discerning women.  Anything’s better than driving an espresso machine. Despite her shattered ego after a disastrous breakup, Sandi decides to try it for a month.

Sadly, the assessments aren’t any more fun than making espresso. The first subject, Jeremy Miller, gets the Aunt Freda special and Sandi manages to send him running for the last train back to the city.  Her second assessment is ruined by an accidental meeting with her ex-fiancé Simon.

Back at the cafe, things get more complicated when Jeremy looks her up wanting a do-over. When Jess says Simon has applied to be an escort, Sandi is forced to explain why she broke off their engagement and why Jess shouldn’t hire him.

The bigger question: why is Jeremy no longer available?

Ghosts of Summers Past by T.E. Hodden

For five years Bunny has never once felt alone. He has been haunted by the tragedy that stole Hanna, his first true love from him, and has always felt her presence on one shoulder, and blame on the other.

Now Alice, a minor star from the show he writes, is on the verge of becoming more than just a friend, and the sun-baked palm beaches are almost feeling like home.

Can Bunny face the ghosts of his past? Or is history about to repeat itself in the most terrible of ways?

Love Unexpected by Sharon Hughson

Grad student Ivory Konner relishes a summer of guiding rafts on the Wenatchee River far from the expectations of her parents and the reminders of her recent dumping. She isn’t looking for romance when a thin guy and his dog nearly send her plummeting off a hiking trail.

Cancer survivor Prescott Colyer drops out of college, escapes to his uncle’s photo gallery in Leavenworth, WA, and quietly pursues his art. But when a collision on a hike exposes him to pain-free physical contact, he risks everything for a girl who’s not interested in romance, not even for the summer.

Once Ivory connects with Prescott’s art, she offers to help him build a business. As they spend time together, her heart takes on its own mission.

Can their unexpected encounter urge Prescott out of isolation? Will Ivory include love in her long-term plan?

Second Chance Summer by Lily Carlyle

Twenty years ago, Summer and Jason’s summer romance seemed destined to last. Until Summer abruptly broke it off, with little explanation. Heartbroken, Jason leaves the Outer Banks—indeed, the entire East Coast—waiting two decades to return. When he comes home to settle his great-aunt’s estate, one of the first people he sees is Summer.

She’s ready to tell him the truth about that summer. But is he ready to listen?

A Sneak Peek Inside

Because this is my blog, and you are my favorite people in all of Readerville, I’m going to give you a glimpse inside this story.

This is from the submitted, unedited manuscript, so no guarantees that it will look precisely the same when you see it in print come August.

From chapter one of “Love Unexpected”:

A dog’s bark echoed from below. The portion of trail Ivory glimpsed seemed clear, but many people had brought their canine friends on the expedition. The deep tone of this bark reminded Ivory of her worst childhood memory, being chased down by a huge dog that bit her calf.

Her heart pounded as the recollection replayed. Or maybe it was from the pace she’d set, because she was practically jogging down the mountain.

The switchback disappeared around a corner of jutting rock and dirt. Ivory’s feet slid on loose pebbles. She threw her hands out for balance, glancing at the sheer edge only inches from her misbehaving hikers. When she glanced up again, a German Shepherd trotted around the bend, nearly slamming into her knees.

“Whoa.”

Her soles scrabbled on the lip of the trail, forward momentum careening her toward the drop. She thrust her shoulder toward the hillside and slammed into the lens of a camera. Pain spiked through her shoulder, but her racing mind screamed about the edge.

She lifted her gaze from the drop off only to headbutt the camera’s owner in the nose. He grunted and arms whipped around her waist. Together, they tumbled against the hillside. His head snapped back and his chin smacked her brow bone.

Ivory threw her hands up to stop another collision, placing them on shoulders barely wider than her own. Her stinging eyes riveted on a face inches away. A pointy chin tilted down and black hair, askew and sporting a dent from a hat, flipped in the wake of the abrupt halt.

Ivory stared into dark eyes, shocked by the striking amber ring around the iris. Something nudged against her legs, pinning her against the stranger. His camera dug into her collar bone.

“Sorry.” The word escaped on a wheezy breath.

“Rem, back up.” His tenor voice coughed out the command.

Ivory flattened her hands on his chest, noting slight definition beneath the breathable fabric. Pressure eased from her legs, but when she tried to inch backwards, her heel met resistance.

The stranger’s mouth puckered and Ivory leaned her head away, heart diving against her breastbone again. A sharp whistle pierced the air, and the block against her feet moved.

Hands rested on her hips, hot even through the layers under her sweatshirt. Ivory slithered backward, sighing once her body was free from the agony of the camera’s press.

“Are you okay?” His eyes stared into hers, the corona of light in their depths snaring her attention. “I should have had Rem heeling.”

Help Spread the News

There will be a blog tour and a release blitz for this title. If you want to get a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review, that’s also an option.

Click on the button below to fill out the form. Someone from Roane Publishing will get back to you with details and all the information you need.

Who’s ready for summer? ME! And that includes a little (fictional) summer romance, too.

The Final Chapter is Here!

Veronica Shay was born in my imagination more than two years ago. Today, the final installment of her love story hits the shelves of digital bookstores everywhere.


It’s bittersweet for me. I rejoice in the birth of another book into the wide world (and hopefully into the hands, heads and hearts of hundreds of readers). But it’s also a goodbye.
If you’ve been following Ronnie and Marcus’ romance, grab your copy of the final chapter now.
Maybe you’re new to the world of Sharon Hughson. Let me introduce you to my friend (and ofttimes nemesis) Veronica Shay. She had a little problem at her sister’s wedding (now that’s a story no one has read…and I have a surprise for you) and it sent her straight to Virtual Match. Anything to stop the well-meaning set-ups and continual nagging of her family—especially her mother.

You can read all about that in Reality Meets its Match.

Now available

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a romance if Ronnie kept her Virtual Match at arm’s length. Things get real for her and Marcus in Reality Bites. And if the title doesn’t give you a clue, I can tell you reality slams Marcus and Ronnie hard in the second installment.
Grab your copy of Reality Bites now.


If you’re still not sure whether this series is for you, here’s an exclusive sneak peek inside the final chapter.
This comes from chapter four of the latest ebook:

Marcus pulled Ronnie against his side, and she nestled under his arm like a kitten seeking warmth. His hand squeezed her waist while his chin tapped the top of her head.
“Thanks for coming.” Her voice was hushed, as if a normal tone might wake the babies.
“Stop thanking me. I wouldn’t have let you come alone.”
An independent part of her raised its back at what sounded like overbearing words. Ronnie shoved the ire away. Marcus wanted to take care of her in the same way she wanted to take care of her brother.
Movement beyond the second nursery caught her eye. A dark-haired man stood up, his face covered by a mask and body engulfed in a yellow paper gown: her brother. He spoke with a nurse before walking out of sight.
Ronnie scanned for an exit, shuffling toward the nurse’s station visible through the nursery’s glass wall. She drew slightly away from Marcus, preparing to be strong for Tony.
Her brother was discarding the paper robe and mask when she rounded the corner. He swiveled toward her with military precision and wrapped her in his arms.
“How is Jen?” Ronnie pulled away slightly and watched his face for tells. Dark circles smudged his eyes and wrinkles drew his mouth into a firm line.
“Stable. She lost a lot of blood, but they saved her uterus.”
Ronnie had been reading about placenta previa and the related side effects during the flight. About five percent of women needed a hysterectomy to staunch the blood flow associated with the misplaced placenta. As much as Tony wanted to father a son, it would have been heartbreaking for them if this was their only child.
“The baby?”
“She’s plugged into a breathing machine and hooked to a dozen different monitors. Most of her vitals are good, but she didn’t breathe on her own at delivery.”
A girl. This tiny one didn’t know how lucky she was to have a loving, protective father watching over her. A tug in her chest distracted. Was she wishing for a father? The one who sired her had walked away, and the replacement her mother chose had done unspeakable things.
She shook her head, tucking a strand straying from her upswept hair behind her ear. That was old news. This was the future.
Ronnie squeezed her brother’s fingers. “What can I do for you?”
Tony shrugged.
“Are you ready to sleep?” Ronnie peered into the tired lines of his drawn face. The adrenaline she imagined fueling him all day had run out, but behind the hazel eyes like hers, she saw anxiety, and she’d been reading those eyes for three decades.
“How about a walk?”Tony says this?No, Ronnie. I think I fixed it…
Ronnie wasn’t sure if it would help him, but anything had to be better than sitting in a hospital room.
Marcus squeezed her waist. Ronnie glanced up at him, breath catching at the tender look in his cobalt eyes.
“I’ll book a nearby hotel.” It was the one thing he hadn’t done in advance since they might have stayed at the hospital with her brother. Marcus wouldn’t expect to share a room with her and understood she wanted to pay her own way.
Ronnie rose on her toes and nearly touched his ear with her lips. His indrawn breath made her heart vault against her chest.
“One room.”
His eyes widened. She pressed her lips to his in a perfunctory kiss then turned to thread her arm through Tony’s.
“There’s a waiting room down that hall.” Tony gestured to the opposite side of the nurse’s station.
As he navigated the maze of halls to another bank of elevators, Ronnie fell into step with her brother. On the ground floor, he led her into a walled-in garden. Their shoes thumped against the paved path around the edge. Minutes passed in silence, and she drew a deep breath of temperate air, so different than the chill moist air near her apartment.
“Greg and Angie will be down tomorrow.”
Tony grunted.
“When’s Mom going to be here?”
“Dennis wanted to drive over and stay through the holidays.”
The holidays? It was nearly three weeks until Christmas. Ronnie shook her head and drew a breath to comment.
Tony continued. “She doesn’t want to fly in case she has an episode. It embarrasses her to lose control of her limbs.” He sighed. “While Dennis relayed their plans, she never stopped blathering about this being the only grandchild she’ll ever meet.”
Ronnie hugged his arm. The firm bicep bulged beneath her fingers, reminding her of Marcus’s very un-engineer-like arms. She pushed thoughts of him away. He was a distraction, and she needed to focus on her family. Hadn’t she told him as much on Sunday?
If she could shake her mother right now, Ronnie would do it. Couldn’t she see that Tony needed encouragement? Obviously, this terminal illness was going to exacerbate her mother’s self-centered tendencies.
“How can I help?” Please don’t say handle, Mom. But, she would do it if that’s what he needed.
Tony stopped walking and faced her. A desolate look stared back at her. “I don’t know how to be a good father. How could I? I never had one.”
Ronnie’s stomach nosedived into her feet. The truth was too much of a burden for her brother, which is why she had kept her secret for so long.
“Stop.” Her voice broke. She stiffened her spine and squinted at him. “You are three times the man of anyone who ever claimed to be your father.”
His ragged breaths did nothing to cool Ronnie’s flaming cheeks. If she could go back, she wouldn’t tell him anything.

STILL not sure if this series is for you? Check out this review of Reality Ever After.


And of course there’s a giveaway.

THE SURPRISE

Remember how I mentioned Ronnie’s sister’s wedding? Well, I’ve written a short story recounting that delightful event. If you want to read it, FIRST sign up for my newsletter.

Once you’re a subscriber, drop me a quick email (info at sharonleehughson dot com) to say you’ve subscribed and you would LOVE to see how Ronnie was driven to the desperate place of hiring an invisible boyfriend.

I hope to hear from you very soon!

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?

 

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.

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.

LA LA LAND of Dreams

In my experience, watching award-winning films is a mixed bag. Some are masterpieces in every way and others leave a person shaking their head (UNFORGIVEN). So I had low expectations when I viewed LA LA LAND.

This is not a review of the movie. It’s a reflection of underlying themes in any work of art.

Appreciation of art is utterly subjective. I will throw my hands up at cubist paintings while another person is deeply moved. I’ll see paint splatters and psych evaluation ink dot images in some impressionistic works while others can easily envision what the artist intended.

So if I’ve already offended you because you loved UNFORGIVEN or hated AMADEUS (an old Academy winner that I especially enjoyed), I apologize. Not for my opinion but that you found it offensive because it was not offered up for that purpose.

The Story

This is a story about a girl who wants to be an actress and a boy who is an accomplished musician but has bottomed-out while seeking his dream (of owning a jazz club).

Girl meets boy when she hears him playing the piano at a restaurant when she’s walking by. (I loved that the tune of that song underwrote most of the music for the score. In my opinion, this is composition at its finest.) He’s just been fired for not sticking to the manager’s set list, so he blows by her with hardly a glance.

Later they meet up at a party and it’s the “boy and girl despise each other when they meet” trope in action. Neither of them are looking for love or a relationship and that’s when it blindsides you.

They support each other’s art, but they come to a crossroads where the choice seems to be “career/dream” or “relationship.” He has chosen a career and it isn’t fulfilling him, and her dream lets her down. They part with the assurance “I’ll always love you.”

Five years later, a “chance” meeting sends them spiraling down the path of  “what if.” And while it appears they have both “arrived” at their dream, neither of them appears happy.

My Takeaway

Dreams can only take you so far.

If you’ve followed me long, you know I’m a middle-aged woman who has only been pursuing her dreams for seven years, and single-mindedly for four years. I am a proponent for never giving up on dreams.

However, I wouldn’t give up my family or my husband if it meant that I had every dream I’ve imagined (best sellers, movie adaptations, million-dollar contracts, etc.)

To me, that is what happened in the movie. Especially for Sebastian. Mia moved on and found another man, had a daughter, although her reaction when she heard him play tells me it wasn’t all golden for her either.

In the “what if” scenario, both of them ended up in the same place–dreams fulfilled–but they were together.

The theme here was about choices and how one can alter everything–for better or worse.

A dream might have a price, but some prices are too high to pay. Each person must decide what the “upper limit” will be for them. Sadly, we might not realize how much we’ve lost until it’s too late to recover it.

A feeling of melancholy accompanied the end of this film. The dreams didn’t seem to bring as much joy to Mia and Seb as their time together. It was a reminder to count the cost, appreciate what you have and live each moment.

Have you seen LA LA LAND? What theme stood out to you? What emotion did the film leave with you?

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.
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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.

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?

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Do You Love a Great Series?

If you’re like me (and a million other avid readers), you adore a well-written, engaging series. It means you’ll get to devour more books written about people who interest you written by an author you enjoy reading.
For authors, writing a series holds the same sort of joy.

And a few perils.

The Seed of an Idea

Virtual Match came to be when a group of indie authors saw an advertisement for an invisible boyfriend app. It didn’t take long for all of those creative minds to see how such a service could go wrong…or lead to a happy ending.

Before I wrote the original story, I mapped out Veronica Shay’s character and had a big secret in her past, one that kept her from dating anyone. Because it was a secret, it didn’t keep her controlling mother from nagging her about finding someone to love.

Enter Virtual Match, the online dating service that would match her with an employee who would pretend to be her boyfriend through texts, emails and even gifts. It was the perfect ploy to divert her mother’s attention.

You can find that story in Reality Meets its Match.

As with every writing project, there was a word count ceiling for that first story. Thus, it didn’t explore Ronnie and Marcus’ relationship. The premise was the dating app and problems it created.

But, Ronnie and Marcus started something in the last chapter of the first book. And my readers wanted to know what happened after that first kiss.

A Series is Born

 

Now available

The first thing you need for a series is characters with a problem that readers want to read about.

It thrilled me when readers finished the first installment of Ronnie’s story and wanted to know what happened next. These were characters I enjoyed spending time with, and I knew things weren’t going to get easier for Ronnie and Marcus. Because there’s no story if things run smoothly.

However, I didn’t have much of a background for Marcus Jordan. Originally, he didn’t even narrate much of the first story. At first, I tried to keep his identity a secret from the reader.

Beta readers thought he came off “stalkerish” when written anonymously. Plus romance readers know a romance is more enjoyable when we get time inside the skin and mind of both the man and the woman.

In Reality Bites, readers get to see who Marcus really is, and he’s not just an IT geek who knows how to hack a pretty girl’s online dating profile. His family is fun and supportive, which is a contrast to Ronnie’s flighty mother, vivacious sister and over-protective brother.

Coming from different family backgrounds adds more conflict to their relationship.

Readers learn Ronnie’s secret in the first book, but she hasn’t shared it with anyone else. I figured that would be the major event for the second story, but that didn’t feel like enough conflict.

Marcus wouldn’t respond to the reveal with revulsion. He’s not that kind of guy.

But enough about what you can expect from the second book. I don’t want to give the story away.

What I know for sure? Writing a series in smaller, Novella Niblet chunks has been fun, fun, fun. And I’m not done with Ronnie and Marcus yet because every romance deserves a happily ever after not just a happy for now ending.

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Wonder Woman : My Thoughts on the Film

The essence of true heroism was portrayed by Wonder Woman in her big screen feature film. Finally, a hero without a baggage-laden past or an ax to grind.

Wonder Woman’s heroic worldview is summed up in this quote, first said by Steve Trevor in the movie and later by Wonder Woman.

“It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe.”

A hero doesn’t stop to think if a person deserves protecting or rescuing. If they believe they can save someone, they step in and do it. Because to NOT act would be worse than whatever peril they face during their rescue.

After watching Wonder Woman’s movie twice, I’m ready for a Captain America and Wonder Woman film. Which will never happen because… Marvel and DC. But in my mind they are the supreme superheroes because they stand on their ideals.

What about the movie? You ask.

I loved it. Loved it two viewings worth and can hardly wait to own it on DVD so I can watch it again (maybe interspersed with Cap and the Winter Soldier).

The Story

I’m not a comic book reader, as I’ve stated multiple times. I don’t know how closely the film version of Wonder Woman comes to the comic-book rendition. But I like how the mythology is intertwined with the contemporary world (which shouldn’t surprise people who know I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, as well as the two spin-off series he’s written/writing).

Diana is a princess on an island set out of time and populated entirely by women. She is the only child on the island, and her mother tells her she was sculpted out of clay and brought to life by Zeus. Later, we learn that Zeus got Hippolyta with child the good old fashioned way (in the tradition of Greek deities).

She is enamored with fighting, which is what the Amazon warriors were originally created to do, but her mother denies permission to learn it. This doesn’t stop Diana from meeting with her aunt (the general of the Amazonian army) in secret until finally her mother allows her to train.

“But she can never know the truth.”

Diana doesn’t like hurting people (which is surprising from a warrior race), and her instinct is to rescue the stranger she sees crash into the ocean near their island. (It’s never sufficiently explained to me how the plane and later the Nazi boats can enter the bubble when Diana is warned she won’t be able to return if she leaves the island.)

All the stories Hippolyta has told Diana about the Amazons’ purpose come back to bite her when Steve Trevor shares the horrible news about The Great War in the “real world.” Still, the queen allows Diana to steal the armor and the God-Killer and leave with Steve to “save the world from Aries.”

Diana embraces her purpose and never shrinks from it, which adds plenty of tension. She’s happy to waltz into no man’s land rather than waiting for a safer route to her destination. In the end, it’s her head-on confrontation that sparks the heroism of the men with her, from the soldiers in the fox holes to the pilot spy.

Eventually, she does meet Ares, and their battle is epic. Of course, the secret her mother withheld is revealed by the villain and almost cripples Diana’s resolve to defeat him once and for all.

My Reactions

Gal Gadot is not Lynda Carter. Gal is much more athletic and equally as beautiful. Lynda sold me in her portrayal. I haven’t watched the old series for many years, so maybe it’s childhood hero worship that makes me say this.

I adored all the hand-to-hand combat. The Amazon warriors terrified me when they swung down the cliffs and thundered in on horseback. The Germans might have had guns, but they were seriously out-classed and under-trained to meet the immortal warrior race.

Diana’s motives sold me on this story. She whole-heartedly believed the Amazons were created to save mankind, and how could they do that on an isolated island?

I loved the innocent reactions Diana had to things like kicking in dresses and tasting ice cream. The filmmakers could have included more of this, because she seemed to adjust to the world of men rather easily.

I was sad the romance with Steve Trevor didn’t get to run its course. Because of their intense time together, I can believe that they loved each other. He was the first man she’d ever met, and his handsome exterior accentuated his rescuer’s soul.

While the effects during the battle with Ares were cool, I had a difficult time believing he would destroy her. And was it anger or grief that pushed her to finally end him?

Image from joblo.com

In any case, she wasn’t even happy about doing it. Resolved, yes, but she showed so much fervor for killing the general and Ares before she heard his story, and that wasn’t present when she finally shot the god of war out of the sky.

There were portions of the story that didn’t make sense to me: the creation of the Amazons and how they were enslaved by mankind. If Zeus was dead (as Hippolyta described in her story), how could he father Diana? And why would the Amazon’s still pray to him?

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think? Did it live up to the hype?

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 see 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.