Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Kid: Part One

Recent trips into the classroom at one public school where I work has inspired a series of blog posts. In fact, it’s reminded me to be thankful I’m not a kid these days.

My main job is to be a writing superhero. My alter ego works as a substitute teacher in local middle and high schools. There are plenty of things there to inspire my creative side, as many blog posts attest.

Unfortunately, all is not magic and unicorns in the realm of public education.

I’ve known this to be true for many years. It’s the main reason I decided NOT to pursue a degree in education when I went back to college in 2010. But in the final weeks of the school year, it was reiterated to me.

Why am I glad I’m not a kid?

Because education in the 21st century is all about meeting regulations and ranking well on state assessments.

Back in my day, school was about learning to read, write, do sums (and other math you never use in real life) in a social environment where you were expected to get along with everyone.

Learning at School?

Isn’t school supposed to be for the purpose of learning?


And not learning how to bully others. Or make excuses for late homework. Or perfect the art of doing as little as possible.

Believe me. Spend a few days in the average public middle school, and you’ll start to wonder.

Who decides what kids are taught in school?

Did you say the teachers? You’re wrong if you did.

Not even the school board has the ultimate power over curriculum.

Nope. Big Brother gets to say what will be taught in school.

Or else.

The fact they require kids to spend weeks and months learning things that do NOT help them understand their culture or prepare them to be an adult isn’t even the worst of it.

It’s not?

High school teachers and counselors in our school district have been heard to say, “Middle school doesn’t really count.”

So, what are they doing there? Why are we wasting six or seven hours of our time hanging out in classrooms?

Every day of school should be preparing kids to be responsible adults. Primary school should focus on the basics of reading. Once they get to third grade, throw in the basics of math. Without those two things, they’re not going to be able to succeed in the upper grades.

Nor will they be able to fill out a job application or make a budget.

Citizenship in School

I’ll be the first parent to tell you that it isn’t the school’s job to teach my kid to be a decent human being. Sorry. If you wait until your kid’s five to start teaching courtesy, discipline and respect, it might be too late.

It is NOT the school’s job to teach my child values or how to treat other people.

School needs to be a safe place to learn the complexities of social interactions.

How do I react if I have to work with a stranger? What if I get stuck with someone I don’t like? What should I do if my teacher doesn’t like me?
And the answer is NOT tell my parents and have them call the school to put me in an ideal situation.

That’s not life. School social settings should prepare kids to face the interactions they will have in the workplace. We’ve all had to work with someone we didn’t know or didn’t like.

I might be the only one who’s ever had a boss that I didn’t get along with, but I’d like to think it’s a common occurrence. And my mom didn’t rescue me from that person because that’s not what being an ADULT is about.

Staff at school should model ideal behaviors, sure. They shouldn’t tolerate bullying. Yes, they should keep kids from beating each other up because school is supposed to be a safe place.

Natural consequences should be allowed to fall on students in cases when it doesn’t mean bodily harm. For example, if you’re late too many times to work, your boss will fire you. There should be consequences for being late to class.

And I don’t want to hear your excuse. You either have a note from an adult…or you don’t. That’s all I need to know.

We’re only hurting the future of our society by failing our students in school. They deserve to learn to read, write and do math, and they should be held accountable for obeying the standard of conduct required in the schoolhouse.

Politics in School

I’m not saying that learning and citizenship don’t happen in schools these days. But those aren’t the priorities.

Government has their fingers in the U.S. educational system, and they like to generate red tape. Schools rely on the government for funding, so they have no choice but to march to the regulatory drumbeat.

Or they can shut their doors.

What happened recently to remind me of politics in school?

A teacher who taught both of my sons and I’ve worked closely with for a decade is transferring to a different position. I didn’t know asking her about it would open a can of worms.

The school has decided to combine language arts and social studies for middle schoolers. This isn’t a new or unusual thing. We had it before when the students could have a humanities block—two class periods for this class.

That isn’t what’s happening. Teachers will be expected to cover the learning goals for both subjects in one hour.

Furthermore, they’ll only receive one day of training on how to do this.

I hope the trainers are handing out Time Turners or some other magical device that will stretch one hour in to two (or ten).

How can students be expected to learn twice as much content in half the time? How can teachers be expected to teach twice as much content in half the time?

The biggest problem I have with this: the school is doing this because of budgetary constraints. They will use fewer staff to teach in this way.
Because money is what education is all about in our world.

I’m sure schools were funded the same way when I was a kid, but there weren’t common core standards and annual state assessments back then.

We went to school to learn how to be a productive citizen of the United States of America. That’s why the founding fathers pushed for public education for all people.

Kids these days are getting the short end of the learning stick. And our country will reap its dues when these under-educated people are running our country in a couple decades.

Are there things you’ve noticed about kids in school that make you grateful to have grown up in an earlier era?

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.

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.

For more about the final installment of the planned trilogy, make sure you’re signed up for Hero Delivery. You’ll never miss a sale, a signing or any other special I can dream up for my readers.

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.

When I Want to Relax

Some people go on vacation to “get away from work.” Or to experience some new and exciting place. Maybe they want to have once-in-a-lifetime adventures. While I might want a little of those things, sometimes I want to do nothing…and relax.

Relaxation takes many different forms depending on the person.

There are some people who run five miles to relax. Others want to chiropractor to adjust their joints and then they’ll suck down a gallon of water and hang out in a hammock.
In fact, I find many things can be relaxing. For example, I might relax while: getting a pedicure, getting a facial, having a massage, sitting by the pool, reading a book, walking on the beach (or pier or a trail) and even riding horseback. But do I have to do any of those things in order to relax?
Let me phrase this another way: can I kick my stress to the curb without doing anything special?
Like so many other things in life, de-stressing (isn’t that the essence of relaxation?) is all about mind over matter.

My Mind

As a creative person, my mind is a hive of activity. There are many memes I’ve seen that illustrate this fact, but this is my favorite one:

Because most of the time, if I appear to be staring into space, I’m likely in an alternate universe. One I’m creating and populating with people I’ve dreamed up to face all sorts of situations I’ll never face.

Often my eyes will be closed but my mind will be spinning at a million electric charges per nanosecond. Yep, this old brain is one speedy computer.
Which means it rarely shuts down.
Many authors will tell you they’ve vividly dreamed many of their best stories. They wake up and try to regurgitate the brilliance onto a page before it dissipates with the morning mists.

Yes, even when I’m asleep, mental gymnastics continue.

So how can I ever relax? Where’s the shut-off switch for this thing?
Can I truly rid myself of stress if my thoughts continually roller coaster?
Mind over matter, my friend.
For me, it’s all about WHAT I’m thinking about that determines the quality of my anxiety.

It Doesn’t Matter

In order to dump my stress, I have to actively convince myself that the things hammering away in my brain like an overzealous woodpecker, aren’t important enough to think about. AT THIS MOMENT.
In effect, I convince my mind to reschedule contemplating the stressful items to a later date. Say, Thursday morning…when I’m vacuuming the house.
My query packet for my women’s fiction isn’t ready to submit on June 1. It doesn’t matter. You can think about it May 30th.
Are those sample pages from my nonfiction book enough to convince those agents to request all three chapters? Will they contract me to write the book? Am I ready to delve into the depths of my grief to pen those pages? It doesn’t matter today. I’ll find out in August.
How about creating something new? Maybe just a short piece that you don’t intend to publish? Or the opening scene for the short story you imagined during your girls’ weekend last month.
The cats could be tearing apart the house while I’m staring at the misty horizon at the western edge of the earth.
Look at the shades of blue in the Pacific Ocean and the sky stretching above it. Feel the pounding of the waves against my tattered soul.
The projects and deadlines and considerations for my author world will still be waiting in my office when I get home from this short retreat to the Oregon Coast.

Today, those things don’t matter.

What matters is the taste of the salty breeze, the scattering of seagulls in the surf and the sting of sand blown against my bare calves.
That’s the way I use my mind to subdue the thoughts that would infuse stress into a day meant for relaxation.
Does mind over matter work for you? What is your picture of true relaxation?

Crime Against a Creative Spirit

Legislating away my right to create is criminal. Sometimes its the weather or circumstances that commit the crime which freezes imagination. Might as well hit it with liquid nitrogen.
Creativity holds an artist hostage. It plagues the mind at inopportune moments (like when I should be sleeping). The very element of creating can wind up like a fast-pitched softball and, if released too early, peter out short of the plate (our expectations).


Lately, I’ve been keeping up with one of my betterment goals designed for No Fear this Year. It involves reading an inspirational book before bed at least four nights per week.
The current read looks to link creativity and spirituality. It’s an interesting connection, but I’ve yet to sell myself on its reality.

The Difference between Soul and Spirit

Even though my title mentions the creative spirit, I believe creativity emerges from my soul.
The soul is the part inside me that makes me have the character, personality and world views that distinguish me as an individual. While I strive to grow my character to look like Jesus Christ’s, I’m certain my personality is not a thing like his. Because I’m a woman living in the 21st Century, my world view looks completely different, too.
On the other hand, the spirit in me is what makes me alive. It’s the breath of life that God gave Adam on the day of his formation. It’s the thing that keeps my heart beating and lungs working without any conscious thought on my part. And if the spirit of life leaves, then those automatic functions stop, too.
Therefore, I believe the soul is the source of my creativity and the spirit the source of my existence.
Can creativity be linked to spirituality then?

The Difference between Heart and Mind

There’s another level of personality that I see as diverse. Decisions I make might originate in the heart but are carried out by the mind.
The heart is the seat of my emotions. This is where I feel the death of the hunting dog in Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s where disgust over political lies or ire about injustice kindle and ignite.

Is this linked with creativity? Is creativity all about emotion?

My mind is where reason holds court. It listens to the exclamations and rhetoric of the heart’s reactions, and it weighs that in my soul’s world view balance. If it deems there is sufficient reason to act, the mind wills my mouth or body to do so.
I hope my mind is engaged when I’m creating. It should be running the show when I’m worshiping, too.
In this case, I believe both the mind and the heart are involved in pursuits of creativity and spirituality. Things that are emotion-driven might seem to come from the heart, but the heart is only a messenger. It can’t act apart from the mind. (Although there are times when I let my heart lead and wished I’d thought things through a little better.)

Creativity or Spirituality?

This brings me back to my original inquiry. Is there a link between my creative self and my spiritual self?
Unless I’m two people, there’s a link. It’s me. My individuality that shines forth through my lifestyle.
Can the spirit operate on it’s own? Or is spirituality tied to every facet of life because it is the seed of life?
If only I had the answer. Perhaps when I finish the book, I’ll know for certain if these two aspects of my being are related. At times, I’ve felt deeply spiritual while being wildly creative. However, there are plenty of instances when I was quite spiritual without a creative thought, and creating like mad without being spiritual.
I believe that means they aren’t mutually exclusive. Perhaps I would be more creative if I focused wholly on strengthening my spiritual side. But am I less spiritual when I set my imagination free?
The truest crime against my creative spirit is giving it a question like this that has no definitive answer.

Do you think creativity and spirituality are linked? What drives your creative spirit into hibernation?

Crazy Things Students Say

I’m a full-time author. At least two days each work week (when school is in session), I substitute teach at the local middle and high schools.
Due to a shortage of licensed substitutes, my state allows any person with a Bachelor’s Degree to go through the training and application process and attain what is called a Restricted Substitute License. Although I hold no teaching degree, I have more than a decade of experience in education.

Why would I subject myself to such a topsy-turvy schedule? Two reasons:

  1. It’s not conducive to creativity to spend everyday in an office without interacting with other people (and social media doesn’t replace actual human face-to-face contact)
  2. Most of my publishing contracts are “royalties only” and the schools give me a much more regular (and at this point, substantial) paycheck

Since my dream is to write fantasy novels for young adults, this subbing thing keeps me engaged with their worldview and voice.


Heard at the Middle School

“If you’re an author, why would you be a sub?”

Why indeed! I generally give them reason number two as outlined above. I have been known to use other reasons, as well, but not to the same student.
Yes, this is a common question. For some reason, they think a published author should be SO famous and well-paid that they wouldn’t submit themselves to the degradation of being a substitute. (I don’t find it degrading. I actually enjoy it…most days.)
“Are you the sub?” Isn’t this obvious? I’m always amazed by this question.
“YES!” I never know how to respond to this unabashed joy that they have a substitute. It would be ego-affirming if it was because they liked me so much, but the reality is much darker. Any sub is preferable to the regular teacher.
What does that mean? Is the teacher mean? Are subs easy? What?


Heard at the High School

“Do people ever call you Miss Texas?” (Do you need context for this? My last name is often mispronounced as Houston by students.) “I’m from Texas, and I’d like to call you Miss Texas.”
Well, thank you, freshman male student. Now I can feel like a beauty pageant contestant–for an hour of my life.
“At least I had a dad.” I’m not sure this one needs any explanation. FYI, the student was laughing in a pleasant manner when he said it. (And no, it wasn’t directed at me.)
“You look familiar” (and after I say I’ve subbed often in the building) “No that’s not it. I think it’s from Facebook.”
Just when I’m wondering if my author page is blowing up with my young adult audience, the bubble is burst.


“You were one of my suggested friends.” (What does that even mean? I know she meant FB suggested me as someone she might know, but what is a suggested friend?)
“Hey, I know you!” I’m squinting at the skinny junior boy at my old alma mater. I definitely know the kid in the back of the row beside him.
I try the, “I subbed here two weeks ago” response.
“No, that’s not it.” He gives his forehead an exaggerated pound. “The middle school. Right?”
“Are you sure you can remember that far back?” Three years is a lifetime for teenagers. But I smile and assure him that he’s nailed it. Too bad he doesn’t smile so proudly when I hand him the essay assignment a few minutes later.
There are priorities. Writing class is rarely one of them for high school students.
These teenagers offer me plenty of smiles. And eye rolls. But best of all, their vivacity contributes fodder for future fiction. (Yes, I do love my alliteration.)
So, I’m glad that the state hasn’t changed the substitute teaching requirements just yet. I’m on my way to being licensed for three more years of inspiration from the world of public school.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve heard lately?

It’s Month Six Already?

In honor of yet another month in the Dauntless year of 2017, today’s post will be mostly pictorial.

How about some poetry to start things off?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around here, no one is really feeling Frodo.

What used to be the end of school on June 14, is now more like June 22. (Snow days aren’t always a good thing).

I finished my senior year the last week of May. Because summer started in June. Remember the days when…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students aren’t the only ones who count down to summer vacation. You know what really gets a teacher wishing for the last day of school?

Every teacher and student in the world knows that June holds this imperative:

In Oregon, we can welcome the month of June with joy and anticipation.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll get sunshine over showers.

June means more time to write as my subbing days are over (well, for the last week anyway). This year it means traveling to a new country.

Summer is my favorite season. Not surprising since I love the sunshine.

What are you looking forward to in June?

 

 

Courage: The Flip Side of Fear

On this day when we remember the brave men and women who died to secure our constitutional liberties, a post about courage (bravery, dauntlessness) seems more than appropriate. The fact that Bravery is heads on the coin where fear is tails might not be as welcome.
In an article on Literary Hub, another author introduced me to this phrase: “Fear and bravery are different sides of the same coin.”
Since I’ve chosen to be DAUNTLESS in 2017, I wanted to reject this simple assertion.

                               “I’m defeating and banishing fear from my heart, mind and life.”

Isn’t that what it means to be dauntless?


But according to Hala Alyan, maybe I’ve been going about this dauntless thing all wrong.

NO Fear

I’ve been working under the assumption that if I’m feeling afraid and anxious about something, I’m not being brave.

Which goes in the face of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain, Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela. Yes, it’s such a great thought that many people have reiterated it in their own words over the centuries.

To conquer my fears, I must continue to move forward through the fire I’m sure will burn me. The Dauntless jump off the train with abandon onto the platform near their living quarters.

They might have learned to be adrenaline junkies, but the first (dozen) times they jumped, their hearts, lungs and stomachs surely rebelled. Their brains wanted to draw back, play it safe, keep away from pain and injury.

Every time they successfully completed the jump, the Dauntless experienced a different sort of adrenaline rush. Rather than fear, anticipation welled in them. They had tricked their brain into enjoying the dangerous activity.

          Strange how terror and anticipation can provoke the same physical reactions in our mind and body.

But our soul knows the truth. It knows if we’re still afraid deep down or if we’ve overcome that particular anxiety.

Being Dauntless

Once we’ve mastered jumping off the train, it means we need to find a new terror to conquer.
Or not.

Does being dauntless mean a continual rush into situations that overwhelm our safety barriers? If we’re playing it safe, does it mean our dauntless spirit will starve to death?

Continual stress kills. And pumping adrenaline through our veins is exactly what stress does.
I don’t think it’s healthy to live on the edge where our bodies experience constant anxiety, fear or terror.
Being dauntless doesn’t mean becoming an adrenaline junkie and heading for an early grave. Either from a broken bungee line or a heart attack from too much stress.

                                               And dead is dead.

Dauntless me isn’t looking for death. But DM should be willing to stare death in the face.

In my world, that’s more the death of expectations, death of dreams and death of pride. If I write a young adult fantasy novel and no one wants to read it, that kills the part of me with a message for those readers.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not dauntless if I change genres.

If the nonfiction book doesn’t garner interest with publishers, will I self-publish it myself? If I believe in its message strongly enough, yes.

And if only a handful of people read it and it helps even one person, it has succeeded in the purpose I have for it. Yes, if the sales are this slow, there will be death to the dream of becoming a best-selling nonfiction author and sought-after speaker.

But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t dauntless in the moment-by-moment action of living out my calling to write words that encourage others.

It takes courage to face rejection and failure. But if Two Face can flip the coin, so can I.

Do you agree that courage and fear are sides of the same coin? How would you define courage?

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.

7 Must-Ask Questions to Find Your Perfect Book Editor – Part II

 I hope you haven’t been holding your breath for a week waiting for the second part of Kristen’s post on finding the perfect editor for your book. Waiting with bated breath is good. Holding your breath for a week? Not so much.

Now here’s Kristen with the rest of the questions that will help you in your editor search.

Go for it Kristen:

Last week I shared four of seven questions every author must ask to find the perfect editor for your manuscript. The first four questions are easy, focusing on narrowing your search to editors who offer the type of editing you need, who specialize in your genre, who have experience, and who have a portfolio and testimonials for you to look over.

Now, we’re getting into the serious stuff. By the end of this, you’ll have found the editor that’s right for you.

5. What is the editor’s attitude?

Real talk: There are too many editors to settle for one that doesn’t contribute to a healthy author-editor relationship. When you make first contact with an editor, pay attention to how they communicate.

  • Do they have time to talk to you on the phone about your project?
  • Is conversation with them easy, and do you see eye-to-eye with your plans for the book?
  • When you ask about their experience, are they open and communicative?
  • Do they seem excited about your project?

The author-editor relationship is famously collaborative, meaning if you don’t feel your editor is onboard 100%, move on to the next option. Your manuscript is understandably an important project—and usually a major part of your life. It deserves the respect of an engaged, enthusiastic editor.

6. Does the editor offer sample edits?

As you narrow your search for an editor, you may find several editors that may be a good fit for your project. Getting a sample edit is often the only way to know for sure which editor is right for you. Most editors will be happy to do a sample edit of 500-1000 words on your manuscript—just ask! Once you get the sample edit back, ask yourself:

  • Did the editor’s sample edit make a difference in your novel’s excerpt?
  • Do you feel that the edited material reads better than the original?
  • Pay attention to the editor’s stylistic choices, such as using em dashes (—), semicolons (;), and italics. Do you like their style? Do you feel like it’s right for your book?

The best editor will be able to match your writing style, so all editing changes will be seamless to your original writing. The final result will be a beautifully polished book, highlighting your skills as an author. 

7. What about contracts and pricing?

Before making the final decision, pay attention to two more important elements: if the editor offers a contract or written agreement, and if the price is reasonable.

As a book editor, I require a contract with every project, which provides the details of any editing project in writing, including the payments, editing services provided, and a confidentiality agreement. At the very least, protect yourself and ask the editor to provide a written agreement prior to you submitting payment or your manuscript.

Finally, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to selecting a book editor. The Editorial Freelancer’s Association’s Editorial Rates Chart is the gold standard for how much editing should cost, so make sure your editor falls in the ballpark. Generally, more experienced editors will charge more, while less experienced editors will charge less. You get what you pay for.

BONUS: Editing company or freelance editor?

Your search may turn up freelance editors, or editing companies—big difference between the two. Editing companies can have five or more editors on staff, several of whom will be working on your manuscript. Although multiple eyes on a document can be a good thing, conflicting editing styles and an inability to communicate freely with your editor may turn some authors off.

Generally, freelance editors own their own companies, take on fewer projects, and are the sole editor of your manuscript, meaning you’ll be working with one person (the editor) throughout the entire process. You’ll get to speak directly with the editor you’re working with and form a personal connection with her. That personal connection I make with the author is why I will always be a freelancer. Maybe I’m just biased. 😉

When you hire an editor, you’re paying them thousands of dollars and giving them the power to improve or destroy your work. Choose wisely!

Book manuscript editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of Kristen Corrects, Inc. , which provides manuscript editing services. Working independently allows Kristen the opportunity to interact with clients and provide them personalized service. There is nothing better than communication and friendliness in a business world that is slowly becoming less focused on people. 

Kristen is included in the 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing and the 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing, both published by the prestigious Writer’s Digest. She is also part of the credible Writer’s Market, Publishers Marketplace, and Editorial Freelancers Association and plays a pivotal role as senior editor at Modern Gladiator magazine.

Reading is Kristen’s passion, so when the workday is over, she can usually be found curled up with a good book (alongside her three cats, Sophie, Charlie, and Jack). She loves pizza, cat videos, watching The Bachelor, and traveling, and is likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, Idaho.

What are your personal experiences in working with editors? What advice can you offer readers?

Cover Reveal for Virtual Match Sequel

My readers met Ronnie Shay on April 1, 2016, and they delved into her online romance with Marcus Jordan. Who knew geeks could give girls heart palpitations?

(Uh…ME. I’m married to a computer engineer. I know my handsome, hunky geek quotient.)

The biggest complaint from readers of that early story: it ended to soon.

When my publisher introduced a new line of e-book only novellas, I made some changes to Ronnie and Marcus’ story and submitted it with a new title Reality Meets its Match. My Virtual Match-sters launched the new line with grace (if not gracefulness, Marcus is a bit klutzy you know).

But the new readers weren’t any happier about the way the book ended. “We want to know more.”

“Things were just getting started with them.”

“What happens next?”

And by the time the novella released with Roane, I had drafted a sequel.

Now I’m happy to share with you the amazing cover for the next installment of Ronnie and Marcus’  romance, Reality Bites.

 

Release Date: July 24, 2017

Blurb

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, but it seems like she’s closing him out. After all she’s been through (and going through), he can’t blame her.

Ronnie runs back to the safety of her career, but can her heart ever be free from what Marcus has awakened? And will he let her go?

Still haven’t read book one? Get your copy here.

Now available

At this time, I’ve got the third novella planned out but I’m not writing it until closer to the release date. AND those who sign up for my newsletter (click here if you want to do that) will get a few teasers from both the second and third books, maybe even before my publisher reads the third one.

If you would like to sign up to help me get the word out about this new book, please click this button.

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