Monday Morning Post-Vacation Blahs

Yes, I have something worse than the Monday Morning Blues. A disease more distressing than Post-Vacation Lethargy. I have the “Blahs.”

Do you know what I mean?

The weather outside is gray and drizzly. Blah.

Piles of cat-scratchings mock me, clinging to my slippers when I walk anywhere near the dining room. Who cares?

Dishes are piled in the sink and my bullet journal schedule for the week is practically blank. Whatever.

Last night, I tried to convince my husband to call in sick so we could do something fun today. He laughed. (Although he agreed that he didn’t want to go to work today either.)

Working at home is a double-edged sword when I have the blahs. I mean, if I really don’t feel like it, I don’t have to head to the office. No one is staring at the empty desk wondering when I’ll show up.

But my mother taught me better than that.

It’s called self-discipline. And if it isn’t her voice chiding me about the filthy bathrooms and the piles on my desktop, it’s a drill sergeant blasting me with condemnation.

So even with the Monday Morning Post-Vacation Blahs, I’d better get myself in gear and go to work.

At least I can wear my new sweats. Ah, talk about comfy.

I can take breaks to crochet another granny square. Or play Words with Friends.

After all, I’ve only got to write the blog posts for the next two weeks. And I’ve come up with a fantastic idea for half of them.

Vacation is needful. It’s especially important for me to get away from home so I can inhale fresh adventures and map new settings. These are gold mines for future fiction tales.

Hemingway got a few things right. And this was one of them.

If I didn’t work as a substitute teacher, I could go days without ever leaving my house. I don’t count walking to the mailbox or picking up groceries as “living.” Sorry.

Many writers face the same sort of compulsion. To lock ourselves away with whatever we’re currently working on. Why bother even showering? No one’s going to see us.

And then the UPS guy rings the doorbell and waits for a signature.

It’s always best to plan for package delivery if nothing else.

I wonder what he thinks of the big smear of something above my left knee. He glances toward my hair and suddenly a platoon of itches marches through my unwashed hair.

Don’t scratch. Don’t scratch. Don’t scratch.

And then I return to my office and plunge back into my writing.

Did the doorbell ring? What time is it?

Apparently, I should be figuring out what to cook my husband for dinner. When he travels, I don’t have to deal with this problem.

As you can see, this post might have arrived a few hours later than usual. But it’s here.

The blahs didn’t win.

What constitutes the blahs to you?

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.

Five Reasons I Love my Small Publisher

I’m a full-time author. I have multiple short story publishing credits with two separate small, independent publishers. This month, I published a novella with my first publisher.

Now available
Now available

I’m a “real” writer. I have an Amazon author page. I’m qualified as a Goodreads author. If that’s not enough, surely my website and business cards will prove it.

In the past, I strove to be traditionally published. Every manuscript was marketed to agents who have inroads with editors at the Big Houses. I figured these gatekeepers would insure that I didn’t put my work out there before it was ready.

But I would have zero publishing credits if I hadn’t changed my mindset.

I’m thankful for the ever-growing population of independents publishers with qualified editors and artists at their helm.
I adore the hard work these people do. They’re entrepreneurs with a love for authors, books and readers. In other words: my kind of people.

I wouldn’t trade my experiences with my two small publishers for anything. Here are five reasons why I especially love them.

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They always respond to every query

I’ve sent out hundreds of novel queries over the past three years. In that time, I’ve garnered a dozen or so “no thanks, but good luck”
form-letter replies.
Every submission to a small publisher netted me a personal response. Even if they said, “no thanks” it was written in a way I know the person who read the query wrote the letter.
And I have to say, I’m sick of hearing nothing. Because “due to the high volume of queries, we can only respond to manuscripts we’re interested in.”
Seriously? It takes so long to hit “reply” and copy and paste one of those form letters into the email?
Yeah. The message here is: we’re too important to spend even a minute responding to your crappy idea/query/whatever.

They’re prompt with payment

Okay, I’ve had a 50/50 experience with this, but the publisher who hasn’t paid me yet, isn’t behind with the royalties. In all fairness, I submitted to a charity anthology, so earnings from the first 500 copies were supposed to benefit a non-profit.
The publisher I have most of my work with pays promptly after the end of each quarter. The titles and sales numbers are plainly accounted for.
This is the same regularity I get from Amazon with my self-published Bible studies and Biblical fiction novella. And Amazon is a massive corporation.
Kudos to any small business who has the same consistency.

M9B Friday Reveal

They treat me like a person

Not only do I know the managing editor and marketing director by first name, they know me. If I ask them a question using Facebook Messenger, they respond. I’ve had several lengthy conversations about general policies, specific projects and promotions.
It’s nice to know I’m not a number on a spreadsheet somewhere. I’m an author who they respect as an integral part of the success of their business.

My input on covers is welcomed

If you get a contract with Random House or another major publisher, you won’t have an opinion about anything.
Well, you might be able to fight against some content edits. But when it comes to covers? Their designer will make all the decisions.
I’ve heard of authors being given four options and the one they chose wasn’t used. Why? Apparently, someone knows more about the importance of a cover than they did.
I’m in the process of writing a three-book series with Roane Publishing for their Novella Niblets line. I’ve already discussed how to keep the continuity in the covers and their designers were more than happy to spend HOURS tossing ideas at me.
Also, this is a “digital-only” line. However, the managing editor is open to discussing the possibility of taking them to print. (Because there’s something about holding your book in your hand and sniffing the pages.)

They pay better than the Big Five

It’s not about the money for me. Which is great because I don’t make much. According to the Tax Man, I’m earning in the negatives.
But my contracts with the small publishers offer me HALF of their net profit on every title. A traditional contract would have me splitting 40 percent (or less) with an agent.
I love my small publishers. Which is why I promote their other titles here and on my social media accounts. They don’t get the same sort of exposure.
You can show a little love for them, too. Buy their titles. Review the books on major retail sites.
What do you love about the company you work for?

SWEET INSPIRATION Release Day

Are you excited to see what’s new from Roane Publishing this week? Here’s the newest Novella Niblets release…

 Sweet Inspiration

Contemporary Romance

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Publisher: Roane Publishing

Release Date: February 22, 2017

 

Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice for the musical festival, and she spies an intriguing stranger.

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing from one competition to the next. Interest ignites at his first glance at the woman who is enthralled by his music. He is drawn to Cadence whose heart seems big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a major problem—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

 

~~~oOo~~~

 

 

~~~oOo~~~

 

EXCERPT:

Unmarried and approaching thirty in a small town branded her as ready and willing to meet every unattached man who set foot inside the city limits. A sigh escaped. Like last week when Espe called Trent Sullivan over to their table at El Tres Amigos and then suddenly remembered an important errand, leaving them together. What Espe hadn’t known was Cadence and Trent already had been set up on blind dates—twice—by other well-meaning friends.

Nothing had clicked on those occasions either. Cadence craved someone with a mysterious past like in her beloved romantic suspense novels. A dark, shadowy figure who knew how to excite a woman with a molten look or a lingering touch. A man who fought to hide his pain and almost succeeded. Not someone like Trent—a guy whose high-school accomplishments she could probably recite.

Sweet plaintive notes of a stringed instrument floated on the breeze. Cadence stopped, straining to recognize the tune. A person didn’t grow up surrounded by folk music without knowing just about every ballad that could be plucked.

But this one eluded her. The twanging strings cried with a soulful sadness that grabbed her by the throat. Her thoughts were washed in loneliness, and she turned toward the sound, past the Heritage Herb Garden. A part of Cadence that couldn’t resist helping others had to see who was expressing such need.

She lifted the hem of her long skirt and hurried toward the haunting sound, as if the notes pulled her feet along the path. The compulsion to know who played added speed to her steps. Abreast of the groundhog pottery kiln, she slowed and peered toward the outdoor stage.

On the platform, several musicians were gathered—some unpacking instruments, others adjusting microphones. Off to one side, a dark-haired man sat in a straight-backed chair, one foot braced on a scratched case. He leaned forward and strummed a dulcimer, the light wood instrument cradled on denim-covered thighs.

Cadence stood a dozen feet away and studied the talented player. His too-long hair was tied back, his shoulders were broad inside his western-cut shirt, and his legs were long and lean. Scuffed boots, faded jeans and a worn Harley-Davidson tee-shirt composed his attire. Definitely more attractive than her own outfit. Even from this distance, she spotted a posture that meant the man had an attitude…or was mysterious. A thrill ran over her skin.

Who was this guy? He’d definitely swagger when he walked. Yummy. At the thought, she stepped closer, wanting nothing between her and the performance.

Long fingers picked the strings in a heated crescendo—note on teasing note, twang on shivery twang, strum on driving strum. He ended the song with a flourish, right hand arcing upward as the last note hung on the early morning air.

How did he know exactly how she felt on nights when everyone in Mountain View either had a date or was home curled next to a spouse? The isolation of being solo at the drive-in or enduring the knowing smile of a sympathetic waitress. His song wrapped all those feelings tight around her heart and squeezed. She inhaled, and the backs of her eyes stung.

Hadn’t she learned her lesson about musicians from the way Dale deserted her when his band got the chance to go on the road? Three years running, and he hadn’t yet steered the tour bus through his hometown.

The stranger laid a hand over the strings, rolled his shoulders, and lifted his head. Piercing brown eyes scanned the area, surveying the other musicians, and his gaze locked with hers. For a suspended moment, his gaze roved along her length, widened, and then returned to her face.

Under his scrutiny, she shifted her feet and tugged at the sides of her skirt. Her period costume didn’t exactly show off her figure to its best. Not that the fact should matter, but she couldn’t look away and chose to ignore the warning bells ringing in her head.

~~~oOo~~~

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

As a child, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. As an adult, she discovered romance books and read them at every spare moment. Upon reaching a landmark birthday, she decided to write one of those romances she loved so much. Easier said than done. Perseverance paid out and twelve years later, she received her first call from a publisher and a confession story was published. Now, Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass, and many have a tie to her previous home of Texas.

With interests as widespread as baking, crocheting, watching dog agility matches, and reading thrillers by Swedish authors, Linda is the mother to 4 adult children and grandmother to 2 granddaughters. She currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of 35 years.

 

 

~~~oOo~~~

This the the last week to enter the GIVEAWAY!

$25 Roane Publishing Gift Card, Bracelet with charm from Sweet Inspiration, Hot cocoa mixes and mug from The Crimson Curse

 

 

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.

I love my job but I hate this part

I love my job. Writing stories and articles and study books delights and excites me.

    But…

Don’t you hate when people say something good and then ruin it with a but?

I like your hair, but…it looks like you’re stuck in the 80s
Your dog is so pretty, but…he has no manners at all.

You know what I’m talking about. People do this all the time. WE do this several times during any conversation.
Because the truth of the matter is ugly hard to swallow unimaginable depressing.

Nothing in life is without its flaws and drawbacks.

(Sorry, honey. I know I tell you and everyone else that you’re perfect, but that’s just not the case. You’re perfect in my eyes only…and when you don’t leave the toilet seat up.)

I’m a full-time, professional author. To earn a paycheck, I substitute teach at the local middle and high schools.
I enjoy teaching. I believe it’s one of my secondary strengths (which is why I write Bible study books and teach women and teenagers at my church).

But writing is my soul food.

When I’m in the groove, churning words directly from my heart and mind onto paper (or a computer screen), it’s Heaven-on-Earth.
Why? Because I believe I was created to do this “writing thing.”

What I Love

I love when I get a new idea. It sparkles and gleams. Every cast of light reveals another dimension.

I enjoy sketching out the plot. I do this with a ton of “what if” questions. And I only hammer in the major plot points before I begin to write. I like to give my characters just enough rope to jerk them into an uncomfortable position.

I adore setting up the scenes in Scrivener, color coding them so I can keep track of things like narrator or timeline.

I don’t even fear the blank page.

I crank out the first scene. I don’t sweat it too much. It will get rewritten more than any other scene in the novel. I accept this and pound out the words.


I bite my lip as I write the last scene. Where do I think my characters will end up? How do I end this?
Believe me, I come up with some incredible last lines.

Then they get edited out of the final manuscript.

I write. There’s no fear of blank screens and blinking cursors.

If I’m not “feeling” a scene, I skip to where my characters are begging to go. I can fill in the blanks later. In fact, those blanks might be better scenes if I don’t force them when I’m not emotionally engaged in writing them.

The whole fast draft and first draft process makes me feel euphoric.

Not that I Hate This

Okay, actually, I pretty much despise everything that comes after writing the first draft of a novel.

As for shorter projects, I don’t mind making several editing passes and polishing the manuscript to a shine. I can do it in relatively the same amount of hours I invested in creating the original draft.

Novels? Not so much.

There’s no way to comb through 70,000 plus words in three weeks (the average time it takes me to write that at the rate of 1,000 words per hour).

And every manuscript needs multiple “passes” before it’s ready to be seen by someone I want to buy it.

I think I’ve written about my process before here and here, so I’m not going to bore you with those details again.

The problem is that the words start to all sound the same after my sixth pass through a manuscript. I can’t discern what works and what doesn’t.

I’m done. I hate this stupid thing. Can I throw it away now?

Some writers talk about coming to love their stories the more they work on it. I get there after the publisher’s editor takes a fine tooth comb to it, pointing out all the weak points and helping me strengthen them.

But while I’m working on the pre-published manuscript? I come to despise it.

Sometimes, when I pick it up months later (on a break from my most recent revision nightmare), I decide it’s not such a bad story. That character is pretty witty. That fight scene gives me palpitations.

But when I’m in the middle of trying to polish it, hoping to convince a publisher to take a risk on me?

I get to the point where I can’t stand the sight of it.

Why would anyone want this if you hate it so much?

Who cares? I just want to get it out of my sight.

What things do you love about your job? What makes you groan with dread?

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 CRIMSON CURSE: Beauty & the Beast Like You’ve Never Imagined

This week’s new Novella Niblets release…

The Crimson Curse
Romance / Fantasy
By Melissa J. Crispin
Release Date: Feb 7, 2017
Cursed and disfigured, Calliope must find true love before the final leaf falls from the Enchanted Tree. Being bound to her mansion on the outskirts of town leaves her with little hope.
 
Abandoned by his wife for a wealthy man, Bastian only needs one female in his life, his five-year-old daughter, Yareena. When she goes missing during a raging fire, fate brings him to a strange place where he encounters a woman wearing a golden mask.
 
An attack by rogues puts Bastian in Calliope’s care. As he struggles against pride and prejudice, Bastian can’t ignore his growing attraction to the kind soul behind the mask.
Yareena and the mansion staff do their best at matchmaking, but Calliope can’t reveal her darkest secret. Will Bastian discover her true beauty before it’s too late?
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
EXCERPT:

Calliope returned her attention to Bastian, grasping his shoulder with a gentle hand and giving him a small shake. When he didn’t stir, she considered how she could clean the wound without undressing him as he slept. She had never taken off a man’s clothing before, and she hardly wanted her first time to be when he wasn’t even aware of her actions. But, no other options seemed available. She started at the bottom button of his shirt, working her way up with trembling fingers, and spreading the fabric apart when the last of the buttons slipped free.
 
Her eyes roamed his upper body. While she was supposed to be assessing the extent of his injuries, she couldn’t deny the flash of heat that blasted through her at the sight of his bare skin.
 
She dipped a washcloth in the basin that Mrs. Widdleworth left on the night table, wringing out the excess water. As she dabbed at the gash near his naval, his vulnerability in that moment struck her in a way she had not expected. After their first encounter, she would have predicted his ego to get in the way, choosing to bleed to death in the cold rather than accept anything from her.
 
Although he suffered a serious injury, his daughter seemed to remain his utmost concern. Could his earlier ill-temper have been an unusual display? A behavior born out of fear for his daughter’s safety?
 
Maybe she had been wrong about him.
 
She pressed her lips together, allowing the notion to sink in as she dropped the bloody fabric off to the side, and proceeded to stitch the wound with shaky fingers. When the task was complete, she picked up a fresh cloth to use as a dressing. Relief washed over her as she inspected the area before covering it up. The slice in his flesh went deep, but not nearly as deep as she initially feared. She positioned the bandage and fixed it in place, her gaze catching a thin trail of hair that started under the center of his chest, following the way it continued lower down his body, and even further yet where it dipped beneath his trousers.
 
“It’s been a long time since a woman has laid her hands on me,” Bastian said, his voice rough.
 
Calliope jumped, heat infusing her cheeks. “My apologies if this offends. Marcus doesn’t fare well with blood. I had to care for your injury myself.” Her eyes met his, and to her surprise, no anger seemed to stir there.
 
“I was only teasing.” He swallowed hard, appearing to bite back the immense discomfort he had to be feeling. “Thank you.”
 
She inclined her head. “You’re welcome.”
 
“I shouldn’t have been so terse with you earlier. Yareena is my life, and when I couldn’t find her, well…” He reached for his face, pressing the heel of his hand against his jaw. “I lost my sense for a short while. I apologize.”
 
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MelissaJCrispin-AuthorPicMelissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.
 
From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.
 
LINKS:
~~~oOo~~~

GIVEAWAY!

 
$25 Roane Publishing Gift Card, Bracelet with charm from Sweet Inspiration, Hot cocoa mixes and mug from The Crimson Curse
 
 
 

a Rafflecopter giveawayOpen 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.

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.

Ready for a little Virtual Romance? REALITY MEETS ITS MATCH is here!

Are you ready for a little romance? It’s Sweet Romance Month at my publisher’s, so they have a new romance novella for you every week in February. To start things off: Introducing REALITY MEETS ITS MATCH

RMiM_Cover

My little novella, which you might think you’ve already read (if you purchased the VIRTUALLY YOURS collection last year), is making a comeback. REALITY MEETS ITS MATCH is an updated version of MATCHMAKER: REALITY, from the earlier collection.

What it’s About

In case you don’t recall, Ronnie Shay has a nagging mother and younger siblings who’ve already been paired off. In order to silence the matchmakers, she signs up for an online service, Virtual Match, which promises her texts, emails and even gifts from an invisible boyfriend. Given her aversion to relationships, this sounds like a perfect fix-up for Ronnie.

Little does she know that geeky Marcus Jordan is crushing on her–big time. When Marcus takes things into his own hands, Ronnie begins her first relationship with someone she’s invented. Or so she believes.

When things heat up, Ronnie decides it’s time to get a different invisible boyfriend. What she discovers when she calls the Virtual Match help desk sets her into a tailspin.

Can Marcus win Ronnie over? Will reality be even better than a Virtual Match?

There are Prizes

Check out the opportunity to win $25 in Roane Cash and some other nice prizes (at the end of the post).

RMiM_Banner

A Sneak Peek

And, in case you’re wondering, here’s an exclusive (author’s website only) look inside the first installment of Ronnie & Marcus’ love story.

Ronnie yanked the cuff of her navy blazer, curling her fingernails into the satin-lined sleeve. The table hid her clenched hands from view. She must be crazy, agreeing to meet a stalker.

A quick scan reassured her. The quaint coffee shop where she imbibed caffeinated calories while working on reports over the free Wi-Fi was packed with customers. She would be safe, but the place would be tainted. She’d never find peace there again. This strange man had ruined it.

Over the melody of human voices placing orders and compressed steam frothing milk, the tinkling of the door’s bell rang ominously. Was that him? She clutched her cell phone and grazed its screen with her thumb. She’d arrived early. The digital numbers announced the agreed-upon meeting time.

Her table lurched as a body stumbled into it. She glanced toward the bulldozer. The nerd from the sixth floor stood there, smoothing a masculine hand down a purple and gray striped tie.

Her frazzled head buzzed at his attire. Something was off.

“Excuse me.” As usual, the deep voice tickled along her man-radar, incongruous coming from a klutzy geek.

“It’s fine.” Ronnie expected him to turn away. Instead, he shuffled his over-sized feet. The hand not touching his tie reached to shove his black-rimmed glasses further up his nose.

Ronnie shifted away from him. The iron legs supporting her squealed. “I’m waiting for someone.” Was there a polite way to tell him to get lost?

“I know.” He shoved his hands into the pockets of his black slacks.

Slacks and tie weren’t his normal work uniform, were they? She rode in the elevator with him every day, but she had never really paid much attention to his wardrobe.

He pulled out the chair opposite her, tripping over the table leg and sitting hard in the counter-height seat.

“Thank you for meeting me.”

“Meeting you?” Ronnie’s mind spun. The nerd was her stalker?

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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.