Tag: stories

7 Reasons to Read

I read because I love it. I’ve worked in education for about fifteen years, and it’s clear that passion is not strong with the younger generations. But there are plenty of other great reasons to read.

1. Knowledge

After learning most of the teachers I worked with for YEARS didn’t read a single textbook in college, I started contemplating this.

How much knowledge is attained through reading?

I’ll pick up facts without even trying when I read a book. I’ve heard people say they read historical fiction to learn about history rather than listening to dry lectures or reading a sleep-inducing text.

Not everyone learns visually. In that case, reading might not be the best source of knowledge for them. But in this era when there’s an app that will read a book for you, the audio learners don’t really have an excuse to avoid the textbooks anymore.

2. Information

Is this the same as knowledge?

I don’t think so.

Here’s the way I would distinguish between the two. I search Google for the phone number so I can make an appointment for a massage. I needed specific information.

I wasn’t hanging out hoping the Internet would enlighten me on the different types of massage. That’s knowledge-seeking.

We read to obtain information dozens of times every day. This is why I believe schools should teach HOW to find information above trying to understand Shakespeare.

3. Entertainment

This is the major reason I pick up a fiction book. And I’m conscious of the entertainment value of the stories I write.

*The person who despises reading gapes* Yes, reading is highly entertaining if the writing and story are great. (No, writing is NOT the same as story.)

On the average day, I would rather read for entertainment than do most anything else. In our media-driven society, most people would prefer to watch TV or movies or play a video game. But those activities don’t stimulate your mind the same way reading does.

Which is why, when my brain is sore from the work of writing, I might choose to watch a movie or stream Arrow from Netflix.


4. Escape

Books offer a portal to places you could never dream. This is the reason I started reading fantasy when I was a kid.
Life was hard and ugly. I didn’t like the way my parents talked to each other. Then I didn’t like them getting divorced.

I would carry a book with me everywhere and read it whenever there was a spare minute. This way, I didn’t have to think about my own life. I could transport myself into someone else’s problems.

And even if they were worse (Hello? White Witch trapping everyone in winter?), they provided a break from what I was facing.

I don’t recommend using ANYTHING as an ongoing method of escape. But if you can’t afford a vacation or your world is tilting upside down, a book is a great way to escape long enough to regain your equilibrium.

5. Requirement

We’ll head back to school now, and talk about reading because you’re required to do it. And we’ll try not to think too deeply about teachers who didn’t do their required reading. (Yes, this bugs me.)

But in adulthood, you might be assigned reading, too. Your boss might give you a report and say, “Read this, then we’ll talk about how to deal with it.”

Or you might need to read trade magazines in order to keep up with changes in your field. If you’re buying a house, you ought to read the sales contract (and the mortgage documents).

What are some other things people are required to read?


6. Personal Growth

In the past, I haven’t been a fan of reading nonfiction books. I mean, there are only so many reading hours in a day, and I’d rather spend them in Fantasyland.

But beginning last year, I decided to read nonfiction before going to sleep. And not just any nonfiction book would do. I chose those focusing on personal or spiritual growth issues.

I’ve read books on building a business, loving my family more and appreciating my creativity. I don’t read related subjects back to back, and so far, I’ve been impressed with the books I’ve read.

Many of them came through personal recommendation. If you know of some I should add to my list, leave the titles in the comments.

7. Health

Some might argue that reading for your health is the same as personal growth or required reading tasks. I disagree.

Doing something to improve your health carries it’s own weight (even if you’re hoping for personal growth). And numerous studies reveal that reading helps improve memory and concentration, and relieves stress.

Those sound like three great reasons to pick up a book and read away.

Can you think of other great reasons to read? Let’s hear them!

Writing in a New Direction

Which-Way-is-the-Right-way-for-Satellite-Web-Browsing-Sometimes directions are clear: “Turn left at the next stop light.” Other times, the directions can be convoluted: “Take the next right. Keep left.” (My GPS often says this, in fact. Amazingly unhelpful.)

In 2013, I started in a new direction. I quit my job with the school district to pursue a writing career full-time. I finished my bachelor’s degree and wanted a change.

Immediately thereafter, I finished my first young adult fantasy novel and had begun writing its sequel. I took a class on antagonists from Writing Jedi Master Kristen Lamb. When we spoke on the phone about my story, I learned it was gobbledygook without a clear purpose.

Back to the drawing board. For another young adult fantasy series, which Kristen and I had discussed during the heart-shattering call. Her advice: write the entire series before going back to edit book one. That way I’d know what the “real” story of the series was by the time I was rewriting.

Six months later, I had three complete novels in very rough first draft form. The summer of 2014, I attempted to market the first book in the series. By the time I’d gotten the final rejection back, I knew the first book was crap needed work.

But I had this amazing idea for a contemporary young adult fantasy. Dragons, erupting volcanoes, teenagers with special powers and the end of the world at stake. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

Or maybe the question should be: who wants to read it?

I’m still waiting for the rest of the rejection letters to roll in, but I think I finally figured something out.

What I Can Sell

As much as I love young adult fantasy, I’m not going to break into publishing with those stories.

No, I’m not giving up. I’m not copping out.

I’m being realistic.

Young adult is the fastest growing and most competitive fictional market right now. And fantasy has to have a certain bent to even get a look.

Sadly, dragons aren’t it.

Dragons: so TEN years ago.

Short fiction: I have sold three short stories. Two of them are sweet romances written to a new adult audience. The third is a young adult dark biblical retelling.

Bible studies: These are independently published by me, and I don’t price them to make a bundle. However, I do have a small following who enjoys my quirky teaching style.

Writing that Grows Me

In the end, writing the biblical fictionalization and Bible study books challenge me as a person. They require a slightly different writing voice and tons more research than most of my fiction stories.

In short, they stretch me out of my comfort zone.

And if people will buy them, I should produce them.

My Big Dream

During November, I wrote the first book in another young adult series.

I know. I know. I never learn.

What’s different about this book? It uses the short story I’ve already sold as a springboard into my post-apocalyptic universe. I continued the story of Scisco Irons, a sixteen-year-old blacksmith who dreams of discovering the technology destroyed in his homeland during the Demon Wars. And escaping the backward region he’s lived in forever.

I introduced a snarky teenage girl with major trust issues. Added in a “mentor” character with a pile of his own secrets.

The best part, I pitched the outline to the publisher of the short story (at her request, because she liked the world introduced in that story and saw potential for the story to continue). She wants to see it.

I have a professional editor who will help me content edit the first draft and polish the second draft to get it ready for submission. She’s employed by the publisher but has offered to help me because she believes in my story.

The dream:

I submit this manuscript in May 2016. The publisher adores it and offers me a three-book contract (that will finish out the series as I’ve envisioned it).

During our conversations, I mention my four other manuscripts. She asks for outlines of each of them. Why not, right? It doesn’t cost her anything.

She sees the potential in all of them and offers me another contract on Doomsday Dragons and asks to see the first Gates of Astrya book before deciding on that series.

Of course, the Age of Apocalypse series will appear in bookstores everywhere during 2017-2019. I’ll have an enormous fan base. They’ll scarf up anything I write.

The rest is J.K. Rowling’s history.

Where I’m Going Now

As often as I’ve been accused of being a dreamer, I’ll argue that point. I’m a realist. Yes, I’m a realistic optimist, but I know better than to float on the puffy vapors of “hope it happens.”

I’m going forward. I have a novella releasing in a collection with nine other independent romance writers in February. And I’ll say this, romance rolls from my heart onto the page. Nearly effortlessly (and then the editing torture begins).

All those years of sneaking my mom’s romance novels into my room to read when I should have been sleeping are paying off. Unfortunately, those royalties aren’t buying too much at the moment.

I have another study book in the works. There are ideas for sequels to Reflections from a Pondering Heart, but I’m not convinced that’s where I should invest my time.

My biggest project idea is a grief memoir/Bible study combination. I’ve got this baby outlined, and I’ve started amassing research. Am I ready to tap into my personal losses for the memoir vignettes? That’s the big unknown.

I’ll keep subbing short stories to anthologies – romance, young adult and fantasy. My crazy ideas will find their way into the spiral notebook I have dedicated for them.

Writing is more than my passion or my dream. I’m convinced it’s my calling.

And I’m saying “yes.” Even if I’m unsure of the direction it will take me.

Any advice? What would you like to read from me?

Cover Reveal: My Next Anthology Appearance

HeartsofValor_eBook_CVR

Hearts of Valor
A Sweet Romance Anthology
By: Various Authors
Release Date: Jan 13, 2016
Publisher: Roane Publishing

The Promise by London Saint James
The year Veronica turned twenty-two changed her life. She graduated from San Diego State University, married the handsome Lieutenant Carter Weis-widowed six months after the happy nuptials.Captain Quinn Alstrom of the U.S. Coast Guard was eager to start his newest post; however the excitement had nothing to do with the beautiful surroundings of Key West, and everything to do with his best friend’s wife.

Will Quinn’s surprise arrival in Veronica’s life re-spark the fire in the vivacious woman he remembered? Or, will the memory of her fallen husband stop the two of them from finding happiness?

A Manly Man by Jean Young
Confederate POW, Braxton Bolton, had an unexpected visitor the day before his execution, when Arabella Anderson walked into his jail cell and, in front of other POWs, kissed him until he shook with desire.

Two years prior, she had been the Lieutenant Colonel’s prisoner. While she was tortured and raped by the other Confederate soldiers, Bolton was different. He protected her from further suffering, and the grateful young woman had come to repay his kindness. While they became more and more intimate, she learned the story behind his kindness.

But what she learned while with her hero POW, turns the sweet girl into a fearsome warrior. One determined to save the soldier with a noble heart.

Hero of Her Heart by S.L. Hughson
Nicole Taylor has loved Vincent for years. Now he’s back from serving in the Army, and sheâ’s determined to make him see her as something other than a little sister.

After a heated Valentine’s date, Nicole is confused by Vince’s withdrawal. She confronts him, but no matter how hot their physical attraction, he keeps backing away.

Nicole helps him follow his lifelong dreams but he drifts further from her happily-ever-after plans. What will it take for him to see he is truly the hero of her heart?

Feathers by T. E. Hodden
Kerry only wanted to do right by Christopher. To protect him from the whispers of ‘coward’ and the shame of a white feather.

But the war doesn’t look like a grand adventure any more. All Kerry wants is Chris home safe. But will he still be the same man she once knew?

Goin’ Home by Philip Lisagor
How will Jack be able to put Iraq behind him and return home to Leah and their two children? The green peaceful coast of Ireland is the perfect landing zone from the brown violent landscape of Mesopotamia. Jack is humping his ruck along the North Atlantic coast when a chance encounter with an Irish maiden turns him all around, and he hears the voice of Leah in a magical moment calling him home.

Hearts of Valor blog tour is now scheduling!

If you’re interested in hosting our authors, please visit the blog tour page!

Thanks so much for supporting our authors!

How the Crazy Cash Lady Got that wad of Cash

Smells like Shopping
Smells like Shopping

If you recall my fantastic test drive date, you might recollect that my husband had conceded to giving up his truck as long as I purchased a vehicle with a similar tow rating. How did a test drive lead to the crazy fan of cash you see me holding? Let me tell you the tale.

After driving the Durango, we decided to list my car (2007 Acura RDX) on Craig’s List to see if we’d get any nibbles. If the car sold, we would take his truck (2005 Dodge Ram 2500) in for trade. Using that and the money from my car, we would be able to purchase the beautiful 2014 Dodge Durango Limited outright.

The next day, my husband has the Acura on Craig’s List. Yes, this is the same man who took two months to hand off the house listing papers to me. You guessed this is the same Mr. Wonderful who ten months later has just finally listed the house on Craig’s List. Yup. Very. Next. Day.

He gets two emails within hours. Two days later, he’s driving the car to work because a dealer near his office wants to make an offer. That same day, he gets two more offers. One guy emailed him a picture of the pile of cash he intended to pay with.

Safe to say we will be able to sell my car, right?

Before we listed it for sale, he did the Edmonds and Kelly Blue Book valuing. As you know, there’s always a broad range and no one’s car is rated in “excellent” condition. Our range: $15,500 to $17,900 (or something similar). We listed it in the middle $16,900 and agreed $16,000 was the lowest we would go.

Less than a week later, a young guy (seriously could NOT have been over 25) and his friend show up driving a Cadillac. This is the guy who sent a picture of his cash. His first offer was $15,000 “And here’s what that looks like.” Yada, yada. Who does that?

“We said we weren’t going below $16,000,” I remind my husband. He forgets things sometimes. Don’t we all? (This is me giving him the benefit of the doubt, not being mean-spirited or controlling.)

I guess a stack of 150 one hundred dollar bills can be mesmerizing. He asked for $15,500 and the guy snapped it up. Of course, he’s going to sell it for $17,900 to someone else!

Mr. Moneybags only had the $15,000 out and ready to spend after checking that my car was indeed awesome and in as close to “excellent” condition as a vehicle could get. My husband is meticulous about automobile upkeep – inside, outside and under the hood. The guy opens up his trunk, where he has a briefcase.

He pops it open and – I am not making this up – it’s full of $100-bills, neatly bundled by $1,000 stacks. It was like a B-movie. My husband smarts off, “Should I get out my plastic baggies filled with white powder?”

It was indeed that cheesy scene. Real life is crazier than fiction – and doesn’t read with quite the same verve either.

I counted the money. I still wanted $16,000. With all those people lining up to buy my car, I believe we could have found a buyer to pay that price. Obviously, Mr. Trunk-Full-of-Cash could have coughed up another five Benjamins.

And there you have the story to accompany the crazy cash lady photograph.

What’s the most cash you’ve ever held in your hand? Do you have any car buying or selling tales to share?

(Special thanks to Kelly Roberts for the epic caption beneath the picture.)