The Books of Summer

With the return of The Game of Thrones to HBO, people are into the groove of summer viewing. I’d rather be reading, and I know plenty of people who would rather READ George R. R. Martin’s next installment for this series.


Still, the anticipation of the show reminded me that summer’s long days encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book and head to the porch (or patio or deck)

What I’m Reading

I’m always reading something. This year, I’ve challenged myself to read 150 books. At the time I wrote this, I had read 102 (actually more since a couple were collections but Goodreads only counts them as one).
Recently, my reading choices have expanded to include more women’s fiction and Christian romance. These are genres I’m trying to break into with my writing, and the best way to understand what works is to read the genre.
As part of the First Street Church Kindle World, I’ve been reading the original series and some of the spin-offs.


I’ve been beta reading for some of my author friends. In this case, one of the books was a new take on vampire origins. (I’m NOT a fan of vampires.) I was intrigued by the twist on this, but still wasn’t convinced that I would invest myself in an entire series about them.
For my online book club, I read The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster for July. It sounded intriguing, but I had a hard time engaging with it.
On audiobook, I listened to a YA fantasy series from Tamora Pierce while cleaning, crocheting and coloring. (I love being able to multi-task.)
The second book in the Spellsmith & Carver series releases on July 31 (TODAY), and I’m excited to read it. I read Coiled by this author (H.L. Burke) earlier in the summer and couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling…pick this up.

What I’m Writing

I’ve written the final installment for my Virtual Match romance series.
The first draft of my debut into both Christian romance and Kindle Worlds has been wrapped. I’ll be rewriting it and getting it out to beta readers. I have until September 7 to get a copy to my editor.
My next writing project will probably be a short story I’m submitting for an anthology my publisher is putting out in 2018.
After that, things are up in the air. Once I know how my manuscripts are received at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, I’ll know if I’m going to work on another women’s fiction story.
I will finish writing Through the Valley of Shadows, the grief memoir that’s been in and out of my queue for several years. I’ve decided to pursue indie publishing for it if I can’t get an agent to contract it.
Some books fill a hole in the market, and that’s how I see this book. Everyone will grieve (at multiple times in life) and the idea of mourning in a healthy way for as long as it takes isn’t highly promoted in Western society.

What I’m Wishing For

I’m not much for paranormal romances…most of the time. Maybe it’s because I forced myself to read the Twilight series so I could discuss it with my students. So if there are vampires and werewolves? I’ll pass.
So color me shocked when I downloaded the first book in Melissa Haag’s Judgement of the Six young adult paranormal romance series a couple years ago.
To date, Hope(less) the first book, is still my favorite and Clay and Gabby are my favorite couple.
I love the integration of a society existing in our own world. It’s well-crafted and believable. For some time, I wondered if bulky blond men on motorcycles were actually werewolves.
Just as Stephanie Meyer created her own vampire history, Haag has given the wolves an interesting backstory. By starting with a skeptical character in the first book, she had a chance to show us the two sides of werewolves. Later we saw the “dark side” generally meant they were a different species.

What?

And each human girl that is the central character in the book has a special gift. Because truly she is something called a Judgement. Six women are born in a 100-year cycle and if all of them unite, they get to make a judgment.
Haag has kept us in the dark about all this entails. But there is one group of wolves trying to round up the girls and mate them with their kind so they can control the judgment.
The final book, Sur(real), doesn’t release until November, but I’m ready for it now. This year I intend on re-reading the entire series in the weeks leading up to the release.
If you haven’t read this series, check out the first book for free. I promise you’ll get hooked.
What books are you reading, writing or wishing for this summer?

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.

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.

For all the latest from this author, complete three boxes and get a hero delivered to your inbox.

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?

If you want to read more about the author (ME), click here.

To see all my books, follow this link.

If you like what you see here, and don’t want to miss out on new releases, special deals, and giveaways, sign up for my infrequent updates, affectionately called Hero Delivery. Everyone wants a hero delivered to their inbox, don’t they?

Giveaway Information:

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

GIVEAWAY!

Click here to enter:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtually Yours Releases Today! No Fooling

Virtually Yours CoverIf you’re looking for something to read this weekend, you can get eight novellas for under a buck. Check out Virtually Yours at your favorite retailers.

Since last spring, I have been working on this novella off and on, amid the three short stories I sold (and needed to edit), the Bible study I released in January, and the novel I hope you’ll see in print one day soon.

My story, “Matchmaker: Reality” is one of eight contemporary romances included in this boxed-set. You can pick up these eight stories (most about 20,000 words long) beginning today. For a buck.

No, that wasn’t a misprint. Eight romances for 99 cents. I know you want to do it before you read the rest of my post, so here’s the link.

How this came about

I’m friends with dozens of authors on Facebook. I follow dozens more on Twitter.

One of the romance writers I follow posted an article about an Invisible Boyfriend application that was going into beta testing. Her question with the article, “Doesn’t this lend itself to hundreds of story ideas?” (Or something like that. I don’t mean to misquote you, Kait.)

I was quick to chime in that indeed it did. Others did the same.

Later, Kait tagged the writers who had responded favorably to the question. Did we want to collaborate on a romance anthology based on a similar “fake date” application we invented?

There were ten of us who said “yes.” At some point along the road, two of the people dropped out.

First things first, we posted our story ideas to make sure none of them were duplicating a plot line. In the beginning, a couple of them looked like close relatives, but we changed it up. Now you’ll get eight stories with amazing twists and turns.

Then we got specific about the dating app we wanted to create. We agreed to call it Virtual Match. Titles for the collection were tossed around. And Virtually Yours was born.

Virtual Match is your one-stop shop to convincing those nosy relatives, the too friendly coworker, or your ex that you’re off the market. We’ll match you up with an attentive boyfriend or girlfriend. Texts, emails, phone calls, and even gifts. All the fun of being in a relationship–well, almost all the fun–and none of the commitment. You might even forget it’s not real.

The Stories

Here are the blurbs for the eight stories:

Wish I Might by Kait Nolan: Bookstore owner Reed wasn’t looking for a woman. But when the new clerk he hired won’t take no for an answer, he needs a girlfriend stat. His friends give him the perfect out—Virtual Match. But when Reed gets a second chance with the one that got away, his virtual girlfriend may cause more problems than she solves.

Lip Service by Wendy Sparrow: Amputee Berg is struggling with civilian life. Dating is perilous, but the girl next door is oh so tempting. His new gig as “virtual boyfriend” allows him to bask in her sunshine without risking rejection. Roxie has tried cupcakes and pizza and her neighbor doesn’t adore her yet. He recommends Virtual Match to get rid of a slimy coworker, but she absolutely can’t fall for her new fake boyfriend

Code Name: Girlfriend by Jessica Fox: Drew needs a girlfriend—fast. Trouble is he already told his nosy coworkers all about her, and she doesn’t exist. When his BFF sees an ad for Virtual Match, it seems like the answer to all his problems…until he starts falling for his match. Struggling writer Caroline thinks the tell-all feature on Virtual Match will make her career. Seems easy enough, until pretending to be someone’s girlfriend suddenly gets far too real.

Dream Home by Lisa Kroger: Evie doesn’t have time for the boyfriend her mom and sister think she needs. Still reeling from her husband’s death, she’s renovating the antebellum plantation meant to be their dream home. Enter Luc, her virtual boyfriend. Luc may keep her family at bay and provide company in the dark of night, but when sinister things start happening in Evie’s house, she’s still very much on her own.

Something Old and Something New by J.R. Pearse Nelson: Delia has finally managed to kick her cheating ex to the curb. In a parting jab at her lack of tech savvy and need for companionship, he signs her up for Virtual Match. The virtual boyfriend’s texts are as creepy as the idea and getting stranger, but she can’t stop them. When an old friend shows up on her doorstep, Delia is pushed to retire old heartaches in favor of a new vision of herself and her future.

Matchmaker Reality by Sharon Hughson: Ronnie isn’t willing to put her heart on the line. A fake boyfriend through Virtual Match will satisfy her nagging family and keep her heart safe. Unexpected sparks fly with her imaginary boyfriend and she gets in deep—her feelings unearthing a past secret she’d buried. When her virtual boyfriend wants to meet, reality might ruin Ronnie’s chances of a real connection. Will her heart survive and is love worth the gamble?

Virtual Surprise by Catherine Lynn: To convince her friends she’s moved on from her divorce, Anna signs up for Virtual Match. A fake boyfriend is safe and easy…until their relationship feels real. Then, there’s her high school crush—who broke her heart. Neither man is simple and one may not even exist. Luke’s job with Virtual Match is just for extra cash. He’s still dealing with his anger for the girl who once hurt him. Then, he starts falling for his assigned “girlfriend.” Is it worth the risk to make their match real? 

Home Field Advantage by Kate Davison: For Shelby, going home to Suwannee Grove after her sister’s death is the hardest thing she’s ever done. The reasons she left make it even harder. One look at Dallas and she knows her bigger mistake may have been staying away so long. Dallas has always considered Shelby the love of his life and he wants her her trip home to be permanent. But if Shelby ever finds out he was posing as her sister’s Virtual Match, he doubts even his home field advantage will help convince her to stay.

The Authors

I’m amazed and proud to be included in this anthology with two romance authors I regularly read. It’s like making an album with Karen Carpenter. What? You think I’m a good enough singer to share the same space with me.

Only in this case, it’s my first love – writing – that’s getting a boost. If you haven’t read the Wishful series by Kait Nolan, you should pick up the first book now. Wendy Sparrow also will have your sides hurting with her romance stories.

You prefer a little speculative or paranormal. You’ll probably find J. R. Pearse Nelson to your liking then.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for your next favorite author. I LOVE and adore finding an author who entertains me. The only way to do that is to take a risk and try a new author.

I promise you, this will be a dollar well-spent. Two of these authors are on my “new favorite” list (and I’m thrilled to share a cover with them). I’ve read four of the seven stories I didn’t write. All of them are unique. Paranormal, sweet romance, and a little suspense are all represented.

No risk involved.

I know you’d spend a buck to support my writing. Now you can support eight independent authors for less than mailing two letters.

We all thank you.

Find VIRTUALLY YOURS at these retailers:  Amazon   | Smashwords