Meet the Authors who are BRAVING THE ELEMENTS

I love authors. I love supporting authors. And I LOVE introducing readers to their new “favorite author.”

That’s why I invite authors onto my blog. Today, I’m thrilled to have not one, or even two, but FIVE guest authors. All of these writers are published with Roane Publishing, the small house that gave me my fiction debut. (I ADORE them!)

No one wants to read a long, wordy interview. Especially not from FIVE different wordsmith-type individuals. So, today, I’m asking all the authors of the newest fantasy anthology from Roane only ONE question.

Isn’t this cover amazing?

 

No, that wasn’t the one question. But so you know, they all shouted YES! It was really harmonic too.

So, authors, you’ve written stories with elemental magic of some sort. Which element are you? Why? What will you do with your elemental power?

Terri Rochenski (author of Mist Weaver) says:

I think I would want to be Air. Being able to manipulate mass with blasts. Water, Earth, and Fire can all be somewhat controlled by Air.

Now we know Terri is all about CONTROL. A perfect character trait for a fiction writer.

Kelly Said (author of The Myth of Mt. Agony) takes a deep breath and admits:

I wrote about earth, but feel like AIR is a pretty potent element. It’s a gentle breeze that can bring relief on a sweltering summer day. It’s a powerful force that can lift up or knock down anything in its path. And it’s contradictory in its nature, because it’s usually there when you need it (ahh, breathing is life), but will let you fall if you trust it too much (gravity can be a bummer — Wile E Coyote). If I had the ability to control air I think my prankster side would totally pop up. I’d walk by breezing papers off people’s desks, or go strolling down the sidewalk giving everyone bad hair days, LOL! But then I could see how something might set my temper off and I’d probably pull a Darth Vader move and yank the air out of someone’s lungs until they turned blue. Sigh. I’m too human to possess such power, which is why I write about characters who do. 😉 

Another air aficionado. At least Kelly is wise enough to limit her elemental magic to the pages of the stories she writes. And who knew she was such a prankster?

Claire Davon (Author of The Dragon, The Witch, and the Swordswoman) had to think a moment before replying:

Oh such a complicated question! I like something about each one of them but if I have to pick one I would say water. If I had the elemental power to control and manipulate water I would want to use it to go down to the depths of the ocean that we cannot reach and see what it’s like down there for myself. What an adventure that would be! The ocean floor is such an unknown and it’s on our own planet!

Oh my. Claire is much braver than I am. The thought of all that water pressing down, suffocating me. *shivers* But authors have to be brave, so I applaud Claire’s adventurous spirit.

Rebecca Hart (author of Alice and the Egg) tilted her pirate’s hat at me and said:

I think I am a water element, personally, even though my story revolves around fire. I am addicted to all things ocean, and being a Virgo (the water bearer), I think it is just “who I am”. What would I do with my elemental power? Bring the ocean to me, of course. 😊

Now Rebecca has the right idea. I’m a little bit of an ocean lover, too, as long as I’m on the beach.

Michael Siciliano (author of Forging Mettle) jumps right in with:

Um … is sarcasm an element, because I’ve honing my skill with that one since I was a teenager. All right, I admit, it’s not. It should be, but it’s not.

I’m kind of liking carbon, but if you put too much of it into the air, you get 90°F in January and beach front in Tennessee. Fine, fine, I’ll stop making jokes.

Medieval elements. I think my Talent would be to manipulate light. Making an area anywhere form pitch black to blindingly bright. Hey, that’s a pretty damned good idea. That might appear somewhere in a follow-up story to Forging Mettle. I call dibs.

Sarcasm is in fact an element. Wielded with skill by the bravest writers everywhere (consider Mark Twain).

And there you have it. Two air benders, a pair of water wielders and the man who would be a light bringer.

If you want to learn more about these authors, they’re also doing an interview over at Liz’s Reading Life.

Of course, the best way to know an author is to read their stories. So, support an author today. Pick up your copy of BRAVING THE ELEMENTS.

Last of all, enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

GIVEAWAY!!

A $50 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Summer, Summer, Where Have You Gone?

Summer is my favorite season. Shortly after Christmas is past, I start wishing for warmer temperatures. Or at least sunny skies.
I have a cousin who would happily leave his Christmas tree up year-round. If there was a symbol for summer, I’d set that baby up and move it to more prominent positions as temperatures dropped.
Seriously. The only good thing about winter is Christmas. I learned that fact in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Narnia was cursed by the White Witch. How?

It was always winter, but never Christmas.

Ugh.
This entire year has sped by already but summer seemed in constant fast-forward. Can you believe this is the last day of the eighth month of 2017? Tomorrow is the ninth month.

Worst of all, the ninth month will bring the end of summer.

The weather man is predicting warm, sunny days for a few weeks still. But when the sun goes down, the heat goes away.
No more sitting out on the patio in the evening to chill. Unless you want to pull on warm socks, long pants and a sweatshirt. No more s’mores roasting.
Of course, it also means no more air-conditioned house 24/7. Once the temperature drops, you can switch the AC off and throw open the windows.
My husband has already started doing this.

Here’s a recap of my summer:

Writing like a whirlwind in Vancouver, BC


Querying agents at a brand new conference


Choosing a title for the nonfiction I was querying


Getting selected to write Christian romance in a new Kindle World


Installing a water feature in the back yard
Releasing the second book in my Virtual Match Romance series


Barbecuing with the family on the patio
Writing the Christian romance story


Meeting new writers to beta read this new genre
Attending Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference


Making writer friends at the conference


Enjoying a total eclipse of the sun with family

Must see what others posted on Social Media

Spending eclipse day with the birthday boy


A quick retreat at my sister’s beach house

Can you hear the shush? Smell the salinity?

Lots of reading in the evenings (but boy did my crocheting suffer)
It doesn’t seem like much when written in a list like this. But it filled three sunny months and made them whip by.
My favorite memory from this summer is that it didn’t rain. Only a couple of days were cloudy. After nine months of endless downpours, I needed this three-month reprieve.

Am I ready for the rainy season? Never.

What’s your favorite memory from this summer? Include a picture if my comment section allows it (or jet over to my FB page where you can surely post one in the comments on the post announcing this blog).

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.

Monday Morning Blahs

Monday is another day. It is the day following Sunday, generally a day of worship and rest for me, and the beginning of a new week of writing. Most of the time it is no more blah than Tuesday through Saturday.

And then there was this morning.

Ugh.

What made this Monday less-than-exciting? It could have been that I woke up at 3:30 to the call of nature. Except, it’s pretty standard that I will wake up at least once in the wee morning hours for that reason.

The first hint the day was not going to go as planned, I tried to sit up and my back screamed bloody murder. My husband is grateful (I’m sure) that I clenched my teeth so the agonized scream of my old muscles emerged into sound waves as a muffled groan.

You’re welcome, Honey.

It took longer than usual to walk four feet into the bathroom and take care of business. Every slight move from my core seized my lungs as my back caterwauled out displeasure.

When I returned to bed, my cat had curled up on my pillow. He’s been doing this lately. Sometimes, out youngest girl cat will move onto the spot where my body had been moments before. They’re always happy to take the human-warmed spots.

She’d remained huddled next to my husband’s legs, but the slant-eyed look my other cat gave me warned me off trying to relocate him. Truthfully, I didn’t think my body could manage. At least, that’s what my back was whimpering into my ears.

It’s difficult to find a comfortable spot when

  • your back is screaming
  • a cat’s butt is lodged where you want to pillow your head

As I tried to fall into oblivion, my mind kicked on. I really hate having a writer’s brain sometimes.

Here’s the thoughts that whirred in my head:

  • possible titles for the other Christian romances for First Street Church 2018 launches
  • list of things I would do when I woke up in the morning (HA! It was morning and I was awake.)
  • how to move the cat and earn another couple centimeters of pillow
  • replaying conversations with my kids the previous day
  • debating a menu for the week
  • outlining the known changes I want to make to Virtual Match #3 which I’m revising and polishing this week

and on it went.

The cat finally decided to relocate. I turned to my other side and he curled into my chest. My brain spun into neutral.

And the snoring began. Not from me. Or the cats. Process of elimination gives you…Mr. Wonderful.

I tried to nudge him, but my back seized up and I had to meditate my way back into a state of relaxation.

Eventually, I peered through my eyelids at the luminous numbers on my alarm clock. 4:20.

I maneuvered myself–and my uncooperative back–out of bed, snatched a light blanket and headed to the couch. Curling into a fetal position incited a sigh from the distraught muscles.

As I wondered if I would be able to do my workout that morning, I faded into happy nothingness.

At a few minutes after five, hubbs sat beside me, rubbed my shoulder and said, “I was snoring, huh?”

I rolled off the couch, my back proclaiming that I would NOT being doing the mixed martial arts workout I’d planned, and limped back to my bed. Once there, I cuddled into my husband’s warm pillow and…

My little cat jumped on the bed and stood on my back. Well, my side and back. Then she headed over to attack the fingers peeking out from beneath the pillow.

I did return to sleep. To be awakened around 6:00 by my husband’s ringing cell phone and his conversation held right outside the bedroom door.

I should have just gotten up at 4:20, because I didn’t feel better when I rolled out of bed at 6:25, thinking my husband had left for work without kissing me goodbye (a big no-no around here).

I stumbled around, wincing at every move, calling my old body all sorts of unflattering names.

And realized I didn’t have a blog post in the queue for this morning. I had intended to write one on Saturday, but I was over my head finishing the first draft of Love’s Late Arrival. (I was thinking about some needed additions to it during my early morning should-be-sleeping ponderings.)

There are bathrooms to clean (the Monday chore).

At least the sun is shining. I’m hoping the ibuprofen I took will relieve my back’s simpering enough that I’ll be able to take a walk later today.

The worst part? I’d rather go back to bed. Even after all this proof it won’t make anything better. Maybe I’m planning to sleep until Monday yields to Tuesday.

What makes Monday blah for you? Or is there another day of the week you generally struggle with? Also, any encouraging words for my back problems would be accepted with gratitude.

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.

An Online Book Club

Book clubs should be for discussing books and recommending books. Can you do such a thing online? That’s what I intended to find out when I joined Reader’s Coffeehouse.

One of my goals for 2017 was to join a book club. I love to read, so why not turn it into an opportunity to socialize.

Because we author-types tend to be anti-social reclusive and introverted. But books are our thing.

How I Found It

There’s no science behind finding this group. In fact, it sort of found me.

My friends list on Facebook is a combination of family and friends I know personally AND a bunch of writers I’m networking with, most of whom I haven’t met in person.

Guess what’s true about most writers?

They like to read.

And it was one of these friends who suggested the group to me. I think all they did was share a post from the group. It appeared in my newsfeed and the rest…is social media connection.

However, I’ve found other writing and reading groups by searching for them on Facebook. I’d recommend a private group, and I’m not sure you can search them.

Maybe a Facebook expert will comment on this.

The Group Format

The group I’m a member of was founded by nine (women’s fiction) authors. They regularly host drawings for their books (paperback, audio and digital).

One of these authors lives in a city near me. I’ve met her in person, listened to her speak about her writing methods and talked to her about the publishing industry.

Until that transpired (at a local library), I hadn’t even heard of her. That night I bought a trade paperback of one of her novels.
And I was hooked.

She wasn’t my usual sort of author. Her stories didn’t have total resolution or even a happy ending. But the people were vividly real. And she made me laugh.

Each day, one of the founders posts a question on the group page to spark discussion. I rarely comment on these. However, I’ve connected with other readers on Goodreads because of one such post and managed to win a couple books.

Each month, there is a book to read that is discussed with the author on the last day of the month. The list for the year is posted in the group (but not exactly pinned, so I copied it onto my tablet).

I’ve read four of the six books. I’ve commented on the discussion of three of those four.

End Results

While I’ve enjoyed interacting with this group, it’s not the same as when I had a monthly live and in-person group to meet with.
The comments are directed to the author of the book, meaning there isn’t much actual discussion about the story or characters or setting. I’m sure these are more interesting to non-authors who are curious about the process behind the page.

I just want to talk about books. Did the story engage me? Did the characters inspire or irritate me? Would I recommend the book to others?
So…the conversation about books has fallen short of my expectations.

Has the group fulfilled my needs? Partly.

I’ve met new authors and readers. I’ve read books I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

But it didn’t get me out of the house. And it certainly didn’t unhook me from the computer.*sigh*

There are rumors that a few of the members of my former book group are planning to reconnect in September. I hope and pray it is so.

Until then, I’ll keep scrolling through the recommendations and reading the monthly book. Hopefully, I’ll keep winning books, too.

Have you ever been in a book club? What makes it successful?

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.

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?

Two Paths to Publishing: Which is Right for You?

This blog has often featured articles that writers might find helpful. Not because I’m an expert on this whole “writing gig” but because I’ve done some digging. I want your road to publishing to be smoother than mine has been.

One of the big questions I still find myself debating is about HOW to get published. Should I take the traditional path? Or should I self publish?

Recently, one of the writing teachers I follow wrote a long blog post on the subject. The teacher is Tim Grahl and you can read his post here.

Not that I’m trying to convince you not to click over to Tim’s site, but the post is LONG. And I can sum it up in two sentences.

If you want someone else to do the work of publishing your book, you want to go traditional. If you want to control all of the ins and outs, and don’t mind spending time as an entrepreneur, self-publishing is probably the road for you.

Too simple? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

Traditional

This used to be the path of “authentic” authors. But it’s a LONG and arduous path with a lot more querying and pitching than actual writing.

Here it is:

  1. Write a book
  2. Revise, edit and polish the manuscript
  3. Research agents and publishers
  4. Craft a killer query and synopsis
  5. Start emailing your query to the members of your list
  6. Attend conferences to pitch agents and editors in person

Don’t sit around and wait, my friend. You’ll grow old and might ruin your computer from repeatedly clicking the refresh button on your mail inbox.

Once you send the queries out, it’s time to begin writing something new. Authors from either path agree on this.

Self-Publishing

This used to mean your manuscript couldn’t get past the gatekeepers. Let’s be honest, we’ve read some books that weren’t publish-worthy by snagging up free reads on Amazon.

But there are plenty of books that debuted as self-published and made their way into a movie deal or a television series. I’m thinking of The Martian not 50 Shades.

The traditional path generally takes long and probably won’t net you as much of a return on a “per book sold” basis, but check out all the steps for self-publishing:

  1. Write a book
  2. Revise, edit and polish the manuscript
  3. Research editors
  4. Hire an editor
  5. Research cover designers
  6. Hire a designer
  7. Fix manuscript according to editors suggestions
  8. Hire a proofreader
  9. Deal with changes to the cover
  10. Upload the final products to your publishing platform of choice
  11. Figure out how to market the book

Yes, I could have added a step for researching and hiring a formatter because it isn’t as easy as one might think to get the book ready for publishing. But it can be done with a minimum of hair pulling and several review phases with CreateSpace.

I’ve been guilty of including my small indie publisher in it’s own realm because it doesn’t require the wait times (nor have the distribution) of the big publishing houses.

There is a third path. It’s the one I’ve been traveling for the past three years.

Hybrid

I have manuscripts I’m actively trying to sell to agents or publishers. This is me on the traditional path

I’ve contracted many stories and novellas with a small publisher, so this is probably me on the traditional path, too.

I also have a novella and two Bible study books that I published myself using CreateSpace.

Some authors have books on Amazon they’ve published, and then they sign with a big house and contract for other books that will soon be on Amazon under that publisher’s control.

Either way, that’s the hybrid path. You aren’t sold on getting published ONE way.

Although Grahl suggests giving yourself a year on a path before deserting it, I think you can walk the middle line as a hybrid author. You’re likely to discover which trail appeals to you and you’ll see your name in print rather than waiting for an acceptance letter from an agent or publisher.

Maybe it really is as easy as deciding if you want to spend your time writing (and marketing because you do that on either road) or if you want to embrace the business side of publishing while you’re writing.

What experience do you have with publishing paths? Do you have other advice that will help muddy clear up this issue?

Now available

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.

Four Things that Keep me Awake at Night

I fall asleep easily when I first go to bed. Most nights, I can drop back into slumber after urgency wakes me for a trip across the tile floor to the bathroom. And it’s really not accurate to suggest things keep me awake.
To clarify: once I wake up, there are a number of things that prevent me from returning to the land of dreams.
Usually, I’ll start praying and that will tip me over the edge. I’m pretty sure God isn’t impressed that I fall asleep during so many of our conversations, but thankfully his mercy is great.


On the night in question, that didn’t work.
Snoring
Not mine. My husband’s.
Tonight, it only took two elbows and two adjustments of his position for the ear-grating noise to cease. Hallelujah!
Too bad that wasn’t the only enemy to my night of restful slumber.
Cats
I adore cats. In my mind, there is no such thing as “too many cats.”
Of course, I’ve never had more than three cats at one time, so perhaps it’s my lack of experience talking here.
Because one cat can be too many in the middle of the night when my body craves rest but my brain refuses to shut down.
One cat was resolutely positioned between me and hubby. Fine. Except when the other cat decided to walk over her to get to me.
Because there isn’t an entire mattress.
Purring soothes me and sometimes I can concentrate on the vibrations and that lulls me into sleep. But not if the cat in question has gas. Or is beating me with his tail.
Or must circle incessantly to find the best position, which always has to be much less comfortable for me than him. And this is nonsensical since we’ve all seen the memes of cats sleeping in the craziest contortions imaginable.
Thinking too Much
This one is sometimes related to the last think keeping me awake tonight.
Or it could be thoughts about:

  • What I need to do tomorrow
  • A story idea
  • A problem with a manuscript
  • Lists I need to make
  • Another story idea
  • Crochet projects and what colors of yarn I need to buy (see this post for more info)
  • Wondering if I’ll get called to substitute teach in a few hours
  • Mapping out my menu for the week
  • Outlining the next writing project (all of which will be forgotten in the light of day)
  • Testing out blurbs or loglines for a current manuscript


I would go on, but I’m pretty sure the list has already put 95 percent of the people reading it into a peaceful dream state.
                                                                             You’re welcome.
Replaying my own Stupidity
This is the reel that pushed me out of bed tonight (which is not the time you’re reading these words but it is the time I wrote them around 3:28am on a Tuesday).
How have I become so dependent on a navigation system? Not that I’ve ever been good with directions, mind you, but why can’t I follow road signs?
Did I really let the fact my phone wouldn’t sync with my car’s Bluetooth distract me from finding my way along the highway?
(Yes, these things are related. They are things that made me upset when I was traveling home from my most recent girls’ weekend.)
You call yourself smart and independent but you can’t even follow simple directions.
You should appreciate people who pump your gas more than you do.
Because I nearly ran out of gas on this same trip because “I just want to get somewhere that I don’t have to pump my own gas.” I know that most of the people reading this are thinking I’m insane. Everyone in the country knows how to pump their own gas. They do it every week when they need to refuel.
Except I don’t have to do it because I live in Oregon. And I’m happy not to do it.
The last time I pumped my gas, I had to remove a gas cap. Apparently, cars don’t have those these days.
And you really have to push the nozzle with force to get it inserted past the gatekeeper on this type of gas tank. Which is probably every gas tank on newer vehicles, but since I don’t pump gas, I’m ignorant of these things.
And I hate to say it, voluntarily in the dark, because I don’t think about how to pump gas.
But I had to call my husband when I cashed in my pride and pulled up to a gas station in Kelso, WA, to avoid the shame of running out of gas (which I have never done).
Wow! Is anyone else so prideful they nearly run out of gas? So spoiled they throw a tantrum when a gas tank looks like an object from a science fiction movie?
Needless to say, none of these things helped me regain my sleepy state of mind. Until I poured them onto the page, stifled a yawn and padded back to my Sleep Number 55 mattress.
What keeps you awake at night? Do you have any tactics for getting back to sleep?
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 Reality Meets its Match 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.

The Author and the Creative Writing Class

It’s rewarding to walk into a classroom and have a student say, “You’re the published author.” For someone whose dream is to write for the young adult audience, it’s especially thrilling.
I would know. I do. And it happened to me.
The next words from this thrilled student’s mouth? Care to guess?
“What did you write again.”
Yep. The face was memorable but the book title was not.
Although, several students recognized the cover of the book I had discussed with them in November, months before.


And then there was the creative writing class.
What I Expected
When the middle school English teacher gave me “freedom” to teach whatever I wanted to her creative writing class, I smiled. Maybe I sent the clouds scurrying from the radiant beams of joy.
“We’re finishing up a unit on mystery and suspense,” she wrote. “They have stories to read to the class.”
Long stories. I was impressed.
The fact many of the stories read more like horror? Not as impressive to my anti-scare self.
Based on the reaction from the regular English students (noted above), I expected the writers to fall all over me.
Not even a smile when I mentioned I was a published author. Oh-kay.
I did get a positive reaction when I told them we wouldn’t be moving on to the poetry writing unit. Cheers all around.
When I offered to comment on their rough drafts to see if they might want to make changes before they turned the story in two days later? Not a single taker.
My published status meant nothing to these young writers.
“I would have flipped if a published author offered to read my stories,” a little voice inside me whined.
Reality Bites
The forum the teacher used for sharing the stories invited only positive comments once the author finished their reading.
“I liked the description.”
“Loved how real the characters were.”
“You did a great job building tension.”
Sometimes what they said was even true.
I itched to mark up these stories. Several of them had great premises. Others were a mashup of every police show and horror movie the student had seen.
My lips were sealed.
And I didn’t get to comment on even one story of the nine that were read over the first two days I worked in the room.
Happily Ever After
None of these stories had a happy ending. Apparently, suspense stories involve the narrator dying (in two cases), lots of minor characters’ deaths (in over half the stories) and fathers who were really mass murderers (in three instances).
Yikes! Should I report this to the authorities? Perhaps these stories had a hint of auto-biography in them.
I offered the class two choices for our Friday writing activity. As I expected, they chose the “finish the story” write around.
I selected nine young adult genres (not mystery or suspense), and wrote down a first line. Most of these I took from published books of that genre. A couple leapt from my imagination reservoir.
And they wrote.
But the suspense unit was still too fresh in their minds. With the exception of a few stories, the variety of authors chose to steer the contemporary diary toward suicide and murder. In fact, the actual horror story was less horrifying than some of the others.
On this occassion, however, a few of the students asked me to “finish” the stories that didn’t find resolution.
There were three. Two of them didn’t involve murderous parents or homicide in any form.
It was great fun pulling all their threads together. My favorite? The fantasy, of course. Although the steampunk story had a more interesting plot line.
An author teaching creative writing might not be the smooth fit you’d imagine. Even if imagining is what you do for a living.

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.

Say “No Fear” to Rejection

Rejection. No one likes it. But dislike isn’t the same as fear. Let an author school you in how to say “No Fear” to rejection.

The road to a published book is paved with rejection letters.

Nowadays, make those rejection emails.

“I enjoyed reading your story…but the team has decided not to move forward with your novel.”
“We appreciate the chance to read your work, but unfortunately, the work is not a fit for our list at the moment.”
“Best of luck finding the right publisher for this work.”
“We’re going to pass, but we wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey.”

These are all taken from rejection letters I have received within the past ten months. There are more, but after reading one, they all ring with the same tone.

In the early days, I cried whenever I read a rejection. Maybe I stuffed myself with dark chocolate. Or perhaps curling in the fetal position with the covers over my head soothed my battered heart.

                                                      What I didn’t do was stop writing.

Not since deciding to “do this writing thing” for real.

I’ll admit that the beginning of this year, I was battered by all the rejection. It seemed like every open door slammed in my face.

Maybe I should stick with writing short stories and novellas. Perhaps I didn’t have the skill to craft a novel that would engage readers from the first line to the last.

Doubt wormed it’s way into every writing session.

Why am I even doing this?

And that was the right question.

Be dauntless, my friend. When the doubts seep in after rejection pulverizes you, seek your personal motivation.

Why do I write?

Because I can’t stop writing. I was born to do it. I’ve been making up stories since I learned to read and write.

“You don’t have to publish everything you write,” a published author friend of mine told me. “Some stories are lessons.”

True, but do the published authors of the world still need those lessons? Can they spend months on a project and then throw it aside?
I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to write only those stories which will find a home in readers’ hearts.

   So post them on your blog.

I rejected the inner voice without a second thought.

Maybe I should have listened. All those months hammering out the GATES OF ASTRYA series only to have four manuscripts hanging out on my hard drive. More months creating a rocky world of dragons, and DRAGONS AWAKENING isn’t fit to circulate in the world of readers, if rejection letters are any indicator.

Be dauntless. Why did I ever choose that word?

Because fear wants to defeat me. It hopes to silence the storyteller, keep the truths my characters discover from shining into the world.

Sorry, Fear. As this quote says, writers persist. Rejection makes us stronger.

In the spirit of sharing emails from publishers. Here’s one I got recently from my friends at Roane Publishing.
“Thanks for sending along the 2nd installment in your series so quickly. Roane Publishing would be pleased to offer a contract to publish it. Congratulations!”

Who wouldn’t prefer this sort of email about their creative endeavors?

If I had given up on this “whole writing thing” when I read the first hundred rejection letters, I wouldn’t have ever made it to the point where I would here the golden words “we want to offer you a contract.”

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.

Flashback or Dream Sequence

I find myself seated in the center of the second row in a nearly empty auditorium. Am I having a flashback to high school play auditions? Or is this a dream where I’m the director seeking a cast for my original short production?

Or maybe it’s neither.

It’s my other job…as a substitute teacher.

And it gives me plenty of flashbacks. Although the dreamlike-moments are far and few between.

An Easy Two Hours

The permanent teacher’s sub plans are the shortest (if not the sweetest) I’ve ever seen. “Hi there. Thanks for taking my classes. I have two amazing TAs who will run the class, so sit back, relax and make sure everyone keeps their phones away and no one dies.”

Seriously. Those are the exact words.

What would any writer do when told to relax?

Write, of course. So that’s what I’m doing. Because this blog needs content, and if I was home, I’d be working on the never-ending edits.

The TAs were responsible. They happily ran the classes (not like other TAs who balked when I asked them to step up to the plate for any reason).

Strangely Disconcerting

My brain rebels at the thought of sitting in a cushy chair while others lead in my place. Even if I’m clueless about what the class might expect.

After all, I’m getting paid for this. Shouldn’t I do something to earn the paycheck?

That’s one hundred percent my mother’s influence on my psyche. No one had a stronger work ethic than she did.

Industriousness isn’t reclining with an iPad on your lap, even if you’re spewing words that will appear on your website at a later date.

Burst of raucous laughter break my train of thought. They’re playing a game, acting off the cuff. Some have a bigger ham-bone than others. You can tell the ones who’ve spent more time onstage.

What about you? Do you find it disconcerting when something is much easier than you expected? Do you feel dishonest getting paid if you don’t really “work”?

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.