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.

Life, Time and other Non-renewable Resources

Sometimes I still write in a journal. And every now and then that entry takes shape as a poem.

Here is one such poem written on July 11, 2014.

Life, Time & other Non-Renewable Resources

No ticking clocks
change the passage of time
Not one whit
Limited minutes
roll into hours
Carefully spend them
they can’t be regained.
Soon hours are days
Days, months
until years of time
sucked down the drain of
procrastination,
Broken promises,
reveal a life
past its prime
still waiting for a dream
Regretting the conservation of time
Neglected
In this non-renewable
resource know as
Life

What are some other non-renewable resources you wish you had conserved more wisely?

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.

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.

How Small Goals Got Me Published

It’s that time of year again. The end is in sight and us type-A types start thinking about setting goals (or making resolutions) for the new year. Setting goals got me published.

It sounds trite, I know.

“If you want something, plan how to get it.”

Don’t dream it, do it.

And a million-and-five other sayings that are straight from the lips of Zig Ziglar or some other motivational speaker.

But take it from me, setting goals is the first step to reaching your dream.

I know because I’m living my dream. And setting small goals and working step-by-step plans to reach each one got me where I am today.

And 2017 is the year these same planned goals are going to get me a traditional publishing contract. And an agent.

Make them Small

A publishing contract is a BIG goal. Which is why I didn’t get it the first year I was writing full-time.

Now that I’m three years in to this full-time author gig, I’m at the place where this is an attainable goal. Finally.

But I was pretty discouraged the first year when I went after this goal and failed to attain it.

These were the small steps I planned to reach the goal:

1. Write an amazing story

2. Edit the heck out of the story

3. Research agents

4. Learn how to write a good query letter

5. Query all the agencies that are a match for the manuscript

6. Get a publishing contract

And I did steps one through five…for three separate novels.

And I still don’t have a publishing contract for a novel. In fact, I’ve never even gotten a request for a full manuscript from an agency.

That’s why I set smaller goals for myself. Goals like:

  • Scour short story submission calls
  • Write short stories for these calls
  • Edit each story to polished perfection
  • Submit. Submit. Submit.
  • Sell some short stories

And I have reached that goal four times.

In fact, I’ll have a novella published in February by the first publisher of a short story I submitted. Better yet, I have two sequels in mind to continue the story of that novella that the publisher wants me to submit once I get them written (and revised and edited).

Big goals are hard to reach, so when you start down a new path, set small goals.

This is the same for changing your eating habits, losing weight, beginning an exercise regime or learning a new hobby.

If the goal is too big, you will fail to reach it. Then you might be tempted to give up.

And a quitter never lives their dream.

Plan the Baby Steps

Once you’ve imagined a goal for yourself, it’s time to make a plan.

Don’t think a sketchy outline will help you reach your goals. You need a step-by-step plan of attack if you want to succeed.

And I don’t mean big, general steps. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, your steps could be:

  1.  Find a eating and exercise plan you like
  2.  Figure out the menu and exercise calendar
  3. Follow the Plan

Oh-kay. How do I find a plan? How to I plan the meals or exercise? And are there specific steps to following the plan?

These broad, vague steps are a recipe for failure. Seriously, it’s like saying if you stir flour sugar, eggs and vanilla together with a cup of butter you’ll get cookie dough.

When you sit down, think about your plan in the smallest of steps. For my traditional publishing contract (that I’m landing in 2017), here are my baby steps:

  1.  Outline a story idea
  2. Write character sketches for the main characters
  3. Write the first draft
  4. Write a rough synopsis
  5.  Research the setting
  6. Get input from a writer who has traveled to this place
  7. Rewrite the story
  8. Edit this draft
  9.  Send the manuscript to three-five beta readers
  10. While betas are reading, research agents that fit the story & my ideal
  11.  Comb beta suggestions for great input
  12. Revise according to suggestions
  13.  Re-read looking for holes
  14.  Edit chapter-by-chapter
  15. Polish every sentence
  16.  Craft an amazing query letter
  17.  Polish the synopsis
  18. Send queries to the first ten agents on the list

Some of these steps are fairly broad. Break them down further if it motivates you to check off a step. You can make writing each chapter a separate step if that lights a fire under you.

Small steps climb the ladder to your goal.

Reward your Success

Human nature loves rewards.

Seriously. If you tell me I can have a small piece of dark chocolate after I run a 5K, I’ll be tying my running shoes on.

The key is to find rewards that motivate YOU. Maybe it’s buying a new outfit. Or going to dinner with a friend. It could be a weekend at the beach.

Small accomplishments should have small rewards. Bigger accomplishment = bigger reward.

I’ve been telling my husband that as soon as I sign the contract for my novel and get a hefty advance, I’m going to buy myself an Audi Q5. That’s a huge incentive for me.

Whenever I see one of these sporty CUVs on the road, I remind myself, “Just get a book contract with a decent advance and that is yours.”

What goals will you set for yourself in 2017? Do you have a plan to reach them? What reward would inspire you to work through the tough times?

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.


		

What to Write in November? Help!

November is nearly here. That means National Novel Writing Month for all you non-writerly types. In other words, insane writing for thirty days. And I still don’t know what to write.

Today, I’m asking for your advice. I need your input on how to spend my 50,000 words (or more) in November.

It’s not like I don’t have any ideas. Ideas flood my mind at every odd moment day or night.

In fact, I have four ideas that all hold equal appeal to me. Mostly for different reasons.

Here are my ideas:

  1.  A time travel story about a female lawyer
  2.  The elf novel that’s plaguing me
  3.  A New Adult romance that’s a spin-off of the novel my beta readers are reading
  4.  Another collection of short stories

All great ideas, right? That doesn’t help me narrow it down to one. I can only write one during NaNoWriMo.

Idea #1

More than a decade ago, I started this story. Here’s the gist:

A young attorney struggles to defend a guilty client. She’s fallen so far from the faith of her childhood, but this feels like an assault on her ideology of justice. In a freak hiking accident, she’s transported through time to first century Jerusalem, where she comes face-to-face with the Christ she left behind.

Upon returning to conciousness, she quits her job and gives up all her fancy goodies. When she walks into a private law office hoping to find somewhere to utilize her degrees and skills, she meets a man who was in her “dream” about Jerusalem.

Why was he there? Is she imagining things? Was the encounter real?

She is on the path to facing down the ugly truth about herself because it’s the only way she can move forward in freedom.

This story crosses many genre lines so I’m not sure how marketable it would be. But it has many solid messages that I enjoy writing about in my fiction.

Also, it works in my new commitment to write women’s fiction.

Idea #2

Masked_heartsI’ve written two short stories set on Earth that are published with Roane Publishing. Click through to get the newest one for free.

But when I wrote the first novel, I did a lot of backstory. I realized there was easily a novel that should happen in the elven realm (Evendon).

Holt is taken hostage by a magical artifact collector and forced to lead the man and his mercenaries into his home realm. He slyly leads them to his sister’s neck of the woods, where she puts the three outsiders into an enchanted sleep.

Alyona returns to Earth to fetch her human boyfriend who specializes in finding and neutralizing magical objects. He goes into Evendon with her to help stop the bad guy. Of course, he’s one-quarter elf and has an innate magic, that begins to surge through him once he’s in the magical realm.

There he will reunite with his elven grandmother and face the truth about his heritage. And he’ll need to learn to control his magic if he’s going to stop the bad guy from retrieving an artifact that will help him access the dragon realm and a magical power that would breech the borders between the four realms forever.

I’m not supposed to be writing fantasy. I’ve decided to put fantasy on the back burner. But this story begs to be told.

And I already have two published stories that would tie into it so I could create a sales funnel.

Idea #3

This is the other idea that works with my new writing direction. Although it isn’t women’s fiction, it springboards off of the novel I’ve written.

The youngest narrator from my novel, Mercedes Glen, makes a life-altering decision to move to a different state to pursue a relationship with the man she loves. Her parents are opposed so her father cuts off her health insurance.

One of the part-time jobs she takes on brings all her insecurities about her ability to counsel teenagers to the forefront. Her boyfriend’s Greek Orthodox parents aren’t in favor of him marrying outside the faith, even though he is a member and minister of a non-denominational Christian church already.

Lots of conflict. Some sweet romance. And I love this character and I’m already familiar with her voice, plus I have the character study completed. This would be the easiest project to write.

Idea #4

Virtually Yours CoverI wrote a novella that was published in a collection with seven other romance authors. It’s off the market now and I’m subbing it to Roane for a sweet romance call they have open.

I have begun the second (much requested by readers of the first) installment of Marcus and Ronnie’s romance story. It would be another novella I might submit to my small publisher. I have a vague idea for a third installment. I could then put these up and have another series sales funnel to direct readers to my writing.

Even if Roane doesn’t pick up the first one, I could offer it for free as an independently published title to funnel into the other books in the series that I could release within a few weeks of each other.

This is the idea that seems the smartest marketing-wise.

But I despise marketing. I just want to write stories.

So, which idea do you think I should pursue in November? It’s nearly here. Cast your vote in the poll.

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 of 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.

 

Warming up the Patio

House warming. Do they even have those anymore? I don’t know but after all the drama and trauma of the too-long three-week installation of our new patio, it seemed appropriate to have a patio warming.

Do you throw yourself this sort of party?

I’ve always been a little confused by the social standards and expectations for parties, especially if they involved gifts. Doesn’t it seem a little self-centered to throw yourself a birthday bash so people will shower you with gifts?

In this case, the only gift required was attendance…and maybe a side dish for the barbecue.

Before

Our house is seventeen-months new. But that doesn’t mean it has no need for improvement.

It was pretty obvious during our first summer here that the patio was insufficient.

 

I mean, I like to do editing, read-through and read-aloud stages in an outdoor office if the weather is nice. Which is less than six months out of the year in the Pacific Northwest.

The original patio that came with the house was hardly large enough for the grill and my lounge chair.

I wish I was kidding.

DSC_0059_20160726_2857

So on the short wish list of things I wanted to change, the outdoor entertaining area of the back yard become the top priority.

During

The project started a week before we expected it to. And lasted a week longer than we were told to expect.

And it was messy.

DSC_0064_20160727_2862

DSC_0066_20160728_2864

So I didn’t have any outdoor office options for about one month of my three-month summer.

And it wasn’t just the back of the house that became a disaster area.

Who knew patio stones could take up two curbside parking spaces?

DSC_0072_20160728_2870

The weather decided to cooperate. And then escalate.

The day the secondary crew (which we weren’t supposed to need) came to fix the issues the first crew couldn’t seem to deal with, temperatures soared into triple digits.

DSC_0086_20160801_2884

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No, these aren't supposed to do this when you step on them.
No, these aren’t supposed to do this when you step on them.

After

In the end, it didn’t have the level appearance I had imagined.

This is the problem with an imagination. At times it hinders our enjoyment of life as much as false expectations.

Truthfully though, I have everything I could want with a soothing water feature and portable fire pit still to be added.

I spent time in the lounger and at the table reading through the first draft of my novel-in-progress.

DSC_0379_20160819_3177

And there was plenty of space for the family to recline during the patio warming event on Labor Day.

DSC_0378_20160819_3176

It seemed fitting to inaugurate something that required so much labor on that auspicious day.

And the warmest news of all? Those stones heat up and hold the warmth like nobody’s business.

What is the most important feature for your outdoor living space?

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Check out Poet Inspired and all my books. Your honest review is a golden nugget in this writer’s world.

 

Happy Birthday America! And What’s new on my Blog

God bless America! The “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It all began on this day in 1776. A bunch of revolutionaries wrote up a fancy document and sent it off to the King of England, who ruled them at the time.

I’m talking about the Declaration of Independence. But independence isn’t so easily won as that. Winning freedom from oppression takes more than a piece of paper.

This document started our nation on it’s Freedom March

It would be a few more years before the U.S. Constitution was drafted and the United States of America became an independent nation.

So, happy birthday, Miss America. I’m still proud to be an American even if I shudder at some of the problems in America.

Light off an extra fire cracker for me.

The NEW Me

Logo - New Color

Look at the pretty red to pink header on my page. Doesn’t it scream for attention?

And did you notice the new tag-line for my site? Maybe you even voted for it when I was polling my Facebook friends.

Holding out for a Hero.

Has an excellent ring doesn’t it? Makes you think of anything? If I say I write romance or fantasy or inspirational fiction, the line still makes sense. It’s all-inclusive.

And since you’ve been seeing plenty of posts about Captain America and the idea of being a superhero, it makes everything clearer.

I hope.

I’m trying to streamline my author brand. By choosing colors and a tag-line that speaks to the heart of my message, I’m hoping to find my niche, make a connection or just settle in with an audience.

Special Blog Series

Beginning this week, I’m going to start a series of posts to fit the theme “What Would Wonder Woman Do?” I got this idea from a discarded tag-line during the process of honing in on the perfect fit.

Since I’m trying to make all my posts have something to do with heroes, this seems perfect.

Look for this meme on Thursdays, and you’ll know my take on something from Wonder Woman’s worldview is about to follow.

WWDT

Another series inspired by rejected tag-lines is “Between the Lines.” I’m not sure when I’ll begin posts with that theme but they will be the midweek post once Wonder Woman is exhausted.

Does Wonder Woman ever need a break? This one does.

Your Input

Beginning this month, if you follow via email, you’ll notice that I’m returning to posting three days per week. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep that up.

Mondays will be my regular posts. Thursdays will be my What Would Wonder Woman Do series (until I deplete my creative brain on that topic). On Friday or Saturday, I’ll post “The Week In Gratitude” or something like that. It will be the gratitude memes for the week.

How does all this sound?

I don’t hear much from the readers of my blog. I tell myself it’s because you’re delighted with the content I’m providing. If it’s because you’re bored or aren’t reading it, I hope this change will inspire renewed interest.

If you have ideas for series themes, let me know. If there are other topics you wish I’d address, feel free to tell me about it. The comments on this post is the perfect place for that. Or use the contact form from the “Author Info” page.

So What Would Wonder Woman do if she were you?

Five things you should never say to an author

*This post was first published on May 4, 2016 on the Roane Publishing Blog.

If you’re an author, you’ve heard these platitudes before. More frequently than you want. For those of you who meet and talk to writers, you may have said one of these five things.

Authors aren’t the only ones to suffer from people’s gross inconsideration. How many times did I hear unsolicited advice from strangers when I was pregnant? Yeah, I have better things to do than keep track of that.

Still, if I didn’t ask for your input, could you refrain from offering it?

It’s a tad easier to accept hearing these things from strangers on the street. Unfortunately, friends and family are often just as guilty of being nosy and unkind. People mean well, right? They are clueless about the writing process and ignorant about a published author’s required skills.

That said, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. But after you read this post, you’ll need to step up and stop belittling the work of writers.

What are these five things you should never say?

Here they are along with an explanation of what an author hears when you say them. AND why you shouldn’t say it – or anything close to it – to them ever again.

  1. “I’m going to write a novel some day.”

What I heard you say: “What you do is easy. Anyone can do it.”

Really? You’ve written 70,000 (or more) words in less than thirty days and then spent three months rewriting, revising, editing and polishing them? During that time, you cried and screamed, laughed and danced. Afterward, you attempt to find a publisher who likes this piece of your heart and soul.

The fact is most sane people would give up on this after their first attempt. Or spend ten years reworking the same story. Authors write, rewrite, revise, edit, polish and ship.

Then they get to work on the next project.

2. “What’s your real job?”

What I heard you say: “Writing books is a hobby. Get a paying job.”

For some people, writing books might be a hobby. For me, however, it’s my full-time career. I head down the hall to my office five days per week. I spend three to five hours working on my current project(s). Most days, it takes another hour to beef up my online presence (called an author brand or platform) and cruise through my email (queries, rejections, connections, and blog comments).

Sounds like a real job to me.

But you’re right, I would make more money slinging burgers at McDonald’s. But my soul would shrivel.

3. “Everyone writes books these days.”

What I heard you say: “There’s nothing special about what you do. Anyone can get published.”

Everyone can publish their own work, sure, but that doesn’t mean anyone reads it. I might have only a handful of people who aren’t related to me reading what I write, but that’s not my dream or goal.

Furthermore, everyone can’t get published through traditional means. In fact, it’s harder to get a publishing contract than it is to get a speeding ticket.

4. “I’ve never heard of you.”

What I heard you say: “You must not be a decent writer because you’re not famous.”

If I listed the authors with the most books on the market today, I bet you wouldn’t recognize even half their names. It’s not all about Stephen King, Nora Roberts and James Patterson.

I’ve heard of many of these authors but haven’t read their books. In fact, I will NEVER read a book by Stephen King because horror gives me nightmares. No thanks. I need my sleep.

Fame isn’t even the goal for most authors. Most of us would like to make enough to pay the bills and take a nice vacation once a year. And, no, we don’t care if someone who’s never read our books knows our name.

5. “What’s your book about?”

What I heard you say: “Explain in one minute what you’ve poured your heart, soul, mind and time into for the past three months.”

My first thought is “Which one?”

For the record, I’m working on two or three projects at the same time. I’m not sure which one of these you want me to talk about. Most likely, you’re asking about the one I most recently published. I’ll have to think a minute (or five) because that story has already been told.

I might give you my elevator pitch. Or maybe I’ll talk about the premise or underlying theme. Asking an author what their book is about is like asking a psychologist what she did at work or a heart surgeon to explain a triple-bypass.

So-now you know what we don’t want to talk about. And this isn’t to say we don’t want to talk about our book, believe me. But with a general question like that last one, we could be here all night without satisfying your curiosity.

On the other hand, authors love when people say:

“Will you sign my copy of your book?”

“Oh my gosh! You write books? I know a real live author.”

“I loved your book more than The Hunger Games.”

So the next time you’re chatting up a perfect stranger, and you find out they’re an author, you’ll know exactly what to say (and what NOT to say).

You’re welcome.

So, author friends, what other things do you hate people to say to you about your writing? Or what do you love to hear?

My Crazy Author Interview

Having fun in Cabo, Mexico - December 2014
Having fun in Cabo, Mexico – December 2014

I don’t usually post on Saturday. And no, I’m not going to start now.

But I got this great opportunity to be interviewed by a fellow indie author. And her questions are more explosive than lit fireworks.

Think I’m kidding?

Well, maybe you think you know if I’d choose teleportation over telekinesis. You can find out over at H.L. Burke’s blog today.

Just click on this link and you’ll discover my secret superpower wish and what my weapon of choice would be during an alien invasion.

Also, I get to rescue a fictional character from death – find out who.

Just click the blue link already!

Encouragement at the Right Moment

This morning, I woke up feeling alone. I wasn’t. My husband’s alarm had just blared, and a cat curled against either side of my body.

My heart gaped, a barren wilderness.

Why do humans experience this? Everything around us goes along like the Friday evening commuter train, but our emotions bottom out.

What’s worse: people have complimented me on my amazing marriage.

Ha! That’s what I wanted to yell this morning.

My husband and I are miles apart. I tried to talk to him about x and he kept watching the football game. When I asked him to do y with me, he was too busy cleaning out the garage.

And I want the garage cleaned out as much as the next person. Truly. While he watched football, I read a chapter or two from three separate books I’m plowing through at the moment.

It’s not like it was a life-or-death moment.

But it’s become the norm in our home, rather than the exception.

When Paths Diverge

Many years ago now, I experienced a similar feeling.

We were in a much different place. Our boys had both just begun attending school full-time (now they are college graduates). My husband had a job that required travel, and I was a volunteer at the school, still unsure what to do with time that had previously been dedicated to entertaining my preschool-aged child.

The only similarity: I was trying to pursue my writing dream.

I gave it up back then.

When I described this time to my cousin, I said:

“We’re on different paths. His is moving steadily away from mine. The only way to change things is to turn them toward each other. So I make the choice to abandon my path and join his.”

Those words replayed again this morning. And my immediate thought was, “Well, I changed paths last time so it’s his turn.”

Now you know the truth about how unselfish I’m not.

Love is a Choice

My biggest issue with romance novels and romance movies is they paint love as some intense feeling.

Love-is-a-decisionTwo people meet. They’re physically attracted to each other. Somehow one of them helps the other out of a jam (maybe they help each other). Hands touch and sparks fly. Lips meet and it’s an earthquake of epic proportions.

Reality is a bit different. Sure, it might start the same way, but once two people commit to a lifetime together, things change.

No matter how perfect someone is, they will eventually rub you the wrong way. Voices will raise. Words which can’t be unspoken will slash tender feelings.

Now it’s time for love to step in. Love says, “I forgive you.” It chooses to forget the hurt and focus on the positive things. It won’t hold a grudge-ever.

Did I feel like letting go of the anger? After all, I was RIGHT. He should have to say it (and we should write it down because it has happened only a handful of times in our nearly three decades together).

I choose to love. Love says, “My way is not as important as keeping the peace.”

I know, completely not what human nature wants to say.

But, when I’m not “feeling the love,” I can still choose to act in a loving way. Because love is a choice.

Encouragement via Email

I follow a few dozen blogs. Some of them appear automatically on my WordPress reader. Others show up in email form.

This Monday, two emails came from two different Christian authors I follow.

The first one, entitled Loving for Life (from Melinda Inman), got a scan. I mean, I didn’t feel like being reminded that I had made a promise on May 27, 1988.

But a few phrases made it past my stubbornness anyway:

“They didn’t mesh seamlessly from day one.”

“Every marriage has the potential to fall apart-all it takes is one of the two partners deciding they’ve had enough.”

But I wasn’t deciding THAT. I just wanted to bask in my right-ness for a few minutes.

So the next email says “The mechanics of love (this is not as boring as it sounds).”

I had to click through to read the entire post. I’m glad I did.

Not because Pastor Bubna said anything new. Nope. I’d heard it all before. Many times. I’d even said some of it when doling out advice.

I needed to hear it today. These two writers spoke straight to my heart.

Their encouragement landed in my inbox at the exact moment I needed it.

And I put my right to being right aside. Seriously. Who needs it? Wouldn’t I rather have a husband who is my best friend?

The little voice that whispered, “It’s the writing that’s the problem” got snuffed, too.

It isn’t the writing. In fact, the writing has the potential to offer the same sort of encouragement to a world of people who I will never meet face-to-face. Like the two emails did for me.

The writing is a gift from the Giver of Life, and He recently showed me a more perfect way to use it for Him. So, of course, the enemy stepped right up hoping to discourage me from moving in that direction.

Friends, choose love today. You might not feel like it, but that’s okay. Love is always the right choice – and rarely the easy choice.

Any of my regular readers have any experience similar to these? Share your lessons. Be the encouragement others need.