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.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

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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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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?