Author: Sharon Hughson

Sharon Lee spent her youth talking to animals, who never replied, until she escaped to Narnia, where animals did talk back. The magical portal of reading made her a dream weaver. Now, she invites fantasy addicts and dreamers to time travel into immortal, mystical realms.

The Hawaii of My Birth Month

Three days until I fly south for the winter.

Okay, I’m actually only going for a week, but since it’s Hawaii, it’s a week in Paradise. Which is almost the same a migrating for winter.

I wish.

If I can’t hibernate in winter, I should get to migrate. Maybe someday.


At least my husband understands my need for Vitamin D infusions. (So does my primary care giver, but she’s not invited on this vacation with us.)

As I mentioned last week, Mr. Wonderful took me to Hawaii for my 50th birthday. Well, I wasn’t actually THERE on my birth date, but it was close enough to count.

This time I’ll actually be there on my birthday.

I have to admit, this is a PERFECT gift for someone who:

  1. Comes to life in the sunshine
  2. Suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder
  3. Has been feeling claustrophobic beneath the Oregon gray skies

(Of course, as I wrote this post, it was all blue skies and sunshine outside my office window. The weather man had predicted the same for the entire week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it’s harder to recall how bland those cloudy skies make me feel when God paints them baby blue and brilliant.)

This is what I’m looking forward to waking up to every day.

Here’s what I expect to see on a nightly basis.

Best of all, I plan to do a couple things I haven’t done yet:

  1. Horseback riding with my oldest daughter
  2. Parasailing
  3. Stepping as close to a live lava flow as allowed

What’s strange about Hawaii in December is the Christmas trees and other decorations. I’m used to snow and cold being associated with those things, but that won’t be part of my birth month on the island.

Also, Hawaiian Christmas music isn’t the same-old same-old that’s been playing on the radio in Oregon since WAY TOO EARLY in November.

All those ukelele-accompanied songs remind me I’m enjoying a tropical holiday…during the Christmas holiday season.

Have you been to the tropics in December? What stood out to you?

The Hawaii of Year’s Past

Ten days from now, I will arrive on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Palm trees are in my future

There will be sunshine and palm trees. A volcano will spew lava every day.

Kilauea erupting

Since I grew up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens and survived the 1980 eruption, I’m excited about all that. It will be neat to see lava flow rather than the mud flow that decimated Washington all those years ago.

I’ve been to Hawaii before.

My first trip was to Honolulu in 1999. I went with a friend who had two aunts that lived on the island. We stayed in Waikiki. Very commercial, still we had a good time.

My second trip was for my 25th anniversary. Kind of.

Hubs and I went to Maui in October of 2013. I wrote some blogs from that visit.

Like this one about biking down a volcano.

It sounds like I have a thing for volcanoes, doesn’t it?

Mr. Wonderful also took me to Hawaii for my 50th birthday a couple years ago.

We stayed in a Hilton resort on Oahu. It happened to be a big Pearl Harbor anniversary while we were there and they held the reception at our resort. Very cool.


And it was 70 degrees.

I got to lay beside the pool and not really sweat but still get a sun tan.

Yeah, that’s my idea of vacation perfection.

This year it was supposed to be a family vacation with our kids and their wives.

But…then this happened.

They’re pretty happy with this news too!

Hawaii in December. I won’t complain about that. Besides, it’s my first trip to the Big Island.

Have you been there? What should we do (besides soak up Vitamin D and enjoy the tropical splendor?)

The News I Never Expected

I’m married to a man who has a genetic history of mostly male siblings. He had two brothers. His dad had only a brother. We have two sons.

This is why I expected to have only grandsons.

BUT…then they had the ultrasound today.

My first grandchild

My first grandbaby is a GIRL!

I’m still stunned.

Shocked.

In a state of wonder and disbelief.

They’re pretty happy with this news too!

After this, I’ll probably go on a retail binge to validate this unexpected news into reality.

And cute girl baby things…I mean, it’s been so many years since I could indulge in these to my heart’s content. I only have one niece, and she’s closing in on the big three-oh.

So, all you grandmothers of girls, what is the best part?

My mom had a special birthday tradition with her only granddaughter. It involved a shopping trip for only the two of them. I believe it often included a sleep-over, as well.

I like this idea.

What are some other grandmother-granddaughter traditions?

I’m looking forward to hearing ALL your fantastic ideas. I’m going to start a special folder on my computer called MY GRANDDAUGHTER. (She might have a name, but that’s not my news to share.)

This wasn’t supposed to me my regular blog post day, so I promise that Thursday’s post will be short, sweet and mostly pictures.

Writing “The End”

November. It’s golden leaves turn brown and crunch beneath the soles of my shoes. (Shoes and socks?! Ugh!) Then the wind blows them away.

Meanwhile…at my computer…

National Novel Writing Month compels me to write at least 50,000 words.

For the past five years, I’ve attempted to accomplish this feat before Thanksgiving. Since the first day of the month was a Thursday, my favorite holiday came early this year.

Which means my Nanowrimo deadline came later.

Day One

It begins. I’m excited. I have prepped the two Scrivener files I’m using for the next two First Street Church romance novellas. If I draft both of them fully, that should take me closer to 60,000 words.

There’s a write-in at a local coffee shop from 1 PM to 3 PM. There are only two of us there, but words pour from our fingertips.

I update my word count on the nanowrimo.org website as frequently as possible.

Day Two

I’ve decided to write all Bailey Travers’ point of view scenes first and then return to write the shero scene. This is exactly how I wrote my young adult fantasy novel during November two years ago.

By the end of the day, I have 8,000 words.

Write on!

Day Three and Four

The weekend. I don’t usually write on weekends. This means I won’t get the badge for updating my word count five days in a row. *sad face*

Day Five

I’m scheduled to work at St. Helens Middle School. This position involves teaching seventh grade science for four hours and monitoring a study hall for an hour.

During the hour prep period, I start Jaz’s first scene.

Since I’m showing the same movie and discussing the same work sheet during all four class periods, I manage to finish writing the scene during the afternoon class sessions.

Day Six

I need to research a few items about the Texas Family Protective Services for Jaz’s story line. Also, I’ve missed my Monday scheduling of Facebook and Social Media, so my morning is unproductive as far as word count goes.

In the afternoon, I finish off all of Bailey’s scenes. I’ll be ready for Jaz in the morning.

Day Seven

I wake up with a sore throat.

Day Eight

I’m still lethargic from not completing the usual workout stuff. I’m in the Hot Seat during the weekly Novel Academy webinar, so I work on the dark moment for Tessa, the shero of the second novella I intend to write during November.

I do manage to get the SEQ filled out (although it changes somewhat during my 30 minutes of fame online), and write a scene from Jaz’s point of view.

I’m still ahead in the word count.

Day Nine

Finally, I have a 4,000-word writing day.

Word count by day-end: 20,875

Day Ten – Eleven

Weekend Again. I write this blog post and do laundry. Sunday, there’s church.

Day Twelve

Conquer the FINAL scene of November novella #1

(Yes, this manuscript might need additional scenes to complete it, but I’m ready for Tessa Travers to face her demons and fall in love.)

Except wait…this scene refuses to be written today, so on to the the opening scene of Tessa’s story. Hey, at least I wrote a couple thousand words.

Day Thirteen

Thanks to the repeated listening of John chapter 11, my writer’s brain gets a new idea. It would include redesigning the cover this book:

And releasing it as A PONDERING HEART next Christmas. After that, another new book written from the perspective of other Bible women would be released each month until Easter 2020, when the fourth (and possibly final) REFLECTIONS book would come out. (Thus, it’s a series so a cover redesign is imperative so all the covers can feel similar and I can’t afford to hire the cover designer who created what you see above for THREE additional covers.)

So, I wrote a scene for that first story (Maybe A SERVANT’S GIFT) to the total of 1,527 words.

Afterward, my muse allowed me to finish Jaz and Bailey’s story.

Thank you, Ms. Muse.

Daily total: 3,556 words

Day Fourteen

Edits on LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE.

Must. Submit. To. Publisher. This. Week.

Day Sixteen

Tonight’s the night. Our local writers show up at the public library at 5PM and write and write and write.

Creative energy buzzes around us, increasing everyone’s typing speed.

There is pizza. There are sweet treats. Some drink coffee and others consume tea.

The past three years, I reached 50,000 words on this night.

So not happening this year. But the camaraderie is delightful and the story unfolds.

Day Nineteen

More of the same. Some scenes fly off my fingers. Others feel like I’m cutting them out with a dull Exact-o blade.

But…eventually…I reach the end of the second novella.

It’s Finally Over

Not really. Come January or February, these two stories will be subjected to my extensive rewriting and revising process before finding their way to beta readers and my editor.

If you’re a faithful reader, I’m planning for them to release in April and June 2019.

But, what is finally finished is the insanity of National Novel Writing Month.

Goodbye, November.

I’ll be heading to Hawaii in three weeks…and I’ve got some revising to do on my other April release before then.

The “Choices” I’d Like to Make

In October, I made a huge mistake. It involved my iPad and game applications.

Once upon a time, I played Candy Crush. Then I rammed against a level I couldn’t conquer. But I still opened the application and spent my lives every day. Then friends sent me lives.

It became a time suck.

So I deleted the application.

But recently, I wanted a little “down time” for my brain. So I downloaded Matchington Mansion.

This was a BAD idea.

I want to get through all the tasks. Which means I have to play the levels to earn stars (because you KNOW I’m not spending money on those things).

Don’t download this time sucking game if you have a competitive streak.

Stupid Ads

Most games have an option to watch video advertisements so you can earn coins or stars or diamonds.

I don’t want to watch ads.

But sometimes I needed the coins. Truly. Because I was this *holds fingers an inch apart* close to beating a tough level.
Now I’m stuck on level 204.


Thankfully, there was an ad for a “free” story game. Choices is the name of the application.

Of course, I downloaded it because I wasn’t beating that level on MM. And when I tried, it stressed me out, so I needed another game to help me relax.

Who Writes These Stories

I’m a storyteller, so the idea of choosing the story line makes me happy. Most of the “books” were romances. Many geared to teenagers, but who doesn’t want to go back and make high school a happy memory.

I should have known.

If the story possibilities aren’t ridiculous, the good choices are going to cost me.

In this game, it’s all about diamonds. A dozen here will give you time to build your friendship with someone. Fifteen here will make you the hero of the day. Not to mention the 18 needed for the perfect homecoming dress.

At a mere $1.99 for 20, why not?


Why?

Why did I ever start playing these games?

Now there’s a new one called The Elementalists with magic and a college where they’ll train me to use magic I didn’t even know I had.
It only costs 15 diamonds for those cool magical orbs. And a mere 17 diamonds will give me private tutoring sessions with the smart kid.
Yeah, I’m done for. Today I actually looked at buying 60 diamonds because it worked out to TEN for FREE. Because since starting the Choices adventure, I’ve purchased at least 60 diamonds (more like 120, but don’t tell anyone).
May as well get a deal.

Help!

Send iTunes gift cards. For $19.99, I could purchase 250 diamonds! That should keep me in the coolest of Choices for a week or two.
What about you? Have you made some unhealthy choices recently?

What Sort of Grandma Will I Be?

In April 2019, I’ll be a grandmother. *screams, jumps around room*

*Smooths hair* I’ve given up on the idea that I’m too young to be a grandma. I mean, people still gasp when I tell them the age of my kids, and as long as that continues, I think it’s safe to embrace the joy of being a grandma.

Because I had a grandma who rocked my world. I am a writer because of her encouragement. Apparently my Roman nose comes from her, and so does my strangely long second toe.

When I was six, she moved away and became my first pen pal. Yes, that used to be a thing before there was a World Wide Web that made such an idea obsolete.

I want to be involved in my grandchild’s life.

But what does that mean?

Grandma Next Door

Before we had kids, my husband and I bought our first house. It was down the block from his parents’ house and the place he’d grown up.

I was more than a little nervous about this. I wondered if he parents would be over all the time, interfering, trying to tell us how to do things.

And then I had kids. Mine weren’t the first grandchildren, but I still feared the worst.
It never came to pass.

My inlaws were respectful of our privacy and space. They rarely dropped by unannounced, and we truly didn’t see them any more frequently than we had when we lived across town.

My mom lived up the road a few miles and worked down the street. I didn’t see her at my house all the time either.

So, I tell myself that just because I live close to the grandkids doesn’t mean I will see them every day.

But, these grandparents did show up to Saturday soccer games and weeknight t-ball games. If there were school concerts, they attended. Eventually, there were high school events, and they tried to be supportive of those, too.

That’s what I want for my grandkids. I want them to know I’m proud of their accomplishments and I support their dreams.

Commuting Grandma

Can I be proud and supportive if I live an hour or more away?

I think that’s a definite YES as long as my health allows it. If my heredity plays its role, I should have at least twenty years of healthy days ahead. That sees me through their high school years, for sure.

I could drive an hour on a weeknight to attend a concert or play. It wouldn’t be a hardship to drive that far on Saturday to watch a soccer game (although I’d prefer to watch just about any other sport over soccer).

What if we moved further away? What if the “commute” was three or four hours? Would I still be available to support their activities?


Visiting Grandma’s House

The truth is, I loved visiting Grandma’s house. I loved baking with her (and it wasn’t all about licking the beaters) and playing games with her.

This is the grandmother I want to be. Oh, and the jury is still out on the special grandma name, but I’m leaning toward “Lolly” and my husband could be “Pop.” Then the kids could say, “We’re going to Lollypop’s house!”

In this day when kids are SO involved in activities, will my grandkids want to spend time at my house?

The bigger concern for me: if I live too far away, will I make it impossible for them to do so?

Yes, I think my husband and I should plan our retirement according to our dreams. But we didn’t have children so we would never see them or spend time with them.

I’ve enjoyed having the monthly game nights with my kids. I’d love to see that continue with grandkids, teaching them to play rummy and cribbage. Of course there will be Chutes and Ladders and Sorry. Some games are too classic to pass up.
I won’t see them every day. I doubt we’ll ever live “down the block.”

Friends of ours said they LOVE living three hours away because when they go to see the grandkids, it can be a special trip and devoted to total grandkid time. It makes the visits special.

Is that a truism I can count on?

Even after my grandmother moved two states away, I still considered her a loving and involved grandma. In this day of Facetime and Skype, I’m sure I could check in weekly with my grandchildren.

But will I?

We’d planned to do the same with our adult kids, but their work schedules don’t mesh with ours. And they’re busy with their lives. Will it really be different when kids come?

What are your thoughts? What sort of relationship did you have with your grandparents? What kind of grandma do kids these days want?

National Novel Writing Month Again

November.

Five years ago, I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, and I wrote a young adult fantasy novel.
It was beyond easy to churn out 50,000 words in less than thirty days.

This convinced me I could be a professional author. I have the ability to write at a professional pace.

And that manuscript?

I revised it and tried to sell it to agents. But no one was buying. So that book and the other two in the trilogy are slumbering on my hard drive.

Will I ever revisit them? Maybe. I did re-read them and I love the premise, but since my audience is engaged in my Christian romances, I don’t have an audience for these books.

I still wish to write the young adult fantasy books. I even submit the polished manuscripts from time to time. But since the doors aren’t opening, that means it isn’t the path God wants me to take at this time.

Still, it’s November, and I love the camaraderie of writing with others who are trying to create something from nothing. So, my plan for this National Novel Writing Month is to complete the final book in the Texas Homecoming trilogy and to draft Tessa Travers’s romance.

Texas Homecoming

The first book in this series shows up as book nine in the First Street Church romance series.

You can check out LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS here. I hope you’ve read it. If you have, what did you think?

The second book is on its way back from my line editor. Once I get the manuscript back, I’ll incorporate the editor’s recommended changes, make any small adjustments and read through it for a final polish.

It’s due at my publisher’s office by December 1. I’ll have it there early, and hopefully, LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE will hit the shelves at Amazon before Christmas.

This means the love story between Jaz and Bailey is fresh in my mind. It should pour from my fingertips with ease during the month.

The working title is LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH.

This is the quick blurb I wrote for the nanowrimo.org website:

His past calls out his future in the ultimate showdown.
Bailey Travers wrote off his biological father the same day his grandmother gave him and his sister to the state. Too bad the thief and dealer is out now and back to ingratiate himself to Tessa Travers, who has none of the black memories Bailey hasn’t considered in a decade.
Jazlyn Rolle’s only back in Sweet Grove to help her mother recover from an automobile accident, but when she discovers a runaway in Cider Mill Park, she can’t leave the situation alone. He reminds her of the boy Bailey carries around in his soul, and helping the boy gives he more sense of purpose than anything her paralegal work has done.
While Bailey tries to keep his father from making off with more than a few antiques, Tess is pushing him to forgive the man and welcome him into their life. She can’t see past the charming exterior that pushed their birth mother into using and dealing drugs. This time, he won’t let Jaz rescue him. It’s time he faced down his past or he’s sure they won’t have a happy future.
Letting go of a sure thing, Jaz walks away from her job in Austin and embarks into a degree program that will allow her to be the County Children’s Advocate and administer a new halfway house for foster system kids. When her father shows up to support the opening, she’s come full circle.
Bailey will need every ounce of the emerging faith in God and himself to banish his past and grab the future Jaz offers him back on the ranch where he belongs.

Tessa Travers

As early as last May, I fell in love with Tessa Travers. She was a bubbling force of nature, and I decided she needed her own story.
But she didn’t come to me fully formed.

I had an idea that the romance would center around her determination to convert her family’s ranch into a dude ranch, and the hero would be her business partner, but I didn’t have much clarity beyond that.

After the pain of the Deep Thinker’s Retreat, I know better than to sit down to write without sketching out my character’s SEQ. I needed to know what Tess’s dark moment story was and what lie and fear haunted her because of it.

Furthermore, I needed all of those things for the hero, too. I had some work to do before that story was ready to be drafted.

But, I’ll manage to scribble down enough so the first draft won’t be too ugly.

Have you ever written a novel? What is the hardest part for you?

Looking Ahead to Retirement

Retirement is for the old. Or the rich. And let’s face it, I’m neither.

But when your investment advisor calls you to discuss your retirement portfolio, you start thinking about it.
If the lady selling pre-paid funeral packages calls you a few months later, it’s probably a second hint. You know, that maybe you SHOULD be thinking about retirement.

There’s plenty of press that says Americans better start planning to work until they’re 70. And why not if you’re healthy? And if you’re going to live until you’re in your 80s, that still gives you plenty of time to enjoy life.

If there is life after work.


I’m not so sure. My mother retired and a few years later she was struck by lymphoma. Five years later, we were weeping at her funeral.

There’s not a single guarantee that any of us will make it beyond today.

So why think about retirement?

Well, if you want to retire, you’ll need to make a plan.

What’s the Right Age?

According to the TIME MAGAZINE article I’m referencing, most Americans are planning to retire too early. Half of them retire between the ages of 61 and 65.

What’s the problem with this?

Well, you can’t claim social security benefits until the age of 66 (67 for those of us born after 1960). And you can forget about Medicare until after you’re 65.

My husband would like to retire sometime between 63 and 66. As an author, I don’t plan to ever retire, but I do hope to stop substitute teaching when my current license expires.

We’ll see if that dream comes true.

What’s After That?

My thought about retirement is: Why?
What are you going to do if you don’t go to work?
In my experience, people retire and their health fades. This is true about nearly half the people I know. They stop getting up in the morning and they don’t make any plans for their days.

This wasn’t the case for my mom. She enrolled in Master Gardeners and learned a new skill in an arena she loves. She worked with her husband making items to sell at bazaars. They traveled.

And then disease struck.

Poor health is one of the things that robs retirement of any of the expected joy of living.

It’s also the reason some people plan to retire on this side of sixty.

A teacher I worked with for ten years retired before her 60th birthday because she had the means. She’s still substituting at the school, but most of the time she’s involved in home improvement projects, riding one of her horses and spending time with family and friends.

She decided when a friend of hers received a horrible medical diagnosis, that she wasn’t going to wait. She wanted to live, not just work all her life for someone else.

I admire her. Her mother is 90. Will my friend’s financial resources support her if she lives that long?

Our Early Plan

This month, we borrowed an RV and traveled over to LaPine, Oregon. It’s the place my husband has scoped out that seems to have inexpensive land.
His plan: Get an RV and travel a week here and there but keep a home base. When we’re done traveling, sell the RV and settle into a 2,000 square foot house (paid for) that’s close enough so the kids and grandkids can (and will) visit, but is also located in an area with enough outdoor activities to keep us active.
My plan: Be debt-free. Yeah, that’s about it.
I’m all for traveling in an RV. I think I would enjoy it as long as it became “my home.” Because I’m a home body. I love my bed more than any other place to sleep in the world.

But my idea if travel in an RV involves being on the road for a month or more at a time. I want to explore every state in the US and drive coast-to-coast through Canada. You’re not going to do that in a week and see anything.

I’ve always envisioned myself being part of my grandkids’ lives, though. When my Gram moved away, I was heartbroken. My best childhood memories involve visits to her house.

Can I be a grandmother if I live hundreds of miles from my grandkids?

What do you think is the prime age for retirement? What do you hope to do when you’re retired?

Professional in Need of Feedback

I’m a professional author. That means I write a story and send it off to my publisher. Right?

Wrong.

In most cases, most professional authors write a manuscript and return to it to rewrite, revise (not the same as rewriting), edit (not the same as revising) and polish (a cat of an entirely different color) as many as TEN times before sending it off to anyone. And often, their first readers are NOT their editors but a group of alpha readers, many of whom are writers in a similar genre.

Now that I’ve been a published author for four years, my manuscripts should be pretty close to perfect at the end of two or three drafts.

I wish.

My Process

Sadly, I don’t write a first draft that’s ready for public consumption. Not even by my Aunt Betty who dearly adores everything I write (because she loves me). Manuscripts I write have generally survived three passes from me before they go to my early readers.

  1. FAST DRAFT: Just as it sounds. I sit down with my character sketches, the major plot point beat sheets and write the story.
  2. REWRITES: A few weeks after I finish the first draft, I read through the manuscript and mark it with symbols. I mark where more detail is needed, where there is a plot hole, where I’m bored and where things don’t make sense. A week later, I sit down with that manuscript and rewrite all the troublesome areas. Usually, I will increase the word count by about ten percent.
  3. REVISIONS: Shortly after I finish the rewrites, I turn to page one and begin revisions. I start by making a scene chart. At the beginning of each scene, I ask what the goal of the scene is and whether it’s accomplished. If there is no goal, the scene is scrapped or rewritten to reflect a goal. I go sentence by sentence through the revised scene and cull needless words.

Now my manuscript is ready for beta readers. Generally, I send them a list asking them to look at specific aspects of the story, but I always invite them to comment about anything they like or dislike as they’re reading.


Once all the comments come back, my manuscripts get three more passes.

  1. MORE REVISIONS: First, I read-through the comments and make changes on a scene level as I see fit based on the beta commentary. Sometimes, I have to scrap or completely rewrite scenes. Other times, I need to add some meat. I may not work on EVERY scene in this pass, only the ones that needed work according to the readers.
  2. EDITS: I print out a copy of the manuscript and read it aloud. Yep, some people might find this crazy. I use a colored pen to mark up the manuscript. Usually I read a couple chapters and then return to my computer to input the changes. Sometimes they get changed again as I’m doing the inputting. This pass generally takes longer than any of the others.
  3. POLISH: I compile from Scrivener to a Word document. I do a few macro searches for overused words and change them out. Then I start at the first page and polish line by line, making sure spelling, grammar and punctuation are as perfects as I can make them.

Now, the manuscript is ready for my publisher.

This Story

This summer, Kindle Worlds closed down. I begged Melissa Storm, the author who owned the universe I’d published in there, to form her own small press. She did!

Sweet Promise Press is unique in that they are 100 percent shared series. Not only has she opened up the First Street Church universe that was the Kindle World, but she’s invited authors to pitch ideas for other worlds. Then she opens up submissions for these individual series.

As an author from her Kindle World, she invited me to the group right away. I submitted interest in two of the first five shared series, and I’m contracted to write a novella for the Mommy’s Little Matchmakers series in April 2019.

The novella is written. As I pen this blog, it is with an amazing editor for critical feedback about plot and character arc, as well as the style. Since I’ve never written this genre, I’m worried my sense of humor may get missed or not resound with readers.

One thing about Sweet Promise Press that was quite different from Roane Publishing (where my first fiction works were published)is that they only proofread. It is part of the author contract that a manuscript is line edited before submission.

This is NOT that edit. I’ve contracted the recommended line editor to handle that closer to publication.

My manuscript is with Kristen Corrects, Inc. for something more along the lines of a developmental edit. Except that would have cost about twice as much as what I’m paying her to do with the story. I’m hoping that I’ve got the story RIGHT and only need help with the comedic elements.


SO…I hope I sell enough copies of this story to offset the cost of TWO rounds of editing.

My Hope

I worked with Kristen on my first First Street Church novella, Love’s Late Arrival. She really helped me make that story shine.

I’m hoping she’ll be able to spot all the weaknesses in this new story.

In this case, readers deserve to get the best story. I know I can deliver a great story, but if I miss the mark on the humor, the reviews are going to scream it.

“Romantic comedy is supposed to be funny!”

Most of my stories have an edge of darkness. I always end on a hopeful note, but I’m a realist. I don’t write fluffy stories. My character face some hard issues, but they press on and find light at the end of the shadowy journey.

That’s not the case here. So I had to find lighter issues for my characters to face, but I didn’t want it to be trite.

If anyone can help me bring the story to a smile-inducing place, it’s Kristen.

What questions do you have about the writing or editing process? Are you surprised I spend so much time on each manuscript(and will still release three new novellas and two short stories this year)?

There’s No Changing History

I’m not a history buff. I won’t even claim to like studying historical events. But when I’m traveling, I do appreciate absorbing historical sites and monuments.

For me, it has nothing to do with the past. Seeing a landmark placed in a specific spot to cement a significant event touches the part of me that realizes time is limited. Life is a river rushing me ever toward the sea of eternity.

But these monuments are like a boulder in the river.

A person could rest on them. A person could take a break from paddling against contrary currents. The boulder offers a solid place in the maelstrom.

Of course, I’ve been rafting on the Deschutes River in Maupin, Oregon. A boulder could capsize your raft. It could dump everyone you love into the foaming mess of whitewater, eager to devour you…or at least scrape you along the sharp and unforgiving stones of the riverbed.

Actual photo of my family rafting the Deschutes.

Recently, my husband and I traveled to Florida for a couples’ retreat. The retreat was held at the Renaissance International World Golf in St. Augustine.

After my first ever lunch of Cuban food, we strolled through the historical fort. There was an old Catholic rectory. The governor’s house had been converted to a museum.

Crowds teemed through the unique shop area. Sun beat down from an autumn sky unlike those in Oregon. A fickle breeze lifted clothes that clung to every inch of perspiring skin.

In a park near the marina where traffic backed up because a draw bridge was raised, there was an old depot platform. Several statues and monoliths paid homage to people and events of the past. There was even an old pillar remaining from the Spanish capital that had once occupied this oldest of American cities.

The Monument to Men

One of the monolithic stones, a quite simple piece of plain rock, had been raised to honor those from the city of St. Augustine who gave their lives protecting it during what southerners refer to as The War of Northern Aggression. (That’s the Civil War for those of us who aren’t northerners, but have been blessed to be raised near the end of the Oregon Trail in God’s Country.) *sticks out her tongue at a particular cousin who will be reading this*

Where I live, there are monuments like this to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War I and World War II. I believe there’s even a little something for veterans of Desert Storm.

The point of this monument is to memorialize soldiers who fought for their homes. Some of the monuments honor the survivors. The ones that are most poignant to me are the memorials of those who died for the cause.

What person should not be honored for giving their life for a cause?

The Inscription

I don’t recall the exact words. But on a pole to one side of this simple memorial a metal sign had been mounted.
It claimed that there had been some legislation requiring the removal of all landmarks in honor of Confederates in the Civil War. It went on to state that residents petitioned to keep this simple monolith intact and were granted their petition.

Thank you, petitioners. This is what U.S. democracy is supposed to look like.

Better yet, why pass ridiculous laws that do nothing?

I can imagine the very men honored by this monument rolling over in their graves.

“People say we were fighting to keep slaves,” one would say. “I was fighting for freedom.”

“Freedom from a government that wanted to minimize our personal rights,” another says.

Because this war wasn’t fought over a single issue. The largest percentage of men who died had probably never owned a slave, nor would have chose to if they could.

The Facts

History happened. It’s over. There’s no point in trying to change it.

What is the reason a law might give for tearing down a simple monolithic column in a small park in St. Augustine, Florida? Is there any reason that would be acceptable?

We all know the slogan, “Never forget.” It was painted everywhere from social media to billboards in September. But it had been used decades before for Normandy Beach and Pearl Harbor.

This simple monument reminds us that men died for a cause. Let’s not judge the cause. We weren’t there, and we couldn’t possibly know what what in the hearts as they marched away from their homes and families…never to return.

You and I can attest that politicians say a ton of stuff we don’t agree with. Their words get recorded, and in another fifty years when the next generation reads them, are they going to judge you and I by those words?

Look at the word: history. His story. I write stories for a living, and they are different from the stories other authors of a similar age and gender write. Because they are my stories.

That plain monument asks us to pause for a moment and remember a story: one that cost men in St. Augustine to sacrifice all. Each of them had a personal story, and sadly, those are probably lost.

But the price they paid? It should be remembered. And honored.

Do you like history? What is a historical place you’ve been that impacted you?