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.

When You Need a Vacation

I saw this meme on Facebook. Yes, I know, that’s the first line of a TON of rants and blog posts. But it’s true. Here’s the meme:

This wasn’t it, but this is what it SAID

 

Although I agree with the sentiment BEHIND the meme, I disagree with the principle of it.

Leave it to the wordsmith to talk about semantics. You’re welcome.

The Sentiment

I take the meme to mean: “If you love what you do hard enough, you’ll never need a vacation.”

I love writing. I enjoy teaching (most of the time). According to this meme, I should never want or NEED a vacation because I’m passionate about my calling.

Be passionate about your calling. Strive to work within your called “career” and you won’t want a vacation every Friday afternoon.

Trust me. I’ve worked in a place where politics ruled. I’ve been a full-timer in our broken public education system. Those things EXHAUSTED me. Every week was another marathon. I’d chant, “It’s almost Friday. You can make it to Friday.”

Not anymore. Although, with the full-time subbing gig in a freshman social science classroom for three of the four weeks this month, you can bet I’m eager for the long weekend planned for my anniversary. But it isn’t because I’ve lost my passion.

The Principle

The principle of “a vacation” is a time to take a break from your routine. To get a change of scenery or just chance the pace of your days is just plain good for your brain and body.

Plenty of Americans don’t take vacations. And they are burned out. Their bodies run on stress and caffeine instead of food.

Maybe they’re passionate about their work, too, but that’s NOT going to keep their body, mind, spirit and soul from yearning for a break in the rut of routine.

Research shows that people who vacation regularly are BETTER at their jobs. They can focus better and they are all-around more healthy.

I haven’t had the most stress-free year around here. It could be because I’m a month behind my deadlines. It could be because my husband’s parents hit a health snafu that meant he needed to drop everything to care for them.

Or it might be because I’m getting an incredible walk-in shower. Or because I’m a first-time Lolly. I mean, who could be stressed when their granddaughter is an angel?

The reality is, we didn’t put a week-long trip on the calendar. It was supposed to be 10 days in Italy but with the bathroom expense and the extra time off to care for the parents, that wasn’t going to happen. So we had a few long weekend trips planned.

It’s NOT the same, but it will have to do.

What do you think? How often to you vacation from your daily routine? Does a virtual vacation via reading count?

Lolly Loves Lolli and Pops

“We’re going to LollyPop’s house.” Those words are the reasoning behind the selection of the grandparent names around here.

Wouldn’t you know it? Now there’s a “sweet shop” called Lolli and Pops.

By sweet shop, I mean a candy story. But doesn’t the OTHER sound SO much fancier.

Kind of like going to LollyPop’s sounds cooler than going to “Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

Or so I like to tell myself.

On a recent journey into Lolli and Pops sweet shop, I had my photo taken. And I purchased some refillable candy jars.

Because every kid knows you’re sure to get candy and Grandma’s house.

I filled it with dark chocolate covered nuts and cranberries. Since then, the stock was depleted (again, by me), so I refilled it with gummy bears. Those won’t tempt me to increase my middle-aged med-section. Not even a little.

Eventually, I’ll have multiple jars, all of them filled with whatever Shana and her siblings (and maybe cousins) love to eat. I have a few years before they’ll be ready for candy.

And I’ll be a responsible candy-doled-outer. Only given after a meal or right before I send them home with their parents. I mean, that’s just how it works, right?

What would you fill your candy jars with? What was your favorite candy as a kid?

The Truth About Last Wishes

Truth has taken on vague connotations in recent years, but there is one truth every sane person agrees about: no one wants to think about their death or plan for it. Those are the last wishes this post ruminates and expounds.

It began for us with a simple mailer. Although for me it began five years ago when my mother succumbed to the war lymphoma won over her physical body.

For my husband, things aren’t so cut and dried. His father’s living under an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but his physical health is strong. Denial is no stranger to me, so I understand the proclivity to push things off until later.

But later always comes.

Easy and Hard

Death comes for everyone. And after that, those of us remaining will grieve.

That’s never easy. Some deaths are harder to face than others.

But sitting at a table with the funeral director doesn’t have to be hard for those we’ve left behind.

In the case of my mother, she had everything planned out and prepaid. It took us maybe thirty minutes to pick out the pamphlet they’d print for her service and decide where and when to hold it.

It still wasn’t “easy” because our hearts were bleeding. But it could have been worse than facing a firing squad, and it wasn’t.

When my husband or sons have to sit at that table, I want them to have the answers. I don’t even want them to have to see the questions.

Nothing will be easy, but a hard time can be lessened with a little cash and forethought.

Money and Planning

Yes, making death easier to swallow comes down to the money. And the forms the final wishes counselor filled out at our dining room table. There are still too many blanks on those forms, but they’ll be filled in.

My kids had fun joking about spilling the ashes or carrying them around in the trunk of their car. I think my youngest son brought up the idea that the etched box I’m envisioning will become the “white elephant gift” passed between their houses each Christmas.

Yeah, but I’m not dead yet. And although my oldest son had no interest in discussing the subject, we did manage to decide that investing money on a niche or plot to keep the ashes was pointless. No one would visit them after they were interned. Why not set them free somewhere?

My soul will be long gone. “Going up to the Spirit in the sky.”

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_converter&hsimp=yhs-pty_converter&hspart=pty&p=spirit+in+the+sky#id=1&vid=15ccb6d6ae01be80c27fb08acf9d8ca2&action=click

Two advantages of pre-planning and prepaying:

  1. The meeting at the table is about minor details instead of major decisions
  2. There’s no invoice due to double the grim moment

In the End

Truth: I’ll be dead. Those who survive me can choose to follow my plan or do something different.

My last wishes will be paid for already. If they decide to embellish things, they’ll get a bill. If they would rather skimp out on the flowers, box and pretty bookmarks, the funeral director cuts them a check.

In the end, I’ll still be gone. I doubt I’ll be watching from Heaven to see that my last wishes are fulfilled verbatim. I’ll have more important things to do: like gape at translucent gold streets and catch up with my mother and grandmother and others who’ve been enjoying the endless vacation.

And as much as my kids didn’t want to talk about it now, I hope when the time comes, they’ll appreciate that their dad and I took as much of the sting out of a difficult time as we could.

Because that’s what parents do.

Do you have a plan in place for your final wishes? Are there some things you don’t think parents should discuss about this with their kids? Have you faced a more difficult funeral home discussion?

Why I’m Not Finished Writing This Yet

It’s that time of month when I’ve scheduled this blog to be a showcase for what I’m working on. Well, what I SHOULD be working on is NOT what I actually am working on.

And I didn’t hear much about last month’s share…from the same manuscript.

Did anyone even read it? Does anyone see these posts?

Is anyone out there?

Here I am posting a blog and wondering HOW on earth to make Martha’s story stretch for another 10, 000 words. Yep. That’s how much UNDER my goal I am on this one?

How do these things happen?

I get too many irons in the fire.

This is what I’ve been doing since I “started” drafting this book:

  • Overhauled LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH
  • Written a ton of blogs
  • Made too many memes
  • Started making weekly LIVE videos
  • Started a proposal writing workshop
  • Purchased ISBNs
  • Started an audiobook making project
  • Released a book
  • Promoted said book
  • Stalked said book’s sales on an hourly basis
  • Fine! “Said book” is MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS
  • Organized the next book in the REFLECTIONS series
  • Edited LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH
  • Started an IngramSpark account so I can distribute the REFLECTIONS series
  • Tried to upload the first book in the series
  • Requested new covers for series (several times)
  • Given up on formatting interior and begged an author friend to do it
  • Made her change it so many times I feel guilty
  • Wrote a scene or two in A LABORING HAND
  • Submitted LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH
  • Built up three regular clients for my Fiverr business
  • Went on an excellent “Laurel and Hardy’s Next Adventure” (see upcoming blog post)
  • Became a Lolly

YES! I’m a #firsttimelolly.

It IS as exciting as they say. And here’s a snapshot of my beautiful little granddaughter.

More about her and my grandmother name and being a first time lolly in an upcoming blog post. (Like I said, I’ve been writing a TON of these)

But now…another excerpt from the still-to-be-completed first draft.

From chapter 7 or 8. Haven’t completely decided on the layout yet. First draft, remember?

Mary followed me into the tiny space that contained fresh straw and bedding we’d been sleeping on—or tossing and turning on at least—since our brother passed into the next life.

In a hushed voice I told her, “The Master is come and calls for you.”

Another twinge tugged where my heart used to be whole.

Yahweh, forgive the little untruth.

He assured me that there was only truth or lies, no sizable ones of either.

Forgive this lie then. I justified it in my mind with, I’m only trying to help her find peace.

I sensed Yahweh wasn’t impressed with my reasoning.

Mary gasped. “Where?”

“I’ll show you.”

She followed me through the crush of comforters. Their voices rose.

“Where are you going?” Imma’s hand caught my arm but I swept it away and rushed toward the door.

Someone said, “She’s going to the grave to weep.”

Let them think what they would.

I took my sister’s hand and led her toward Yeshua’s circle of followers. As we neared, he broke away as before, and I dropped Mary’s hand.

She crumbled to the ground, and I let her.

Yeshua would pick her up.

Behind me, I heard the rustle of fabric and plod of footsteps. Imma had an arm around the shoulders of Avi’s girls and the women who’d been comforting us followed in a clot of black-shrouded humanity.

“Lord,” my sister cried, “if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

My throat ached at the strain of holding in my tears. I said the same words, but the pain that broke my sister’s voice removed all accusation from them. Faith and love met with confusion. Why hadn’t he come when I told him Lazarus was sick?

Yeshua glanced at her and up at me and the crowd of women. Many of them were joined by their husbands now. Our group hadn’t gone through town unseen.

Yeshua bent and touched my sister’s shoulder. Her in-drawn gasp turned into a sob. He guided her to her feet, gently, like a father helping an injured child.

Please let his touch have Heavenly comfort.

By the time she stood, his face was marred by the anguish scarring my heart. His gaze met mine. “Where have you laid him?”

From behind me, one of the men who’d helped us carry Lazarus to his tomb came forward. “Come and see.”

Our procession continued down the dusty road and cut onto a narrower path. It was then, as Mary leaned against my side, sopping the tears from her face with her veil, that I realized Yeshua could have been pointing to the graves during our conversation.

Something buzzed in the abyss where the monster of loss lurked after devouring my heart and half my soul. Something I didn’t recognize because I hadn’t truly allowed myself to feel it since Mother and the others had died.

I stopped several feet from the tomb, a step behind Yeshua. His shoulders shook, and I realized he wept.

I knew he had loved my brother. Some in the crowd muttered that very truth.

Why then hadn’t he come and healed him?

Don’t doubt. Just believe.

Yahweh, help me believe in Your perfect will.

Well, there it is. What it might have been like to be Martha in the moments before everything in her world changed.

What do you think? Do you want to keep reading?

What sort of things do YOU wonder about Martha?

Welcome to Sweet Grove: FREE Book

If you love small-town romances, you’ll love Sweet Grove, Texas. People there will make you smile. Stories there will leave you feeling content.

Tomorrow, the first book I wrote for the First Street Church series will be FREE. I know, free books are one of my favorite things in all the world.

I hope you’ll adore Kyanna and Roth. They aren’t the typical romance couple. First of all, they’re middle-aged. *Gasp* I know! People in their 40s can fall in love?!? It’s true.

Kyanna has sacrificed everything to get ahead in her career. When she finds herself in a new town thousands of miles from her family, she begins to doubt whether her life has the right priorities. A scary call from the doctor? That’s enough to make anyone wonder if God’s trying to get their attention.

Roth has been a single parent since his wife died five years ago. New to Sweet Grove, his teenage daughter Ariel hooks up with the wrong crowd. And they both end up in the principal’s office. But Roth’s not prepared for the attraction he feels toward Kyanna.

And neither of them is ready for what will bring them together. But will they give love a second chance?

Here’s what reviewers are saying about LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL:

 

Four-star review: “The story was riveting and I had a hard time putting it down. The characters were so real that I felt they could be my friends, or even me had my path gone in the same direction.”

Five-star review: “What I love the most about this book is that it is a wonderful story by a Christian author. The writing is extraordinary, the characters heartfelt and the storyline does not allow the reader to put the book down. I read the entire book in one sitting and could hardly believe it was over! I didn’t recognize the time passing! Wow! Now I can hardly wait to read ALL her books.”

Don’t forget to grab your copy while it’s FREE!

If you’ve already read it, how about leaving a comment that encourages someone else to give it a try?

Five Things I’ve Learned About Shared Series

Reading a great series, who doesn’t love it? I know I’m the type who might wait for the whole series to be out so I can binge read it, one book after the other.

So why wouldn’t I want to write for a publisher who ONLY publishes shared series?


Well, duh. I would. And I do.

You’ve heard me declare my love for my small publishers before. If you need a refresher, find it here.

But what is a shared series? And do I love writing for it as much as I enjoy reading a series by my favorite author?

A Shared Series

A shares series is a little different. It’s series written by multiple authors around a common theme or location. There might be appearances from previous (and future) main characters, but the “shared” element is generally a place or situation.

 

Five Things I Learned

1. You Need a Series Bible

I didn’t realize how important this would be until I wrote my manuscript, and I wanted to know things about St. Judith, Virginia, where MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER takes place.

Simple things like:

  • Where is this bank in relation to where my shero lives?
  • What are the baseball fields like?
  • What sort of neighborhoods are there?
  • How far is the bank from the baseball fields?
  • Who else lives around here that my people can talk to

And there was nothing. We knew there was a military base nearby, and we collaborated on names for the schools.

Those things were discussed and decided upon in our group, but after that, it was only a sketchy outline of a commercial district and a residential area.

So I floundered around trying to get a feeling for this setting. Thankfully, I was able to read a couple other books that preceded mine, but still the town felt vague and unformed to me.

A series Bible names businesses. It gives a general map of the important locations. It also mentions and describes any CHARACTERS who might be available to be shared (which they often aren’t because my characters are copyrighted along with my story.)

All these things were provided for the First Street Church series, so I took them for granted when I applied to right for the MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS series.

2. You Want to Work with Other Professionals

Most of us author-types work in a room by ourselves. When I’m creating, I don’t care if I EVER leave the room. In my office, the characters are real and their story is essential.

But in the larger world, I want—no NEED—to interact with other authors.

I expected to become “friends” with the people in this shared series. I would read their stories. They would read mine. We’d talk about the town of St. Judith and how to weave more reality into our plots.

It would be one big happy family.

Except some people didn’t show up with anything more than the required posts. They didn’t offer input on questions or toss out ideas for naming things.

It’s like they wanted to be on their own.

Flakes aren’t just for breakfast. Sometimes they show up at work, too.


3. Leadership is Key

I’ve taken several personality quizzes and assessments. The one that always stands out for me is one my husband and I did together shortly after our first son was born.

I was a lion. He was a golden retriever. I don’t need to explain how that can create a less-than-favorable dynamic in a home where a wife WANTS to follow the Biblical concept of man-as-head of the marriage.

I demand a LOT from my leader. Mostly, I expect them to be present, prepared and ahead of the game.

But I’m a creative, so I don’t want them meddling with my creative stuff.

The first argument I had with the series leader was over the title of my book. After reading the reviews for my story, there are readers who are JUST as confused as I am about the requirements for having “Mommy” in the title when my story wasn’t about a mommy but a MIMI. Would it really kill anyone to rename it Mimi Loves the Banker?

After all, we were encouraged to use OTHER caregivers in the story so all the matchmaking wouldn’t be between moms and dads. But all the titles had to begin with “Mommy.”

Enough said about that.

4. You Can Ride a Successful Author’s Coattails

Honestly? This is why I wanted to be part of a shared series through Sweet Promise Press.

I know there are authors publishing there with thousands of followers and who make more in ONE HOUR than I made the first YEAR I was published.

My publisher is a marketing genius. She knows exactly how to leverage her reading audience, and that pays off with sales for authors like me who don’t have a huge personal following.

The series lead for MOMMY’S LITTLE MATCHMAKERS had been skyrocketing with another series she was writing. Another author said she had an email list of 12,000 names. Oh-kay. And I was so thrilled when I hit 500 followers (by the way, that swelled to over 800 with a promotion and has since dwindled back to 680, only 400 of which actually open my emails).

People would buy those early books. They would love them, and they’d keep reading the series. Even though it wasn’t by the author they loved, that author would be telling them to try the next book (mine) and that would generate sales.

Once people READ my story, I knew they would enjoy it. Hopefully they would convert into a follower of ME. Maybe someday other authors would want to join a series so they could ride MY coattails.

5. Professionalism of All Authors is Mandatory

In a shared series, each author is getting paid for their own title, sure. That’s different from the anthologies and collections I’ve been part of where there was ONE sale that had to be divided among all the participants.

SPP contracted each of us and guaranteed us our share of royalties from EVERY book we sell.

Contracted authors are surely professionals, right?

Well, they should be. And when members of a shared series drop the ball, they affect everyone else. Whatever tie-in was supposed to exist to keep readers engaged to buy the next book is important.
If there’s no communication from the author you’re intended to follow, how are you supposed to make that connection?

This was a dilemma that I faced. Partly because I draft my stories early. Looming deadlines do NOT improve the clarity of my prose.

Apparently, not all authors work the same way.

If you enter into a shared series, you should expect that you’ll need to stretch out of your writing comfort zone. That you’ll share your story with others writing BEFORE it’s ready for public consumption. Why? For series continuity.

If we’re all professional authors, that shouldn’t be a problem.

But having a book (or many books) published by big-name publishers doesn’t make an author understand this sort of professionalism.

Have you read anything from either of the shared series I’m part of? Do you enjoy reading a shared series as much as a series from a single author?

Three Reasons to Work Out

Spring hauls me out of the winter pit of gray to gray. With Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter looms large in October and casts a gigantic shadow over many months. And it’s more important than ever that I’m working out every day.

Working out? Why would you do that?

Believe me, there are a host of reasons, but in the winter I need only ONE reason to get out of bed. Thank goodness I have cats who won’t let me stay there no matter what.

It’s Good For You

Okay, we’ve all heard some rumor that you should go for a walk or get your heart rate of it’s resting rate for thirty minutes five times per week. Or is it three to five times? I can never remember because the recommendations differ depending on who you listen to.

Exercise gets your sluggish blood pumping. It requires you to breathe deeply so more air fills your lungs.
Did you know that this is essential to BEING ALIVE?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen to perform it’s cellular tasks. The only way these microcosms get this Big O is if your red blood cells deliver it to them. And you guessed it! The blood must pump through your veins (actually, I think the oxygen-rich blood is in your arteries, but I’m not a medical professional) to reach your cells.

In essence, exercise keeps you living for another day.

While that statement might be stretching the truth, there is scientific data that proves people who perform physical activities at a rate that gets them out of breath are more healthy than those who don’t. Overall.

Obviously, a cancer-free couch-potato might be healthier than an athlete with cancer, but it’s not because of their love of inactivity.

Get up and work out. It’s good for you.

It Wakes You Up

Morning person here. Maybe you’re NOT. That’s okay.

But if you rely on caffeine to wake you up in the morning, you’re missing an opportunity to wake up in a way that gives you day-long and even life-long benefits.

Nope. Caffeine can’t do that. (And y’all know I love my coffee.)

It really doesn’t take much to roll out of the bed, pull on some sweats, tie on sneakers and go for a two-mile walk. It doesn’t.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it might be a wet prospect nine months out of the year. And this winter has been especially brutal for snowfall in many areas of the United States. I don’t recommend walking in sub-zero temperatures or blizzards. That might put you into a permanent sleep.

I have tons of workout videos. This over-abundance can cause me to stall in working out. That’s why I’ve been doing Beachbody On Demand programs this winter. That way, I just open my browser on my tablet and select the next workout.

Thirty minutes later, I’m a sweaty, smiling mess.

It’s A Happy Drug

No, that wasn’t a misprint. Exercise is a happy drug. Vigorous exercise causes your brain to release endorphins. In fact, being outside in nature stimulates a similar response. That’s why I like to walk, run or bike outside during the three sunny months.

Double-dose of happy pills!

Who needs a doctor’s prescription when the sun is shining and fresh air woos me?

I am addicted to exercise. That’s the number one reason I work out.

Yes, I said it. I’m addicted to exercise. And I won’t apologize or join a 12-step program for my addiction.

This addiction can be beneficial, as long as I exercise in moderation. If I start working out three hours every day, someone call the exercise police and sit me down for an intervention.

But I don’t. If I go on a three-hour bike ride or hike (and I do sometimes), I probably won’t exercise at all the next day. And I’ll be sure to imbibe plenty of water (and chocolate) to replenish all the essential minerals extended exercise can deplete.

Are you a workout junkie like me? Or do you ascribe to the no-thanks exercise camp?

LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS is FREE Today

I love Sweet Promise Press. And they’re making you a fan too with free books and plenty of tools to get well-written stories into a reader’s eReader.

Yes, Sweet Promise Press is a digital-only publisher.


Maybe you’re one of those people who only read books with paper pages you can turn. I totally respect that because I love the look, feel and smell of paper books.

But eBooks are so convenient for travel, working out and to take everywhere using only YOUR PHONE. You have that with you anyway, right? So why not load a FREE application on it so you’ll always have a book with you, too?

Anyway, you’re reading to find out about the freebie.

BUT FIRST…

My latest release with Sweet Promise Press came out on Friday, March 22.

As luck would have it, I was substitute teaching in a high school language arts classroom that day. But it didn’t keep me from checking Amazon to see if my Advance Review Team was posting reviews.
And to check on how the book was progressing up the charts.

I was overjoyed when it hit #20 in Friendship Fiction.


And then this happened.


I was floating to pass up the first book in the series which is priced at $.99 while the others are $2.99. But when I ranked higher than Susan Wiggs?

My goal was to make it to #5.

These great sales were thanks to my publisher’s advertisements, newsletters and dedication to creating a sales funnel inside the series books so readers can easily purchase the next book in the series.

Speaking of series, I have TWO series within the First Street Church shared series based on Melissa Storm’s series of the same name.

These stories happen in Sweet Grove, Texas. I’ve mentioned that place a time or two on this blog.
And today…only today…you can grab the SECOND book in my Sweet Grove Romance series FREE.

Here’s more about that book:

Love is all about truthfulness, honesty and being authentic. Except when it’s not.

But, surely, if a couple has been married for more than two decades, there are no secrets between them. How could you live with someone for that long and NOT know everything about them?

Well, Norma is about to find out.

This is a rough and emotional story. As much as I fell in love with Norma when I wrote her as Kyanna’s secretary in LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL, it pained me to put her through the torture of this story.

But the thing is, life isn’t easy. Yes, I promise my readers a happy ending. But what I know about sweet endings is that they’re more satisfying if the struggle that came before them was intense.

Today, Sweet Promise Press is giving this book away. It’s ALWAYS free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, but today, it’s free for the rest of you.

I hope you’ll give it a chance. Here’s what some readers are saying:

Grab your copy here.

Stop by my Facebook page and let me know if you do pick up a copy. I’d love to know someone’s reading this story.

Happy reading, my friend. Well…happy ending at least 😉

What about the FIRST book you wonder? Well, It’s called Love’s Late Arrival, and the publisher has put it free before. She’ll also be doing it again on April 21st!

Of course, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, the entire series if always free.

If you’ve read these books, PLEASE leave a review. Love’s Little Secrets only have five reviews. Granted, they’re all five-star reviews, but I’d like to have at least twenty reviews on ALL my books (and several of them aren’t there yet).

To grab your FREE book, click here.

To learn more about ALL my books, click here.

If you’ve already READ this book and would LOVE to talk about it, join the fun on my Facebook group. Right now, we’re having a contest for a signed paperback and other swag.

Do you own an eReader? Or do you read on your phone and/or tablet?

A Snippet of What I’m Writing Now

Write. Write some more. Right now I’m writing the first draft of the first two novellas in my new REFLECTIONS series.


This isn’t the smooth and easy writing of fiction.

Because I’m writing a fictionalization.
Fiction? Fictionalization? Sounds the same to the average non-author type.

Except fiction is something completely formed in my muse’s imagination. If set in our real world, I have to be accurate with details, but as far as what characters say and do, I’ve got free license.

Not so with A LABORING HAND and AN ADORING SPIRIT. These novellas are based on the very REAL people Martha and Mary of Bethany. I don’t have much to work with except the Bible’s accounts.

Nothing like taking God’s inspired Word and making a fictionalized story out of it. SO–for those of you still wondering–a fictionalization takes an ACTUAL EVENT and adds fictional elements to flesh it into a complete and compelling story.

Not trying to imply the Bible isn’t compelling on its own because IT IS. But sometimes the things it doesn’t tell keep us from engaging with the characters the way we do in fiction.

You know, get inside their minds and hearts. Feel their fears and pains and indecision. If we can relate to Bible characters in this way, I think it improves our odds at applying their lessons to our lives.

So, here’s a familiar scene from John 11: 1-3 fictionalized and written from Martha’s perspective. (Beware: this is a first draft so there are probably all kinds of errors.)

From A Laboring Hand, chapter six (a rough draft):

His fever raged. Every bad memory from the worst weeks of my life suffocates me. I sweep and cook and bathe his face with water and roll him from side to side so I can put clean linen beneath him.

None of it matters. His shriveled arm clings to his side like a poultry wing. Muscles in his shorter leg twitch, dislodging the sheepskins I’ve heaped over him, hoping to break the fever. He thrashes and moans, and it is the poliomyelitis all over again.

Yahweh, I cannot lose another brother.

Losing two of them to that epidemic nearly broke me, and it did kill my family. The way Abba faded away afterward, losing his will to outlive his heir and the woman he loved.

But Lazarus is the only protector Mary and I have left. I know he really isn’t strong, but he’s a man of legal age and he keeps the meddlers at bay. Everyone knows I’m the one that works to provide for all of us. Lazarus is a good manager, though, and he’s been handling the scheduling and payments for many years. How will I run the business alone? Especially now that Mary is marriageable. And desirable. Unlike me.

Stop feeling pitiful and start being helpful, I hear Mama tell me.

“I’ll sit with him.” Mary’s voice barely pulls me back to the present.

The huge tears hanging on the edge of her thick lashes wrench my heart from my chest. She has lost as much as I have, and she feels everything so much more deeply. If I expect to fold beneath the weight of losing my brother, what will happen to her?

And that’s when I decide. “I am sending a message to Yeshua.”

Her lips tilt into the closest thing to a smile I’ve seen since this fever put Lazarus abed.

“He can heal anyone.” I know there’s more than faith shining in her glowing brown eyes, but I ignore it. That’s a talk for another time.

Instead, I nod my agreement. We aren’t like so many others who follow Yeshua because of his many miracles. He speaks God’s Word with authority, and He is the Messiah. We’ve seen him perform a few feats of divinity, but we’ve heard about even more. Blind men see and lame men walk. The paralyzed can move, a lad’s lunch feeds a multitude and lepers are cleansed.

Whatever afflicts my brother will be a simple matter for the Lord to cure. And we are his friends. He’s done greater things for strangers, surely he won’t begrudge this small favor to his friends?

I scrounge around for a scrap of parchment and scratch a short message. The one you love is ill. I sign it: Martha and Mary.

After tying my coin purse to my sash and covering my head with a shawl, I stride toward the well. Several young boys have been running messages for me, and I think I know where Yeshua and his disciples were planning to next teach.

A group of youths toss bean bags around near the community oven. The scent of baking bread reminds my stomach that I have neglected to eat. There’s been too much to accomplish, or at least I don’t wish to sit still for more than a minute because then the grief crashes in.

I see one of the orphans who sleeps at the synagogue and assists the rabbis.

That’s it for now.

What do you think? What would make it more compelling?

Meet My Quirkiest Shero Ever

Tomorrow is the day. My book baby MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER will be live on Amazon. (Sorry. I wish it was available on other platforms, but that’s a decision my publisher makes.)

Yes, that means this book is only available in ebook.

I hold the print rights. If I cough up the money for the cover, I could release the book in print. But it would cost $9.95, and that seems like a chunk of change for a book you can read in one sitting.

Post on this if you would buy such a book. Maybe if there is enough interest, I will fork out my OWN chunk of change (which will require I sell 15 books just to break even).

Now, on to the book.

Isn’t she lovely?

An excerpt from the beginning to get you primed.

Mommy Loves the Banker
Chapter One

This mommy gig wasn’t going like she remembered. When her daughter was in elementary school, parents sent their kids to school on the bus or their bikes. Or—Heaven forbid—they walked. Every Clara Barton Elementary student needed to be dropped off.

Or so it seemed as Meredith Williams eased her daughter’s Toyota minivan forward in the two-block long line of cars. Finally, she caught a glimpse of the school building.

“Are we late, Mimi?” Poppy nibbled her brown curls and hugged her self-constructed wind chime closer. Wearing her bulging backpack, she couldn’t sit flush against the built-in booster seat.

Meri glanced in the rear-view mirror, checking the line of vehicles behind her before meeting the worried gaze. Brown eyes brimmed with urgency and sent a knife into Meri’s midsection.

“Not unless all these people are late, too.”

Poppy twisted around. Meri pulled forward, three car-lengths this time. The end of a long sidewalk peeped around the tires of the SUV in front of her. Rain sprinkled the windshield until the automatic wipers cleared it away. Kids who’d been playing four-square on the covered playground beside the athletic fields scurried toward the doors. Was school starting?

The clock on the dashboard showed three minutes until eight.

“Come on, come on.” Good mommies—or mimis—didn’t make their kiddos late for school.

Two cars pulled away from the curb near the school entrance. Several kids piled from the minivan in front of her. She checked her side mirror and flipped her blinker down. She’d go around, and Poppy wouldn’t be tardy. Again.

She steered into the street with her foot nudging the accelerator. A honk like a freight train bellowed, and Meri floored it. The Sienna reared forward. Brakes screeched, and more horns blew.

Meri’s heart sprinted as she swerved back to the curb. She ignored the nasty glares from the drivers she passed. Certainly they’d do the same to make sure their kids made it to school on time.

Another truck gunned in front of her and Meri ignored the driver’s one-finger salute, although his blaring honk made sure she saw it. She slammed to a stop beside the door and slapped the shifter into park.

“Cheap Trick.” The name of the band slipped out in a curse as she fumbled with the button to open the side door. “Can you get the buckle?”

Her spine crackled as she swiveled toward the back seat. Poppy held out the conglomeration of wrapping paper, paper towel, and toilet paper tubes they’d spent an hour gluing together the night before. Meri grunted as she contorted to hold the creation without smashing it. The seatbelt cut into her neck.

Strangled by a seatbelt. She’d suffer worse for Poppy and Sunnie.

Poppy released her harness and scrambled out of the seat. Her cool lips pressed into Meri’s forehead. “See you, Mimi.” Her granddaughter balanced the sculpture in gentle hands and hopped out of the minivan.

Warmth poured into Meri’s stomach and chest, drowning the honking-induced panic. That simple kiss wiped away the negative sensations. Precious Poppy was the reason Meri’d left everything, drove across four states, and bumbled her way through the new era of motherhood.

Keep Reading Now

Enter the Giveaway

See all the books in the Series

What do you think of Meri’s quirk? Did you catch it? Do you enjoy reading second-chance love stories featuring middle-aged characters?