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 END GAME for Marvel’s AVENGERS

You don’t even have to follow this blog to know I love superheroes and superhero movies. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you figured it out right away.

I mean, the thing is called HERO DELIVERY.

My memes for it feature my favorite super: Wonder Woman.

My TWO favorite supers: Wonder Woman and Captain America

And much of this love started because I have boys and they adored the X-Men movies. Just when I thought I might have to become a mutant to get special powers, along came Marvel with a whole universe of heroes for me and my family to fall in love with.

And I didn’t really love Iron Man. I mean, Downey Jr. is a great actor, and I totally loved his sarcastic wit. But he was all about being a rich playboy off the back of weapons that killed thousands. Until he was kidnapped and compromised and found out that he could become the weapon.

Oh, right, but he would fight for good. When all he really wanted was redemption from his past mistakes.

Yes, seeking redemption is utterly human and it drives plenty of stories, but it doesn’t make the best hero. Not in my mind anyway.

And while CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER might not have been the best film ever, Captain America won my heart. You can read about why in this old post. And see why I picked him in the CIVIL WAR film.

Because those CAPS totally keep their identity secret

Give Me a Team Any Day

But I’ve already said my favorite superhero is Wonder Woman and she’s from DC’s comic universe. They’ve tried to capture the audience that Marvel has sold by the blockbuster, but they don’t have the same writers, I guess. Or they try to make it all about Superman. Or their superheroes don’t really have abilities.

From JUSTICE LEAGUE:

Barry: What’s your super power again?

Bruce: I’m rich. (Yep. And he’s trying for redemption.)

So when Marvel gave me the AVENGERS, I was over the moon. I thought Thor was hunky (and has an accent to boot) but I admired Captain Steve Rogers. Sure, he woke up 70 years after going on a mission to save the world from Hydra and the Nazis, but he was still the same guy.

Sorry, Tony Stark, he’s “more” than just the serum your dad created. They would never have injected him with it if he hadn’t met their “hero” personality requirements. And he would fight to the death for the underdog then, too, but now that he’s a “super soldier” he can actually win.

I like that no one player can win on their own. That they need to push aside their egos and personalities and learn how to fit together.

That’s probably my basketball and softball playing/watching/love shining through.

How About Some Team Players

And just like when I play softball or volleyball or some other team sport, I want to be on a team that plays like a team. If all you have are a bunch of hot shot star players, you could find yourself losing.

That’s what the first AVENGERS movie was all about. These super powerful people had to learn to “play nice” and respect each other.

Sure, Marvel had a bigger picture. They gave most of the main players their own movies to keep building the story line. Did everyone have their favorites? I know I did.

And I loved that it wasn’t a closed team.

We love Spidey! And he makes the team…eventually

But the struggle for who would be the boss always played in the background. I mean, was it Tony’s team because he financed it? Or was it Cap’s team because he led it?

And in each movie, you saw the relationships between the team members grow, deepen and change.

Like in real life. Not everyone on a team is best friends, but they know their jobs and the do them. Yes, I loved the snark (from Tony Stark) and the way the members without superpowers were considered as valuable as those with them. (Whereas in JUSTICE LEAGUE, they were doomed without Superman.)

And at first I didn’t like INFINITY WAR because they lost. But then I realized that even the greatest teams have to lose. Why? Because there are lessons you can learn from losing that you’ll never know if you always win, win, win.

Read my review of that movie – you know Thanos’ story? – here.

END GAME was filled with epic battle scenes and an ending that made you gasp.

And I’m SO glad that the AVENGERS didn’t have Captain Marvel until the end. As much as I love her character, I’m glad she’s busy saving the universe elsewhere. Because she’s not as much of a team player as the others. Maybe that’s because her “team” ditched her and betrayed her. Or maybe because she’s so powerful she doesn’t need a team (and don’t we all LOVE playing on a team with a person like that?)

Go team! I was so glad to see them working together, all of them, in that final battle.

Watch the Movie

I planned to write a review of the movie. That’s what I sat down to do. I’ve watched it two times in the theater, and I have some definite opinions about it.

But when I sat down to write that’s not what came out.

If you’ve been watching the Marvel movies, you’ve probably already seen END GAME by now.

If you haven’t watched many of the other movies and wonder if that matters for this, I say yes. This movie gives head nods to almost every other movie in the series. If you haven’t watched them, you’ll miss much of the entertainment.

If you haven’t watched END GAME, dial back your expectations. Not because this movie won’t meet them–it will. But it probably won’t deliver exactly what you’re hoping for.

This guy will have HIS own series on the new Disney streaming channel

After all, Marvel is planning to continue the universe. But when the major stars are “done” being cast in the roles of America’s favorite heroes, what can a movie studio do? Sure, they can try to find other actors, but that won’t appease the fans who’ve been following this cast.

So, they do what TV series do when a contract isn’t renewed. They write the main characters “out” of the series.

Just for laughs because, “Hey, Chris!”

That doesn’t mean they killed them off, but it does mean they “ended” their part in the Marvel Universe–as far as this new, Thanos-free timeline is concerned anyway.

What’s your take on AVENGERS END GAME?

Take the Stairs! Laurel and Hardy’s Latest Adventure

April has come and gone. Which means so has another girls’ weekend with my high school BFF, Laurel. This year we tackled the “Take the Stairs” adage.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Oh sure, you’ve heard the saying, but you’re still wondering what it means for weekend plans.

Obviously, you need to get this book.

Yes, Portland, Oregon (close to home for me) was our destination of choice this year. My friend adores Portland, and her mother got her this book years ago. Since then, she’s wanted to discover all these hidden stairways.

And you know I’m all about helping people tackle their bucket lists.

I hope you have a BFF like mine

The Plan

It all started on a Friday afternoon. Laurel picked Hardy up and they drove to nearby Beaverton. There they used Hardy’s Hubby’s Hilton Honors points to nab a cheap room at the Embassy Suites. (Yes, I do love my alliteration.)

Once we determined that the author of The Portland Stairs Book was an authority, and picked out our FIRST hike for the next day, we walked to nearby Washington Square. Might as well get the tootsies prepped for the big outing, right?

Here is the first hike we settled on.

Yes, that really does say 3.5 miles. And yes, we really did ascend 169 steps and descend 364. All of that before LUNCH on Saturday.

The Execution

One of the things Laurel does NOT love about Portland, Oregon is the rain.

Joke’s on her. And maybe me because I was walking beside her all day.

It rained.

But that didn’t stop us. We reenacted some photos of stairs from the book. Like this one near a school in our first walk.

We walked up a ton of stairs.

Pictures from the top are more impressive than pictures from the bottom.

We walked down some MORE stairs.

And it rained. But it didn’t pour. And like good Oregonians, we put our hats on and sloshed through it all.

Whats a little frizzy or flat hair among friends?

Laurel got some great photos. I’m barely skimming the surface of them here.

And it wouldn’t be Portland if we didn’t see a weird thing or two.

It’s the goal of folks to “Keep Portland Weird” after all.

We enjoyed a great lunch at a small sandwich shop in NW and still made it back to our car before our four-hour parking limit expired.

We drove a few miles. And set out to conquer another hike. It looked like this.

Although we’d exceeded our 10,000 steps before lunch, we were determined to follow the path of this next hike. Yes, that would mean 5.25 more miles. And we ended the day with more than 24,000 steps.

In fact the 279 steps we climbed? They all were almost from ONE set of very creaky, creepy stairs that required 13 platforms to twist up the hillside in SW Portland near the VA Hospital. Crazy!

No, these are the stairs at the START of hike #2, not the creepy ones

You’d think going DOWN 252 stairs would be relaxing, right? Not when people are camped on them. I only wish I was kidding.

This second hike was SO crazy. We walked up steep inclines to an old cable car platform on top of the Sunset Tunnel. And the guidebook promised our burning legs would be erased by the amazing views.

Maybe for a moment.

There is a mansion here AND an amazing blue spruce.

Still it was an excellent adventure, and if you live near Portland, OR, you should consider checking out this book.

The Results

We ruled the stairs. We climbed the heights. We conquered. We saw amazing sights.

We are woman. Hear us roar!

And our feet were screaming too. Things like, “Get me out of these shoes” and “Are you done yet?”

Needless to say, our feet would have been up for a pedicure after this big adventure. But, who could walk that far? Instead, we had snacks at the hotel, devoured out leftover cheesecake and watched old movies in our room.

We’d tackled two of five “guided stair tours” and our legs wouldn’t let us forget it. So we slept in and lounged at the complimentary breakfast table.

Then it was time to meet with my husband. The perfect way to end an exceptional adventure? Black Bear Diner. Of course, plenty of other people thought so too, and we had to wait.

And then my order was wrong. And it was the worst experience I’d ever had at a place I generally LOVE to eat.

Oh well. Hugs, my friend. Same time next year.

We’ll tackle some hot springs then.

In Honor of Another Anniversary

In 1983, my husband and I were in newspaper class together. It was a riot. We became friends and went on a few dates. Now it’s time for another anniversary.

Renewing our vows – May 2001

Fast forward to 1988. It was a rainy Friday. We got married in a small ceremony, headed to his parents’ house for a “small” reception and then hit the road. We nearly missed the turn into our very unique hotel for the weekend at Canon Beach.

On the way home on Monday, I got a speeding ticket. Yep. Nothing makes a trip more memorable than ending it with flashing lights.

Now it’s 31 years later and we’re back at the beach for our wedding anniversary.

 

Yes, this is us too.

Rather than the “day” being Friday, this year it is the “observed” Memorial Day. And the beach is 70 miles or so further south: Gleneden Beach rather than Canon Beach.

We’re heading to the condo we “own” so there’s no chance we’ll miss the turn-off. No matter how dark or rainy it might be after a LONG week of work.

These days, I might go by Lolly and he might let me call him Pop. We have two adult sons and two beautiful daughters. There are three lovable grand-pups and a feisty grand-kitty.

Best of all, there’s an angelic little darling named Shana. She’s the newest love of my life. On this 31st anniversary of my wedding, I’m celebrating my first Memorial Day as a grandmother – chosen Grandma name: Lolly.

Shana on her BIRTH DATE

We’re doing some research for a family gathering nearby next month. We’ll eat out with my sister who lives a few miles away, and Hubby will have his clam chowder.

What do you do to celebrate anniversaries? Any anniversary will do! Especially if it means CHOCOLATE.

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?