Category: Books

Coming Soon to Sweet Grove

Don’t you love fictional towns? Sometimes walking the streets in Sweet Grove, Texas feels like coming home.

Or maybe I’m the only one who gets attached to fictional characters and places. It’s why I like to read well-written series set in places I like. Like Cedar Cove, WA (Debbie Macomber) or Wishful, MS (Kait Nolan).

Thanks to Amazon’s decision to close down the Kindle Worlds, the new title I slated for release on July 3 has been burbling impatiently on the back burner.

But it will make it into the world.

Thanks to the owner of the First Street Church universe, my Sweet Grove Romance series can continue. Furthermore, the author coalition that populates that world with dozens of new stories every year, is introducing new sub-genres into the mix. Sweet Grove Suspense is a line of clean Christian romances with suspense elements. Heroes of Sweet Grove features former or current military personnel as the main characters.

I don’t generally write suspense. I do have a military background, and I’ve dreamed up two former soldiers who will walk into Sweet Grove carrying more than their military duffel as baggage.

LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS

 

All of the novellas will get NEW covers from Sweet Promise Press

Enter Jazlyn Rolle. She hasn’t lived in Sweet Grove since she was the softball superstar for the Lady Shorthorns. In fact, she hasn’t been back for more than a few days since her brother’s funeral seven years ago. And she’s only stopping in while she picks up Drew memorabilia and figures out what she’s going to do with her life now that her military career has folded.

Bailey Travers would like to get away from Sweet Grove, but his family ties him there. His foster father is about to pass away and his little sister has returned with a college degree, work experience, and a plan to convert the family ranch into a guest ranch. There’s no way she can do it alone.

Back in the day, Bailey had a major crush on Jazlyn. Jazlyn is done with men, after her recent breakup cost her the military career she’d dedicated to her fallen brother.

They’re thrown together when Bailey needs help fighting for the ranch. If only his foster father had left a will. If only his foster parents had completed the adoption process. But Bailey’s learned not to waste time dreaming about “if only.”

In Sweet Grove, even where there’s no will, love still finds a way.

A Peek Inside

In the new publishing company, Ms. Storm implemented some word count caps for each novella. Which meant I needed to reduce the word count. By about 5,000 words!

This benefits you. Now, I’m free to share par of this scene as a teaser of what’s to come. I really wanted to keep this scene (as you read it, I hope you understand why) but ended up referencing it vaguely with a comment by Bailey at the end of the novella.

As soon as Bailey cut the motor, he heard the girls’ laughter. Miles of intestines knotted, and he clenched his teeth. He shoved his hat lower, swung down from the tractor and snatched the neon softball from the beneath the seat.
Just get it over with.

Elise called the girls together, and the voices dimmed to a hum. He was a few yards from the dugout where he planned to drop the ball and get back to work.

A figure separated from the cluster. He’d recognize those muscular legs anywhere. The knot from his stomach reared into his heart, which stuttered like a rusty engine.

His feet forgot to move forward. Jaz stopped a few feet from him, sweeping kinky strands of hair that escaped from the clip at her neck off her forehead. One corner of her lips curled and that same eyebrow quirked.

“We meet again. Or are you following me?”

Bailey blinked. The softball turned to a shot put in his hands, and her words jumbled inside his mind.

She cocked her head, and both brows shot upward. The movement drew his attention to her eyes, which sparkled like topaz in her chocolate face. “Back to “cat-got-the-tongue” huh? I figured spending an hour talking in the library would have changed all that.”

She was right. They had talked at the library, and he hadn’t acted like a freshman facing a hot cheerleader. Not even when she remembered their first meeting. He opened his mouth to answer, but his throat dried and his lips froze.

A few girls in the cluster around the mound turned toward them. One whistled through her fingers, but Elise regained her attention. Bailey flicked his attention back to the gorgeous woman baring too much thigh for his comfort.

She’s going to think you’re an idiot. As if she didn’t already know the worst about him. He licked his lips to gather moisture and make his move.

“What’s up, Bailey?” She stepped closer and nudged his shoulder, as if trying to shake him from a stupor.

Electricity raced straight to his heart, a thousand volts that made him jolt away from her. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she shifted away. The subtle motion of her hips compelled his gaze to flick toward her curves. Which was a major mistake because the sight sucker-punched him.

You can read this third story set in Sweet Grove sometime in August 2018. As an additional teaser, this will be the first in a planned trilogy for Jaz and Bailey’s romance, currently titled “Texas Homecoming.”

Be sure to get Hero Delivery to find out specifics or join the Friends of Sharon Hughson Facebook group.
Have you read and reviewed LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL and LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS? Do you enjoy stories about military heroes?

Three UNEXPECTED Pieces of This story

The days of telling stories just to free them from the overcrowding inside my brain has past. And still, when I write something out of my norm it makes me nervous.

Enter the short story “Unexpected” coming in August. It’s one of four stories in the ONE SULTRY DAY anthology from Roane Publishing.

No, this isn’t an apology for my “outside the norm” writing.

Yes, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it with the same sense of expectation as other stories I’ve written.

This post gives a short list of what’s different about “Unexpected.”

An Unusual Shero

Most heroines-she hero or shero-are slender girls with the usual curves and model-length hair. It’s what romances are made of. Right?

Not this romance. My shero is tall and stocky. When she runs into the hero, it’s obvious that she outweighs him. He might even be staring UP at her.

Whoops! She’s also athletic and tomboy-ish.

Okay, there’s nothing wrong with these things. But they aren’t the norm in romance. Women look up to the man. He’s stronger than her.

I’m all for breaking stereotypes but I hope I don’t go too far with Ivory Konner.

An Unlikely Hero

As you can see, the hero isn’t the alpha manly type. He’s gangly and thin and has a pasty look about him.
It all makes sense when you learn his backstory. But that’s not all the issues I’ve given him.

Prescott Colyer is sensitive to touch. In fact, when he comes into contact with another person, it burns him. (Read the story to learn why this is so.) I took many of his responses from those I encountered while working with autistic students.

But I didn’t want him to be autistic. He is ARTISTIC, but that’s a whole other idiosyncrasy.

New Adult Tropes

The first couple short stories I wrote dealt with new adult tropes. Even though that’s only been a few years, new adult has fallen into disuse.

What can I do? The central problem for both of my characters revolves around their decisions for their future. The fact their parents disapprove is something that draws them together.

But it’s realistic to think it will also drive them apart. That’s how it works in the real world.

After publishing novellas with middle-aged main characters, this story feel like a stretch.

An entire post airing my insecurities. This is what it’s like every time I put another story out into the public eye.

What are your favorite sorts of characters to read about? What’s more important that you can relate to their issues or that you believe their problems could be real?

Note: If you want to read another excerpt from this story, join my Facebook “Friends & Fans” group. I’ll only be posting excerpts and giveaway details there from now on.

Another Note: There will be a giveaway associated with this books release. It will run from August 6 – August 26. The prizes are a $10 Amazon gift card and three eBook copies of ONE SULTRY DAY (four separate winners). Have you joined the Friends Group yet?

5 Battle Tools To Help In Hard Moments

For several years, I’ve been applying as an advanced reviewer for both fiction and nonfiction books. Most of the time, I’m excited to read these books, and even more thrilled to share my thoughts about them.
I started following Kelly Balarie’s blogs a year or so ago when she released a book called Fighting Fear. After all, that was during my “No Fear this Year” phase. It seemed like she had something to offer me in my battle against fear.
Even though I didn’t read that book (although I have ordered it and will read it now), her weekly blog posts encouraged me. When she asked for volunteers to help her launch her next book, I applied.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Battle Ready? Well, sure. The Apostle Paul warned that we were in a spiritual battle, but how does that look in my life?
If you’re wondering the same thing, read this book. Kelly’s transparency touched my heart. And she quoted TONS of scripture, so I knew I was hearing heavenly wisdom, not just her thoughts on these subjects.
This is a book to be savored. There are journaling activities, do them. Take each chapter in and don’t move to the next until you’re sure God has given you a glimpse of the mindset discussed: from Identity to Objectivity to Positivity.
Still not sure it’s for you?
Here’s a post from Kelly to give you a tiny sample of what’s inside this book.

5 Battle Tools To Help In Hard Moments

By: Kelly Balarie

She didn’t so much as say hi to me. In fact, even worse, she walked right past me, looking the other direction. She pretended I wasn’t there. Hmph!! After all I’ve done for her. After all I’ve given her. After how I’ve gone out of my way to love her.

Now I’m the one left looking like a crazed waving-at-the-air fool. Like -an idiot.

I humphat her husband along the way to my church seat. Silently, I critique her in my mind, She’s rude. Before not too long, I get side-tracked by own thoughts: Everyone always hurts me. Like that boy, I asked to dance in 4th grade. Like those girls who circled up to whisper about me in that damp locker room. Like the group of women who act like they’re far better than me.

I’m supposed to be listening in church, but who can listen, thinking about all this, all them!?

Here, I find myself, in the heat of a horrible battle. You can always tell if you’re in the heat-of-a-battle. Almost instantly, your soul-crushing problem magnifies 100x larger than your promise-keeping God. Suddenly, you’re standing weaponless, in all-out combat within your own mind. Hardly able to win.

Ever been there?

I’ve struggled through a lot–through massive health-scares, depression, an eating disorder, financial debt and relationship-severing dramas. Battles. Huge, hard-fought battles, loaded with momentary decisions of pain, struggle and uncertainty.

I remember the time:

  1. The doctor returned to the room with the clipboard saying, “You really might have Mulitple Sclerosis.”
    I thought: How do I keep my thoughts close to God with this kind of news?

2. My colicky newborn made me pace my hallways 24-7. Sleepless, hardly-thinking and powerless to change my health-situation, I didn’t know what to do.
I thought: How do I still love people when my whole life is unraveling?

3. A family member called me to say I really should get on setting up long-term care for myself.
I thought: How do I deal with the fact all my dreams will now look different than I thought?

Through all this, I realized, real wisdom is having a battle-plan.

Let’s talk about Christ-centered battle-plan preparedness. Begin by asking yourself: What am I currently facing?

Identifying your main struggles (resentment, regret, trauma, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, fear) is to allow God to help you win your battle. For example, for me, underneath that issue with the girl, was an old war full of rejection, humiliation, and abandonment from years past. Underneath, were old battles I’d lost–because they were left unaddressed. Therefore, they left me with resentment towards God.

Seeing our battles for what they are, gives us a clear-cut strategy to fight – and win. It also removes all the pent-up offenses that, like plaque, cover our heart.

What about you? Do you emotionally respond to happenings set before you or do you wisely act based on God’s Word and promises?

Today, you can fight your battle a new way. Consider:

  1. Asking God what feelings of fear, worry, anger, resentment, neglect and hurt He desires you give to him.

2. Giving those hurts to Jesus, by saying, “Jesus, I am not meant to carry these. Forgive me. They’ve hurt me for far too long. I know and believe you have peace, joy, life and freedom for me as I give you these things.”

3. Blessing any women who have hurt you.

4. Reframing your moments of hurt. (Example: when she passed by me quickly, she was probably was in a rush, she might have had something to do or she lost in thought)

5. Returning to a heart of love. (Example: Thank you Go d that you love me and I can love others. In fact, I can love the very person who hurt me by ___.)

This is the start of being Battle Ready. There truly are practical insights, wise biblical instructions and truths that can help you rise above the mayhem of trials and hardships. You can find the light of Christ and step into all God has for you.

The victory belongs to the Lord. Isn’t it time you began to make room for it?

About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously

“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt,disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!” – Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to· make new habits stick in just five steps· disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women· exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts· implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace· create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

Buy Battle Ready here: https://amzn.to/2l5qQrw

To get Battle Ready freebies – printables, devotional reminders, a customizable daily Battle Plan and the“Find Your Battle Style” quiz, visit: www.iambattleready.com

To order the companion Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal that will help you practically change your thoughts, then your life, click here.

Summer with THE SUNSHINE SISTERS

Have I mentioned how much I love using Overdrive to checkout eBooks without ever leaving my house? It is the perfect library. And THE SUNSHINE SISTERS by Jane Green is a title you should check out (by any checkout method).


This isn’t my typical read. I say that half the time I write a review, I know. Maybe you’re wondering, “What IS your typical read?”
Glad you asked. I typically read:

  1. Fantasy – YA and series as opposed to epic. This is the genre that helps me escape and fully engages my imagination
  2. Christian Romance – I’m writing in this genre fairly regularly, so I need to read it in order to write it better. I also prefer things like Susan May Warren’s adventure romances over a straight “boy and girl fall in love” romance.
  3. Sweet Romance that’s more than just romance – I mean that there’s a mystery or an adventure or something. The romances I write tend to lean toward this, as well. The story is about the character’s struggle to change and the romance is a catalyst in that process.
  4. Women’s fiction – usually this is for a book club (as is the case with Ms. Green’s book reviewed below), but I’m also branching out into this genre because it’s where I hope to write in the future.

The Story

This is the story of a mother and her daughters.

The mother is a “B movie” actress who is always hoping for her big break. This motivation informs every decision she makes and impacts her children.

The oldest daughter, Nell, closes herself off to emotion. It’s the way she learned to cope with her mother’s rants and rages. When she becomes a single mother, she makes different choices for herself and her son, fully loving him as she doesn’t anyone else.

The middle daughter, Meridith, becomes a people-pleaser. She runs to London and her grandparents when she’s eighteen, but she can’t make independent decisions. Every time she does, it turns out badly which reinforces the lie that she’s meant to make others happy while ignoring her own unhappiness.

And then there’s the spoiled youngest girl, Lizzy. She roars through life mowing down all who try to stand in her way. This doesn’t make her successful or larger than life, but it does make her more like her mother than she’s willing to admit.

The story problem: can this family overcome the differences that divide them to unite and become a true family?

My Review

This story starts at the end. I don’t like that. It steals the tension from the story for me.
I think, “Oh, so she’s going to..blank.” Why do I care about what leads to that decision?

Green won me over by sharing only vignettes from the forty years of the characters’ lives that mattered to understand 1) why each daughter responded to her mother in that way and 2) where their personal lie came from. She proved she knew how to craft a great story.

Often if there are more than a couple narrating characters, I disengage from the story of many of them and gravitate to those chapters narrated by the ones I connected with. Even with four (and more) narrators, that didn’t happen with this book.

This doesn’t mean I LIKED all the narrators, but their stories intersected in a way that kept me engaged. Each scene moved the characters closer to the big reveal readers glimpsed in the opening chapter (a prologue).

There were several aspects that felt contrived to me and even came out of the blue rather than being hinted at naturally. And I predicted every outcome of the story (but I usually do, that’s a curse of being a fiction writer).

The end satisfied me in every way and gave a glimpse into what the future might hold for THE SUNSHINE SISTERS.

This is a 4.6 out of five star read, and well worth the time investment (and I devoured it in two days).

My Recommendation

This is a book for anyone with sisters or a mother. Yeah, that is most of you. Doesn’t everyone have a mother at least?

Even though I didn’t especially like the main mother character in this story, I could still relate to her struggles and failures. This is what makes the most meaningful story, and authors who are able to draw characters that our so real we “know” them deserve respect and praise.

Thanks for your wonderful snapshot of the Sunshine family, Ms. Green. You entertained, engaged and even enlightened me.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? What are your favorite genres to read?

Sneak Peek Inside UNEXPECTED

In honor of summer, I’ve decided to give you a peek inside my sweet summer romance. It’s something of an unexpected story in an anthology with three other sweet romances.
If you want to read the blurbs, check this out.


As for my story, the meet cute was inspired by a very real hike on the exact trail where my shero is trotting in the opening scene.

There were no interesting males to meet on the trail. I’m a happily married woman. Dogs? Yes, there were many. Some without leashes like Rembrandt.

Their meet cute is the scene I sent to my publisher. You deserve something fresh and new.
When love and isolation collide, only the bravest hearts survive.

Ivory’s determination steams face-first into Prescott’s dream with unexpected results.
Sound interesting?

I admit I’m nervous because these characters are unique in ways I’ve never written before. She’s taller and broader than him, and he’s a little too skinny and pasty to be handsome.

They’re not the typical 22-year-olds, either. She’s heading back for a Master’s degree her parents oppose. He’d a college dropout with his paint-stained fingers and an aversion to physical contact.

It sounds nothing like a perfect match.

Still interested?

Read on for a peek at their story. This is from a non-line-edited chapter six (translation: it might not be exactly the same as what you’ll see in the book come August 6).

After multiple trips on roots and rocks, Ivory’s gaze stayed fixed on the ground. Until she plowed into Prescott’s back with an unladylike grunt. She peeked over his shoulder into a wash several yards away. A doe curled under a pine tree, ears tilted in their direction while a speckled fawn sniffed at the detritus of needles, cones, leaves and twigs lining the edge of the runoff. It hadn’t rained for several weeks, so the ground was dry, and the snapping of the fawn’s hooves against the foliage carried to their ears.
Prescott eased his camera upward. If he couldn’t capture the scene in a photo, hopefully his artistic brain could memorize it well enough to paint later. A portrait of the pair would make an excellent addition to his collection.
The snap of the shutter echoed in the quiet forest. A chipmunk chattering above them went silent, and birds stopped calling to each other.
Ivory held her breath. As if her breathing could be heard by the diligent mother.
A crow cawed. The fawn’s head snapped up and its ears swiveled forward. Snap. The Dumbo-esque ears twitched toward them. Prescott stilled.
Spots dotted the edge of Ivory’s vision. Her fists clamped Prescott’s hips, and she buried her face in his shoulder blade. Only then did she expel her air and draw another breath.
When she looked up, Prescott’s face was turned toward her, a wary look in his eye.
She was touching him. He didn’t like that. Although she didn’t really understand the pain he experienced at physical contact, she had no desire to hurt him.
“Sorry.” At the moment she mouthed the word, a flurry across the clearing drew their attention.
The doe scrambled to her feet and herded her baby into the trees. Her deep brown eyes stared right at them before she slipped into the forest, out of sight in seconds.
“How did she hear that?” This time there was actual volume in her words.
Prescott’s throat bobbed. His gaze flitted to her lips. Her pulse lunged into her throat.
She stared into his eyes. From a distance, the amber ring around his iris made his eyes appear hazel, but up close they were as brown as Rembrandt’s but accented by the golden halo.
“Your eyes are amazing.” As soon as the words tumbled out, Ivory regretted them. Too bad this wasn’t email. No immediate recalls if you hit send too quickly.
He angled his body toward her, his shoulder mere centimeters from her breast. “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”
“Why? My eyes are muddy green. You have this cool circle.” She nibbled her lip.
He stared intently into her eyes. “Your eyes are the color of a deep fishing hole or tarragon leaves.” His fingers touched the corner of her eye.
She blinked. “A poet and a painter. How is it you don’t have a line of girlfriends?”
His face flushed before a grin quirked half his mouth. Her heart lurched at the sight. If he smiled like this all the time, women would swoon at his feet for sure.
If you liked this, why not share it on your social media? Or maybe forward the link to your friends who like to read?

If you follow my Hero Delivery newsletter, I’ll be sending out an opportunity for a FREE advanced copy of the anthology in exchange for an honest review. Watch your email inbox OR join my Facebook group.
Are you still interested in reading this? More or less interested than before?

Who’s Ready for A VIRTUAL LOVE STORY?

I signed the contract for my first full-length novel a couple weeks ago. The Virtual Match novella series put me through the wringer to become a novel that the same publisher will release ONLY in paperback.

Thank you Roane Publishing for believing in this story! I hope the readers of the novellas who complained about not getting to know Marcus well enough or wanting a real happily ever after will appreciate the 20,000 words I added to make this story complete.

And, yes, much of that is from Marcus Jordan’s perspective.

Here’s the lovely cover.

And now the blurb:

A devastating secret imprisons her. Veronica Shay bemoans her mother’s insistence that love will complete and fulfil her. The Virtual Match Ronnie hires might keep the matchmakers at bay if she can protect her heart from the man behind the texts.

Marcus Jordan, haunted by past relational failures, bumbles in Veronica’s presence. When opportunity presents itself, he poses as her virtual boyfriend. They forge a relationship, but is it built on lies?

When they meet in person, Ronnie can’t reconcile the lies with the truth in her heart. And Marcus can’t maintain the digital image he’s created.

Desperation drives Ronnie to set up a real date with Marcus, but nothing involving her family is ever easy. After her therapist gives her an ultimatum and her family gets horrible news, she’s ready to head back to the safe-haven of a career-centered life.

But her secret is out. Marcus believes he can heal Veronica’s heart. He steps out on a limb to bring her closure, but the olive branch snaps. He plummets to a new low, alone and unlovable, fodder for the ghosts of his past.

Earthquake upon earthquake shakes Ronnie’s world. Can she admit that love is worth the risk? Is being virtually happy possible in the harsh glare of reality?

Look for this paperback on November 19, 2018, just in time for holiday reading.

In the coming months, I’ll be offering chances to pick up advance copies in exchange for an honest review. If you’d be interested in that, make sure you’re a member of my mailing list or my Faceback group. The announcements will only go out via those outlets. I’m limiting my blog to more creative nonfiction about my life.

No one wants to see a constant stream of promotions, am I right?

If you’ve read any of the novellas, what did you think? Would you invest in a paperback to get the rest of the story?

Five Ways to Teach Classics in High School Literature Class

Shakespeare. The Bard. A true genius in literary circles. Ask anyone with an advanced degree in the subject. And some without a degree at all concur.

Me? Not so much.

That didn’t stop me from teaching OTHELLO in four sophomore classrooms a few weeks ago. What I mean by “teach” is to let an audio recording read Act IV to the class while I paused occasionally to ask clarifying questions and double-check for understanding.
And once to just point out the lovely irony the Bard does so well which I do like.
The students had time to write a summary and pick out some figurative language for their assignment. I admit, by class three, I was commenting on some of the personification in one of Othello’s monologues.

Does that count as giving them answers? *shrugs*

Then I played the 1995 movie. Kenneth Brannagh plays Honest (HA) Iago and Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from MATRIX) takes the title role. We watched Act IV.

Yes, I did this four times. I was playing Words with Friends and scrolling through Facebook during the movie the last few times. Although I did chime in when something was clarified once they could SEE it played out.

Shakespeare scripts were meant to be seen not read.

No matter what you say, I will not be pursuaded from this. If there hadn’t been movie adaptations for the nine plays I had to watch in my college Shakespeare class, I would have failed it.
The man didn’t even give stage directions.

You need the actors to interpret it for you and then learn from their actions.

It was during the final teaching session that a sophomore boy asked, “Why do we have to read this? Couldn’t we study something newer and easier to understand and learn the same things?”

Oh, young man, we certainly do need to study (not read) Shakespeare and other classics. But it’s time to be honest, high school students aren’t getting much out of it.

Use something modern that alludes to the classic.

In preparation for writing this post, I Goggled “Why teach classics in high school?” Links back to many of the articles I found on the subject will be included.

One article on an Advanced Placement literature help site claimed it was a disservice not to teach classics. One of the main arguments was because so many modern references derive their meaning from classical literature.

It’s true. As an aside, I fully believe advanced literature courses should cover the classics, and only the classics. Those students are preparing for college and they’ll need the analytical skills a great literature class teaches.

For the average student, I might recommend a book like THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt. In it, the narrator is forced to study Shakespeare while every other student in his class goes to their weekly religious classes.

The students will engage with this novel’s story, and teachers can take time to delve slightly into the Shakespearian references that are made. In this way, the class stays engaged with the reading, and those who find Shakespeare interesting have now been given a sample. They’re free to check him out of the library or binge watch him on Netflix.

Pair a small bite of a classic with something more current.

Most students shut down when you show them an old story. They don’t care how much it influenced literature or society. All they care about is that it is OLD, and therefore doesn’t relate to them.
Students of literature know better. But general high school classes aren’t meant to make literature buffs out of students.

What is the purpose of literature class in high school? Go ahead and Google it. I did.

Students think the purpose it so learn to research a topic and write an essay on it. Teachers think it’s about grammar, vocabulary, reading and comprehension of broad categories (so why do they have to read a Shakespeare play in every year of high school?), studying the literary culture of English societies and organizing information and communicating it to others. Oh, they say the research and citation aspect is also important.

In any case, there is no reason to wade through hundreds of pages of classical literature to learn these skills. In the era of memes and movies, students want to be entertained. If you entertain them, they’ll learn more.

Ignoring the culture of learning is antithesis to teaching. Great educators can adapt their methods to fit their students. I know this because I worked in a special education classroom for ten years, and in that room, it was all about adaptation.

Invest in different formats of the classic.

I’m not a fan of graphic novels. I want words or I want pictures.

That doesn’t mean the upcoming generation feels the same. If we can put To Kill A Mockingbird in a more accessible format without damaging the beauty of the original language, why wouldn’t we do it?

If a student will read the book in graphic novel format, isn’t that better than if they don’t read it? You say you’ll read it aloud in class. Fine, but we know how easy it is to tune our brains to something else when we’re not interested in the topic at hand.

The key is in making adaptations that maintain the integrity of the original. And companies are trying to do it. Schools should make a market for this important work by investing in new books in a format that engages their students.

Put the classic into historical context.

Many of the posts I read on the subject said the most important reason for studying the classics was because of the cultural insight it imparts.

Wouldn’t this be better off in history class then?

I’d argue for the combined humanities courses that fall in and out of favor in our state’s middle school environments. That’s a perfect age to marry these two subjects.

But those students aren’t going to wade through UNCLE TOM’S CABIN to understand the American cultural climate. Good grief! I barely managed to wade through it as a junior in high school and I was an advanced reader and writer who devoured any book that was handed to me.

Except that one. But I did slog through it.

An excerpt or two could be gleaned from the text on the pertinent cultural lessons. This way, students can access the benefits in a dose they can handle.

Curate the substance and present it in a medium students relate with.

English and literature teachers are the experts on the subject matter. However, they aren’t meant to make experts of their students.

That’s why there are curriculum learning objectives.

As an author, I have to kill my darlings if I want to produce stories that readers will read. This means brilliantly written scenes get cut from the manuscript and filed in my “cut scenes” document.

High school teachers need to do the same. Is symbolism in literature an important thing for students to grasp? And if it is, then choose a modern book they are familiar with (one that has a movie to go along with it) to teach it.

Why? Because using a source they aren’t interested in to teach them a subject they think is pointless is only going to frustrate everyone. They won’t learn, and you’ll feel like a horrible teacher.

The English department at every high school needs to have a round table. The state mandates the learning objectives. Let the teachers decide which literature is best suited to the objective and the audience.

Too often, thought isn’t given to the audience. For an author, that’s the top of an ice-slick slope with an avalanche brewing at your feet. It’s time teachers realized it puts them in a precarious position to only think about what they want to teach instead of how their students will best learn.
What are your thoughts? Did you LOVE reading ROMEO AND JULIET in high school? Are there other ways to teach classics to teenagers who play video games and watch movies rather than read?

Check Out the Sweet Grove Blog Today

It’s my turn to be featured in the Sweet Grove Sentinel this weekend.

That means I’ve got a post up on the blog on the Sweet Grove website. Check it out here.

It’s all about the new HEROES OF SWEET GROVE series within a series coming on July 3, 2018.

You’ll get the chance to see the pretty cover for the third book in my Sweet Grove Romance series. I hope you won’t be too disappointed that there are only minor glimpses of the Wells and Elise Nelsen.

But beta readers are screaming about the great description and believable attraction between Jaz and Bailey.

Who are they? Click over to the Sweet Grove site and see for yourself.

Don’t worry. I’ll be sharing an excerpt right here in a few short weeks. Just enough to make you eager for the release.

When there’s no will, love still finds a way.

ONE SWEET MORNING Spring Romance Anthology: Meet the Authors

Roane Publishing has launched another short story anthology into the world. I love these things. You might recall that my first published fiction appeared in one such anthology in February of 2015.

I’ve been with Roane for three years and have never regretted a day of it.

Odds are good none of the authors who’re dropping in for a quick visit today are sorry about submitting their work to a small indie house rather than chasing a literary agent or a big house.

Since ONE SWEET MORNING brims with romances set in spring, we’ll be discussing that season of new life with the four ladies with stories in this collection.

Thanks for taking time out to stop by my blog today, ladies. The question I have for you is “What is your favorite thing about springtime?”

For the record, my favorite thing is the return to green and the blooming of flowers, sure, but more importantly that SUMMER will soon be here.

Here are the answers:

Theresa Kemble (Author of “Spring into Action”):

What is my favorite thing about springtime?  For me. it’s the Sun returning it’s warm rays back to me after a dreary winter. (Yes, I’m one of those people that hate the winter! Well, except for the holidays, which I totally love!) I love warm gentle breezes, the scent of flowers invading my senses! It’s pure joy for me! Spring to me means a fresh start, hope for something new and exciting! In my story, “Spring into Action”, my heroine,Tamara Goode hopes for good things as she start’s a new chapter in her life. As the saying goes… Spring hopes Eternal!

ME: I also love sunshine, Theresa!

Claire Davon (Author of “Spring Water”):

Spring is such a great time of year. It’s when the promise of new life and new beginnings takes hold, and winter begins to fade in the rear view mirror. I grew up in Boston, so when Roane wanted spring romance stories it was a natural fit to set my story in Boston. I always loved when April rolled around when I was growing up. We were finally were able to think about warmer weather and no more snowfall. By that time I was good and sick of the snow! By that time fifty degree weather called for t-shirts and shorts. I love the promise of spring, when the snowbanks recede and the landscape is revealed again, just as people are revealed, scrapping their heavy layers for lighter clothing, and lighter moods.

In my story I talk about the swan boats, and that was one of my favorite memories throughout my time in Boston. They were like a rite of passage. When the swan boats started, you knew that the city had moved into spring mode, and warmer days were coming.

ME: I shivered when you said fifty-degree weather called for t-shirts and shorts. It will have to be 65 or warmer before I bare my arms and legs to goosebumps.

Suzi Finlay MacDonald (Author of “Only the Heart Knows”):

My favourite thing about springtime is that it’s a time of new beginnings. The natural world is waking up and starting over, and all that positive energy can give one the courage to take a chance on something new, or get rid of something that isn’t right. In ‘Only The Heart Knows’ Maddie has chosen springtime for her new beginning, but when things change it takes courage to make the right choice.

ME: Something about sunshine gives me courage, too.

Kim Strattford (Author of “Sparkage”):

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where it stayed green all year. Then I moved to DC area and got to experience the full effect of four seasons–how gray and bare winter can be. So the best part of spring is seeing the grass turning green again, the crocuses blooming, the trees leafing out, and the daffodils and other spring flowers  exploding.

Spring lasts a hot minute here. We usually go from winter to summer with maybe a week of spring, but still, I love it.

ME: I’d heard that about spring lasting a week or less in DC, but the cherry blossoms are lovely.

To grab your copy of ONE SWEET MORNING, click here or on the cover image above. These authors and the indie publisher who believes in them appreciate your willingness to support them.

Check out the rest of the posts for this release by clicking below.