July 4,1776, a crowd of rebellious patriots rally around a document written by Thomas Jefferson and sent to a king thousands of miles across the sea. This king taxed the “colonists” but in return they received nothing from him.
Today, I’ll celebrate our independence with a collection of links to posts with the title “Why Freedom Isn’t Free.”
I don’t endorse any of the products these posts might be selling. I am not saying I agree with all of the content. But, in the spirit of “free speech” I am sharing diverse opinions about this subject.
We’ll start with an old post of mine. I wrote it when the hubs and I walked the “Freedom Trail” in Boston.
Next up is a post from a life coach. He translates freedom in your personal life to freedom in your career and finances. Read it here
I especially agreed with the first line of this next post: “Years ago back in my days at the academy and in the military, I used to hear the phrase ‘freedom isn’t free’ over and over again. Not because I heard it in my military days, but because I think it’s a phrase that’s going out of style.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No, this is not an episode of HOW IT’S MADE. I’m talking about romantic matchmaking…not the manufacture of match sticks. Although both of them can lead to fire.
A matchmaker is a trouble maker.
Okay, that’s not the dictionary definition. But if you’ve ever been subjected to matchmaking by someone, you know first-hand that it can be a painful experience. Maybe not root canal or tonsillectomy quality agony but close.
A new series from my publisher looks at kids of single parents as the meddlesome matchmakers.
It’s supposed to be a series of romantic comedies. Although I’m the first to agree I’m hysterically humorous, I tend to write books with a serious tone.
I hope my readers won’t be disappointed by my foray into this new genre. Based on the experience, it’s unlikely I’ll continue to write in it. It’s not like I don’t have tons of other things to write (like I talked about here.)
Indie authors with huge followings and tons of experience will write in this series. Although I’ve only read ONE of the actual stories, I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of the writing. (UPDATE: I have actually read THREE of the stories plus my own, and I’m certain you’ll be thrilled to invest in the entire series.)
Okay, first of all. There’s a titling formula for this series. I’m sure you noticed it.
My book is not about the actual mommy. In my book, the grandmother is taking care of the mischievous little matchmaker for a year. A more appropriate title would be MIMI LOVES THE BANKER.
So…you’ve been warned.
Neither was banking on love…but their granddaughters have different plans.
She was abandoned by her husband. He buried his true love. Can they find a second chance at happiness?
In a new town, filling her daughter’s shoes as a stand-in mommy, struggling entrepreneur Meredith Williams longs to prove her ex-husband wrong and make a go of her lotion-making business. But when he constantly defaults on his alimony, she approaches the local bank for a small business loan. She’s about to find something so much better.
Tightened lending policies at Bank of Virginia force Donavan Anders to reject Meri’s loan application, killing any chance he can act on his interest in the enterprising woman, until he realizes their granddaughters play on the same T-ball team. Maybe he can make up for bank policies and score a date at the same time.
When bullies make T-ball difficult for their granddaughters, it’s up to the grandparents to step up their game. While they’re working together on that, their matchmaking granddaughters connive their way into one sleepover and two lunch dates. Lots of girlish giggles might lead to a happily-ever-after…if only those stubborn grandparents will get a clue.
I LOVE THIS STORY
This story was tons of fun to write. Since I’ll be a first-time grandma a few weeks after this book releases into the wild, it was fun to imagine myself in Meredith Williams’s shoes.
We have other things in common too: 1) We’re entrepreneurs; 2) Dads who left; 3) Love of baseball and 4) Disgust for bullies.
While I’m happily married, it’s always great fun to imagine a romance for people near my age. Since Meri hadn’t really experienced all the feels of falling in love before, I wanted her to have lots of tingles and ah-ha moments.
Who better to give them to her than a man who HAD been head over heels before. A man who felt certain he’d spend the rest of his life alone because he’d already had his “one true love.”
Debunking ideas like this are one of the best things about being a fiction writer.
GRAB THE SERIES
If you’re a fan of this genre or you think the premise of kids as matchmakers is intriguing, you can grab the entire six-book set for 35 percent off the price of purchasing the titles individually.
Better yet, you will get ALL SIX STORIES on the day the first story releases. While everyone who doesn’t order the entire set is twiddling their thumbs for a month to read MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER, you’ll have it on your ereader on March 1.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Of course it does. Order your set now. Read one and read them all before everyone else.
After hearing about this book, are you excited to read it? Do you like a series written by different authors? Or do you prefer to stay with the same characters for a series?
I’m not a history buff. I won’t even claim to like studying historical events. But when I’m traveling, I do appreciate absorbing historical sites and monuments.
For me, it has nothing to do with the past. Seeing a landmark placed in a specific spot to cement a significant event touches the part of me that realizes time is limited. Life is a river rushing me ever toward the sea of eternity.
But these monuments are like a boulder in the river.
A person could rest on them. A person could take a break from paddling against contrary currents. The boulder offers a solid place in the maelstrom.
Of course, I’ve been rafting on the Deschutes River in Maupin, Oregon. A boulder could capsize your raft. It could dump everyone you love into the foaming mess of whitewater, eager to devour you…or at least scrape you along the sharp and unforgiving stones of the riverbed.
Recently, my husband and I traveled to Florida for a couples’ retreat. The retreat was held at the Renaissance International World Golf in St. Augustine.
After my first ever lunch of Cuban food, we strolled through the historical fort. There was an old Catholic rectory. The governor’s house had been converted to a museum.
Crowds teemed through the unique shop area. Sun beat down from an autumn sky unlike those in Oregon. A fickle breeze lifted clothes that clung to every inch of perspiring skin.
In a park near the marina where traffic backed up because a draw bridge was raised, there was an old depot platform. Several statues and monoliths paid homage to people and events of the past. There was even an old pillar remaining from the Spanish capital that had once occupied this oldest of American cities.
The Monument to Men
One of the monolithic stones, a quite simple piece of plain rock, had been raised to honor those from the city of St. Augustine who gave their lives protecting it during what southerners refer to as The War of Northern Aggression. (That’s the Civil War for those of us who aren’t northerners, but have been blessed to be raised near the end of the Oregon Trail in God’s Country.) *sticks out her tongue at a particular cousin who will be reading this*
Where I live, there are monuments like this to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War I and World War II. I believe there’s even a little something for veterans of Desert Storm.
The point of this monument is to memorialize soldiers who fought for their homes. Some of the monuments honor the survivors. The ones that are most poignant to me are the memorials of those who died for the cause.
What person should not be honored for giving their life for a cause?
I don’t recall the exact words. But on a pole to one side of this simple memorial a metal sign had been mounted.
It claimed that there had been some legislation requiring the removal of all landmarks in honor of Confederates in the Civil War. It went on to state that residents petitioned to keep this simple monolith intact and were granted their petition.
Thank you, petitioners. This is what U.S. democracy is supposed to look like.
Better yet, why pass ridiculous laws that do nothing?
I can imagine the very men honored by this monument rolling over in their graves.
“People say we were fighting to keep slaves,” one would say. “I was fighting for freedom.”
“Freedom from a government that wanted to minimize our personal rights,” another says.
Because this war wasn’t fought over a single issue. The largest percentage of men who died had probably never owned a slave, nor would have chose to if they could.
History happened. It’s over. There’s no point in trying to change it.
What is the reason a law might give for tearing down a simple monolithic column in a small park in St. Augustine, Florida? Is there any reason that would be acceptable?
We all know the slogan, “Never forget.” It was painted everywhere from social media to billboards in September. But it had been used decades before for Normandy Beach and Pearl Harbor.
This simple monument reminds us that men died for a cause. Let’s not judge the cause. We weren’t there, and we couldn’t possibly know what what in the hearts as they marched away from their homes and families…never to return.
You and I can attest that politicians say a ton of stuff we don’t agree with. Their words get recorded, and in another fifty years when the next generation reads them, are they going to judge you and I by those words?
Look at the word: history. His story. I write stories for a living, and they are different from the stories other authors of a similar age and gender write. Because they are my stories.
That plain monument asks us to pause for a moment and remember a story: one that cost men in St. Augustine to sacrifice all. Each of them had a personal story, and sadly, those are probably lost.
But the price they paid? It should be remembered. And honored.
Do you like history? What is a historical place you’ve been that impacted you?
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
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?
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.
Veteran’s Day graces the November calendar, brightening it with red, white and blue. And although this isn’t a day to salute those who paid the ultimate price, it is a time to honor those WILLING to pay it.
Thank you to those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. I offer you the deepest respect. And to those who served in the Armed Forces in times past, thank you for your service.
Yes, I’m technically a veteran since I served in the US Army Reserve, but it feels like a cheap imitation of the service given by men and women who left their families behind to face enemy fire in a hostile place. I’m in awe of those people (and there was a time in my life when I would have gladly been one of them).
A couple months ago, I read a blog post that touched me. It featured a military veteran.
Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.
Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter?
All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”
He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”
Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.
Heroes are everywhere. The best thing about natural disasters: they bring undercover heroes out in the open.
And because of smart phones that double as cameras and video recorders, these acts of heroism are easily documented in 2017.
For once, the viral posts on social media sites are things that make a person smile and feel good about being human. It’s a really nice change from the political diatribe and the newest report of yet another mass shooting.
I adore “citizen responders” as a descriptor for neighbors practicing the Golden Rule.
Here’s a video of some of those rescues:
Have you heard any inspiring rescue stories of everyday heroes? I’m sure Florida’s storm inspired similar acts.
Tarzan has been around since before black and white television had Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller portrayed the character whose legend has been recapped many times in movies and comics. Tarzan of the Apes was an all-human superhero (in the jungle at least).
Recently, my husband and I watched the 2016 remake called THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, and I was reminded of my childhood crush on this hero of the jungle.
Edgar Rice Burroughs breathed life into Tarzan in 1912 with a story in The All Story Magazine. In 1918, Hollywood produced the first of nearly three dozen movies (not including TV series) featuring this vine-swinging man who could talk to animals.
Weismuller stared in twelve of these films between 1932 and 1948, so it’s no wonder his name was the first to come to mind.
Even Walt Disney took a shot and animated a couple films featuring this well-loved hero (if the frequency of remakes and story lines is any clue). Millennials remember the music of Phil Collins more than anything else about those movies.
Regardless of the worldwide love affair with the loincloth clad man, I watched this latest movie and recalled several reasons why Tarzan is still a hero to me.
Tarzan’s parents died when he was a baby. A female gorilla found and adopted him, but imagine being a human in the troop of gorillas led by a 500-pound alpha…who didn’t want you around.
His humanity would have made him weak among the powerful apes. He wouldn’t have the protection of fur against the elements and predators, nor would he have the strength and bone structure to travel with speed among the trees.
But humans are adaptable. In this newest movie, there was great care given to the changes in his hands and arms because he’d learned to be an ape before being human.
He would have been bullied, an outcast among the troop.
Talk about an underdog.
But his humanity made him curious about the other animals, and he befriended them. Yes, even learning to communicate with them. We all know about the Tarzan yell.
Standing for the Weak
Likely because he had been the weak one for much of his life, Tarzan champions the cause of those being targeted by stronger species. Whether it is his gorilla family or elephants being poached, he doesn’t accept senseless brutality.
As you know in my posts about Captain America and Wonder Woman, this, in my opinion, is the mark of a true hero. He has power but he uses it to help others.
In this movie, it’s the tribesmen who are being enslaved and the animals being poached that earn his protection. Of course, he intends to rescue Jane, but she’s as adamant about protecting their “families” as he is.
Adapting without Losing Character
One of the lines that stuck with me from this film happens near the dark moment. Tarzan has been “sold” to a tribe of natives. The chief of this tribe wants revenge because Tarzan killed his son many years ago (the son had killed Tarzan’s ape “mother”).
Tarzan defeats the chief and much of the armed tribe in hand-to-hand combat and hold a knife to the chief’s throat. They discuss this impasse.
The chief claims his son was just a boy and asks, “Where was your honor?”
Tarzan honestly replies, “I had none.”
He was raised by animals to be an animal. The argument of nature versus nurture comes into play. Was he little more than an ape when he carried out the retribution against the native? Or should he have had more scruples, as a man would (although a goodly number of the men in this film did NOT have any)?
He admitted his lack. He acted on instinct and out of pain and anger. Wasn’t the chief now doing the same thing? Where did this talk of honor come from then?
But as Tarzan learned to be human, he rejected those traits that didn’t mesh with his ingrained love for family. Gorillas are fiercely protective of both territory and troop members, and Tarzan learned this well.
When he met humans, they saved him. Then they tried to capture him and ruin his home. He learned not to trust them. That they would lie and steal and cheat. Were they really more “advanced” than the apes who raised him to survive in the jungle?
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN sends Tarzan and Jane back to the Congo at the request (so they believe) of the Dutch king, since Congo became a colony of the Dutch when all the Europeans finished warring over it in the late 1890s. Really it’s part of a plot to mine diamonds to pay the Dutch debt.
Samuel L. Jackson played an American fighting against slavery and offered plenty of comedic relief in the tense plot. What do you love about Tarzan? Or who is a figure you saw a heroic in your childhood that doesn’t get much recognition these days?