New Year: New Word of the Year

Time found its warp speed in 2018. The months were mere blurs out my view screen. And now we’ve arrived in a different calendar called 2019.

Maybe you recall that last year was a year for Metamorphosis around here. And there were a TON more changes and transformations than I had planned.

This year, I’ll be building upon those “new” things. That’s why my word for the year is

What’s Under Construction

My brand is the biggest thing that transformed last year. As you know, I went from a sweet romance author to almost solely a Christian romance author. I do still have a young adult fantasy short story in an anthology (IN THE BEGINNING) available, and my freebies are fantasy romance stories.

Two unexpected changes came last year.

First, out of left field, was when Kindle Worlds closed. You can recall my turmoil here.

Thankfully, Melissa Storm came through for all of the authors she rallied to her Kindle World and started Sweet Promise Press. I now have five titles available in the First Street Church series (with two more planned for 2019).

The most crushing change came when my first small publisher, Roane Publishing, closed its doors on October 1, 2018. Suddenly, my list of published titles was reduced by half. And, most devastating of all, my first full-length novel died before it could be released in November 2018.

As I worked through all the possibilities this closure revealed, it became clear to me that I should be going a different direction with my fiction. After all, I was building a list of Christian romance readers.

Would they be interested in my Bible studies and devotional? What about my historical women’s fiction based on women from the Bible?

I guess we’ll discover those answers as I construct a NEW back list of titles this year.

The Scriptural Reference


Since one of the biggest transformations last year was to almost entirely Christian fiction, I’ve decided to share my verse of the year on my website.

When you see what’s ahead for 2020, my penchant for this scripture will make even more sense. I hope you’ll stay with me, and even if you’re not sure the new trends will be “your thing” you’ll at least sample them before clicking “unfollow” and “unsubscribe.”

FaceBook Group

The biggest thing I want to build in 2019 is my Facebook Fan Group.

Okay, I admit, I don’t believe I actually have any “fans.” That’s why I’ve called the group “Friends of Author Sharon Hughson.”

Why am I doing this?

Apparently, Facebook has decided that groups are “in” and “now.” They give preference in feeds to posts from groups.

Big whoop-de-doo, right?

Except, I want to connect with my readers. Social media is the easiest way to do that. This group is where I’m hoping we can hang out together.

I’m planning to do some giveaways, book read-alongs and even test out my “mini-study.”

If any of that sounds remotely interesting or intriguing, I hope you’ll join the group.

Do you have a theme or word for 2019? How do you come up with it?

Another Year is Ending

It seems like only a month or two ago and I was working out the word of the year for 2018. Now it’s time to introduce the word for 2019.

Where has the time gone?

And so much has happened for me this year. It’s crazy! And unbelievable.

But choosing Metamorphosis for my theme word last year turned out to be more accurate than I’d planned.

Remember how I was going to change my brand and my focus.

It all started with hiring a designer to help all my posts have a certain look.


I joined Novel Academy, mostly for the weekly live classes.

Then I went to the Deep Thinker’s Writing Retreat. And while I was there, I messed up the story I was working on. Because the SEQ’s for the characters revealed more story background than I could reveal in a 30,000-word novella.

I released my second book to Kindle Worlds in March. Then Kindle Worlds announced they would be closing in July. What? I had planned three more novellas to release in that world for the year.

So much for those plans.

Thankfully, the owner of the First Street Church Kindle World decided to open her own publishing company. I was SO thrilled about this.

I wrote the story for the July 3 release that wasn’t going to happen now that Amazon had closed Kindle Worlds. I submitted the manuscript to the new press, and it come out at the same time my first two novellas re-released.


August was a busy month for me. Those three novellas came out, and a short story I’d written for a summer romance anthology with my first publisher, Roane Publshing, also released.

I ran a contest and found a few new subscribers for my newsletter. I also tried a different method of finding an Advance Review Team, and of the twenty-two books I gave away, nine people reviewed ONE SULTRY DAY.

My sister and I visited our brother in New York City over Labor Day weekend. When I got home, I was hard at work at the contracted novella for Sweet Promise Press (to release April 2019).

At the end of the month, my husband and I attended a marriage seminar in Florida. It was hot and wonderful.

While I was there, my publisher, Roane Publishing, notified us that they were closing their doors after seven years.

This ripped my heart out.

Half of my published works disappeared the next week.

This was NOT the metamorphosis of my brand I had in mind last December when I was coming up with that word.

Strangely, my remaining works were all Christian. It was like someone else DID have a big plan.


While I was working on the romantic comedy and outlining two novellas to write for National Novel Writing Month, an idea for a Bible study book gelled. I outlined that, too, and wrote some of it while on vacation with my husband.

After the big closing announcement (two in one year? Really, God?), it was difficult to focus on anything. But I did. And I determined that 2019 will be a building year for me.

I’m going to build my newsletter list. I’m going to build my new brand as a Christian writer. And one of the ways I’m going to do it is by expanding the REFLECTIONS FROM A PONDERING HEART into a series. (More on that later.)

I struggled to write 50,000 words in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month. But I did finally manage it.

Then it was December. I had to rewrite the romantic comedy, beef up my character motivations and figure out how to make it funnier without losing the serious essence that is my trademark.

I spent a week in Hawaii. So this post was written early.

Based on the clues I’ve given, what do you think my word will be for 2019?

Do you pick a theme verse or a theme word each year? If so, what will yours be?

Happy Birthday from Hawaii

Aloha from Hawaii.

Happy birthday to me!

Every girl should get to travel to Paradise for her birthday. Especially once she’s celebrated half a century living in a climate more suited to ducks and beavers than lazy sun cats.

Some of you will get those tongue-in-cheek references.

Today, I slept in. Or even if I didn’t, I woke up and flung open my window to suck in the tropical breeze. The shushing of waves against the shore lulled me into tranquility.


I could listen to that sound every second of every hour of every day from now until eternity.

And somehow there will be no sea in Heaven? It’s hard for this ocean-adoring girl to imagine.

I’ve been horseback riding on the largest cattle ranch in the US. Bet you didn’t realize it was in Hawaii, did you? You thought it was in Montana or Wyoming right?

Fresh pineapple and Kona coffee has graced my breakfast table. There’s been time to relax in the sun.

And I’m soaking up as much Vitamin D happiness as I can. (Sadly, you can’t store Vitamin D. That’s why you need 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily to replenish it.)


Tonight, I’m going out to dinner with half my kids.

I won’t be doing this lobster thing again.

I’m not sure what I’ll be eating. But I’ll be saving room for dessert. I’m thinking chocolate. Dark, dark, chocolate.

Happy birthday from Hawaii.

If I don’t see you before then, Merry Christmas.

The Hawaii of My Birth Month

Three days until I fly south for the winter.

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

I wish.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hawaii of Year’s Past

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

Palm trees are in my future

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

Kilauea erupting

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

I’ve been to Hawaii before.

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

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

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

Like this one about biking down a volcano.

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

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

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


And it was 70 degrees.

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

Yeah, that’s my idea of vacation perfection.

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

But…then this happened.

They’re pretty happy with this news too!

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

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

The News I Never Expected

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

This is why I expected to have only grandsons.

BUT…then they had the ultrasound today.

My first grandchild

My first grandbaby is a GIRL!

I’m still stunned.

Shocked.

In a state of wonder and disbelief.

They’re pretty happy with this news too!

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

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

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

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

I like this idea.

What are some other grandmother-granddaughter traditions?

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

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

Writing “The End”

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

Meanwhile…at my computer…

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

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

Which means my Nanowrimo deadline came later.

Day One

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

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

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

Day Two

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

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

Write on!

Day Three and Four

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

Day Five

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

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

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

Day Six

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

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

Day Seven

I wake up with a sore throat.

Day Eight

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

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

I’m still ahead in the word count.

Day Nine

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

Word count by day-end: 20,875

Day Ten – Eleven

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

Day Twelve

Conquer the FINAL scene of November novella #1

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

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

Day Thirteen

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Ms. Muse.

Daily total: 3,556 words

Day Fourteen

Edits on LOVE’S RECOVERING HOPE.

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

Day Sixteen

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

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

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

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

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

Day Nineteen

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

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

It’s Finally Over

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

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

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

Goodbye, November.

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

The “Choices” I’d Like to Make

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

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

It became a time suck.

So I deleted the application.

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

This was a BAD idea.

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

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

Stupid Ads

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

I don’t want to watch ads.

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


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

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

Who Writes These Stories

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

I should have known.

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

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

At a mere $1.99 for 20, why not?


Why?

Why did I ever start playing these games?

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

Help!

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

What Sort of Grandma Will I Be?

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

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

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

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

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

But what does that mean?

Grandma Next Door

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commuting Grandma

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

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

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

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


Visiting Grandma’s House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that a truism I can count on?

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

But will I?

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

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

National Novel Writing Month Again

November.

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

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

And that manuscript?

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

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

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

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

Texas Homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

The working title is LOVE’S EMERGING FAITH.

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

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

Tessa Travers

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

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

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

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

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

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