Finding Balance and Bravery

Balancing Personal Beliefs with Entertainment in Writing

Guest post by Sydney Logan

Balancing spirituality in writingMy journey into publishing has been a whirlwind with its fair share of stumbling blocks. Interestingly enough, my biggest writing “struggles” have come from trying to find a balance between my real life and my life as an author.

I am a public school teacher, and I write contemporary romances with grown-up people who do grown-up things (curse, have sex, etc.). I also live in a rural conservative community where the church is the moral compass.

I know what you’re thinking – what I do on my own time is my business. Well, in a perfect world, yes. But when you live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone’s business, it doesn’t always work that way.

I worried and stressed over how my first novel, Lessons Learned, would be received. It was a fine line I had drawn for Sarah—she didn’t agree with homosexuality, but she loved Matt and wanted to protect him. Not to mention, the deacon of the church (also the school principal) bullies the gay teenager and blackmails his teachers. My characters also have pre-marital sex and say curse words.

In my mind, offending someone was inevitable.

I worried endlessly about how the book would be received here at home. Would I upset Baptists? Liberals? My students’ parents? My colleagues?

(Yes, I care far too much about what people think of me. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.)

Despite all that worry, I still published the story I wanted to publish.

It has been five months since the release of the book, and I have to say that my fears (so far) have been unwarranted. Sure, I’ve received some online reviews wishing I had taken a stance one way or the other on the issue, but that wasn’t the purpose of the story. Lessons Learned isn’t about “taking sides.” It’s about tolerance. It’s about finding a way to hold true to your beliefs without persecuting someone for their own.

It’s a lesson we all need from time to time.

I’m not fanatically religious, but I am a spiritual person, and when I’m feeling anxious, I turn to Scripture. This is my favorite verse:

balance and braver

So, with my second book (Mountain Charm – July 2013), I am determined to be courageous and brave.

As long as I don’t offend any Appalachian witches, I should be in good shape.

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Book Review: Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan

Novel Review by Vicki Kay

Book review for Fight for Your WriteSydney Logan’s book, Lessons Learned, has plot lines right out of today’s headlines: school shootings, bullying, and teachers accused of having affairs with their students. All subjects we read about and ask ourselves, “How can this happen?”

Ms. Logan’s book addresses those questions. She writes from the perspective of the witness, the bullied, and the accused. Sarah Bray, who leaves her urban teaching position after witnessing a school shooting to teach at the small town high school she attended. Matt Stuart, the Sycamore High School quarterback, who is bullied. Lucas Miller, a new teacher looking for a fresh start.

Although an interesting idea, the characters were difficult to identify with. I had to stop and check the genre, wondering if it was YA, then go back and check Sarah and Lucas’s ages. Their mannerisms, actions, reasoning, and behavior all seemed more teenager than responsible adult. This feeling was only strengthened as the story went on, as none of the adults reacted in a way I could relate to, not only to the situation playing out among their students but also between themselves.

Sarah’s reaction to Matt’s hints for help and attention were more those of a contemporary, a friend rather than a teacher or adult authority figure. Her interactions with Lucas were also more of an immature teen testing hormones and boundaries. Would two adults really park and make-out in the back seat of a car–two new-hire teachers in a small town who know they were trespassing on property where the owner would strongly object and be on the lookout for such shenanigans? And it was really hard to believe they were so overtaken by lust for each other they would take the risk at that point but then are able to control their amorous activities in private on other occasions as the story progressed.

Sarah giggles. A lot. Lucas’s eyes shine, shimmer, twinkle, and ghost over things. He whispers softly and sadly. A lot. I loved how protective and kind he was, how caring, but I just couldn’t buy into their romance. I didn’t get the intensity of their connection or any real intimate tension.

Okay, those are my personal hang-ups. But would a high school principal really do nothing to protect the safety of a student? If not morally or ethically, then certainly legally, no matter his personal beliefs.

Ms. Logan has put much thought into this book and does a good job of showing what the consequences of your actions or inactions can be. I just wish the characters were as strong as the issues.

Book review for Fight for Your Write

About the Book

A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots.

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past.

She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. As the newest faculty members at Sycamore High School, they quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance.

Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.

About the Author

Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Her second novel, Mountain Charm, is slated for a summer 2013 release. Visit Sydney’s website, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads profile, and find her on Facebook.  

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Vicki Kay, who loves to travel but hates to fly, lives in the Midwest with her husband. A dog lover and avid book lover, she has passed those traits to her two daughters, both of whom she is incredibly proud. A former majordomo for a small advertising company, she is now all things grandma.