Sometimes we aren't thankful enough for our successes. The world has gotten to be a strange and dangerous place. In my talk yesterday, I discussed how now is the perfect time to be a writer. And who can forget the 2008-2009 time when we were worried the stock market would crash and there'd be war right around the corner? Some writers wrote their best works, and great movies were produced during another dangerous time.
Here's what was happening some 70+ years ago:
Today we celebrate fatherhood. It takes a lot to be a father, and not much of it has anything to do with blood or actual paternity. A real father is one who sacrifices much for the care and protection of his children.
I think it is the greatest test of a man practicing fatherhood. It is a somewhat difficult job at times, often thankless and unnoticed. We make a big deal about motherhood, and I think fatherhood is often missed or glossed over.
And it shouldn't be. I am so fortunate to have had my husband of 44 years right along side me as we raised our 4 great kids. I'm sure their lives wouldn't be the same without his guidance. Men and women bring balance to the partnership of parenting. I know my husband's different style is often ten times more effective than mine.
I can remember once he came home to find our son, aged about 10, just getting ready to jump from our second story master bedroom window onto the trampoline he'd pulled over. “Watch this, Dad,” was his comment. Don said he was afraid to stop him, and just watched as our son did a somersault and spiked a perfect landing on the trampoline, a skill he'd obviously been practicing all afternoon when he was left unsupervised by his older brothers and sisters. And his comment afterwards? “Well that's fine. Just don't do that in front of your mom.”
One of my favorite things to do is to go to Disneyland and watch fathers and their children, sharing the happy memories of their childhood with their kids. You see dads in Mickey Mouse ears or Goofy caps, skipping, singing, eating ice cream or holding a child who has gone “comatose” in front of the light parade, fallen asleep from overload.
I think of the Navy SEAL dads and how they are known for “wrestling with their kids in their batman pajamas.” I think any man who has opened his heart up to not only a life partner, but a child, has a special place in Heaven. Falling in love and being the hunky sexy hero of a woman's fantasy is one thing that probably stems from genetics and the basic sexual drives of our species. But being a father is something learned, practiced. It isn't always a natural act, and you get better at it the more you do it. Notice I didn't say it got easier. You just get better at it.
So, fathers, I salute you. I love who you are and what you stand for. It takes unselfish courage to be a true dad to a child, to stand for something, and stand with them when they need it. My own dad was a remarkable man, and the first man I ever loved.
I've heard some beautiful recordings of this song. Garth Brooks recorded it. So have many others. I've had this song sung to me live, once on stage, recorded for me, dedicated to me on a radio station once. It's a song that means a lot to me for a lot of reasons. Old boyfriends, new friends, people I've loved and love still, people who I knew that have passed on, people I loved who were killed in battle, or at home fighting the fight at home.
Just like the words say, “Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance,” our colorful stories are made up of good days and bad days. Strung together like multi-colored beads in a glass necklace, or christmas twinkle lights, chapters of a book that holds our attention, the whispered words of love in a dark night, or memories of those loved and lost, loved and gone away, except for our memory. And we are better for it, right? Some pain, yes, but better for it.
Another haunting song I love by Jimmy Webb, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I heard again about a year ago at a Pat Metheney concert. Talking about love, love found, love lost, and the journey to and from love. Beautiful, painful, like life itself. Who will forget the wonderful voice of Glen Campbell, now silent, singing this beautiful song.
Experience makes us the people we are, gives us the stories of love and pain, the yearning for something more miraculous than our ordinary lives. Like Liam Neesom's child says in Love Actually, “Let's go get the shit kicked out of us (by love).” Drunk on love, or drunk on the creating the fantasy of love – it's all the same. Drunk on writing is the same as living the experience. I travel all the places my heroes and heroines travel, feel the warmth of arms around me, the love I get to feel and express without holding back. And yes, there's pain too along the way sometimes.
You and I get to dance together for as long as we wish. There is no beginning and no ending. Our capacity expands the more we fall into the twinkling fantasy of what love could be like in it's perfect, most intense form. We're hopeless romantics, you and I. We live in the possibility, in the moment that is miraculous and pure.
And the pain? Well, that's the dance, isn't it? The backdrop for all the miracles that happen. When things hurt the most, especially when someone you love is hurting, all the more reason to cover ourselves in the fantasy of a good love story that heals all. I still believe in love, though I've been hurt. I still believe I get richer, deeper and stronger every day I live.
Because I'm dancing. I'm still here. I'm still dancing.
|Me with Lori Foster at #RAGT15 in Cincinnati|
I had a wonderful time here in Cincinnati at the Lori Foster reader and author get together. This completes my 7th conference so far this year, with 4 (possibly 5) more to go. I'm finally getting the hang of it. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. Even managed to watch history being made while having a nice dinner with friends. American Pharoah won the triple crown, something which hasn't happened in 37 years and I was there watching the big screens, cheering him on.
There were a lot of personal victories for me this trip. It continually amazes me how as a romance writer, I can touch so many people's lives. I started out this writing journey creating stories for myself that I couldn't find anywhere else. And now I write for everyone else. The more I get to know some of the authors I love to hang with, the more I understand that we all absolutely love what we do. I could never say this about anything else I did, even things I was highly successful at.
I've been working on finishing my SEAL's Code story. Like every story I do, I fall in love with the hero, love to feel the chemistry of the couple and their complete surrender to each other. Hanging around people in my stories who have a happily ever after gives me great satisfaction and pleasure. I sincerely think it makes me a better person, too. Love always triumphs over hate, good wins out over evil eventually and the most unlikely and improbable odds turn out to be what saves the day.
Like my heroes and heroines, I try and fail. Do things I'm proud of and things I'm not so proud of. When I'm done with the story, I do feel like it's the end of a relationship for me, and I do have a hard time letting go. But that only lasts until I get engrossed in the next story, and so on and so on.
Someone at dinner tonight talked about being afraid to show her work, to even read her own work. I completely understand that. My friend Karin Tabke gave me some great advice on that, which I gave to this newbie author: “Finish your story, send it out, put your blood spatter apron on and get ready.”
I told her that the only way we get better is to fail. And if we fail big, we win big eventually. When I think of all the lessons I've learned this year and last year, my biggest failures have also been my biggest wins.
And yes, love conquers all, heals all, enlightens us all and brings us to the most blissful and perfect self we can be. It's the place where the magic happens, where men wear Mickey Mouse ears and dance along little paths through castles, merry-go-rounds and pirate villages. It's the place where people trust and enjoy spending time with each other loosely, unselfishly.
|Flying into Cincinnati|
Like Walt Disney said, “Where all the animals go up and down and there is never any chipped paint.” We get the prize when we jump in, connect, strap in for the ride of our lives, not knowing the outcome. Where we take a chance on each other.
I decided I'd give you guys an excerpt (very short one) from SEAL's Code. This is not the hero or heroine, but two FBI guys working on a case, minor characters in my story that give color and texture to the fabric of the word weaving. One guy, Cortland Drews, is a huge FBI agent in charge, and is forced to work with his sidekick, Daryl, a skinny agent right out of school. Like my SEALs, I liked their smack talk and banter. I like to watch them squirm and fail a bit, and then pull things out of the fire at the last minute, just like my hero and heroine. Enjoy. Can't wait to let you guys read it. Remember, this is an unedited excerpt, so tread on me lightly. But enjoy nonetheless.
Excerpt, SEAL's Code:
|Bruce, Kally, J.M. MSgt Leroy Petry and Sharon, in Cincinnati|
I'm at Lori Foster's Reader/Author event #RAGT15 in Cincinnati. It's the first time I've been here. Met up with good friends J.M. Madden, Bruce and Donna MacDonald, Karen Henderson, April Allen, Sabrina York, Darynda Jones, Kallypso Masters and the lovely Charlotte, and many many others. If I try to name them all I'll forget one and it will ruin my night.
Bruce met and introduced us to Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, a proud veteran now a motivational speaker, who is a common man who did uncommon things. In fact, he was so uncommon, he was awarded many ribbons and medals, including the Army Commendation with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with a bronze Oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, and The Congressional Medal of Honor.
|Code Talker quilt|
If you read about him in the link provided, you will find he also attended Indian school near Santa Fe, New Mexico. A statue of his likeness is located today at the Pojoaque Pueblo. I believe this fine warrior is Native American.
As I read further, I found this:
|Tattered but still there|