6

My Little Brother Retires!

My little brother, after years of commuting from Petaluma to the City and beyond, is retiring. I'm so happy for him, for his roses, his garden, his lovely wife and his beautiful daughter. They will finally get to spend more time with this wonderful man.

Would you believe in all the years growing up and even now, we have never argued? I mean, not once! Considering how I seem to get into it with other family members from time to time – not often – but I speak my mind – we've never had a cross word. I don't know how that happened, but nothing was important enough to blow our friendship over.

Getting up to Roseville was a long 2+ hour drive in nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic. And coming home was no different. My husband drove 5 hours total yesterday, but it was so worth it. I left my purse there, but luckily my daughter will return it to me today.

Darrell has lots of things he wants to do with his time – volunteer work and things he's never had time for until now.

Will I ever retire? I laugh to think my YOUNGER brother is retiring. Do any of us ever really retire? I don't think so. Not if we have a long, loving and family or friend-filled life. Not if we do the things of our heart and soul. Not if we bring value and love to other people's lives.

Our parents are gone, but I think the spirit of their love and support was there yesterday. We shared many memories of family events from the past, and many of the cousins and relatives from nearby, some driving greater distances, shared in the celebration. We miss those gone, but we celebrate life and life's changes.

Oh yes, and I got to pass out some bookmarks. Like I said, I don't think I'll ever retire. And that's a good thing, right?

4

CELEBRATING FREEDOM In All Its Forms

I'm reading a great new book co-written by one of my favorite authors, Laura Kaye, also known as Laura Kamoie for her historical books, America's First Daughter. It is so fitting that this weekend, as we celebrate our nation's independence, that we review some events that took place in the lives of key players at the birth of this new nation. This book is about Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Patsy, and her relationship with her mother, her father, and the woman who was her blood relative who also became Jefferson's lover, bearing several children for him, and remained at his side until his death, Sally Hemmings.

I have said over and over again the truth is stranger than fiction, and this story is no exception to that. The two authors researched over 18,000 personal letters written to and from Jefferson, and gives us a good glimpse of what it was like to live during those dangerous times. The details of their circumstances and the closeness between Mrs. Jefferson, and the slaves she “owned”, inherited from her father, all the while recognizing that some of them were her half-siblings, shows what a remarkable woman she was. Her daughter, Patsy, would come to know the playmate she had as a child, rumored to be her relative as well, become her father's long companion after her mother's death. To say this very public and important family had issues and secrets, is putting it mildly. The story, as told by the daughter, Patsy, is so riveting it plays like a movie and I forget where I am while reading it.

While I can't begin to write a historical novel, I was first drawn to the book because I have a futuristic novel I'm currently working on, involving a direct descendent of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. There are similar themes, such as the concept of Freedom, the price and meaning of Independence, and the true definition of Liberty. And yes, that's all you're gonna get today. You'll be seeing some excerpts in the coming weeks and months when I'm ready to finish it. My tenative title, while I work on the story, is Free To Love.

They say circumstances don't make a man, they reveal a man. What I enjoy reading, and writing, are stories that acquaint us intimately with characters who make decisions in a hopelessly flawed and dangerous timeline. Moral absolutes become sometimes life-threatening and compromised. Often the decisions are between the lesser of two evils than the difference between a shining star and a grease stain. I love the rich conflict of this story, and hope that some of that will rub off into mine.

America's First Daughter helps me understand how precious our freedoms are, and appreciate the costs others who came before had to pay for that freedom I enjoy today.

Remember, evil exists when good men do nothing. If good men did nothing, we might still be a colony, struggling under the yoke of a controlling empire. Or, we might all be speaking German. Maybe with all the events happening this July 4th weekend, we would do well to remember that.

They say freedom isn't free. Are you willing to pay the price? Some of us may have to. And some of us are innocents, but just like those who lived and died during the times of our young struggling nation. Not just soldiers paid the price. Their families and loved ones did too. And in the end, it was worth it.

10

FALL IN LOVE WITH AS MANY THINGS AS POSSIBLE

I admit to being somewhat of a tee shirt junkie. But it's also my uniform. I should hang them in my closet on hangers, instead of folding them, and get rid of some of the St. John suits and jackets I'll probably never wear again. Letting go is hard for me. St. John has been replaced with tee shirts.

This one spoke to me, and if I'm not careful, I'll be buying everything in their online catalog. You know me already: 100 Koi, 60 Chickens. I'm a collector of things, not only stories.

So last night was so wonderful, attending my 50th high school reunion. Palo Alto was not the town it is today. It has grown, and in the maturing process, I'm glad to see some are still holding warmly like an old teddy, the roots that made it so magical. We were a collection of kids from differing backgrounds, able to come together and share our commonness, politely and with respect. Can you believe I never heard a word of politics? And we had a Congresswoman there! How refreshing!

They even warmly welcomed this smut author! What a treat for me. I actually had been a little apprehensive of it. Now I wonder why.

Funny how life's importance changes through the years. Not about what we do, but what we've experienced. What we've loved. We loved living here. We love being from here. I could live here again, but then, I say that every place I visit, don't I?

Do I regret there is no longer a way to have a little bungalow somewhere near downtown Palo Alto so I could dip into that familiar pool, have stimulating conversations and perhaps re-experience what a magical place it was growing up?

I regret my children didn't have this experience like I did. Maybe it was the year, the times, and a whole host of magical things converging to make it so. Maybe it was us. Maybe it was fate that so many leaders and great people came from this group. So many of us have changed people's lives, and still live to tell stories about the process and enjoy the prospects for a bright future.

I go home filled up. My tank being nourished from the completion of my last audio book, Band of Bachelors: Alex, and spending time with my best friend, J.D. Hart. Maybe it's from spending time with people who understand who I was then, and who I am now. (Not everything, but enough so that I feel appreciated). How special to reminisce about wearing 3 pairs of stockings we got for .33 each in those little blue boxes, so many that our garter belts sometimes flipped open when we walked down the hallways.

And like a true romance novelist, I want to know who they loved, what moved them, and what they are looking forward to. Not what is gone.

Life happens when we are making other plans. John Lennon is credited with this quote, and I think it's the wisest thing he's said.

If I could, would I move back? Or, would I take up another adventure, perhaps living on a beach in English Bay on Antigua where I'd have to take a motor ferry to get to my cottage? I think I'd choose the latter.

There is still so much for me to explore, but at the same time, it's so nice to feel like I've come home.

Yesterday was like that for me. What about you?

10

The Art of Being a Father

Being a father isn't automatic. I think the biggest test of fatherhood is being one when times are stressed, tough, when your kids are perhaps not as grateful as they should be, when you've made mistakes you are ashamed of, when life seems to post more challenges than the day is long.

Often we overlook the difficult times when we talk about fatherhood. Taking resonsibility for a child created out of wedlock (a favorite of mine in romance tropes), being there to love a child who someone else brought into the world are two of my biggies.

Because a true test of a man isn't what's in his pants, but what's in his heart. The gentle part of a man is what we herald today. Yes, we need and love the protection his loving arms brings, so that we feel safe, so that we find the courage to go on when times are tough. And I feel sorry for those men who cannot find it in themselves to really love and cherish a woman, or a child.

One of my favorite stories of fatherhood was when I was about 3. My father told it to me when I was an adult, and I didn't know this story until he told me, with love. We were standing in my grandmother's big kitchen, at the parsonage in Napa. She had a large gas stove that had grease drawers, about 1/2″ deep, one on the right and one on the left.

I came up to dad. “Daddy, do you want a cracker?”
He answered, “Well, sure.”
I went to the grease drawer and pulled out one for him and one for me and handed it to him.

I had found this place, my secret hiding space where none of the adults would look to find the crackers I'd been given as a reward, and saved for a rainy day, or a day when I could give something back to my dad.

I love that image. I loved loving my dad, who, sadly, is now gone. But his heart and the love he gave me lives on forever. Thank you, Dad. I am richer and blessed because of you.

14

Intensity, Borderline Personality Disorders and Character Creation

The writer in me experiences many, many personality disorders in designing and growing characters I use in my books. I don't always have more than a kernel of that disorder, but sometimes, these can hit me square in the middle of my chest and I feel like a bug stuck on a pin in a collection, retired in a drawer at a museum. I can't escape the pain of knowing there's a big part of me in that character's flawed side, not their good side.

My new release involves the relationship between two high-intensity individuals. What might be a turnoff for one person in a relationship, becomes something totally attractive to another. In the beginning, neither one knows if they can trust their own judgment. They both have histories of making bad choices. In the end, they actually do know each other better than they thought, they rely on instincts that serve them well. There is always the Happily Ever After, of course, or it wouldn't be a romance.

“Here,
rising from the stupor of a love-lust indulgence, his heart still racing with
the intensity of their lovemaking, becoming as close as he possibly could be to
her, this magical angel who had stumbled into his life, he had no defense. Nor
did he seek cover. He was as engaged as he could be without wearing her skin.
But even that he would do if it would bring him more of the pleasure of her
being.”

I try not to show it, but I have a high intensity life and lifestyle. There are times when this serves me, and others when it can be destructive. I show up for both. I pay attention to both.

I can remember sitting at dinner during my college years, and someone was asking me why I analyzed people so much. “Why not just accept them for who they are?” I looked in horror at that person. It was like I was being asked why I breathed.

I suspect everyone does their own private analytical version, but perhaps some on a more subconscious level than others. I use them to create the thread of the personalities in the stories I write, so it is front and center for me. And yes, I make up stories all the time about people, which doesn't cause me a problem, unless it is someone I'm very close to and I'm wrong.

So, walking that tightrope of personality disorder, addiction to adrenaline and intensity, bleeds over into my personal life as well. I think writers, actors and other artists tend to have this happen to them frequently. I don't call it an occupational hazard. It's that we live in several different worlds, not just one. One world would not work for me. It would be boring. And none of them are less “real,” whatever that means.

Do I have to become like the character inside to write him or her? Does an actor need to become that person when they act? Or, is it possible to know the difference between where I stop and the character begins? And does it matter?


I guess that's what keeps me writing. I get to live in this character, in their world for a bit. I dress it up, dash it, reorganize it and then present it with a neat little bow, all put together the way the pieces should in a 1000 piece puzzle. I get to answer the question, “What if…” like I did the first time I wrote a story.

And I learn to have patience with myself and the process. I take off my robes of many colors and decompress, until the next fantasy. Now, isn't that all real, after all?

https://youtu.be/HjCSGhcywRc

12

CAN I HAVE SOME ASPARAGUS WITH THOSE SWEET PEAS?

I've been enjoying all the wonderful blooms from the garden lately, and the beginning vegetables. Picked these lovely sweet peas (love them because they only last a day or two, and they only bloom for a short while but are so lovely!). This year, I'm trying to find my asparagus.

We'd let the garden from years past get overrun. (Truth? I planted 5 horseradish plants and it took over). Successive helpers continued rototilling it until I had bits of horseradish, probably 200 plants coming up all over.

It took a man 2 days to dig them all up last year. I have still a few that pop up, but they are manageable.

So now I'm discovering my asparagus! I had some beautiful purple giant ones coming up before, and I've seen 2-3 so far this year. My famous saying is: My Garden Isn't Dead. It's Sleeping.

So, when I was picking sweet peas this morning, I got the little asparagus tip too. It will make it to my dinner plate tonight…

Hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day. Remembering all the things we get to have and experience because others stepped up and made the sacrifice. Can't say thank you enough. Our

flag is sometimes tattered, like our gardens that are barren and overrun with weeds, but if we continue to remember those sacrifices and never lose the passion in our lives, the bloom of new life will always return.

Always.

8

REUNION – Stepping Back To The Future

Sitting with Mr. Turner and Bonnie McClung Chappa, 2006

I am coming up on a big reunion this summer. We were the first graduating class of Gunn High School in Palo Alto. I was one of the twelve students selected to be on a committee to set up our school. We chose our mascot, set up the Student Government, made all sorts of decisions and selected some we wanted the student body to vote on when we started in the fall.

Prior to attending Gunn, our class was split in two. Some went to Palo Alto High, and some went to Cubberly. We started our new adventure as Juniors, with a Sophomore class beneath us. By the time we graduated, Gunn had all three years in place.

There were lots of firsts that occurred, and now looking back some 50 years, I can hardly believe the time has gone so fast. It's been fun chatting online with friends I knew way back then, reconnected with at various reunions over the years as our careers took off and our families grew. Some of us went on to do great things in politics and business and other fields.

Sadly, there are nearly twenty of us who have moved on to their next life, or so I believe. I've written about two of my classmates before. Naomi Solomon, who was our Valedictorian and who was giving a speech to a group of women during a breakfast fundraiser to help women re-enter the work force the day of 9-11. I watch her name come up on my TV screen nearly every year. In 2015, there was a rainbow shown over the city as her name was broadcasted and read.

Another one of our students worked for the U.N. in Algeria, “I take a little piece of California with me back to Algeria – this was one of the greatest years of my life,” he told me at our reunion ten years ago. Brought his whole family over so we could meet them. Chad was killed in the terrorist bombing in Algiers in 2007, a year later.

I had a favorite teacher, John Turner, who inspired in me my love of writing. At the time of the last reunion in 2006, I was selling real estate full time. It wouldn't be for another two years before I'd catch that bug.
Imagine the day I saw Mr. Turner walk down Sonoma Avenue on his way to shop in Montgomery Village. Of all places for him to land, Santa Rosa was not a place I would expect him. We'd talk occasionally and when our reunion was being planned in 2006 I asked him if I could drive him down to Palo Alto for the party so he could meet some of his students again. He was delighted. I picked him up as promised, in front of his apartment.
“You're five minutes late,” was what he greeted me with.
We attended the mixer that night and the picnic and luncheon the next day. He'd brought a list of the students and wrote notes while he talked to us all. It was a pure joy to spend that time with him. Sadly, this year, he just missed this year's events.
Part of my life's story is the people I've gotten to know. We are the sum total of the parts of everyone's story. For those of us who remain behind, our job is to remember and honor those who came before, until our book of life is finished. And then to pass the torch on to the next generation. We all do it in our own way and in our own time. But we all are blessed by the experience.

10

GARDENING THE HEART: Sundays With Sharon

Growing a novel is like working the garden. Fertile soil yields all the nutrients needed to feed a good story, with room for twists and subplots. No matter how fast I wish it to go, each story takes as long as it takes to develop, for the roots to grow and take hold. Very much like putting young plants out when they are leggy from their careful start, into the unforgiving real world of the garden. There is a pause, a few days or perhaps a week or two, and then the new shoots come, as the plant matures and begins to thrive. It grows organically, out of the ICU and into the regular population.

Gardening teaches me patience. Sometimes working on stories is like trying on clothes in a cramped dressing room, other times it's like a time travel to a different time and space. My characters are somewhat a mystery to me as they reveal themselves, even though I've thought out in advance what I want them to be. They stray….or as was said so well, life finds a way.



I used to love watching my baby chicks hatch. The eggs were blue and green, pink and violet. I usually chose the colored ones to let the hens hatch, but the outside of the shell didn't always determine what color or breed of chick would be contained inside. It was always a surprise to see what nature decided should be born into that egg, and then to watch it grow. I had usually three or four roosters so the cross-breeding was fun with some spectacular results.

This year I did the no-no of planting all my corn, all three varieties (two yellow sweet and one ruby red sweet) together. I've been told this isn't wise, but I decided to test those rules. Will I have half red and half yellow corn? Yellow corn with red sprinkles? Or red corn with yellow dots? I'll let you know.

My potatoes are up. My peas are beginning to vine and climb up the fence, as are my early beans. I've clipped off the first fruits of my squashes, and the heads of snapdragons so the plant will be bushier and yield more fruit, more flowers later on. Sacrifice some for later bounty. Work to weed for the blessings that come from the garden health. Add the ladybugs and praying mantis and let them multiply. My eggplant hasn't grown a bit, telling me I was too early with it. A couple of my tomatoes are like that too. The lettuce loves this early summer, as does the dinosaur kale, cabbage and onions. My dogs have caught several moles but we have a huge gopher in the rear yard they cannot get to. I keep forcing onion bulbs down his hole and he keeps shoving them out. I'm hoping he'll tire of the game and move on somewhere else before he discovers my corn, and especially my potatoes.

My collage True Love Heals in the Gardens of the Heart

Like a quilt, or tapestry, the different varieties of the garden grow at different speeds, just like my characters and my stories. When it takes shape and gets polished, which is where I'm at today, it starts to get very exciting. But there's always the element of wonder, even to myself as the writer, what will happen.

Just like gardening, it is work, but it also is a calling.

What do you learn from the garden?

8

MOTHERHOOD: Should Come With Warning Labels

I think our family had given up hope that Don and I would have children. The pointed questions had stopped. Now we heard, “So, what's new, anything?” I was attending Court Reporting school in San Francisco, and had a part time job typing medical dictation for a doctor's group near U.C. Their ultrasound machine had just been repaired and they needed a guinea pig, so I drank the gallon of water and hopped on the table. My boss walked in and asked me if I had news I wanted to tell him, and I didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about. He confirmed that the little thing less than the size of an olive was going to be my first born. Our son.

Typical of the San Francisco work force, I had not one but three women come in, sit down next to me and tell me I didn't have to go through with it. “You have a choice, you know.” Well, I expressed to them that no, I really didn't have a choice. And besides, didn't they know I was married? But during the hour-long drive home I
began to worry what my husband would think. Birth control, after all, was not anything we ever talked about (believe it or not), and by default, was more or less my responsibility. I'd told Don I had some news for him, and he said the same. We would discuss our news over a nice dinner.

“You go first,” I said. 
“Well, I quit my job.”
“I see. Can you get it back?”
“No. But I hated that job. I'm free now! I thought you'd be happy for me.”
“Like I said, can you get it back?”
“Hell no. It was a big scene and I walked out. I felt great afterwards.”
“But you're going to get another job, right?”
“Well I was thinking about going back to school or perhaps taking some time out. Maybe start our own company. We can do that now.”
When I didn't answer, he asked me for my news.
“I'm pregnant.”

So, after nearly seven years of marriage, we were starting a family. I didn't know how apprehensive my mother was until later on in my pregnancy. She'd lost 3 to miscarriage. I later did the same, but this time, our son missed Valentine's Day by a day, and I got to celebrate Mother's Day in style.
Being a mother has been the toughest job I've loved doing. My dad gave me some great advice. My mother had been very sick after I was born, so he often did the 2 AM feeding, letting her sleep. He decided that those were some of the best times of his life. He vowed that at whatever stage I was at, he'd enjoy that stage for the beautiful gift it was, not wishing I was some other age. I've tried to adopt that with my own four now grown kids.

So, if there was a warning label on motherhood, maybe some of them would look like this:
1. You won't feel like you have the time or energy to get up in the wee hours of the morning for feeding, sometimes a bath and certainly a diaper change. And then perhaps another bath and diaper change. But somehow, you'll just find a way.
2. Motherhood is part nurse, part camp counselor, part disciplinarian, taxi driver and the unlimited source of funds. But all those things are done out of love. You learn to get used to the feel of clotted spitup traveling down your back and into your butt crack occasionally.
3. Being a mother is very simple, but not easy.

4. Your home will be invaded with smelly soccer teams and brownie sleepovers. You'll recover your furniture and replace your carpet about every three years. You have to instruct the little ones not to pick up the dog by its belly, or by its ears, or the cat by its tail.
5. When you give a gift to the relatives and the children are present, they'll always tell the recipient you got it on sale. They're practicing being truthful.
6. You will cherish those little soap dishes and ashtrays made in grammar school, and will never throw out the handprint painted bright blue or green made in preschool. You'll look for evidence of talent in the butcher paper drawings you'll be presented with. 
7. You'll not have the heart to throw out the baby teeth the Tooth Fairy stole, leaving money under the kid's pillows. You will learn it's okay to read the same bedtime story over and over and over again. You won't get medals or pay raises. You won't be given an instruction manual.
8. You'll never forget the fact that you will be the first woman your sons will love, and they'll show it to you even though they try very hard to cover it up. And you try not to laugh.

9. You'll discover enthusiasm for bugs, water fights, large bubbles, pink plastic high heels, fold up field chairs, hard wooden gym benches or the midnight bad dreams that bring the kids back to your bed occasionally. You'll remember and cherish all of these memories. Christmas morning will never ever be the same again.
10. Motherhood means the celebration of unselfish love, belief in all things, even when everyone else has given up hope. Mothers hope a lot. And they pray. They keep and tell the stories of the family. They demonstrate the healing power of love. They remind us all that we are family.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you, and to all of you who are honored to help a mother celebrate her special day by saying thanks.

14

CAMELOT DAYS

It's May!

My freshman year in college I attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland. There were a lot of firsts that year, the biggest one being my first year living away from home for more than a camping trip or church ski event.

Thinking ourselves so incredibly grown up, my roommate and I were daring ourselves all sorts of things. For the most part, we did them. I took off my bra in my International Affairs class and tossed it at the person I was required to. This was all done when the professor, the legendary Carlin Capper-Johnson, who had been a close personal friend of Winston Churchill, was out of the room.

I wore a nightgown to a concert.

I think Melissa had to moon someone from a friend's room overlooking the entrance to our dorm. We both marched ourselves down to the infirmary and got birth control pills, because we were on a mission of another sort too. Both of us had very mixed results.

We'd lay on our beds and look up at the ceiling and wonder who we'd fall in love with, who we'd marry, what our life would look like. We'd listen to Rod McKuen and think about finding someone that would love us so deeply, and never go away.

I spent an evening with the guys of Sandpipers (Guantanamera), who came to perform at the spring concert, and had to crawl back into my room at night. I got the job of cleaning the basement that Saturday because someone turned me in. But it was magical! I hear that song so often these days, and wonder what happened to them all. They were nice guys.

In high school I met Joan Baez at a friend's house in Palo Alto. The dreamer in me thought I could sing just like her. I love the music of Sweet Sir Galahad came in through the window in the night when the moon was in yard…I can't tell you how many times I've sung this in the shower. Probably 2000 or more. And here's to the dawn of their days… Just love the lyrical expression of this singer. Made me take up guitar for about 2 minutes… But the voice in my heart is still there, even though I can't sing like that. I still want to…and do you think I'll fail at every single thing I try.  


Sweet Sir Galahad went down with his gay bride of flowers, the prince of the hours of her lifetime.
And here's to the dawn of their days….


Ah, those days when I was barely over twenty, when I had my whole life ahead of me, looking through clouds, looking for that thing that's hardest to find, looking for love even then…

10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON – GARDEN BLISS

Those of you who garden understand this. My mother used to spend hours and hours in the garden, just “playing with the plants” as she would say. She loved roses, which has become my favorite as well. I go for the scented ones as much as possible, the deep rose-red and intoxicating scent of the Chrysler Imperial being my very favorite. This rose is the Peace rose, another favorite of mine.

We've built our rock walls spanning the past 2+ years, and the sprinkler system was removed to do this, so it has been barren around our house, save for the occasional calendula or nasturtium volunteers. Several foxglove have been discovered, and even some potato plants that cropped up when we were filling holes created from the wall building, importing soil from our rear old garden yard.

As has been said before, “Life finds a way.” That's certainly true of my plants. I let volunteers bloom and grow where they are planted, even if planted by mistake. I think the garden faeries reward me by doing so. Just doesn't seem right to pluck out a young plant just because it couldn't know where to put itself with it's own kind. Sort of like my life.

Now that the kids are gone, my garden has become my outlet for the need to tend and bear children.

I negotiated a little compromise and got a plot rototilled and fenced so I could have a small vegetable and flower garden this year. I've kept it small because I only got a few man-hours to use and I used our helper on the hard stuff – pulling weeds and tilling the soil. My garden soil is nice and sandy-loamy, after 30+ years of putting 6-8 yards of mushroom manure on it every year before I planted. But the front of the house has, like the rest of our property, thick black soil loaded with nutrients, but makes the roots work harder when allowed to dry. I can dig a hole a foot deep, fill it with water, and a week later, it's still there.

My roses have had lots of chicken manure over the years from the chickens I used to have. They actually became pets when they got too old to lay eggs, but at least I got to collect their manure embedded in the bales of sawdust lining their boxes! My 66 very expensive pets, most of them hatched on my property (and I watched nearly every one being born), eventually had to go the way of the garden, my koi pond and everything else on our outside landscaping after the fire and rebuild. I was sad to see them go, but that's when I threw myself into writing. A silver lining.

I don't think I have seen my roses so lush as this year. And now, a new venture for me: my small vegetable garden. I'm good at negotiating, so got some tractor time in the rear yard and now have it set up to plant corn, as soon as I finish my next book. If you look at my calendar, you would see garden things noted, as well as editing deadlines and story launches. It's that important to me.

This time of year is magical for me – before the hot weather puts me into overdrive to protect and water, buds forming and branches are not yet leggy and needing to be pared back. Everything is small in the vegetable garden, ripe with possibilities for a savory summer of cabbage, kale, squash, peppers, beans, peas, eggplant and swiss chard.

Gardens are hopeful, like new love, they start out precious, perhaps a bit fragile. These lovely beings take their own time. Like falling in love, I'm learning how to enhance their beauty, and that brings me great joy.

It's always a wonder at this time of year, how my garden will come back. This year, I'm charmed with the magic of possibility for a wonderful blooming adventure and prosperous year.

8

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE – CATCH UP WITH LETTERS G, H, I, J, K, AND L

Playing catchup to the #A-ZBlogChallenge, and my topic for the month is gratitude.

G is for:

Get out of my head
Get into my heart
Grateful to know the difference

The Heart is the seat of the soul.
How do I do less and do more?
Grateful for the HEALING POWER OF LOVE.

I is for:
I am a writer because I write.
Grateful for the IDEAS.

J is for:
The Joy of Writing
JUST do it

K is for:
Long, slow kisses
Keeping my commitments (energy and opportunity to do so)…

L is for:
Love
Urgent Love
Perfect Love
Sustaining Love
Persistent Love
Neverending Love
Love in all its forms…..

9

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON – Goodbye to Vegas – Home to my own bed!

Romantic Times Book Convention was one of my best. Although they seem to get better and better for me each year, I think I'm finally beginning to figure things out. I gave away about 60 books, and met some wonderful new readers. Sold a bunch of books this year, more than I'd planned on. Met with author friends, did one panel on Heroes Out Of Uniform, which was moderated by Gennita Low – many people said it was the best panel of the whole convention. Participated in the Military Tribute (thank you Elle for organizing it), and of course rewarded my new recruits with swag and tee shirts.

Lucky to have one of my readers who attended my Coppola book signing in Sonoma County, come to this event to sit at my table.

Got to mention the Operation Aloha Shirt Quilt and sold out of raffle tickets (wish I'd brought more).

Met with Cissy and Susan at Writer Space, who do my newsletter and so much more.

You can see my interview with this handsome cover model on my RB4U Blog post last year here.

We are a community of writers. I always like spending a lot of time in my writing cave, which is what I have to do when I get home, but without our writer friends, and the suggestions they make (I am a big one on asking questions and getting information), I wouldn't have the kind of career I am lucky enough to have. My readers wouldn't get as much from me, either.

So, from the Erotic Museum, to the rooftop gazing at the VooDoo Lounge, the Club RT and the Giant Book Signing, I go away with happy memories of hard working authors dedicated to their readers. The work ethic and professionalism of our industry, fueled by such fandom, is outstanding. I am so inspired to go home and write my heart out for all of you who take a chance on my books.

7

F is for Flying #atozchallenge

I'm flying to Scottsdale for the Desert Dreams Convention. Teaching a couple of classes and looking forward to the reader signing on Saturday. I think I have only one suitcase close to the limit. I was smart and sent ahead my things, and I'll send any unused books to RT in Las Vegas.

Having dinner tonight with my friend from Tucson Festival of Books I think 3 years ago now, and his wife. He's one of those guys who has done things we don't want to know about. LOL. I have used him as a source for several FBI and other law enforcement questions I've had.

So, #atozchallenge is now at the letter F.

I get a lot done on the plane and in the hotel room. Meeting my narrator on Friday, and we'll be doing a class on audio books. After having worked together on 21 of them, I think we've got it down, but then we find something new just about every new project we undertake.

I am grateful for being able to fly to visit friends, to teach and to give back to the community of wonderful writers. It's like fishing, and that's another F word. I put myself in these places, and people show up, events happen and I learn something.

Friends is a good F word. Today I learned how to upload a movie file to my FB author page. Looking for a way to track it, and did not know the video is treated as an impression, rather than a click. I've got tons of videos I'd like to show off. And Facebook, okay, that's another F word, likes them right now.

I like Free also. Free books, free first in series.

And, as I write this, I hear frogs. I love frogs for various reasons. I've got 12 tattooed to my forearm, one for every SEAL book, just like my characters have in the series. And I have a pretty one on my back, something that could have been drawn in the 1960's. Love the color and the paisley symbols.

Flower Child. Some would make that one word, because it certaiinly is a THING! That's me. This flower child has a small garden this year. And that's another great F word:

Fabulous!

7

E is for Evening. Excellent start to the #atozchallenge Everyone!

Excellent start to the #atozchallenge Everyone!

Grateful today for the letter E. I like evening. I must admit, I like that dusk and dawn kind of magical place, especially for some of my romantic scenes. My guardian angel is awakened at dawn after having spent a glorious evening in her lover's arms. For the first time, at the very end, she is finally being able to sleep at last.

Readers of mine will know I always end my books with a lovely bow: a love scene that somehow transcends all the danger and pain and hurt, misunderstanding and confusion. When the couple finally relaxes into themselves and enjoys just the intimacy of the two of them.

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Dusk is a special time for colors, for those Maxfield Parrish type sunsets where the sky is turquoise and the horizon is deep orange. The trees overhead are black. You can see the effects of the glow on reflections outside, through windows, and the overall dark fabric of the ceiling of nighttime to come mutes everything except for these firery sunbursts. A magic time.

Vampires see this as an awakening (those that have to go to ground). Others see it as the death of the day. That space between light and dark, where both dance together. Like that image in Ladyhawk where the hero and the heroine can meet, but only briefly because one has to stay in the night and one lives in the day.

Evening is more emotion than time. Color more than idea or thought. When I see the sun fall below the horizon and on those special nights when the glow is extra bright, my ideas wander and my heart bleeds something good.

I have no idea what it is. But that's what Evening is to me.

What is it to you?

4

D is for Discipline #atozchallenge – Am I truly grateful for this?

Discipline in Blogging for #AtoZChallenge!

Well, I was going to pick Dogs, Do-overs, Dumb Stuff, but I guess that's why Discipline is so important today. Let me explain.

My letter D (above) doesn't look like it would belong on a Navy SEAL Sweatshirt, does it? But it is very important, and here's why. We are the sum of all the life experiences we've had. As a storyteller, I spin these stories, placing one flower here, or a vine there, a color here or there, and all of a sudden we have a bouquet, a tapestry of stories filled with emotion. These come from my past, from my fantasies, from the future, from others. Who really cares where they come from, as long as, being a writer, it isn't plagiarized.

And here's the gratitude part (my theme for the month). Thank goodness we have all these experiences. Thank goodness we have the variety, color, the pain and the joy of living. Thank goodness we have more than enough to choose from.

Discipline means to Decide. To “kill of other options.” In a world where we are lucky enough to have so many options, we have to learn to pare down to the useful and focus on our goals, or out energy gets pulled away, wasted, if you will, in thousands of different direction.

The word Decide has the ending like other “cides” – and I know you can creatively think of them on your own. We choose what to let into our lifespace (my new favorite word), we choose what stories to tell. In terms of working with addiction issues, we learn which Dog to feed. We starve the dog that isn't good for us, and feed the dog that brings about all the miracles. Sometimes we are drawn and choose unwisely. Then we get a do-over the next time it comes up.

Here's some Double D's – my favorite thing to write about (crazy, I know). But I just love my heroines to be big chested.

Yes, I think these are DD's

Now, that's a lot of dumb stuff, but I managed to include all my words, weave them together with today's word, Discipline.

What Dog are you feeding and what Dog are you starving?

12

Can I Do It? #atozchallenge

Can I Do It? #atozchallenge.  

Can is a big part of my daily vocabulary. Not try, but can.  Yesterday I was doing some edits from a piece I'd written almost 5 years ago. I was in love with that piece then, and today, the writing needs a total tuneup. Can I make it as a bestselling author? You bet. Should I wait another 5 years so my writing will be even better? Nope. That would be trying to become a bestselling author. There is no waiting in my world. 
Challenge is another good C word. Just the thought of it gets me excited. Like the expression: “Tell me I can't and I will.” It's part of one of the Navy SEAL sayings. I love it (and I've heard it all my life) when someone says something is impossible, or worse, impossible for me. That sets up a challenge, a task on my big to do list in the sky, to prove that I can achieve that goal.
I read this today when I woke up. I love these little daily reminders of what we can do. Notice I didn't say should do? This is from the perspective of 52-year-old former Navy SEAL, Mark Divine, who has now carried his lessons learned into daily life. His morning routine is pretty awesome, and the exercises he does, well, they are a bit over the top. But he prepares for the challenge of the day, just like I am doing my A-Z challenge to prepare myself for my writing day, and to remind myself every morning how grateful I am to be alive, healthy and full of stories. Life on all the important terms, is good. I didn't say perfect. It's good. And it's getting better every day.
So here's his thought from this morning:
So today, I'm grateful for Chalenges, for Constructive Change. For doing what I can to create a perfect day as an author, mother, wife and friend. For being the best me that I can be. And to share the experience.
3

A Day At the Sonoma County Library – Local Author Showcase & Symposium – Year Two

Mary Shelley 1797-1851

This was my second year participating in the Local Author Showcase and Symposium, presented by the Sonoma County Library and Creative Sonoma, in association with Copperfield's Books. Thank you, David Dodd, for inviting me back this year, and for making me a part of this wonderful experience. I was enriched and enthralled!!

I thought last year was wonderful, but this year's symposium was even better! I think any writer loves books – all kinds of books. Carolyn Jewel, Sabrina Rawson and I were the only romance writers there, but the variety of readings and stories, including the panel on The Business of Writing, was excellent.

Some quotes I loved:

David Dodd (right) Sonoma

Jonah Raskin – Reading inspired me to write. I devoured books.

Sabrina Rawson – It wasn't until my relapse with cancer in 2011, within my first year of diagnosis, that I started to think of creative writing becoming more of a hobby.

Thonie Hevron – I can take my work on the road when I travel, edit at the hairdresser, do marketing/social media on the fly.

Marian Lindner – Inspiration became reality for me when my search for the creative path that would fulfill me became essential.

Carol Miller – …making “beautiful” things. This has always what gets me up in the morning.

Carolyn Jewel – I value honesty in the writing, to the story, and to the worlds I build.

Crissi Langwell – ..I feel my work is making a difference.

Gilbert Mansergh – I think of the tough commute: 15 feet from house to office, flexibility of time (except deadlines) and locations (California, British Columbia, England, Wales, Crete, Norway, Denmark, etc.)

Jeane Sloane – My most important value in my career of writing historical fiction is to write little known pieces of history for people to read, enjoy and/or not forget the past.

Andy Weisskoff – I'm inspired by the desire to write books that help others manage tricky situations.

Armando Garcia Davila – told a great story of being 10, taking communion for the first time and feeling he'd saved his boyhood friend's soul.

Daedalus Howell (my star from last year)

There were so many others. But I think the highlight of my day was the story, which will be coming out this October, and I believe will also be a play, Immortal Frankenstein. The author read a passage through the POV of Mary Shelley, the day after her death, discovering the changes in her lifeless body, her life, and the snicker at what will happen when her Step Daughter or someone else will find her husband's (Percy Shelley), heart in her desk drawer.

Yes, Shelley's body had washed up on shore. Custom was to burn the body, not knowing who the man was, and a friend rescued his heart and other body parts. Mary Shelley kept it in her desk drawer for years.

Gil Mansergh

Just had to share that.

17

B is for Books #atozchallenge

I'm grateful for books. I love reading books. I love writing books. I love book conventions and all the beautiful readers there. Here are some other B things I'm grateful for:

1. Boys. I dated them, married one, bore two and fell in love with lots of them. What would my life be without boys? Not so sweet.

2. Band of Bachelors – and here you thought I wouldn't pimp my series? I am finishing up one now, and he's a very messed up bachelor, and that's my next grateful point!!

3. Bachelors! They shield themselves from women, but they fall and they fall badly. The give wrong advice. Without Bachelors to write about, what would life be?

4. Baseball. I'm grateful for the new Giant's Stadium, for lazy afternoons out at the ballpark, getting sunburned and loving every minute of it.

Better come back tomorrow!

10

Away We Go! #atozchallenge

My Away We Go! #atozchallenge is doing a blog every day on Gratitude! Listing everything that starts with the letter A, here's a few of them.  Hello from Blogger #110!!!

1. Best new self-help book:  The Power of No by James and Claudia Azula Altucher.

2. My new SEAL book:  Band of Bachelors: Alex which will be coming to preorder very soon, and is available for preorder on iBooks here.

3. My favorite blog sister:  SOS Aloha and her book Blog SOS Book Blog.


4. My quilt project, Operation Aloha Shirt. If you have a few snippets of fabric and old shirts you want to donate to this quilt project, please send them to me. I'm making a quilt to go to a military family in Hawaii, and another one to auction off at to donate money to Navy SEAL/UDT Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

5. Spring Fling Audio Giveaway (use the #SpringFlingAudioGiveaway to be connected to all the other authors who are participating in this. I'm giving away an Audio Book every day this month. You're welcome!

6. AMORE! The Italians do so many things well. I've wanted to learn Italian for years. Just so I could speak love in their beautiful tongue. We need more Amore. Always.

Be sure to join the other bloggers. Remember, I'm #110 on this list. Come back and see me anytime!