As we honor and memorialize the 9-11 anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, I'm reminded, again, how we are all connected. Forever.

We watched the towers fall from our television set in California, while on the phone with our son, who was attending NYU. He watched from the dorms some 26 blocks away.

I didn't know until later that I lost a member of my graduating class at Gunn in Palo Alto. Or that later I'd lose another member of my class in an attack on the UN offices in Algeria. I will never forget, as I'm sure most of you will never forget, where you were when you heard the news. We go forward with heavy hearts, but it never gets old to remember those who sacrificed so much. If we are truly to live, we need to do this as a world. It goes far beyond country, religion or cultural ethnicity. It is a scar on the landscape of the whole world, healed by love and remembrance.

Yesterday I spoke to the San Francisco chapter of Romance Writers of America. My topic was on becoming an Elite Warrior Indie Author. I've had the good fortune to meet, interview and be mentored by some of the greatest minds of today. Hopefully, I brought some of that to focus for the group.

A highlight of the day was that a group of readers came all the way from Sacramento to visit!  It became clear to me, as I was preparing my talk, that our stories, once they leave us, no longer belong to us, but belong to the readers. How perfect that they were there.

We all want the easy walk, the life without conflict, tooling down the road of success and happiness like the resolutions in our romance novels. But reality isn't like that at all. The beauty of the fabric of life is that we are all connected. We share our lives with each other. We share our stories. We share our tears, and we share how we all move on.

Thank you for being part of my journey.


Survival of the Coffee Drinkers, Sundays With Sharon

One memorable time I was at Acre Coffee in Santa Rosa, I witnessed a couple flirting and dropping notes to each other. He dropped a note to her. She opened it, smiled, wrote something in response, and, thinking no one was watching, dropped it off at his lap on the way to the bathroom. He smiled and did the same. It went on for several minutes. Did they leave together? I hope so, but I missed that part, having to make my own pit stop. My romance mind wanted to think they were strangers about to hook up. But wouldn't it be nice if it was a prearranged date between a very long-term couple?

Why don't we do this after years of marriage or long-term relationships? Well, if I knew that answer, I'd be selling that seminar out there. I suspect it's because as we age, we carve off the wild and crazy parts of ourselves, in favor of the more predictable parts that perhaps cause us less pain. I don't know about you, but I used to love jumping around with the full pot of coffee on Sunday mornings – working in the garden in cutoffs and braless, listening to Chinese music or an NPR interview. If it were today, perhaps a TED Talk blaring out over the 2 acre apple orchard we lived in back then, with a landlord from Columbia we thought might be a drug dealer. Oh my.

I often wonder what our neighbors thought of us. More than 23 cars, working at night because we felt like it with spotlights in the garden. Dancing. Running naked through the sprinklers. Oh yes, there was that day when I had to get in 13 cars in my little white uniform to get one that ran so I could go to work. And that vehicle was a 1941 Flatbed International truck we'd driven back from Indiana on a “vacation.” You know those kinds? Drove to Indiana to look at the truck in 36 hours, via Minnesota to deliver a car to a serviceman coming home and it was a free ride (except for gas). We probably didn't have the money at the time to afford a plane ride, so it would have been a bus ticket home for us. But we bought the truck, and then in Illinois bought me a 1953 Chevy.

I even hitchiked in Baja, back in the day, when it was sort of safe. Met up with a couple of guys from LA and drove all around the back streets in a looooooong red Cadillac convertable. I had more to drink than I ever had before…a lost weekend for sure. But that's another story for another time before I was married…Back to the green Chevy.

I used that green-two-toned Chevy years later when I started to sell Real Estate. People would walk out of their houses to look at it, when I doorknocked neighborhoods. I had the old Girl Scout photo I used in the ads. Even put all 4 of my kids in the back of the car and took a picture, for my brochure (remember those?). I even took all 4 of the kids to City Council meetings and listing appts., which guaranteed they wouldn't go over a half hour long.

Oh those coffee days. A wandering heart way back then. Trying to be responsible, but skirting the edges at the same time.

I think about all these times when I lament getting older. No one can ever take these away from me. And I wouldn't trade a minute for anything. I enjoyed my freedom then, and I enjoy it now even more.


Nesting and Making Space for the Miraculous: Sundays With Sharon

I've been perusing a couple of little books lately. An old standby for me is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Moving On, which is no longer in print, but you can buy here for .01 in hard bound. I literally highlighted every other page in this book after the devastating fire that took our house and many of our valuables in 2008. Miraculously, because I had hired someone (Connie) to help me sort and archive things, all my family photographs were spared. Several boxes I'd recently inherited from my mother weren't yet unpacked and were also spared. But all my old family jewelry, the doll my great great grandmother came over with from Scotland and her box, and a braid of my other great grandmother's hair perished.

The house we had lived in before the fire was one of those I “settled” for and never should have. It was all we could afford, since we were raising 4 kids. The unfinished projects and the Mystery House effect didn't bother me because we were warm and safe. And we were saving for college educations.

Luckily, my kids either got partial scholarships, or went into the military. After they were all gone, my husband and I were left with literally this empty shell of a monstrosity. And then the fire took it all away.

I was grateful in a way. I got to spend time designing a house I would be happy living in. So Moving On was a great book for me. After a messy divorce, she was literally starting her writing career and her life all over again. I did something similar. Gave up my once successful life as a Realtor, for the life of a romance writer. We weathered a couple of very rough years financially and emotionally as well. We were attempting to heal.

Until I started planning my new house, I didn't realize what a toll those 23 years of living in that unfinished and quirky house had taken on me. I began to read about making spaces I would love, things that inspired me, like when SBB found “Newton's Cottage”.

When I read this comment, I was stopped in my tracks. It changed the direction of my life forever, as I pondered writing romance in a new house:

“Rosemary Sullivan (SBB had written about her treatise on falling obsessively in love) is meditating on the emotion women feel when they fall in love at first sight with men; I'm the one making the leap to house fever because I've succumbed to both. Suddenly, without warning (or so it seems) the trajectory of a woman's life changes, becoming “a vicarious route to some essential part of herself that she does not yet fully recognize or understand.” The Beloved becomes “the heroic territory she longs to occupy.”

She thinks she's found him–or home. (We say we feel “at home” with our true love). Interestingly, the name of the greatest lover of all time, Casanova, means ‘new house.'”

My professional organizer, Connie, came back to my house this week, and she mapped out some ideas for me to ponder and work on until she comes back on Tuesday and we spend a couple of hours getting my writing area, which includes the writing computer and the packaging and blogging area, organized. “You're going to have to decide what Sharon lives here,” she said as she walked around my space. Oddly enough, the office I once had, was given to my husband, who wanted to spend more time working from home. So, I was given the “bridge” – the walkway outside our bedrooms, but overlooking the gardens below and the living and dining areas below. And a “bridge” is what it's been. A place between two parts of me not yet put together properly. I have my gardens, and I have my bedroom. Between those two, is my writing. It's been growing faster than the garden and is less calm than the bedroom. The pad is unfinished to accept my Glider, so this bridge I'm finally making peace with. Instead of being temporary, I'm making it permanent. For now.

So, I'm throwing out things, moving things, clearing a space, a landing space so I can work on my projects. And as I'm doing so, I'm thinking about all those Sharons I am. Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, inspired and magical being.

I don't yet have a space of my own belonging, as Sara BanBreathnach writes about. But I have a place I can create from. It isn't an end game, I realize as I clean out, purge and choose. It's just the beginning of the Sharon I am becoming.

And that excites me totally!


DISNEY AND WRITING ROMANCE – I am Alice in Wonderland

When I was little, my parents gave me a record player with one red button on it. The arm was red, and the volume control was on the right side. It played a number of 45 rpm records such as Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and others. The machine, like the one pictured here, had Alice in Wonderland characters painted on it.

This may very well be the exact machine I used to listen to those many many years ago. I was about 3. We had a large house in Oakland, California, and the upstairs had three bedrooms and two attic doors. We later had boarders, “the grandmothers” who helped my parents with expenses. But for a long time, I was alone in the entire top floor of this old home. My fantasy life bloomed into something so strong, I know it will always be with me forever.

We raise our kids on all sorts of stories now, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and others. But back then, I think the very first records for children were fantasy love stories I listened to over and over again.

Alice In Wonderland is celebrating it's 65th anniversary this year. Perhaps that's why this RCA Victor record player had those characters. But my 3 year old mind and heart was stolen by the fantasy of true love. It has been something I carry with me to this day. I can still hear the songs, the music and the voices. I see the dancing. The idea of finding my handsome prince and dancing off in the moonlight is a vision for my generation that will thrill me until the day I take my last breath. I'll sail off to that other world, and hope to meet every one of my fantasy men, who will of course greet me like the queen of romance I am!

We've just spent a week in Orlando at Disney World. Children and adults from all different cultures and races can relate to the magic of family, of love, of finding a place that is safe and wonderful, and, for a few hours, forget the cares of the world and just explore their own childhood. John Lennon's words come to me, “Imagine all the people…” and I saw evidence that people could stand side by side when they have at least one thing in common. We don't ask what we don't share. We live by the things we do share in common.

I guess I could call Disney World and Disneyland (my home turf) my Mecca of sorts. We bring the grandchildren there to share with them what we shared with our kids. Our kids share their love of fantasy with their own children. It's an indescribably wonderful way to spend a few days together, memories that will last a lifetime. Because we never know when we'll be separated.

I once talked to a partner of Disney who said WD had taken his daughters to a park and found the merry-go-round animals had chipped paint and some of them didn't work. He vowed that when he built Disneyland, “It will be a place with no chipped paint and everything works.” His legacy lives on.

My worlds are internal. I am the stoker of the fire. I plant the seed and the reader takes that and grows it into a fantasy of their own choosing. Maybe I am the cage around the tomato plant, that keeps it from falling over. I losely guide the reader here and there, like a painting instead of a photograph. This is fiction. Blurry, fuzzy fiction, with enough grit, heartache and emotion to make it just real enough to ask the reader to come along on the ride.

Aside from trends, the writer in me knows I have to keep it fresh, and unlike other authors. My voice has to be unique. I have to weave universal themes such as true love, love heals, love conquers, and love everlasting. I'm not a billion dollar business (yet), but I'm inspired by the world building and that little touch of magic Disney has given me. I'm grateful my childhood was the way it was, every part of it, even the parts that weren't so much fun.

How lucky I am.  I create the fairy tale of the ball, the handsome prince, and the big beautiful blue dancing gown. Oh yes, and the promise of Happily Ever After.



Many of you know my narrator, J.D. Hart, has become my best friend. But there was a day when we first met in person. Now, this man has read my most intimate sex scenes, and lived the ups and downs of a writer who wants to become more and more successful. It's a bumpy road, and with already a lot of things on my plate, I decided to jump into the world of audio books. We started working together and I think after five or six books, I had the opportunity to come to Nashville for a conference, and meet him for the first time.

Talk about butterflies! 

I stayed at the old Union Station Hotel, right downtown. J.D. came to meet me that evening I arrived. I must have changed my clothes three times. All sorts of things went through my head, like, what if I just can't stand the guy? What if he can't stand me? How will this affect our working relationship going forward?
We met, and OMG, I was shaking like a leaf. We went on a carriage ride down Broadway, while he pointed out all the joints that were famous, listened to the music floating everywhere and had a wonderful crab dinner.

Next day he took me on a tour of places that were meaningful to him – these were all things I'd asked him to show me. We saw where he first lived when he came to town as a young songwriter, where he wrote music, where other famous stars had lived, or performed for the first time. I got to meet his lovely wife, Cherokee, and have dinner at the Grand Ole Opry We went to a Country Diner taping at Northstar Studios, where I personally met Roy Clark, Larry Gatlin and others.  

That was nearly two years ago and our friendship is stronger than ever. Our audio book production tops 24 now. He has become a character now in my books, because the books are seen through his eyes, as he tells the story according to his interpretation.

This talented actor, singer-songwriter, voice over artist and now narrator has done for me what no one else has ever done: take my stories and turn them into additional works of art.

As he told me about his many stories, I asked permission to write a story based on him as a character. So, Nashville SEAL, the novella came out last year as a Christmas present to my readers and you guys loved it. We then recorded the audio book and it was in high demand, still is. J.D. sings in this audio book some original works he performed years ago. Book 2, which is to be released tomorrow, is Nashville SEAL: Jameson. It is the ongoing story of this young CW star who marries Lizzie, and who goes on his first deployment with SEAL Team 3.

My SEALs are buying a vineyard and will be expanded into Wine Country as a theme in upcoming books. Since most SEALs don't stay in 20 years like perhaps other branches of the military, some of your favorites, like Nick, Zak, and others, will find their way to Sonoma County to get into the wine and beer business. Oh yes, they'll have Frog Piss beer, and it will be green.

More will follow in upcoming stories, but I hope you'll read along with me as we continue to tell the stories of young brave warriors who change, take different life choices, fine the women of their dreams, and still remain in a very tight community as they raise their children. I plan to have other authors write in this Wine Country world as well. More about that later!

Enjoy Nashville SEAL: Jameson!! You'll get to hear J.D. sing again…I promise you'll love it.

Join us on Monday for the big release party. We know how to party! Link here.


Strawberry candles, fresh corn from the garden and seeking choices, not harmony

I've been reading those little books again. None of my favorite shows are on TV these days and I've watched everything I want to that's streaming. I'm having a productive summer writing. My garden is doing well. This morning I harvested the first of my corn.

My mother used to talk about how in the midwest they'd say “knee high by the 4th of July” and I always think of that when I look at my corn. I just planted some new starts this weekend, so in California, it's a bit different. But the promise of “knee high” gives me hope that even though my garden isn't perfectly manicured, I'll have corn. And I do!

I bought a big strawberry candle at Mollie Stone's market in Palo Alto when I was there for the reunion party, then found it online and cheaper, of course. I enjoy that fleeting strawberry scent which is perfect for summertime daydreaming, or writing, or whatever. Candles and music are big for me, as is the ambience of place, so I can get into the rhythm of the story. I'm listening to Jim Wilson and Ludovico Einaudi almost non-stop.

I've said before that a story is like a patchwork quilt, made up of different colors and patterns, like the characters in the book and the past and emotions they bring to the story. If everything was “perfect” from the beginning, we'd soon lose interest. I do like to show some perfect things all throughout my books, but I want to show how close to a precipice the perfect, or order of my character's lives is. How easily it can fall away, be neglected, or ignored intentionally for other pressures.

So is it harmony we seek? I know my readers love the Happily Ever After, and I will deliver that every time without fail, or I can't call myself a romance writer. But worshiping the hero or heroine is worshiping the choices they ultimately make. This holds true whether we are talking about a good crime fiction, romantic suspense or inspirational romance. We celebrate the choices that are made, showing the change in the character from the beginning of the book. We show how he or she has learned something new.

I learn something new as an author with each book. I have my doubts sometimes at the beginning or in the middle (they call it the soggy middle for good reason), like I think everyone does. Of course, I keep those to myself, until the story “gels” for me, and that's when I feel the movement of my soul, pouring it out there for all to see, and hopefully enjoy. As a writer, I go through that change just like my characters do.

So creating art is a process, but it's also a practice. Loving is a practice. Marriage is a practice. Being a good friend is a practice. And writing a bestseller is definitely a practice we get better and better with each book we write. We turn our doubts, our chaos, our many parts of the story into a beautiful quilt of emotion and theme, just as we practice patience and allow all those chaotic parts to come inside us.



I have a good excuse for why this Sundays With Sharon is late. But I don't want to tell you! I'm becoming a nocturnal writer. I understand now those who are with their families during the day and then command the night to write. I have come full circle. I am one of those now.

Our tour of San Diego took us to one of the several SEAL bars (the touristy one) in SanDiego, run by a former SEAL. I make it a habit of not naming real places, so if I want to change them later, I can. That way I don't get lashed by the fact police. So, I won't tell you the name of the bar we hung out at with our little group of Coronado touristas.

The book I'm finishing now, has a beautiful sex scene before and after the arrival at the Waterwheel Inn, which is a favorite place my SEALs like to go. It is filled with romance. It just seems like the place to fall in love. It's where my SEALs spend a week's salary to take their ladies on a special night. The real name of the Inn is the Kenwood Inn. I say this because they want the publicity, and my son works there so it's good for him too.

I've used the lobby of this place in several books. It's also in one unfinished book, Be With Me, where my heroine places her palms against the glass of a case and the old pen that was once held by the strange man coming to her in her dreams rolls toward the glass all by itself. And then later she sees him looking up at her. He's standing in the mists of the azure pool at midnight, by full moon, and she is being pleasured by her then-partner, who stands behind her and does not see the vision. She will travel across space and time to find him because she instantly knows he's the love of her life.

The image of that scene is so stamped on my brain, I think it might be the last thing I think of when I finally close my eyes at the end of my days. Life was one way. My fantasy life was another way. Did I ever get there? Only time will tell.

So, when I sat at the Scupper in San Diego, I felt my SEAL Team 3 guys sitting in the corner, watching a ball game on one of the big screen TVs, or outside by the firepit watching the little hotties walk past. Fiction makes real what was formally unreal.

I bought challenge coins on the strand. I ate an ice cream like so many of my SEALs do. I put myself in my story, so I could write it from the inside out. And yes, fiercely. Because what I'm describing are not the facts, but the feeling about what it's like to be one of my characters so I can be inside their skin when I write their dialog. So I can feel like I'm on my honeymoon again, in a place where a mysterious man comes to me and I fall in love all over again, just in time for the next book.

Life is pretty darned good.

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?



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.



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?


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.


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.

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

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?




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.



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.


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?


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.



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…



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.



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


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.