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:



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.

Add caption

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?


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?


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.

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.


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!


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!


Easter Story

Mother had no idea what was in store.

I was baptized on Easter Sunday. Not sprinkled. Dunked. When you are raised Baptist, nothing short of the full-on emersion service will do. We'd been studying for weeks, memorizing Bible verses and creeds, learning all the things we needed to know about our church, its history and why being baptized was a good thing.

The Bible story is all about renewal and forgiveness, our sins being washed away and the fresh start to life that is promised for those who follow the Christian faith. I know there's a lot of pagan history surrounding Easter, but since I'm not a scholar, I'm going to limit my discussion to what I know.

The rest of the story, as they say, was that I had a terrible, hopeless crush on a boy who lived around the corner from the church. He was also  in the new membership class. We were both about ten years old. I had a hard time looking at him for fear of fainting. If he noticed me at all, I would be surprised.

He was tall, dark and handsome, just like the bad boys in my dreams who would steal me away. I imagined all sorts of miraculous things about him, but the truth was, I never really knew him. Years later I would run into him in the hallways of our different high schools and I would confess to having had a crush on him for three years running. His answer was simple, like it always was:  “I don't remember you.”

That special Easter Sunday, we had to walk down the church aisle in our white robes, the girls with a small plastic daffodil, and the boys with a palm frond. We also carried our pristine white washcloth which would be used later on.

The choir sang as we lined up, and, sure enough, as the boys and girls converged at the back of the narthex, one by one we were paired and guess what? I was Richard's partner.

It was surreal. Even then I was a romantic. I held my yellow daffodil like it was a wedding bouquet and Richard was my groom. Our legs touched a couple of times. His shoulder rubbed mine. Did his body buzz like mine did? Probably not.

At the altar, we separated to go up and around the choir loft to enter the Baptistry. My father's cousin was the paster of our church, and the good Dr. had me say my name, and, after handing him my folded white washcloth, he placed it over my nose and mouth and bent me back, down into the water. Of course I lost my footing and splashed, and came up coughing, which caused a little ripple of laughter from the church. I was the girl who forgot her lines at Christmas when my job was to recite the Christmas story by candlelight. I was also the one who threw up in the choir loft because I sat next to Richard one Sunday and our thighs actually touched. I couldn't handle the excitement, so I threw up. I'm the one who gave my shiny silver dollar to the poor African kids we saw in that movie they played – the kids with the bloated bellies. My dad replaced it with a paper bill, and gave me back my silver dollar with, “It's nice to give the dollar, but you didn't have to give that special dollar.” He had brought it back from Reno when he took the college kids skiing the weekend before.

My granddaughter takes after me, I'm sure.

Now you would think Richard would have remembered me. Or maybe he just tried to forget me, which is more likely the case. But each encounter was rather cathartic for me. It was, in many ways, a fresh beginning each time I went to church, as I learned to anticipate our meeting, learned to handle the proximity to him, and then deal with my blood pressure going back to normal.

Those were magical days. My parents had always said you “had babies with someone you really love.” I used to go to bed at night dreaming I was pregnant – a testament to how much I loved him. My simplistic view of that whole thing was dashed one evening in my parent's kitchen and life was never the same afterwards. All because I came home and asked what that four-letter word beginning with a F was. My life was over as I knew it. Why would anyone let a boy pee on them, or inside them – wherever that place was. I didn't even know it was there! And I knew it was wrong to find out.

Many, many Easters have gone by as I've raised my own four children, and now watch my grandchildren. I couldn't convince any of them to get dunked, so I think I'm still the special one in the family. I had my third child on Easter Sunday. It was and always has been a day to mark a new milestone in an ordinary life filled with love and family and friends.

Princess in training is a good thing.

The message of new beginnings is just as timeless as it was way back then when I was so distracted. A friend once said I needed to put my arms around that little girl and just love her. There was never enough love. I was never confident enough. But there's satisfaction in remembering the cycles of life and how even an awkward girl of ten could grow up and tell love stories. I'm still walking down aisles with flower bouquets and my heart goes pitter-pat for all the heroes in my books.

Because true love does indeed heal in the gardens of the heart.

Happy Easter, everyone.



I'm doing it again this year. And this time, like I did in I think 2013 or 2012, 30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE. 

You have to understand I'll be posting other things too. but with this logo at the top, and with the label A-Z Blog Challenge, you should be able to pick it up on my site anytime.

I already know what April 1 will start out: 30 Days of Gratitude: Amore!

We need a little more love in this world, wouldn't you agree?


WRITING ROMANCE IN A SERIES – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

My long dining room table is going to be filled today.

I'm energized by a little project I'm working on this weekend, taking a writing break. I'm doing a talk at Desert Dreams on Writing Series, Making Them Sizzle. I always love these projects because although I know the points I want to make, some of the results and demonstration are going to be surprises for me.

I've got all this office supply stuff (who else but me can spend too much in the office supply store, who covets paper and pens and stickers and stuff over clothes and jewelry I used to lust over?), and will be creating a banner to demonstrate what I mean at the class. I'm going to put all my series covers side by side and then identify the characters in that book, and then show other books that they show up in.

Now, believe me or not, even I forget sometimes, so there is this very handy feature in Word that allows me to search a term, a name, to find out all the references for it in the book. Easy peasy, right? Well then I thought I'd do tape to show where they completed a string, or an arc of the story.

I think one of the things that works in a series is when you connect them, like a quilt, putting pieces from other stories together, inserting them for extra color and texture. But you don't want to disorient a new reader and you don't want to bore an old reader. There is a right tipping point of information, just the right amount and not too much. I rely on my editors for some of this, because some I clearly don't see.

Okay, I'm a collector and couldn't help myself.

So, I'm anxious to see how it turns out. My mind works, like the creative place it is, now wondering if I could do it in a real fabric quilt, using different patterns for each book, and re-using those fabrics later to make a random, patchwork art piece of my series. I love “found” things and pieces that didn't go together before that make something new and beautiful. The elixir of creative life filled with passion and purpose.

By the way, will you be in Scottsdale April 7-10? The Desert Dreams Convention still has spaces. Or, if you're a reader in the area, want to get together for a coffee or some chow? Let me know. Would love to meet you, or see you again.

J.D. Hart, my pirate storyteller, who narrates all my books.

J.D. Hart and I are also doing a class on audio book production, and then a session afterwards for those who want more in-depth brainstorming. The Pirate Prince and I would love to see you there…


Zak and Amy’s Proposal Scene

I'm participating in Tawny Weber's MARRY ME Facebook event on 3-21-16 to help promote her books and to celebrate National Proposal Day. Several authors are posting marriage proposals from our most recent books.

Here's my proposal scene from Zak and Amy:

Zak paused, stopped caressing her shoulder and upper arm,
and patted her instead.
“Usually the drama surrounds some guys, like Joel, who get
injured or never come back. That’s when the community closes ranks, comes
together, and helps the spouse and family. It’s just what they do. And I’ll be
honest and tell you, some guys, when they go overseas, are unfaithful. There
can be drama there, too. The ladies stay close to home, form this network of
strength. They usually can dig it out of anyone if something’s going on. There
aren’t too many secrets. All the joys and pains are shared communally.”
“Okay. I can see that.”
“But as for Connie, I think she’s just a mental case. Maybe
she was, maybe she wasn’t like this when they first got together, but she did
demand Lucas leave the teams, and he’s not ready to.”
“That happens a lot, too? Wives beg their husbands to get
off the Teams?”
“I don’t know. Not been around it enough to really know.
That’s why I wanted you to come down here to meet everyone, to talk to whomever
you wanted to talk to, answer all your questions. I want you walking into this
thing with your eyes wide open.”  

“I think I do a pretty good job of that.”
He glanced at her face. “You do, honey. I think you have
great instincts. You’re good under pressure. Remember, I’ve seen that.”
How could she forget the look on the terrorist’s face when
his bloody handprint was left on the glass door of her office or later when she
thought her life would end in that bomb blast?
But there was one lingering question she had to ask. “So,
Zak, how often do SEALs get divorced? Is it a chronic problem?”
“What do you think?” Zak had pulled into the parking garage.
Shutting the Hummer off, he turned in his seat to face her again. He focused on
her hands folded neatly in her lap and gently covered them with his. His warm
fingers wrapping around hers was comforting. She could see he was trying to
formulate words for something difficult to say. He perused her chest, up her
neck, and then met her face to face. “I think the statistic is better than
sixty percent. That’s all military, too. Maybe the SEALs are a little higher,
but I’m not sure.”
She broke eye contact and stared at the walls of the garage,
swallowing hard.
“Thing is, Amy, it’s hard on the families when the guys go
overseas. That stress takes several forms. I guess Connie went on a spending
bender, and then they had money problems. I just think she was weak and decided
she couldn’t handle it. We all wish she could have just been honest about
that—she wasn’t made for this life. No harm in that. But the way she’s going
about it is all wrong.”
“Terrible for the kids.”
“Tears Lucas up. It really does.”
“I won’t lie to you, Zak. I really don’t know how I’ll feel
when you go overseas.”
“I know that. That’s being honest.”
“But I want to support you. I know this was what you were
made to do.”
“That’s absolutely for certain. But I want to make one thing
perfectly clear. My dedication to this job will always come first as long as I
am a SEAL. If that changes, then I get out. You need to know that.”
It was one of the things that scared her the most. No matter
how much he loved her, being a SEAL would always come first.
“And?” Amy knew there was something more he was leaving out.

“Let’s go inside.” He took her hand. She slid off the seat
into his arms, and they walked hand in hand up to the elevator and to his
apartment beyond.

He directed her to sit on the couch while he brought in some
mineral water for both of them. Instead of taking his place beside her, he
knelt in front of her. “Amy Dobson, you know me. You don’t know the community
yet, but I do, and I think there is a place here for you. I’ve got the green
light from your dad.”
Amy’s expression must have registered shock because Zak
hurriedly explained how he’d called Chief Allister Dobson and her father had
given him his approval.
“Kind of old fashioned, but I wanted to do it that way. I
knew what your father thought was important to you, Amy.”
The tender expression on Zak’s face left her speechless.
He’d planned this ahead of time. This was more than a just meet and greet with
the other members of his SEAL Team; this was a planned course of action. Very
intentional. She saw for the first time how he’d bared his soul to her. He’d
set all this up.
“Marry me, Amy. You already said yes, but I wanted you to
know that your dad is in agreement.” He took her hands in his. “I want to make
it formal. I don’t want to wait for some day.”
She didn’t have to think about it. She went to bed every
night and woke up every morning envisioning being his wife, sharing a life with
this man. “Of course, just like I said before, I’ll marry you, Zak. And in
time, I’ll learn how to support you the way I need to. I think I’m good with it
Her smile would usually bring a kiss, but he was still
“What is it?” Now she was getting worried.
“I want us to get married before I deploy.”
“Like when?”

“Soon. How about next weekend?”

I so enjoy bringing you these marriage proposals, as each one of my SEALs finds his happily ever after. In Zak's case, this is the most beautiful part of the story, the proposal and wedding. And then the strongest and most beautiful part of their love follows after his difficult tour. 


Tucson Festival of Books and my new cowboy friend, Randall Dale!

Met this great guy, Randall Dale, who writes real cowboy stories. I'm going to interview him some day on this blog.  We shared a table, and he stood outside with his rope, and boy did the cowboys come. It was fascinating to watch the readers that flocked to him, as opposed to the women reading romance who came to mine. He's a talented writer, I can tell. I overheard the stories about his growing up, stories passed down by two generations of Arizona cowboys, and it was like vitamins for my soul. He won't be there today with his quiet ways, so I'll miss him terribly.

The Festival was wonderful. We had perfect weather…the fans were awesome, and got to see some superfans yesterday. Today, Kellie and Beth and several others are coming by. Kellie will help me from 12 to 2 and then during my talk in the tent (Yay! A Tent Talk – not to be confused with a Ted Talk, but some day – my first ever). I'm at Booth 108, and will be at Booth 178 for the Tent Talk and author's pavillion.

Isn't this the best tee shirt? His wife bought my vampires!

Leslie Jones was on the other side of me. We have gotten to know each other over the years of my attending Arizona Dreamin', along with my other pals Kris Tualla, Morgan Kearns and Deena Remiel. Always old home week when we get together, share war stories and just plane goof off. Leslie now has 3 books out. I'm so proud of how her career has gone.

Every place I go I learn something, see something that moves me, and I make friends I didn't know were friends before. I have way more to say, but I'm off again to the Faire, finishing breakfast, and thinking of all of you. Have a beautiful Sunday. And think about all those wonderful connections we make online and in person. What a small and beautiful world it is indeed. I'm getting to do what I absolutely love to do, and can do for the rest of my life.
Courtesy of Lindsay McKenna, another awesome military romantic suspense author!!

Band of Bachelors: Alex coming next!

Band of Bachelors: Alex, is Book 2 in the Band of Bachelors. Here's a little excerpt for you. Enjoy! Now on preorder with iBooks, and will be available June 14. You will remember Lucas, and the apartment he was sharing with the other SEAL bachelors? Alex was one of them. A Navy SEAL also wounded in the Canary Islands, he's healed, and back home, and looking for love in all the wrong places. Trust me. He's a piece of work!

          Jake and Thomas had set Alex up
with a blind date. The timing for this was good. He would be leaving early
Sunday morning to fly up with Lucas to Sonoma County to help Nick and Devon
with the winery.  But this was going to
be a Friday night blind date, which meant he could woo the little lady all
night and all day Saturday if she was spectacular. And if not, well, he could
get out of Dodge and wouldn’t be back for over a week. It also saved the hassle
he knew they went through waiting for a call back from him. If he was leaving,
there was no expectation of a call back. The pressure was off!
didn’t tell him anything about her, except for the fact that she was tall,
really, really tall. They always said that with a smile when describing her to
him, so he was prepared for a lady maybe 6’ in height. He loved tall,
long-legged girls who liked to wear those Jesus sandals that laced nearly up to
their Holy of Holies. He was praying for the chance, just once, to be able to
untie one of those types of sandals, and have the tiny leather shoelace be so
close to her crotch, the backs of his hands would be singed from the proximate
distance to her heat. With an easy couple of millimeters to go and then he’d
been in pay dirt. The angels would sing.

was getting hard just thinking about it. He woke up Friday morning with a
boner, that interfered with his skydive done that morning to take the edge off
his nerves.

You can preorder this book on iTunes here.


Writing With My Hair On Fire

Well, Alex has been having his way with me now for about a week. I've been dancing around him, hiding, and he's found me. It's all because my story has been supressed too long because I've been traveling, and doing other things.

I was answering some emails for my Newsletter (are you a subscriber yet???) and something hit me. I fall in love several times a year with new characters. I mean I do have a mental affair with them. Full on. Yup. And when the book is done, they have left me.

I'm very sensitive about the leaving part because I'm not a quitter. I hate people who quit. Sometimes I should do more of it, but I've been mourning the death of my last hero, and Alex has been bringing me flowers (mentally) and coming to bed with me in my dreams and dang it. SO THAT'S WHAT'S BEEN WRONG WITH ME.

I picked up this book about an erotic journal written that the heroine reads, and she is pulled into the journal-owner's story, until it abruptly ends. I'm not going to tell you the name of the book, because I can't recommend it – but I bought it because I have a story with some similar elements, Be With Me. It's about a woman who works in an antique bookstore and has an increasingly real encounter with a 19th Century British explorer. Oh those scenes at the Waterwheel Inn in Kenwood are so damned real, he comes to me, with his handlebar moustache, when I'm swimming nekked in the steamy pool at midnight.

And then it hit me. There is this character sneaking up on me, stalking me, and trying to get hold of my heart, and I've been shutting him out.

I love my rich fantasy life, because it's better than real life sometimes. I go there whenever I can. I like creating the stories as much as reading others, but since I'm a slow reader and a fast writer, it works better for me to make up my own stories.

So now I've got this Alex guy hanging around my desk, whispering in my ear, laughing at how manic I become sometimes. He has told me he'll help me get over the last hero who left me. Because that's what goes on in the heart and brain of this crazy writer. I fall in love, and they ALWAYS leave me.

But now I've discovered the cure: find another fantasy lover. And just like my original Date with Daniel some 6 years ago (an exercise to help me fall back in love with my first hero when I'd fallen for the bad guy), my time with Alex is promising. He's an adrenaline junkie. He likes strong coffee, loves to sky dive. Loves demolition derbys and loves working in the garden with me. In fact, we picked out two tomato plants, some broccoli, kale and some sweet peas. And he made me order Sweet Potatoes from the catalog along with red “sugar” cherry tomato seeds.

I'm listening to romantic Italian music from the 1930's and who knows, maybe I'll go back to that ship in India and go visit the Captain when he stops by the Waterwheel Inn to check on his journal. And then I hear the gypsy music in Prague and I'm all about the vampires again. Oh, what's a girl to do?



Ricky, Matt and their coach. What an honor.

I'm in San Francisco at an Indie UnCon, sharing ideas and brainstorming with other author friends. I ditched my writer's hat and went across town to the Mission District Vanguard Properties office, to attend a special talk given by Matt Brown, National Elite-Level Single Scull Champion, and six time American Record Holder on the Concept2, Yale Grad, Masters Degree in Science and Medicine of Athletic Performance from University of Oxford, and Olympic Contender.

I love meeting people like this, because it reminds me of what I enjoy writing about my Navy SEALs. I've always been a student and avid fan of winning, of pushing ourselves to peak performance in all things in life. Anyone who endeavors to become an elite athlete like Matt and his partner Ricky are, understands the mindset it takes to win. And I'm not talking winning that hurts others, but winning for the sheer joy of winning, for the juice of life and the passion of being alive. It's what drives being in love, living a truly artful and passionate life, as well as achieving all our physical, mental and financial goals. I could attend a talk like Matt's every day for the rest of my life and still want more. I hope I never stop seeking this information.

Here's what he said, in a nutshell:

Vanguard office has a conference room in an old bank vault. Why not?

1. You have to be coachable, desire to set goals and obsessed with achieving that goal. I counted nearly thirty times Matt used the word Passion in his talk. As a romance writer, I get what he's talking about. Sure, we like our books sexy in the bedroom, fearless when it comes to throwing all caution to the wind and going for that perfect love experience – I get that my job is to deliver that elixir to my readers. And getting there requires I be coachable, that I set goals in several arenas (my energy level, my financial goals, my word count goals and new release or projects goals). Living a passionate lifestyle is what I'm all about. I had the cheesy grin in the back row all the way through his talk. And we weren't talking sex or romance, but it's all the same mental and emotional energy.

2. Passion means to suffer. He used examples of a rowing champion who suffered from severe dyslexia, so severe he sometimes had difficulty signing autographs. He had Type I Diabetes, had a family to support and a string of near career-ending injuries. But he was one of the most decorated champions the sport has ever produced. He didn't walk in and have it handed to him. He carved it out of granite.

Having that desire to fail is what leads to mastery. One of my early Real Estate affirmations I used to shout into the phone with my realtor mentor daily was, “I love rejection. The more rejection I get the larger my bank account becomes.” Not a lot of people get this concept. It really has nothing about money and everything to do with seeking those things that will make us elite at whatever we do. The struggle, suffering that must occur is part of that track to Mastery. SEALs don't quit if they're going to become a SEAL. They practice with pain and suffering so they are ready for every eventuality they can think of. And even after that, mentally train for anything that might come up (and probably will) that they hadn't planned on.

Matt talked about it not being a dream to be an Olympian. It is his obsession. It isn't reasonable or realistic to want something so badly. Greatness transcends mediocraty.

3. Mastering the elite level is paved with tons of little achievements along the way, little daily victories, seeking failure, pushing ourselves to new extremes, never accepting that “reasonable” excuse not to have a life filled with passion and excellence. We used to train Realtors about repetitious boredom. Sticking to the path even when it's not as sexy or fun as we want it to be at the time. Learning to be uncomfortable. As my SEALs have been told, “getting comfortable with Dr. Death.” We get better by seeking to expose ourselves to our limits, and then learn to push beyond them. If we never came up to that limit and push just a little harder, we'd never achieve it.

4. Discouragement and self-doubt are part of the process. It affects some people more than others. I loved his example of how coach Wooden took his dream team at UCLA and began coaching his young elite athlete recruits by first showing them how to tie their shoes. Some of these guys were saying, “Hey coach, don't you know who I am?” Being great starts with the little things, victory over little mindset lapses and emotional quagmires. Seeking them out and getting comfortable with the flame. Being excited about the danger involved. And it starts with the simple things. Wooden was teaching his players not to make the mistakes with the fundamentals. Do seek to push yourself to make the mistakes when you are testing your limits, but never the fundamentals.

5. Compete. I loved his concept of working competitively against another teammate to become better yourself. And what would it take to tell that person what you see as a flaw so that they could get better, therefore becoming a harder competitor against you. But you get great in the process. I love this. My Cheerios this morning! Don't be afraid to go for the gold medal, not the participation certificate. Losing is healthy if you learn from it.

6. Get comfortable with stress. The right kind of stress diverts energy to your working muscles. Mouth dryness when you are under stress is your body's way of giving your muscles every ounce of energy they require to perform at an elite level. But worry, is a wasted energy. Pushing to failure is the good side of it. Worry is the destroyer of everything. I got a great character image of a SEAL I'm going to use in my next book, who will go on a date with someone he's terrified around. It will feel like he's just had a shot of espresso and attending a really nasty Horror film with the love of his life. LOL. I loved hearing this. Nothing is more terrifying than letting go, falling in love and allowing that to become life-changing. “Get those butterflies in your stomach and make them fly in formation,” was his quote.

7. Great competitors are great actors. (Yes, J.D., this is for you!!) To become master at anything you have to take how you really feel, and turn it into the way you need to feel to do the job. I used to say it all the time in real estate. We aren't salesmen. We are entertainers. Being someone who can do something even though they are feeling something else is a skillset that isn't given, it's learned, and actors do it every day. Your brain and body don't know the difference between the real smile and the “fake” smile. Life is about performance, not just living. Religion is a practice. Marriage or being insanely in love is a practice. Living with purpose and passion, playing a role, fulfilling a destiny. Playing big. Feeling strong. Playing for keeps, like it matters, because it certainly does.

8. You have to be tough as nails. Nuts to say we get the most joy out of the toughest things in our lives, but when we are in training for anything in life, it's true. Toughness is learned, again, not organically bubbles up. It's created by the unique little things we achieve every day. The little joys that add up to a life chock full of everything, especially love and the love of life.Writing about Navy SEALs reminds me about that part of myself that is a SEAL.

Even superheroes need to practice

I've mentioned it before, but getting comfortable with mistakes, making a fool of yourself, pushing to the next level is how you learn to be tough.

There was much more I could write about, but not all of you are going to read all of this. I make no apology for being inspired this morning. The right people will show up to read this, and it will mean the right things to those right people.

We are not lost, we are found. Have I found you? Have you found me? Are we on this path together?

Have the best day of your life today. I sincerely mean that.


ROMANCING THE VINES – Days of Wine, Chocolate, Friends and the Love of Reading Romance

Wonderful to be able to enjoy all the best things in Sonoma County with some of my best friends. We had a turnout of readers better than my expectations. I had hopes it would be a good group, and it certainly was that. Thank you to all who helped promote the event and who showed up and helped the celebration yesterday was. To my fellow authors: Catherine Bybee, Marina Adair, Susan Stoker, Kathryn LeVeque, Carolyn Jewel, Diana Orgain, Lisa Hughey, Pam Gibson, Tiffany Snow and Kate Douglas and Lori Ryan – thank you thank you thank you!! Wonderful women, great players, awesome authors and super friends for life.

I am blown away by the generosity of my writer friends, who spent their weekend, and traveled far and wide just to come share in this vision. Coppola Winery was the perfect location. Yes, I admit, we are a bit out of the way and it isn't easy to get here, but that just means you have to come and stay a few days. We are a region, not a single destination.

Funning around the Godfather desk

Today eight of us are going on a limo tour of four great local wineries. Again, I can't wait. And it looks like the sunshine will be out for us.

Readers drove as far away as 4-5 hours away and built their whole weekends around this event. The winery crowd came from all over the world, and we met new readers from Boston, Denver, New York, even a family from Canada visiting Wine Country in all its glory. We had a steady stream of people here for the 5+ hours of the signing, yet the setting was small enough that we could intimately speak with people about our stories, our books, and share our lives.

I'm definitely planning one for next year.

Our author group at Francis Ford Coppola Winery book signing event

My voice is hoarse. I slept like a baby last night, finally able to relax after all the worry and planning. But what a treat to bring our world to all of you out there willing to listen and read our stories.

Tucker from Tucker, the movie. One of only 52 made



My mind is flooded with ideas and things I can do to help my writing career. I'm also very grateful to all the presenters and awesome authors who shared so freely and gave me such wonderful inspiration. We rarely get to go to things so jam packed with material. Although most of my pictures were taken in front or behind an umbrella drink, most of my time here has not been spent drinking.

I described my mind as “frizzy” like a bad hair day. It will take a couple of days to calm it down.

Getting to meet Hollywood people who have actually read and enjoyed my books was a super rush for me. I learned some things about what I need to do with a screen play to make it more packaged for the TV series I think it would work for. I also learned what had to be done to create the screen play for a movie, which is very different than the TV series.

There were lots of author platforms and retail platforms I hadn't considered using that I will now be doing. Learned the importance of FB ads and now I'll be getting blood with them.

Highlight was of course the Pearl Harbor tour, which I sponsored. The trip to the Arizona Memorial, the Mighty Mo, learning more about the Kamakaze pilot who perished on the deck of the Missouri. Saturday a small group of us signed books at Hickam AFB in the beautiful Community Center building built in the 1930's. I love that style architecture. We toured buildings on grounds that had absorbed divots in the concrete where Japanese rounds had landed. Viewed the flag that was standing that day, and the eternal flame commemorating all those who lost their lives.

I poked my head into the Officer's Club and I did feel like I'd been transported back to those days.

The beautiful beaches, outstanding food and drinks, the shopping, and weather was just a plus. I'd have come here if it was just for the classes, but to have all the other wonderful things about being in Hawaii too, well, it was indeed learning in Paradise. I go back richer in ideas and excitement, a little poorer in the pocketbook, but satisfied.


Hello from 35,000 feet

As you read this, I will be in an airplane, hopefully watch pre-football highlights, or reading a good book, editing, or inspired to write, or talking to some interesting passenger. I'm going to be in Hawaii at an author conference and I'm so excited, they might have to unload me as a nuclear device…

I'm really looking forward to this conference. The company will be outstanding – leaders in the Romance industry, as well as all the folks who help us from Amazon to iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Ingram Spark. We'll be talking about time management, VAs, FB ads, branding, writing series, brainstorming, and there will be time for just hanging around, sprinting by the beach. For a writer, that means writing. Then on Saturday, a great big book signing at Hickam AFB (I even have an official pass) and a 1940's Swing Dance. I got my vintage dress and supposedly some young officer who has agreed to take me on the dance floor and dance with someone who could be his grandma.

On Thursday, I'm sponsoring the Pearl Harbor tour, and the trip to the Arizona and Missouri Memorials. Now that I have my camera fixed, I can perhaps share pictures.

Finished my mentoring on Friday, and now its green lights all the way from the conference to the week before my Coppola Event. Still some tickets left. This will be an outstanding Romancing The Vines, another first in hopefully a string of successful signing in the future.

The San Francisco Airport is buzzing with Superbowl fever. I bought a coffee tumbler with Superbowl 50 on it, and there's a whole group who just flew in and are having Irish Coffees here at the Buena Vista Cafe. Supposed to be in the '70's here in my part of the world, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect day for a game. Go Niners! Wait…I'll have to wait for that.

I wasn't going to do as much traveling this year, and I've changed my mind. Now I just have to boost my sales up to afford to do it all. But meeting readers, hanging out with some of my best friends, learning and just getting outside my cave is going to be fun.

I can tell 2016 is going to be a brilliant year. Can't wait to tell you about it!


Canary Island Tale – Using places I’ve traveled in books.

Many of you know we've traveled on some long cruises, usually starting in Italy, and going across the Atlantic. These are not nearly as exclusive as they sound, and are quite affordable. Since there are a lot of days at sea, and the weather is warm, it's perfect for writing. I could hardly stay in a hotel anywhere for the price of these long distance cruises. They have to move the ship from Europe to the Caribbean, or South America when the seasons change and their routes expand, so they take on passengers for a very affordable price. I think the cheapest was like $800 for 21 days, believe it or not!

We opted not to do one this winter, so these pictures are from the 2014-2015 trip. I needed a location that was away from Europe (the Secretary of State meets with a Moroccan leader secretly), wanted the meeting to look like a vacation, and needed it to be close to Africa. The Canary Islands was one stop we've made a couple of times. This was perfect!

I like writing about places I've visited because it not only gives me a point of reference to be accurate with some details, but also because it gives me a focus if I can feel I'm in the place as I'm writing it. Sometimes I search the net for pictures of properties for sale, with lovely photos to choose from. Often we can use these in our book trailers. Getting a “feel” for a place is important. One speaker told me that the location becomes a character in your book. I think that's right.

I try to give variety to my books, not have the same theme, except the arc of the whole series, which is that these SEALs learn to overcome everything: from international events, to local home grown terrorists, to just plan evil bad guys. They save the day. They get thrown into things they didn't expect.

So I guess I use the place as the anchor, and then weave tales around these points, like spinning a spider web, hoping to snag readers and bring them into my world of the Brotherhood. Traveling gives me lots of dreams for my muse. It's fun to bring all my readers along on these adventures, both real and imagined.

Here's a snippet of the new book, which releases next month, and is on preorder, True Blue SEALs: Zak. It is Book #13 in the SEAL Brotherhood Series. Enjoy!

Where have you always wanted to travel? If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

See book trailer here.



My heart goes out to all those who are reading this, battling the cold. And I'm envious of those of you who are having a great Snow Day. You guys deserve all the beautiful white goodness. You have to work so hard to put up with other weather conditions, let us Northern Californios have our rain and damp. It doesn't last long. Besides, we need the rain.

I'm looking forward to spending a week in Hawaii coming up here in a couple of weeks. I love the people, and the scent of flowers everywhere. I come back hearing Ukelele music in my head for weeks. Just like when we go to the Caribbean, I hear those steel drums at night, when I wake up in the morning and often when I'm writing without music.

I am sponsoring a 15-author book signing at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville on February 20. If you are in the area, the tickets can be purchased here. The fee is going towards the awesome chocolate desserts, the wine pairings, and of course the beautiful pavilion we'll be wandering through, meeting romance authors and finding new books! Copperfields Books, a great local independent book store, will be handling all the sales. But there will be goodies as well.

Many of the authors will be staying in Healdsburg, one of the great tourist attractions of our wine country region. Early on it was a favorite for those who cane for the wine, but since then it's become an eclectic collection of shops, galleries and restaurants that rival some of the best tourist attractions in the country. I've lived here 45 years, and I can still get lost for a whole day shopping.

Here are some things you might not know about Healdsburg and our Wine Country.

1. Up until 1747, California was believed to be an island. Although Father Kino walked from the mainland in 1698 to disprove this theory, it wasn't until nearly 50 years later Father Consag sailed completely around the Gulf of California in 1747, and only then did King Ferdinand of Spain issue the Royal decree stating “Callifornia is Not An Island”.

2. Although the area was populated with Miwok and Pomo Native American tribes for centuries, the first Europeans actually spotted the San Francisco Bay in 1769. Yes, Sir Francis Drake landed in what is now known as Marin County, at Drake's Bay or Bodega Bay (we aren't exactly sure where) in 1579, he did not travel far enough into the interior and he missed the San Francisco Bay completely. So, around the time of our American Revolution, only a handful of people even knew about California or its Bay, and most of those were the Spanish who had designs to colonize it. Missions were started, the Spanish built the Presidio in what is now Golden Gate Park, for Spanish troops.

3. Mexico rules over California in the early 1820's. A series of Mexican land grants were given out. The town of Sonoma was established to protect the mission, and the young General in charge was Mariano Vallejo, who was given a 66,600 acre land grant we now celebrate at the Vallejo Adobe.

4. In the 1830's and 1840's a series of Russian immigrants came down from the Russian Fort at Fort Ross, investigating the potential for grape growing, and settled in what is now Alexander Valley. Fort Ross is then sold to John Sutter just prior to the gold rush, the Russian immigrants writing, “Local grapes make good wine, but in small quantities and does not keep well.” By 1850, California was added as the 31st state, and Healdsburg had a whopping population of 300. Sonoma was temporarily the capital of California in the Bear Flag Revolt, and they took General Vallejo prisoner for a time, the flag designating Alta California its own independent republic.

5. The famous outlaw, Black Bart held up a stage coach just south of town that made national
headlines. The first railroad opens in 1886.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake hits (the epicenter was really north, closer to Healdsburg, in Santa Rosa). Several buildings in the downtown collapse. With the rebuild of San Francisco, most of the local forests, much of it old growth redwood trees, are used for the massive rebuild. More railroads, then lights, ferry boats that came all the way up from San Francisco to Petaluma and beyond. Who can forget the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair?

6. Prohibition nearly killed the wine and hops industrues. Remember Burgermeister, Hamms and Schlitz? These San Francisco breweries relied on hops from our beautiful valley. When the breweries failed or consolidated on the East Coast, more and more land was planted for grapes, which turned out to be more able to rebound. German and French champagne makers arrived.

We've changed quite a bit since then. For Californios (that was the self-described title the independent peoples of this region called themselves, not owing loyalty to Spain or to the United States) we love our roots, our rich multi-cultural heritage. Luther Burbank would settle in Santa Rosa. Mark Twain and his young bride would travel on their honeymoon through this region. Sir Richard Burton was spotted here, and Jack London put down roots in the town of Glen Ellen.

Our history is newer than many other parts of the country. But one thing it has always been, unique, and fiercely independent. And like most Americans, we are survivors of generations who came before us and helped make us what we are today.

1 3 4 5 6 7 28