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5

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

gardens-2Bof-2Bthe-2BheartWriting this today because I'm thinking about all of you who are under snow and ice, huddled in homes I hope are safe, and cozy. I can attest to the fact that Spring is here. The trees are blooming in Santa Rosa, Northern California, in the wine country, where I live.

The seasons aren't as colorful here in Wine Country. But we do have some things I love. Let me count the ways…

We have green hills this time of year. In fact, usually St. Patrick's Day is the greenest day of the year. The weeds are still short, the brown stalks of overgrown things from wintertime are broken or long since blown away. Now we have a nice lush carpet, dotted with daffodils in my garden. IMG_6642Spring is like that here. Without a lot of work, it just blooms, like the fruit trees, without a lot of my maintenance. These are the times when I love walking through nurseries. I feel the presence of my mother, who used to spend hours tending her garden. Every year she'd go get another pair of gloves at the nursery, and a new set of white tennis shoes. Don't ask me why they were white. They always were. She washed them every time she used them, and left them drying in the sun for the next day.

Spring is the time for new things, renewals. I explored a new commercial complex last week, an old apple packing plant in Sebastopol, the Barlow Center. I found community garden plots and eclectic stores from a Tibetan artifact store (complete with a painted design in the driveway), two breweries, several restaurants, a coffee roasters, a Waldorf toy and projects store, two wineries, and other retail and professional offices. I love recycled things. Making new things from old things. I love looking at gardens and fencing made from recycled apple tree cuttings.

1604420_10202575930614868_1735723149_nSome of my best stories are written after I go exploring. It isn't guided meditation, but just exploring. Being guided by what is just around the corner. Kind of like life, right? The undiscovered country or adventure. The new friend I might make today or an old one I'll reconnect with. Making something beautiful today, like a bouquet of my own flowers, or some words that make my heart sing on the page, or helping someone see a shining ray of light on a future they could have, or assisting someone. Even feeding fish can be good therapy on a day like today. They know me. They get excited whenever I go into the office and collect in little rows at the tank, vying for my attention. I'm sure it's my imagination, but it works for me.

IMG_9097The sign I bought some years ago still hangs over the doorway of what used to be my office. “Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been.” It still applies. Especially today.

Have a glorious one!!! Spring is really just around the corner.

Honest.

11

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: The Practice of Love

Spain-2B1971I was talking to my friend recently, and we both admitted we got married because we were totally in lust. We were laughing about how many of our early days of marriage we spent in bed. I can remember my husband saying, “But we have to get something done, Sharon.” My internal thought was, “why?” LOL. How times change. I cherish those years and I cherish the young bride I was and how I viewed the world. We would never get old, we would live forever. Everything would always be exciting and would turn out perfect. Our love would sustain us through thick and thin, if not by the sheer power of sex!

Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend this way of getting together, but love has become so much more for me. In addition to the physicality of making love, the long term friendship and the practice of being in love is what I've come to understand and fully appreciate. That is what sustains me today.

Over the years we learn to bend. Being married can be a lot of work sometimes. There are highs and lows. I'm remembering the line from Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams talks about his wife, and how there were ups and downs, and, with a smile he said, “the year she died was one of those good ones.” I watch couples who talk over dinner and hold hands, at any age. They practice communication and show affection. This is the miracle of love.fastlane3

The Practice of Love is like a meditation in doing for someone else. We find it easy to do when we love our children. Some would say it's just a natural love. Sometimes loving our partner doesn't feel that natural. And that's when the practice of sharing love comes in. Something simple, but something every day. The practice reminds us that our love isn't how we feel, but how we act.

DJ-2B3-2Bmonths-2BoldIn the end, being loveable isn't about bodies or sex, although I think it's important to enjoy those things at any age. Being loveable is being worthy of love. And we are worthy of love when we give it away.

And when we give it away with our full heart, it grows and comes back to us ten-fold. Now who said there were no such things as miracles?

I spent Valentine's Day in labor with this little one. He was born on February 15th, today, so many years ago, and was the first of our four children. It was a magical time in my life and something I'm so grateful for having experienced.

So I guess I'd say the Practice of Love is more than sex or passion, or births or families. Love is who we are. Our constant friend, throughout all the phases of our life.

8

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Love Letters

images-2Needed a break today and took myself down to my favorite coffee place, walking by my favorite lingerie shop. I've shopped there in the past – you know – one of those places where the nice German lady comes into the dressing room and lectures me on “the girls” and the proper form for wearing a bra, except I am rather large chested, and when she's done, I beg her to buy a size larger so I don't feel like a trussed turkey. But no, she likes to fit me tight, and she reaches in and does — well you can get the picture.

I bought a nice red outfit for my hubby last Valentine's. I love my husband dearly. Dearly, Madly, Deeply, like the title of Hannah Jayne's book. But for an engagement present I got a bicycle. Some Valentine's Days I've gotten orange carnations. I have to say the gentleman knows how to please me now, and I'm lucky he still tries after all those (no I'm not going to say it) years. And he now gets me flowers. And he provides for me and my crazy ways like no one else ever could. Something delicious about a img_1374074042_669man who sticks around when you are at your worst, as well as your best. Easy to stick around when things are good. Really hard to keep together when those dark days come. We all get them. And we know the sun is just around the corner, too. I've learned to trust in things I cannot see, measure and treasure my faith. And my love.
gardens-of-the-heartMy romance themes are True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart. I like it, but it isn't sexy enough to use anywhere. So good. It's mine, and now it's yours. But it's what I write. I do believe in the healing power of love, and it is the theme of all my stories. Men and women find each other, and they transform into their higher, better selves as a result of that meeting. I believe in love at first sight. Love that lasts forever (and I love the title of my new paranormal super bundle, Immortal Valentines-my Valentine's gift to you for just a week). Love is stronger than hate. Quieter than hate. Never lies, and always forgives. And sometimes you have to live without it. Love is so important the Bible devotes a chapter to it.

My folks were married over 55 years before my mother passed. And then, at 80, my father fell in love again and had another ten wonderful years with my now new mother. And she loved him and our family enough to give us all another ten years we would have not had with my dad. He was ready to die without the love of his life. But, and I said this at his funeral, even though my mother had died, he finally came to the conclusion that he wasn't yet ready to give up being a father, grandfather or a husband. And so he set out and accomplished that. We are all the richer for it. 562206_10150664046446188_658296187_9532094_1388705543_n

See? You thought we were going to talk about steamy romance novels. I'm talking about love and the healing power of love.

cute-handwritten-letter-letters-love-letters-envelope-favim-com-95900My stories are my love letters to you. In a perfect world, we'd walk down the beach together, or take a hike in the rain forest in Washington, we'd sail on a blue ocean or sit and sip beers listening to beautiful music. You and I can't do all those things. And so we have to pretend. images-1

And for just a little while, all the world is as it should be. The equipment works and the paint's not chipped. People are safe and out of harm's way. There is a happily ever after.

And true love heals in the gardens of the heart, because that's what I wrote.

 

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7

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: For The Love Of A Child

IMG_6589In my former career, I got to meet some great speakers, great men and women. While I never shared a meal with Walt Disney or Charles Schulz, their legacy is all around me, and I feel as if I knew them really well. Indeed, this is the magic of creating something so endearing, it lasts long after you are gone. I should be so lucky some day.

We've come back from a visit to The Magic Kingdom in Florida, and an Aulani stay in Hawaii. I know a little bit about some of the background of the Disney theme parks because I got to sit and talk to one of Disney's close friends/business associates one day. Most people know what a risk Disney took to build Disneyland, “Where all the horses work and there's no chipped paint.” I've previously written about how that was one thing he noticed aimagesbout the park nearby where he used to take his girls when they were little. It is a fascinating story about how he got the funds to build the Children's Hospital of L.A., and how it involved getting the Abraham Lincoln exhibit more life-like with the help of a cardiovascular specialist, who in turn requested a children's hospital be built, a promise Disney kept. A story for another day. There are hundreds of these stories.

IMG_6571Having just come from the Gratitude Reception, at the Schulz Museum here in Santa Rosa, I'm struck with the same feeling that I knew Mr. Schulz, “Sparky” as he is known to his friends and family. I walk down the aisles of the comic strips he drew over the decades, witnessing how they brought laughter and introspection to a population hungry for pure entertainment. The simple lines and short phrases endeared Mr. Schulz, and the characters he created, to millions, young and old.

unnamedAt the Disney resorts, grown men and women wear mouse ears, acting like children, in many cases reliving their own childhoods through the next generation of children. I think it's a gift to be able to make someone laugh. And to give back, very humbly, to the community that fostered and supported them.

Both men loved to draw cartoons. It wasn't an accident when they couldn't find Mr. Disney at the grand opening of the CHLA, and later found him upstairs, sitting on the ground, drawing pictures with some of the little patients and making them smile. IMG_6593

There's a lot to shout about and rant in this world. But there's also a lot to be grateful for. In the end, these kinds of men will be fondly remembered long after those that prey off society. Just like in my books, good always triumphs, is always way stronger than evil. The healing power of love and laughter is much stronger than the screaming. The Bible says it well, “Love is patient, kind.”

hospitalphotoMay your lines be straight, your moving parts work, your heart open and your soul patient. I can only imagine what kinds of conversations these two men are having in Heaven today.

12

The Car Caper

IMG_0223SUNDAYS WITH SHARON:  The Car Caper

My son needed a car for work some years ago and, since my husband is the resident expert on cars in our family, he agreed to take him down to the local auction yard to bid on a couple of cars there. These are vehicles siezed in drug busts or otherwise impounded or found abandoned. Although we've bought cars there from time to time, I've never known one of these to be a real barn-burning steal. But it's hard to tell a 20 year old male eager to get his first car, or his father, who desperately wants to prove his value to his son.

They missed the evening before to go check out the vehicles, so they arrived early the day of the auction to scope everything out, and selected five or so to bid on. As it turned out, all the cars they liked came up towards the beginning, and the prices seemed a little higher than they wanted to spend. At last, the final car they were interested in came up, and they were the successful bidders. Upon going over to the office to complete the paperwork and pay the fees, they learned this particular car, costing about $200, came with it some $120 of fines and tickets that also had to be paid off before they could take title. They were to find out this was the least of their problems.

I was at work (this was prior to writing) and was expecting a call around noon with the news. When I still hadn't heard anything, I left a message for my husband around 2 PM again without a returned call. I made several other calls to his cell without an answer. I figured out about the fourth or fifth call that he was trying to figure out a story I was going to be told.

Around midnight, a taxi delivered my husband and my son home, which was the best decision they made all day. I'm still learning details of their car buying caper, and it's been several years. I doubt I will get the whole story anytime soon. Men are like that. When their projects go haywire, they carefully bury it, thinking no one will remember to ask them about it later. Like sticking your head in the sand, butt fully exposed, thinking you're hiding.

So, near as I can get to the IMG_0934truth, here is what happened. After paying all the fees, they went to drive the car home, my son following my husband. The auction yard is about 45 minutes south of where we live. They stopped to pick up gas and some waters, and that's when they discovered the car had no reverse. And the heater was stuck on “on”. They manually backed the car up and went back to the auction and I guess were greeted with smiles and nods of the head, and looks like, “You honestly think we care?” The car, they were told, belonged to my son, and that was that. No exceptions. No refunds. Have a nice day.

They drove it home to Santa Rosa and decided to get some things for dinner. This wouldn't be the celebratory dinner they'd hoped (I'd hoped), but along the way they found another car for sale by owner at the supermarket. The owner came and after a test drive, they decided to buy it. They even threw in the old car purchased at the auction yard, since the person selling the vehicle was raising money for a church. The lack of reverse was thoroughly disclosed, and, although the church group didn't really want the car, they didn't decline it. My husband left the keys in the vehicle in the Safeway parking lot for the group to pick up the vehicle later on that night.

Of course, the story continued. On the way home, the new car overheated and something terrible happened. I believe the term is called a cracked engine block. It involved a lot of smoke. It would turn out to be a repair cost far in excess of the value of the vehicle.

I believe it was at this time, nearing the dinner hour, they wanted to rid themselves of the reality of now two bad decisions, so my husband drove them to a nearby brewpub to perhaps lick their wounds, leaving the smoking second vehicle at the side of the road. A few beers later, neither one of them could or should drive. A few friends came down to add their condolences to the $200 car that had now cost close to $1000 and became two, and neither one of them was worth the original $200 estimate.

Meanwhile, I continued to wait. Around midnight they returned home. My son wanted to go straight to bed. My husband was left with telling me the story. I think I was in shock.  And yes, his car was safely down at the brew pub and could be retrieved the next day.

The next morning, we drove by the Safeway parking lot to discover the first vehicle had indeed been picked up. We called the wrecking yard to pick up the second car and thought we'd done our duty. My husband's vehicle was successfully retrieved. All was well.

Until the police showed up at our door about ten days later. Seems someone else wanted the first vehicle we'd left in the parking lot, stole it, used it in an armed robbery, and, not being able to quickly exit the bank parking lot due to its lack of reverse, hit several parked vehicles before abandoning it and running away on foot. No, we didn't know anything about that, and the police didn't smile much. I'm guessing they did in private.

Did my son ever get a car? Yes, some time later. Did we get in trouble for the “abandoned” car? No. Neither did the church group, thank goodness. But boy what a story to tell the grandkids. Part of the fabric that is our colorful family. Maybe it will wind up in a romance novel some day.

I'll bet you have some stories like this one from your family. I'd love to hear them!

 

 

 

 

22

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Ten Reasons Why Maybe This Isn't Your Best Writing Year

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I love how David Letterman always has his Top Ten List Of Things. I've had a lot of fun posting my own version of these over the years. So this is rather tongue in cheek, or foot in mouth, depending on how you view my crazy brain. Remember, as he says, this is just for fun.

Sharon Hamilton's Top Ten Reasons Why This Might Not Be Your Best Writing Year:

10.     Your friends do an intervention. They take all your romance books away, dispose of your computer and take you to a bar and try to hook you up with a plumber who wears Aloha shirts.

9.      When you turn on your computer, water pours out of the screen, which doesn't bother you until the fish start swimming over your keyboard.

8.     You read your manuscript to your dog and ask him if he understands what you've just written, and he answers, “Hell no.”

7.     Your $16.35 Amazon royalty check bounces and the bank repossesses your Acer 386 computer.

6.     Your editor emails you to say that if she has to read one more page of your drivel she'll refund all your money and put a contract out on you.

5.    You discover your daughter got a six-figure advance on a New Adult horror novel based on her childhood.

4.    You sit next to a guy on the airplane and open your hot bacon dressing packet for your spinach salad and it squirts all over his lap. (This is a true story)

3.    Your computer drains bacon oil for two weeks afterwards. (Also true)

2.    It's hard to write sex scenes when your computer smells like a salad. (You got it. True again.)

1.     Your publisher wants to change the name of your epic hero's journey novel you've edited 100 times and spent five years of your life writing to:  Loser.

 

Now, don't you feel better about how your year has started already?IMG_5233

10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Volcanic Vertical Drop Zone

IMG_6514You know when you are standing in line and the sign at the top says, “No one under this height allowed, or under 4 years of age allowed without parent,” and it says “Pregnant women should be cautious” that the Volcanic Vertical Drop tube slide is going to be a screamer. And it was. Just like the day my family huddled around me and made me, yes, MADE me skydive (or risk humiliation and ridicule for the rest of my life), they once again bunched around me, especially my son-in-law, who loves to see me wiggle and squirm. He's always trying new drinks out on me, even when I tell him I can't mix a thing, and then tells me afterwards I've mixed rum, vodka and God knows what else. All I have to say is, “It's nice,” and another one is served, whether I asked for it or not.

Friday was one of those days when I'd been enjoying a long nap at the beach/pool/hot tub. When the din of children's voices, the spouts of mechanical whales and the waves crashing on the shore were just background white noise that inspired some vivid dreams (well the Blue Hawaiian helped too). I was slimed with water and begged by everyone standing around me, shivering and wet from head to toe, that I had to come enjoy this long dark water slide. Except it's really not a slide. The most important part is the vertical drop at the end. It seemed like 4 stories but wasn't nearly that. Me being me, I had a hard time saying no.IMG_6520_2

My family knows that when they want something done by everyone, they have to convince me. And then everyone else will come along. It was the same way with skydiving, and I was adamant I was an earth angel and not a faery with wings, but eventually my resistance was futile.

I'm standing in line, and every time I turn around I'm greeted with grins. That means I'm in real serious trouble. Because I'm going, my daughter, my daughters mother-in-law and several others have to go, and they're looking at me crosseyed, with the expression, “Why, Sharon, didn't you just say no?”

I'm asking things like where my hands go, will I get stuck in the tube? How far back do I lean? And then the last one, “Is it safe?” Everyone laughs. They didn't have to say, “You'll see.”

Well, it was terrifying. I couldn't see a thing. I took curves so fast I thought I was going to start cannonballing. At the end of the volcanic vertical drop, I started swimming down, in the wrong direction and yes, needed help to get out because I was disoriented. But I have to say, though terrified and definitely pushing my limits, it was fun.

IMG_6480I love roller coasters. I now love skydiving. I love body surfing on waves a little bit too big for my skill level. I like driving fast at midnight with the top down, the music and the heater cranked up. I guess I can add one more to the list. I now love the Volcanic Vertical Drop.

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10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Angels and Dark Angels, Heaven and the Underworld

SharonWinery-cropMany of you know the journey I took to become a writer. We'd driven home from a day in San Francisco. It was a beautiful March day, like we get so often here. No rain. Blue skies and big white clouds. We opted for a simple dinner and so I was munching on a salad when I heard a buzzing sound I'd never heard before. Coming up the steps, there was no smoke, so my husband thought the smoke detector was defective, and bat it down with a broom handle. We went back to our meal. Then we smelled smoke.

It never occurred to us our lives would be so changed that evening. Coming up the stairway, looking into our bedroom, I saw my rose-colored leather recliner was on fire. A perfect circle of fire was on the back, like the hand of God had touched it. Within seconds, it ignited the curtains, then snaked along the ceiling and a thick black smoke rolled toward us like a tidal wave. We knew that toxic cloud wasn't going to be healthy so we went downstairs to get buckets of water, but when we returned, the entire top floor was ablaze. 10197_10151950558687875_1115973511_n

I was in my nightie, barefoot. We called the Fire Department and they were here within 12 minutes, along with 4 other engines and a crew of men in case our fire traveled up the hill and spread to neighboring properties. I sat on the steps and watched as everything in the upstairs was destroyed, the downstairs was covered with water and carpets to protect some of the furniture. They expected our floor to cave in any minute. My husband drank a beer and smoked one of his Cuban cigars he'd rescued from the refrigerator. I was finishing my salad. It was surreal.

The road to coming back was long and arduous. Our bank was being taken over by the Feds, the County wasn't sure they'd let us rebuild, our insurance company wasn't giving us the money to redesign a new home or start construction. It took us 18 months before we could get cooperation from the parties to even start.

In the meantime, I lived in a little apartment and for the first time in over 35 years, was alone, since my husband stayed up on the property in a trailer to help with our animals, and to stop the steady flow of people who “stopped by” to give us a quote and then helped themselves to our things, I guess thinking we wouldn't mind.

1551467_10152151588906117_1092006408_nIn short, I felt violated on so many levels. All my great grandmother's jewelry, her delicious collection of amber and jade were gone. The box my other great great grandmother brought over with her when she was 14, lovingly made by her father in Scotland, who never saw her again, was gone. Her braid, which was exactly my hair color, was gone. Lizzy, her doll was gone. Pictures the kids had made. Oil paintings we'd bought all over the world were gone. Our computers looked like something from a Dali painting. Here and there something miraculous would be untouched, but 97% of what was upstairs was gone.

Initially, I did the staying up late to watch TV movies, since I didn't have to worry about keeping anyone up but myself. I read Outlander and then read it again. Then I read the Twilight series. I began to have vivid dreams of angels, guardian angels, and I slowly began to believe that instead of being incredibly unlucky, in fact, we were very lucky. We survived. We learned to cope and do things we'd never had to do before.

And I began to write.1782005_10151976455751559_29340424_n

I am a bit on the obsessive side of the scale. I sat down on December 15, 2008 and by January 15, 2009 I had written 90,000 words, and my first novel. I learned later that was a phenomenal amount of words. But then I didn't know. My story didn't have a villain, didn't have much of a story arc, except I began to think about what it would be like if a Guardian Angel fell in love with the person they were supposed to watch over. Would they be tempted to let themselves be known? Would they want to connect? Would they be banished from Heaven? I rewrote that story 57 times. No, that one didn't get trashed like you hear writers talk about. This one came from my soul, and I could never stop working on it until it was perfect. It became Heavenly Lover, my first book. My second book, Underworld Lover, came to me before I finished the first one. And just now, I have released the third book in the series, Underworld Queen. I continued on with many of the characters so that the villain in Book 1 is the hero in Book 2. The villainess in Book 2 is the heroine in Book 3. Everyone gets a chance to transform, to fall in love with their true love, to have their happily ever after. Everyone has a shot at redemption.

1506586_10201734550231925_3606053161916197687_nThe basis premise is this: Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident. Humans walk the fence between the two. It's not a religious book, but there is a good vs. evil theme, which is actually the same theme throughout all my books, paranormal or SEALs.

As I begin a new year, and look at my schedule and what books I want to finish or write this year, I have to remember that sometimes the greatest things that happen to me are just that: things that happen. Not things I planned at all. Or perhaps the better way of saying it is that I plan, adjust, based on what I'm given. Dealing with life on life's terms. Doesn't do any good to cry over what I've lost. I'm also not blonde, 20 years old and a supermodel with an unlimited income.

But I do possess the miracle of being able to take tragedy and make stories out of them. To feel. To be sad some days for sure, but then to rejoice in the little things, like meeting a blue jay that used to greet me every morning at breakfast outside the kitchen window. Writing all night long if I felt like it. Watching my grandkids play and sing, and yes, to have my granddaughter want me to help her write a book. She's 4. Isn't that also a miracle.

So, in 2015 I profess to obtaining and keeping my miracle glasses on 24/7. I've learned I can survive. If we'd lost it all I would have survived. And the other true miracle is that my stories will last forever.

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6

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Gifts That Keep Growing

IMG_3520I've written before about the paths we take, the steps we take in the shoes of our choice, and how our choices make us the people we are. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and we are stronger than we thought possible. Other times, we are weaker. We've done a lot of traveling, and unfortunately that took a toll on us, health-wise this season. It was unexpected and unusual for us to be so ill for so long. I'm never at my best when I'm sick, or when a loved one is sick, or hurting. I remember the last Christmas we had with my Dad, and how weak and frail he looked at the end. I see the vacant chair at Christmas morning when we open our stockings, and I miss him. This year, even though it's been 3 years now, I missed him more than ever.

IMG_6227 He'd love to see the grandkids and their sparkly faces. He'd love to see how they enjoyed seeing the Crystal Palace at Disney World, the Osborne light show at Disney Hollywood, IMG_6042 how the kids greeted me at the door at my daughter's house for Christmas morning. With a living room so filled with packages all colorfully wrapped, there wasn't room for furniture. A sea of abundance. IMG_6235

There was that ache in my heart, partly from missing those that have passed on, partly because I just felt something was missing. My life is truly blessed. I have everything I've always wanted, and more. And yet something was missing. I thought a lot about it during these past four days. This morning I found the answer. 1604420_10202575930614868_1735723149_n

My best friend sent me some music and it made me cry. I'd been staying off the internet, trying to be present with the people physically around me, trying to get over this lonely feeling something was lost or missing. But I opened my computer and saw a post from Mark Divine, who is a SEAL trainer and one of the smartest men on the planet. With the beautiful music as my background, I read his blog, “The Secrets of Resiliency.” And that was what I was missing.

Being a romance novelist I am very sensitive. When I was little, I would cry at movies and TV shows, my family often making fun of me. I was just like my grandmother Fox. When I stayed with them, we would sit on the couch and cry together. Shows like Come Back Yeller and Lassie just broke us up into pieces. Our big red puffy eyes testament to how deeply we felt things. Two of a kind. We wore our badge with honor.

Mark asked the question, “Do you tend to back off when you get overwhelmed emotionally and let fear, uncertainty or frustration derail you? I had to answer “yes” to that. I've been halfway around the world. Had a scare with my husband's health and a diagnosis I was afraid to hear. I'd just finished a book in a new genre for me, which turned out to be more work than I'd anticipated. My year was huge in terms of what I accomplished. And yes, I've been overwhelmed. Though I'm proud of all these great things, I was letting fear take a front seat in my roller coaster ride of life. What if next year is even harder? Am I prepared? Have I made the right choices?

IMG_4162The miracle of life, of the season, and the answer I got this morning was that yes, I have been making the right choices. Feeling emotionally vulnerable prepares me for the next big challenge. Of one thing I am certain, there will be challenges and failures next year. People will disappoint me. I will disappoint those I love. Nothing is, afterall, perfect.

fastlane3But it still is. Because the perfectness of life is that we get to learn how to be more resilient by being challenged. We don't learn to walk except by falling down. We don't learn to do anything outstanding without having first experienced failure. But if we let fear stop us, we don't progress. And by progress I mean we get resilient, not perfect. We learn how to dust ourselves off and get up and try again. We get the opportunity to have a breakthrough. Without the toughness and the fears we have to face, we don't get those breakthroughs. We don't get the silver linings without the clouds.

We got to share our Christmas Eve with a couple from Croatia and their four year old daughter. What a blessing it was to see their faces light up as they watched their daughter, only here seven months, be able to speak English and share her first Christmas in a new land with an American family. It was an honor to share our home with them. It was my greatest Christmas gift.

So I have the gift this season of being emotionally challenged, overwhelmed, with my heart bursting with gratitude for all the opportunities I have now, and in the future. Oh yes, fear will still be my familiar friend, but now I can thank him for making me a stronger person. For reminding me that my job is to feel. Not just be, but to feel. And the more resilient I become, the more gifts of feeling I will be able to experience.

Nothing stays the same. Everything passes on, fades and dies. Everything. What I see now at my age is different than what I saw as a child, a young bride, mother, daughter, grandmother. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to fill my days with enough of all the good things I can stand.

Happy, Bright, Shining New Year. May it be the first of many.

12

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Christmas SEAL, A Gift for Christmas

IMG_5628SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Christmas SEAL

I decided to give you a little short story to sketch out a new character I'm going to be writing for my next SEAL book in the Bad Boys of SEAL Team 3 of my SEAL Brotherhood series. His name is Rory Kennedy and I'm already in love with him, and he's only nine in this story, until the very end.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas to you all!

Rory Kennedy didn’t believe in Santa Claus when he was a child, because there were no pictures in the orphanage he spent five of his young years in. There was a Christmas Tree, but they removed it when Rory and a number of the boys took the glass ball ornaments outside and tossed them at each other like snowballs.

They’d missed their dinner that night too, but the giggles continued all through the evening. Instead of Christmas carols, they told ghost stories in the corner of the locked room they shared. The room was always locked at night from the outside because these were the incorrigible boys, and though the oldest was seven, they had earned a reputation they liked: impossible to live with. They figured if they’d continue screwing up, they could stay together until their teens, and then be a pack of friends “on the outside” as they referred to it. Though they’d been scolded and reminded of it many times, it still felt like a children’s prison.

Rory’s parents were said to be still alive, but he didn’t believe it. The nuns had two classifications of children: orphans and true orphans. This made a difference since the center was given an allotment of new clothes every year, along with hand-me-downs given by the community. The true orphans got the new clothes, and the orphans, like Rory, got the hand-me-downs.

Rory didn’t mind this arrangement, because he didn’t like the look and feel of stiff pants that made skinny underweight kids like himself look like cardboard stick figures as they walked around in their new finery. The fact that his clothes had smudges and tears made him more comfortable, and less guilty when he damaged them further.

His mother visited him one time. She brought a boyfriend with her, and afterwards he realized he’d not passed the test she was hoping he would and they never returned. No doubt, the man was looking to see if Rory could come home and live with them and evidently he decided he couldn’t. It hurt a little bit. Would have been better, he thought afterwards, if she’d never come. It was evidence that she’d abandoned him, and not the other way around. And that sucked big time.

But fate had a way of messing up his community, and one by one the boys were sent off to foster care as the aging nuns began to close down the orphanage. The Diocese was in need of money, and this enterprise was considered expendable, especially since there were other agencies who could handle children that needed homes.

The first foster care home only kept Rory for a week. The second was another zoo of unkempt children with snotty noses and Rory took ill and wound up in the hospital. They discovered he’d picked up a tapeworm and along with other things, removed him from the home.

He’d developed an allergy to strawberries, of all things. His new foster mother liked to put them in everything, and Rory was soon covered in spots. At first he was quarantined like he had chicken pox, but when the spots continued for a month, the allergy was discovered. Rory had liked his quarantine. He’d started reading Playboys he’d snuck from his foster older brother, who also was a good source for alcohol and cigarettes for the nine-year-old Rory, who acted as lookout for some of the teen’s more questionable activities. But all that dried up when young Frank was sent to Juvenile Hall for some infraction he swore he never did, involving a girl at his high school. Rory was, once again, left alone.

He knew he’d developed an addiction to cigarettes. He’d heard and seen things enough to know that’s what happened when you smoked several a day. Sometimes he’d steal a whole pack from his foster mother when he learned where she stashed them after Frank was carted off. But then she discovered his sinister deed and kept her smokes in a locked cabinet.

Frustrated and telling himself he needed some kind of distraction or he’d start thinking about running away, he began a love affair with fire. He liked to set small fires in the rear yard, raking up leaves and burning them, thinking he’d been helpful to The House as he called it. His foster mother seemed to be okay with it, for some reason, since Rory was the only one to rake the leaves or do any work around the house. He liked tinkering with things.

He started tinkering with bottle rockets when he was given some firecrackers by a Chinese kid at school. Then he began unpeeling the paper on the little explosive devices and filling plastic straws with a longer fuse, which really sent the projectiles into the air. Of course he could never tell where they’d land. Only one of them landed on a car and set off the alarm. It left a large crater in the roof, though.

He found some shotgun shells in the old garage that was more of a toolshed than garage and he knew he was in like Flynn. He accidentally set one off on the workbench. He was lucky to get away with only losing the fourth finger on his left hand, but the ensuing fire burned down the garage and once again, Rory was sent to his fourth foster home after his surgery and hospitalization.

Now, as a grown man, and a Navy SEAL, he sat in the coffee house/book store and watched the chubby and well-loved children huddle at a book reading with a woman dressed as Santa Claus, telling stories to her little horde of fans. He allowed himself to drop the window on his calluses, and enjoy the scene, even though he felt a pang of hurt. It was like the caramel salted latte he sipped: some salt and some sweet. It was the story of his life.

 

Hope you enjoy your Holidays with friends and family. Let's remember those who are no longer with us this Holiday season as well. And the men and women who stand for us in harm's way. God Bless.

Sharon HamiltonIMG_5233

Life is one fool thing after another.

Love is two fool things after each other.

Author Page ** Sharon's Blog ** Sharon's Website ** Facebook**Twitter

Sharon’s Newsletter

12

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Cheeseburger In Paradise

IMG_5837We spent yesterday in Antigua. Headed straight for the Admiral Nelson Dockyard, which is a National Park here, at English Harbor. We've been before, but always on an organized tour, where we were crowded in for the rum punch freebie, and bellied up to the bar like a good tourist with our German, English and French friends from the ship. This time we hired our own driver, Winston James, and he was a hoot. When we left the ship, we had to make our way through the gauntlet of taxi and tour drivers looking to pick up a good customer. We made it clear, it was just a taxi ride, but in the end, we wound up with something sort of hybrid. He got us there, but we also took in some other sights he thought were important. Well, they were beautiful. And he's rightly proud of “his island.” IMG_5787

Nelson's Shipyard was originally founded in 1740, but the great Admiral himself lived there only 3 years in the 1760's I believe. It was fascinating to read about this garrison, founded before the Revolutionary War, and England's plans to not only protect its interests in the Caribbean, but to establish a safe harbor from the hurricanes that would sometimes decimate a fleet in this region. They also were attempting to stop local pirates from having their way with merchant ships that frequented the Caribbean, loaded with money and other goods bound for England. I was fascinated by the accounts of family life, with “no women allowed” yet where evidence that the sailors and some of the workers they brought from overseas developed relationships with the local women, sometimes raising families, even though there was a wife and family at home. There was one account where a sailor's grave was repositioned, to find that he had been buried with an infant son on his chest, probably due to Yellow Fever. Very touching.

IMG_5798An unexpected miracle was the fact that there was a charter yacht convention going on. They are gearing up for a Sailing Week coming in 2 weeks, where the rich and richer gather with their “boats”, will race, party and party harder. I'm sure it will be a wild time. I was in awe as I walked down the pier, passing probably fifty ships that cost more than I'll earn in 10 lifetimes. Some of these were for sale. Some prospective buyers were charter tour operators and people who liked to own a percentage share of a “boat” like owning part of a racehorse. New stuff for me. And fascinating.IMG_5792

IMG_5835The internet was spotty around the dockyard, where I'll definitely come back to again, so we took local advice and hopped on a dingy, a water taxi, and headed over to Galleon Beach, and had, yes, a cheeseburger in paradise at Roxy's Beach Bar. I was introduced to their version of rum punch, both the old fashioned kind and the standard variety. I got a nutmeg moustache, enjoyed the sun on the water, sat under the fronds and umbrellas, and checked my FB and internet messages. While there, a woman from one of those huge boats tied up her dingy, bringing her chocolate lab to the ocean for a swim. And she stood in the water while he had his fun, a romance novel clutched in her hand. I found this woman fascinating! She said she brought 75 romance novels with her on this trip. Good for her! Wish I'd had a spare book I could have given her, although she was into historicals. IMG_5860

I talked last week about going through doorways and unexpected turns. The trip on the water taxi was a whim for us, just to see something new. Now I feel like the whole trip, the whole cruise was created just so we could have this day at Galleon Beach. We met a group of prospective yacht buyers from the UK who were going home that day, a couple from South Africa, another handsome bartender from South Africa, and Joshua, originally from Guyana, but who came to Antigua when he was 15. I felt the westernized stiffness leave my bones as I relaxed, loved the sounds of the gentle waves, the music and light chatter, and just unwound. Found a part of myself there I didn't know I'd left behind. A new story developed, I'm itching to get to, but I lined it out briefly, shared it, and hope that I can keep the fire burning after I complete some edits I have to start working on tomorrow.

Wonder what Admiral Nelson would think of these boats that are probably worth more than the entire net worth of Antigua itself as a country. One thing is for sure, he probably sat on this beach and enjoyed the sounds of the bay and felt the warm breeze on his face, saw the blue sky and big billowy clouds, and knew that this was indeed paradise.

IMG_5839This day changed me in ways I cannot calculate at the moment. I had it all: romance, lazy Caribbean breeze, beach, stories and, of course, rum. I could get lost here, if I chose to. Perfect! IMG_5844

 

4

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Journeys Through Doorways and Gates

 

 

IMG_5592We grace many doorways and walk through many gates. Some of those were locked, some were left ajar so we'd find our way onto the garden paths that take us on life's journeys. I love doorways, gates and unexpected voyages.

I started photographing doors, gates and pathways some years ago, and I think I probably have enough for a nice colorful picture book. Perhaps some day I'll collaborate with someone who knows how to do this, and will produce one. But more important to me is the significance of gates and doorways, what they mean to all of us in the larger sense of life.IMG_5617

None of us knows what will befall us when we start out on our journeys. I like the accidents best because it teaches us how flexible we can be in the face of usually our own fears. Just like Robert Frost said in his wonderful poem, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, which was read at John F. Kennedy's inauguration, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.” This poem and Robert Frost's reading was not supposed to be on the program. Kennedy's featured poet (sorry, name escapes me), came down with a cold and could not speak. At the last minute Robert Frost was asked to do it. And he chose this poem, which was one of Kennedy's favorites, and history was made. It talks about choices, and which path to take, and whether or not it did or didn't make a difference.

IMG_5603The process of being a writer is about making choices with the lives of our characters. We decide what to put in, what to reveal, or hint at and reveal later. We decide to show an awkward moment, or that moment when suddenly a sunny window in the heart opens up and true love is first revealed in the warm apricot glow that true love lives in. I think of my characters sometimes as curious children, finding something to explore, and then finding the Secret Garden where all things miraculous happen. IMG_5560

What makes a good book a wonderful one we'll fall in love with is in the choosing choosing Like a good chef, just the right amount of spice and aroma. Like a painter, just enough color and texture. Like a songbird or a storyteller, just the right amount of passion in the voice or the soothing words of love that helps the body to vibrate to some mythical pattern somewhere between sound, color, space and emotion.

That's where I live. When they say a tale is woven, it is true. One golden thread at a time. We suspend disbelief. We believe in angels. We believe in true love that never dies. We believe in heroes that ultimately become greater than they ever thought possible. We believe in that perfect place, that Happily Ever After.

It's always there. It's just around the bend. Beyond that closed gate that opens with a loud metallic creek. Just beyond where we hear the sound of running water, the music of our souls, the sounds of birds calling to us, and the way our hearts feel when we are on an adventure. Or when we stand very near those we love.

10

Things Remembered

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Yesterday, my brother and I went to visit our step-mom, who is downsizing. She wanted to return items we had grown up with, now that our father had passed. These were things coming back to our family that were owned and enjoyed by our mother and dad during their nearly 60 years of marriage. You haven't lived until your father starts courting at 80, and then remarries. Being an engineer with good humor, although dry, and not known for being a “player” he still managed for part of his last years to have a wife in both worlds, here and in Heaven.

IMG_5250Some of these things had been in drawers, unseen, because there were so many of them.  My brother and I appreciated that great care was taken not to dispose of anything the family would want to be passed down later on. A a suggestion my father should mark and label everything, he scoffed, “I don't want to be living in a museum of my own things.” Point taken. And so, we know Dad loved them, tucked them away in a special place, but left no notation about it or its significance. We had to guess.

I think everyone wants to be like the kids in Madison County, finding an old love letter from someone not of their father's lineage, a great love secretly tucked away and hidden from family. In reality, I'm not sure that happens very often. We didn't expect this, nor did we get it. But it's always fun to revisit the things our father held, loved and decided to save in a special place.

We found these glasses. My brother and I had never seen them before and there wasn't anything indicating what they were. We guessed they belonged to a bachelor “uncle” of my mother's who lived in San Francisco and was a dental salesman for a time. He's buried along with his two spinster sisters, Aunt Mary and Aunt Elizabeth, in a cemetary in Galt, California. We knew Uncle John wore glasses, but not a double-lensed monocle.IMG_5251

Until we stumbled upon this picture. This is my great grandfather Fridell, on occasion of his 25th wedding anniversary 99 years ago. I remember this man, and so, I think I did see these glasses worn by him. Although his beard is short in this picture, he grew it long after my great grandmother passed, and used to separate it and tuck each half into his vest pocket. I remember playing with his beard while I sat on his lap as a toddler. He used to chase me around the house, saying “bitte, bitte Sharon” and I can remember screaming and nearly running into things as we played this little game of chase.

IMG_5243Grandpa Fridell came over from Norway as a young Baptist minister, seeking religious freedom in an environment where it was said the children could not go to school unless they were Lutheran. For a time, he traveled the midwest in a buckboard, with eventually 9 children, living from house to house as he cared for three churches in Nebraska, where there was a large Scandanavian population. My grandmother was the oldest, and had been born in Norway.

I can remember him talking about my great grandma, not by name, but always by his name for her, which was “My Beloved.” IMG_5248

He became the pastor at the church California my mother's father would one day lead, which is where my parents met. It was the church where my grandmother and two of her sisters met and married my grandfather and two of his brothers.

And so the lost is found. The mystery solved. No steamy love letters amongst my father's things, but a story of dedication, and sacrifice, of new beginnings in a new country and a dynasty to follow. And yes, like everything in my life, a love story.

14

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Storytelling At Its Best

sundayswsharon
I‘ll be traveling today back to California from St. Petersburg, Florida, where I attended the NINC conference. One of the topics that snagged my interest was the future of interactive media and the role of audio books, but not the audio books we know of today. We're talking audio books with multimedia platforms. Imagine yourself being able to “read” a story, and then with the press of a button, being able to get background information about the world you were reading or listening to, or the characters, past plots or characters or worlds. Much like an “online magazine” this could be done as a subscription service. Suppose you were able to learn about love, romance, learn about writing romance, or the love story behind the love story in film, song and the written word.

RCA 45EY26-1What we have to look forward to is innovation. The changes that occurred in the music business are now happening in the digital print business, where thousands of new Indie books are made available every day. Authors are re-releasing and freshening up old works that sat on a shelf somewhere. Books that were once thought of as not commercially viable by “gatekeepers” are now allowed to find their own audience. In this new age and time, being the biggest isn't necessarily the best. Being traditional doesn't have the security blanket it once had. Making a good living is just as important a goal as being the next best E.L. James or Stephanie Meyer. In this interesting time, creativity and innovation are more important than size. That's what the Indie revolution has been all about.

I have begun a quest for innovation and am looking to get involved in this new multimedia platform. There are innovators out there right now who are going to bring you new things you haven't even imagined yet. An author may not just be a person sitting in their writing cave putting words on the page, but also someone who collaborates with actors, storytellers in voice and film, people who can enhance the story experience. Reading will be combined with listening and research. Think of what we do today with our favorite online magazines. We see audio clips, pictures, hear narrations and can search archives of past related topics, some of them preselected based on IMG_9166our interests.

Nothing will replace a good, physical book. Just like there isn't anything that could completely duplicate the sheer joy I had in listening to my little record player as a child. My friend, J.D. Hart, sent me an antique machine that could very well have been the one I used to listen to. It reminds me that joy is derived through many mediums. The goal of the artist is to connect the “consumer” with the vision in the artist's head.

And who will be these innovators? As was said in the conference, it won't be from the people up on stage or teaching a class or on a panel discussion. It will be from the imagination of people in the audience who will watch and listen, and come up with something new and exciting. Who will say to themselves and their collaborators, “Why Not?”

There is no formula for success. But one thing I do know for certain is that we don't chase it.
WE    INVENT    IT
 

NYT and USA/Today and Amazon Top 100 Bestselling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance.

 

A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place.

Join Sharon Hamilton's Newsletter

 

6

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Celebration

 
SUNDAYS WITH SHARON
sundayswsharon

 

I've bought several colorful pieces of artwork over the past year that just make me happy looking at them. I bought this piece to celebrate the completion of another book. I knew when I first saw it, I had to have it. We decided to prominently display it in our living room. It was something that characterizes our family, and our family's history. Since the words on the piece might be too small to see, I thought I'd list them in this post.

IMG_9097
IN THIS HOME:
1. We do second chances.
2. We do grace.
3. We do real.
4. We do mistakes.
5. We do I'm sorrys.
6. We do loud, really well.
7. We do hugs.
8. We do family.
9. We do love.
Sometimes I think we spend too much time thinking about the things that didn't go right, when all the great lessons in life come from the things that go a little wrong. Sometimes that go a lot wrong. I've been spending a lot of time writing recently about family, or lack of family, and how that impacts a character in my story. My family is very important to me. And just like everyone's it too is flawed. But yes, I believe in second chances, in being loud, in loving more than disapproving, making mistakes and being sorry.

I just thought I'd keep it simple today. Keep it real.

What about you?

Fabulous Reviews for SEAL of My Heart!

Fabulous reviews for SEAL of My Heart!

Since SEAL of My Heart released on July 10, reviews and feedback coming in has been wonderful overall!  This summer was filled with new releases, and I'm so happy that SEAL of My Heart is getting such positive feedback.
SEALHeartreviews

About SEAL of My Heart:

MyHeart600x900

SEAL Brotherhood, Book 7

Kate Morgan is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in Sonoma County, the son of a wealthy wine family in Healdsburg, California. On a flight to visit her sister in Portland she is seated next to a young hard-bodied elite soldier who ignites her insides in a strange attraction she cannot deny.

Navy SEAL Tyler Gray plans to spend a weekend home before deploying to North Africa with the rest of his SEAL Team 3. But the conversation with Kate has him rethinking his future.

The encounter has both of them feeling fate has stepped into their lives and altered their course. Unable to just say goodbye as lovers, they agree to carry on a correspondence. Kate becomes the girl Tyler wants to come home to while she is pressured by her family to reconsider her broken marriage plans.

Family secrets are revealed from the past regarding a young Marine and Kate’s mother which brings both heartache and a sense of clarity as old loves are unearthed. From the grave, a Marine’s love letters from the past affect the new love between Kate and Tyler in the present. And when Kate’s life is endangered, will Tyler be the man to save her without sacrificing his own?

 

Buy Links: 

Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK |  Audible | IBooks | ITunes (audio)

 

SEAL Of My Heart (SEAL Brotherhood, # 7)

8

September 2014 Subscriber Giveaway!

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To show my appreciation to my loyal readers and followers, this month I am giving away a $50 Amazon Giftcard!

The contest will run from today, September 2, 2014 through September 30.  The winner will be only be announced in October's newsletter, so make sure that you are subscribed to the newsletter and you open the newsletter to check the winner.

To enter, you MUST be a newsletter subscriber (and over 18), the rest of the entries on the Rafflecopter are extra entries.  Know that I appreciate each of my followers.  Thank you for reading my books and participating in my events.  Best of luck to you all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

14

Sundays With Sharon: Queen Mary & Be With Me

sundayswsharon

Queen Mary & Be With Me

IMG_4889Spent last weekend on the beautiful Queen Mary Hotel, in Long Beach. Originally, the book signing was to have taken place aboard her, so I booked a suite where I expected to perhaps host a little after signing party.

As fate would have it, a small war broke out amongst the promoters and some of the authors, so the venue was moved to a nearby hotel. I elected to keep my suite.
I’d never stayed at the Queen Mary, or set foot on her, and I was curious. With my heart set with a sense of adventure I sailed off to her in Long Beach Harbor, after a smooth ride from San Francisco to the pleasant little airport I can’t wait to come back to. I was used to being on cattle trucks from one of the crowded terminals at SFO, so to leave from the International Terminal, with it’s wide spaces and tall ceilings emulating wings on some giant flying ship, I was transported back to the 1930’s and the art deco beauty of a bygone era.

So while the book signing was very pleasant and fairly well attended, especially compared to some larger gatherings I’ve been to with nearly no readers in attendance, the stay at the Queen Mary was the highlight of the weekend.

We took the ghost tour, an hour of IMG_4894bone-chilling tales of the history of the ship, and some of it’s inhabitants, including platoons of troops during WWII. Sir Winston Churchill was said to be seen smoking his cigar in the suite next to mine from time to time. The lady in the white dress followed the large grand piano and appeared wherever it was moved. A children’s playroom looked eerily as if the children had been asked to leave in the middle of their play. We toured the engine room, and a dark, dank, and musty boiler room. A cast of actors was getting fitted for the Zombie Ball happening during Halloween season.

 

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The ticket office looked like it had just booked another cruise for some lucky couple. Sir Winston’s restaurant, as well as the main dining hall downstairs served up world-class cuisine, including oysters and aseafood chowder to die for.

IMG_4942I opened the two porthole windows in my bedroom and slept like a baby both nights. The suite had built in art deco furniture in light browns, beautiful frosted fixtures and plastic “air conditioning” vents in the walls, which certainly must have been a luxury back then.

It was a great place to take my muse. Watched Outlander on my computer, which seemed somehow fitting as I sat in a suite created during a bygone era, once occupied and operated by people no longer living.

 

Be With Me

One of my next stories will be Be With Me, and it is a time travel romance. As a special treat, here is an excerpt no one has read before. You are some of the first. Enjoy!

Passage 

“Lady, lady, you don’t want to go here. This, Lady is not the right pier. This is the old pier, for fishermen and such. Please, Lady I take you to the pier that is correct.” The cab driver was unhappy with Louisa’s choice of dropping off point.

“No, this is it.” She held up a picture of the steamer Princess Star, and clearly this was the location, although the background looked different. “Thank you.” She reached over the front seat and handed the driver a purple banknote. She was still getting used to the feel of the foreign currency.

The driver got out and opened the rear door, muttering to himself in some dialect, and then he opened the trunk and pulled out her suitcase. She had purchased it two days ago at Goodwill. Its ivory and brown-stripped design with an amber-colored Bakelite handle called to her the instant she walked into the store. It had been well used, but the hinges were good and the purple satin lining inside was completely intact, but faded.

“Lady, please, I beg you. This is not such a safe place. I should not leave you alone here. I am sure your ship is around the corner. That is where all the cruise ships dock. Please, Lady.”

“Thank you, but I am meeting someone here. They will come by shortly. Don’t worry. Please.” She reached to touch his arm but he recoiled in horror. She wasn’t sure of the customs, but she knew he didn’t consider it appropriate to have contact. Shaking his head, he drove off.

The pier was abandoned except for a solitary figure, wrapped in white robes, fishing off the end. Two little brown boys were running away from her, playing a game of tag. As she walked down the wooden planks, she looked at the numbers painted years ago on the wood, now almost illegible. A half sunk fishing vessel was tied up near the shore, but aside from that, nothing was attached. Her picture showed several small ships looking like water taxis and commercial boats on each side of the white sleek steamer. At number three, like on the picture, she stopped. She stepped to the edge of the walkway. There was no sign of a white ship anywhere in the vicinity.

Looking down at her feet, she stepped from the pier over the water, and then stepped back. What could happen? The worst would be I’d fall down about thirty feet to the water below with my suitcase.  No telling what kind of sickness the waterway held. Would be a hard one to explain, but she had to take a chance.

She leaned forward and stepped over the water again, and then down. Just as she felt she was going to fall, her foot hit solid wood, and suddenly the white steamer came to view. She was on deck of the elegant ship from the photograph in the magazine. Everything around her changed as well. Gone were the tall buildings at the customs house, the bazaar for tourists with corrugated metal roof. A series of shanties sat there in their place.

“Ma’am. Your cabin number, please?” He was dressed in a navy blue uniform with hat adorned in gold braid.

“Um, I don’t know. I didn’t make the arrangements.”

“Your name, Ma’am?”

Louisa hesitated. “Louisa…Dawson. Louisa Dawson.”

The porter looked down a list from his clipboard. “Ah, yes, you are in my section, actually. Right this way, please, Ma’am.” He bent to take her suitcase. “This all?”

“Yes. I didn’t have time to pack much else.” Louisa was thinking it wouldn’t have worked to pack jeans and a tee shirt. She packed a nightie and some toiletries, and several pairs of fresh underwear. But her dress today was one she found in a costume shop. She looked more like a wench from a Renaissance Faire, complete with bloomers. It was a lot of clothes for the stifling heat.

“This is a right handy apparatus, Ma’am.” He was examining the suitcase.

“We call them suitcases.”

“Makes sense. Thoroughly modern, but I see it is well used already.” He tore his eyes away and Louisa followed him down the deck. “Here we are, Ma’am.” With white gloves, he produced a brass key and unlocked the white louvered door, and opened it. Detaching the key from the gold chain protruding from his pocket, he handed it to Louisa. “Ma’am, your key.” He bowed. “The name’s Sampson, at your service, Ma’am.”

He left to attend to other passengers. 

Louisa’s heart was in her throat as she pushed open the door. There was a small bed in the corner, with a highboy dresser and mirror on the opposite wall. A lower dresser with drawers and oval mirror with a padded stool was on the same wall as the door. She placed her suitcase down on the bed, examining the washing chamber containing a wooden tub coated with a yellow resin. She heard the door open, and turned around.

Anthony Francis Markham stood tall and straight perfectly framed in the white doorway. He was not a ghost. He looked at her face, then his eyes slid down examining her body slowly all the way to her shoes and then back up. Louisa’s chest felt like it was going to burst; the thumping roar in her ears raged as hot sweat poured down her spine.

After all the near close encounters with him in her fantasy life, the kisses she had felt but could not see being given to her, the man was now standing in front of her. Flesh and blood. Very much alive, as he had been in 1860.  
Thanks for stopping by this week's Sunday Post!  Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, and never forget to Support Our Troops!

Sharon Hamilton

66

Sundays With Sharon: Life in the Fast Lane & Icebucket Challenge!

sundayswsharon

 

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

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It was the summer of 1966 and I walked down the streets of the Haight-Ashbury, inhaling all the scents of the time, the music and all the colors. I’d never known a place that had taken on a personality, like some living being. I got sent home from work for wearing a mini skirt, a good 4” above my knees. I can remember the first pants suits being sold in the department stores. A group of new Freshmen at Stanford picked a few of us out of our high school yearbooks and it was the first time I met someone who lived in New York City. He talked funny.

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That was the summer I was kissed for the first time. He was my best friend’s boyfriend and he did it at her request so I wouldn’t have to say “never been kissed.” Three boys from my high school class were killed in Vietnam that summer. Two kids died of overdoses and several in car accidents. I told the minister’s son I’d had a crush on him for three years. My hands were stained from cutting apricots all summer long. The fields were bright orange with the drying fruit as we drove by. My little brother pitched a no-hitter and got written up in the paper. We had a serial running in the school paper I was editor of, written a la Ian Fleming, including our superhero, Ferdinand, the teacher we used to sit and mark down how many times he said utilize in History class.

 

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I told my English teacher he should marry me (yes I did). I hitchhiked in Mexico and met two boys from LA who drove the longest candy apple red Caddy convertible I’d ever seen. I slept in a fisherman’s trailer at a little village. My friend’s little brother borrowed his car, had a small accident with it. The Bonneville without the rear passenger door was convenient for picking up hitchhikers. I carved my initials into an oak tree at the golf course because I thought I was in love.  Saw my great grandfather’s church in a museum in Nebraska.

People often ask me where I get my story ideas. That’s where.

Ice Bucket Challenge:

This week, I was challenged to the ALS Icebucket Challenge by Kris Calvert.  I accepted, and put my own spin on the challenge!  If you would like to donate, visit the ALS Site.

Giveaway: 

1 lucky commenter (US only) will win the copy of Cruisin' For A Seal featured in the Icebucket Challenge Video!  So, leave a comment to win, must be 18 or older.  Contest will run from today, Sunday August 24 through next Saturday, August 30 at midnight.

Leave your comment below to enter!

Thanks for joining me today for Sundays with Sharon!

Sharon Hamilton

9

Sundays With Sharon: Interview Cover Model Justin Thomas

sundayswsharonRecently, at the Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, I met my new book cover model, Justin Thomas.  Justin was quick to work with me and he is already on the cover of my recent release, SEAL's Goal.  For today's Sundays with Sharon, I decided to interview Justin and share that interview with you all!

SEAL's Goal

SEAL's Goal

Me- Tell me the funniest thing that has happened to you during a photo shoot.

Justin- Its probably a tie between the time I was doing a shoot next to a swimming pool and the photographer was backing up and fell into the pool, and the time I was doing a shoot for a western company. I was shooting next to a horse and the horse was getting a little too excited being in front of the camera. The horse finally calmed down, but then decided it would be a good thing to relieve himself.

Me- Do you ever get turned on while modeling with a pretty girl?

Justin -No, shoots are kept very professional. Don't get me wrong, I have shot with some beautiful people but being  a professional and getting the best shots possible are the priority. Everyone on set typically has a good time as well.

Me-  What do you think of when the photographer looks right into your eyes?

Justin -Typically the photographers are looking through a lens so there is not a

Meet Justin!

lot of looking into my eyes. But its kind of awkward when it happens, or when you have to look into another models eyes for an extended period of time. A lot of time it results into nervous laughter. Im pretty good at staring contests so playing the no blinking game makes the situation a little easier, or looking at the persons forehead makes is a little less weird.

Me- Are you thinking of a message to get that wonderful look?

Justin -Depending on what you are trying to portray in the photo determines on what you are thinking during the shoot. Sometimes its like acting and you have to mentally put yourself in a mindset to portray a “look” to the camera. It takes time but once you get warmed up and some direction about the desired message, its pretty fun pretending to be someone/something else.

Me-  What do you like about being a professional model?

Justin -I love all the people and places I get to experience. You don't work with the same people on a regular basis so every job is new and exciting. You never know what the day will have in store. Plus the food at shoots are typically amazing, and I love to eat.

Me- Does your partner ever get jealous?

Justin-I am single

Me- How did you come to begin modeling?

Justin-Was helping a friend who was a beginning photographer build his portfolio. The photos turned out pretty good and he suggested to go to some open calls at several agencies in San Francisco. I went with a friend and we both got signed by a modeling agency. Kind of just took off from there.

Me- What's on your bucket list? (Life experience/then professional experience).

Justin- Life experience= Travel the world, sky dive, bungee jump, go to a Super Bowl, Visit every state, become a scratch golfer, have a family/kids, learn some cooking techniques by a celebrity chef, run a marathon, I can go on for days.

-professional= start my own business, invest in real estate, retire at a young age, start a romance novel stock photo site, buy my parents a vacation home.

Me- What's it like hanging around a bunch of crazy romance writers?

Justin- I love it, everyone is so fun, kind, and easy to talk to. I am typically a shy person but I found it extremely easy to open up and have a great time with the authors. I feel extremely grateful to have been introduced to the amazing people in this industry and I hope to maintain the relationships that have been created.

Thanks so much for interviewing with me Justin!  It was so great meeting you at RNC, and I know my readers love your pictures, I'm sure they appreciate getting to know you more as well.  

Well readers, what do you think of Justin Thomas?  What kind of book cover would you like to see him on next?  And remember single ladies, Justin is single!  

You can learn more about Justin and follow him on Facebook

Thank you for joining me this week for Sundays With Sharon! 

Sharon Hamilton

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