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6

SMORGASBORD OF LOVE: Overindulgence Is Good For Me. Good For You.

Smorgasbord of Love: Overindulgence Is Good For Me. Good For
You.

Lucky for me, if you binge on love, it doesn’t make you fat,
it makes you whole. Last night at the IRC conference, we were discussing the
Happily Ever After phenomenon in Romance writing today. Critics of romance call
our novels trashy and “simple”, and those of you who read or write it, know it
is anything but that. Almost like it isn’t cool to say we want more romance in
our lives. Makes us needy. I say, hell yes, I love being needy! I want more
romance, don’t you?
 I read the following
passage from Your Brain on Love, which I referred to in my newsletter last
week. See if you can read it to someone you love without crying. I hope you do!
The chapter is called “Sexuality and Spirituality: Divine Balm For
Your Soul and Brai
n.”
Before he starts the chapter, he has this quote: “Eroticism is….where a man experiences a
woman with all his senses and not just his eyes. It’s the insatiable desire to
know someone completely.” 
–Rabbi
Shumley
Here’s the excerpt I love:
I was just a sophomore
in college when I began working as an orderly in a nursing home…in Mankato,
Minnesota….In the home was one couple I’ll never forget: Henry and Martha. I
think they were the only married couple in the nursing home at that time. He
was ninety-eight, and she was ninety-six. They had been married for more than
sixty years. And this was the second marriage! Henry would wait (from what I
learned from the other nurses and the other staff) for the day I would be working.
I worked the three to eleven shift, and as the clock inched closer to eleven
o’clock, Henry would buzz the nurses’ station, and I would go down to his room.
Henry always wanted the same thing: for me to help him from his bed over to his
wife’s bed. I think he was embarrassed to let one of the female nurses or aides
help him into his wife’s bed. But since I was a guy, it felt okay for him to
ask for my assistance. (He’d worked out a similar deal with the morning janitor
to move him back to his bed the next morning.)
Now Martha was mostly
blind, but when I’d help him over to her bed, I’d see this wonderful smile come
over her face. She could no longer see him, so she was responding to the sound
of her husband coming near and crawling into bed beside her. She beamed when
she felt his arms enfold her. They were a part of the blessed few—Master-Level
Lovers.
I thought that scene
was the sweetest, most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. After all these years, I
still think that.

Being a master-level lover is more about the heart than the
sex we usually think of as being a master of love. When you analyze it, really,
being a master-level lover is being full out. Not holding back. Giving 100% of
what you have to give. If you play at 100%, there are no limitations.
Age, space and time cease to exist. This is what true
romance is. And what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. What’s good
for the brain is good for life itself.

The miracle is we can feel it any time we choose.

11

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Disney Touch of Magic

My favorite

I traveled home to San Francisco with this pin on my chest. I wore it proudly, like a true time traveler, reminded of my six days at Walt Disney World and the magic it inspired in me. I once got to spend some time with a long time friend of Disney, who told us tales of how the original park was built, the obstacles Disney overcame, and the vision and dedication of “getting things right,” from the simple to the complicated.

At every turn, the branding that Disney does is consistent. Bus drivers to and from the parks play videos, and even the shuttle going from our Animal Kingdom Lodge and the sister lodge on property pumped in African songs, just like the lobby of the hotel. I have never been to a hunting lodge at Lake Tanganyika, or ridden the train to the Mountains of the Moon west from Kenya into Uganda, or stayed at the Treetops Lodge, but I'll bet some of what Disney created would feel similar. Sitting out by the pool, I got to listen to the piped in music of my favorite African performer, Samite and his lovely voice. The rhythms he plays are universal and would find a home in many genres, including folk and country. If you want a history lesson on some of the hardships he endured growing up in East Africa, you can read more about him here. A voice of inspiration and hope for a world that needs so much of it.

I admit, I have a problem.

I have to admit that, during this trip, I got my family addicted to collecting pins. I'm not proud of the fact that I spent easily a day or two's lodging on getting these pins, then trading them all over the park. It gave us something to do during those long line waits. We scouted out clerks and customer service reps who had whole books of pins we could trade, just two at a time. But if going overboard is a religion, I am a true believer. Those that know me well know that I don't do things half-way. Throwing myself into the pin trading game, including learning to negotiate with my very savvy 6 year old granddaughter (who really didn't need her parent's help to draw her line in the sand) was one of the highlights of the trip.

My second favorite.

My granddaughters got to be made up as princesses. Not sure what I was expecting, but walking into a magical makeup room, set with at least 10 beauty stations, all manned by Fairy Godmothers, making their little charges into princesses, was just simply enchanting. The message was clear: anyone can be a princess. To watch the little girls walk out of that dressing room, transformed into a make-believe character, and expecting a happily ever after was awe-inspiring. The old cynical me, before children, before grandchildren, would have said, “For what purpose? They're living a lie.”

Not true. It's fantasy. The stuff of fairy dust and happily ever afters. The things your heart dreams about when you let it follow it's natural course. All things seek love. When you realize this, the world suddenly becomes a different place. We are lucky enough to be able to feel it every day in our lives. Our destiny is to spread it all over the world. It's the only reality we can truly create, after all.

10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: LAND OF LEMONY SNICKET (Sage Words from an Unlikely Source)

Our recent trip to the Sonoma County Fair was charmed and enhanced by the incredible Florence, the Land Yacht built by Gypsy Time Travelers. You can look up their website at www.gypsytimetravelers/com. I think we are planning a visit to Mendocino County for the incredible Kinetic Carnivale.

We are lucky to live in California, where all the strange and unusual things are. Northern California is like the Lemony Snicket of the United States. Strange. Beautiful. Fun. Unpredictable. We don't have the drama or harsh weather or horrible economic conditions that seem to plague the rest of the nation. People frolic here, come here on vacation, and scrape everything they can to “get by” just to live here. I was just lucky. I was born here, second generation, in fact.

Florence

Florence is such a curious structure. It's a vehicle, but it's also something much more. It's a stage, a living quarters, a happening, borne out of pure creativity and fun. Michael is a blacksmith. His creation is a magnet for kids and adults alike. We are oddly curious about things we know little about–things cloaked in mystery, with a little magic and sparkly stuff (perhaps some black faery dust too).

I loved the Lemony Snicket series on TV my two oldest kids watched years ago, brushing aside the concerns about “dark fantasy”. I truly think dark fantasy has always had a place in our culture. Look at Hansel and Gretl, or Snow White, for instance.

I'm going to have more pictures in my Newsletter this month. We are trying out an expanded version and I'd love to hear what you think. Part newsy and part fun.

By the time you read this, my family and I will be in Disney World. I think that one of the most wonderful things about raising a child, or having grandchildren is the fact that for some space and time, we get to return to that age when we didn't know everything and everything grownup was a true mystery. Time enough for being an adult. For the next week, I'm going to be a child, and live through the eyes of my grandchildren.

We don't have Florence, but we have the adventure in our hearts! And just like the crew of Florence, we're keeping a sharp eye out for pirates!

13

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Romance At 35,000 Feet

It's all fun and games until someone
winds up in a cone.

I'm looking down at the US from above the clouds, on my way back to California. I never know what I'll discover when I go on these trips. I have given up making long lists of things I want to accomplish. Besides, being a storyteller, I kind of like letting things go the way they go, not the way I go. Still, I can't help but have a few expectations.

I needed this trip, because nothing that I expected to happen, actually happened. I say this in a good way. I wasn't feeling that way last night. In fact, I sort of cried myself to sleep, asking myself why I did this in the first place.

But the beautiful thing about morning is that it is a new day and a fresh start. I hit the reset button. I read a little meditation this morning that talked about telling the truth, and I discovered (huge palm to my forehead), I'd forgotten to do so.

First let's talk about the weather in Orlando this time of year. Humid, raining torrentially and then next minute so sunny and hot, when I walked outside, my glasses fogged up. People used to this didn't blink. California is dry and almost never humid, or at least not enough to fog up your glasses.

I knew going in that most the authors would be unknown to me. I knew of no readers who were from this area, and I didn't do any advance promo because, well, my head was frankly stuck in another world in the weeks prior to the convention (truth coming with the fresh morning).

I participated in panels, participated in an online interview with my narrator, J.D. Hart (which was fun), all unscripted and without all the proper equipment, and listened to what panels were saying. I got two really great marketing ideas out of it. And of course, I got to spend time with my storyteller, who has become my best friend and biggest fan.

Blinding flash of the obvious

He was the grounding device I needed, and I'm so happy I had him come to help with the signing, and just mingle with other authors and readers, who always love him.

I also met my PA's incredible 13 year old kid, who is doing things with YouTube that made my jaw drop. I heard this morning he hadn't been looking forward to telling me about it, but I understand he enjoyed it, and his mom was sure proud. This awesome kid stood there, discussed what he does just like any college professor. I knew I was in the presence of greatness. Honest.

In short, I got what I was supposed to get. God gave me these cards, one of those unlikely hands that you don't have much hope for, but brings you everything you really need.

I'm happy to put back the crown as Queen of the Universe. I'm just a writer. I make mistakes, I enjoy some of them more than others. I just keep opening the doors and being willing to let in what's supposed to be there.

It was a perfect trip, not for what I got, but for what it was. It was everything I needed, and more.

I know this has happened to you. Love to hear about it? Are sometimes our unexpected miracles the best afterall even though they might not look like them at the time?

12

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Living in Cinderella

Harry Chapin once said that every song he wrote had some little part of his life, some emotion he was feeling, or experience he remembered, and that it was impossible to be a songwriter without this “gift” as he called it.

I feel the same way as a writer. My early days as a child molded me in a very big way. We lived in Oakland when I was little, until my family moved to Palo Alto, where I lived until college. My parents bought the house from our pastor. It was way bigger than we needed, so my parents had two “grandmothers” who boarded two of the upstairs three bedrooms. The third bedroom was mine. My windows faced my mother's flower garden, some half acre going up a hillside. I used to spend hours and hours looking out that window at the garden and imagining all sorts of things in my future. Adventures and stories, and most of them love stories.

My best friend sent me this, the exact player I used to listen to!

I think I was about three when I moved in there. At first, I was scared, being all alone. We didn't get
the boarders for the first year. So I had the creaking upstairs all to myself–the locked attic doors at the side of the large staircase, and the empty rooms waiting for someone to come stay with us. My parents bought me a little record player, and I used to sit there all alone and listen to my stories on that single switch player, playing Walt Disney '45's, of Snow White, Cinderella, Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales sung by Danny Kaye.

These tales, especially Cinderella, resonated with me. It didn't take much imagination for me to put myself in Cinderella's shoes, waiting for my handsome Prince Charming to come take me away. I loved the beautiful blue gown with the lace trim made by her bird friends, as she danced the whole night in the arms of that dark-haired prince. I matched the tilt of her head, imagined what the feel of his hand would be on her tiny waist, imagined what the stars would be like as we'd twirl, and the ballroom would be transformed into some magical place where all things are possible and the future is brighter than the present.

I think I never stopped living there, really. I played those records so often, it's a wonder they didn't

wear out. I'd cry at the sad parts, and cry really hard at the Happily Ever After. I think those days were the happiest for me as a child. Being left alone, listening to songs and music and the spoken word of a love story.

And now it resonates with me. Life has come full circle. I've completed perhaps my “job” of being a mother, a dutiful wife, a career and income generator. I've done all those things for others, as well as myself. Now these days are for me, my gift to myself for a life worked hard for. I get to experience the fantasy of a life in the Happily Ever After, even if reality isn't there yet. I get to live in the fantasy of what could be. I no longer wish for the same things I did as a younger woman. I want to wrap myself in love stories and I don't care about reality.

I'm lucky enough to be living in Cinderella. It's as if I will manifest this fairy tale the more I write about it, the more I feel it. I gladly give up this world for that one.

I hear music. I feel like dancing. Won't you come along?

8

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Honoring Those Who Serve By Living Our Lives

My heart bleeds for the families of the men lost in the recent tragedy in Tennessee. These types of things should not be happening, but, unfortunately, our world is becoming smaller every year. We are closer and closer to each other through social media. Along with this benefit, comes the unadulterated fact that we are also connected to the very worst of humanity. These cretins, as my SEALs like to say, can use our own freedoms, to take advantage and try to rob us of them.

They won't succeed.

I had a difficult time at first when I was plotting out SEAL's Promise. Oddly enough it was about a year ago now. I wanted to insert the plot line of home grown terrorists, or terrorists who come to our shores, familiar with our ways and customs, able to blend in and use that information to take advantage of us. I considered that perhaps I was going overboard, even though I knew the military had recently requested families get off social media, be very careful about who they invited into their circles, and to be watchful and observant.

I continued with that theme in SEAL My Home, using the scenario that someone from overseas would be allowed entry to the U.S. and would stalk and try to harm one of the SEAL warriors he'd encountered in Afghanistan. I used the theme of human trafficking and sexual slavery in SEAL's Code, which was a slight departure, but still focusing on a great evil in our world today. In Code, we discuss how heroism is handed down, is our birthright, and that love is always stronger than evil.

I firmly believe this.

Even if we all lived in cages, we wouldn't be safe. It is a great testament to our fighting forces that we haven't had to experience the ravages of war as some societies have. Here at home, we can't protect against every eventuality. But the steady tide, the history and the honor and love for our flag and our respective countries, fought and paid for with human life's blood, the vast freedoms we have to read what we want, speak what we want and live and do what we want, worship where we want, that overwhelms the evil little plans of the most evil amongst us.

It's hard to understand why someone would want to harm people who protect and defend our way of life. It's hard to figure out why a cause or movement that takes away more than it leaves, would be something that would be attractive to anybody. As I've said before, sometimes the cost of freedom is too great. It's not a burden shared equally. But we equally share in the benefit, whether we appreciate it or not. And just as I was blogging a year ago, the landscape of this evil has changed. Now some of us innocents, some not even wearing a uniform, will pay the ultimate price.

I am so thankful that I have a job writing heroes and happily ever afters, being able to bring fantasy to people's lives, to enrich them in some small way. Because the best way we can honor the fallen, both men and women who don a uniform and protect us, but innocents who just happen to be standing at the wrong place at the wrong time, is to go on enjoying those freedoms. The best way to honor the fallen is never to forget, always to remember, and always to live life to the fullest.

I happen to think that's what every true hero would want.

We've just wrapped up SEAL's Code on audio. Our last audio release, SEAL Brotherhood Box Set No. 2 is out on audio as of last week. You can hear a couple sample audio clips on my website, or click on the snippets I've provided you below.

Hope you'll continue the journey with my new series, Band of Bachelors, releasing in novella form, 8/4/15 in Cat Johnson's Hot SEALs Kindle World. More to come!

https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/seal-brotherhood-series-set-two-sample-3
https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/are-you-an-audio-virgin
https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/seals-code-danny-talking-to-grandfather

Book trailers: SEAL's Code, SEAL My Home.

Until we meet again, have a safe, and love-filled week. Don't ever stop believing we can all have our dreams become reality. Don't stop remembering love is always much stronger than hate. It's what we were made for.

4

Red Friday Post – This Is Why We Wear Red on Fridays

Bruce, Kally, J.M. MSgt Leroy Petry and Sharon, in Cincinnati

I'm at Lori Foster's Reader/Author event #RAGT15 in Cincinnati. It's the first time I've been here. Met up with good friends J.M. Madden, Bruce and Donna MacDonald, Karen Henderson, April Allen, Sabrina York, Darynda Jones, Kallypso Masters and the lovely Charlotte, and many many others. If I try to name them all I'll forget one and it will ruin my night.

Bruce met and introduced us to Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, a proud veteran now a motivational speaker, who is a common man who did uncommon things. In fact, he was so uncommon, he was awarded many ribbons and medals, including the Army Commendation with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with a bronze Oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, and The Congressional Medal of Honor.

Code Talker quilt



If you read about him in the link provided, you will find he also attended Indian school near Santa Fe, New Mexico. A statue of his likeness is located today at the Pojoaque Pueblo. I believe this fine warrior is Native American.

As I read further, I found this:

Tattered but still there
A Taliban fighter threw a grenade at their position which landed 10 meters from them; it detonated, and the blast knocked the three soldiers to the ground, wounding Higgins, and further wounding Robinson.[3] Shortly thereafter the three were joined by Staff Sergeant James Roberts and Specialist Christopher Gathercole. Another grenade was thrown by a Taliban fighter which landed a few feet from Higgins and Robinson. Petry, knowing the risk to his life, moved toward the grenade, picked it up, and attempted to throw it in the direction of the Taliban.[7] Petry later recalled his immediate reaction was “get it out of here, get it away from the guys and myself. And I reached over, leaned over to the right, grabbed it with my hand, and I threw it as hard as I could, what I thought was at the time. And as soon as I opened my hand to let it go, it just exploded instantly. And I came back, and the hand was completely severed off.”[8] The detonation amputated his right hand, and sprayed his body with shrapnel.[9] In throwing the grenade away, Petry likely saved the two other soldiers from serious injury or death.[10][6]
Petry placed a tourniquet on his right arm.[1] Roberts began to fire at the Taliban fighters, suppressing them in the courtyard. An additional fighter on the east end of the courtyard fired, fatally wounding Gathercole.[3] Higgins and Robinson returned fire, killing that fighter.[1] They were then joined by Sergeant First Class Jerod Staidle, the platoon sergeant, and Specialist Gary Depriest, a medic. Directing the medic to treat Gathercole, Petry was assisted by Staide and Higgins to thecasualty collection point.[3]
There are no accidents. I was meant to meet this fine young man who sacrificed himself that day to save others, and who fought to protect our way of life. What I didn't know until I got up in my room and began to read the information on Petry was that he served with a young man our family knew from Sonoma County, Chris Gathercole. Every time I mail a package to some one of my fans, I see Chris's picture on the wall at the Santa Rosa Main post office, along with the other dozen or so brave young men who lost their lives and are honored there. 
And next week when I go home, and mail my next package, I will look at Gathercole's picture, and I will silently thank him again, and let him know his teammate fights on for all of us. Because although Petry is now retired from active duty, there is still much work to be done amongst the community. My job is to watch, pay attention and record or bring light to it.
And to enjoy my life to the fullest. Thank you, Staff Sergeant Petry, and Specialist Chris Gathercole, for protecting my freedom with your precious blood. 
4

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: In Graton, California for Mother’s Day

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Graton, California

We sort of have a tradition of going to the Wildwood Cafe in Graton for special events. I'm late because I've spent the morning eating way too much, with syrup and butter and all kinds of unmentionable things like bacon and french toast – things I don't eat very often. But I ate light yesterday, planning for this event.

It's special being a mom, missing my mom who has gone now for over ten years, and having a daughter who is a mom of her own twice over. Watching the next generation has become one of my favorite pasttimes. Those that said being a grandparent is more fun than being a parent didn't lie.

 My husband is planting some roses I bought online (recommended by a reader), and I'm finishing up packing. Just sent a load of books, posters and SWAG to April and Christopher, to prize winners and street team members – the post office ladies love me because I bring them tee shirts occasionally, and books, of course. These will be mailed by my husband because I'm going to be on a plane to Dallas tomorrow, on my way to RT.

 I've cleaned up my sewing mess, shipped everything I could, gotten out my clothes, so I'm pretty good to go. A meni/pedi is coming up in a couple of hours, then hopefully an early trip to bed as I catch the 3 AM Airporter for SFO airport. Don't ask me why I decided to travel on a Monday, but guess what? I managed to pick the one day out of the week with sunshine, so I guess I must have known. I will be holed up in the hotel writing tomorrow night and Tuesday, as well as evenings and times when I'm not involved in something at RT. This will be a working vacation, and I do it well. I actually write well on the road.

 I got my crown (people have been giving me tiaras and crowns lately) this morning at breakfast and wore it until the trip home. We took pictures. I'm amazed my 2 year old grandson can use an iPhone to take selfies and decent pictures. They both learned to watch things on their iPads before they could even talk. What an amazing time we live in.

Yes, that's me with the crown.

Hope your Sunday was special. There are a lot of moms out there who have given us way more than they received. Probably more than we deserved. They give us the gift of their unconditional love, and it transcends everything and extends to us long after they pass on.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mother. Yes, every minute of it. It's been an honor.

Fool For Love

I have been this. In fact, I don't think I have ever spent much time being alone ever since I discovered the opposite sex. I mean, why? Things are so much better.

I'm thinking of all the lines about Love and Sex I've used over the years. Here are a couple of them that stand out to me:

1.  “I was looking for Mr. Perfect and forgot to look for Mr. Right.”  SEAL The Deal

2.  “I am still willing to be your meal.”   Honeymoon Bite

3.  “He had the brass band, the pom poms and the cheerleaders all working for him now.” SEAL My Destiny

4.    “Sometimes things that are oh so good for you are also bad for you.”  Fallen SEAL Legacy

5.    “Too small,” he whispered. When she turned to look, his eyes focused on her lips. Her knees were shaking. She melted when she heard him murmur, “But it will have to do.”     Accidental SEAL

6.    “Life is full of complications.”      Heavenly Lover

7.    “I like entangled. I like rich and deep and I like to be sorely missed when I'm gone.” SEAL My Destiny

8.    “I'm entranced by your scent. Do you taste as good?”   Mortal Bite

9.    “Because,” he grabbed her hand and pulled it to his mouth, kissing her knuckles, “she won't be afraid to tell me what I need to do to please her, with or without the pajamas.”  SEAL Under Covers

And to wrap up, here is an excerpt from one of my favorite books that gets little love. So, today, won't you love a tiny bit of it? It is the meeting between Josh and Melanie and sets off the uncontrollable craving of the Dark Angel for the human woman who runs a flower shop.

It involves the crushing of some beautiful red roses. How perfect for Valentine's Day. Enjoy:

Excerpt from Underworld Lover:

             Josh
then walked briskly across the street, dodging traffic, toward the gated
opening. Music was playing in the background, laced with birdcalls. Colorful
birdhouses of various shapes were affixed to poles grounded in large
earth-filled pots.
 Homes and castles for the fine-feathered
things I hate
. Josh saw
them as nuisances and impediments to his late morning sleep. He didn’t think it
was natural anything could be that happy all the time.
            Pots of large showy pink and purple hydrangeas
along with lemon bushes overloaded with deep yellow fruit and fragrant white
blossoms formed the next line in front of the birdhouses. On the floor, tucked
away randomly, were shallow pots filled with blooming spring flowers in all the
colors possible. Josh’s nose itched. He hadn’t seen so much blooming color
since his last trip to the Farmer’s Market to visit his friend Simon, the
electric cellist who liked to play his sad music and pick up girls.
            She’d
probably like one of Simon’s CDs.
He made a point to get one to her right
away. Embedded in the music was a very subtle NLP message a human could not
hear except subconsciously; praying for sex, praying for death.
            Josh walked through the entrance and
was assaulted with a big bouquet of red roses that was moving so fast he was
unable to stop before impact. Immediately he felt the crush of the delicious
red flora. They emitted their syrupy sweetness through petals that fell on the
shoulders and blond head of a beautiful young woman with light pink skin. She
looked up at his face, hers registering shock. Her eyes were wide and deep blue
as the sky. He was drowning—his heart stopped for a second. The scent of thyme
herbal hand cream, fresh lemon soap, and lip-gloss infused with a cherry flavor
filled his nostrils. He knew that if he willed her, he could make her stand in
front of him, raise her chin, part her lips for him, and beg he claim her.
And, as gratifying as it would be, he
didn’t want to make her do it. At last, he shared something in common with
Felix.

            He wanted to keep her from being captured.

Send me proof that you've purchased SEALed With A Kiss and have also shared that purchase on FB, and I'll gift you one of my audio books of your choice.
Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

12

Back Home – TALL TALES ON THE HIGH SEAS

It never ceases to amaze me how traveling far away from home changes my perspective on things here. I've met some wonderful people and those memories linger and warm my heart.

Traveling on a big cruise ship from Italy to Brazil was something we decided to do on a whim, almost. We got some great rates and decided this year, with my Dad's passing last year, and the family being scattered about, Don and I could get away and enjoy something we haven't done in years. In fact, I think it is the longest trip we've taken in 42 years. That's what kind of slaves to our businesses we've been.
Since my next book is about a cruise ship loaded with some hunky SEALs who save the passengers from a terrorist cell attack, I was literally inside my book while writing aboard. It was a working vacation for me, and I wrote in the middle of the night, or early morning, when it seemed to be the least distracting for me. Got lots of good characters and “places” for many of my scenes. Everything I observed was fodder for my story. And I got a significant part of it written, too.
With the rocking and rolling of the ship, and the randy French couple to our right, and the loud German couple to our left, sleep was a luxury. I was grateful for the days at sea when I could take a nap. I was grateful for the early mornings, watching the sunrises from the balcony on the back of the ship, where our cabin was. That is, until our mates next door started smoking after sex. Like I said in one FB post, I didn't mind the sex, it was the smoking afterwards I minded. LOL. Yes, I am a strange person, I admit.
I'll be taking the next few posts describing some of the trips and places we visited. It was a magical time. Of course, one of the highlights was finishing up the audio book of Fallen SEAL Legacy, which has been released the day after Christmas on Audible/ACX and iTunes. What a joy it was to be writing my new book, while listening to the golden voice of my spectacular narrator, J.D. Hart. I am so grateful he has agreed to collaborate with me on these projects, which I think my fans will enjoy for years to come. It helped me focus on my SEALs and all the reasons I love to write them.
I come home with a renewed spirit. The world isn't as large as I thought it was. We are more connected with other peoples from all over the world than I thought. We were the only Americans on the ship, and I hope we did our country justice. 
6

Thankful For A Great Adventure

Tomorrow we start our great adventure on the cruise ship that will take us from Italy to Brazil. Part of this will be a fact-finding mission, since my next story takes place on a cruise ship.

I haven't been to Italy in ten years. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy being here. I love the language, the romantic timbres and staccato bursts of passion. Everyone thinks of Paris as the place for lovers, but I think Italy would have to be my first choice.

Maybe it's the coffee, or the anticipation of the voyage, but I've had a hard time sleeping. My internal clock doesn't know what time it is. Lots going on, I admit. My Book 4 of the SEAL Brotherhood, SEAL The Deal is out as of tomorrow officially, but came out last night. My narrator, JD Hart, even managed to find the time to create the amazing trailer for this new release:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxsteiBlsQ0&feature=youtu.be

JD also did the audio version of Accidental SEAL. What a labor of love that has been. One of the best parts of my cruise will also be to listen to the chapters in Fallen SEAL Legacy he has completed so we can have this out to everyone before Christmas, God willing.

While one door opens, another has closed. I'm really feeling this next book, and it started yesterday as I was wandering down the cobblestoned alleyways in Savona, sipping cappuccino and loving the sounds of accents all around me.

My husband is studying his Portuguese for Brazil. I've made a study of Richard Burton (the explorer) for an upcoming time travel romance. The way he studied languages back in the 1860's, when he self-taught 27 languages good enough to be mistaken for a native, is what they teach at Penzler. Oh yes, I can feel him now in the archways and streets here he frequented.

Lots of luscious images and thoughts spinning around in my head. My SEALs will start their journey here, and, just like today, will be buying Ferrari jackets and warm clothes in preparation for their shipboard adventure. I'm right there with them. I can hardly wait.

 Ciao!!

8

On Not Forgetting To Say Thanks

I won't be on land this Thanksgiving, so I guess this will be my Thanksgiving post. God willing, I'll be somewhere in the Atlantic. I will start out in Italy and will wind up in Brazil. I plan to sleep in, write my heart out every day, have meals served just the way I want them, and watch the big blue ocean all around me. I'm going to read some of my best friend's books. I'm going to work out every day and get a massage every week. I want to meet the captain and the staff, put my hands on the wheel and feel the power of the ship.

I'd like to meet new friends, learn how to talk to someone in a language that I didn't grow up with. Watch how other people treat their children. Look into the eyes of the elderly passengers and maybe ask them questions about things I will never see. Learn from them. I want to soak it all in so I can put some of it, maybe only about 1% of it, on paper.

Something I hadn't thought about when I booked this vacation was that when we travel across the Atlantic, we will be leaving the winter of Italy to the Summer of Brazil.

I plan to stand on the deck of the ship, because I want to see if I can feel it. Do you suppose I will? Will the water swirl in the opposite direction there? Will the stars look different? Would it be good luck to make love to my husband when we cross the Equator like all those seamen's legends?

A whispered wish on a starlit night,
The warmest kiss, quickening the fire.
Romance that lingers and never says goodbye.
Uncovered treasures of an ordinary life

I don't think I've ever studied the night sky from the southern hemisphere. There are people I have never met I will meet. I will learn about places I've never seen before. I've never been to South America. I'm going to walk off the ship and think of my hero Daniel, the Brazilian painter who stole my heart in the very first book I wrote, and who turned me into a writer. I didn't do it. The characters in my book did.

Because I can.

Are we all so insane we don't cherish every day? That we fill our lives with “news” when everything we need to know is all around us, in the magic and love of those around us? When the greatest gift is our ability to imagine things that could be so strong that they feel real. To connect people instead of running away from them. To give more than we take.

I want to leave a hole the size of a continent when I'm done being here. Like my beautiful (unnamed) heroine for a book I'm working on says to her damaged SEAL hero after he's told her he doesn't like complicated (excerpt from SEAL Destiny, a novella in High Octane Heroes):

She took in a sudden brief inhale. Her gaze quickly diverted to the ocean, giving him a full pure look at her upper torso, every curve and valley, until he thought perhaps he could even taste her skin. What Luke saw in profile was a strong, handsome woman with a body made for hard loving, who was unafraid. 


Then she turned back and faced him fully. Her body dropped to her knees in front of him so quickly he thought perhaps she'd gotten suddenly ill. “I don't do uncomplicated,” she whispered. “I like it complicated and rich. I like entangled. I like feeling everything and being sorely missed when I'm gone.”


My wish for you at Thanksgiving? Turn up the intensity and the capacity of your love.

14

Flying The Flag. Making the Choices.

Before you read this blog, read this great article about Ernie Napper and the flag retreat at Disneyland.

You're going to probably wonder what this post has to do with Veteran's Day, one of the holidays our family celebrates in our own quiet way. Stick with me for a few minutes.

Wanted to make it to the Petaluma parade today, but have other blogging and writing obligations. I'm a big fan of parades, though. I remember my grandpa riding his horse, Bobbie Rex, in the DAV unit in Fresno. 
I also love to look at the cemetery when it's filled with flags. The sounds of them rustling in the wind makes me cry every time I see/hear it. I heard the rush of acres of flags at a WWII cemetery in Tunisia a few years ago and I had the same reaction then as now. At local celebrations I love watching the older men and women who've served this great country get up out of their wheelchairs sometimes to salute. And the motorcycle riders who block the demonstrators with their hateful banners aimed at the families of the fallen, a right of free speech others paid for with blood.

I'm reading a great book, oddly recommended by our Romance Writers of America magazine this month (I know), called Getting More, by Stuart Diamond. It isn't what you think. It isn't about winning at all costs, or carving out your piece of the pie. It's about understanding where you fit in, where you can collaborate, where and why you should connect and give back, sometimes with the ultimate sacrifice. Here's a great example:
“Too often people think they can meet their goals only at the expense of others…If you meet your goals today at the expense of the long term, you have served yourself poorly. Getting More means meeting your goals for all relevant people and periods…”
He goes on to say, “Once you have identified your goals, it is important to keep asking, ‘Are my actions meeting my goals?' The world is full of people who fail to do this. They get emotional or distracted or are just not thinking this way. It goes for you and it goes for others you care about.”

The getting emotional part I just cannot contain. Guilty as charged. My grandmother and I used to sit together on her overstuffed couch in the parsonage in Napa and cry during Lassie. That was back in the day when my brother and I would spend part of our summer vacation with them. Sometimes we'd get moved to that couch in the middle of the night if a woman and her children needed a home for the night to get away from an abusive relationship. I thought every family fed homeless people, sent cookies to shut-ins at hospitals, and took in badly battered women and their scared-to death-children. That was what I grew up with.

So why would I focus on goals today when we are celebrating veterans this weekend? Because they blazed the path, paid the sacrifice so we could live lives of meaning and purpose, so we could give back where we can and not worry about what we can't. So we can say thank you to those that make it their mission in life to serve, with only the minimal recognition we give them. Because that's not their goal. They don't need the parades. We do. So we never forget to be grateful.
Sacrifice is never fair. Trust me, having raised 4 children, I'm not always fair, and I used to tell them all the time I would screw up, and did often. But the goal in our family has always been to celebrate life, all forms of life, to treat people with respect, and to work for things worthwhile.
Earl Nightingale used to define success as, “The achievement of a worthwhile goal.” He used to say that, “Successful negotiation is the result of a good presentation.” I think Stuart Diamond would agree with this principle. You have to know what you want to get the things you want out of life. You have to know what people around you want to create, that “clan” of supporters that help you along the way, as you help them. It is in the helping others that you become a better person, which in turns brings more success, and certainly a lot of satisfaction into our lives. And helps us give more. 

And there is one other person I check with on a regular basis. The great man upstairs. He's never given me bad instructions and when I listen, he is patient and wise. I may not be one who is called on to fight on a battlefield, like my imaginary SEALs do, like the men I love so dearly do in the real SEAL community. But my mission in life is to stay aligned with a plan and purpose bigger than I am. 

And to thank those who died or suffer ongoing so that I can live the life of my dreams. My goal is not to waste, but use fully what I have been so generously given, to live with the full-on intensity of my being.

7

Putting My SEALs in Audio

I've been spending the last two weeks working on my audiobook version of Accidental SEAL. I've learned so much in the process. My narrator, J.D. Hart, is an accomplished actor, recording artist and spokesperson for Chevrolet and other campaigns. I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon him, and quite by accident. Just like in the book, the things that have happened by accident have turned out to be the things I've needed the most. I listened to an interview with him from a Nashville Podcast and have permission to share it with you.

Fate works in strange ways. His story is laced with things similar to mine, although his was music/entertainment and my trajectory was toward going for a big Big 6 contract. I'm proudly an Indie Author, not because I wasn't good enough for New York, but because I followed the path, like JD did, of being true to myself. What works for me might not work for everyone. And I certainly don't have nearly all the answers. Like I used to say to my Real Estate coaching clients, “I know what I think I know but I can put it aside for what I have yet to learn.”

Listen to him talk about being authentic and following his passion. Talks about what he wanted to do, and how his “hats” have changed over the years. Fascinating story. Listen to how he continually tries new things, hones his craft and is true to himself. How he works so hard getting noticed, connecting with good people all around him. His reading my audio book is more than just an accident, Deepok Chopra would call it Syncrodestiny.

He does all my characters. In fact, I didn't realize I had so many characters until I started listening to him narrate. I know, you're shaking your head, saying, how could she not know, but I didn't even think about it. He “gets” them so that I get to hear these guys out loud just like I've heard them in my head. Only an author who has done this knows what this feels like.

The whole process, for my first time, has been nearly seamless. Big learning curve for sure. But I willingly embark upon the next great adventure as we bring to you Fallen SEAL Legacy.

http://musiccitysocial.net/jdhart/

We've even added my favorite clip from Two Steps From Hell, Undying Love (by permission) to the audio book. Enjoy!

Accidental SEAL opening credit with music Mixdown 1_01.mp3

4

SEAL Brotherhood Continues!

SEAL Under Covers is Book 3 in my SEAL Brotherhood series. I knew when I wrote Book 1, Accidental SEAL, that the missing SEAL, Armando Guzman, would have his own book eventually. Book 3 is his.

He was born in Puerto Rico, and his father, a good cop, was gunned down on the job, so his mother brought young Armando and his sister to Los Angeles to grow up. He got involved in some unsavory activity, but the Navy has smoothed out some of his wrinkles. In fact, due to his model good looks and luck with the ladies, the other guys on my fictional SEAL Team 3 call him Armani.

Here's the blurb:

Navy SEAL Armando Guzman is trying to help his sister clean
up her life, but he is unprepared for the chemical attraction of his sister’s
new best friend.

Gina Mancuso is working her first under cover detail for the
San Diego Police Department. She didn’t expect that the man of her dreams would
be the brother of the woman she’s planning to arrest.
I had written a big portion of this book before I went to the Writer's Police Academy this Fall. I was worried that perhaps I would find some huge flaw in the story, and grilled the police and DEA agents there, especially the ones who went deep under cover, to see if I got the details correct. Relieved to discover I had not only done it right, I had actually made up scenes in my own head they had actually experienced in their years in law enforcement, I felt like a mystic, a clairvoyant.

Armando is his LPO's best friend and swim buddy during BUD/s. As many of you know, the BUD/s training is so grueling, and encompasses such a variety of skills that test their physical and mental abilities, friendships and alliances are formed that last a lifetime. Kyle and Armando both credit the other for having survived and passing the training, to go on to SQT, and then to get their Trident.
Here is an excerpt from SEAL Under Covers:
That left Armando holding the door open to the old beater
truck. Damn, but the guy was cool. The happenings in the strip joint hadn’t
seemed to ruffle him one bit. He’d have been just as comfortable getting black,
blue, and bloody. Gina wondered where he would draw the line.
Do I know where to draw the
line?
Well, his was
personal. Hers was her job. But it was definitely fucked that her ex-boyfriend
had to land himself in the middle of her professional world too.
But that’s what kind of a
choice you made, Gina.
Always
making the wrong choices when it came to men. In a way, very much like Mia.
She watched Armando standing there, waiting for her. The
other car was waiting for her as well.
Never waste an opportunity
to make another bad decision.
Her
roommate in college used to say that every day, while at the same time managing
to bed most of the football team and as many of the soccer players as she could
get. Gina always waited up for her, just in case she needed a ride or got too
drunk. Just like she was now trying to do for Mia. It was the reason she became
a cop. Another bad decision? Well, it certainly was something that had been
locked and loaded way down inside her soul after she got the call from the
police that fateful night. That night when her roommate became someone’s victim
and Gina had sat waiting for a call that would never come.
She wondered what would ruffle this man of steel, amazed
that he could make choices so quickly as he had just now. Was he ever afraid in
his job like she was in hers?
What threshold am I walking
through tonight?
She leaned over to look around the SEAL, checking on Mia in
the passenger seat of her own car. Of course she would be safe with the little
warrior, a guy who would probably die trying to protect her, from what Mia had
said. But this one standing in front of her, balancing on one hip, leaning
against the door, his muscular arms worthy of any Popeye character, was
dangerous.
To her heart.
“Do I have a choice?” she said to him, watching that smirky
little smile and sexy eyes making fun of her while her heart did flip-flops.
She’d been close to peeing on herself while she sat and watched her
ex-boyfriend nearly call out the brother—the SEAL brother of the woman they were working. It had been wrong on
so many levels, even the Pope couldn’t dish out enough forgiveness.
“Get in.” It was a command that made her tense, but the
smile he flashed afterwards made her panties wet. Suddenly her ankles wobbled
and she nearly fell, which would have been totally uncool. And damn, if he
didn’t reach out and put a strong, muscled arm around to steady her. He let her
go after he gave her one hurried squeeze, just tight enough for her to learn he
was aroused.
Another footnote to a
perfectly fucked evening.
Her
mission was nearly blown. Why did she feel guilty for that? They were supposed
to be hanging out with the gang by the stage. Well, she couldn’t help it if Sam
and the rest of the crew had decided to pull a game change on her. As she slid
onto the torn leather seat of the old truck, she smiled at the recollection. It
had been damned satisfying, slapping Sam and tossing the drink into his face.
She’d stared right back at him when he showed his anger. And she didn’t flinch
or cower this time. She was filled with pride. She’d stood up to him, finally!
But now what? On any other evening, getting into a truck
with a SEAL would be a no-brainer. Nothing wrong with a night of sex with a hot
guy, if that was where he was headed. She wasn’t completely sure, but she
wasn’t that rusty that she couldn’t
recognize a good, clean come-on. The fact that he was the brother of their
party of interest and it was totally forbidden only heightened her
anticipation. But decisions like that were never good ones. She had to put a
stop to this somehow.
Tell that to my body. She watched him walk around the front of
the vehicle and, yes, she squeezed her eyes shut and imagined him naked.
Get a grip, Gina. As much as she hated to admit it,
something about the man set her insides on fire. He was all the right kinds of
dangerous for her. A hero. Breathtakingly good-looking in that Latin Lover way
she loved in men. Shiny black hair worn a little too long. Tanned complexion
with just a hint of stubble. Body well-honed and disciplined. He knew what he
wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. And he loved his sister, which was the
biggest heart-snag of all.

He got in the driver seat, slammed the rickety door closed
and sighed.

Did all the air just get
sucked out of the truck?
It
seemed like minutes as she watched him blankly stare through the windshield,
his face illuminated by the red taillights of Mia’s vehicle, now pulling away
in front of them. Those dark eyes with long lashes and succulent, full lips.
She shouldn’t have stared so long, but she couldn’t help it.
He tilted his head and turned in her direction. The eyes
didn’t lie. He had the fire inside that his sister had, but in all the right
places, not the wrong ones, like Mia. She let him appreciate the red fuzzy
dress with the scoop neckline. She didn’t care if her chest got blotchy with
nerves or if her cheeks flushed. And, of course, her nipples perked right up
“So how is this going to work?” he asked. The words slid out
like satin sheets.
“I’m not quite sure I know what you mean,” she heard herself
say in response. She made a point to beat the waver from her voice.
“I take you to your place, or to Mia’s?”
“Mia’s.”
“Your car there?”
“No, I took a cab.”
“And so how would you get home?”
“You assume I want to go home. Maybe I’m going to stay
over.”
“I don’t see a pajama bag.”
The crease at the side of his mouth dimpled and she watched
the tip of his tongue running across his bottom lip. The words “pajama bag” had
never sounded so sexy.
She stuck her chin out, looking back at him with
heavy-lidded eyes, and whispered, “I don’t wear pajamas.”

Common to both these books is the character Calvin “Coop” Cooper, who has been one of my fan-favorite SEALs. His story is Fallen SEAL Legacy, and is included in the Dangerous Attraction. Book 4 in the series, due to come out in late November. The anthology comes out November 10th.

I hope you will continue the ride with me for the rest of the SEAL Brotherhood series.

You can listen to the music I listen to every day when I write these books:

No military men or women were harmed in the making of this blog post, nor in the creation of my stories. Enjoy!

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

8

Halloween – May the Honeymoon of your Bites Continue!

I remember attending my first RWA Convention in New York several years ago. I sat in on a JR Ward panel discussion about writing Alpha heroes. Her comment was something like this:

Is there anything so exciting, so masculine as a big, dark alpha male vampire?

I sat there blinking, my heart pounding as I realized the answer to that was, “No.”

So this is Halloween. Last day of the month of October, legendary amongst Pagans and Christians alike. Shrouded in mystery, myth and whatever else we want to throw in there – the possibility of danger and the excitement of a new adventure, I'm re-printing the chapter I just love from Honeymoon Bite where the Hero, Marcus Monteleone, meets his long searched for fated female, Anne. What Anne doesn't know is that Marcus is the one who turned her, after he found her left for dead. Since he'd spent 300 years searching for his one fated female, he couldn't just let the life drain from her. And he has been ordered by the Vampire Council to wait 30 days before he can re-contact her. So, she has no clue who he really is, or how her life is about to change forever, in ways she could never imagine.
For those of you from Sonoma County, I wrote this scene in a purple velvet chair in the corner of the Bennett Valley Starbuck's. I can still remember that day.
Enjoy this little tidbit. Love my stepchild of a book that gets no love. At least on Halloween, spend some time with my injured Alpha male vampire and his soon-to-be bride:

“Does your husband know about your appetites?” From behind
Anne came a gravelly male voice that sent shivers down her spine. The screams
of the Starbuck’s espresso machine made her wonder if she’d really heard the
voice. But the male scent of him was impossible to miss. The hairs at her neck
stood at attention, telegraphing urgency. The urgent sensation extended well
beyond her waistline. Time stood still before she could bring herself to turn
around and fall under the warm gaze from this tall dark male that covered her.
Not man. Male.
He held her gaze as she stood, transfixed, unable to move or
to speak. That was the way it felt. Being held. “I’m sorry?” she blurted out
finally.
“Don’t be sorry, my dear. It’s a simple question.” The ends
of his lips curled up at the corners. When he inhaled, his chest extended, and
he appeared several inches taller. Then he exhaled and she was covered with the
same musky scent, incapacitating her, wrapping around her like a warm shroud.
It was familiar.
She heard mournful viola music drip with slides and rifts
that pulled on her heartstrings. She felt dizzy. Did she hear him murmur a
groan? Or maybe it was a small earthquake? Probably an ordinary person wouldn’t
hear or feel it. But she did.
Anne was on alert; this male took liberties with her
feelings.
What a crazy thought.
Ridiculous.
He leaned forward, grazing just the edge of her forearm with
his warm hand. An electric spark pricked her. He leaned against the counter and
looked at the barista, not her. “I’ll pay for the lady’s drink.”
She noticed the strong pulse at his neck. Healthy. Smells wonderful.
“And what would you
like, sir?” The young barista was pert. Anne didn’t like her perfect white
teeth. That and the fact the girl’s shirt was made for a ten-year-old,
showcasing her pierced bellybutton.
“I have all I need.” The rumbling words sparked shivers
again down Anne’s spine. He said it just next to her ear, barely touching the
small of her back . . . He was facing the barista, but deep inside Anne knew
the words were meant for her ears only.
“You didn’t have to do that.” Anne suddenly found the urge
to speak.
“My pleasure.” He removed his hand and gave a slight bow.
A bow? No one had ever done that before. Anne
had just fed. She wasn’t hungry enough to play the game this afternoon, having
gorged herself on a salesman who liked to eat garlic fries. His blood was thick
with fat globules she could almost see as well as taste. But it went down
smooth.
So maybe she would play along. This stranger might be a good
candidate for a snack tomorrow. She had never fed twice in one day. She
wondered what being too full would feel like in her current state. It would
probably make her horny. Well then, maybe she should reconsider. She should do
a wet feeding. That way she wouldn’t have to be too careful, could gorge
herself on him. He’d be wonderful to look at in the shower, and his hands might
do something unexpected to her. Something memorable in a string of unmemorable
feedings.
His hand gently touched the small of her back again, and she
allowed herself to be ushered to a corner table, flanked by two purple velvet
overstuffed chairs. They sat, facing at right angles to each other. The counter
girl called out Anne’s drink. He was up and walking over to pick it up for her before
she had a chance to react.
She watched him cross the coffeehouse like a thirsty
traveler eyeing a pitcher of water. He was probably six foot six. His dark hair
was pulled back in a short ponytail. His black leather bomber jacket showed his
nice ass and those long lanky legs that went all the way to Heaven. Even for
his size, he appeared graceful. Unassuming. Confident. And the nicest looking
male from behind that she had ever seen.
And then he turned, holding the little white paper cup with
two fingers, the other ones splayed out, large as antlers. She could see how
long his fingers were, how substantial. She envisioned what those hands could
do to her. But as sexy as he was, he also made her mouth water to feed.
His prominent jaw line sported blue-black stubble. His
strong pulse would be no problem at all, but she would have to bite a little
harder to crack the skin. Maybe he would let her take him slowly. Then she
could kiss other parts of him in between while his heart pumped more of the
blood she craved. His lips were bright red and full. She would enjoy sucking
them, licking them. Perhaps biting them.
His eyes found their way to hers, and when she met his gaze,
she became self-conscious of her thoughts, as if somehow he could read her mind.
Anne told herself it was her craving for blood that caused the almost sexual
attraction for this male. After she fed, surely she wouldn’t feel this way, she
thought.
He delicately deposited the white cup in her hands. One finger
touched and almost rubbed against hers. She thought she was imagining the
touch, of course. Between her legs, a warm pool had formed. It was a curious
place to feel hunger, a hunger of another kind. She blushed at her erotic
thoughts.
“You like cappuccino?” He seemed intrigued by the idea.
Dancing eyes, all over her upper torso, his breathing steady but deepening.
“Yes. I need the caffeine in the afternoon.”
That little hitch in his throat, almost like a moan of
surprise. “And here I thought your 
cheeks were flushed and ripe from a good
meal.” Those black eyes peered right to her soul. Almost as an afterthought, he
smiled, and the dark became brown, ringed with a coppery color that drew her
in.
I’ll play your game.
“Yes. After a big meal, I get tired sometimes.”
He nodded. “I remember that.”
Anne looked out the window. This was beginning to feel
dangerous. She grabbed her drink and stood. He stopped her by placing one hand
on her wrist. His action was soft, but deliberate. This male won’t be denied.
“Please, sit just a little longer. Then I’ll let you go home
to your husband.”
“Go? You’ll let me go? What kind of talk is that? I think .
. .” She began to rise again, but his firm grip on her forearm stopped her.
“Hear me out just a bit.” He did appear to be begging. Could
it be she saw a flash of pain there? No
way.
“How do you know I’m married?” she snapped out, letting her
impatience show.
“You wear a wedding ring.” He fingered her ring slowly,
sensually. She let him touch her, perhaps a bit too long. She was going to
correct his misconception but decided to leave him thinking she was protected
by another man. Safer that way.
But was she looking for safe?
There was an obvious physical attraction between them. She
had not felt this before, not since before she was made.
“Do I know you?” she asked, ignoring the comment about her
marriage.
“No. Ask it another way.” The huskiness of his voice made
her ears buzz, like he was brushing his lips across them, like they were in bed
whispering unmentionable things to each other.
“Do you know me?” Her eyebrows rose at the ridiculous
suggestion that seemed to be planted in her brain from somewhere else.
He very lightly nodded, his obsidian eyes flashing. “Oh,
yes. I have waited a long, long time for you.”
“Okay, that’s it. I’m outta here.” Anne jumped up, her
coffee in her hand. She slung her purse over her right shoulder and stormed off.
He followed her outside, keeping pace like they were walking in unison. She
stopped suddenly.
“Look. Whoever you are, I will call the police if you don’t
leave me alone.”
“And tell them what?”
“Tell them there is a very strange male following me,
bothering me.”
He groaned again. The ground beneath her feet rumbled when
he did that. “I like that you say male.”
She backed up, raising her palms up and out in his
direction. “Please, please leave me alone.”
“Agree to meet me here tomorrow at this time and I won’t
follow you.” He smiled. “I promise.” He held his hand over his heart. Anne felt
a small tug at her own, as well as an ache down below.
“Alright,” she said, willing herself to say no when her body
wanted to say yes. She’d wrestle with her decision if she could just get away
from him right now. This coffee house would have to be forever off her list. “Tomorrow
at four. But I will call the cops if you don’t stop this, this, way you are being—”
He grabbed her upper arm and pulled her close his chest. She
struggled, but he held her tighter the more she wiggled, and yet she enjoyed
the physical play between them. No matter how hard she fought, he would win. She
softened and heard his sharp inhale. The spice on his cheeks was a familiar
scent to her and, relaxed her just enough so she wouldn’t collapse entirely
being so close to him. He leaned down and whispered into her ear, “Go for now,
little one. But as for leaving you alone, there isn’t a chance in Hell that
will ever happen. See you tomorrow.”
And then he was gone. Just gone. Nowhere to be found. She
turned around and around and there was no trace of him. No car leaving the
parking lot. No door being opened. Just the normal day all around her.
She was hungry and scared. She liked feeling both emotions
equally.
She knew it was going to be forever until four o’clock
tomorrow.
A feeding would take up the next hour. Only twenty-three
more to go.
Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

6

T is for Traveling Home

I'm sitting here at the Kansas City Sheraton reflecting on the last week of meet and greets, craft workshops and meals with friends. Some of these people I've known for years on the internet. Some are new friends in every sense.  What a remarkable week of expanding my boundaries, and keeping some boundaries in check.

It won't be hard for me to go back home. I miss my husband, my writing corner, my gardens, the sunshine and that beautiful space that I call my sanctuary, where all the beautiful stories are created. I'd forgotten how much my routine, my sense of place and belonging was to me — and I'm not complaining. Just noticing how I miss the things I have and do every day. That great old country song comes to mind, How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?


My travels have exposed me to people I would not ordinarily sit and talk to. And we're all storytellers, so the stories are rich. We have new projects planned and this year will be a first for me with hopefully three nice collaborations. I'll be in three collections. More to come.

I'm reminded about what I do because of all these fantastic posters plastered around the lobby, the Mezzanine, and wrapped around the elevator doors. but I miss the two story living and dining room at my house, with the windows reflecting sunsets, and the three beautiful ledges of hand blown glass we've chosen. I am very much about the place. And my place feels like a church. The music I play echoes throughout the house, especially when I am all alone. If I'm not brought to tears every hour, my writing isn't good enough.

I need my fix of the familiar so I can bring all the great success and ideas home and tend them in my writing garden.

It's only been eleven months since I've been able to really call my writing income enough to live on. And last night I got to sit with and talk to people who have done that ten, maybe thirty times over. Wow. Not about all the money. I think about all the fans, the people who got to read such compelling stories. I got to talk to another Indie writer this week who actually has sold 100,000 copies a day for almost a whole month. Excuse me while I bow.

One day, I'll have one of these cool elevator wraps. I'll be flooded at a bookstore signing. I'll have a fan page with 20,000 people on it. But I'll still be the same lady who likes to get dirty in her garden, who writes the kinds of stories I would like to sit down, cuddle up with, and fantasize about. The reality of what I do during the day gives me this fantasy I've earned.

I'll be finishing the A-Z Challenge and, just like Vince Lombardi said it, “I never lost a game, I only ran out of time.” My A-Z Challenge will end sometime this week.

And that's okay.

I think this link still works:  Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.

10

S is for Shakespeare

S is for
Shakespeare…in Middle School
Today I’m proud to
allow my daughter, Jaime, post the “S” for Shakespeare. She is a 7th
and 8th grade English and Humanities teacher, and loves her work.
Her kids are working on Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s death day, his exact birthdate unknown, was
the other day – April 23rd, 1616. I maintain he was an Aries,
although I’ve no physical, metaphysical, logical or otherwise relevant proof…I
maintain he was an Aries simply for the fact that prior to 2010 Shakespeare and
I had a long and disharmonious relationship. Did I mention I’m an Aries –
stubborn, strong-willed and logger-headed (all three words that mean
‘stubborn’). Simply put, I hated everything Shakespearean because I couldn’t
understand it.
However, after a Bachelors degree in History, a Masters
degree in teaching and several years teaching English, I’ve come to know,
respect and, to a degree, love the bard. Regardless of whether or not you are a
fan, there is something to be said for his ability to turn a phrase and insult
people with wildly hilarious and totally inappropriate language.

Finding myself teaching middle school this year, I harkened
back to my days as a hormone raging, acne prone, uncomfortable and irritable
teenager. As I said before, I loathed Shakespeare simply for the fact that I
just didn’t get it, and despite my protestations, I still had to read Romeo
& Juliette, Hamlet and something else I’ve blocked out completely…I suppose
the memories were just TOO bad.
Rather than repeat my high school experience, I decided to
approach Shakespeare on his own turf – he likes to turn a phrase? HA! By
George, we will, too! Thus the Shakespearean Insults were born. Each day my 8th
graders come to class, I give them a new insult, today’s: Fie, fie you
counterfeit cloak-bag, you puke stocking! They feverishly work for 2 minutes
trying to figure out what it means – for some of them this is the only 2
minutes of the entire day when they
will actually do work. We share our insults on the whiteboards at each table,
and I read every one of them aloud. Now…being in middle school, they’ve
naturally figured out that I’ll read just about anything, thus the following
responses have left my mouth:
–      
You are a puss infested toe on a hawt summa’
daaayyyy.
–      
You are a donkey’s fart hole.
–      
You are a stinky fart under my foot.
–      
You are a drunken farting man (it seems this
table likes farts).
–      
Go away you drunken butthole.
We really do have fun with these insults – the conversations
we have are pretty hilarious:
“Gleeking
means?” I asked two weeks ago. 
“Spitting!!”
“Close…when
you spit on someone you are….”
“Spitting?!” 
“No,
you are teasing and taunting them.” I receive a few nods and ‘ah’s.’ “Now,
brazen-faced means what?”
“Brazen!”
Backstory…three
weeks ago a friend of mine visited our classroom. One of my students took class-time
during this lesson to ask the question… “is he your boyfriend?!” Deciding this
was a perfect time to address ‘brazen’ I used her as an example. 
“When
Y (Insert student name) asked me ‘is that guy your boyfriend?!’ she was asking
in a totally brazen way. She was unashamed, unembarrassed and shameless,
right?”
“Huh,
so she didn’t really care if it would embarrass you, so she just asked?”
someone clarified. Apparently, this example totally made sense…I’m so glad my
personal embarrassment has led to some sort of learning. 
“Yes…it’s
sort of like when I walk in here and say, ‘man I’m sweating sooo much’ and then
show you the sweat marks on my shirt,” I reply, using yet another example from
my personal life.
“Yeah,
we get it hambone…just don’t do that again.” Hmm…
“Flax
is…”
“A
seed!” Star pupil X. “And a wench is a babe or a hoe…so she’s a seed hoe! No
wait, a seed prostitute!” 
I
roll my eyes…“well in a manner yes, but no. Why can’t you just say ‘seed
babe’?” We discussed the thing to death, and discovered that by taking out the
word ‘flax’ the insult totally made sense: Gleeking, brazen-faced flax-wench = A
taunting/joking, shameless babe.
I’ve had entirely way too much fun teaching the language
aspect of Shakespeare, and I think my students have as well. I suppose it’s an
effort to reach those kids who, like me, just didn’t get it. But, what’s
emerged from this is a group of highly intellectual, critical thinking,
button-pushing 14 year-olds who can insult you using awesome language like it’s
nobody’s business. In doing this, I feel I’ve addressed most of the “I don’t
get it” types and have engaged them in a way that I would have wanted to learn,
in a way that I would have totally been hooked to old English and atrocious
sentence structure.

For all the wonderful things we do, unfortunately being a
teacher, there are so many things we have to do in a day – “we wear a lot of
hats” as we say in the staff lounge. It is doubly unfortunate that during any
day, because we are pulled in so many differing directions, we cannot devote
the time and our energies to each and every student who needs that one-on-one
connection for understanding. There are young adults who, like me at that age,
don’t understand, won’t ask for help and are simply content to carry on, ignorant.
Sometimes it’s easier to do that then to ask ‘why’ or ask for help.
So, I’ll end with a shameless plug! Go talk to your
children, your grandchildren. Find out what they are struggling with, find out
what they don’t know…and then TELL US! E-mail us, call us, drop in to our
offices and pester us! When it comes to education, there’s nothing more
important than our own. As mom says, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and
just think back to a time when you were too scared to ask for clarification. Had
I been willing to embrace the radtasticalness of Shakespeare, I might have had
an entirely different love affair…

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.

4

QR Codes

Back to finishing up the A-Z Blog, and welcome back.

Here's what Wikipedia says about QR Codes:

The QR code was invented in Japan by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacture. It was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. It has since become one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.
Unlike the older one-dimensional barcode that was designed to be mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light to extract data, the QR code is detected as a 2-dimensional digital image by a semiconductor image sensor and is then digitally analyzed by a programmed processor. The processor locates the three distinctive squares at the corners of the image, and uses a smaller square near the fourth corner to normalize the image for size, orientation, and angle of viewing. The small dots are then converted to binary numbers and validity checked with an error-correcting code.


You can create your own QR Codes by clicking one site here.

At my local Starbuck's, you can wait for your latte and scan listings of houses for sale in Santa Rosa. You hold up your phone, point and click. A smart broker has QR Codes displayed at the window just past the pickup counter. Quite brilliant. No wasted time for busy people on the go.

I'm waiting for the day when you can click on a QR Code and get transported to someplace sunny and warm. Beam me up, Scotty.

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.

4

P is for Petaluma, P Town, Butter and Eggs Days and all things Sonoma County

Welcome back to the A-Z challenge blog and the world of wonderful bloggers. There are over 1500 other writers who are doing this month-long challenge to do a blog for every letter of the alphabet. As you can see, I'm a couple of days behind. But, like everything else in life, I go for the thrill of getting things done last minute. Adrenaline junkie over here. Yes, even with my writing.

Petaluma is a great little big town. This weekend is the Butter and Egg Days parade, where one year my husband dressed up as a chicken and rode on the back of a convertable, waving to the crowd, alongside a judge candidate, who lost. That probably has more to do with the costume than the candidate.

Petaluma is most recently known for its Little League team who came home winners, got a parade worthy of returning veterans, personal escorts by the Oakland A's, and a lot of good old regular folks congratulating them on a job well done. They won everyone's hearts, even though they were defeated by Japan.

Petaluma is a decent town with nice old buildings looking like Mayberry USA. American Graffiti was filmed here. Peggy Sue Got Married too (they actually filmed a scene on our front porch in Sebastopol).

Every year there is a Peggy Sue car rally that closes down the main drag (yes, when I was early married, my husband and I used to tool down Petaluma Boulevard, and 4th Street Santa Rosa, just like in American Graffiti). It is a rally that rivals some of the ones in Reno I've been to. Very few professional collectors, mostly firemen and construction workers and their kids fixing up hot rods, spending way too much money on chrome and paint, and generally having fun. The stuff of life.

I'm really lucky to be living here in beautiful Sonoma County. Petaluma

is truly one of its treasures. A city that remembers the past as it launches into the future. I mean, isn't it great that a town would give a parade to a bunch of 10 year old boys?

Maybe I'll see you there this weekend at the Butter and Egg Days parade. We'll get sunburned together.

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.