I find meeting other authors, readers and the social interaction with people in general to be very stimulating. I percolate with ideas whenever I come back from a conference, or signing or get-together. I am planning on some serious brainstorming with one of my writing buddies, Carolyn Jewel, at the San Francisco Indie UnCon later this month.
Just got back from the Love and Fifty in Sacramento last weekend, and saw the Fifty Shades movie with a whole theater of other romance writers and their reader fans. Now I want to buy a theater somewhere and put in those wonderful lounge chairs and serve beer and wine like they do in Portland…Okay, in my next life…Show nothing but romance 24/7. How about rented cubbies on the side where writers could work while watching the screen? Have a sound-proof office so you can turn off the dialogue or add your own music?
The possibilities are endless!
So everything I do, see and feel goes into my books. People ask me all the time where all the stories come from, or whether or not I'll ever run out. They come from everywhere! Watch out! Spend time with a writer and you'll be immortalized! That's more than a promise, it's a fact!
What makes a good romance story is that you can count on the HEA. Sometimes it's cataclysmic, sometimes it's subtle, yet speaks volumes. But between the beginning and that HEA ending, we go on a journey together and the writer stretches the boundaries, takes the reader on twists and turns of the unexpected, all to arrive at the expected (but not too predictable) outcome. I like it when I read a book and I'm screaming, “No! Bad decision. Don't go there!” and yet I know that that decision leads to a series of events that becomes part of the outcome, which could have never happened without those decisions.
Some say we writers like to torture our readers. Man, it does affect me when I have to have a breakup scene, or when the hero or heroine thinks the other is either lost or has been rejected. It hurts me as much as it hurts you, the reader. I've cried while writing in coffee shops and drawn some attention from well-meaning people around me, consoling me, until they find out I'm just a writer.
Spending a few hours talking to my 90 year-old-step mom brought out another series of stories you wouldn't expect after visiting her retirement home. Love blooms, friends become enemies, and politics infuses every aspect of our culture, of the world's culture. There's drama everywhere, regardless of the circumstances and regardless of age.
No, I'm not going to start writing Octogenarian Romance, although I've got a story there too. But I've got an idea that could start there.
Tropes are timeless, regardless of genre or age of the characters. An inciting incident can happen in a Retirement Community or in a shopping mall, as well as on a desert island. Because wherever there are people, there are relationships. The story of those relationships is what we write, how people both lose love and find it again, which is the story of hope that is in so many romance novels.
So, as we get ready to celebrate the Love Holiday with those who mean so much to us, let's remember the opening of the heart as the most worthwhile endeavor man has ever done. It is the one hope that every child seeks, every adult desires, at every age. It is the one thing we can't get too much of, as the song goes.
And the one thing we need more now than ever before. Let's celebrate together. You know that quote from Love, Actually? “Let's all get the s**t kicked out of us by love.” I think that's fine advice. Couldn't have said it better myself!
Yes. I'm all in for SEALs. I have some precious mementos, collected during my journey as romance writer. One of the most cherished items is my plank from the Navy SEAL/UDT Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida. I am a supporter of the museum, and have donated a portion of all my sales there for years, as well as raised money from quilts we've had made and auctioned off.
This last year we earned over $400 on our Operation Aloha Shirt Quilt project. I rounded it up and we sent $500 to the Museum. This quilt contains Aloha shirts sent to me by people from all over the US, lovingly stitched together by Sandie Greis, and quilted by the women of the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, the oldest of this group who is 90 years old.
When a SEAL detaches from his Team, he is given a plank, like the one in the picture. I was so surprised when I received this. If you ever want to learn about the history of the Teams, how they came to be and how they have developed, you'll love spending a day there. This museum is run by the SEAL community, friends and family of the community. No Federal funds are used for its support.
Another of my cherished possessions is a signed autograph by the man who eliminated OBL, Rob O'Neill, who says “SEALs are sexy!” It hangs just above my plank from the Museum. Thank you, Rob, and thank you Cherokee and J.D. Hart for helping me get this cherished gift.
I received a Challenge Coin from Anne Elizabeth's former Navy SEAL husband. Anne (who also writes Navy SEAL Romance) and I were in an anthology together a couple of years ago, along with a dozen other of my favorite military romance author friends. Anne awarded us all this Challenge Coin. It is a symbol of a mission, a job well done, and I have to say it was! Thank you, Anne.
I have my tattoo of the Hippy Bone Frog, as I call him. Made a little alteration to this picture, and sucked it up and had it done. I also have a frog print frog print tat on my right forearm for every SEAL book I've written. I'm going to have to start on the other arm now…lol.
I was honored to be given this helmet for safekeeping. It's now been returned to this SEAL's children, but it was on my desk for nearly six years while I wrote my first SEAL Brotherhood stories, and was a constant source of inspiration. These helmets are worn by BUD/S recruits on their way to becoming worthy of wearing the Trident. Whenever things get tough for me, I look at that picture and I remember, “Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.” How true.
It's been my honor to write about Navy SEAL heroes for these past six years. I hope to be doing so until they have to yank my laptop from my lifeless body!!
Working on a Son of Poseidon SEAL duet with another author which you will hear about very shortly, and then comes Jake, my 3rd book in the Band of Bachelors. I can hardly wait for you to read them both!
There are a number of things I am grateful for in 2016. It was great for a lot of reasons:
1. I survived. 💪
2. Got sick and got well. 😎
3. Finished 5 books. 🏆
4. Weathered some breakups, shakeups and uncertainties with grace and a pinch of humor. 🂱
5. Better prepared for the travels ahead. 🎢
6. Kept my focus, realigned my purpose, learned about some new opportunities. 🔑
7. Welcomed the New Year with an open heart, and a head full of stories. 🎇
8. Reinforced the power of gratitude and being light-hearted at the right times. 🙏
9. Re-fell in love with falling in love ALL-IN. 💓
10. I start the year off being INSPIRED. 💫💗💥
So, here are some things I'm focusing on this New Year's Day. Hope you can join me along the way some of the time. We have a lot of work to do together, you and I. I can't wait. How about you?
MY 2017 FOCUS:
1. I write every day because it is my life.
2. I'd rather be in a book or story than anywhere else. It is my reality.
3. Concentrate on creativity and the flow will come.
4. Expect to be amazed, not understanding everything. Amazed, like a child.
5. Be a well-used character in my own life like a favorite toy and much-loved soul.
6. Pointy people grind the rough edges off me and make me shine.
7. Circumstances REVEAL a person, they don't make a person.
8. Getting up and getting started now is the most important attitude to have.
9. Learn from everyone, everything. Seek lessons like jewels.
10. Show gratitude, grace and humor more than anger, frustration or hurt.
11. Be loveable more than right.
12. Understand but keep to my side of the fence.
13. Have compassion but be strong enough to tell the truth.
14. Feel the healing power of love.
15. Take more chances, feel deeper, understand the strength to let go when needed.
16. I can't fix anybody. ANYbody.
17. Walk with other warm hearts and bright spirits. Close my doors and windows to negativity.
18. Notice, nurture, never forget.
19. Lead with love and kindness.
20. Hug the little girl inside me every day.
In February, I attended a writer's conference in Hawaii, organized by the wonderful author, Violet Duke. It was my honor to sponsor a tour of the Arizona Memorial. I've been before, but wanted to make it so others who hadn't, got to experience it. December 7th is just three days from now.
Words do not do this beautiful memorial justice. I watched the peaceful waters of the bay, the oil still leaking from the Arizona herself, flowing out to sea, mixed with my flower lei I brought to honor those who served for me so bravely and paid the ultimate sacrifice. I really don't get into the full holiday spirit until after this milestone is passed. Just like I don't ever get to Thanksgiving without remembering 9-11 or the assasination of JFK. These are just points in my life I celebrate. And yes, I say celebrate.
The ones who are gone would want me to do so. I can't bring them back, but I can make sure they live on forever. We came together during these huge times in our country's history. All creeds and races, religions. Everyone knew where they were during that time, or remembered going back to visit the memorials if they were too young to remember the live event. We think about those gone, and vow they will not be forgotten. It's our job, because right now, we are the living. Won't always be so but for right now, we are.
I was struck again by the photographs of the young pilot, Setuo Ishino, who flew into the Missouri, and the military send-off he received, draped in a Japanese flag sewn by a crew of Navy kitchen swabs. The letter that was written to his parents, telling of his bravery. The men who saluted as he was returned to the sea. I see the other letters written by the other Kamakaze pilots to their parents before their missions, men who would be screwed into their cockpits for no escape. I saw the picture of his family when the boy was two, holding an airplane.
There is insanity in war. And there is decency and honor even in the worst of times. I am reminded of what someone said, “Circumstances don't make a person. They reveal a person.”
My little part of this is only to help people remember what bravery and true honor really is all about. The selfless courage of common men and women, who do uncommon things. Things they never dreamed they would or could do, but somehow they just do.
And I say thank you to all who have served and are serving today.
I've been perusing a couple of little books lately. An old standby for me is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Moving On, which is no longer in print, but you can buy here for .01 in hard bound. I literally highlighted every other page in this book after the devastating fire that took our house and many of our valuables in 2008. Miraculously, because I had hired someone (Connie) to help me sort and archive things, all my family photographs were spared. Several boxes I'd recently inherited from my mother weren't yet unpacked and were also spared. But all my old family jewelry, the doll my great great grandmother came over with from Scotland and her box, and a braid of my other great grandmother's hair perished.
The house we had lived in before the fire was one of those I “settled” for and never should have. It was all we could afford, since we were raising 4 kids. The unfinished projects and the Mystery House effect didn't bother me because we were warm and safe. And we were saving for college educations.
Luckily, my kids either got partial scholarships, or went into the military. After they were all gone, my husband and I were left with literally this empty shell of a monstrosity. And then the fire took it all away.
I was grateful in a way. I got to spend time designing a house I would be happy living in. So Moving On was a great book for me. After a messy divorce, she was literally starting her writing career and her life all over again. I did something similar. Gave up my once successful life as a Realtor, for the life of a romance writer. We weathered a couple of very rough years financially and emotionally as well. We were attempting to heal.
Until I started planning my new house, I didn't realize what a toll those 23 years of living in that unfinished and quirky house had taken on me. I began to read about making spaces I would love, things that inspired me, like when SBB found “Newton's Cottage”.
When I read this comment, I was stopped in my tracks. It changed the direction of my life forever, as I pondered writing romance in a new house:
“Rosemary Sullivan (SBB had written about her treatise on falling obsessively in love) is meditating on the emotion women feel when they fall in love at first sight with men; I'm the one making the leap to house fever because I've succumbed to both. Suddenly, without warning (or so it seems) the trajectory of a woman's life changes, becoming “a vicarious route to some essential part of herself that she does not yet fully recognize or understand.” The Beloved becomes “the heroic territory she longs to occupy.”
She thinks she's found him–or home. (We say we feel “at home” with our true love). Interestingly, the name of the greatest lover of all time, Casanova, means ‘new house.'”
My professional organizer, Connie, came back to my house this week, and she mapped out some ideas for me to ponder and work on until she comes back on Tuesday and we spend a couple of hours getting my writing area, which includes the writing computer and the packaging and blogging area, organized. “You're going to have to decide what Sharon lives here,” she said as she walked around my space. Oddly enough, the office I once had, was given to my husband, who wanted to spend more time working from home. So, I was given the “bridge” – the walkway outside our bedrooms, but overlooking the gardens below and the living and dining areas below. And a “bridge” is what it's been. A place between two parts of me not yet put together properly. I have my gardens, and I have my bedroom. Between those two, is my writing. It's been growing faster than the garden and is less calm than the bedroom. The pad is unfinished to accept my Glider, so this bridge I'm finally making peace with. Instead of being temporary, I'm making it permanent. For now.
So, I'm throwing out things, moving things, clearing a space, a landing space so I can work on my projects. And as I'm doing so, I'm thinking about all those Sharons I am. Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, inspired and magical being.
I don't yet have a space of my own belonging, as Sara BanBreathnach writes about. But I have a place I can create from. It isn't an end game, I realize as I clean out, purge and choose. It's just the beginning of the Sharon I am becoming.
And that excites me totally!
I've been reading those little books again. None of my favorite shows are on TV these days and I've watched everything I want to that's streaming. I'm having a productive summer writing. My garden is doing well. This morning I harvested the first of my corn.
My mother used to talk about how in the midwest they'd say “knee high by the 4th of July” and I always think of that when I look at my corn. I just planted some new starts this weekend, so in California, it's a bit different. But the promise of “knee high” gives me hope that even though my garden isn't perfectly manicured, I'll have corn. And I do!
I bought a big strawberry candle at Mollie Stone's market in Palo Alto when I was there for the reunion party, then found it online and cheaper, of course. I enjoy that fleeting strawberry scent which is perfect for summertime daydreaming, or writing, or whatever. Candles and music are big for me, as is the ambience of place, so I can get into the rhythm of the story. I'm listening to Jim Wilson and Ludovico Einaudi almost non-stop.
I've said before that a story is like a patchwork quilt, made up of different colors and patterns, like the characters in the book and the past and emotions they bring to the story. If everything was “perfect” from the beginning, we'd soon lose interest. I do like to show some perfect things all throughout my books, but I want to show how close to a precipice the perfect, or order of my character's lives is. How easily it can fall away, be neglected, or ignored intentionally for other pressures.
So is it harmony we seek? I know my readers love the Happily Ever After, and I will deliver that every time without fail, or I can't call myself a romance writer. But worshiping the hero or heroine is worshiping the choices they ultimately make. This holds true whether we are talking about a good crime fiction, romantic suspense or inspirational romance. We celebrate the choices that are made, showing the change in the character from the beginning of the book. We show how he or she has learned something new.
I learn something new as an author with each book. I have my doubts sometimes at the beginning or in the middle (they call it the soggy middle for good reason), like I think everyone does. Of course, I keep those to myself, until the story “gels” for me, and that's when I feel the movement of my soul, pouring it out there for all to see, and hopefully enjoy. As a writer, I go through that change just like my characters do.
So creating art is a process, but it's also a practice. Loving is a practice. Marriage is a practice. Being a good friend is a practice. And writing a bestseller is definitely a practice we get better and better with each book we write. We turn our doubts, our chaos, our many parts of the story into a beautiful quilt of emotion and theme, just as we practice patience and allow all those chaotic parts to come inside us.
My little brother, after years of commuting from Petaluma to the City and beyond, is retiring. I'm so happy for him, for his roses, his garden, his lovely wife and his beautiful daughter. They will finally get to spend more time with this wonderful man.
Would you believe in all the years growing up and even now, we have never argued? I mean, not once! Considering how I seem to get into it with other family members from time to time – not often – but I speak my mind – we've never had a cross word. I don't know how that happened, but nothing was important enough to blow our friendship over.
Getting up to Roseville was a long 2+ hour drive in nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic. And coming home was no different. My husband drove 5 hours total yesterday, but it was so worth it. I left my purse there, but luckily my daughter will return it to me today.
Darrell has lots of things he wants to do with his time – volunteer work and things he's never had time for until now.
Will I ever retire? I laugh to think my YOUNGER brother is retiring. Do any of us ever really retire? I don't think so. Not if we have a long, loving and family or friend-filled life. Not if we do the things of our heart and soul. Not if we bring value and love to other people's lives.
Our parents are gone, but I think the spirit of their love and support was there yesterday. We shared many memories of family events from the past, and many of the cousins and relatives from nearby, some driving greater distances, shared in the celebration. We miss those gone, but we celebrate life and life's changes.
Oh yes, and I got to pass out some bookmarks. Like I said, I don't think I'll ever retire. And that's a good thing, right?
Romantic Times Book Convention was one of my best. Although they seem to get better and better for me each year, I think I'm finally beginning to figure things out. I gave away about 60 books, and met some wonderful new readers. Sold a bunch of books this year, more than I'd planned on. Met with author friends, did one panel on Heroes Out Of Uniform, which was moderated by Gennita Low – many people said it was the best panel of the whole convention. Participated in the Military Tribute (thank you Elle for organizing it), and of course rewarded my new recruits with swag and tee shirts.
Lucky to have one of my readers who attended my Coppola book signing in Sonoma County, come to this event to sit at my table.
Got to mention the Operation Aloha Shirt Quilt and sold out of raffle tickets (wish I'd brought more).
Met with Cissy and Susan at Writer Space, who do my newsletter and so much more.
|You can see my interview with this handsome cover model on my RB4U Blog post last year here.|
We are a community of writers. I always like spending a lot of time in my writing cave, which is what I have to do when I get home, but without our writer friends, and the suggestions they make (I am a big one on asking questions and getting information), I wouldn't have the kind of career I am lucky enough to have. My readers wouldn't get as much from me, either.
So, from the Erotic Museum, to the rooftop gazing at the VooDoo Lounge, the Club RT and the Giant Book Signing, I go away with happy memories of hard working authors dedicated to their readers. The work ethic and professionalism of our industry, fueled by such fandom, is outstanding. I am so inspired to go home and write my heart out for all of you who take a chance on my books.
|Mother had no idea what was in store.|
I was baptized on Easter Sunday. Not sprinkled. Dunked. When you are raised Baptist, nothing short of the full-on emersion service will do. We'd been studying for weeks, memorizing Bible verses and creeds, learning all the things we needed to know about our church, its history and why being baptized was a good thing.
The Bible story is all about renewal and forgiveness, our sins being washed away and the fresh start to life that is promised for those who follow the Christian faith. I know there's a lot of pagan history surrounding Easter, but since I'm not a scholar, I'm going to limit my discussion to what I know.
The rest of the story, as they say, was that I had a terrible, hopeless crush on a boy who lived around the corner from the church. He was also in the new membership class. We were both about ten years old. I had a hard time looking at him for fear of fainting. If he noticed me at all, I would be surprised.
He was tall, dark and handsome, just like the bad boys in my dreams who would steal me away. I imagined all sorts of miraculous things about him, but the truth was, I never really knew him. Years later I would run into him in the hallways of our different high schools and I would confess to having had a crush on him for three years running. His answer was simple, like it always was: “I don't remember you.”
That special Easter Sunday, we had to walk down the church aisle in our white robes, the girls with a small plastic daffodil, and the boys with a palm frond. We also carried our pristine white washcloth which would be used later on.
The choir sang as we lined up, and, sure enough, as the boys and girls converged at the back of the narthex, one by one we were paired and guess what? I was Richard's partner.
It was surreal. Even then I was a romantic. I held my yellow daffodil like it was a wedding bouquet and Richard was my groom. Our legs touched a couple of times. His shoulder rubbed mine. Did his body buzz like mine did? Probably not.
At the altar, we separated to go up and around the choir loft to enter the Baptistry. My father's cousin was the paster of our church, and the good Dr. had me say my name, and, after handing him my folded white washcloth, he placed it over my nose and mouth and bent me back, down into the water. Of course I lost my footing and splashed, and came up coughing, which caused a little ripple of laughter from the church. I was the girl who forgot her lines at Christmas when my job was to recite the Christmas story by candlelight. I was also the one who threw up in the choir loft because I sat next to Richard one Sunday and our thighs actually touched. I couldn't handle the excitement, so I threw up. I'm the one who gave my shiny silver dollar to the poor African kids we saw in that movie they played – the kids with the bloated bellies. My dad replaced it with a paper bill, and gave me back my silver dollar with, “It's nice to give the dollar, but you didn't have to give that special dollar.” He had brought it back from Reno when he took the college kids skiing the weekend before.
|My granddaughter takes after me, I'm sure.|
Now you would think Richard would have remembered me. Or maybe he just tried to forget me, which is more likely the case. But each encounter was rather cathartic for me. It was, in many ways, a fresh beginning each time I went to church, as I learned to anticipate our meeting, learned to handle the proximity to him, and then deal with my blood pressure going back to normal.
Those were magical days. My parents had always said you “had babies with someone you really love.” I used to go to bed at night dreaming I was pregnant – a testament to how much I loved him. My simplistic view of that whole thing was dashed one evening in my parent's kitchen and life was never the same afterwards. All because I came home and asked what that four-letter word beginning with a F was. My life was over as I knew it. Why would anyone let a boy pee on them, or inside them – wherever that place was. I didn't even know it was there! And I knew it was wrong to find out.
Many, many Easters have gone by as I've raised my own four children, and now watch my grandchildren. I couldn't convince any of them to get dunked, so I think I'm still the special one in the family. I had my third child on Easter Sunday. It was and always has been a day to mark a new milestone in an ordinary life filled with love and family and friends.
|Princess in training is a good thing.|
The message of new beginnings is just as timeless as it was way back then when I was so distracted. A friend once said I needed to put my arms around that little girl and just love her. There was never enough love. I was never confident enough. But there's satisfaction in remembering the cycles of life and how even an awkward girl of ten could grow up and tell love stories. I'm still walking down aisles with flower bouquets and my heart goes pitter-pat for all the heroes in my books.
Because true love does indeed heal in the gardens of the heart.
Happy Easter, everyone.
As you read this, I will be in an airplane, hopefully watch pre-football highlights, or reading a good book, editing, or inspired to write, or talking to some interesting passenger. I'm going to be in Hawaii at an author conference and I'm so excited, they might have to unload me as a nuclear device…
I'm really looking forward to this conference. The company will be outstanding – leaders in the Romance industry, as well as all the folks who help us from Amazon to iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Ingram Spark. We'll be talking about time management, VAs, FB ads, branding, writing series, brainstorming, and there will be time for just hanging around, sprinting by the beach. For a writer, that means writing. Then on Saturday, a great big book signing at Hickam AFB (I even have an official pass) and a 1940's Swing Dance. I got my vintage dress and supposedly some young officer who has agreed to take me on the dance floor and dance with someone who could be his grandma.
On Thursday, I'm sponsoring the Pearl Harbor tour, and the trip to the Arizona and Missouri Memorials. Now that I have my camera fixed, I can perhaps share pictures.
Finished my mentoring on Friday, and now its green lights all the way from the conference to the week before my Coppola Event. Still some tickets left. This will be an outstanding Romancing The Vines, another first in hopefully a string of successful signing in the future.
The San Francisco Airport is buzzing with Superbowl fever. I bought a coffee tumbler with Superbowl 50 on it, and there's a whole group who just flew in and are having Irish Coffees here at the Buena Vista Cafe. Supposed to be in the '70's here in my part of the world, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect day for a game. Go Niners! Wait…I'll have to wait for that.
I wasn't going to do as much traveling this year, and I've changed my mind. Now I just have to boost my sales up to afford to do it all. But meeting readers, hanging out with some of my best friends, learning and just getting outside my cave is going to be fun.
I can tell 2016 is going to be a brilliant year. Can't wait to tell you about it!
|View from my window|
I just finished my new novella, Nashville SEAL. It is going to be included in an anthology coming out this December, called Holding Out For A Hero. I plan to release a print and audio version as well.
I've thoroughly loved writing this book, as I do all my books. These colorful characters come to life as I put the story on the page, and I see opportunities to add fun details, sketches of people who would fit in, or, in many cases, don't fit into the story – because I find the deets that don't fit in are sometimes the best and most likeable for readers.
|Fireplace, tossed sheets, what could be better?|
So I put myself up in the lovely Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, a place I have gone to before when I needed a story “recharging” and what I call growing the kernels of my story in my own cornfield.
It is impossible to live in a heightened state of emotional intimacy 24/7 with anyone, let alone a fictional character, but when I travel to some place like the Kenwood Inn, my regular life fades into the distance and I get to live in my story. I've heard other writers do the same. I try to pick not just a “motel” room stay unless I'm writing about college dorm life. In this case, I was writing about a young singer-songwriter who is experiencing a good degree of success, and decides he wants more out of life, right at the same time something very moving and important from his past comes back on the scene.
|Wine bar writing|
Room service keeps me in the story because I don't have to stop and prepare or share my dinnertime with anyone (yes, this is a solo trip, by necessity), I can go to sleep when I want to, stay up all night and write, edit and doze by fireplace. Just walking the grounds gives me ideas. I have a time-travel romance set in this location, and have referred to it in Underworld Lover, and several of my SEAL books. In my books, it's called the Waterwheel Inn.
With my chapters done and not polished, I decided to finish that job at Las Vegas, since I was going there this weekend for an author signing put on by my friend, Crystal Perkins. I've done events with her in the past. Met up with Lance Taubold, and met a couple of new shining stars in my collection of author friends. I have some posts planned later for that.
|Everyone should lick responsibly, don't you agree?|
So I ran across this store here off the Flamingo, called LICK. Okay, yes, it's a candy store, but OMG I should have shopped here before my bachelorette party at RomCon. Every imaginable thing that had to do with candy, and lollipops, and (ahem) licking, was present. The atmosphere couldn't be more different, but the end result: I still focus on the romance. Watched the beautiful Bellagio water shows several times, wandered along the promenade and did a little naughty shopping. Cherry stuff, like oh, warmers and such, lip gloss, and my Lick Responsibly tee shirt. Some of these things are going to have to stay private, but boy did I have fun! Love the beer cozies, don't you? Not sure where I can wear the tee shirt, but it could be a nice message to wear around the house. Oh yes, the tit mints are kinda cool too. Yes, I am two women wrapped up in one. Well, perhaps three or four, but if you can't have fun, what good is it to be alive?
Even got red Tootsie Pop glasses for my new Romance Rider!
And it gave the right amount of kink and spice I needed to polish the book to it's jewel essence. And I had fun in the process.
I go home to hopefully a pad ready for my Romance Rider, and now that the book is finished, I can start to clean out my office and get her all set up! Life is good!
My new release, Band of Bachelors: Lucas, will be here tonight at midnight. I've loved writing this story from beginning to end. The idea first came to me when our son moved from New York City, to Park City, Utah, and then home to California. I go into this in depth in my Newsletter this month. Be sure to sign up, if you're not already a subscriber.
We get our stories from real life. You've all seen the tee-shirt: “Be nice to me or I'll put you in my book,” and for some, this can be dangerous. For others, it could be flattering. I'm working on a new story this week for another anthology I'll be in that's due early November, and I've promised the real person I'd make a character that was as yummy as possible. You can bet I'll be taking all the good, and making up the bad.
DJ's experiences living with a household of bachelors in Park City was life changing. I can say here what I couldn't say in my newsletter (did you subscribe? LOL), that in addition to the fact that these men were older and divorced, they were also excommunicated (if this is the correct term) LDS members. I presume that's because of the raucous activity they participated in, namely the use of alcohol. But I imagine their language, general lifestyle and the use of “professionals” for their dating needs didn't ingratiate them to the church. It almost certainly made the possibility of a reconciliation with their wives a zero percent chance of success, on purpose. I certainly couldn't use any of that in the book, not that other authors don't, but I don't believe in knocking anyone's beliefs, whether they be traditional or otherwise. Besides, this has nothing to do with religion, but a lack of faith in something greater than themselves. My hero, Navy SEAL Lucas Shipley, eventually parts ways with them, just like DJ did.
My son came home with lots of material, and we actually had fun thinking up how we could turn this experience into some kind of TV show. The bachelors were always giving him horrible advice. Very bad advice. Being single and young, he knew he had to leave when, as he says in his words, “Mom, I'm starting to believe them.”
And that's the kernel of what began to grow when I thought about the Band of Bachelors. The book trailer J.D. Hart, my awesome Storyteller and best friend, captures it perfectly.
Yesterday I babysat my two grandchildren. I'd finally received my copy of Cinderella, the new Disney movie that has outsold all other Disney movies to date. I wasn't able to see it in the theater, but when I stumbled upon the soundtrack, I had to have the movie. The three of us watched it.
This story is so important, not only because she gets the handsome prince in the end, although that is part of the happily ever after we like to read and write in romance. What was important to me was that it was the first story I heard that I can remember feeling the joy of belonging somewhere. Being wanted. Finding my magical doorway to the rest of my life. It was such an uncommon thought for someone less than three years old. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. It has colored everything I do, every choice I made in life since. And it started with a story, a little record player and a picture book to go along with it.
And a room by myself in the upstairs of my huge house. It was like Cinderella's attic. Where all the dreaming and magic happened.
One of the things that graces us when we age is that a lot of things fall away. We forget some hurts. We are smoothed over by the passage of time so that the sun comes out again after a long night, bad feelings and hurtful situations soon fade into the patchwork that is our lives.
One of my favorite songs is “Why Don't We Just Dance.” I've used it in several of my SEAL books, because, when things are strange, when things are perched on a cliff of unknown height, when we aren't sure what to do, I think it's just a good idea to kick of your shoes and just dance. That's how the record ended, with the song, “So This is Love.” and she is dancing in a beautiful ball gown in front of a crowd of people who wished they were dancing too.
Another favorite song of mine is The Dance, “I could have done without the pain but then I would have missed the dance.” What a wonderful line that is.
I was Cinderella in those days. Every fibre of my being was forged into the romantic with rose colored glasses, a dreamer. I learned how to let myself feel. A gift from my three-year-old self to the woman I am today. I am grateful to that little girl who had the courage to take that first step out on the dance floor.
This week, we are launching a beautiful documentary called Love Between The Covers. I financially supported this film (if you scroll down slowly you'll see my name!). I did it because the story has to be told. When I started writing, I had no idea it would be so. It has made me a successful author who can support myself living just about anywhere in the country. It's also important that the world knows what romance does for us. It heals us. I want everyone to know this.
I took a writing workshop very early in my career, and developed the tagline: True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart. I wanted to have gardens in my website and use it on promotional things and was talked out of it. Experts. Some day I'll write a post on experts. Thank God I haven't listened to them all the time! And yes, sometimes you have to do things wrong first before you learn.
The story that I'm not ashamed to tell is that romance is good for us. You can read my posts of the last month, and just about all of them are on this subject. What happens to our brains, what happens to our general mood when we fall in love, deep, satisfying romantic love.
I watched transfixed as Cinderella danced in that beautiful blue dress, in the arms of the handsome price who twirled her and took her places she could not go by herself–but places she had dreamt.
I think we were meant to dance all our lives, just like we were meant to read about falling in love, letting it make us feel good. To whisper our love stories to the crickets and stars at night, to feel the old earth rotating slowly, oblivious of the passage of time. It all starts with believing in the dance of the heart.
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?
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!
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.
I try not to listen to the news, but most days I can't seem to avoid it. Even going for coffee I'll stumble upon the headlines in our local paper. My eyes drift off toward that first page as if it was a new erotic thriller. Human nature, I guess.
We hear about the explosion of bad deeds, both in the name of religion and in the name of some nationalistic cause, and we sometimes wonder who we can trust. Can we trust our world leaders? Do we have to put up with dishonest dealings and back room deals? Do we have to tolerate our fine men and women being sent in to do jobs and then neglect to take care of them after they are back? And do we forget to say thank you?
Oh yes, we do. Our need for the smutty and salacious is overwhelming, like how my eyes wander to the headlines. Truth is, we've been fairly well insulated from most of the bad things of this world because there are men and women who laid down their lives so we could live the life we have, relatively unfettered. I guess that's why I don't like to hear about how bad things are. Things for you and I and most the people reading this post, are pretty darned good. And someone else paid for that freedom. There are those doing it still today.
Every death in battle, every innocent death, every death due to lack of services or neglect or ignorance is one death too many. Today we remember those who fought and died during times of war. It crosses all races and religions, all nationalities, both sexes, all ages, all economic levels and all languages and cultures. Our war heroes and those that support them come home, remembering those who did not. Our uniforms are bloody, our hearts weep, and our flags are frayed. But the cost is worth it.
Something someone once showed me made a big impression, and I guess that's the lesson in today's post. I pass this knowledge on to you, just in case you didn't hear it. For however you may think about what's been going on recently in the war arena, here are some facts you might want to remind yourself of.
You can read the whole article here. It only covers American lives lost during conflicts from the Revolutionary War to today. But here are a couple of startling things to remember. During the first 100 years of our country's existence, 683,000 Americans lost their lives (91% of that during the Civil War). During the last 100 years 626,000 Americans died (WWII being 65% of that figure).
Revolutionary War 25,000
Mexican-American War 13,283
Since 1945, the end of WWII, Americans have lost 102,264 lives. Yes, it should be zero. One is too many. We want them all to come home and come home whole. But there's a reason we've lived in relative safety. Our men and women in the military all over the world are the biggest reason. They don't make policy. They do what they're told. And they pay the price for us.
SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Romantic Times Convention and what I learned.
|My Pirate Storyteller, J.D. Hart|
|My Hunky Heroes quilt raffle.|
My quilt was a hit, and the lovely Kathryn Falk won the raffle. We raised $323, which will be sent to the UDT/Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida when I get back Monday. Thank you everyone who donated.
|Sylvia Day and Karin Tabke at RT|
|View from The Tower at Dallas Hyatt Regency – it revolves!|
Now, as I sit here and look out my early morning window, thunder and lightning brightening the sky (and yes, drowning out the couple next door again…lol…did a whole FB post on this last night), I'm just very grateful I get to spend so much time doing what I love to do: being a full time writer.
|Military Tribute with fans and Susan Stoker|
|Boots package wine quite well!|
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.
Spent this morning having a very naughty breakfast with my son. It was naughty because I’m sure it was about 1500 calories. I had a waffle with real maple syrup, applewood cured bacon hand harvested/cured just over the freeway by an artisan butcher, good cappuccino, and fruit. Then the table next to us had these chocolate looking things covered in powdered sugar and I had to have an order of that, too. I ate one, brought the others home for a late night snack, with the homemade berry jam on the side. Our favorite restaurant for this mother-son bonding time is Spinster Sisters.
On the way, I opened up a packet I’d gotten yesterday in the mail, and low and behold, my Sisters On The Fly membership certificate, card, patch (you know I love patches, right?), my blue bandana and newsletter arrived. I’m so excited to join this group. Next year, on my bucket list, is to buy an Airstream trailer, deck it out with red romancy things and take it on the road
with these gals for a few weeks. The rules of this group:
No men. No children. No pets. Play nice.
I am so in this group. I am going to have a ball traveling with these ladies. Here’s what their newsletter says:
“Our purpose is really very simple: to re-introduce the idea of making girls out of women in glamorous camping and outdoor activities.”
Formed by two real-life sisters and honoring the amazing mother they were fortunate to have, Mazie, they named their group Sisters On The Fly because they like fly fishing (Ask me if I know how. Ask me if I care. Ask me if I’m going to learn) and they were never home. The more I read about the Amazing Mazie and her “sense of style including her red cowgirl boots and her evening martini, cigarette and occasional cigar” who passed on two days before her 95th birthday last year, the more I was hooked. My granddaughter’s middle name is Mazie. I own the red cowboy boots. The rest are just details.
As a group of women, we challenge ourselves in all that that we set our mind to. There is no age, color, religion or political group. All women who want to share in the adventures of “sisterhood” are welcome. This “sisterhood” has grown to over 4,000 women since its inception in 1999:
“WE HAVE MORE FUN THAN ANYONE”
We encourage you to join us on one of our adventures and let yourself be spoiled rotten, learn to fish, to be a real Western Cowgirl, run rivers, and enjoy pure highway traveling fun. The best part is meeting all those new sisters you didn’t even know you had. Our members range in age from 21 to 94, with most being in between. And just remember , our rules are simple…
“No men, no pets, no kids… and be nice.”
Can you see a romance: Travels With Mazie? Can you imagine what my romance-themed red interior Airstream will look like? Oh I do wish I could spend the entire day thinking about all this, but I have to get back to SEAL’s Code.
If someone had told me that life after 60 was going to be better than the first 60 years, I might not have believed them. And it doesn’t have anything to do with hospitals, walkers or wearing purple. It’s about romancing the life that I was fortunate to be given. Loving the people I’m fortunate to call friends. Write the stories of my heart and grow young. I love this philosophy of making girls out of women. What an adventure, and thank you all for coming along with me! Are you game for some fun!
Over and out. Permission to come in HOT!! Sister #5799, also known as Sharon Hamilton.
My plane doesn't take off for a few hours, and already I'm teary-eyed. I've been attending the Day With The Authors here in Nashville, organized by Sandy Sullivan, and I have to say it has been one of the best conferences, as a writer, I have attended this year. I nearly sold out of all my books.
Something about being in this part of the country tugs at my heartstrings (I guess that was a play on words). I know it isn't always green and warm, but Friday morning my storyteller, J.D. Hart, and I drove through the countryside and had an early breakfast at Loveless Cafe. Surrounded by pictures of stars from the 1950's on, I loved partaking of the biscuits, the bacon, sausage and ham with the baked cheese casserole hash browns, peach preserves and gravy. I don't eat like this in California, and even if I wanted to, there'd be no place like this. They were stoking up the BBQ in what we would call a summer kitchen outside the main restaurant.
Last night we went to a world class steak house, where I was surrounded by the gentle conversation washing over me like a light warm rain. People smile, they look you in the eyes, and they are gracious. As I said in my talk yesterday, there must be a Southern bone in my body somewhere, even though I've been born and raised in Northern California. They are an endearing kind of warm that really grows on me.
Today we visit Arrington Winery. But it's just a day to hang with my best friend, the man from Tennessee, and yes, I am his number one fan. I'll probably become incoherent by the end of our day together, so I'm bringing my Kleenex.
This trip has been inspiring. I've gotten way more out of it than the energy I've put in. Looking out at the sea of people as I gave my little talk, I felt honored and loved, truly loved. I like small, intimate gatherings where we can tell stories and just hang with our reader fans. The community of writers I've been privileged to get to know well is a family that will sustain me for the rest of my life.
This great country of ours is made up of different regions, each with its own special gifts. But leaving Nashville will be hard today. Going home will be nice, but I will miss this place, and the good friends I leave behind.
Until the next time!