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Planning My Writing Year

Every year I start planning my writing year in the fourth quarter. When I used to coach Realtors, my line would be, “The most important quarter of next year is the last quarter of this year.” That way, when you start out January 1, you hit the ground running.

It's the same for writing. In fact, all my nearly 30 years selling real estate and coaching agents for the top-rated professional coaching organization I was part of, has only underscored these business principles. We think of writing as an emotional journey. People think we writers write when we feel like it, and when “the muse strikes us,” and for some, that definitely is the way of it. But for the successful authors, which I strive to remain part of, it takes prior planning and discipline.

I used to think that writing was different than selling Real Estate. Well, after some 7 years, I can tell you it isn't. Everything is sales. Relationships are based on sales. Raising children is a huge sales job (and sometimes a battle between who is doing the better sell job on whom). Falling in love is sales. Having clients or fans is sales. Associating with other authors or other business people, is sales. Maintaining your positive energy and mindset is a tricky and important sell job we do on ourselves.

So, once again, I've stripped off the cloak of confusion, hiding and secrets, and jump head-on into the Business of Writing. After all, we are not hobbyists with our writing. We are professional authors. And to call us such, we have to have a business plan, a direction and a template to repeat or build on our successes and strive to eliminate what didn't work well.

In the old days, I started by telling a story:

What Went Right
     What Needs Improvement

Then I gave my numbers from the previous year, and used a percentage at the sidebar, stating if it was up (an improvement) or down (a decrease), or stayed the same. I listed my 5 most important goals for last year and how I did on all 5 of them. After all, a year cannot be evaluated based on one thing alone. There are always things that are better or worse than before. It's never totally a success or a failure, right?

Then I decided what were my new goals for this upcoming year, and the numbers that supported that success. I broke it down to the number of work days, weeks, time off, conventions and events I wanted to attend, vacations, and came up with a total number of days I wanted to work. I backed the numbers into those days, figuring how many it took of each category to achieve what my goal was. For instance, if I made 42 cold calls a day, for 5 days a week, it automatically guaranteed an income of $X, based on my ratios. I knew how many appts. I needed to make, how many listings I would take, buyers I would have, and how many of those would turn into successful transactions, even figuring what my average transaction income was.

I've done the same for my writing year. I know there will be fluctuations in the marketplace, just like there is in Real Estate, and those are out of my control. But I can figure on a general figure, and I usually aim low. I know that certain books will generate what average income, whether it be by genre or length of book. I estimate how much I need to spend to promote and achieve those numbers, but I weigh them not on the promotion costs, but my activity costs. (I'm not buying the business, I'm generating a writing income. I've seen writers, as well as Realtors spend money to achieve ranking rather than actually creating it, which is the long-term sustainability goal).  A book takes X number of days to write, and X number of days to edit, get the cover done, have formatted and upload. I have to take into account all these time factors to realistically estimate how much time it will take to achieve my goal. I may have to adjust by: being more consistent with my writing day, or, spending less on costs, or learning to write or edit faster, or change the environment around me as far as helpers and people who I pay to help me produce my product. Perhaps I need to trim staff. Perhaps I need to add. Perhaps trim the number of conventions, perhaps increase certain ones. You see how it goes.

And then the fun part happens, I mark it all out on a yearly calendar. I have eBooks, Audio Books, and Print Books. I have swag and other things I buy to promote. I put a budget to all these things, and then track it. And I keep a tight leash on my writing day vs. my promotional part of the day. For me, I like to keep the writing together, and the promotional days together so I don't have to keep switching hats all the time in the same day.

The last phase is How We Do It Here. I love Michael Gerber's books like e-Myth. I love the SEALs code of Prepare, prepare, prepare, train, train, train, action. Then aim. I like to aim after I've executed. I like to prepare after I've trained. I like to prepare for my training, and so forth, working backwards. Saying it more simply:

     I dream about what I want to achieve
     I plan for success
     I train and focus on the plan
     I execute** (notice I don't adjust during execution-“Balls To The Wall”)
     I track and evaluate constantly
     I adjust my plan

We often see the routes an airplane takes as a straight crescent from Point A to Point B. But in fact, it is a series of hundreds, perhaps thousands of adjustments along the way. If you were to see the path the plane took, it would look like wiggly lines a mouse might make traveling from one place to another, as he makes adjustments and perhaps gets distracted. We are the same as writers!

Why should we plan as writers? Well, my mentor used to say, “You get what you think about most the time.” He'd add to someone in the audience, a male he could joke with, “That means you'd turn into a blonde 30 year old bombshell.” But in seriousness, we have a plan so we have the vision to achieve it, and the backup to that vision, the way we're going to make it happen. This way, we get to launch into our next year with confidence. Those first few weeks of our year are like the Honeymoon Event, when everything is possible and nothing hasn't turned out wrong — YET! But the plan keeps us on track, so we can adjust, perhaps see where we made a miscalculation and make that correction before we have to work out the whole year in a mode that isn't going to work. Our plan is adjustable, because it's a working plan.

And any good working plan needs the courage to follow it, to track and look at it critically to make those adjustments. Otherwise, the plan is an exercise in futility. I knew a lot of Realtors who made a plan, but never concentrated on the execution or the little tweaks that could have paid them huge dividends. Writers are the same.

We learned to walk as toddlers by bumping into things and falling on our rears. No plan is perfect. No execution is perfect. But if we focus on it, focus on the training and preparation, the execution will come easier. Or rather, we can execute without second-guessing ourselves in the process. If we prepare and train, we don't hesitate. If we have a plan for the year, each day becomes more relevant instead of slipping away. Every story becomes part of the fabric of our writing year. Every character sketch or re-write brings us more jewels, more clarity and better books.

And it makes the whole process more fun.

I hope your 2018 is the very best year of your writing or reading life. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a New Year that will sparkle with all the magic success brings us all. After all, you deserve it!

Now, go!

***Late Note: Blogger is not allowing me to respond to all your wonderful comments. Just know that I'm reading each and every one of them, and taking them to heart. Feel free to pass along this column if you wish. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!***



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pirate Bounty (and lots of Booty) At KallypsoCon SUNDAYS WITH SHARON

We've had a wonderful two days at KallypsoCon. I got to meet readers I have never met. We had lots of opportunity to sit, have dinner with, and play games with readers, about half of whom were from the New England area. I had never been in New England in the fall, and, although the bright colors were gone, I still got to see the tail end of it. One more thing checked off my bucket list.

Kallypso Masters does a great job bringing together other authors and readers at every venue she's at. Her loyal fans soon became my fans, and vice versa. In the true spirit of love and friendship, we all help each other as authors, by serving the readers. A reader-centric convention is unusual in this business. In my opinion it is something I wish more conventions focused on.

So what did we do? We had panel discussions about why we write military heroes, how we got started being interested in our genre, what's new for us, and how we write. We told stories and played games that brought tears to our eyes. I met readers from the UK, from Canada, and even Puerto Rico.

There were several husbands who attended, and I was happy to see that. Great to see how they support their author wives, all of them had military backgrounds we could learn from.

Next year's KallypsoCon will be a cowboy theme, and I don't write those, so I won't be in attendance, but if you're a reader and you want to get up close and personal with some of the best cowboy writers in the business, I'd look to book your tickets for KallypsoCon in Casper, Wyoming, early. It will sell out. I already know they have a stable of great authors ready to thrill your reading needs.

We continue this morning with more craft events and some games, and more reader interaction. We had a grat time using old keys from my house fire, making necklaces that readers will enjoy for years to come. Wasn't sure how it would go over, but it was very popular. Now I get to lug that 15# anvil home!!

Sold lots of books, and networked with bloggers and several reviewers who had reviewed my books. It was an honor to be part of this group. Can't wait to get home today, but it was fun being part of this great event.



Bought this for Romance Glider's walls yesterday!

I've wanted a writing cottage for several years now. We attended a vintage trailer show recenly, and I bought this 1950 Glider for my writing cave. I need the dedicated space, where I can close a door and be in a different world, without the interruptions of daily life. Not complaining, but I have problems concentrating. My husband has been spending more and more time running his business out of the house, and, though I love him, I can't write around him and his booming voice and shuffling of papers. His personality fills the house.

My Romance Rider

My writing area, “The Bridge” is beautiful, but the house is so open, with the acoustics like a church, anything gets magnified. I don't like to have to turn my music down or change it!! So I've got my own little space to do all my crazy writer stuff in. The Glider was beiing outfitted with a new red canopy awning and arrives Tuesday!! So excited!!

Bunk beds in the rear. Middle bed. Waiting for red curtains!

This RV is fully self-contained, even having a full bath with shower. The man who restores them redid all the undercarriage, installed AC and heat and completely re-acid washed the outside and replaced the skin on one door and the roof. Everything works. All it takes is for my customizing. I have already raided the local antique market for my 1950's memorabilia, including an original Post Magazine with Perry Como on the cover, and a Marilyn Monroe calendar. I've bought Bakelike utensils and cherry juice cups. My theme will be Route 66/Romance Red.

It's 65 years old, so I won't be taking it on long trips. Except in my head. I plan to share all the pictures as I go along, but there are just a few of my faves! More to follow.

Kitchen, soon to be outfitted in red accents. My view. The chrome handles are really cool.

The interior has bunk beds in the back, perfect for babysitting grandkids, and will double as some storage. I'm working on quilting some coverings and curtains. Little by slow, because I can't drop everything to do it – got books to write – I'll have the cottage of my dreams. And how great that, just like my life, just like the house I live in, it's recycled from the past, pulling all the great things in my life forward, leaving behind what doesn't work. Hope you'll go on this journey with me.

Next year, I'm going to get a smaller trailer so I can still have that adventure with the Sisters On The Fly (remember that blog post? No men, no children, no pets, play fair). I became an honorary member in May. I intend to follow that conference. And write romance on an outing. Create a story on the road. What do you think?

LATE EDITION:  Thanks to a reader who sent this link. It applies, don't you think?  Love Shack.  Gitter on the highway…hmmmm. Love it.


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 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!


SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Writing Books is Like Quilting


My daughter just finished our giveaway for this month's Newsletter. We incorporate some of my SEAL book covers in it, and use the same Alexander Henry Pursuit of Happiness background, showing off George Washington, Abe Lincoln and other's abs like you've never seen before.

Writing stories, especially stories for different venues, is very much like piecing together a fine quilt.

Quilting and gardening are two things that bring me solace. Yes, I do enjoy reading while exercising and I've been doing a lot of that lately (trying to get caught up on some new projects I'll be involved in this year). Just like reading, quilting puts me in a “zone” similar to meditation or listening to wonderful music. We spend so much of our day “doing” things, showing up for events, communicating with readers and other authors, and running our businesses, sometimes it's just good to have “screw around time” planned into the schedule. When I used to coach Realtors, I always made my clients schedule “just daydreaming” time. I had a couple Realtors who were shopaholics and we had to plan their vices into their schedule, because it would creep in anyway – better to have planned it.

So when I'm quilting, I think up stories. In high school I made all my own clothes. I used to think about romances while I was sewing as a girl of 14-17, with hunky men who would sweep me off my feet. Little did I know how important “daydreaming” would be, nor how important those themes in the stories were.

Last night I was plotting a new story. I was supposed to be working on another one, but this new one just came in and took over. I know better than to try to push my muse to the side. It dresses up like a bright drag queen and sings drunken pirate songs of love until I have to pay attention to it. Still not sure whether my muse is male or female. One thing is for sure, it likes to sing and dress up in bright colors, including wigs. LOL. More than you ever wanted to know about me, right?

I started with a color: Navy Blue. And the symbols: The Trident. And some heroic traits, and voila, I was off and running. I've got 3 in the works already and I'm excited to say I'll be starting to write the first one this afternoon.

After launching a book I dearly loved writing and nearly wrote itself, I can't wait to get good and steeped in this one. The hero is already whispering in my ear. The heroine is a real randy spitfire, so I guess I'm getting to relive my 20's again…lol…He wants to come out and play hard and love harder. {{{sigh}}} Duty Calls.

Have you seen my new book trailer on YouTube?
Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel?
Have you signed up for my newsletter for the chance to win one of my quilts?



Sometimes we aren't thankful enough for our successes. The world has gotten to be a strange and dangerous place. In my talk yesterday, I discussed how now is the perfect time to be a writer. And who can forget the 2008-2009 time when we were worried the stock market would crash and there'd be war right around the corner? Some writers wrote their best works, and great movies were produced during another dangerous time.

Here's what was happening some 70+ years ago:

Major Political/World Events:
Franco and his Nationalists won the Spanish Civil War
            Germany and
Italy sign the “Pact of Steel”
annexes remaining Czech territories, Czech Republic is dissolved
occupies Albania
border war erupts
pact formed
invades Poland (beginning WWII)
France, India, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany
            US decides
to remain neutral, but begins to arm for war to help ease
of the depression
attacks Finland
            USSR is
expelled from the League of Nations (precursor to UN)
Albert Einstein writes letter to
FDR about the possibility of an atomic bomb
and the Manhattan
Project is launched

Other background for those times:
World Leaders are:
            USSR:              Joseph Stalin
            UK                   Neville Chamberlain
            USA:                Franklin D. Roosevelt
            Japan:             goes through 4 in less than 8
            Australia:        goes through 4 in less than 5 months
            Germany:       Adolf Hitler
            Italy:               Benito Mussolini
And then some major accomplishments:

            Gone With
The Wind is made from Margaret Mitchell’s book in 1936
            Heinkel He
178 is the first jet aircraft to fly
Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath
            Of Mice and
Men was made
Jefferson Memorial is started in Washington, DC
Packard is formed
            The first
air conditioner is offered in a car: Packard
            New York
World’s Fair is hosted by US
Here’s what things cost:
            Average new
home price: $3,800.
wages per year: $1,730.
            Cost of a
gallon of Gas:  10 cents
cost to rent a house:  $28. Per month
            Loaf of
bread:  8 cents
Hamburger:   14 cents
            Average new
car:  $700.
            Toaster:  $16.
            Due to
increased usage, cost of electricity is cut ½ in 10 years
Do you know that people thought publishing houses and the movie studios were done? That no new books would be printed, movies made?
They were wrong then. They are wrong now. Keep Writing!! 

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Wrapping Up My RT Convention

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON:  Romantic Times Convention and what I learned.

My Pirate Storyteller, J.D. Hart
I've filled my calendar with travel this year, and have loved meeting new readers and getting to meet face to face with readers I've seen only online. I think writers in general are a giving people, always helping each other. This convention's good will and positive energy starts from the top. Kathryn Falk and Ken Rubin, who run this with their stable of wonderful volunteers, share the same caring and positive attitude. Makes such a difference to me as a writer, to be in the company of people who like being with each other.
My Hunky Heroes quilt raffle.
I learned I could travel with wine in my boots – literally. What a great way to store these bottles. We had 2, and I sent the other 2 home to my pirate and his lovely wife to enjoy.

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. 

I wrote myself into a box a bit with my timing, and so didn't get in on the parties much this year. I think that was a mistake I made, and next time, I think I'll stay more involved. Even J.D. said I should have tried riding the mechanical bull. I know some line dancing, and I think I could have brought a costume. So, next time, that's what I'll do. I still didn't get all the writing I wanted to do, and I missed some great get-togethers. But I also got some much-needed words down, and had a nice balance between meeting fans and getting re-connected with my writer peeps. This was a measured trip, not throw all caution to the winds. But that's the way I wanted it. Focused. Maybe next year I'll let my hair down a bit more…who knows….

Sylvia Day and Karin Tabke at RT
My storyteller, J.D. Hart, came to help me, and what a Godsend he was. Not only physically helped me with the books and SWAG for the book signing, but was there to meet readers and help me sell my brand. Came all the way from Nashville with his pirate outfit, which was awesome. We got a lot of attention with his unique brand of eye candy at my side, and helped make this convention a success for me.
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.

Being successful does mean you have to write good stories. But without getting out there to promote them, and be a face behind the stories, even a good writer will falter. It's a joy to be able to support our family with something I love so much. My goal is to retire my husband within 3 years, after his many many long years of hard work. And to leave a legacy of great stories hopefully generations to come will enjoy. 

The pirate and me at the book signing
Thanks for being on the journey with me.
Military Tribute with fans and Susan Stoker
Boots package wine quite well!

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON – I Will Miss Nashville

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: I Will Miss Nashville.

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!




A friend of mine reminded me about writing caves and now the new trend, “She Sheds” and I got inspired again. I've still not given up hope that some day soon I'll have a writing cave of my own. I'm not complaining, but grateful for all I have, but the idea of having a place just for me, some place cozy and single-purposed, like for writing and messing around with my muse in private (like it was illegal or something) excites me.

I write now at a desk that also serves as a bill paying station, a catch-all for anything writing related. Bad news is that it's a mess most times, and I usually go off to bed without straightening it (bad habit). Good news is that if it is writing related, it's there. Might be under something, but this sacred space I don't even let the housecleaners mess with.

I once watched a video of an author building her writing cottage and she made the point that writing should be done in an uncluttered, free place where only that is done. She separated her space from reading area, writing area (with a view that inspired her – mine was to look over my garden and flower gardens which have not been returned yet) and then an “office” desk for all the business of writing, so the two don't get mixed up. I have no trouble focusing on bills and schedules and planning. My writing muse is something I have to guard carefully. She's a fragile angel of a thing, a lady, and very sensitive, as I want her to be.

I can write in coffee shops and cafes, at the airport (watching people), over a glass of wine or margarita at my favorite Mexican place, in fact, just about anywhere, especially if I have my headphones. Right now, I write on the “bridge” upstairs in my house, which is open down to the two story living room and near the stairs, so the dogs, my husband, anyone who passes interrupts me. Just hearing the paper shuffling downstairs in my husband's office (my old writing area I gave back because I found the view of the unfinished construction/driveway not inspiring), or the kitchen activity or TV downstairs is a distraction. Beauty of living in a church-like structure with 24′ ceilings and skylights is it's wide open and light. We have a 13′ glass garage door on one wall of the dining room. But everything echoes.

Writing cozy is beter, methinks. And some day, I'll have that. Thank you, Cherokee Hart, for reminding me of some of the ways I can inspire myself!

What about you? Do you have a craft room? Reading room? Writing area or “muse-inspired” place? Love to hear about it.


M is for Leslie Moon

23262360-classic-style-english-alphabet-letter-m-monochromeM IS FOR MOONDUSTWRITER. Part of the reason I love the A-Z blog is all the new friends I make. I would not have met these people otherwise. We practically have nothing in common, except that we are poets, writers and just crazy people who like to share the connection. We are more connected than we are separate, did you know? There are those that don't want that secret to get out. Shhhh!! Leslie's post is not something I normally write about, but her words need to be heard. Enjoy, and thank you, Leslie, for stopping by my blog today.

Never Together by Leslie Moon #atozchallenge

2 Votes

newcago paper

I remember the first time we saw each other – We hadn’t seen each other since we were kids out in the country.

Then everything went haywire. Caesar took what he wanted including the lives of my parents.

At 17, I fled – their night screams chased me for years.

I was entranced by New Cago; she beckoned with her dazzling lights and her rich satins. I didn’t know about the slime underneath until it owned me.

Sam didn’t know how I was making it, I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

 When I wrote,  I told him I had a job and my own place.

Yeah, some call  it a job. The men liked my blue eyes ‘that girl has spirit!’

 But what the hell there was money and a bunk.  I wasn’t locked up in someone’s vault and the temple goons stayed away.

Caesar was murdered and we all celebrated in fountains of bubbly. Within days, the gangs took over and I learned to shoot a gun.

A gang lord wanted to claim me as “property rights.”

Sam showed up just when they were forging my personal chain.

Sam  always could look straight down to my heart. He knew but never said a word.

Sam was something those gangsters were not and they feared him.

Evil never sleeps though and on my birthday someone took a lucky shot.

Dog gone, I’ve pulled Sam into this rotten city and now I’m dead.

 My real name is Lucerne which means ‘Life.’  My blood is a type of antidote Medicago they call it. That’s why when the bullet passed through me and into Sam he didn’t die.

Sam, do what you’ve gotta do – my blood will keep you alive.





Image attribution:”75 Medicago sativa L” by Amédée Masclef – Atlas des plantes de France. 1891. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:75_Medicago_sativa_L.jpg#/media/File:75_Medicago_sativa_L.jpg

Did you know there are more than 10,000 children orphaned by Ebola in West Africa? Many of these children have nothing and are stigmatized by their communities (and extended family). We are trying to find a way to raise funds to help. More info here.

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KILL OFF THOSE OPTIONS!! Get rid of the choices and things become simple in a hurry!

Sometimes getting to the bottom can be a good thing, because it eliminates your choices. On the floor, only way to go is up. Everything is an improvement if you're not falling. Being at the bottom of the barrel takes away the fear of making the wrong choices. Of course, you give up peace of mind, and you are blown about by the wind of society. But your decisions are easy because you have less of them.

When you think of all the words that end in “cide”, like pesticide, suicide, homicide, we understand it means to kill off. But we don't think about that with the word decide, which mans to kill off your choices, your options.

But that's exactly what deciding is. We choose one course over another and forever altering our trajectory, our path in life.

I've always struggled with problems relating to concentration, because I have a touch of ADD. I was on a schedule to make so many cold calls and expired calls every morning, and nothing, except for a burning building, was supposed to interfere with my 3 hour block of sacred calling. I did it for nearly 20 years. But it never was easy, and I always struggled with my staying on task, focus. 

My staff knew their salaries depended on me making my calls every day, so they bet me, and it was a lot of money too, so that I would stay and do my calling, not pop out into the reception area to ask about a phone call I overheard or remind them to do something I'd tasked them to do. I wound up paying the fine so many times, they felt bad about it and we abandoned the practice. The money meant very little to me then. But my pride and vanity did.

So, they came up with another idea. I had to wear my bathing suit in my office, and they'd lock the door on the outside. When I was done with my calling, I'd knock on my own door and they'd hand me back my clothes. This actually kept me on track for several weeks.

Until they all left early one day, left me locked in my own office, with my clothes on the outside of the door. I was forced to climb out of a window, in my bathing suit, and face the steady stream of customers walking past, watching me crawl out of a window in my bathing suit. Yes, I was the top-producing Realtor in Sonoma County at that time, and I was in a bathing suit, crawling out of a window. I had to go to the main office waiting room in my bathing suit, ask to use the phone to get my husband to come down to the office, unlock it so I could get keys to get my clothes back.

I have hundreds of stories about those years. I was so driven I was nearly crazy with that competitive spirit. The discipline I learned in those early days have helped me be a productive writer today, even though I still struggle with my focus and is probably the reason I have so much trouble reading manuals. I'd rather go to get a root canal than read a manual. Even the “Dummies” books are way too complicated for me.

Love to hear if you have some strange way to overcome some behavior you want to alter. I've spilled my guts. Now you spill yours! I have a free Punisher Tee shirt (inspired by the movie American Sniper), for one lucky commenter!

If you want to follow along on the A-Z blog challenge, click on the blue sunflower button to the right and it will direct you to the blog lists of those still in this game. We are nearly half way, and I'm on track! Go follow or read someone else's blog and maybe you'll find a new friend!


J is for Junk On My Computer, SUNDAYS WITH SHARON

J is for Junk On My Computer!  I had a lot of extra files on my computer and yesterday I cleared out 120 Gigs of junk. I feel squeaky clean! Our family Apple Expert, Mario, came over and spent about seven hours with us both. Mine was the most difficult and detailed. But what I have now are 19 separate folders containing everything about my books. I have 14 novels, 2 Novellas and 2 of my own bundles, or boxed sets.

I had snippets everywhere, blog posts and guest spots, interviews and faq sheets filed sometimes by name, sometimes by kind of file, sometimes random, and then those dreaded “X Novel – FINAL FINAL FINAL” files. Some files were separated from others because one way editors or my formatter would send them without spaces, some with dashes between the book and the date of the edit, and others in all caps or upper and lower case with or without spaces. I was holding all this in my head, and boy was my head hurting. I had to remember which ones were which (oh yes, that was a novella of the same name, oh yes, that was the correction I made that came in late, etc.) 

In short, I was an accident waiting to happen. This morning as I wake up and go to the computer, my desktop is clean, organized and I know where all my important papers are. A good friend of mine used to look at my lists of “versions” of my books, and shake her head, “Sharon, you've got to get this fixed.” That was about 4 years ago. Did I mention sometime before I'm stubborn?

Now some of you saw the word Junk and were thinking of something else. And for you, all I have is a picture. Enjoy the view…the part that I can show! Enjoy your day.

If you are want to follow along in the A-Z Blog Challenge, just clink on the button at the bottom with the sunflower on it. You will be directed to a list of some 2000 other bloggers who have taken the challenge. This week, I'm number 573. Some are dropping out, so this number could change, but tell your friends about it. Enjoy!



Getting great happens when we keep working. Giving. Going. Webster's uses terms like, ample, being beyond average, mighty and intense. I love intense, can't you tell? I also love fun.

A fellow traveler told me, “Do what others won't do for the next five years and live how others can't for the rest of your life.” I like this, because it's simple. We burn the midnight oil at night. We play hard, and long. We enjoy things along the road, but we play hard and we play for keeps.

I used to wonder why people, even when given the keys to the kingdom, wouldn't take the chance to push themselves just a little bit harder. And pushing myself sometimes means I have to push myself to be emotionally balanced, mature. I can fly off the handle or misread something, and all I cause is pain to myself. I cause misunderstandings when I meant none. Being an adult sometimes is a lot of work.

I used to tell agents I trained that the winning lottery tickets are right in front of you, right within your grasp. You just have to pick them up and cash them in. How funny people hesitate to do that, again showing their fear. And it is a lot of hard work, too. Cashing in those lottery tickets means not doing something else, making a little sacrifice. Sometimes it means a lot of hard work. Doing what others won't do. That's how we get great.

If you want to follow along with the A-Z Blog Challenge, drop to the bottom of this page and click on the A-Z button, and be directed to another blog at random! You never know who you'll get to meet or what awaits you!


F IS FOR FLY (Learn to Fly On the Way Down)

11080382_10205606824324043_405521621527742182_oI love country music, not only for the beautiful love songs, but for the words of wisdom, and the values that are so close to my own personal values, so close to my heart. I wasn't raised a country girl. I was raised a hippie Northern California girl, but there must have been part of me left behind in the generations of my family as they traveled this great country, and some of my roots are there.

This song, by Tae and Maddie, Fly, really says it all for me. I love the pictures of the little girl climbing up the ladder. That's me. The striving to reach for things other people perhaps might overlook. Finding the good in things, finding the gold in people's hearts, finding the deep side of the ocean in words, digging for emotions buried under layers of lifetimes.

Just keep on reachin' though the limb might break…
You can learn to fly on the way down.486492_311605755634121_781146200_n

We've been talking about taking chances, spinning the wheel of life, reaching out, playing for keeps, and now learning to fly on the way down, instead of being afraid of trying. Our big enemy: Fear. Fear is the only evil. The only one that robs our souls. Learning to fly happens when you're free-falling. When you're skydiving through the emotions of that person deep inside you that is awesome and is a giant. We learn to deal with it all by letting go. Taking chances. Risking our hearts and our emotions, but letting our souls soar.



DOING EVERYTHING. We never know what will take off. We do things with intention, do things by accident, and sometimes the accidents work out amazingly well, sometimes the well-intentioned plans do poorly. These days I'm sort of thinking about life as one giant roulette wheel. You spin it, and it arbitrarily lands wherever it does. A huge game of chance.

But not really.

Those of you who follow my blog posts know that I'm a huge fan of “playing big.” In the real estate business, we used to say to agents, “play as if you've already won.” There are times when we question our abilities, and want to “quit” mentally from giving it our all. Luckily these things don't last long for me, and I'm pretty good about picking myself up, and usually holding up a couple of others at the same time. Can't help it, I raised 4 kids and sometimes I still feel like I'm raising kids today.

So the secret of success would be that we're out there playing big. We may not know where that roulette wheel will land (I have gambling on the brain because I'm writing this from Las Vegas), but we can control whether or not we take our turn. Opportunities are there, but only if we take them. Leading the horse to water, etc….Bella Andre paid me a nice compliment when she told an audience at the San Francisco Writer's Conference 2 years ago that she always gave writers advice they could bank on, but few really followed up or did what she said. And she complimented me on being one of the ones who listened, and executed her pearls of wisdom. I call them pearls of wisdom. She's far too humble to say it. But I will! Thank you, Bella.

So, here I am, taking chances, meeting people, saying yes more than no (and learning which ones to say no to as well), trusting that I'll get to work with people's highest selves and good part, learning when I don't, and paying it forward, both upwards in the food chain and down. It makes no difference where I am or what it means.

It matters that I play. That I DO EVERYTHING.

Happy Easter from the bottom of my heart.

If you want to follow along on the A-Z blog hop, click the button at the bottom of this page and you will be directed at random to some other blogger's posting for today. We're in this together. Every day a new letter. Today was a catch up.


C is for Count My Blessings

search-1COUNT MY BLESSINGS. I forget this all the time. With so much abundance all around me, I forget to say thank you. I used to travel with a friend once a week, and we'd talk about our lives, our families, situations that sometimes frustrated each of us. Some days I'd remind him, and other days he'd remind me. But when we found ourselves complaining about something, we'd say to the other one: “Who haven't you thanked today that you needed to?”

I've noticed that when I get upset, if I stop and go to gratitude, soon the upset is gone. My friend, the DEA/FBI agent who did some incredibly dangerous under cover missions over his years at the Bureau, said that of the maybe 400 or so planned operations, there was only one, in all that period of time, that actually went along just as they'd planned. And they laughed about it afterwards, at how yes, it was possible to have a 100% mission.images

Most the time their missions would go wrong. Something would be off, something unexpected would occur and threaten the whole mission. How many times have I thought a whole day, or a project was ruined because not everything went as planned? How many times does a plane stay on course during a trip from San Francisco to Paris? The truth is, the plane is being adjusted perhaps a thousand times. There is no such thing as following a perfect path.

Remembering to feel grateful for what I do have keeps me from dwelling on what I don't. And maybe that's why not everything is perfect, so we'll value it, like something rare. Just like in my Heavenly Lover book, Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident.



B is for Being Unstoppable

BEING UNSTOPPABLE!  This is Day Two of the A-Z Blog Challenge, and Being Unstoppable is something every writer needs. There are ups and downs in this business, most of them emotional. I never thought being a writer would require so much inner strength. Weathering the ups and downs, sometimes the miscommunications that can occur when you are dealing with people through the internet and not in person, wanting to do everything “right” when there is no “right” way to do things, except,

Just doing them!

The key for me is not letting things that could, snag me. I could dwell or worry about all sorts of things. I like this quote from Mark Twain” “I worried about a lot of things in my lifetime, and some of them actually happened.”

Being easy to start and hard to stop is what I go for. Some of my regular readers will remember this example, because I think about it every day. When you are getting the locomotive going (and that can be your writing career, your new venture, any new huge project) at first you step on that pedal, and no matter how hard you step on it, that locomotive is only going to start up at one speed, and it's slow. You're bouncing around on that pedal, and no matter how hard you push, the train will only start up so fast. Then momentum builds. At that point, when you're gliding down the rails, you can take your foot off the pedal and for a long time, that train will keep moving regardless of the lack of effort on your part. And yes, eventually, it will slow and stop again.

The hard work starts at the front end. Everyone knows this. I'm going to momentum, a long-lasting career that will build on itself. One day at a time, one story, book at a time, one communication or fan at a time. Maybe it won't always be this hard or require so much of my energy. But either way, I'm going to be hard to stop.

To visit the other sites on the A-Z Blog Hop, be sure to click on the A-Z button at the bottom of this page and choose one of the other 2000 blogs to read. Thanks for showing up today! Have a beautiful, unstoppable Thursday.


A is for Another SEAL Book

A lot has changed since I last did the A-Z Blog. Some four years ago, when I did my first one, I was still shopping my Accidental SEAL out there, looking for a home. I had written three paranormal romances, books I loved, and I was hopeful that if I continued to write, at about book 4 or 5, I would start to get traction.

And that was right.

Today, as I begin this A-Z Blog challenge again, I have a total of 14 books out there. Nine in the SEAL Brotherhood Series, five paranormals. I have been on the New York Times and USA Today lists multiple times, and I'm happy to say I could live off the earnings I make with my books.

This isn't meant to brag. Just to perhaps give hope to those who have the dream of following their dream. This has all happened in less than 5 years. And I didn't begin this journey until I turned 60 years of age.

A writer writes until he/she gets noticed. Very simple plan, really. No gimmicks to it. Just write things people want to read. That's my advice:  Never Give Up.