2

From 31,000 Feet

5nIXZbmtQZOHezsEmnNA-1183036850-1534698878148.jpgEven though I try to sleep on planes, I love to leave the window shade open, especially when I'm flying above beautiful cloud formations. Today, flying non-stop from Philadelphia to San Francisco, it was the same.

With my favorite music (I have about 21 days worth on my phone) I soar above like some kind of superhero. I can time travel, dive into one of my stories, or just dream. Of all the three choices, I usually pick dreaming.

Dreaming is planning. I even have that sign that used to hang over my desk. If I can ever find it again in the some 500 boxes in storage, I'll put it over my bed in the coach when we get it.

One of the things I enjoy most about traveling to different parts of the country, is how each area is unique, the stories unlike ones I've heard before–people's histories about old houses and bats in the attic warmed me. But what I also notice is that through the love of romance, both writing and reading, we have so much more in common. And it transcends everything else that's shouted at us every day if we fall prey to it, namely religion and politics. It's as if, at times, the whole world is shouting: THIS IS WHAT I THINK!!  LISTEN TO ME!!

Yesterday I got the honor of co-hosting Salute With Love in Valley Forge. We may do this a year or two out again, but it was a avid reader group who bought way more books than I had planned on selling! It was such a pleasant surprise.

Since I write military romance, my heart is always with my heroes. And, like I said to that group yesterday, those who wear the uniform are heroes because they chose to be. They didn't do it for Facebook likes or Twitter followers. They didn't do it for money or fame. They did it because they were called to servce.

What a perfect venue to celebrate the love of our military heroes, who are flawed and conflicted just like all the rest of us. I hope that we never forget that because some died and sacrificed, we have the freedoms to write smutty books and celebrate with a lifestyle the early Americans could only begin to dream about. Maybe if they got a chance to fly at 31,000 feet they'd be amazed.

They lived in an age where there was no TV or social media. And they carried out the nearly impossible. Valley Forge is a remembrance of just how close they came to failing in their mission.

I hope we live wisely and fully. And never forget to say thank you.

What about you? Do you enjoy reading about heroes who do it just because it burns in their hearts? Doesn't it make your life feel sweeter in the remembrance?

12

The Outcome is not The Outcome

yQOiZbZlR9uji8azWFcAg.jpgI am blessed by some of the collective wisdom of several other writers I follow, and one email this morning touched me more than most. The writer, Neil Strauss, was talking about how we are so goal-oriented, that we focus so much on “outcomes” and how all these “good” and “bad” decisions are sometimes illusions.

I nearly fell off my chair as I read his words. He doesn't know it, but he writes for me, as if I am his only fan. Of course, I am not!

I've trained under people who have followed Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and others. I've always been a goal-oriented person, with family, our businesses, especially real estate and investing, and now with romance writing.

NatkK6eSRLVrlUxR1ssKA.jpgI track sales, follow the “steps” deemed necessary to progress to the next levels, etc. There are so many “must do's” and “epic fail” mistakes that are touted. Some of them I've agreed with, and many not. Some have worked, others not. At times, it's confusing.

Neil's email this morning made me understand that wisdom of “doing the best I can” as the centerpoint I always seem to drift back to between mastermind sessions, conventions or author get-togethers. It's my reset button, back to the middle, square one. There is only one outcome you can control: And that’s doing your best job at any particular project, given who you are today, and completing it to the best of your abilities.

We often overlook what these pundits have been saying, and now I see the lessons learned coming from a different angle. Neil's right: the outcome is not the outcome. I love that saying, “There is a happily ever after. If it's not, then you haven't gone far enough.” Some of my worst tragedies have brought be the greatest enjoyment, or breakthroughs. I had to be reduced to a 1000 SF apartment after our house fire in order to begin my journey into writing–or I never would have tried. Out of the ashes comes the victory.

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Original. This is not what I'll be moving into! New pix to follow…

This decision to sell our big property, and move into an apartment (AGAIN!) and travel in a deluxe coach is indeed like walking through this next doorway. Things change. Who knows what new adventure awaits? I can but guess, and be excited for the future.

But if I drag the history of my past mistakes with me, it will affect the outcome, not the decision itself.

MY FOCUS NEEDS TO BE WHAT I'M DOING RIGHT NOW, not what I did, or what I might do. Here's what he says:

The outcome of a project or life event opens up a new door, path, or change.

And whether the project succeeds or fails by your standards doesn’t actually matter. It still leads you to the next event in your life.

I've been wondering when it will hit me that perhaps I'll miss this place. You know what? There might be times when I will. But I'm beginning to think that I won't.

Each result in your life is just a fork on a path that is endlessly forking. And it is impossible to predict where it is leading.

I said good-bye to some good friends last night at a party at our home – our last one. “I'm not going anywhere,” I told them. “I'm just going to greet you through another doorway.”

Just like any of our decisions, it isn't good-bye to the past or our lives as we know it, it's hello to the next chapter.

Here, in his words, is the parable he wrote about:

Once there was a poor, hard-working farmer, and one day his horse—the only horse he owned—ran away.

His neighbors consoled him, “Such bad luck, I’m so sorry.”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Who knows whether it’s bad or good.”

The next day, the horse returned, and it brought with it three wild horses.

“Wow,” the farmer’s neighbors exclaimed. “You’re so lucky.”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Who knows.”

The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses, and he was thrown off and broke his leg.

“That’s a shame,” the farmer’s neighbors said. “I’m sorry for your misfortune.”

“Maybe it’s misfortune, maybe it isn’t,” the farmer replied. “Who knows.”

The next day, war broke out, and there was a draft. The authorities came to the house to enlist the farmer’s son. But when they saw that his leg was broken and he couldn’t walk, they let him stay at home and he didn’t have to go fight in the bloody war.

“Wow, you really got lucky there,” the neighbors told the farmer. “You must be so glad that horse threw your son.”

“Maybe,” the farmer said. “Who knows…”

This story could go on forever.

And the point is…

The outcome is not the outcome.

Thank you, Neil.
What about you? Our futures are always under construction, right?

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11

Fire As The Villain

giraffes-fire-update-1920x768In my new release, coming out Tuesday, Love Me Tender, Love You Hard, I used fire as the villain, not a person, like I usually do. As I was finishing up the book, the fires had just started in Southern California but had yet to develop in Redding.

Since I lived through the fires last October here in Sonoma County, I was more drawing from the experiences we went through there. We were under voluntary evacuation then, and it happened to be when my daughter was due to give birth at one of the two hospitals that had to be closed down because the fire had crossed the freeway and infringed on the hospitals themselves. What a scary time.

We relied on the local news media, namely the AM station KSRO, and kudos to them for doing an outstanding job of spreading the word, since not everyone had access to cell phone updates, or television. They reported on the shelters and what they needed, as far as supplies, and of course told everyone what was being done with the fire itself, with stray pets and messages to where to find loved ones. They told us how to get updated maps of the current evacuations mandatory and not, and where the fire lines were.

I did my own little part, donating clothes, and all those itty bitty bottles of shampoo and soaps I've collected in my travels – some came from Paris (The Ritz even!), some from our trips to Italy and Brazil, but mostly from Disneyland or other US venues I was at for book signings. We had several hundred families living in tents at the fairgrounds, with portable showers and bathrooms many had to live in for weeks afterwards.

I also bought pizza for about 30 firefighters from the bay area when they stopped to take a break at my favorite place here in Bennett Valley. I got a standing ovation. Our church community coordinated relief efforts. More than 40 families in our congregation lost their homes. Many of us made cash donations to this and other causes. Vacant storefronts were used as a donation center for people to bring furniture to help families rebuild what they'd lost.

One of the discoveries in all this was that cell towers were destroyed in this fire. That made the early warning systems some people got as texts and alerts non-existent. We are such a cell phone dependent society that this really hampered the rescue efforts. Because this was such a massive fire, the local departments were all overloaded, and very early on, some crews had to be sent home because of a lack of equipment to use. This was rapidly fixed, of course, but equipment takes time to arrive, especially when it's coming by truck, since we have very limited rail service. We've invested in Smart Trains for passenger movement, but nothing for emergencies.

We had issues with local citizens using drones to take pictures to sell to the news media, which grounded some of the boride bombers who were not able to fly. Someone's drone was actually tracked and that person, or so the media reported, was sent to jail.

firefighters-1920x768-1600x640There is a local place called Safari West, and I used a fictional place based on this park in my book. I've attached some links to the articles written about the park, and the owner's heroics saving all of his animals. I changed the cast of characters to fit a SEAL romance, of course, but some of the details were the basis for my story. Naturally, a place like this needs a great chef, and my Navy SEAL, Derek Farley, came to work there to help pay for his CCA tuition.

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You can read about the real place and how they emerged from the wildfires here:

https://www.safariwest.com/fires-hope-emerges-video/

http://abc7news.com/pets-animals/santa-rosas-safari-west-reopens-after-devastating-north-bay-fires/2674986/

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/specialsections/7585721-181/how-the-safari-west-owner?gallery=7525164&sba=AAS

Naturally, our people did an excellent job of juggling all these issues, having never had anything so massive to deal with before. As they say, out of the ashes, comes the miracle. I think lots of things were learned. The community still is working together. And we have signs still, though it's been some 8 months, reading “Sonoma Strong”, with thank you posters on fences and telephone poles. The slogan, “Love is thicker than smoke,” is another banner we see everywhere.

My hope is that some of these things are being used now in Redding and other places as they continue to battle these blazes.

But fire indeed is a heartless and cruel villain, destroying all that we hold dear. It happens so quickly, and feels like a huge violation.

Thank goodness we have our memories.

 

15

Fixit Day and Saving Frogs

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Our first Christmas at the house 35+ years ago, and someone got a new camera.

Our metal garage door in the living room needed new springs and some adjustment so it could operate the way it should. As the two door specialists were on their scaffolding, one of them greeted a bright green frog who had jumped inside the room from the patio.

I was downstairs in a flash to try to save him. When I moved from Sebastopol, I brought a whole bucket of these little green frogs from my garden there to come live with me in Santa Rosa. Bright green frogs are not native to this area, so I knew he was a many-times descendent of the original batch of frogs I've been growing ever since. And he was big!

He abruptly hopped under his scaffolding, out of my reach. I was worried he'd be crushed when they closed up shop, finishing their job. I asked them to try to be careful. I wanted to save him.

I went outside to water and when I came back the scaffolding was down and the men were cleaning up.

“The frog!” I shouted.

“We got him. He's safe. Put him back in your flower garden.”

I could have kissed the guy I was so happy.

While these men were working, the stereo man came to connect some speakers we'd never connected, which was the buyer's request. Later in the day, he asked me if I was some kind of author.

“Yes. I write romance.”

“You do audio books?”

“Every one of them.”

“Oh, great. I'm going to download one now.” He put back his earpieces, adjusted his phone and began playing Accidental SEAL on audio. Later on he told me my stories were “like Lee Child but with more sex.”

The man who raises the palm trees we're buying mentioned he'd checked out my books, and told us, “You should do one about a landscaper.” I didn't want to tell him that the only landscaper I had in my books was the bad guy.

It's getting closer. I'm picking out fabric for the Diesel Pusher, the new and improved Romance Rider. Our first trip will be to see the Fall colors in Vermont.

Life goes on one day at a time. It will be 3 weeks now, and my living here will come to an end. And the rest of my life will never be the same. Until then, I'm breathing in and breathing out, studying and marking things I want to remember later on. It's kind of delicious when you know it's finite.

Makes me appreciate the beauty of what I've created even more.

 

 

 

 

9

Moving and Hot SEALs: Oh My!

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Monty Monty's Traveling Air Show

I won't lie. I LOVE this piece. Sort of sums up my life at the current time. I'm an eclectic mix of traditional and quirky, all tied up in a collection of “found” pieces like this artist depicts. He doesn't solder anything, rather “screws” them together. That's not a dirty word, but it's somehow fitting.

We are arranging our things and planning a minor remodel in the midst of moving some 400+ boxes. There's still the landscaping and the garden to tend. I added extra fertilizer to the roses today because it's time. I want to have a going away party on August 4th and I want those ladies to bloom special for us.

Notice the old school globes, the propeller and the upside down frame of a candelabra. The burner element from a oil lamp makes a perfect “burner” for the hot air balloon going to who knows where. Because that's exactly where I am going – who knows?

onSjbPTUQLOGSKiGp61gXw.jpgHad fun listening to some people who traveled in a Pusher for about 5 years last night. I almost wet myself with the stories they had about their bus 8′ slide-out all of a sudden coming unhinged, and he thought he'd blown a tire. Of course, someone was fast asleep on the couch, oblivious to the fact he was in the path of oncoming traffic. Yes! This happened while they were traveling down a 2-lane road! The family screamed until they were able to pull over to get the slide-out put back into place, which is when he woke up.

I was still laughing as I drove home, thinking about taking off from campgrounds in a hurry and leaving their awning behind.

Some of you are feeling concerned right now. Don't be. Think of the stories. You were there when I went on that 23-day cruise from Italy to Brazil when I wrote Cruisin' For A SEAL. You know what can happen in a kitchen, or a lifeboat! You also know why the shades were pulled as we sailed down the coast of Africa, and yes, that went into my story, too.

One of the fantastic things about being an author is that I learn so much from my nearly 7 decades on this planet, things that happened in the 1950's, '60's and beyond. Lost memories now re-found and memorialized in stories, woven in there, making them last forever.

SharonHamilton_LoveMeTenderLoveYouHard_800The story I'm finishing is Love Me Tender, Love You Hard. Those of you who read the KW version novella that preceded this novel I'm releasing 7-30, remember the term:

Coyote Smear

I dare you to tell me if you remember what that means. That little eclectic detail actually happened, and luckily, not to me!

There are no accidents. There is only life, in full bloom. I intend to live every minute of it, enjoy every rose and every gardening session!

What about you? Are you yearning for a new adventure?

 

11

Palm Trees and Other Ventures

fullsizeoutput_5e00We've decided to live temporarily in an apartment we own while we get our Diesel Pusher ready for the long travels ahead. I've found that working on a new project is somewhat healing. The building has great bones, built in 1940's, and could look retro-South Beach in style. Chrome trim. Some jazzy paint colors, and voila!

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Wish we had these lines, but you get the picture!

I've been having fun with paint and awning colors, and visualizing the rounded corners faced in chrome.

+FeIIR%tR0uXP0kZcAb8PQWhat better to add that special touch to the decor, than to put in palm trees? Can't wait to show you the finished product. I found Golden Gate Palms and spoke to the owner, and had no idea they were so reasonable! Here's what their website says about Palms:

PALMS

Palms are the aesthetic cornerstone of the subtropical garden. Whether the theme is lush, xeric, or Mediterranean, palms evoke a sense of abundance and warmth. And unlike messy deciduous trees, palms are clean.  Material is held within the tree until you choose the time to trim it off thus leaving the garden below neat and tidy, all year long.  Palm roots are generally non invasive and non damaging to hardscape unlike their woody counterparts.  Palms are gorgeous when lit at night, are pleasantly hypnotic with their movement and rustling in the slightest breeze, and provide artistic shadows on the ground as well as romantic silhouettes against the sky.

 

What could be more perfect for a romance writer, right? Being a native Northern Californian, palm trees are not common here, but now I'm beginning to see something else I can draw into my sphere, and love.

I'm amazed, after years of being a gardener, I knew nothing about them. I can buy seeds for as little as $2. each. Why in the world I never did that, is beyond me. I've tried everything else.

So, this is yet another little adventure, on the road to discovery of things of this planet, myself, and my relationship to it. Just thought you'd be interested. Can't wait to show you the final project.

47

My Roots Will Have Wheels

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Roll up garage door dining room window looking up to the woods.

I woke up this morning and cried for the third time in 24 hours. Not tears of joy. Last night before I went to retire, all three of my dogs perched on my bed, as if asking, “Are we coming along too?” I have to say it nearly broke my heart.

But when I am able to be logical, I know it is the best thing for them to have a place to go where there will be land, not a rumbling diesel engine and highway. My dogs have always left me, not the other way around. Boy, does this one smart!

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1100 acre park surrounding us. Piece of Heaven.

The sting is somewhat softened to know that the new owners will love this property as much as I have, and had the same reaction seeing everything we've done. They'll also have the money to continue to work on it as it deserves. Nothing lasts forever. Places don't last, things don't last. Memories do. It makes sense to do the move while we are healthy, and able. So, the time has come at last.

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My garden

My husband is more excited looking at pictures of motors, storage space, electrical panels and tires. I'm looking at the interior of these coaches and trying to figure out how I'll feel rambling down the road, armed with a roving internet access and my computer. I won't be able to stop and pick a few roses when I'm at a stopping place in my stories, but I can still have a nice glass of wine before I begin my next love scene…

Like a bad boyfriend (stay with me here a moment), no way to experience the “new adventure” when the past is grabbing me and has me tied up in barbed wire wrapped around my heart. You know the song, “How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?” Well, I miss this place already and I'm still here. When my roots are severed, then we'll see how I function. And for sure, there will be lots of emotion to draw on. Oh boy, I'll bet I will be able to write some killer break-up scenes.

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My “bridge writing area. Lots of romance written here.

 

The good news is that no one has died. I'm just more used to adjusting than streaking out and making the big decisions. Everyone I love will still be around, just not so close by, but they'll be there when I can visit. I'm not doing this out of fear, out of necessity or due to illness or hardship. It's just time. That's the honest truth of it.

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Sunrise and sunset and no bathing suits.

The big panties thing comes to mind a lot. I went out and bought a new pair of red sunglasses and a new MacbookPro, which I'm taking back. I don't need it. My old one is fine, once I get rid of some of the stuff on it. I'll store that data too, like my cabinets, my china and silver, the pictures, my quilting fabrics and sewing machine, the seeds I didn't plant this year (maybe I'll sprinkle them across the country as we travel like Johnny Appleseed), my favorite rose trimmers and my colorful purses and scarves. Paring down to the bare necessities. Oh there's another tune I'll be humming too.

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Dad's clock will have to silently keep its own time for a bit. More travel, less TV.

When this house burned down in 2008, the change resulted in me becoming a writer. This change will result in something equally as spectacular.

But why is it easier to adjust than to make the bold decision to take a conscious step forward? Must be like skydiving. You just have to jump out and trust that the buddy on your back will help you safely land.

Have you ever had this happen to you?

7

Father’s Day Greeting and News!

I've said it before many times, it doesn't take much to father a child, but to be a father, that has nothing to do with Biology, and everything to do with Heart. I have had the honor of knowing several fathers who loved and cared for those who were not his own offspring, yet you'd never know the difference. That's a special man, who can love a child, bring them into his life, and make them his own by actions of his heart, not with the other body part!

My own father has passed now several years, yet I remember all the things we did for him those 9 decades I got to honor and love him. He thoroughly embraced being a father. It was his job. He was a great husband to my mother, and, when she passed some 14 years ago or so, he was left with both my brother and I as his children, but half of his “job” had been taken away by my mother's passing.

So the biggest lesson I learned from him was that love knows no bounds. His job of being a partner and husband was not over, though his wife had left this earth. So, at 80, he re-married. And we were grateful because we got to have him around for another 10 years. He showed us that falling in love can happen at any age. Through the great power of love, he was a complete man.

Good men understand this concept in spades. Like everything in life, there are good ones and bad ones, and I was fortunate to live with and love a good one. It was never hard to love him. He made it easy. He spoke his mind, was honest with the things he should have been honest with, stubborn at times, but mostly wide open with his acceptance and love.

They say that a little girl's first love is for her father, and that was certainly the case with him. My husband of 47 years fulfills that role now for our two girls. I miss the days when the hand-painted ceramic plaques came from Kindergarten or preschool, the carefully crafted cards with glitter that always went outside the lines–the cut-out shapes and scribbled messages my kids made on their Father's Day cards, just like the ones I used to make. My son and son-in-law now get those, and I'm delighted they get to revel in the joy and miracle of the lives they've brought into this world.

We should make it a bigger thing, this Father's Day event. Somehow, it gets eclipsed by graduations, upcoming 4th of July and prior Mother's Day. My son-in-law is getting to play golf this morning and is having a massage this afternoon. My husband gets the gift of his daughters helping him finish packing and staging his office, and his bedroom. It's been a non-stop process, and we're both hobbling around the house like a couple of cripples. But thanks to their help, the work will be done, and the house will officially go on the market this week.

So, this won't be a day of rest for my husband. But it will be a day when our kids will give something back. We

have the celebration too of my oldest son's promotion and move cross country to Vermont. We celebrate the wonderful father my other son is back east. We celebrate the help to us and joy our son-in-law brings to our daughter and their two children.

It's a picture, a postcard in time, about a family in transition, moving on to the next stages of our lives. We walk that path together, in love.

What are you doing special for that special Dad in your life?

NEWS!

As most of you know, Kindle Worlds is ending. That means that two novellas I wrote for Bella Andre's Game For Love and Marina Adair's St. Helena Vineyards worlds will now be able to be expanded, and released anew. That means you'll be getting announcements on the two new books: SEAL's Goal and… 

Love Me Tender, Love You Hard coming in July and August. Once the packing and staging are done, you'll see that preorder notice go out. Stay tuned!

And here's a little fact for you. I wrote SEAL's Goal, about an American goalkeeper on an English Premiere League team, who wears a green jersey (goalkeepers always wear odd colors so they aren't mistaken for regular team players). A reader pointed out to me that Steve McQueen's grandson, Trace, plays professional soccer in the U.K., and wears a green jersey. How did I know? I guess it was written in the stars.

Enjoy these covers and the new books coming next month and August. Tons of other news coming your way as well.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Being Tough

If-Duct-Tape-Cant-Fix-It-Funny-Car-Poster

I am still here at Lori Foster's #RAGT18, and had a fabulous day interacting with old and new friends. It's so wonderful to hear the stories and comments from readers and how they've enjoyed my books. Oh yes, there are some spicy stories, too! We handed out patches to some readers who had purchased a gob of books. The favorite is usually this one:

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I'm always amazed at what people have to go through in life. Some people just seem to skate the surface and live a charmed life. I think that would apply to me. Yes, I complain, but when I hear some of the stories others have endured, I wind up kicking myself all around the room.

Recently, we have lost creative and beautiful people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It breaks my heart. It really does. I've heard it said, “we don't know what battles others are waging.” This is so true. Hard to judge someone's insides from the outside. I continually get it wrong, although I seem to have great intuition. I try to stay away from danger and drama. Adventure, well, that's okay, but drama and danger, no.

There are other people who endure pain and heartache, and keep on going. They inspire me. I have nothing to complain about because, like I said, I've lived a full and charmed life. I try to give more than I take, and I want to leave this world with having given so much to people that there's a big hole in the fabric of life when I pass. But I hope people will keep reading my books and chuckling, and thinking about me while they do.

I decided I have way more to do, and that perhaps I've not been putting my foot to the metal hard enough.

I probably shouldn't have taken so much time off, and allowed the process of moving and packing to go on its own, so I could keep writing. But I didn't want to lose control of the process. I did that when the house burned down. I couldn't even look at the place for about a month afterwards. My husband stored and threw away things as best he could. I just didn't want to do that again.

But perhaps I'm making it easier for the next move. And perhaps I should be tougher on myself and not have stopped writing for the month.

Either way, I'm looking forward to getting back to my computer, putting my head down and gunning it. I come away from here inspired. That's always good for me. It's also usually good for you readers, too!

Enjoy your weekend, rain or shine. I can't wait to get back to work tomorrow. See you soon! For those of you who are going to Salute With Love, see you in August! Can't wait!

 

8

I Wish You More…In A Tiny Space

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The adventure begins. Phase I sell the house. Phase II get a little space to explore. Phase III vow never to be tied down again. Ever. That means never. Ever. Honest. Yes, the dogs come with.

The adventure continues. I write this post, getting ready to leave for my book signing at Lori Foster's #RAGT18, while at the same time putting back my office after nearly 2 weeks of painter experience.

IMG_6730.jpgThose of you who have done this know what I mean. They disconnected both my computers and our internet, and painted over things, moved things, put things on top of things, and so now I'm unburying. And, they'll be back on Monday. NOT COMPLAINING! I'm just happy they're coming back (but not 100% sure they'll be here Monday)…it has been a roller coaster, for sure.

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This isn't my house now, but it could be some day soon. Everything I need and nothing I don't. Except a computer, of course.

My dogs stand in the house, look at everything all mixed up, their dog beds thrown on top of tables or couches or scaffolding, and they just whine. They look at me as if to ask, “Mom, what are you doing with us?”

They don't really have to worry. But we'll all be glad when it's put back together. And then we have to get ready for what we hope is an onslaught of interested buyers. We have something very unique here, a 4200 square foot house on nearly 61 acres, bordering a 1200 acre regional park and Kendall Jackson winery. I'm holding hope we can make a fair exchange: enough money to have a decent retirement (not from writing) for my husband, giving them the property to continue the love that I've put into it. That's the right person for us as a buyer. Someone who will love it the way it is. Who sees it for what I do.

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The lesson is: Don't own a 4200 square foot house. You just get more stuff. What would living be like with not much stuff. Just the “stuff on your back”, or, in this case, towed behind my car? Changes the focus to outside. Not what I have, but what I can see, hear, smell and feel, out there!

Oh, I know all the stuff about selling because I've done it for nearly 30 years and I counseled and lectured many sellers. But this is my house. This is a one-of-a-kind property, and certainly the last nice piece of property I'll ever own. It's time for phase II of my next great adventure. I'm going to have the flexibility to choose where I live and what I want around me. I did it once. I can do it again.

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Basic bones, an office? A bedroom? Waiting for some red, for sure. Waiting for the road ahead.

We're exploring the idea of getting a good Class A Diesel and having it customized. Check this out:  http://livingvehicle.com. Here's another: https://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/tumbleweed-tiny-house-photo-gallery/#!

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Cozy bed with a view anywhere.

I can see us doing this. Even has a shower on the back for dogs. Is there a Happily Ever After in my future?

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And while you're at it, check out this book:

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You can order it here. Wonderful message and so perfect for me today.

What about you? Are you on a journey back to your wings? It isn't a freefall. It's a planned fall. Like a planned burn. Planned chaos. I'm actually doing this because I want to.

Somehow, I think it will be fantastic for me.

 

39

MOVING: 35 YEARS OF MEMORIES-New Memories Ahead

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We are the sum of the parts of many broken and misplaced things. How we put ourselves together is the art form we call life. Isn't that what we call romance too?

I took a deep breath when my husband said, “I'm retiring, and we're going to sell our home.” I'm not a good one for change, as most of you lovely readers know. I hang on to the bitter end sometimes. Most of the time, it has served me well.

But the reality of our aging bodies, and the toll working on the huge house and many acres of garden and land has come to greet me at last. My fantasy world will not give up on this dream of living here, so I'll be able to take some of it with me forever. Not to worry. But the real world has tapped me on the shoulder and told me, “It's time.”

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The room is huge without my old furniture, but that's the idea! Globe needs to be hung over dining table. Carpets are being cleaned. Windows to wash.

We can embrace change in any number of ways. I like to say Change (or circumstance) doesn't make a person, it reveals a person. I'm wanting to kick that particular “ism” all around the bedroom, get it to get dirty with the dust bunnies hiding under my bed. But all that does is mask the knowledge that I have to make lists, and I have to pack from now to oblivion, it seems.

But I've done it! It doesn't matter how many times I think about my husband's decision, it won't help me get into action. I can ruminate about it all after we're done. Right now, we're in purge, staging and beautifying mode. I'm learning to revel in that, and what a surprise, it's not so bad! I have new lawn, new planting boxes. Part of the strategy is protecting and packing away a lot of me in this house, and revealing a lot more about the house, the structure, the land and the gardens. So, in a way, all my lovelies are safely stored, all my personal things I prize are gone and hidden away. All they are going to see are a few selective things that might elicit a smile or warm feeling about the home and the lovely grounds on which it sits.

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Lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers like their new home.

Part of my consternation was, “Where are we going to go?” I'm looking at lots of places. Franklin, Tennessee, is top of my list, mainly because I could create a nice lifestyle there with a quarter of the funds. But my heart has grown to feel at home there now that I've visited it, and visited Tennessee several times. I have lots of writer friends and other dear friends in the area, and nearby.

But staying in California is also an option, or moving East nearer to our other son. There's the beach in Florida calling me, perhaps North Carolina or Virginia. My husband likes Oregon so he can be close to his brother. I'd like to do all of it, but it all depends on what we get for the property.

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Adding more flowers to accentuate the rock walls and the built-in bench

Just like so many things in our lives, it is up to someone else. As much as we plan and strategize, the truth is that a new buyer we accept will determine where and how we live in the future. I've always been lucky with decisions we've made. I can write anywhere. But finding a place I will love living in is most important. Being close to my children and grandchildren is also important. I've cast those nets out into the universe, and something will happen that will allow me to do most of what I want.

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Indian flower boats bookshelves waiting for a new home – a random whimsey

So, it's interesting how I'm coping with the change. I'm getting up, checking my lists, putting on my work clothes, planting flowers in the garden like I'll be here for years to enjoy them come up year after year. Planting vegetables perhaps that will be edible after we move. It doesn't matter, does it? None of us know how long we'll be anywhere in life. As my son said recently in the most beautiful letter I've received from any of my children, “Mom, in your case, if life gave you lemons, you'd make lemon meringue pie!” That's what I'm going to think about.

I haven't been writing for a month. And, for the first time, I'm not sure what I feel like writing next. But I know a good book is in me, waiting to be born. Another love story, that will help heal the little wounds that sometimes come up.

Until then, I'm enjoying the treasures of looking at things I possess I haven't looked at in a long time. I found some baby teeth. Someone's awful wisdom teeth! Found a piece of pottery my daughter made in kindergarten. Found a Parchessi board I had written on when I was about five. We all do that, don't we? Save things for our future selves to enjoy, right? And that has made the packing and path toward this major relocation all the more sparkly. Not the shininess of my tears!

Now's your turn. Where is your favorite place to live if you could live anywhere, and why? I'd love to hear it!

 

 

14

Mr. Mike the King of Tats

fullsizeoutput_5c8cI'm still halfway back in San Diego, except I'm drunk with the beautiful sight of our green hills in Northern California Wine Country. The grasses are still short, and the green is way longer than it usually is. In a month it will all be brown. I kind of enjoy that too.

Birds are out in earnest, making nests and soon I'll have little families popping up all over my porch overhangs. My garden is being weeded and worked on starting tomorrow. I'm going to be frugal this year, because other changes are in the wind. More about that at a future date.

I head off to Milwaukee to the Barbara Vey Reader Weekend, seeing lots of old friends and meeting new ones. Last year I tried the sausage over a bed of fried macaroni and cheese. I'm passing on that this time. (LOL).

fullsizeoutput_5c57But my new tat is the highlight of my spring, lovingly applied by Mike, the former SEAL who charmed me with stories about his days twice as a SEAL with a ten year hiatus between them. He became a biker and then returned to the SEALs ten years later.

He makes a pilgrimage to the Wall once a year, to visit some fallen brothers. Then he stops off in the midwest to visit a few friends he cultivated during his biker days. Some of them are in prison. But he makes that pilgrimage anyhow. A SEAL is a man who doesn't leave anyone behind, alive or passed over. He honors that commitment with solemnity.

I have little in common with such a man, except to say that I admire his service, which is still ongoing. I have a pretty much cream puff life, compared to his. I'm living the life men died to protect. It never gets old to say that, or to wipe my eye when I think of it.

As I said last month, life isn't perfect, but it's life and it's my life. I get to write the stories of my heart and visit with fans and people from all walks of life. We have far more in common than we have things that separate us.

If we just look for it. Wait for it. Embrace it.

Oh yes. Did you preorder SEALed At The Altar? You know you want to! Enjoy your Sunday, and your week. Safe travels to those who I'm going to see in Wisconsin later on!

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17

The Music of Romance – Hard Rock style

JCXwlX1jTAqNjApAmIdUrQI'm still here in San Diego, after the book signing yesterday at the Hard Rock Hotel. What a place. I didn't know what a Saturday beach party on top of deck 4 of the hotel, looked like. I do now! The crowd of 200 wore less fabric than I have currently in my hotel room closet. Drunk bodies everywhere. Had a lovely breakfast with readers yesterday, and again today with two special people over at Buster's. And OMG discovered people collect Hard Rock pins. My nemesis. Now I have to start doing this, in addition to my Disney pin collection. I'm so bad, I should be locked up.

n02VKsUQweE4VfFcViTDA-3380617900-1523824001804.jpgTonight I'm having dinner with family friends, and then tomorrow over to see Mike and get my new tat. Yes indeed!! I get a new one, to balance out the other shoulder. And catch up (I'm 8 books behind) on my frog prints on my forearm (one for every book).

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Gave away some new patches, some I can't show here. Met some great bloggers and promoters and made some fun plans you guys will love coming up – including an event in Wine Country for next year (fingers crossed).

So, I came with  no expectations, and walk away with pure love in my heart for all of you. I love the music here as I'm writing this. Did you know that it helps if you do music on repeat? Helps you concentrate when you hear the same thing over and over again? I love the purses I lust after but won't buy this time – maybe next. I loved the walk through the gas lamp district. The cheer groups at the Convention Center (brings back memories of Volleyball tournaments). The huge boats I'll never own, with names like Norma Jean and PayChex, from all over the world, including St. Thomas.

I recalled the day my son talked me into skydiving, and sat near the table we all sat at that one Sunday after his graduation. I showed the park where several of my couples have had sex. Had a nice long conversation with my dear best friend. I won't make it so long next time.

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Oh, I need to ask, have you preordered SEALed At The Altar yet? You won't regret it. Working on finishing the chapters and adding some jewels this weekend. Getting some information from Mike tomorrow (2 X SEAL buddy).

Life is not what we make it, but what we want it to be. I love living in this imperfect world where all I have to do to get happy is to imagine it. If I jump into one of my stories, I'm there.

What could be better? What about you?

18

A Week of Disney Magic

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Had a magical week at Disneyland with three of my six grandchildren. It was the baby's first trip to the Magic Kingdom. Waking up in a bed with a baby beside me is something I haven't done in years, so even that was magical. But the best thing about the whole vacation was the look in her eyes as she watched the brightly colored images in the Little Mermaid, and Small World rides. Later in the day, she was smiling to herself and talking, as if she was recalling all the fun.

uSGX8zMYSYGZU9R1qBMwLQWe met friends of my daughter and son-in-law's, and relatives from his side of the family as well. We discussed the magic of romance and love stories. I laughed as I told them, “I don't mind being the drug of choice” for my readers. I think they came away with a deeper understanding of why I enjoy writing romance, and why readers need their daily dose.

I got melancholy on the way home, and once I got there, I actually felt a little lonely myself. Disneyland is for kids and their parents, for couples and for families getting together. I enjoyed seeing all the colorful shirts and ways people expressed their celebration. You'd think the world was a perfect place just by judging the smiles from all the faces I met.

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I have listened to a close friend of Mr. Disney, discussing the creation of the Pirates ride, and Walt Disney's vision for what he wanted to achieve with the park in the first place. As a young father, he used to take his girls to a local park, and sometimes the horses on the carousel didn't work and the paint was chipped. That became a motto for him, I was told, a place where, “everything works and there's no chipped paint.”

But he didn't say anything about solving all the problems of the world. He just wanted to give us the experience of The Happiest Place On Earth, and for a few short hours, or days, we could forget all our other troubles. I think that's what I do as well with my romances. As I was telling my son-in-law's mother, “I write what could be, in our dreams.” I don't see any harm in doing so.

mgp6SLqUROeRk5wX7zi5wAI have a good life, and not a perfect one. I have great days and very sad days, just like everyone else. Some days I regret that I won't have in reality the Happily Ever After that I find in my books. But that's all the more reason I should write them.

Because it's a gift to myself. And I deserve it.

I wish every day was a Disneyland day. But even if it's not, at least I can dream, which is the most healthy thing I can do on a day when I'm needing a little cheering up. Nothing, not even Happily Ever After, is impossible, because we make it so.

I love living in the magic of love, even if it's in my own books.

What about you?

29

Here Come the Bone Frogs and Silver SEALs

Bonefrog (1)I've loved writing SEALs ever since my first novel in 2012. At the time, my son was serving as a SEAL, and I had been very moved about his service, how he had changed from a boy to a man, and how he was committed to such a program at such a young age. Most of us don't find out life's passion until we are well into our 30's. He did a little interview with me for a mastermind group of high-powered real estate professionals, and said, “I feel so fortunate to have found something I love so early in life.” That was when he was a new “tadpole”, and single. Now, with a wife and family, of course I've seen his priorities change.

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Coming to you 3-19.

This is what inspires me about writing. We take the everyday, and we make stories about it. None of what happens in my books really happens in real life. You readers don't look for detailed accounts of perhaps things that shouldn't be written about SEALs. I write fiction, and romantic fiction at that. Everything is seen through my rose-colored glasses. My stories are about finding love, sometimes losing it too, but mostly the Happily Ever After. My SEALs are the vehicle I use to tell those stories.

So it would come to me, as I see the journey of some of these men I've met, as they age and go on to other careers, so too do my characters. And the Bone Frog Brotherhood was born. My new release tomorrow, SEAL My Love, explores my older characters as they also find true love.

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Gretchen is Kate Morgan's older sister. Many of you will remember her from SEAL Of My Heart, when Kate and Tyler fall in love on an airplane from San Francisco to Portland. This was based in part on a true story. I met a young marine coming home for Christmas from Vietnam, and we made one of those connections in the stars. At the time, I was not free to accept his beautiful letters and the flowers he sent afterward. And it wasn't until years later that I got to see him again, and I apologized for having to break it off when he went back to Vietnam. I was delighted to hear that he had survived. “Yours was the face I was coming back to. It didn't matter.”

So this became part of my story. What if I had gone a different path, followed his invitation and spent a life with him? Just before I released this book, I tried to look him up, and sadly discovered that he had passed away the previous summer. Gretchen says a prayer to her father, that marine in my story, in much the same way as I have prayed to him for the safety of my then-serving son as a SEAL. He would have been proud to know I had a son who went into military service. He was the first in my immediate family to do so without being drafted during either WWII or Vietnam.

So Gretchen has had three girls, and decides to take an adventure with Kate and Tyler and a bunch of their SEAL buddies and families. And that's where she meets Trace, an older SEAL, just attached to Team 3 from an east coast team, after a messy divorce. His wife ran off with another SEAL from another east coast team. Unfortunately, I have also heard that this happens in real life. So, it goes into my story.

These two mature, slightly damaged people find a way to fall in love again like it was the first time. And I believe I do show that this love is the forever love they never had before. I hope you'll enjoy their satisfying story.

SharonHamilton_SEALedAtTheAltar_800My new release in April will be the continuation of my Bone Frog Brotherhood Book 1, the novella that started with a new years wedding and one-night stand that becomes something else. More to come on that later. But here's the cover reveal below.

Thank you for following me on these Sundays with Sharon. I love to hear your comments. I thank you for your readership. We all celebrate together the miraculous healing powers of true love.

 

 

Things We Do On Sundays

Romance readers get to do things on Sundays other people never do. They get to travel with Navy SEALs, conquering bad guys and falling in love with strong, courageous women.

They get to travel back in time with warriors of immortal and noble lineage.

They get to live in palaces with knights, kings, princesses and handsome princes.

They get to fly with vampires under the full moon.

They know about all the great spots to have a Sexy Sunday Picnic.

Flowers are brighter to romance readers. Kisses are slower and more sensual. Sex is beautiful. Talk is sometimes cheap and dirty. Sometimes it's passionate. Rain is sexy. Eating ice cream can be orgasmic.

Good wine flows at all the right times. They share sunsets with handsome heroes.

Romance readers get to turn off the news more. They turn on their devices and get transported anywhere else with a listen to an audio book. They are often seen smiling, in the middle of traffic. They sometimes don't even mind that it takes them longer to drive somewhere.

They get to fall in love every day. They discover new stories and authors all the time. They explore new worlds with heroes who have super powers.

They think reading is sexy.

What are you doing this Sunday?

 

Coming to you 3-19.

 

“Words mean. Words point…”

Iunnamed came across this little article in my Brain Pickings newsfeed (always something I look forward to reading, and it's a treat when I look up from my computer, take a break and read them). “Words mean. Words point. They are arrows. Arrows stuck in the hide of reality.”  –Toni Morrison

Lately I've explored my theory of Fierce Writing now that I am, once again, up against a deadline. I love deadlines and I hate them. The Fierce Writing makes me do something I want to do and love to do, but forces me to do it, in a type of BDSM world where I wrestle with my own talent, ego and time module. I do see this life as a time module. What will I accomplish in this lifetime, this module?

In between books I have to wander, change my focus, interact with different people, and sometimes get a healthy dose of aloneness. It must be like dealing with the butterflies for an actor before they go on stage. It's deeply personal, and everyone goes about it differently. Toni Morrison's quote is important to me, although probably not in the way she envisioned it when she gave her Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I am not an activist in the common sense of things. But I am a romance writer, and that makes me an activist for love.

Like others who are activists in a minority cause, romance writers often stem the tide of criticism from the literary world, where it's not all about book sales or the money.  It's almost like the whole world is twisted these days: people talk about being decent and honest to one another, but downgrade Love and Romance as valid themes or “values” in our everyday lives. I suggest more romance, more love would make the whole world a better place. Romance readers know this. But I can't tell you how many times I've had to defend that theory.

My mind is inspired as I finish these next 2 books. My hands are like sandpaper as the result of some gardening projects I'm doing. I've transplanted more than 200 seedlings in the past week, negotiated some old contracts and bills, and helped with some family issues (big families sometimes have big issues, right?). All of this has made me a better person, writer, mother, partner and friend. Can you hear me singing? I'm dawdling again, getting pumped up to a whole day of writing. The chill is in the air but my heart is burning like a furnace. The pots of water are on my wood-burning stove. The dogs are sleeping and dawn has just broken over my hill revealing all the white frost over new bright green grasses. The birds are beginning to look for nesting places and yesterday Rosa found a huge gopher (and promptly ate it, giving her a stomach ache) that was clearly over 2# in weight.

And I'm about to birth another great book for all of you. I can hardly wait to send out “there” SEAL My Love. Like every book I write, I attempt to show the healing power of true love. This is all about finding love a bit later in life, and how sweet it can be when you've gone without it for so many years. I know you'll love it.

How lucky I am!

Sharon Hamilton

March 2018

Santa Rosa, California

 

 

Book Signings – Where Authors Show They Care

As an author, we are constantly bombarded by choices, and most of them are choices to either spend money here, or there. There are so many conventions these days, and events, we do have to be careful or we'd be spending all our earnings and then some, just traveling from event to event. I wish I could attend all of them, but then I'd not be a writer, I'd be a professional attendee. My readers would be just as unhappy as I would.

But there comes a point in an author's career when we feel the need to give back. I try to do my best for readers and their causes and events they are involved in. (Here's a hint, if you're attending something and there is a chance to submit a gift basket or tote, I'm your huckleberry! Tell me and I'd gladly participate…end of hint). I do support Wounded Warriors and the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida. I also support the Navy SEAL Foundation, the Kris Kyle Foundation, and several other new ones I'm learning how to connect with.

But an important part of being an author is to meet readers. Not many signings pencil out, when it comes to making back the money spent on travel and shipping books, but that's not the point here. Readers pay a lot of money to attend these events, on the chance of getting to meet an author they've loved or followed. Not just to get a book signed, but to get to take a picture, talk with them, and just feel connected.  

Perhaps non-romance authors don't understand this. We are perhaps unique to this phenomenon in the romance genre. I can guess many horror or mystery writers might not want to meet their fans! LOL. (Just speculating, having fun with you here…) Some authors can be pretty scary, but so can some readers! In romance, there is very little of that.

I have a policy if a reader shows up to one of my events wearing one of my tee shirts, or something they've made using one of my books, they get a free little token from me, usually a free book. I love seeing my pink camo tee shirts show up to these. They also get to identify other readers of my books, especially the SEAL Brotherhood Series.

My table at Love And Fifty, Sacramento, California

Last weekend, I attended the Love And Fifty signing, and this was my third year. It isn't important about the numbers. It was Sacramento, I got to see old friends, sit with Jody, my quilting and Navy Mom buddy, and catch up with other authors. On the way home I got to visit with my Stepmom, who is really my only living Mom, in Davis. High off the love of my reader friends, I had a nice three-hour chat with her.

So, when I'm asked by others if signings work for me, I have to say, Yes, they do! Nothing like watching Fifty Shades in a theater of other romance authors and their fans! We could cat call, and make giggles we would normally refrain from doing. I had a wonderful time. Not to be missed. But it's for the readers, and there doesn't have to be a line around the block to meet them, but a chance to reach out and say thank you for buying my books. It's the least I could do.

That's why I'm careful where I go, and I like to adjust or move around to different venues each year in different parts of the country. I try to limit them to a handful, but I always do twice as many as I should.

When I did an event at Valley Forge back in 2016, I was struck with what a perfect spot this venue was for a military author/reader event. And so, with the help of Renee Fisher, a super-organized and awesome author, as well as friend, we created Salute With Love. It's an event that's coming up this August, and I wrote about my experiences here at Valley Forge in my blog back then. Please read about it here. 

If you find yourself drawn to the stories of military authors, and you are a lover of early American History, you'll love this venue and all that Renee and I have planned for you. I promise you won't be disappointed. We have a few spots left for authors, and of course we welcome readers with open arms. We can hold a ton.

It was very special that we were allowed to hold this event at this very revered venue. We can not only celebrate the birth of this country, appreciate all the sacrifices our fighting men and women and their families went through then as well as now, but can also celebrate our love of military authors. If you are of like mind, we need to have you there. You can join the FB page here. And then sign up here! Consider this an order!  

As the words so beautifully spoken by a Navy SEAL Masterchief, the best way we can honor those who came before is by living our life the best we can because we can:

“It takes a little courage, and a little self control. And some grim determination, if you want to reach the goal. It takes a great deal of striving, and a firm and stern set chin. No matter what the battle, if you really want to win. There's no easy path to glory. There is no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, is no simple parlor game. But its prizes call for fighting, for endurance and for grit. For a rugged disposition that will not quit.”

Carry on.

19

Letter From A Mother to her SEAL Son

(Written on the eve of his first deployment)

I wouldn't be able to mail this letter to you before you leave because when it just comes down to it, your mother is a big chicken.

We've been so proud of you, what you've accomplished and how hard you've had to work. Being 7 to graduate out of a class of 192 is awesome. We knew we'd get that call saying you made it through Hell Week. I didn't practice my speech, telling you there was no dishonor in DOR, because there certainly is is none, because I knew you'd make it.

My emotions go between being proud, and hoping for purely selfish reasons, you don't pay the price you are willing to pay. And I guess if you can make that decision, then I can decide to be strong. My life is safe and warm and comfortable because of men like you. A mother never raises her children, especially her sons, to defend her. I'd gladly die in any of your places, in a heartbeat, to spare you having to sacrifice yourself. The most I can do is honor you by living my life and not wasting it.

Your Dad and I have talked about this many times. You were born for something special. Not knowing it would turn out this way, you were named after a proud, loyal family ancestor, a general, from a lowland clan with integrity, loyalty and honor. You carry on the tradition of the best of all of us. You embody it. It makes it so touching to see in someone so very young in years.

I have conjured my angels to watch over you. You have some of the best and the bravest from our family up there protecting you. These were not only soldiers, but ministers, teachers, people with strong backbones who came to America to be able to live their lives in freedom. They didn't all forge their paths with guns, in fact most of them didn't. They did it with words and deeds.

I know you are strong in your faith. We saw you grow into it. I can't take any credit for this. You came to it as a natural part of who you became as you grew up. And, like I said before, being special has its unique burdens. You get to lead us all who are lesser in our faith, teach us about duty and honor.

Nothing is free. I love this country with all my heart and I know you do too. I hope it survives these challenges. I think it will. Just like what happens on Wall Street doesn't affect what you'll face in Afghanistan. That's how I'm going to take it too–like a faint tape running in the background with symbols I don't understand–our blood is not in that stream of letters. They are just letters and symbols. Our heart beats with real red blood. I don't want you to consecrate a speck of dust over there with one drop of yours. You bring it all back. All of it. I want to live to be an old woman and see you turn grey a bit, and I can't wait to tease you about it.

I will honor you and make this next 30-60 days until I see your smiling face again, my most productive ever. Go, by the Grace of God, minister to other mothers' boys. All of them are lucky to have you there having their backs. Save lives, but don't hesitate to take them if you have to. Be safe. Protect yourself and your buddies and the innocents caught in the Hell of War. I can't wait to put my arms around you and welcome you home.

I now do something I never thought I'd do growing up. I join the millions of women throughout the ages who have sent their sons off to war. It's an exclusive club. Even with all the fear and heartache this brings me, I am still proud of you, my son.

God speed.

(He did come home safely. He went off to war a boy and came back a man.)

8

Tucker Gets A Cone

Tucker's days of being a care-free teenager are over. He had his little “visit” to the vet, and now is adjusting to the cone they placed on his neck to keep him from getting at the stitches. He knew the vet visit was something more than just shots. They also had to remove his dew claws, and kept him overnight. Yesterday, when we picked him up, the whole staff told me over and over again how everyone had fallen in love with him. Dr. Hoskins said he was the best Doberman he'd ever met. That says a lot from someone who's been in business over 40 years.

Tucker does that to people. He certainly does that to me.

I took pity on him and agreed to let him sleep on my bed. He likes to snuggle, and, cone and all, he attempted to do it last night. I think overall I got about 3-4 hours of sleep, and none of it in long stretches, so my energy level is a little on the slow side today. But he's worth it. After raising 4 kids, I'm still a full time mother, with this new little one, and the previous Dobermans we've had, and of course Blue and Rosa, the ones we have now.

We aren't a red, white and blue family. We're Red, Tan and Blue. Tucker is the tan, Rosa is the rose, and of course Blue is the blue. We like to keep things simple around here.

One of Tucker's favorite things to do is to run “balls to the wall” as my SEALs say (which is now not possible), trying to overtake Blue, who is a 90 pound very strong male. Tucker is now 66 pounds, but he's fast, and he's just been able recently to beat Blue. That's been a source of conflict for the two males. The vet said, as we were leaving, “Just make sure he doesn't run for the next 14 days.”

He came home, and was excited to see Blue and Rosa. The first time he tried to give them a kiss, he (of course) hit them both with the cone. So he got growled at.

It took him a couple of seconds, but he sat down and I could see he was considering his new standing with his pack. Rejected. His friendship refused. Right there, he laid down, sighed and took a nap.

I suppose we'll all get used to the bruises that darned cone leaves on our shins. He hits every cabinet handle in the kitchen when he's passing through. But he's learned how to walk down the stairs, keeping his head high enough so he doesn't choke himself on every step. But 14 days does sure seem like a long time.

Tucker's worth it. I'll bet you mother your pets too. This sound familiar?

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