8

REUNION – Stepping Back To The Future

Sitting with Mr. Turner and Bonnie McClung Chappa, 2006

I am coming up on a big reunion this summer. We were the first graduating class of Gunn High School in Palo Alto. I was one of the twelve students selected to be on a committee to set up our school. We chose our mascot, set up the Student Government, made all sorts of decisions and selected some we wanted the student body to vote on when we started in the fall.

Prior to attending Gunn, our class was split in two. Some went to Palo Alto High, and some went to Cubberly. We started our new adventure as Juniors, with a Sophomore class beneath us. By the time we graduated, Gunn had all three years in place.

There were lots of firsts that occurred, and now looking back some 50 years, I can hardly believe the time has gone so fast. It's been fun chatting online with friends I knew way back then, reconnected with at various reunions over the years as our careers took off and our families grew. Some of us went on to do great things in politics and business and other fields.

Sadly, there are nearly twenty of us who have moved on to their next life, or so I believe. I've written about two of my classmates before. Naomi Solomon, who was our Valedictorian and who was giving a speech to a group of women during a breakfast fundraiser to help women re-enter the work force the day of 9-11. I watch her name come up on my TV screen nearly every year. In 2015, there was a rainbow shown over the city as her name was broadcasted and read.

Another one of our students worked for the U.N. in Algeria, “I take a little piece of California with me back to Algeria – this was one of the greatest years of my life,” he told me at our reunion ten years ago. Brought his whole family over so we could meet them. Chad was killed in the terrorist bombing in Algiers in 2007, a year later.

I had a favorite teacher, John Turner, who inspired in me my love of writing. At the time of the last reunion in 2006, I was selling real estate full time. It wouldn't be for another two years before I'd catch that bug.
Imagine the day I saw Mr. Turner walk down Sonoma Avenue on his way to shop in Montgomery Village. Of all places for him to land, Santa Rosa was not a place I would expect him. We'd talk occasionally and when our reunion was being planned in 2006 I asked him if I could drive him down to Palo Alto for the party so he could meet some of his students again. He was delighted. I picked him up as promised, in front of his apartment.
“You're five minutes late,” was what he greeted me with.
We attended the mixer that night and the picnic and luncheon the next day. He'd brought a list of the students and wrote notes while he talked to us all. It was a pure joy to spend that time with him. Sadly, this year, he just missed this year's events.
Part of my life's story is the people I've gotten to know. We are the sum total of the parts of everyone's story. For those of us who remain behind, our job is to remember and honor those who came before, until our book of life is finished. And then to pass the torch on to the next generation. We all do it in our own way and in our own time. But we all are blessed by the experience.

10

GARDENING THE HEART: Sundays With Sharon

Growing a novel is like working the garden. Fertile soil yields all the nutrients needed to feed a good story, with room for twists and subplots. No matter how fast I wish it to go, each story takes as long as it takes to develop, for the roots to grow and take hold. Very much like putting young plants out when they are leggy from their careful start, into the unforgiving real world of the garden. There is a pause, a few days or perhaps a week or two, and then the new shoots come, as the plant matures and begins to thrive. It grows organically, out of the ICU and into the regular population.

Gardening teaches me patience. Sometimes working on stories is like trying on clothes in a cramped dressing room, other times it's like a time travel to a different time and space. My characters are somewhat a mystery to me as they reveal themselves, even though I've thought out in advance what I want them to be. They stray….or as was said so well, life finds a way.



I used to love watching my baby chicks hatch. The eggs were blue and green, pink and violet. I usually chose the colored ones to let the hens hatch, but the outside of the shell didn't always determine what color or breed of chick would be contained inside. It was always a surprise to see what nature decided should be born into that egg, and then to watch it grow. I had usually three or four roosters so the cross-breeding was fun with some spectacular results.

This year I did the no-no of planting all my corn, all three varieties (two yellow sweet and one ruby red sweet) together. I've been told this isn't wise, but I decided to test those rules. Will I have half red and half yellow corn? Yellow corn with red sprinkles? Or red corn with yellow dots? I'll let you know.

My potatoes are up. My peas are beginning to vine and climb up the fence, as are my early beans. I've clipped off the first fruits of my squashes, and the heads of snapdragons so the plant will be bushier and yield more fruit, more flowers later on. Sacrifice some for later bounty. Work to weed for the blessings that come from the garden health. Add the ladybugs and praying mantis and let them multiply. My eggplant hasn't grown a bit, telling me I was too early with it. A couple of my tomatoes are like that too. The lettuce loves this early summer, as does the dinosaur kale, cabbage and onions. My dogs have caught several moles but we have a huge gopher in the rear yard they cannot get to. I keep forcing onion bulbs down his hole and he keeps shoving them out. I'm hoping he'll tire of the game and move on somewhere else before he discovers my corn, and especially my potatoes.

My collage True Love Heals in the Gardens of the Heart

Like a quilt, or tapestry, the different varieties of the garden grow at different speeds, just like my characters and my stories. When it takes shape and gets polished, which is where I'm at today, it starts to get very exciting. But there's always the element of wonder, even to myself as the writer, what will happen.

Just like gardening, it is work, but it also is a calling.

What do you learn from the garden?

8

MOTHERHOOD: Should Come With Warning Labels

I think our family had given up hope that Don and I would have children. The pointed questions had stopped. Now we heard, “So, what's new, anything?” I was attending Court Reporting school in San Francisco, and had a part time job typing medical dictation for a doctor's group near U.C. Their ultrasound machine had just been repaired and they needed a guinea pig, so I drank the gallon of water and hopped on the table. My boss walked in and asked me if I had news I wanted to tell him, and I didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about. He confirmed that the little thing less than the size of an olive was going to be my first born. Our son.

Typical of the San Francisco work force, I had not one but three women come in, sit down next to me and tell me I didn't have to go through with it. “You have a choice, you know.” Well, I expressed to them that no, I really didn't have a choice. And besides, didn't they know I was married? But during the hour-long drive home I
began to worry what my husband would think. Birth control, after all, was not anything we ever talked about (believe it or not), and by default, was more or less my responsibility. I'd told Don I had some news for him, and he said the same. We would discuss our news over a nice dinner.

“You go first,” I said. 
“Well, I quit my job.”
“I see. Can you get it back?”
“No. But I hated that job. I'm free now! I thought you'd be happy for me.”
“Like I said, can you get it back?”
“Hell no. It was a big scene and I walked out. I felt great afterwards.”
“But you're going to get another job, right?”
“Well I was thinking about going back to school or perhaps taking some time out. Maybe start our own company. We can do that now.”
When I didn't answer, he asked me for my news.
“I'm pregnant.”

So, after nearly seven years of marriage, we were starting a family. I didn't know how apprehensive my mother was until later on in my pregnancy. She'd lost 3 to miscarriage. I later did the same, but this time, our son missed Valentine's Day by a day, and I got to celebrate Mother's Day in style.
Being a mother has been the toughest job I've loved doing. My dad gave me some great advice. My mother had been very sick after I was born, so he often did the 2 AM feeding, letting her sleep. He decided that those were some of the best times of his life. He vowed that at whatever stage I was at, he'd enjoy that stage for the beautiful gift it was, not wishing I was some other age. I've tried to adopt that with my own four now grown kids.

So, if there was a warning label on motherhood, maybe some of them would look like this:
1. You won't feel like you have the time or energy to get up in the wee hours of the morning for feeding, sometimes a bath and certainly a diaper change. And then perhaps another bath and diaper change. But somehow, you'll just find a way.
2. Motherhood is part nurse, part camp counselor, part disciplinarian, taxi driver and the unlimited source of funds. But all those things are done out of love. You learn to get used to the feel of clotted spitup traveling down your back and into your butt crack occasionally.
3. Being a mother is very simple, but not easy.

4. Your home will be invaded with smelly soccer teams and brownie sleepovers. You'll recover your furniture and replace your carpet about every three years. You have to instruct the little ones not to pick up the dog by its belly, or by its ears, or the cat by its tail.
5. When you give a gift to the relatives and the children are present, they'll always tell the recipient you got it on sale. They're practicing being truthful.
6. You will cherish those little soap dishes and ashtrays made in grammar school, and will never throw out the handprint painted bright blue or green made in preschool. You'll look for evidence of talent in the butcher paper drawings you'll be presented with. 
7. You'll not have the heart to throw out the baby teeth the Tooth Fairy stole, leaving money under the kid's pillows. You will learn it's okay to read the same bedtime story over and over and over again. You won't get medals or pay raises. You won't be given an instruction manual.
8. You'll never forget the fact that you will be the first woman your sons will love, and they'll show it to you even though they try very hard to cover it up. And you try not to laugh.

9. You'll discover enthusiasm for bugs, water fights, large bubbles, pink plastic high heels, fold up field chairs, hard wooden gym benches or the midnight bad dreams that bring the kids back to your bed occasionally. You'll remember and cherish all of these memories. Christmas morning will never ever be the same again.
10. Motherhood means the celebration of unselfish love, belief in all things, even when everyone else has given up hope. Mothers hope a lot. And they pray. They keep and tell the stories of the family. They demonstrate the healing power of love. They remind us all that we are family.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you, and to all of you who are honored to help a mother celebrate her special day by saying thanks.

14

CAMELOT DAYS

It's May!

My freshman year in college I attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland. There were a lot of firsts that year, the biggest one being my first year living away from home for more than a camping trip or church ski event.

Thinking ourselves so incredibly grown up, my roommate and I were daring ourselves all sorts of things. For the most part, we did them. I took off my bra in my International Affairs class and tossed it at the person I was required to. This was all done when the professor, the legendary Carlin Capper-Johnson, who had been a close personal friend of Winston Churchill, was out of the room.

I wore a nightgown to a concert.

I think Melissa had to moon someone from a friend's room overlooking the entrance to our dorm. We both marched ourselves down to the infirmary and got birth control pills, because we were on a mission of another sort too. Both of us had very mixed results.

We'd lay on our beds and look up at the ceiling and wonder who we'd fall in love with, who we'd marry, what our life would look like. We'd listen to Rod McKuen and think about finding someone that would love us so deeply, and never go away.

I spent an evening with the guys of Sandpipers (Guantanamera), who came to perform at the spring concert, and had to crawl back into my room at night. I got the job of cleaning the basement that Saturday because someone turned me in. But it was magical! I hear that song so often these days, and wonder what happened to them all. They were nice guys.

In high school I met Joan Baez at a friend's house in Palo Alto. The dreamer in me thought I could sing just like her. I love the music of Sweet Sir Galahad came in through the window in the night when the moon was in yard…I can't tell you how many times I've sung this in the shower. Probably 2000 or more. And here's to the dawn of their days… Just love the lyrical expression of this singer. Made me take up guitar for about 2 minutes… But the voice in my heart is still there, even though I can't sing like that. I still want to…and do you think I'll fail at every single thing I try.  


Sweet Sir Galahad went down with his gay bride of flowers, the prince of the hours of her lifetime.
And here's to the dawn of their days….


Ah, those days when I was barely over twenty, when I had my whole life ahead of me, looking through clouds, looking for that thing that's hardest to find, looking for love even then…

10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON – GARDEN BLISS

Those of you who garden understand this. My mother used to spend hours and hours in the garden, just “playing with the plants” as she would say. She loved roses, which has become my favorite as well. I go for the scented ones as much as possible, the deep rose-red and intoxicating scent of the Chrysler Imperial being my very favorite. This rose is the Peace rose, another favorite of mine.

We've built our rock walls spanning the past 2+ years, and the sprinkler system was removed to do this, so it has been barren around our house, save for the occasional calendula or nasturtium volunteers. Several foxglove have been discovered, and even some potato plants that cropped up when we were filling holes created from the wall building, importing soil from our rear old garden yard.

As has been said before, “Life finds a way.” That's certainly true of my plants. I let volunteers bloom and grow where they are planted, even if planted by mistake. I think the garden faeries reward me by doing so. Just doesn't seem right to pluck out a young plant just because it couldn't know where to put itself with it's own kind. Sort of like my life.

Now that the kids are gone, my garden has become my outlet for the need to tend and bear children.

I negotiated a little compromise and got a plot rototilled and fenced so I could have a small vegetable and flower garden this year. I've kept it small because I only got a few man-hours to use and I used our helper on the hard stuff – pulling weeds and tilling the soil. My garden soil is nice and sandy-loamy, after 30+ years of putting 6-8 yards of mushroom manure on it every year before I planted. But the front of the house has, like the rest of our property, thick black soil loaded with nutrients, but makes the roots work harder when allowed to dry. I can dig a hole a foot deep, fill it with water, and a week later, it's still there.

My roses have had lots of chicken manure over the years from the chickens I used to have. They actually became pets when they got too old to lay eggs, but at least I got to collect their manure embedded in the bales of sawdust lining their boxes! My 66 very expensive pets, most of them hatched on my property (and I watched nearly every one being born), eventually had to go the way of the garden, my koi pond and everything else on our outside landscaping after the fire and rebuild. I was sad to see them go, but that's when I threw myself into writing. A silver lining.

I don't think I have seen my roses so lush as this year. And now, a new venture for me: my small vegetable garden. I'm good at negotiating, so got some tractor time in the rear yard and now have it set up to plant corn, as soon as I finish my next book. If you look at my calendar, you would see garden things noted, as well as editing deadlines and story launches. It's that important to me.

This time of year is magical for me – before the hot weather puts me into overdrive to protect and water, buds forming and branches are not yet leggy and needing to be pared back. Everything is small in the vegetable garden, ripe with possibilities for a savory summer of cabbage, kale, squash, peppers, beans, peas, eggplant and swiss chard.

Gardens are hopeful, like new love, they start out precious, perhaps a bit fragile. These lovely beings take their own time. Like falling in love, I'm learning how to enhance their beauty, and that brings me great joy.

It's always a wonder at this time of year, how my garden will come back. This year, I'm charmed with the magic of possibility for a wonderful blooming adventure and prosperous year.

8

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE – CATCH UP WITH LETTERS G, H, I, J, K, AND L

Playing catchup to the #A-ZBlogChallenge, and my topic for the month is gratitude.

G is for:

Get out of my head
Get into my heart
Grateful to know the difference

The Heart is the seat of the soul.
How do I do less and do more?
Grateful for the HEALING POWER OF LOVE.

I is for:
I am a writer because I write.
Grateful for the IDEAS.

J is for:
The Joy of Writing
JUST do it

K is for:
Long, slow kisses
Keeping my commitments (energy and opportunity to do so)…

L is for:
Love
Urgent Love
Perfect Love
Sustaining Love
Persistent Love
Neverending Love
Love in all its forms…..

9

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON – Goodbye to Vegas – Home to my own bed!

Romantic Times Book Convention was one of my best. Although they seem to get better and better for me each year, I think I'm finally beginning to figure things out. I gave away about 60 books, and met some wonderful new readers. Sold a bunch of books this year, more than I'd planned on. Met with author friends, did one panel on Heroes Out Of Uniform, which was moderated by Gennita Low – many people said it was the best panel of the whole convention. Participated in the Military Tribute (thank you Elle for organizing it), and of course rewarded my new recruits with swag and tee shirts.

Lucky to have one of my readers who attended my Coppola book signing in Sonoma County, come to this event to sit at my table.

Got to mention the Operation Aloha Shirt Quilt and sold out of raffle tickets (wish I'd brought more).

Met with Cissy and Susan at Writer Space, who do my newsletter and so much more.

You can see my interview with this handsome cover model on my RB4U Blog post last year here.

We are a community of writers. I always like spending a lot of time in my writing cave, which is what I have to do when I get home, but without our writer friends, and the suggestions they make (I am a big one on asking questions and getting information), I wouldn't have the kind of career I am lucky enough to have. My readers wouldn't get as much from me, either.

So, from the Erotic Museum, to the rooftop gazing at the VooDoo Lounge, the Club RT and the Giant Book Signing, I go away with happy memories of hard working authors dedicated to their readers. The work ethic and professionalism of our industry, fueled by such fandom, is outstanding. I am so inspired to go home and write my heart out for all of you who take a chance on my books.

7

F is for Flying #atozchallenge

I'm flying to Scottsdale for the Desert Dreams Convention. Teaching a couple of classes and looking forward to the reader signing on Saturday. I think I have only one suitcase close to the limit. I was smart and sent ahead my things, and I'll send any unused books to RT in Las Vegas.

Having dinner tonight with my friend from Tucson Festival of Books I think 3 years ago now, and his wife. He's one of those guys who has done things we don't want to know about. LOL. I have used him as a source for several FBI and other law enforcement questions I've had.

So, #atozchallenge is now at the letter F.

I get a lot done on the plane and in the hotel room. Meeting my narrator on Friday, and we'll be doing a class on audio books. After having worked together on 21 of them, I think we've got it down, but then we find something new just about every new project we undertake.

I am grateful for being able to fly to visit friends, to teach and to give back to the community of wonderful writers. It's like fishing, and that's another F word. I put myself in these places, and people show up, events happen and I learn something.

Friends is a good F word. Today I learned how to upload a movie file to my FB author page. Looking for a way to track it, and did not know the video is treated as an impression, rather than a click. I've got tons of videos I'd like to show off. And Facebook, okay, that's another F word, likes them right now.

I like Free also. Free books, free first in series.

And, as I write this, I hear frogs. I love frogs for various reasons. I've got 12 tattooed to my forearm, one for every SEAL book, just like my characters have in the series. And I have a pretty one on my back, something that could have been drawn in the 1960's. Love the color and the paisley symbols.

Flower Child. Some would make that one word, because it certaiinly is a THING! That's me. This flower child has a small garden this year. And that's another great F word:

Fabulous!

7

E is for Evening. Excellent start to the #atozchallenge Everyone!

Excellent start to the #atozchallenge Everyone!

Grateful today for the letter E. I like evening. I must admit, I like that dusk and dawn kind of magical place, especially for some of my romantic scenes. My guardian angel is awakened at dawn after having spent a glorious evening in her lover's arms. For the first time, at the very end, she is finally being able to sleep at last.

Readers of mine will know I always end my books with a lovely bow: a love scene that somehow transcends all the danger and pain and hurt, misunderstanding and confusion. When the couple finally relaxes into themselves and enjoys just the intimacy of the two of them.

Add caption

Dusk is a special time for colors, for those Maxfield Parrish type sunsets where the sky is turquoise and the horizon is deep orange. The trees overhead are black. You can see the effects of the glow on reflections outside, through windows, and the overall dark fabric of the ceiling of nighttime to come mutes everything except for these firery sunbursts. A magic time.

Vampires see this as an awakening (those that have to go to ground). Others see it as the death of the day. That space between light and dark, where both dance together. Like that image in Ladyhawk where the hero and the heroine can meet, but only briefly because one has to stay in the night and one lives in the day.

Evening is more emotion than time. Color more than idea or thought. When I see the sun fall below the horizon and on those special nights when the glow is extra bright, my ideas wander and my heart bleeds something good.

I have no idea what it is. But that's what Evening is to me.

What is it to you?

4

D is for Discipline #atozchallenge – Am I truly grateful for this?

Discipline in Blogging for #AtoZChallenge!

Well, I was going to pick Dogs, Do-overs, Dumb Stuff, but I guess that's why Discipline is so important today. Let me explain.

My letter D (above) doesn't look like it would belong on a Navy SEAL Sweatshirt, does it? But it is very important, and here's why. We are the sum of all the life experiences we've had. As a storyteller, I spin these stories, placing one flower here, or a vine there, a color here or there, and all of a sudden we have a bouquet, a tapestry of stories filled with emotion. These come from my past, from my fantasies, from the future, from others. Who really cares where they come from, as long as, being a writer, it isn't plagiarized.

And here's the gratitude part (my theme for the month). Thank goodness we have all these experiences. Thank goodness we have the variety, color, the pain and the joy of living. Thank goodness we have more than enough to choose from.

Discipline means to Decide. To “kill of other options.” In a world where we are lucky enough to have so many options, we have to learn to pare down to the useful and focus on our goals, or out energy gets pulled away, wasted, if you will, in thousands of different direction.

The word Decide has the ending like other “cides” – and I know you can creatively think of them on your own. We choose what to let into our lifespace (my new favorite word), we choose what stories to tell. In terms of working with addiction issues, we learn which Dog to feed. We starve the dog that isn't good for us, and feed the dog that brings about all the miracles. Sometimes we are drawn and choose unwisely. Then we get a do-over the next time it comes up.

Here's some Double D's – my favorite thing to write about (crazy, I know). But I just love my heroines to be big chested.

Yes, I think these are DD's

Now, that's a lot of dumb stuff, but I managed to include all my words, weave them together with today's word, Discipline.

What Dog are you feeding and what Dog are you starving?

12

Can I Do It? #atozchallenge

Can I Do It? #atozchallenge.  

Can is a big part of my daily vocabulary. Not try, but can.  Yesterday I was doing some edits from a piece I'd written almost 5 years ago. I was in love with that piece then, and today, the writing needs a total tuneup. Can I make it as a bestselling author? You bet. Should I wait another 5 years so my writing will be even better? Nope. That would be trying to become a bestselling author. There is no waiting in my world. 
Challenge is another good C word. Just the thought of it gets me excited. Like the expression: “Tell me I can't and I will.” It's part of one of the Navy SEAL sayings. I love it (and I've heard it all my life) when someone says something is impossible, or worse, impossible for me. That sets up a challenge, a task on my big to do list in the sky, to prove that I can achieve that goal.
I read this today when I woke up. I love these little daily reminders of what we can do. Notice I didn't say should do? This is from the perspective of 52-year-old former Navy SEAL, Mark Divine, who has now carried his lessons learned into daily life. His morning routine is pretty awesome, and the exercises he does, well, they are a bit over the top. But he prepares for the challenge of the day, just like I am doing my A-Z challenge to prepare myself for my writing day, and to remind myself every morning how grateful I am to be alive, healthy and full of stories. Life on all the important terms, is good. I didn't say perfect. It's good. And it's getting better every day.
So here's his thought from this morning:
So today, I'm grateful for Chalenges, for Constructive Change. For doing what I can to create a perfect day as an author, mother, wife and friend. For being the best me that I can be. And to share the experience.
3

A Day At the Sonoma County Library – Local Author Showcase & Symposium – Year Two

Mary Shelley 1797-1851

This was my second year participating in the Local Author Showcase and Symposium, presented by the Sonoma County Library and Creative Sonoma, in association with Copperfield's Books. Thank you, David Dodd, for inviting me back this year, and for making me a part of this wonderful experience. I was enriched and enthralled!!

I thought last year was wonderful, but this year's symposium was even better! I think any writer loves books – all kinds of books. Carolyn Jewel, Sabrina Rawson and I were the only romance writers there, but the variety of readings and stories, including the panel on The Business of Writing, was excellent.

Some quotes I loved:

David Dodd (right) Sonoma

Jonah Raskin – Reading inspired me to write. I devoured books.

Sabrina Rawson – It wasn't until my relapse with cancer in 2011, within my first year of diagnosis, that I started to think of creative writing becoming more of a hobby.

Thonie Hevron – I can take my work on the road when I travel, edit at the hairdresser, do marketing/social media on the fly.

Marian Lindner – Inspiration became reality for me when my search for the creative path that would fulfill me became essential.

Carol Miller – …making “beautiful” things. This has always what gets me up in the morning.

Carolyn Jewel – I value honesty in the writing, to the story, and to the worlds I build.

Crissi Langwell – ..I feel my work is making a difference.

Gilbert Mansergh – I think of the tough commute: 15 feet from house to office, flexibility of time (except deadlines) and locations (California, British Columbia, England, Wales, Crete, Norway, Denmark, etc.)

Jeane Sloane – My most important value in my career of writing historical fiction is to write little known pieces of history for people to read, enjoy and/or not forget the past.

Andy Weisskoff – I'm inspired by the desire to write books that help others manage tricky situations.

Armando Garcia Davila – told a great story of being 10, taking communion for the first time and feeling he'd saved his boyhood friend's soul.

Daedalus Howell (my star from last year)

There were so many others. But I think the highlight of my day was the story, which will be coming out this October, and I believe will also be a play, Immortal Frankenstein. The author read a passage through the POV of Mary Shelley, the day after her death, discovering the changes in her lifeless body, her life, and the snicker at what will happen when her Step Daughter or someone else will find her husband's (Percy Shelley), heart in her desk drawer.

Yes, Shelley's body had washed up on shore. Custom was to burn the body, not knowing who the man was, and a friend rescued his heart and other body parts. Mary Shelley kept it in her desk drawer for years.

Gil Mansergh

Just had to share that.

17

B is for Books #atozchallenge

I'm grateful for books. I love reading books. I love writing books. I love book conventions and all the beautiful readers there. Here are some other B things I'm grateful for:

1. Boys. I dated them, married one, bore two and fell in love with lots of them. What would my life be without boys? Not so sweet.

2. Band of Bachelors – and here you thought I wouldn't pimp my series? I am finishing up one now, and he's a very messed up bachelor, and that's my next grateful point!!

3. Bachelors! They shield themselves from women, but they fall and they fall badly. The give wrong advice. Without Bachelors to write about, what would life be?

4. Baseball. I'm grateful for the new Giant's Stadium, for lazy afternoons out at the ballpark, getting sunburned and loving every minute of it.

Better come back tomorrow!

10

Away We Go! #atozchallenge

My Away We Go! #atozchallenge is doing a blog every day on Gratitude! Listing everything that starts with the letter A, here's a few of them.  Hello from Blogger #110!!!

1. Best new self-help book:  The Power of No by James and Claudia Azula Altucher.

2. My new SEAL book:  Band of Bachelors: Alex which will be coming to preorder very soon, and is available for preorder on iBooks here.

3. My favorite blog sister:  SOS Aloha and her book Blog SOS Book Blog.


4. My quilt project, Operation Aloha Shirt. If you have a few snippets of fabric and old shirts you want to donate to this quilt project, please send them to me. I'm making a quilt to go to a military family in Hawaii, and another one to auction off at to donate money to Navy SEAL/UDT Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

5. Spring Fling Audio Giveaway (use the #SpringFlingAudioGiveaway to be connected to all the other authors who are participating in this. I'm giving away an Audio Book every day this month. You're welcome!

6. AMORE! The Italians do so many things well. I've wanted to learn Italian for years. Just so I could speak love in their beautiful tongue. We need more Amore. Always.

Be sure to join the other bloggers. Remember, I'm #110 on this list. Come back and see me anytime!

13

Easter Story

Mother had no idea what was in store.

I was baptized on Easter Sunday. Not sprinkled. Dunked. When you are raised Baptist, nothing short of the full-on emersion service will do. We'd been studying for weeks, memorizing Bible verses and creeds, learning all the things we needed to know about our church, its history and why being baptized was a good thing.

The Bible story is all about renewal and forgiveness, our sins being washed away and the fresh start to life that is promised for those who follow the Christian faith. I know there's a lot of pagan history surrounding Easter, but since I'm not a scholar, I'm going to limit my discussion to what I know.

The rest of the story, as they say, was that I had a terrible, hopeless crush on a boy who lived around the corner from the church. He was also  in the new membership class. We were both about ten years old. I had a hard time looking at him for fear of fainting. If he noticed me at all, I would be surprised.

He was tall, dark and handsome, just like the bad boys in my dreams who would steal me away. I imagined all sorts of miraculous things about him, but the truth was, I never really knew him. Years later I would run into him in the hallways of our different high schools and I would confess to having had a crush on him for three years running. His answer was simple, like it always was:  “I don't remember you.”

That special Easter Sunday, we had to walk down the church aisle in our white robes, the girls with a small plastic daffodil, and the boys with a palm frond. We also carried our pristine white washcloth which would be used later on.

The choir sang as we lined up, and, sure enough, as the boys and girls converged at the back of the narthex, one by one we were paired and guess what? I was Richard's partner.

It was surreal. Even then I was a romantic. I held my yellow daffodil like it was a wedding bouquet and Richard was my groom. Our legs touched a couple of times. His shoulder rubbed mine. Did his body buzz like mine did? Probably not.

At the altar, we separated to go up and around the choir loft to enter the Baptistry. My father's cousin was the paster of our church, and the good Dr. had me say my name, and, after handing him my folded white washcloth, he placed it over my nose and mouth and bent me back, down into the water. Of course I lost my footing and splashed, and came up coughing, which caused a little ripple of laughter from the church. I was the girl who forgot her lines at Christmas when my job was to recite the Christmas story by candlelight. I was also the one who threw up in the choir loft because I sat next to Richard one Sunday and our thighs actually touched. I couldn't handle the excitement, so I threw up. I'm the one who gave my shiny silver dollar to the poor African kids we saw in that movie they played – the kids with the bloated bellies. My dad replaced it with a paper bill, and gave me back my silver dollar with, “It's nice to give the dollar, but you didn't have to give that special dollar.” He had brought it back from Reno when he took the college kids skiing the weekend before.

My granddaughter takes after me, I'm sure.

Now you would think Richard would have remembered me. Or maybe he just tried to forget me, which is more likely the case. But each encounter was rather cathartic for me. It was, in many ways, a fresh beginning each time I went to church, as I learned to anticipate our meeting, learned to handle the proximity to him, and then deal with my blood pressure going back to normal.

Those were magical days. My parents had always said you “had babies with someone you really love.” I used to go to bed at night dreaming I was pregnant – a testament to how much I loved him. My simplistic view of that whole thing was dashed one evening in my parent's kitchen and life was never the same afterwards. All because I came home and asked what that four-letter word beginning with a F was. My life was over as I knew it. Why would anyone let a boy pee on them, or inside them – wherever that place was. I didn't even know it was there! And I knew it was wrong to find out.

Many, many Easters have gone by as I've raised my own four children, and now watch my grandchildren. I couldn't convince any of them to get dunked, so I think I'm still the special one in the family. I had my third child on Easter Sunday. It was and always has been a day to mark a new milestone in an ordinary life filled with love and family and friends.

Princess in training is a good thing.

The message of new beginnings is just as timeless as it was way back then when I was so distracted. A friend once said I needed to put my arms around that little girl and just love her. There was never enough love. I was never confident enough. But there's satisfaction in remembering the cycles of life and how even an awkward girl of ten could grow up and tell love stories. I'm still walking down aisles with flower bouquets and my heart goes pitter-pat for all the heroes in my books.

Because true love does indeed heal in the gardens of the heart.

Happy Easter, everyone.

5

THEME REVEAL A-Z Blog Challenge GRATITUDE!

I'm doing it again this year. And this time, like I did in I think 2013 or 2012, 30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE. 


You have to understand I'll be posting other things too. but with this logo at the top, and with the label A-Z Blog Challenge, you should be able to pick it up on my site anytime.

I already know what April 1 will start out: 30 Days of Gratitude: Amore!


We need a little more love in this world, wouldn't you agree?

13

WRITING ROMANCE IN A SERIES – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

My long dining room table is going to be filled today.

I'm energized by a little project I'm working on this weekend, taking a writing break. I'm doing a talk at Desert Dreams on Writing Series, Making Them Sizzle. I always love these projects because although I know the points I want to make, some of the results and demonstration are going to be surprises for me.

I've got all this office supply stuff (who else but me can spend too much in the office supply store, who covets paper and pens and stickers and stuff over clothes and jewelry I used to lust over?), and will be creating a banner to demonstrate what I mean at the class. I'm going to put all my series covers side by side and then identify the characters in that book, and then show other books that they show up in.

Now, believe me or not, even I forget sometimes, so there is this very handy feature in Word that allows me to search a term, a name, to find out all the references for it in the book. Easy peasy, right? Well then I thought I'd do tape to show where they completed a string, or an arc of the story.

I think one of the things that works in a series is when you connect them, like a quilt, putting pieces from other stories together, inserting them for extra color and texture. But you don't want to disorient a new reader and you don't want to bore an old reader. There is a right tipping point of information, just the right amount and not too much. I rely on my editors for some of this, because some I clearly don't see.

Okay, I'm a collector and couldn't help myself.

So, I'm anxious to see how it turns out. My mind works, like the creative place it is, now wondering if I could do it in a real fabric quilt, using different patterns for each book, and re-using those fabrics later to make a random, patchwork art piece of my series. I love “found” things and pieces that didn't go together before that make something new and beautiful. The elixir of creative life filled with passion and purpose.

By the way, will you be in Scottsdale April 7-10? The Desert Dreams Convention still has spaces. Or, if you're a reader in the area, want to get together for a coffee or some chow? Let me know. Would love to meet you, or see you again.

J.D. Hart, my pirate storyteller, who narrates all my books.

J.D. Hart and I are also doing a class on audio book production, and then a session afterwards for those who want more in-depth brainstorming. The Pirate Prince and I would love to see you there…

5

Zak and Amy’s Proposal Scene

I'm participating in Tawny Weber's MARRY ME Facebook event on 3-21-16 to help promote her books and to celebrate National Proposal Day. Several authors are posting marriage proposals from our most recent books.

Here's my proposal scene from Zak and Amy:

Zak paused, stopped caressing her shoulder and upper arm,
and patted her instead.
“Usually the drama surrounds some guys, like Joel, who get
injured or never come back. That’s when the community closes ranks, comes
together, and helps the spouse and family. It’s just what they do. And I’ll be
honest and tell you, some guys, when they go overseas, are unfaithful. There
can be drama there, too. The ladies stay close to home, form this network of
strength. They usually can dig it out of anyone if something’s going on. There
aren’t too many secrets. All the joys and pains are shared communally.”
“Okay. I can see that.”
“But as for Connie, I think she’s just a mental case. Maybe
she was, maybe she wasn’t like this when they first got together, but she did
demand Lucas leave the teams, and he’s not ready to.”
“That happens a lot, too? Wives beg their husbands to get
off the Teams?”
“I don’t know. Not been around it enough to really know.
That’s why I wanted you to come down here to meet everyone, to talk to whomever
you wanted to talk to, answer all your questions. I want you walking into this
thing with your eyes wide open.”  


“I think I do a pretty good job of that.”
He glanced at her face. “You do, honey. I think you have
great instincts. You’re good under pressure. Remember, I’ve seen that.”
How could she forget the look on the terrorist’s face when
his bloody handprint was left on the glass door of her office or later when she
thought her life would end in that bomb blast?
But there was one lingering question she had to ask. “So,
Zak, how often do SEALs get divorced? Is it a chronic problem?”
“What do you think?” Zak had pulled into the parking garage.
Shutting the Hummer off, he turned in his seat to face her again. He focused on
her hands folded neatly in her lap and gently covered them with his. His warm
fingers wrapping around hers was comforting. She could see he was trying to
formulate words for something difficult to say. He perused her chest, up her
neck, and then met her face to face. “I think the statistic is better than
sixty percent. That’s all military, too. Maybe the SEALs are a little higher,
but I’m not sure.”
She broke eye contact and stared at the walls of the garage,
swallowing hard.
“Thing is, Amy, it’s hard on the families when the guys go
overseas. That stress takes several forms. I guess Connie went on a spending
bender, and then they had money problems. I just think she was weak and decided
she couldn’t handle it. We all wish she could have just been honest about
that—she wasn’t made for this life. No harm in that. But the way she’s going
about it is all wrong.”
“Terrible for the kids.”
“Tears Lucas up. It really does.”
“I won’t lie to you, Zak. I really don’t know how I’ll feel
when you go overseas.”
“I know that. That’s being honest.”
“But I want to support you. I know this was what you were
made to do.”
“That’s absolutely for certain. But I want to make one thing
perfectly clear. My dedication to this job will always come first as long as I
am a SEAL. If that changes, then I get out. You need to know that.”
It was one of the things that scared her the most. No matter
how much he loved her, being a SEAL would always come first.
“And?” Amy knew there was something more he was leaving out.

“Let’s go inside.” He took her hand. She slid off the seat
into his arms, and they walked hand in hand up to the elevator and to his
apartment beyond.

He directed her to sit on the couch while he brought in some
mineral water for both of them. Instead of taking his place beside her, he
knelt in front of her. “Amy Dobson, you know me. You don’t know the community
yet, but I do, and I think there is a place here for you. I’ve got the green
light from your dad.”
Amy’s expression must have registered shock because Zak
hurriedly explained how he’d called Chief Allister Dobson and her father had
given him his approval.
“Kind of old fashioned, but I wanted to do it that way. I
knew what your father thought was important to you, Amy.”
The tender expression on Zak’s face left her speechless.
He’d planned this ahead of time. This was more than a just meet and greet with
the other members of his SEAL Team; this was a planned course of action. Very
intentional. She saw for the first time how he’d bared his soul to her. He’d
set all this up.
http://authorsharonhamilton.com/true-blue-seals-zak.php
“Marry me, Amy. You already said yes, but I wanted you to
know that your dad is in agreement.” He took her hands in his. “I want to make
it formal. I don’t want to wait for some day.”
She didn’t have to think about it. She went to bed every
night and woke up every morning envisioning being his wife, sharing a life with
this man. “Of course, just like I said before, I’ll marry you, Zak. And in
time, I’ll learn how to support you the way I need to. I think I’m good with it
all.”
Her smile would usually bring a kiss, but he was still
hesitating.
“What is it?” Now she was getting worried.
“I want us to get married before I deploy.”
“Like when?”

“Soon. How about next weekend?”

I so enjoy bringing you these marriage proposals, as each one of my SEALs finds his happily ever after. In Zak's case, this is the most beautiful part of the story, the proposal and wedding. And then the strongest and most beautiful part of their love follows after his difficult tour. 

Enjoy!
10

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!!
6

Band of Bachelors: Alex coming next!

Band of Bachelors: Alex, is Book 2 in the Band of Bachelors. Here's a little excerpt for you. Enjoy! Now on preorder with iBooks, and will be available June 14. You will remember Lucas, and the apartment he was sharing with the other SEAL bachelors? Alex was one of them. A Navy SEAL also wounded in the Canary Islands, he's healed, and back home, and looking for love in all the wrong places. Trust me. He's a piece of work!

          Jake and Thomas had set Alex up
with a blind date. The timing for this was good. He would be leaving early
Sunday morning to fly up with Lucas to Sonoma County to help Nick and Devon
with the winery.  But this was going to
be a Friday night blind date, which meant he could woo the little lady all
night and all day Saturday if she was spectacular. And if not, well, he could
get out of Dodge and wouldn’t be back for over a week. It also saved the hassle
he knew they went through waiting for a call back from him. If he was leaving,
there was no expectation of a call back. The pressure was off!
            They
didn’t tell him anything about her, except for the fact that she was tall,
really, really tall. They always said that with a smile when describing her to
him, so he was prepared for a lady maybe 6’ in height. He loved tall,
long-legged girls who liked to wear those Jesus sandals that laced nearly up to
their Holy of Holies. He was praying for the chance, just once, to be able to
untie one of those types of sandals, and have the tiny leather shoelace be so
close to her crotch, the backs of his hands would be singed from the proximate
distance to her heat. With an easy couple of millimeters to go and then he’d
been in pay dirt. The angels would sing.

            He
was getting hard just thinking about it. He woke up Friday morning with a
boner, that interfered with his skydive done that morning to take the edge off
his nerves.

You can preorder this book on iTunes here.

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