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Crossing Genres, Mixing It Up, Making It Dangerous!

How does an author cross genres and still keep his or her audience? Or have her audience risk traveling with her on a journey into a new genre?

Along with pen names, this topic has been discussed many many times in writers' groups. It can be a scary thing for an author to change genres, or add genres. But I think the realities of the marketplace are such that we have to be prepared for genre tastes to change. Or become over-saturated. I think it's healthy to have a couple of sources you can draw stories from and pick up new readers.

The Indie community allows us to explore all these options at our own will. We don't necessarily have to give up one genre to explore another one. And we don't necessarily have to just chase the rabbit of “best selling genres” which I see so many try to do. That's something that is guaranteed to make a writer go crazy in a heartbeat.

Speaking only from my personal experience, writing in more than one genre is healthy for my writing. Not everything can be quantified in terms of sales, although that's what we're doing as authors, writing books readers will buy. But adding “sparkly body parts” to the mix of stories in our fantasy worlds is a good thing. Like exercising a new muscle, it can be painful, but overall adds to our overall strength.

I think what makes us stronger writers is that we take chances, not stupid chances, but chances nonetheless, and we have confidence in the work. Tastes change. What is the rage one day may not be the next. There is the phenomenon that readers are always looking for new writers they can discover, like treasure hunting. Someone with a good backlist is at an advantage because of past reader loyalty, but at a disadvantage if we're not the new shiny penny anymore. The work has to be shiny, not the author.

The answer? Just continue writing what we like to write, what tickles our fancy, and what readers in the past have loved. It has been said that every author tells the same story, just with different characters. Whether they are a Dark Angel, a Golden Vampire or Navy SEAL hero, the heroes in my book all find their true calling and higher selves through finding true love.

So, here are a couple of rules I think apply when writing across genres.

1. Have confidence readers will enjoy creativity and introduction of new characters.
2. Your voice as a writer doesn't change.
3. In romance, it's still about the hero and heroine's journey to find each other.
4. Be patient with yourself and listen to the writing voice inside your heart. Let that intuition serve   you and feed the faith, not the fear.
5. Explain what you're doing and make sure past readers know you are not leaving one area permanently, that you'll be back.
6. Take the new excitement of learning new things to your new writing, even if it's an old genre.
7. Writers make it every day, break out, do the impossible and defy odds all the time.
8. Payoffs are not always in dollars. Write from your heart, not just for the market.
9. Embrace change and know we learn from our mistakes.
10. Keep everyone guessing! (What the heck is she doing now?)

What about you?



When I was a full time business coach, I used to tell my customers, you must be easy to start and hard to stop. Everyone thinks they start from way behind the curve. They've procrastinated and now when they have to start, they have to work through all the debilitating emotions of frustration and discouragement, before they can even begin their project.

And then there were those who wanted it all today, wanted to catch up in one sitting, who were so anxious to make headway, they too had to battle the range of emotions and frustrations that they felt held them back, due to their impatience. I often have that form of “startitis” – in fact, it used to plague me whenever I'd start a new diet. And the worrying over whether or not I would stick to it long enough to have results would overcome me and by 10 o'clock, the diet was blown. And then it makes it harder to start again.
But starting is just that, starting all over. My opinion is that it's 80% of the battle, just beginning. If I can put out of my mind all the other little self-talk that is unproductive and just plain not true in many cases, I can get that big locomotive fired up and begin my new project. By “new” it could mean writing new or editing. Whatever the project.
I used to use the illustration of getting a big locomotive running. It doesn't matter how hard we press on the pedal on that big engine. The thing will accelerate at a certain speed no matter what. If we've floored it and really jumped on the pedal (they probably don't even have one, but I use it for illustration), that big machine would only go so fast in such a period of time. The extra effort on our part is irrelevant.

On the other hand, there's this little thing called Momentum that begins once we are sailing down the rails. The weight of the machine and the forward motion help propel us further, even if we should temporarily take our foot off the pedal.

And that's where people have the hardest time. After they start, they get some success, and do happy dancing all over the room, and then forget to get back to work. I'd have business leaders achieve a windfall month of profits and then take the rest of the year off, and wind up behind what they did the year before. We used to say that earning a huge commission check was the surest detriment to many people succeeding. Just ask lottery winners. They'll tell you.
The magic happens in the not stopping. Notice there is no mention of talent. We all want to be so talented someone will come along and give us millions of dollars for that screen play, that novel, but in fact, the world doesn't operate like that. Somehow, even though others have struggled, our path will be smooth and easy.

You will have a ten times better chance of dying in a commercial plane crash than winning the lottery. Chances someone will pay you $1M for your book? I'd say even less.
What about you? What do you do to get yourself started? How do you keep your momentum fired up?



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.



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?


Heroes of Every Genre: Who’s the Best?

What is your favorite thing about Alpha Heroes? Well, we authors are ready to share our favorite Alpha Males, our favorite things about them, and everything sexy and heated about those Alpha Males you can think of. *wink* Starting on Friday and ending on Oct 22nd, over 200 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about those sexy men we know and love.
And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 200 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger.
But that's not all….
We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!
Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

So, here's my blog and giveaway, and you have until October 22nd to leave your comments. If I had a big Highland Games event and I invited all the heroes of the six books I've written, who would win? Yes, I want you to pick the winner, after I give the evidence. And I'll even make it more fair. You can pick a hero from someone else's blog or book and vote for them here too.

Every comment gets entered into our Grand Prize giveaway, and every commenter will receive something, and YOU EVEN GET TO CHOOSE. Now, when were you ever given the choice of prizes on a blog hop? Be sure you follow the instructions at the end of this post.

We have 6 Alpha Heroes: Daniel DePalma, Joshua Brandon, Marcus Monteleone,  Paolo Monteleone, SOC Kyle Lansdowne and SO Calvin Cooper. You get to vote for one of them (or another hero, if you must), by leaving a comment and telling us all why you think they should win, and what would you do with them to celebrate?

So, since this is election season, here are the descriptions of the candidates, and their Hollywood likenesses:

Daniel DePalma: Brazilian-born painter of colorful wall-sized jungle prints. He does not know his best friend, posing as his agent, is a dark angel who has hooked him up with a very bad girl. The relationship nearly destroys him. Not realizing there are forces of good and evil at play, a guardian angel comes to his rescue. He falls in love with her in spirit, until he falls in love with her in the flesh. He is willing to spend his life separated from his angel lover just to see her safely home.

Joshua Brandon: A colorful dark angel who was looking forward to an eternity of partying with his former best human friend, Daniel, bedding women in the Underworld as well as “on top” in the human world, until the guardian angel intervened. He has a fondness for redheads, especially redheadded guardian angels. He hates birds and detests order and rules. But he soon finds that, among other things, he has grown a conscience and finally meets a soul he cannot claim. He faces the ultimate sacrifice when he is asked to deliver that very woman to the Director of the Underworld to become a concubine. He discovers there are rules worth dying for.

Marcus Monteleone: A 300-year old golden vampire, has spent most of those years searching for his fated female, only to find her dying in his arms. He saves her life by turning her, only to be enjoined by the rules of his breed, to not interfere with her once human life. He does not believe he has fathered a child by a half vampire half witch/villainess, but he feels an obligation to take responsibility for the boy.  In the end, he is willing to spend eternity without her if it means she will be safe from the jealous mother of the boy.

Paulo Monteleone: Brother to Marcus. He loves human women, and, unlike his brothers and sisters, does not take golden vampire mates and chooses to marry outside the fating, resisting a fating that went terribly wrong. He falls in love with a professor of legend and myths, who claims she knows everything about the “non-existant” golden vampires of Tuscany. He finds he is willing to sacrifice his immortal life to rescue his human lover from those that want her silenced.

Kyle Lansdowne: SEAL team leader sent on a mission to find his AWOL swim buddy, who has been kidnapped by a drug gang. The gang's intent is to get weapons and equipment from the SEAL community for their illegal use. By accident, Kyle runs into a newbie Realtor, and he finds in her the woman he has always wanted, just when she is nearly taken from him forever. He is forced to choose between her and his SEAL team buddy's life.

Calvin Cooper: Nebraska farm boy turned U.S. Navy SEAL. A specialist with gadgets, a medic and one of the tallest SEALs to ever graduate BUD/S. He is ordered to meet the family of a fallen SEAL medic, to help him heal the loss of his own family in a tornado. He helps a prominent psychiatrist protect his family, including his lovely daughter, from a psychopathic killer bent on revenge.

Now for your choice:

1. Dog Tag from Accidental SEAL
2. Amazon Kindle version SEAL Encounter.

Be sure to leave your name, AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, and please do so in code like: Jane Doe (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have fun, and good luck!!

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.
Accidental SEAL   SEAL Encounter    all available through Amazon

Accidental SEAL Book Trailer

Go to another blog here.


R is for Ride the Back Roads

Welcome back to the A-Z Blog Hop Challenge, Letters of Gratitude. Today is the letter R for Ride the Back Roads.

We took a drive today in West Sonoma and Marin Counties. If you don't know where that is, it's 60 miles north of San Francisco, and west of Petaluma, at the coast. We traveled from Sonoma County South, into Marin County, through green cattle-grazed hills in bright sunshine. No fog, and very little wind. We have a client moving here from out of state, who is considering purchasing some acreage out there, and today was the perfect day to go check it out and send him photos.

We've had so much rain, the hills are still green. After viewing the property, we headed to south to Nick's Cove for some oysters and some chowder. We ran into a local Motorcycle Club, Iron Souls, from Oakland, California. I think there must have been about 50 beautiful Harleys there.

Overlooking the inlet, we had warm cauliflower salad, cioppino and BBQ oysters. The place was packed. Afterwards, we walked out to the Boat House. People were playing Monopoly,  cards and READING!

I think I've found a great place to hole up when the fall storms come along. At the Boat House they stoke up the fire and you can stay there well after sunset – perched over the water. Do you see the fog beginning to show itself over the trees?

We took a tour of a couple of the cabins. One is an actual boat converted to a one bedroom rental.

I'm grateful I get to live in such a beautiful spot in wine country, California. Many people come here for vacation, and I get to live here all the time. Just 30 minutes from my house, I can be on the water, overlooking clam and oyster beds Jack London used to steal from by moonlight around 100 years ago. It probably looked very similar then.


P is for Persistence

Welcome to Day 16 of the A-Z Blog Challenge, and my Letters of Gratitude.

I've said it before here on my blog: We OVERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a day and UNDERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a year.

PERSISTENCE: Do it and stuff happens.

I've always been a big one for goal setting. I used to coach people in business. For two and a half days each week I would talk to clients every half hour for 8 hours a day. My job was to help them become more productive.

Most people would come to the phone feeling they'd been missing something, that they needed that secret that would propel them into the stratosphere. Our level of production at the time was so huge, they couldn't see themselves being able to do a tenth of what we had accomplished in business. “Sharon, what's that missing piece? What's that spark that motivated you to go to the next level?” Everyone thought there was some secret to high levels of achievement. They hired me to give it to them.

My job was to help them realize that the secret was within them all along. You don't have to be smarter, faster, prettier than anybody else. Every writer alive has been told, “You're a natural.” We all think we are all so special, don't we? Yes, we have to believe in our work. But the truth is, TALENT IS OVERRATED.

It's persistence that gets us to where we want to go. If you want to do and go where others haven't gone, you have to do what others won't do to get there. Everyone wants a shortcut. A magic bullet. A technique or brilliant answer to all our problems, without learning through trial and error, what we should be doing. 

Bella Andre taught me this. I don't think I've ever run across a harder working writer. And she reads a book EVERY day, too. She's managed to turn her career from mid-list author without a contract to megablockbusting Indie author phenom in less than 2 years. She did it by doing what others wouldn't do.

How many of us would have quit if we had a big deal withdrawn? Who picks up the pieces after the Snoopy Dancing when there is no party? When the bride and groom don't show up to the wedding? Bella went to work. She got very good at literally running over every obstacle that could come her way.

She became persistent.

Did she fail? Sometimes. Did she have doubts, disappointments? Of course. But just like the Realtors I used to coach, and I've coached probably 200-250 of them during my time, I would tell my clients what they needed to do to be successful and less than 10% would do it. It's probably even less than 10%. 

But not Bella. What about you? Do you show up every day and do your best? Like I said in the letter O post, are you Open for business? Really?


F is for Falling In Love

F is for Falling In Love!

Welcome to Day 6 of the A-Z Blog Challenge. I'm talking about a month of gratitude.

Where would we be without love? Do you remember that fuzzy feeling in your belly when you've just met that “special” person? You can't sleep. You don't want to eat. You run into things and say words you have never said before. You do things you never thought you would do, like go skydiving, go hot tubbing in the nude, wear a string bikini or don Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland. You open the sunroof at night to watch the stars with the heater on full blast. You take more walks, hold hands, go see more movies. You smile a lot more.

In writing romance, I absolutely live for the scene when the hero and heroine meet. If I get that right, the whole book stands up and demands to be written. I mean, take no prisoners. Shout it from the highest hill. It makes me sing along to music in Safeway and do handstands on my shopping cart. I feel like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

Romance is defined by two things:
     1. The woman always wins
     2. There is always a happily ever after.

Fact is, I think reading romance novels is actually good for your health. We live in a world of harsh reality. What's wrong with a little fantasy now and then? I've heard it said that great sex is between the ears. Do you doubt this in your own life?

You can call it animal attraction, or a divine gift from a father who only wants what is good and healthy for us. But falling in love, although invisible, can be measured by the actions it produces. I leave it up to your imagination.

Hey, it's spring. Did you think all my posts on gratitude would be heavy? Let's all get the heck knocked out of us by love. And feel grateful we can feel, we can love, we can have hope for a bright future with someone from our dreams.


E is for Envy

Welcome back to day 5 of the A-Z Blog tour, 26 days of gratitude. E is for Envy, the Enemy of gratitude.  My screaming little impetuous child self that has no sanity wants Everything, both what is mine and what belongs to Everyone Else. The root causes of this are many, but the most important one is a feeling that I lack something.

These days (I am a student, not an Expert) I speak the mantra over and over again: I have Enough. I do Enough. I am Enough. When I forget this, I want more than what I have, and it's not about improving the world, it's about feeling I have to do something so I don't feel less than. I've talked before about the God-shaped hole in my soul that wants to be filled with anything: chocolate, stimulants, overspending, other vices that don't serve me well. When I remember I have Everything I really need, that hole becomes smaller, or temporarily goes away completely.

Envy makes it impossible to really enjoy another's success because we think we are more deserving than the person who has Earned it. Or, we justify why they have it and we don't. Again, this comes from a basic feeling of a lack of something.

But when I remember to be grateful for what I have received, knowing that I don't always receive what I want, but what I need, the whole world opens up to me. It lets me share in the enjoyment of others, and it brings more happiness, opportunities, and lights my path in serendipitous ways. Coincidence becomes miracle. The next right action becomes a career path, a trajectory where all the riches of life reside.

I'll close with one of my favorite songs: Everyone's a Hero in Their Own Way by Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle) from the Dr. Horrible movie. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thursday, just because you deserve it…


D is for DOR

I have a special connection to the Navy SEALs, and editing my first SEAL romance, writing the second in the series I call SEAL of Honor. We were just in San Diego this past weekend, and I never hesitate to watch the boat crews work on the beach, as a new class is molded, melded and forged in steel. As I have said earlier, many men try out to become a SEAL just to find out where their limits are. You never know until you try.

D is for DOR. It means Drop On Request. There is no shame in trying out for the teams. There is also no shame if a man finds he can't complete the training. Many of them get injured, some seriously, and have to roll back to another class after they are healthy. And some, find out where their limits are.

The reality of that is also just that: reality. Doesn't make you a better or lesser person. It is in the trying that all the courage and mental metal is produced. Many, though disappointed, will say that it was the one thing in their lives they truly were glad they did. Imagine that in this world of instant gratification (a funny spin on the word gratitude, don't you think?). Going through all the grueling training, and failing, but being glad they did.

I interviewed one graduate, who was barely out of high school. He said he felt lucky to have found the SEAL teams at such a young age. He was glad that he didn't have to wait until he was 30, or 40 or beyond in years before he could find out what he loved to do, who he was. Lucky. He felt lucky to go through the harsh training.

There are many great books about the teams. Dick Crouch wrote a compelling book, The Warrior Elite, about one particular class, and in that graduating class, several of the men from Blackhawk Down prepared their way, even though some would not survive. Lone Survivor is the story of one of those boys, Marcus Luttrell.

I'm grateful for many things, especially the men and women who put themselves in harm's way so we can go to the store, to school, to church, so we can spend a leisurely day shopping or just having coffee with friends. Because of the sacrifice of a few we have today and tomorrow as gifts.

I'm also grateful that we get to try, and that we fail, and we get up again and try again. Remember, it isn't in the falling down, or failing that all the miracles come. It is what you do with yourself, how you pick yourself up afterwards that counts. We live to fight another battle another day. One day at a time.


C is for Courage

Welcome to day 3 of the A-Z blog I'm doing on the theme of Gratitude. Today is letter C for Courage.

We talked yesterday about belief, and how believing combats fear. We become afraid when we forget our blessings. So where does courage come from?

I do believe in evil, which isn't to say that my belief in it actually creates it, as some new-age thinkers would have us think. To understand evil, to accept that it exists, helps us to look at it right in the eyes and stand up for what is right. We call it doing the right thing. Not when it's convenient. Doing it when it counts. And it counts most of the time.

When my son was playing Little League baseball, I took him to a Saturday morning game with an opposing team they'd had trouble beating on several occasions. Before the game could start, I found my son and a boy from the other team rolling around in the dirt. Both coaches separated them, and benched them for several innings.

I was irritated during most of the game. When I took my son home, I let him know that we didn't act that way towards others. I dug for the reasons he had gotten into the fight. I could tell he was hiding something he didn't want to tell me.

And then he did. The other boy told my son, “Your mother is so fat, she needs her own zip code.” It was a funny comment, but my son felt obliged to avenge my honor. I was suddenly grateful I hadn't gotten more heavy-handed with him, although I made it clear I disapproved. And still did.

I'd never thought about what impact my being overweight had on my family. My son demonstrated courage to stand up for what he believed in. I got to tell him how much I appreciated his act of valor, even though displaced. And I got to look at some of my habits and how they hurt more than just me.

But none of this would have happened if he hadn't the courage to stand up to the bully from the other side. He made a stand against evil, and defended what he thought was pure and right: his mother. For that I am forever grateful.

He's still doing that today. I'm grateful for all the heroes, little and big, who stand up and do the right thing day in and day out, who don't capture headlines, but do it anyway.


B is for Believe

Welcome to Day 2 of my 30 days of Gratitude for the A-Z Blog Hop.

B is for belief. One of the reasons I wanted to do this blog hop is that I forget to say thank you for all the blessings I have received in my life. Fear can occupy a dark, cold and lonely place in a person's soul when they have no hope, when they find it difficult to believe. So, the opposite of fear, then is belief. When we focus on the negative, we become fearful. When we remember all our blessings, we believe in a compelling future.

Isn't it funny how quickly belief can spread? We watched The Hunger Games this weekend. I loved the part when the people in District 11 began to fight back, and how dangerous belief can be in an environment that doesn't tolerate that kernel of hope. How dangerous it is when people stand up and do the right thing.

My husband and I turned to each other after the movie and remarked that we felt like we'd just been through our own version of the Hunger Games in real life. And we are still here. We survived. And we believe in the future, our future.

I've heard it said that if we are to doubt something, we should doubt our limits, not our abilities. If we just do today what we know is the next right thing, everything is going to be just fine, good, and perfect.

I'm going to expand on that on Thursday when I do the letter D. I'm going to talk about the DOR (Drop On Request) bell the SEALs have during their BUDs training.

And about never giving up.


A-Z Blog Challenge

I've decided to choose a theme this year in the A-Z Blog Challenge, which starts April lst and goes the entire month, or until we get to letter 26. This will be the second year I have done it. I met some wonderful people last year. This year the group is about twice as large.

My new theme? GRATITUDE.

I've had a real blessing over the past three years. My good writing coach/friend, Kristen Lamb has reminded me in her workshops and posts the value of sharp pointy objects and sharp people–who then smooth and shape us, polish us into the jewels we become.

As I sit and write this, I know some day I will be a well known author. Right now, I work at other things until this dream can be realized. But the wandering garden path that looks so enticing comes up for me each day when I awaken. By the end of the day, I've seen garages and boxes of stuff, closing statements, bills, attorney memos, banks and title companies, inspection companies and reports, office meetings, happy people, upset people, traffic and frustrations of all species. It's a bit of a challenge to remember that lovely bucolic path I took in my dreams, during my quiet time, in the morning. Even quieter now that I have sent my chickens off to a better place for them. And for me.

I read a prayer a few Sundays ago in church which sums it up for me:

We confess the daily bread you give us is seldom enough to satisfy our indulgent appetites. Our craving for recognition and significance causes us to ignore the needs of our neighbors. Forgive our lip-service in worship when our actions beyond this sanctuary do not honor you. Renew us by your grace and remind us what it cost, that we might live in humble gratitude for Christ.

I'm not going to make this a religious experience or blog. One could substitute several words in the above prayer and it would apply to other religions or philosophies, and let me make sure to say that my way is by no means the right way. Afterall, I've said it before, I'm a Christian with a bent antennae. The passion with which we get to live and love has me falling down on my knees with gratitude. And to be blessed with the gift of storyteller, is one of the best gifts a person could receive.

And like the Bible stories, the gifts sometimes come at a terrible price. It's always darkest just before the light of a new day. In our stories, the black moment comes right before the resolution. And like in our romance novels, the Happily Ever After is always there, delivering the promise, perhaps not giving us what we want, but what we need.

I'm going to do 30 days of gratitude, one day at a time, starting April lst. I will humbly walk the path and would love to have your company.


Being Thankful for What I Do Have

A much wiser person than me said one time, “Don't compare your insides with someone else's outsides.” I have to remind myself about this all the time. Isn't it interesting, then, that I should pick careers that are highly dependent on what other people think: writer and Realtor?

Selling real estate for 25 years has taught me how to listen to what other people want, not what they say they want. Get the big picture. Be of service where they really need me. I tell my clients they could buy a better friend. But as far as getting the job done? I can definitely be counted on to tell them the truth. In an industry where people are often legends in their own mind, I became very successful because I tried to focus on the truth, not the fluff, the fantasy.

I even had rubber stamps made. One was a castle from one of the Disney brochures. Underneath it is the word Fantasyland. I'd stamp that in red on the lists of homes for sale, without offers. The other stamp said Reality, and it was a picture of a home with a sold sign across it. I would stamp that in green across the solds. Fantasyland or Reality?

Some days I want the Fantasyland, no question. I recently posted to my FB page the following:

There are definitely days when there is too much reality for me. Time for a good fantasy book, a spicy paranormal romance with characters I can fall in love with. Enough checking the stats on Amazon, checking other writer's stats on Amazon. I forget that not everyone can pop to the top of the charts with their first or second or even third book. I forget some days that the success lies in the words I write every day, not the checking my stats for what I don't have. No one writes like me. No one sold real estate like me, either.

One time I drove home from a very successful day. I had listed two homes, sold one and closed one. In the lingo of agents, it was a 4-deal day. I was on cloud 9. Until I drove past a home with someone else's sign in the front yard. I had thought they were my clients. But obviously, they thought otherwise. That yard sign stuck like a spear through my middle. Cursing and slapping the steering wheel all the way home, I am certain I made my family miserable. My husband reminded me, “What are you doing? You had a really great day!”

And he was right.

I've learned that I get to doubting things when I forget all the blessings in my life. I start focusing on what I don't have instead of what I do have. I have four wonderful children and 3.5 grandchildren. All healthy. All doing things they love. And despite my lapses in judgement, we've managed to have relationships I'm proud of. Adult relationships. I have the love of my life who has been by my side for over 40 years now. Who likes to read especially my spicy parts and believes in me.

Now how could stats on Amazon or Barnes and Noble ever compete with those things? Only if I let them.


The Case For Love (Not that it needed it)

A close family member had been grieving at the loss of a relationship. He asked me, “How do you find another partner? How do you find someone to love?”

I told him, “It's like catching a butterfly.”
“Excuse me?” he asked.
“You go out in the yard and wait for one to land on you.”
I was serious. Used to do that as a small child. With head back and arms outstretched to the sides, standing in the sunlight with my eyes closed, butterflies would come and land on my fingers, or on my head. I made myself a beacon for those beautiful winged creatures in my mother's flower garden.
Love isn't about trying to find anything. It finds you. You can't hold onto it, you receive it. Open hand to receive, not clutching in a fist. My relative was trying too hard. Wanted desperately to fill the big God-shaped hole in his chest.
I used that theme when I wrote Heavenly Lover. I liked the image of Guardian Angels dispatching their duties to save humans from throwing away their souls. And then the Guardians get snagged by love unexpectedly. All of a sudden, they notice the gap in their own chest. If love is universal, possessing great healing powers, why wouldn't an angel stumble upon this, not knowing before that he/she needed it? Meeting the “other” changes their angelic lives, for the good.
One of the most wonderful things about being a romance writer is living in the possibility of love 24/7. Okay, maybe that was a lie. Not always 24/7, but enough of my waking day as possible.
Because living in the possibility is where all the miracles are located.
I hope this Valentine's Day is filled with miracles and the possibility of miracles. And know that you are loved beyond what you can manage to believe.


Christmas In New York 1898

One of the great things at Christmas is the giving of the season. I know a lot of writers. I've critiqued with a lot of writers, some published and some not. But every once in awhile you run across someone who writes things you remember. 

Arletta and I have been in the same critique group for now going on almost 3 years. We have shared our victories, and some horrible, horrible tragedies. Not all of them are writing related. But many of them are. We all strive for our portion of the reader's attention. I have read many parts in this Trilogy and know that this is a labor of love, something she has not only spent more than a decade writing and re-writing, but researching. And it touches me especially because one of her main characters is a budding young writer, filled with the wonder and excitement of her craft coming to life.

I don't read historical fiction or even much in historical romance. No good reason for it, just that my plate is full and there are so many other authors in the genres I write in: Paranormal and Contemporary SEAL Romance, I have a TBR pile that is overflowing into my next lifetime.

But this is my gift to you, whether you be a writer, a reader, a fan or just an acquaintance I've met along the way. I hope this read puts you in the Christmas spirit.


BY GRACE is the second book in the Huachuca Trilogy. When Grace Pelham, an orphaned storekeeper’s daughter from Albany, sets out for New York City to pursue her art, she meets up with people on board the Mary Alice who will influence her. The Schuyler family includes Eric and Gertrude and their young twin sons, Bertie and Charlie. Grace is drawn to Eric who causes new, uncomfortable sensations. She is later surprised by an invitation to the very wealthy Schuylers’ Christmas Eve Ball. Grace accepts.

Dinner was a long affair with good food and good talk. Grace looked once or twice to the head table to catch a glimpse of Eric, Gertrude or his parents. Soon, both couples were circulating around the room, stopping at one table or another to speak briefly with each group.
Watching them, Chastity cocked an eye at Grace, and spoke softly. “All society knows Gertrude is wildly jealous of her husband. She keeps an eagle eye on any attractive woman who comes within shouting distance of him.” Grace looked appalled. “It’s amazing you have gotten this close. Beware of her fangs!”
Before Grace could respond, the Schuylers were nearing the table. She thought of excusing herself to head to the powder room and then decided that would be too obvious a snub. Instead, she gathered her wits and prepared for another encounter with Gertrude and her barbs.
“Dancing will start in the main ballroom in a short while,” said Gertrude. “I hope you will find this new orchestra appealing.” Gertrude put a good face on things, having sheathed her slings and arrows
“But first, we’ll have some carolers from Epiphany School serenade us and sing us into the ballroom,” added Eric, just as the sound of “Deck the Halls” resounded from the entry.
The grandeur of the dining room had impressed Grace with its flocked and silvered wallpaper hung above cherry wainscoting, drapery of fine silk and delicate crystal chandeliers. The ballroom nearly took her breath away.
“I had the same reaction when I first saw this room,” whispered Chastity. “It makes me think of Cinderella and her prince.”
The highly polished floor of intricate parquet spread out before them. Immense fireplaces sat in the east and west walls of the room, each big enough to fit a foursome for a game of whist. Silver and gold garlands hung throughout the room and reflected the light from chandeliers and wall sconces. Several chandeliers tinkled in a breeze from the opened doors on the south side of the room. A Christmas tree, easily twenty feet tall, glittered in one corner. Hand painted ornaments retold the Christmas story while star-held-candles sat on the tree’s branches.

“I think I have died and gone to heaven,” Grace whispered to Chastity as they moved across the vast room. Their little dinner group stayed together with the men making places for the ladies on the brocaded settees and tiny chairs along one wall.
The Epiphany choristers gathered near the tree and ended their performance with a medley of traditional carols and then slipped out the side doors and were gone in a flash. From an overhead gallery, a large orchestra immediately began a waltz to entice dancers. Both Schuyler couples moved onto the dance floor and met with applause as they dipped and twirled about the room. In moments, the floor was full of couples, young and old, slim or stout, all showing their enjoyment in smiles and trills of laughter.
Grace’s dance card was soon filled with the promise of a long evening. She was glad for the lessons at Mrs. Thompson’s Dance Academy that she had begged from her father. At times, she scarcely learned her partner’s name before she was whisked away by the next. When a break in the music came, she found Chastity locking arms and leading her to the balcony. A maid stood at each door to offer wraps to the women who sought to take the air. All along the terrace, men and women were resting from their exertions on the dance floor and chatting or flirting with their companions.
“Good, here come Ralphie and Bob Warren with drinks for us,” said Chastity
As the foursome downed the cool champagne punch, Gertrude and Eric came out on the balcony. Eric had his arm about his wife’s shoulders and was talking to her with deep concentration. Grace felt a knot form in her stomach as she watched them. Gradually, they forfeited their privacy as guests vied for their attention with compliments and congratulations on the fine party.
Chastity nudged her, “A penny for your thoughts.”
She was saved from answering when a drum roll called the dancers back inside to find Santa and his elves gathered near the tree. With many a “ho, ho, ho,” Santa began calling ladies to his side. To each he gave a gift, carefully wrapped in silver and gold foil. When Grace’s turn came, she approached and recognized “Santa” as Eric’s father.

“And are you having a good time, m’dear?”
“Yes, Santa and I have been a good girl all year.”
Santa beamed. “That’s what I wanted to hear. Now, here’s your reward. Enjoy!”
On returning to her friends, Grace opened the slim envelope to find a membership card for the Museum of Art resting inside. She looked up to find Eric watching her from across the room. She nodded her thanks, and saw by his answering smile that the gift had been his doing. Beside her, Chastity found a silver pen in her gift box.
“I wonder how Santa knew of my poetry attempts!”
The evening whirled on with surprise after surprise. The season’s opera diva made an appearance and sang her famed aria. Teddy Roosevelt, so recently back from Cuba, rumbled in after midnight, in good time for the light buffet. A duo of flamenco dancers entertained, their lightning steps and graceful maneuvers putting the audience to swaying. Jugglers dressed as court jesters kept balls flying.
By four in the morning, Grace was sure she couldn’t drink more champagne, dance another dance or eat another morsel. She knew from Chastity that the Schuylers would serve breakfast at six for the diehards who remained. She intended to be in her bed by then. Taking leave of her friends and refusing offers of an escort back to The Lily Hotel for Ladies, Grace made her way to the entry where she asked for her things and her ride home.
Grace slept in late on Christmas morning, her head full of memories and dreams. She kept to her room most of the day, thinking back to Christmases past and drawing her visions of Albany, the store, the apartment and the town. At two o’clock, over a fresh cup of tea, she drew a random mark that evolved into the outline of a man’s head. It took shape and became her father’s image. Not a picture of his last days, but from her childhood when health and hope were still his. She caught his essence in the finished work, as her tears swelled to the surface.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from BY GRACE. Watch for its publication in the coming year as Grace flees NYC in fear for her life and makes her way West.

Arletta Dawdy writes from Northern California but her heart is in the 19th century American West. When immersed in the stories of strong, independent women, she has been known to get lost in their adventures. Arletta's social work background lends itself to character analysis and develpment. Her extensive travels in the Southwest add believeability to her settings. Watch for Huachuca Woman and By Grace in spring 2012.


Underworld Lover is out now!

So pleased to announce Underworld Lover is out now. It is the second book in my Guardians series, about a dark angel who falls in love with a human woman whose soul he cannot claim. Jimmy Thomas, the international cover model who has graced some 2000 romance novel covers, is the perfect Joshua Brandon, the hero. My thanks to Kendra Egert for the beautiful cover artwork.

When I was writing Book 1, Heavenly Lover, Josh was the villain. But I must admit, I sort of fell in love with him while writing his character. He was a very bad boy in Book 1, but I knew inside he had a heart of gold, and that's what comes out in Book 2. And though this story is finished, I'm not done with him yet. More about that later.

His character starts out smarting from his first failure to claim a human soul. My premise for the series is this: Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident. The Underworld is a place where things happen by chaos, where the Director is elected, and everyone cheats. Nobody really wants the job, and all prior Directors have never followed the rules, set in dusty ledgers no one has opened for centuries.

In this chaotic mix of sensual pleasures and “do your own thing” philosophy, as long as souls are being claimed and the Underworld is growing, dark angels are happy and left free. This goes a long way to convince humans to end their lives and join the Underworld ranks.

But a new Director has been elected, who wants this position and has a dark agenda. He sees the legendary and extremely popular Joshua Brandon as being a threat to his consolidation of power. So, the Underworld has taken on an oppressive atmosphere. Dark angels with black oily wings are being created again, with the gift of fire breathing, and a war with Heaven is brewing.

In the midst of it all, Josh finds he has fallen in love with a human woman. Just happens to be that the new Director wants her too.

I like to write about a character's higher calling. Love heals in the gardens of the heart, is a theme throughout all my books. My premise is that once the character meets the love of their life, their life changes. These changes set in motion battles of lust, passion, redemption and sacrifice. My dark angels have to go to meetings, similar to 12-step programs.

It has been a wonderful journey, first dreaming about these characters and then putting them down on paper. I hope the readers embrace my twisted sense of good and evil, and suspend disbelief just enough to be entertained.

After all, reality is a story too.

Excerpt, Underworld Lover:

Josh knew there were some things anyone would willingly die for. Unlike some of his more ruthless angel friends, he did not see it as a flaw in the DNA, a secret code Father had sewn into everything he created to ensure life would go on or that hope was never entirely eliminated. Hope was something humans felt. Dark angels focused on reality. It was simply the underlying rule. It was smart to know all the rules, big and small, in order to operate as unfettered as possible. He didn’t have to agree with them all. But he damn well needed to know them. The mistake wasn’t in breaking the rules; it was not knowing you were breaking them and what the consequences were.

There’s no right or wrong, just consequences. Always consequences to consider.
Melanie had ducked inside, not giving Josh the chance to see her face, but he saw her blond hair, pulled in a long French braid that cascaded down her back. She wore jeans and a blue, long sleeved T-shirt.
“You can’t talk to her,” Josh said to Felix, who was fixated on the front door. The younger dark angel’s breathing was strong and ragged. His hands were fluttering at the sides of his pants. “I’ll go,” Josh continued.
“Will you tell her I’m okay, that I still love her?” Felix finally looked at his mentor head on.
“But you’re not okay, Felix. You’re dead. Remember? They buried you.”
“No they didn’t, boss.” Karl inserted.  “He came to us before that. They buried a box with a couple of bags of sand.” Karl was, as usual, trying to be helpful, but he pissed Josh off anyway.
“Karl, how many days since you’ve witnessed a vaporization?”
“Please, no. I’m so sorry, sir.”
“You’ll be sorrier as you and your black soul melt in the fires of the Underworld. Shut the fuck up.”
Josh turned back to Felix. “As much as I would like to, I can’t tell her about you. Not unless you want to jeopardize her soul. Do you want me to set it up so you negotiate that with her? I can train you to do it, man.”
“I can fix it, make it so you sit down and reason with her just like Karl demonstrated earlier.”
“Don’t you want just a taste?”
“Try it. You might like it.”
“Fuck no. I want her to live!”
A woman stopped at the traffic light turned and scowled.
Josh continued, “You want her little body? I know you do, Felix.”
“Yeah, but not in that way. I want her alive, not dead.”
“Sorry, man, it doesn’t work that way. But, if you claim her, she can live with you forever.”
“Yeah? Well, I think she’d hate me forever.”
Cars traveled in front of them, bifurcating the distance to the shop.
“Maybe. Maybe not. Well then, you could introduce her to Peter. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
“Shut up. I don’t want her to have anything to do with that guy.”
“Those are good instincts, man,” Josh said. “So, I’m being generous when I tell you I will give her a little warning, something to arm her in case Peter comes calling.” Josh waited to see if Felix would react. “You sure you don’t want to sponsor her, make her yours?”
 “Absolutely not.” Felix shook his head.
Josh was pleased. He knew where Felix’s line was and he finally knew how far he could push him. It made him wonder, for just a second, where his own line was. Over the three centuries he’d lived as a dark angel he had been able to find out everyone else’s, but never his own. Part of him thought maybe he didn’t have one after all.
Is there anything I wouldn’t do for a price? He turned his attention back to Karl.
            “If this kid gets any ideas, you have my permission to haul him off and summon someone to help you bring him back home, where I’ll give him a lesson of the permanent kind. But Karl, don’t test me, you understand?”
            “Crystal clear, sir.” Karl was standing to attention like he’d been entrusted with the keys to the universe, with the heart of a warrior, not an ex-garbage man.
            Josh then walked briskly across the street, dodging traffic, toward the gated opening. Music was playing in the background, laced with birdcalls. Colorful birdhouses of various shapes were affixed to poles grounded in large earth-filled pots.
 Homes and castles for the fine-feathered things I hate. Josh saw them as nuisances and impediments to his late morning sleep. He didn’t think it was natural anything could be that happy all the time.
            Pots of large showy pink and purple hydrangeas along with lemon bushes overloaded with deep yellow fruit and fragrant white blossoms formed the next line in front of the birdhouses. On the floor, tucked away randomly, were shallow pots filled with blooming spring flowers in all the colors possible. Josh’s nose itched. He hadn’t seen so much blooming color since his last trip to the Farmer’s Market to visit his friend Simon, the electric cellist who liked to play his sad music and pick up girls.
            She’d probably like one of Simon’s CDs. He made a point to get one to her right away. Embedded in the music was a very subtle NLP message a human could not hear except subconsciously; praying for sex, praying for death.
            Josh walked through the entrance and was assaulted with a big bouquet of red roses that was moving so fast he was unable to stop before impact. Immediately he felt the crush of the delicious red flora. They emitted their syrupy sweetness through petals that fell on the shoulders and blond head of a beautiful young woman with light pink skin. She looked up at his face, hers registering shock. Her eyes were wide and deep blue as the sky. He was drowning—his heart stopped for a second. The scent of thyme herbal hand cream, fresh lemon soap, and lip-gloss infused with a cherry flavor filled his nostrils. He knew that if he willed her, he could make her stand in front of him, raise her chin, part her lips for him, and beg he claim her.
And, as gratifying as it would be, he didn’t want to make her do it. At last, he shared something in common with Felix.
He wanted to keep her from being captured.

I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me. I'd love to hear.

Sharon Hamilton
Santa Rosa, California

Her One Night Prince: Welcome Author Rebecca Clark

Happy today to host author Rebecca Clark, with her new release, Her One Night Prince.

Her One-Night Prince is a Cinderella story about a woman’s dream to be something she’s not for just one night at her class reunion.
As all fairy tales go, however, happy endings don’t come easily.
Shy and sheltered Lydia St. Clair is uncomfortable around men, so she advertises for a gay man to be her date and revamp her style. Mitch Gannon answers Lydia’s ad and he’s perfect for the job–he’s handsome and, even more important, he’s charming.
Unbeknownst to Lydia, Mitch is straight and answered the ad as the unwitting victim of a practical joke. Before he can reveal the truth, Lydia is convinced he’s her fairy godmother, ready to transform her into the belle of the ball. And Mitch, prince that he is, doesn’t have the heart to set her straight.
With a firm hand against her upper back, Mitch propelled Lydia out of the bar and out the door. She peered back through the windows and could just make out that waitress standing behind the bar and staring out at them.
“She’s beautiful,” she said, turning back to Mitch. Something about that woman signaled a déjà vu of sorts in her mind, but she couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“Who? Edwina?” He glanced into the pub. “Yeah, she is.”
Edwina’s showstopping figure and stunning looks caused Lydia to self-consciously smooth back her boring, pulled-tight-into-a-bun-as-usual hair. She couldn’t imagine a woman like Edwina ever advertising in the gay personals. She couldn’t imagine Edwina making a boob of herself by assuming Mitch worked at a gay bar.
With the heel of her palm, she bonked herself in the side of the head a few times. “Just shoot me, will you?”
Mitch pulled her hand away from her head. “You’re too hard on yourself, Lydia.”
For a moment she zeroed in on the feeling of his large, warm hand holding hers. It felt good, like it belonged there, which was a crazy thought. Reality returned, and she pulled her hand from his grasp.
“What in the world was I thinking?” she asked. Her skin burned from embarrassment, or the heat of summer, or his touch…or all the above.
“It’s understandable you’d assume I worked at a gay bar. I mean, you think I…er…”
She waved her hand back and forth. “No, no. That was just plain stupidity. What I meant was, I had this grand notion of you helping me out and transforming me into the belle of the ball. You know, Queer Eye my style or something.” She wrapped her arms around herself despite the warm air and strode down the alley. If a sinkhole opened up in front of her, she’d gladly fall into it.
He jogged up beside her as they reached the sidewalk. “I don’t know about the clothing and hair stuff,” he said, “but I could certainly give you advice on men.” He cleared his throat and coughed. “I mean, since I’m a, ah, man.”
“That’s okay. It was a dumb idea. Besides, I don’t want advice on men. It would be pointless.” She pulled black-framed sunglasses from her purse and exchanged them for her regular glasses to block the blinding glare off the sidewalk.
Mitch didn’t respond right away, so she knew he silently agreed with her. Finally, he asked, “Why would it be pointless?”
She had about a million reasons. “It just would be.”
Bookstrand – http://www.bookstrand.com/her-one-night-prince
Barnes & Noble – http://tinyurl.com/7m8y8wz
Rebecca Clark has wanted to write romance novels since she read her first Harlequin Romance at age 11. When she’s not writing, she works as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor, where she teaches Pilates, Turbokick®, Zumba®, and yoga. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of 24 years, two kids, a German Shepherd beast who thinks he’s a lap dog, two cats, two rats and a gecko. In her not-so-abundant free time, Rebecca enjoys reading, watching Criminal Minds reruns on TV, and doing absolutely nothing.
Twitter @rebeccajclark

Underworld Lover: New Release Coming Tomorrow

I'm uploading my new release, the second book in my Guardian Angel series, Underworld Lover. As usual, my friend, Tina Folsom, is helping me with the technical aspects of making sure it is done correctly, and looks great. I've had feedback that my books are the best formatted readers have seen. Makes me happy.

I'll announce when it's up and ready for sale. But just had to share the cover. Jimmy Thomas is perfect (again–I mean when isn't he?).

Here's the blurb:

Joshua Brandon, a legendary and powerful rogue dark angel, meets a human woman whose soul he cannot take, and finds something he has not experienced before: love. At the same time, a new director comes to power in the Underworld, who asks for a test of Josh's loyalty by delivering this very woman to him.

Melanie Worthington is back among the living, after reeling from the suicide of a close friend. She has no idea she is to become the pawn between two powerful dark angels, one who would command her as his personal concubine, and the other who would set her free.

Will their love survive the battle between the two dark angels, or will Joshua risk his own immortal life to protect the woman he loves?

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