|First roses from my garden collage|
Is there anything more precious than new words? We love new roses from our gardens, new little starts that stick up from the warm brown soil in the Spring. We love new love, and what it feels like. We love meeting a new friend, or rekindling with an exciting old friend. Other new things I love: a new quilt pattern, new dress, colorful scarf, new haircut. I love new fabric or a great colorful fabric discounted! New bright red in my hair. New car! New jewelry, or a new candle scent or perfume. New shower gel! I love meeting a new reader who loves my books, or getting a great new review!
All these lush things are wonderful, and the most exciting of them all for me are New Words.
With new words, a new character develops. Like a chess game, the hunter and hunted meet, the warriors clash over a battle of wills. The Beast becomes the gentleman, and the Beauty becomes strong and supportive on her own. It's a classic tale of falling and having love burn so brightly in your chest that you just have to tell every stranger.
It's what makes a book something nice into something I gotta have!
It happens when I become the pro writer and not the amateur writer. It bashes through all obstacles and walls, limitations of funds, time, age, distance. I turned from being a reader who loved to read compelling books to wanting to create them. That creative process stimulates and excites everything in my world. It no longer is work. I ask my brain to be patient with the thoughts so I have the time to get everything down on paper. When I feel this way, I have to stop whatever else I'm doing and submit to that great spirit.
My beautiful music is even more beautiful. The colors are brighter. Scenes are more stunning. I wear loneliness like a badge and let the emotional energy spur me on to bring about a closure and connection that wasn't there before. My perceived lacks of the physical world I live in disappear in the fantasy life I create. My characters are my best friends and lovers. They don't leave. They love as fiercely as they play, with as much passion as I can imagine. I know there's even more off the screen of what I can hold at one time.
|Bought this in Sao Paolo, Brazil|
Today I give myself to new words. After all, it is World Book Day. #LovetoRead
Of course, you could always watch Cinderella with someone you love, too.
So, here are some FIRST WORDS for you of a book called Paradise – The Search For Love (unedited):
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.
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.
Yesterday I babysat my two grandchildren. I'd finally received my copy of Cinderella, the new Disney movie that has outsold all other Disney movies to date. I wasn't able to see it in the theater, but when I stumbled upon the soundtrack, I had to have the movie. The three of us watched it.
This story is so important, not only because she gets the handsome prince in the end, although that is part of the happily ever after we like to read and write in romance. What was important to me was that it was the first story I heard that I can remember feeling the joy of belonging somewhere. Being wanted. Finding my magical doorway to the rest of my life. It was such an uncommon thought for someone less than three years old. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. It has colored everything I do, every choice I made in life since. And it started with a story, a little record player and a picture book to go along with it.
And a room by myself in the upstairs of my huge house. It was like Cinderella's attic. Where all the dreaming and magic happened.
One of the things that graces us when we age is that a lot of things fall away. We forget some hurts. We are smoothed over by the passage of time so that the sun comes out again after a long night, bad feelings and hurtful situations soon fade into the patchwork that is our lives.
One of my favorite songs is “Why Don't We Just Dance.” I've used it in several of my SEAL books, because, when things are strange, when things are perched on a cliff of unknown height, when we aren't sure what to do, I think it's just a good idea to kick of your shoes and just dance. That's how the record ended, with the song, “So This is Love.” and she is dancing in a beautiful ball gown in front of a crowd of people who wished they were dancing too.
Another favorite song of mine is The Dance, “I could have done without the pain but then I would have missed the dance.” What a wonderful line that is.
I was Cinderella in those days. Every fibre of my being was forged into the romantic with rose colored glasses, a dreamer. I learned how to let myself feel. A gift from my three-year-old self to the woman I am today. I am grateful to that little girl who had the courage to take that first step out on the dance floor.
This week, we are launching a beautiful documentary called Love Between The Covers. I financially supported this film (if you scroll down slowly you'll see my name!). I did it because the story has to be told. When I started writing, I had no idea it would be so. It has made me a successful author who can support myself living just about anywhere in the country. It's also important that the world knows what romance does for us. It heals us. I want everyone to know this.
I took a writing workshop very early in my career, and developed the tagline: True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart. I wanted to have gardens in my website and use it on promotional things and was talked out of it. Experts. Some day I'll write a post on experts. Thank God I haven't listened to them all the time! And yes, sometimes you have to do things wrong first before you learn.
The story that I'm not ashamed to tell is that romance is good for us. You can read my posts of the last month, and just about all of them are on this subject. What happens to our brains, what happens to our general mood when we fall in love, deep, satisfying romantic love.
I watched transfixed as Cinderella danced in that beautiful blue dress, in the arms of the handsome price who twirled her and took her places she could not go by herself–but places she had dreamt.
I think we were meant to dance all our lives, just like we were meant to read about falling in love, letting it make us feel good. To whisper our love stories to the crickets and stars at night, to feel the old earth rotating slowly, oblivious of the passage of time. It all starts with believing in the dance of the heart.
I've yearned for a writing cottage since the first publication of one of my novels in 2011. Just a place to dream, to play my favorite music, a place to take myself away to the fantasy of my stories. I can do that well with an empty house and a good set of headphones with some of my 50 days of music stored on my computer. I once read a writer's blog about how she set up her writing desk separate from all the rest of her “office activities” as a writer.
“Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become
quiet, and still, and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice;
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
A very necessary part of our routine in life is paying bills. I know some feel it's a spiritual experience, but for me, the opposite happens. For years I took care of paying all the bills and for the past year, my husband has taken that over, and I'm grateful. Still, there are things I have to take care of, certain bills, reservations, emails and “stuff” of writing that isn't fun. I don't include in that sending off SWAG, because I truly enjoy it, and often make it the first or second thing I do in the day. So having a dedicated place for just writing has become more important to me. I blogged about the idea earlier this year. There are places you an rent a cabin for a week or two or a month.
|Whitby Island Writer's Refuge|
I've toyed with using a shed from one of those improvement stores, and we put a deposit down on one. Like most projects around here, it grew to huge proportions as we calculated what it would cost to lay a slab, or build a perimeter foundation, or lay down rock and drainage. The cost of the shed turned out to be the small expense and we abandoned the idea.
An Airstream trailer was my next dream, and I began looking all over the country for some used ones we could refurbish. We thought perhaps getting one that could be towed by my Murano so I could take it to Bodega and Marin beaches for a day of writing would be ideal. New ones were prohibitive, but beautiful. Much more fun getting an older one and fixing it up like the gypsy inside me. But then we stumbled upon the rock wall project in our rear yard, which seemed a better idea for the overall value of our property, and in the design there was no way to put a ramp to
|Heaven on wheels|
the backyard. The alternative of writing in my driveway was not sexy enough. And then the cost of the beautiful walls and concrete patio shot up in price, and the budget fell short. I again pushed the idea aside.
My desire to have a traveling cottage isn't dead, just on hold until next year. I vow it will be done, even if I have to be helped up into it in a walker or by cane! Some day I'll have one. Trust me, eventually I get my way. And I'm not complaining. Life is a series of choices and then adaptation to those choices and circumstances beyond our control. That's where the fun is. I still have the dream, and that's even more important than having the cottage at this point.
So, for now, I purchased another computer and Thunderbolt Screen, and when I write, I sit at my adjustable desk. I can stand, or sit on the stool. I light my candles, and inspiration does come. I usually have two sleeping Dobermans at my feet, vying for attention, so I have a jar of cookies nearby to reward their loyalty. I don't pay bills or even do anything email-wise or business-wise on that computer. I don't even write these blogs there. It was expensive to do this, but ever since, I have found it to be liberating. I've written poetry here. Sometimes I do a little research for my stories, but everything I do is related to a current book I'm working on.
And like all of you, I'm still waiting for my Happily Ever After. But this is my Happily Ever After, for now. Doesn't it make the goal, once achieved, that much more delicious?
I got a great quote this morning from Mark Divine, former Navy SEAL and now coach and Unbeatable Mind Academy founder, “I leaped into the dark abyss. Wind whipped by me, and the velocity of my jump picked up. With my eyes popping out of my head and a joker smile, I managed one thought: “this is either going to turn out really cool, or really shitty.”
This really spoke to me this morning. Several years ago now, our family visited a skydiving facility in the San Diego area to celebrate a great family victory. I decided to try to push my own personal boundaries, doing something that was so way over the top scary, even death-defying, that it would change my life forever.
And since I was going, the rest of my family went as well. Another one of Mom's crazy ideas.
It was crazy, crazy fun. I jumped in tandem with “Tigger” my hooked up buddy, and he showed me points on the horizon after we'd pulled the chute: Mexico, the ocean, San Diego, the training facility and cars that looked like grains of white rice. I felt the cold air against me and then felt it warm as I got closer and closer to mother earth. I have to say the welcoming she did for this scared and tired traveler was inspiring.
Coach Devine goes on to say that we sometimes need to make that leap of faith, to go for it, put ourselves in failure's way, to get the prize behind the door. The unspoken part is the small print that says, “or die trying.” This is something every elite warrior knows, but not anything we dwell on.
My relationship to the earth is very strong. Being an organic gardener for over 40 years has taught me things about life, while watching plants grow, thrive, and yes, die. So, when I jumped out of an airplane at 13,500 feet, though I was with someone who was very experienced, it was a disconnect from all the familiar sensations of my everyday life, and a leap into something else.
I have these big beautiful hydrangeas in our backyard. We're in the middle of a big project to make a space we can look at through our 13′ roll up glass garage door-cum-dining room window. We overlook a forest, but one that had to be pruned and thinned. We have sudden oak death around us, and the bay trees are the carrier. So, about ten big trees are being removed. And so now my beautiful hydrangeas, some of them over ten years old, have to be moved to a more shady location. I am concerned for their roots, and their relocation, just like I was when I jumped out of the airplane with no roots. I resist change and will miss them if they don't make it. They have become a part of me.
The transition from the familiar garden in my backyard to something new and miraculous is hard for me. Maybe all change is hard for me. Maybe that's why jumping out of a plane was hard for me. But do I want to live my life with the routine of the ordinary, “quiet desperation” as Coach Divine says, or embrace:
The more capable you are as a person, the bigger the challenge you must bring to yourself.
I have to say the answer to that question on this glorious Saturday in June is, yes. Yes. Bring it on. Now, where's the airstrip?
I've been lucky enough to be exposed to some pretty great writers. I look at this room, which is in Pacific Grove, California, and just sitting here in this restaurant makes me want to write. I came upon this place on the trip down the night before to hear my friend, Tina Folsom, speak to the Monterey chapter of RWA. On the trip down, driving through row upon row of recently harvested fields of broccoli and cabbage, the air was thick with that smell. If you've harvested a cabbage from your own garden, you know that smell. I used it in the prequel story I was finishing, SEAL Endeavor, which was the companion to Fallen SEAL Legacy. My characters go to Monterey to visit the aquarium, on their way to look at a drone in Silicon Valley.
I also got the idea for another romance, not in the series I've written so far, and got inspired to do a couple chapters towards that one I'll finish some time this year. A just for fun tale about a second chance romance with older lovers.
My friend Susan Speers recommended a book to me, Steal Like An Artist, and in this book it talks about all kinds of ways we get inspiration. It is true, no story is ever written in a vacuum. It is one of the reasons why I decided to go ahead and go to the RT Convention this year, when my rational brain says I need to get this book finished, and have too many other things to do. I've decided I cannot afford not to. I need the time with my peers, to be inspired, to share stories and methods, and just hear the hope and fun that comes from a gathering of writers. Despite any of the bad news recently, when writers get together, it generally is a wonderful time. And you never can beat the stories.
So, when do we write? Every day. It is the sort of discipline that separates us from the hobby writers. Anyone can write, should write, has something to say. Writing helps us heal. Helps us get in touch with other readers and writers. But if writing is a profession and not an occasional thing taken on by whim, it should be done every day. The knife has to remain sharp.
Like in my SEALs, they train every day. They train even though they may not be deployed for six months or more. They train like they're going overseas next week. That's how you prepare.
Writing is the same. Who knows when this day would produce a character that you need, some secondary character who could take over and become the hero or heroine in the next book? I love it when that happens.
But again, that doesn't happen unless we write every day. Some days it is a blog. Most days, it is a chapter or two. And that's what makes it a profession. It becomes our mission. The more we do it, the better we get.
So when do we write? All the time. Every day.
Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.
What was supposed to be a romantic weekend in Monterey with my husband has turned into something else. I've done a lot of adjusting these days. And gracefully. He came down with a bug, and, rather than expose me and others to it, decided to stay home.
I'm here to hear my friend, Tina Folsom, speak to the Monterey RWA chapter today. And, as luck would have it, we are going to be able to spend a little more time together, which I love doing with this prolific and creative writer who has inspired me greatly.
I was on my way last night to Moss Landing, and got lost, which is where all the real adventures lie, don't they? Between rows of brussels sprouts and lettuce, dodging the big trucks and farm workers finishing out a week of toil in the fields, I felt lucky to be alive and able to watch, life just go on. Don't know what excites me so much about brussels sprouts, but those beautiful plants did it for me. Row after row of perfectly formed, dark leafy green goodness, appearing to lack the aphids my plants often have. I sometimes wonder if it is worth it to even grow them in my garden. I've invested in scores of ladybug tubs, and though voracious eaters, I'm still stuck with those stubborn aphids. I refuse to spray.
Had dinner at Haute Enchilada, which was a really fun place, and managed to have an abstinent seafood dinner with local vegetables done to perfection. I picked out a dark corner, got out my laptop and worked on some social networking things.
I'm trying to finish my next SEAL book, Fallen SEAL Legacy, and I'm still about 20k from the end. I have about 40k words I won't be using, but can use on other books. Not since my first book have I had to re-write so many chapters, but I've strengthened the story, and some things just take longer. I'm relaxing into that.
And what has happened? You can guess, if you know me well. Another story has come over me, and I'm taking notes so I don't forget key points when I get ready to write it, which won't be now until next year. It is another contemporary series, but with older H/H, and involves a heroine on a road trip after the death of her husband. No, this is not in any way biographical. My husband is, thankfully, very much alive. But I got to “feeling” this story as I listened to a lot of Pat Metheney, some new music by Lyle Mays and other things on the Sirrius Satellite network, which is the best thing about my new car.
Road trips give me time to think. So, while there was that momentary “aw shucks” when my husband told me he wouldn't be going, I knew I'd make something productive and fun out of it. Have laptop will travel. I write well on the road, unlike lots of other writers. I don't like everything in its place. I like variety, and get inspired by new places. And then I come home, for what I hope will be a home stretch where I can really polish up and finish this puppy.
These are pictures and a little of the feel of this area. No, there are no pictures of the looming power plant. Makes the growing brussels sprouts, art galleries and eclectic places like The Whole Enchilada or Haute Enchilada even more special. After all, we don't live in a vaccuum. And I'm very grateful for the electricity which allows me to write, and to have readers find me.
I can't imagine a life of standing by the side of the road hawking my books to bicyclists or horse and buggy goers. Life would indeed be different. I won't have time to stop by again on my way to the meeting. I'm sure today will be just as filled with great memories.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend, wherever you are.
I'm totally jazzed to round out our stable of great military romance writers by bringing you Gennita Low, a three time RWA Golden Heart finalist. All my books at Amazon refer to her books (I can only hope it's vice-versa) as a good buying decision. And I'm sure it is.
Thank you, Gennita. Your stories sound awesome. I'm going shopping today to pick all of them up. Let's see if we get some great questions from our audience. What would you like to know about Gennita, her heroes, or her writing?
Just attended Bob Mayer's class for Sacramento Valley Roses chapter of RWA. Outstanding.
My blog post for Savvy Authors is up today as well.
I feel like I've just jumped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet. Yes!!
I am filled with gratitude. Great friends. People around me willing to join the journey, lending me a hand, giving me encouragement. Family living as examples. I'm at a doorway. A changing of the guard. Almost feel like I'm walking along a garden wall and can see both sides. They are equally lush and inviting, and I cannot decide which place to go, so I keep walking.
We are living in a time of great change. I have hope for where we are going. There isn't anything I have to do, but be present. Someone much wiser told me, “Your job today is to feel, Sharon.”
Today, I get to have a full day of writing. I have to pinch myself I'm so happy. Settle into my favorite leather writing chair, and compose. No places to go. Listen to the sounds of the world coming alive. The moon is a bright orange orb in the early morning sky as I look West. Someone has blogged that it's called a Blue Moon, and hasn't happened since the 1960's, also a time of great change.
I'm looking forward to stimulating conversations over coffee, and the sharing of ideas that help make this world a better place. Here's to choice. And living.
And, of course, love.
I love the Sonoma County Fair. I used to go to gawk at the diverse (not in the political sense, please) population of the fairgoers–everything from bikers, young couples, old hippies, awkward teens and teens trying to look like street walkers. Maybe everyone's fair is like that. How would I know?
But our fair has really upgraded. We have a large 4H group and I enjoy watching the young kids who work so hard on their animals. I don't want to know what happens to them afterwards, which is why I could never get my kids into 4H when they were at home. I evaluate the chickens and bunnies and donate to the bird rescue. My granddaughter and I peered into the baby chick hatchery and watched those fuzzy little yellow things cling to life and then start to run around an hour later. Fascinating.
This year they had a display of recycled things. I think I'm a recycled thing, so I spent a lot of time there. Lord knows I have enough junk around the property, if I ever gave up writing, I could become a junk sculptor. I'd be careful. With my history around fires, safety would be No. 1.
In my garden, I have two “flying pig” sculptures made from recycled oil cans. They stand guard, along with my Dobermans. There is a local artist who does huge sculptures out of recycled metal things, using washing machines, hubcaps and old lawnmowers–turns them into arcs and animals and characters. I'm excited when I see things being reused, like we did on the siding for our house.
Makes a good case for hoarding. Uh Oh. I'm still trying to get rid of books…Big trouble.
In the Arts and Craft Palace this year there were quiltmakers doing zombie quilts. Next to the two guys who demonstrated making bugs for fly fishermen.
There was a dress made from old maps. Garden bench made from the tailgate of an old Ford pickup. A fish made out of beer bottle caps.
And pedal cars made from everything you can imagine, even toaster ovens!!
I doubt I could ever make a zombie drive-in movie miniature like these creative artists at the fair. But I celebrate their creativity. I can see how they put together things to come up with an image, a story, if you will.
Just like a writer. We put together phrases, “tone poems” of words and ideas on the page. We surprise, and hopefully, engage the reader.
And show them something new from something old. Something that wasn't before we put our hands on it. How inspiring!
I admit to mourning the end of summer. But not for long. The fall in Sonoma County is absolutely beautiful. Time for a writing weekend at the Kenwood Inn and Spa. Expensive, but worth it, I have a gift certificate from a grateful client.
We usually rent a room up top, where we walk out of the heavy metal doors, can sit out on a tiled patio and overlook about 300 acres of turning vineyards. My favorite time of year here. The days are warm, the nights starting to chill but still sweater weather, and the colors of the valley floor are spectacular.
We usually leave the heavy curtains over the door, but leave the door open so we can hear the waterwheel churning all night long. We ask for extra wood for the fireplace. When I've stayed here by myself, I write sometimes all night. It is the setting for my time travel romance. I have a steamy scene in this very pool which finaled in an erotic contest in 2010. My heroine goes for a midnight swim in the nude, comes upstairs to her room, and watches the man of her dreams materialize in the mist at the pool's edge.
Some places are just conducive to writing. Some are not. And it changes, for me.
This time around, I'm going to focus on finishing Fallen SEAL Legacy. The story is really starting to excite me again. I love it when loose ends start being clipped or woven into the story, and the whole piece becomes a rich tapestry.
I love the great quote I just got from award-winning author of SEAL Team Twelve series Marliss Melton:
“Fans of Navy SEAL romance, I found a new author to feed your addiction. Finely written and loaded delicious moments, Sharon Hamilton’s story-telling satisfies like a thick bar of chocolate.”
This means a lot more to me now that chocolate is no longer in my food plan. Did I tell you how much better I feel without flour and sugar? It has literally changed my life. But I get the quote. Being compared to rich chocolate is not a bad thing at all.
Yes, I will mourn the loss of summer. Time to get ready for the deluge of plans I have for the new release. A book trailer coming up. We're trying to organize a trip back east to be with my son and his family there. Want to visit the SEAL museum in Florida and maybe rent a house on one of the outer islands for a week.
Lightening up our load here in California (getting rid of the chickens, the koi and being less fussy with the gardening this year) has given me more free time to do other things. Writing is one of them. Like an old friend, it welcomes me. And now I have a best-selling book to boot. Accidental SEAL has been in the top 100 Amazon Kindle Store for 6 weeks in a row. I'm stoked.
Life is good. Very good!
I couldn't understand my historical writer friends who said they would get so caught up in the research, it would put a major crimp in their daily writing. One friend said she spent about three hours in research for every one hour of writing.
Now I get it. It's been happening to me.
We are so lucky to be living in the digital age, where things are available with the click of a button (or two). We get impatient with sites that aren't intuitive, and we leave, because there are ten others we could use as a resource. If a web page doesn't load in three seconds, we're off to the next one that will.
I've been doing lots of research on Navy SEALs for my series. I've subscribed to some loops for families of military, as well as some facebook pages that post information, and great pictures. I've made the mistake of reading some of the comments. And it distresses me a little.
Is it just me, or is everyone going bonkers all of a sudden? Or was it always this way, and I'm just now sensitive because of the election? Regardless of what side of the spectrum we are, there are some really mean, hateful people haunting certain groups or pages. And, like driving past a bad accident, I sometimes have a hard time not reading the comments. There are some seriously disturbed people out there. And the rumors! Yesterday someone commented that the government had killed the entire SEAL Team 6 in a secret helicopter crash. There's a novel in there somewhere…
I guess there will always be conspiracy theorists. Men and women fought and died for our freedom to express ourselves, to live the open and wonderful lifestyle we now have. So I guess we all have to put up with the crazies. God forbid anyone would label me such.
I have no problem turning off the TV or the radio. None whatsoever. For me, the ads are what I cannot handle any longer. I listen to Sirrius Satellite as much as possible.
That's why I like to write fiction, romance in particular. Fantasy. Make believe. Where everything has a happily ever after, and I can clip or trim the dialogue of my characters to my own choosing without causing a stir. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. Heaven help us if I would get to be Queen of the World. Now that is truly a dangerous thought!
What about you? Do you get sucked into doing too much research, or reading too many “other” opinions it interferes with your real life? Your writing life? How do you cut it off?
Some great research books on the Teams below. Amazon spiders must have found me out!
Why isn't everything just perfect all the time? Perfect balance. You either have all the time in the world and no money, or all the money and no time. Walking that tightrope, getting that perfect balance is something that eludes me.
Recently, I've been busy with the success of my new book, Accidental SEAL. I am thrilled with how well it's doing. And it has helped me in writing the second one, just knowing I can sell that one too. I think about all the angst and worry over its acceptance, which I think every author does, and when you press the “enter” key and it's uploaded, there you are, exposed to everyone in cyberspace. Will they like it? Will it take off? Will it slowly grow? Will it pop and then fizzle? Who knows?
I guess what sustains me is I just keep writing. And I write things I love to read, and to write. I keep connecting. I've been reminded very nicely I need to keep my blogging up, and I go hot and cold with this. Hardest to do when I am busy, but when I'm busy, that's when I need to do it.
So then I have to look at all the other things I can cut out. Water the garden? No. Feed the dogs? No. Critique Group? No. Writer's Meetings? No. Office Meetings? No. Client Meetings (I still sell real estate)? No.
Ah!!! I HAVE IT!!!!!
HOUSEWORK? Y E S !!!
I was getting some photos together for my son's visit from back east, and for my other son's wedding. I have boxes of stored photos in special paper, which turned out to be somewhat of a miracle. The house burned down less than 6 months later, and all these precious photos were miraculously saved. Well, there were the guys in big yellow suits that knew how to cover up antiques and things in chests, but the heat alone could have melted these old photos.
We walked the bridge that day back in 1987 with all 4 of our children. Little did we know that the bridge actually flattened out in the middle. But, by the time we were there, in the middle, no one could move. It took roughly 2 hours to get off at Doyle Drive. Walking through the toll booths was interesting.
I was reminded today about the time our entire family went skydiving in San Diego. All 6 of us in the air at once. And, just like that day in 1987, we threw caution to the wind and risked our entire unwritten family story to thumb our noses at death and soar through the air like the birds we clearly were not.
I wonder about how our lives would have been changed had something very wrong happened. I had trust and faith in the military men who trained us. They did, after all, train some of the best of the elite special forces on a daily basis. In the end, as I stood at the gaping doorway, I just had to jump and trust that my life was not about to end. Even though for just a second, I had to consider the possibility it would.
Looking over all the old photos I'm reminded of choices I made with my life, resulting in the affect it had on those in my whole family. And how one choice added to another, made every day, without really knowing fully what the consequences were, leads to a life well lived. Where there is the possibility of anything happening when we fish the spaces of the future.
And I also thought about how very little of it is of my own control. I truly think that is a good thing.
This post will probably surprise some of you. My husband's family is related to Alexander Hamilton, our country's first Secretary of the Treasury. He was born on Nevis, an island in the Caribbean. The house is now a museum and island treasure.
Hamilton, the illegitimate son of a Scottish Laird, was the assistant to a merchant's agent, and also helped his mother with her general store. John Adams would some day call him, “the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler.” Starting to work when he was only 11 years old, he ran the office for several months while the owner was away in Paris. Hamilton might have done business with British ship captains, and possibly pirates looking to sell their booty! Who knows who he could have met?
My Danish relatives on my father's side had a contingent that settled in the Caribbean around that time as well. Ever since I began writing romance, I wondered if a relative of mine could have fallen in love with a relative of my husband's? Possibly the great man himself?
So, I bought a book on the islands, and oddly enough, found an old letter tucked in the pages, from another relative of Alexander Hamilton, asking for the author's help in locating certain family members they'd lost track of during WWI. Sad to say, I don't recognize the names, but a plot was forming in my writer's brain.
An old book purchased online through Amazon. An old letter. A young man who leaves the islands and becomes embroiled in a revolutionary war that wasn't his country's. Who befriends the first President of the United States. Who dies in a gun duel over the honor of a woman.
And then yesterday, I was emailing other authors on a writer's loop, and had a chance encounter with a lovely writer from Nevis. She's written several romances in the Caribbean, and is somewhat of an expert on Alexander Hamilton. A family member owns property nearby.
I would have never made this connection with her without the writer's loop on the internet. I would have never found this book without Amazon and the online order I placed. What a wonderful time we live in.
So, this 4th of July I'll be thinking about our young country and the many players that sacrificed so much to see to it that we grew into the great nation we are today. There are plenty of other days for politics. We always remember those men and women who serve to protect and have helped us carve this legacy with the blood of their bodies.
But today, I'm thinking about what was, and what could be, and how connected we all are. And what a small world it is, after all. And how exciting to celebrate the birth of a new story.
Tomorrow, June 28, is the anniversary of Operation Red Wings. We lost several SEALs in that raid, which is chronicled so well in Marcus Luttrell's great book, Lone Survivor. Luttrell is also one of the SEALs Dick Couch wrote about in his book about the SEAL training, The Warrior Elite, The Making of SEAL Class 228.
I understand that as civilians, we might not fully grasp or understand, let alone believe, what a man has to do to graduate from BUD/S training. And I've been told the TV documentaries and these books don't show everything, maybe perhaps half of what kinds of endurance is required to graduate. They say the failure rate is 70%-76%, but that only accounts for people who wash out and then are re-admitted, or are rolled back until they heal their injuries. Yes. They break bones. They get Mono. They get shin splints.
Some men don't make it, don't make it through the training. No shame in that. Anyone who would even try is a hero in my book.
But also some don't come back. I've included some pictures of brave young men who did not come back. People you should know about. Good people with lives, parents, grandparents, children, friends and buddies. And while every loss of life in war is a tragedy, we honor those who serve to protect and defend, without questioning the orders given. It does take a special person to do that. They act outside of politics. They complete the mission they are given.
In writing Fallen SEAL Legacy, the second book in my SEAL series, I've had to spend quite a bit of time there, thinking about the ones who didn't come home, because that is the premise of my book. Due to a Fallen, the hero, Navy SEAL Calvin Cooper, and heroine Libby Brownlee, get together in a way that heals them both.
Some days I feel totally ridiculous making romance out of such courage and sacrifice. Feel almost guilty I get to work the rich dark soil and fresh green produce in my vegetable garden. Get to cut the fragrant roses and lilies this time of year. Dead-head the Sweet William and daisies. My ordinary life seems just that: ordinary.
But that's what the stuff of life is all about. Beauty of life and death. Frail exquisite beauty of everything around us, no matter where we live, no matter what our mission. And the mission I was given: bring these and other stories to light. Give a reader a few hours of pleasure, a few hours of fantasy.
Because that's what these brave young men would want.
It never ceases to amaze me how many worlds we can go to when we read a good book. I have to stop myself when I begin a new story, make sure I have my “reader” hat on, not my “writer” hat. Since becoming a full time writer, it's difficult to read for pleasure. I find little things that bug me, and sometimes it takes me out of a good story.
I know, call me crazy. But I do love this whacky place. Every time I think about leaving, I wonder if anywhere else would just seem, well, dull.
I have never had to work so hard for so little here, too. But I do enjoy the people. Some of the people anyway. I love street faires, farmer's markets, craft faires.
My husband and I took all 4 of the kids on the Golden Gate Bridge the last time there was a celebration–and the span between the two towers literally flattened. By the time we all realized it, there was such a crowd, we couldn't get off the structure. A big black guy shouted ahead of us, made a space so we could walk through the crowd behind him with our double stroller.
I've walked on Doyle Drive, named after a businessman from Santa Rosa, who was one of the top hats you see pictured on the Opening Day almost 100 years ago.
Last week we had the AmGen tour start here in Santa Rosa. Today, it was the Bay to Breakers. Northern Californians are a different lot. We don't need much to celebrate. In fact, we don't need to wear much clothing, either! I digress.
Back to the Amgen day on Mother's Day. I had a blast. From the guys blending their own smoothies with their Safeway Trainers in tow, to the odd Pedal Cars and Paella Guy, it was a feast of the senses. And that was before the cyclists (sorry about the hairy guy's arm. I'm not a professional photographer, can you tell?).
Yes, we are an eclectic group, a huge financial disaster looming right on the horizon. Real Estate prices at historic lows (we can help you there), and our governor we used to call (in the day), Governor Moonbeam.
On the brink of disaster, we have Facebook's IPO, and a Silicon Valley that is going strong, despite rumors of it's demise.
I just found out we have a local Roller Blade team, and one of the gals is a tenant of mine! I can see a romance novel brewing.
After all, in this place of so many contrasts, it is perfect fodder for my writer's brain. So next time I consider leaving, would you please spank me?