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5

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Writing this today because I'm thinking about all of you who are under snow and ice, huddled in homes I hope are safe, and cozy. I can attest to the fact that Spring is here. The trees are blooming in Santa Rosa, Northern California, in the wine country, where I live.

The seasons aren't as colorful here in Wine Country. But we do have some things I love. Let me count the ways…

We have green hills this time of year. In fact, usually St. Patrick's Day is the greenest day of the year. The weeds are still short, the brown stalks of overgrown things from wintertime are broken or long since blown away. Now we have a nice lush carpet, dotted with daffodils in my garden. Spring is like that here. Without a lot of work, it just blooms, like the fruit trees, without a lot of my maintenance. These are the times when I love walking through nurseries. I feel the presence of my mother, who used to spend hours tending her garden. Every year she'd go get another pair of gloves at the nursery, and a new set of white tennis shoes. Don't ask me why they were white. They always were. She washed them every time she used them, and left them drying in the sun for the next day.

Spring is the time for new things, renewals. I explored a new commercial complex last week, an old apple packing plant in Sebastopol, the Barlow Center. I found community garden plots and eclectic stores from a Tibetan artifact store (complete with a painted design in the driveway), two breweries, several restaurants, a coffee roasters, a Waldorf toy and projects store, two wineries, and other retail and professional offices. I love recycled things. Making new things from old things. I love looking at gardens and fencing made from recycled apple tree cuttings.

Some of my best stories are written after I go exploring. It isn't guided meditation, but just exploring. Being guided by what is just around the corner. Kind of like life, right? The undiscovered country or adventure. The new friend I might make today or an old one I'll reconnect with. Making something beautiful today, like a bouquet of my own flowers, or some words that make my heart sing on the page, or helping someone see a shining ray of light on a future they could have, or assisting someone. Even feeding fish can be good therapy on a day like today. They know me. They get excited whenever I go into the office and collect in little rows at the tank, vying for my attention. I'm sure it's my imagination, but it works for me.

The sign I bought some years ago still hangs over the doorway of what used to be my office. “Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been.” It still applies. Especially today.

Have a glorious one!!! Spring is really just around the corner.

Honest.

11

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: The Practice of Love

I was talking to my friend recently, and we both admitted we got married because we were totally in lust. We were laughing about how many of our early days of marriage we spent in bed. I can remember my husband saying, “But we have to get something done, Sharon.” My internal thought was, “why?” LOL. How times change. I cherish those years and I cherish the young bride I was and how I viewed the world. We would never get old, we would live forever. Everything would always be exciting and would turn out perfect. Our love would sustain us through thick and thin, if not by the sheer power of sex!

Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend this way of getting together, but love has become so much more for me. In addition to the physicality of making love, the long term friendship and the practice of being in love is what I've come to understand and fully appreciate. That is what sustains me today.

Over the years we learn to bend. Being married can be a lot of work sometimes. There are highs and lows. I'm remembering the line from Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams talks about his wife, and how there were ups and downs, and, with a smile he said, “the year she died was one of those good ones.” I watch couples who talk over dinner and hold hands, at any age. They practice communication and show affection. This is the miracle of love.

The Practice of Love is like a meditation in doing for someone else. We find it easy to do when we love our children. Some would say it's just a natural love. Sometimes loving our partner doesn't feel that natural. And that's when the practice of sharing love comes in. Something simple, but something every day. The practice reminds us that our love isn't how we feel, but how we act.

In the end, being loveable isn't about bodies or sex, although I think it's important to enjoy those things at any age. Being loveable is being worthy of love. And we are worthy of love when we give it away.

And when we give it away with our full heart, it grows and comes back to us ten-fold. Now who said there were no such things as miracles?

I spent Valentine's Day in labor with this little one. He was born on February 15th, today, so many years ago, and was the first of our four children. It was a magical time in my life and something I'm so grateful for having experienced.

So I guess I'd say the Practice of Love is more than sex or passion, or births or families. Love is who we are. Our constant friend, throughout all the phases of our life.

8

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Love Letters

Needed a break today and took myself down to my favorite coffee place, walking by my favorite lingerie shop. I've shopped there in the past – you know – one of those places where the nice German lady comes into the dressing room and lectures me on “the girls” and the proper form for wearing a bra, except I am rather large chested, and when she's done, I beg her to buy a size larger so I don't feel like a trussed turkey. But no, she likes to fit me tight, and she reaches in and does — well you can get the picture.

I bought a nice red outfit for my hubby last Valentine's. I love my husband dearly. Dearly, Madly, Deeply, like the title of Hannah Jayne's book. But for an engagement present I got a bicycle. Some Valentine's Days I've gotten orange carnations. I have to say the gentleman knows how to please me now, and I'm lucky he still tries after all those (no I'm not going to say it) years. And he now gets me flowers. And he provides for me and my crazy ways like no one else ever could. Something delicious about a man who sticks around when you are at your worst, as well as your best. Easy to stick around when things are good. Really hard to keep together when those dark days come. We all get them. And we know the sun is just around the corner, too. I've learned to trust in things I cannot see, measure and treasure my faith. And my love.
My romance themes are True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart. I like it, but it isn't sexy enough to use anywhere. So good. It's mine, and now it's yours. But it's what I write. I do believe in the healing power of love, and it is the theme of all my stories. Men and women find each other, and they transform into their higher, better selves as a result of that meeting. I believe in love at first sight. Love that lasts forever (and I love the title of my new paranormal super bundle, Immortal Valentines-my Valentine's gift to you for just a week). Love is stronger than hate. Quieter than hate. Never lies, and always forgives. And sometimes you have to live without it. Love is so important the Bible devotes a chapter to it.

My folks were married over 55 years before my mother passed. And then, at 80, my father fell in love again and had another ten wonderful years with my now new mother. And she loved him and our family enough to give us all another ten years we would have not had with my dad. He was ready to die without the love of his life. But, and I said this at his funeral, even though my mother had died, he finally came to the conclusion that he wasn't yet ready to give up being a father, grandfather or a husband. And so he set out and accomplished that. We are all the richer for it. 

See? You thought we were going to talk about steamy romance novels. I'm talking about love and the healing power of love.

My stories are my love letters to you. In a perfect world, we'd walk down the beach together, or take a hike in the rain forest in Washington, we'd sail on a blue ocean or sit and sip beers listening to beautiful music. You and I can't do all those things. And so we have to pretend. 

And for just a little while, all the world is as it should be. The equipment works and the paint's not chipped. People are safe and out of harm's way. There is a happily ever after.

And true love heals in the gardens of the heart, because that's what I wrote.

 

7

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: For The Love Of A Child

In my former career, I got to meet some great speakers, great men and women. While I never shared a meal with Walt Disney or Charles Schulz, their legacy is all around me, and I feel as if I knew them really well. Indeed, this is the magic of creating something so endearing, it lasts long after you are gone. I should be so lucky some day.

We've come back from a visit to The Magic Kingdom in Florida, and an Aulani stay in Hawaii. I know a little bit about some of the background of the Disney theme parks because I got to sit and talk to one of Disney's close friends/business associates one day. Most people know what a risk Disney took to build Disneyland, “Where all the horses work and there's no chipped paint.” I've previously written about how that was one thing he noticed about the park nearby where he used to take his girls when they were little. It is a fascinating story about how he got the funds to build the Children's Hospital of L.A., and how it involved getting the Abraham Lincoln exhibit more life-like with the help of a cardiovascular specialist, who in turn requested a children's hospital be built, a promise Disney kept. A story for another day. There are hundreds of these stories.

Having just come from the Gratitude Reception, at the Schulz Museum here in Santa Rosa, I'm struck with the same feeling that I knew Mr. Schulz, “Sparky” as he is known to his friends and family. I walk down the aisles of the comic strips he drew over the decades, witnessing how they brought laughter and introspection to a population hungry for pure entertainment. The simple lines and short phrases endeared Mr. Schulz, and the characters he created, to millions, young and old.

At the Disney resorts, grown men and women wear mouse ears, acting like children, in many cases reliving their own childhoods through the next generation of children. I think it's a gift to be able to make someone laugh. And to give back, very humbly, to the community that fostered and supported them.

Both men loved to draw cartoons. It wasn't an accident when they couldn't find Mr. Disney at the grand opening of the CHLA, and later found him upstairs, sitting on the ground, drawing pictures with some of the little patients and making them smile. 

There's a lot to shout about and rant in this world. But there's also a lot to be grateful for. In the end, these kinds of men will be fondly remembered long after those that prey off society. Just like in my books, good always triumphs, is always way stronger than evil. The healing power of love and laughter is much stronger than the screaming. The Bible says it well, “Love is patient, kind.”

May your lines be straight, your moving parts work, your heart open and your soul patient. I can only imagine what kinds of conversations these two men are having in Heaven today.

12

The Car Caper

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON:  The Car Caper

My son needed a car for work some years ago and, since my husband is the resident expert on cars in our family, he agreed to take him down to the local auction yard to bid on a couple of cars there. These are vehicles siezed in drug busts or otherwise impounded or found abandoned. Although we've bought cars there from time to time, I've never known one of these to be a real barn-burning steal. But it's hard to tell a 20 year old male eager to get his first car, or his father, who desperately wants to prove his value to his son.

They missed the evening before to go check out the vehicles, so they arrived early the day of the auction to scope everything out, and selected five or so to bid on. As it turned out, all the cars they liked came up towards the beginning, and the prices seemed a little higher than they wanted to spend. At last, the final car they were interested in came up, and they were the successful bidders. Upon going over to the office to complete the paperwork and pay the fees, they learned this particular car, costing about $200, came with it some $120 of fines and tickets that also had to be paid off before they could take title. They were to find out this was the least of their problems.

I was at work (this was prior to writing) and was expecting a call around noon with the news. When I still hadn't heard anything, I left a message for my husband around 2 PM again without a returned call. I made several other calls to his cell without an answer. I figured out about the fourth or fifth call that he was trying to figure out a story I was going to be told.

Around midnight, a taxi delivered my husband and my son home, which was the best decision they made all day. I'm still learning details of their car buying caper, and it's been several years. I doubt I will get the whole story anytime soon. Men are like that. When their projects go haywire, they carefully bury it, thinking no one will remember to ask them about it later. Like sticking your head in the sand, butt fully exposed, thinking you're hiding.

So, near as I can get to the truth, here is what happened. After paying all the fees, they went to drive the car home, my son following my husband. The auction yard is about 45 minutes south of where we live. They stopped to pick up gas and some waters, and that's when they discovered the car had no reverse. And the heater was stuck on “on”. They manually backed the car up and went back to the auction and I guess were greeted with smiles and nods of the head, and looks like, “You honestly think we care?” The car, they were told, belonged to my son, and that was that. No exceptions. No refunds. Have a nice day.

They drove it home to Santa Rosa and decided to get some things for dinner. This wouldn't be the celebratory dinner they'd hoped (I'd hoped), but along the way they found another car for sale by owner at the supermarket. The owner came and after a test drive, they decided to buy it. They even threw in the old car purchased at the auction yard, since the person selling the vehicle was raising money for a church. The lack of reverse was thoroughly disclosed, and, although the church group didn't really want the car, they didn't decline it. My husband left the keys in the vehicle in the Safeway parking lot for the group to pick up the vehicle later on that night.

Of course, the story continued. On the way home, the new car overheated and something terrible happened. I believe the term is called a cracked engine block. It involved a lot of smoke. It would turn out to be a repair cost far in excess of the value of the vehicle.

I believe it was at this time, nearing the dinner hour, they wanted to rid themselves of the reality of now two bad decisions, so my husband drove them to a nearby brewpub to perhaps lick their wounds, leaving the smoking second vehicle at the side of the road. A few beers later, neither one of them could or should drive. A few friends came down to add their condolences to the $200 car that had now cost close to $1000 and became two, and neither one of them was worth the original $200 estimate.

Meanwhile, I continued to wait. Around midnight they returned home. My son wanted to go straight to bed. My husband was left with telling me the story. I think I was in shock.  And yes, his car was safely down at the brew pub and could be retrieved the next day.

The next morning, we drove by the Safeway parking lot to discover the first vehicle had indeed been picked up. We called the wrecking yard to pick up the second car and thought we'd done our duty. My husband's vehicle was successfully retrieved. All was well.

Until the police showed up at our door about ten days later. Seems someone else wanted the first vehicle we'd left in the parking lot, stole it, used it in an armed robbery, and, not being able to quickly exit the bank parking lot due to its lack of reverse, hit several parked vehicles before abandoning it and running away on foot. No, we didn't know anything about that, and the police didn't smile much. I'm guessing they did in private.

Did my son ever get a car? Yes, some time later. Did we get in trouble for the “abandoned” car? No. Neither did the church group, thank goodness. But boy what a story to tell the grandkids. Part of the fabric that is our colorful family. Maybe it will wind up in a romance novel some day.

I'll bet you have some stories like this one from your family. I'd love to hear them!

 

 

 

 

22

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Ten Reasons Why Maybe This Isn't Your Best Writing Year

I love how David Letterman always has his Top Ten List Of Things. I've had a lot of fun posting my own version of these over the years. So this is rather tongue in cheek, or foot in mouth, depending on how you view my crazy brain. Remember, as he says, this is just for fun.

Sharon Hamilton's Top Ten Reasons Why This Might Not Be Your Best Writing Year:

10.     Your friends do an intervention. They take all your romance books away, dispose of your computer and take you to a bar and try to hook you up with a plumber who wears Aloha shirts.

9.      When you turn on your computer, water pours out of the screen, which doesn't bother you until the fish start swimming over your keyboard.

8.     You read your manuscript to your dog and ask him if he understands what you've just written, and he answers, “Hell no.”

7.     Your $16.35 Amazon royalty check bounces and the bank repossesses your Acer 386 computer.

6.     Your editor emails you to say that if she has to read one more page of your drivel she'll refund all your money and put a contract out on you.

5.    You discover your daughter got a six-figure advance on a New Adult horror novel based on her childhood.

4.    You sit next to a guy on the airplane and open your hot bacon dressing packet for your spinach salad and it squirts all over his lap. (This is a true story)

3.    Your computer drains bacon oil for two weeks afterwards. (Also true)

2.    It's hard to write sex scenes when your computer smells like a salad. (You got it. True again.)

1.     Your publisher wants to change the name of your epic hero's journey novel you've edited 100 times and spent five years of your life writing to:  Loser.

 

Now, don't you feel better about how your year has started already?

10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Volcanic Vertical Drop Zone

You know when you are standing in line and the sign at the top says, “No one under this height allowed, or under 4 years of age allowed without parent,” and it says “Pregnant women should be cautious” that the Volcanic Vertical Drop tube slide is going to be a screamer. And it was. Just like the day my family huddled around me and made me, yes, MADE me skydive (or risk humiliation and ridicule for the rest of my life), they once again bunched around me, especially my son-in-law, who loves to see me wiggle and squirm. He's always trying new drinks out on me, even when I tell him I can't mix a thing, and then tells me afterwards I've mixed rum, vodka and God knows what else. All I have to say is, “It's nice,” and another one is served, whether I asked for it or not.

Friday was one of those days when I'd been enjoying a long nap at the beach/pool/hot tub. When the din of children's voices, the spouts of mechanical whales and the waves crashing on the shore were just background white noise that inspired some vivid dreams (well the Blue Hawaiian helped too). I was slimed with water and begged by everyone standing around me, shivering and wet from head to toe, that I had to come enjoy this long dark water slide. Except it's really not a slide. The most important part is the vertical drop at the end. It seemed like 4 stories but wasn't nearly that. Me being me, I had a hard time saying no.

My family knows that when they want something done by everyone, they have to convince me. And then everyone else will come along. It was the same way with skydiving, and I was adamant I was an earth angel and not a faery with wings, but eventually my resistance was futile.

I'm standing in line, and every time I turn around I'm greeted with grins. That means I'm in real serious trouble. Because I'm going, my daughter, my daughters mother-in-law and several others have to go, and they're looking at me crosseyed, with the expression, “Why, Sharon, didn't you just say no?”

I'm asking things like where my hands go, will I get stuck in the tube? How far back do I lean? And then the last one, “Is it safe?” Everyone laughs. They didn't have to say, “You'll see.”

Well, it was terrifying. I couldn't see a thing. I took curves so fast I thought I was going to start cannonballing. At the end of the volcanic vertical drop, I started swimming down, in the wrong direction and yes, needed help to get out because I was disoriented. But I have to say, though terrified and definitely pushing my limits, it was fun.

I love roller coasters. I now love skydiving. I love body surfing on waves a little bit too big for my skill level. I like driving fast at midnight with the top down, the music and the heater cranked up. I guess I can add one more to the list. I now love the Volcanic Vertical Drop.

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10

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Angels and Dark Angels, Heaven and the Underworld

Many of you know the journey I took to become a writer. We'd driven home from a day in San Francisco. It was a beautiful March day, like we get so often here. No rain. Blue skies and big white clouds. We opted for a simple dinner and so I was munching on a salad when I heard a buzzing sound I'd never heard before. Coming up the steps, there was no smoke, so my husband thought the smoke detector was defective, and bat it down with a broom handle. We went back to our meal. Then we smelled smoke.

It never occurred to us our lives would be so changed that evening. Coming up the stairway, looking into our bedroom, I saw my rose-colored leather recliner was on fire. A perfect circle of fire was on the back, like the hand of God had touched it. Within seconds, it ignited the curtains, then snaked along the ceiling and a thick black smoke rolled toward us like a tidal wave. We knew that toxic cloud wasn't going to be healthy so we went downstairs to get buckets of water, but when we returned, the entire top floor was ablaze. 

I was in my nightie, barefoot. We called the Fire Department and they were here within 12 minutes, along with 4 other engines and a crew of men in case our fire traveled up the hill and spread to neighboring properties. I sat on the steps and watched as everything in the upstairs was destroyed, the downstairs was covered with water and carpets to protect some of the furniture. They expected our floor to cave in any minute. My husband drank a beer and smoked one of his Cuban cigars he'd rescued from the refrigerator. I was finishing my salad. It was surreal.

The road to coming back was long and arduous. Our bank was being taken over by the Feds, the County wasn't sure they'd let us rebuild, our insurance company wasn't giving us the money to redesign a new home or start construction. It took us 18 months before we could get cooperation from the parties to even start.

In the meantime, I lived in a little apartment and for the first time in over 35 years, was alone, since my husband stayed up on the property in a trailer to help with our animals, and to stop the steady flow of people who “stopped by” to give us a quote and then helped themselves to our things, I guess thinking we wouldn't mind.

In short, I felt violated on so many levels. All my great grandmother's jewelry, her delicious collection of amber and jade were gone. The box my other great great grandmother brought over with her when she was 14, lovingly made by her father in Scotland, who never saw her again, was gone. Her braid, which was exactly my hair color, was gone. Lizzy, her doll was gone. Pictures the kids had made. Oil paintings we'd bought all over the world were gone. Our computers looked like something from a Dali painting. Here and there something miraculous would be untouched, but 97% of what was upstairs was gone.

Initially, I did the staying up late to watch TV movies, since I didn't have to worry about keeping anyone up but myself. I read Outlander and then read it again. Then I read the Twilight series. I began to have vivid dreams of angels, guardian angels, and I slowly began to believe that instead of being incredibly unlucky, in fact, we were very lucky. We survived. We learned to cope and do things we'd never had to do before.

And I began to write.

I am a bit on the obsessive side of the scale. I sat down on December 15, 2008 and by January 15, 2009 I had written 90,000 words, and my first novel. I learned later that was a phenomenal amount of words. But then I didn't know. My story didn't have a villain, didn't have much of a story arc, except I began to think about what it would be like if a Guardian Angel fell in love with the person they were supposed to watch over. Would they be tempted to let themselves be known? Would they want to connect? Would they be banished from Heaven? I rewrote that story 57 times. No, that one didn't get trashed like you hear writers talk about. This one came from my soul, and I could never stop working on it until it was perfect. It became Heavenly Lover, my first book. My second book, Underworld Lover, came to me before I finished the first one. And just now, I have released the third book in the series, Underworld Queen. I continued on with many of the characters so that the villain in Book 1 is the hero in Book 2. The villainess in Book 2 is the heroine in Book 3. Everyone gets a chance to transform, to fall in love with their true love, to have their happily ever after. Everyone has a shot at redemption.

The basis premise is this: Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident. Humans walk the fence between the two. It's not a religious book, but there is a good vs. evil theme, which is actually the same theme throughout all my books, paranormal or SEALs.

As I begin a new year, and look at my schedule and what books I want to finish or write this year, I have to remember that sometimes the greatest things that happen to me are just that: things that happen. Not things I planned at all. Or perhaps the better way of saying it is that I plan, adjust, based on what I'm given. Dealing with life on life's terms. Doesn't do any good to cry over what I've lost. I'm also not blonde, 20 years old and a supermodel with an unlimited income.

But I do possess the miracle of being able to take tragedy and make stories out of them. To feel. To be sad some days for sure, but then to rejoice in the little things, like meeting a blue jay that used to greet me every morning at breakfast outside the kitchen window. Writing all night long if I felt like it. Watching my grandkids play and sing, and yes, to have my granddaughter want me to help her write a book. She's 4. Isn't that also a miracle.

So, in 2015 I profess to obtaining and keeping my miracle glasses on 24/7. I've learned I can survive. If we'd lost it all I would have survived. And the other true miracle is that my stories will last forever.

http://youtu.be/AmvCeqr3QDU

 

 

6

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Gifts That Keep Growing

I've written before about the paths we take, the steps we take in the shoes of our choice, and how our choices make us the people we are. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and we are stronger than we thought possible. Other times, we are weaker. We've done a lot of traveling, and unfortunately that took a toll on us, health-wise this season. It was unexpected and unusual for us to be so ill for so long. I'm never at my best when I'm sick, or when a loved one is sick, or hurting. I remember the last Christmas we had with my Dad, and how weak and frail he looked at the end. I see the vacant chair at Christmas morning when we open our stockings, and I miss him. This year, even though it's been 3 years now, I missed him more than ever.

IMG_6227 He'd love to see the grandkids and their sparkly faces. He'd love to see how they enjoyed seeing the Crystal Palace at Disney World, the Osborne light show at Disney Hollywood, IMG_6042 how the kids greeted me at the door at my daughter's house for Christmas morning. With a living room so filled with packages all colorfully wrapped, there wasn't room for furniture. A sea of abundance. 

There was that ache in my heart, partly from missing those that have passed on, partly because I just felt something was missing. My life is truly blessed. I have everything I've always wanted, and more. And yet something was missing. I thought a lot about it during these past four days. This morning I found the answer. 

My best friend sent me some music and it made me cry. I'd been staying off the internet, trying to be present with the people physically around me, trying to get over this lonely feeling something was lost or missing. But I opened my computer and saw a post from Mark Divine, who is a SEAL trainer and one of the smartest men on the planet. With the beautiful music as my background, I read his blog, “The Secrets of Resiliency.” And that was what I was missing.

Being a romance novelist I am very sensitive. When I was little, I would cry at movies and TV shows, my family often making fun of me. I was just like my grandmother Fox. When I stayed with them, we would sit on the couch and cry together. Shows like Come Back Yeller and Lassie just broke us up into pieces. Our big red puffy eyes testament to how deeply we felt things. Two of a kind. We wore our badge with honor.

Mark asked the question, “Do you tend to back off when you get overwhelmed emotionally and let fear, uncertainty or frustration derail you? I had to answer “yes” to that. I've been halfway around the world. Had a scare with my husband's health and a diagnosis I was afraid to hear. I'd just finished a book in a new genre for me, which turned out to be more work than I'd anticipated. My year was huge in terms of what I accomplished. And yes, I've been overwhelmed. Though I'm proud of all these great things, I was letting fear take a front seat in my roller coaster ride of life. What if next year is even harder? Am I prepared? Have I made the right choices?

The miracle of life, of the season, and the answer I got this morning was that yes, I have been making the right choices. Feeling emotionally vulnerable prepares me for the next big challenge. Of one thing I am certain, there will be challenges and failures next year. People will disappoint me. I will disappoint those I love. Nothing is, afterall, perfect.

But it still is. Because the perfectness of life is that we get to learn how to be more resilient by being challenged. We don't learn to walk except by falling down. We don't learn to do anything outstanding without having first experienced failure. But if we let fear stop us, we don't progress. And by progress I mean we get resilient, not perfect. We learn how to dust ourselves off and get up and try again. We get the opportunity to have a breakthrough. Without the toughness and the fears we have to face, we don't get those breakthroughs. We don't get the silver linings without the clouds.

We got to share our Christmas Eve with a couple from Croatia and their four year old daughter. What a blessing it was to see their faces light up as they watched their daughter, only here seven months, be able to speak English and share her first Christmas in a new land with an American family. It was an honor to share our home with them. It was my greatest Christmas gift.

So I have the gift this season of being emotionally challenged, overwhelmed, with my heart bursting with gratitude for all the opportunities I have now, and in the future. Oh yes, fear will still be my familiar friend, but now I can thank him for making me a stronger person. For reminding me that my job is to feel. Not just be, but to feel. And the more resilient I become, the more gifts of feeling I will be able to experience.

Nothing stays the same. Everything passes on, fades and dies. Everything. What I see now at my age is different than what I saw as a child, a young bride, mother, daughter, grandmother. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to fill my days with enough of all the good things I can stand.

Happy, Bright, Shining New Year. May it be the first of many.

12

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Christmas SEAL, A Gift for Christmas

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Christmas SEAL

I decided to give you a little short story to sketch out a new character I'm going to be writing for my next SEAL book in the Bad Boys of SEAL Team 3 of my SEAL Brotherhood series. His name is Rory Kennedy and I'm already in love with him, and he's only nine in this story, until the very end.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas to you all!

Rory Kennedy didn’t believe in Santa Claus when he was a child, because there were no pictures in the orphanage he spent five of his young years in. There was a Christmas Tree, but they removed it when Rory and a number of the boys took the glass ball ornaments outside and tossed them at each other like snowballs.

They’d missed their dinner that night too, but the giggles continued all through the evening. Instead of Christmas carols, they told ghost stories in the corner of the locked room they shared. The room was always locked at night from the outside because these were the incorrigible boys, and though the oldest was seven, they had earned a reputation they liked: impossible to live with. They figured if they’d continue screwing up, they could stay together until their teens, and then be a pack of friends “on the outside” as they referred to it. Though they’d been scolded and reminded of it many times, it still felt like a children’s prison.

Rory’s parents were said to be still alive, but he didn’t believe it. The nuns had two classifications of children: orphans and true orphans. This made a difference since the center was given an allotment of new clothes every year, along with hand-me-downs given by the community. The true orphans got the new clothes, and the orphans, like Rory, got the hand-me-downs.

Rory didn’t mind this arrangement, because he didn’t like the look and feel of stiff pants that made skinny underweight kids like himself look like cardboard stick figures as they walked around in their new finery. The fact that his clothes had smudges and tears made him more comfortable, and less guilty when he damaged them further.

His mother visited him one time. She brought a boyfriend with her, and afterwards he realized he’d not passed the test she was hoping he would and they never returned. No doubt, the man was looking to see if Rory could come home and live with them and evidently he decided he couldn’t. It hurt a little bit. Would have been better, he thought afterwards, if she’d never come. It was evidence that she’d abandoned him, and not the other way around. And that sucked big time.

But fate had a way of messing up his community, and one by one the boys were sent off to foster care as the aging nuns began to close down the orphanage. The Diocese was in need of money, and this enterprise was considered expendable, especially since there were other agencies who could handle children that needed homes.

The first foster care home only kept Rory for a week. The second was another zoo of unkempt children with snotty noses and Rory took ill and wound up in the hospital. They discovered he’d picked up a tapeworm and along with other things, removed him from the home.

He’d developed an allergy to strawberries, of all things. His new foster mother liked to put them in everything, and Rory was soon covered in spots. At first he was quarantined like he had chicken pox, but when the spots continued for a month, the allergy was discovered. Rory had liked his quarantine. He’d started reading Playboys he’d snuck from his foster older brother, who also was a good source for alcohol and cigarettes for the nine-year-old Rory, who acted as lookout for some of the teen’s more questionable activities. But all that dried up when young Frank was sent to Juvenile Hall for some infraction he swore he never did, involving a girl at his high school. Rory was, once again, left alone.

He knew he’d developed an addiction to cigarettes. He’d heard and seen things enough to know that’s what happened when you smoked several a day. Sometimes he’d steal a whole pack from his foster mother when he learned where she stashed them after Frank was carted off. But then she discovered his sinister deed and kept her smokes in a locked cabinet.

Frustrated and telling himself he needed some kind of distraction or he’d start thinking about running away, he began a love affair with fire. He liked to set small fires in the rear yard, raking up leaves and burning them, thinking he’d been helpful to The House as he called it. His foster mother seemed to be okay with it, for some reason, since Rory was the only one to rake the leaves or do any work around the house. He liked tinkering with things.

He started tinkering with bottle rockets when he was given some firecrackers by a Chinese kid at school. Then he began unpeeling the paper on the little explosive devices and filling plastic straws with a longer fuse, which really sent the projectiles into the air. Of course he could never tell where they’d land. Only one of them landed on a car and set off the alarm. It left a large crater in the roof, though.

He found some shotgun shells in the old garage that was more of a toolshed than garage and he knew he was in like Flynn. He accidentally set one off on the workbench. He was lucky to get away with only losing the fourth finger on his left hand, but the ensuing fire burned down the garage and once again, Rory was sent to his fourth foster home after his surgery and hospitalization.

Now, as a grown man, and a Navy SEAL, he sat in the coffee house/book store and watched the chubby and well-loved children huddle at a book reading with a woman dressed as Santa Claus, telling stories to her little horde of fans. He allowed himself to drop the window on his calluses, and enjoy the scene, even though he felt a pang of hurt. It was like the caramel salted latte he sipped: some salt and some sweet. It was the story of his life.

 

Hope you enjoy your Holidays with friends and family. Let's remember those who are no longer with us this Holiday season as well. And the men and women who stand for us in harm's way. God Bless.

Sharon Hamilton

Life is one fool thing after another.

Love is two fool things after each other.

Author Page ** Sharon's Blog ** Sharon's Website ** Facebook**Twitter

Sharon’s Newsletter

12

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Cheeseburger In Paradise

We spent yesterday in Antigua. Headed straight for the Admiral Nelson Dockyard, which is a National Park here, at English Harbor. We've been before, but always on an organized tour, where we were crowded in for the rum punch freebie, and bellied up to the bar like a good tourist with our German, English and French friends from the ship. This time we hired our own driver, Winston James, and he was a hoot. When we left the ship, we had to make our way through the gauntlet of taxi and tour drivers looking to pick up a good customer. We made it clear, it was just a taxi ride, but in the end, we wound up with something sort of hybrid. He got us there, but we also took in some other sights he thought were important. Well, they were beautiful. And he's rightly proud of “his island.” 

Nelson's Shipyard was originally founded in 1740, but the great Admiral himself lived there only 3 years in the 1760's I believe. It was fascinating to read about this garrison, founded before the Revolutionary War, and England's plans to not only protect its interests in the Caribbean, but to establish a safe harbor from the hurricanes that would sometimes decimate a fleet in this region. They also were attempting to stop local pirates from having their way with merchant ships that frequented the Caribbean, loaded with money and other goods bound for England. I was fascinated by the accounts of family life, with “no women allowed” yet where evidence that the sailors and some of the workers they brought from overseas developed relationships with the local women, sometimes raising families, even though there was a wife and family at home. There was one account where a sailor's grave was repositioned, to find that he had been buried with an infant son on his chest, probably due to Yellow Fever. Very touching.

An unexpected miracle was the fact that there was a charter yacht convention going on. They are gearing up for a Sailing Week coming in 2 weeks, where the rich and richer gather with their “boats”, will race, party and party harder. I'm sure it will be a wild time. I was in awe as I walked down the pier, passing probably fifty ships that cost more than I'll earn in 10 lifetimes. Some of these were for sale. Some prospective buyers were charter tour operators and people who liked to own a percentage share of a “boat” like owning part of a racehorse. New stuff for me. And fascinating.

The internet was spotty around the dockyard, where I'll definitely come back to again, so we took local advice and hopped on a dingy, a water taxi, and headed over to Galleon Beach, and had, yes, a cheeseburger in paradise at Roxy's Beach Bar. I was introduced to their version of rum punch, both the old fashioned kind and the standard variety. I got a nutmeg moustache, enjoyed the sun on the water, sat under the fronds and umbrellas, and checked my FB and internet messages. While there, a woman from one of those huge boats tied up her dingy, bringing her chocolate lab to the ocean for a swim. And she stood in the water while he had his fun, a romance novel clutched in her hand. I found this woman fascinating! She said she brought 75 romance novels with her on this trip. Good for her! Wish I'd had a spare book I could have given her, although she was into historicals. 

I talked last week about going through doorways and unexpected turns. The trip on the water taxi was a whim for us, just to see something new. Now I feel like the whole trip, the whole cruise was created just so we could have this day at Galleon Beach. We met a group of prospective yacht buyers from the UK who were going home that day, a couple from South Africa, another handsome bartender from South Africa, and Joshua, originally from Guyana, but who came to Antigua when he was 15. I felt the westernized stiffness leave my bones as I relaxed, loved the sounds of the gentle waves, the music and light chatter, and just unwound. Found a part of myself there I didn't know I'd left behind. A new story developed, I'm itching to get to, but I lined it out briefly, shared it, and hope that I can keep the fire burning after I complete some edits I have to start working on tomorrow.

Wonder what Admiral Nelson would think of these boats that are probably worth more than the entire net worth of Antigua itself as a country. One thing is for sure, he probably sat on this beach and enjoyed the sounds of the bay and felt the warm breeze on his face, saw the blue sky and big billowy clouds, and knew that this was indeed paradise.

This day changed me in ways I cannot calculate at the moment. I had it all: romance, lazy Caribbean breeze, beach, stories and, of course, rum. I could get lost here, if I chose to. Perfect! 

 

4

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Journeys Through Doorways and Gates

 

 

We grace many doorways and walk through many gates. Some of those were locked, some were left ajar so we'd find our way onto the garden paths that take us on life's journeys. I love doorways, gates and unexpected voyages.

I started photographing doors, gates and pathways some years ago, and I think I probably have enough for a nice colorful picture book. Perhaps some day I'll collaborate with someone who knows how to do this, and will produce one. But more important to me is the significance of gates and doorways, what they mean to all of us in the larger sense of life.

None of us knows what will befall us when we start out on our journeys. I like the accidents best because it teaches us how flexible we can be in the face of usually our own fears. Just like Robert Frost said in his wonderful poem, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, which was read at John F. Kennedy's inauguration, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.” This poem and Robert Frost's reading was not supposed to be on the program. Kennedy's featured poet (sorry, name escapes me), came down with a cold and could not speak. At the last minute Robert Frost was asked to do it. And he chose this poem, which was one of Kennedy's favorites, and history was made. It talks about choices, and which path to take, and whether or not it did or didn't make a difference.

The process of being a writer is about making choices with the lives of our characters. We decide what to put in, what to reveal, or hint at and reveal later. We decide to show an awkward moment, or that moment when suddenly a sunny window in the heart opens up and true love is first revealed in the warm apricot glow that true love lives in. I think of my characters sometimes as curious children, finding something to explore, and then finding the Secret Garden where all things miraculous happen. 

What makes a good book a wonderful one we'll fall in love with is in the choosing choosing Like a good chef, just the right amount of spice and aroma. Like a painter, just enough color and texture. Like a songbird or a storyteller, just the right amount of passion in the voice or the soothing words of love that helps the body to vibrate to some mythical pattern somewhere between sound, color, space and emotion.

That's where I live. When they say a tale is woven, it is true. One golden thread at a time. We suspend disbelief. We believe in angels. We believe in true love that never dies. We believe in heroes that ultimately become greater than they ever thought possible. We believe in that perfect place, that Happily Ever After.

It's always there. It's just around the bend. Beyond that closed gate that opens with a loud metallic creek. Just beyond where we hear the sound of running water, the music of our souls, the sounds of birds calling to us, and the way our hearts feel when we are on an adventure. Or when we stand very near those we love.

Fabulous Reviews for SEAL of My Heart!

Fabulous reviews for SEAL of My Heart!

Since SEAL of My Heart released on July 10, reviews and feedback coming in has been wonderful overall!  This summer was filled with new releases, and I'm so happy that SEAL of My Heart is getting such positive feedback.

About SEAL of My Heart:

SEAL Brotherhood, Book 7

Kate Morgan is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in Sonoma County, the son of a wealthy wine family in Healdsburg, California. On a flight to visit her sister in Portland she is seated next to a young hard-bodied elite soldier who ignites her insides in a strange attraction she cannot deny.

Navy SEAL Tyler Gray plans to spend a weekend home before deploying to North Africa with the rest of his SEAL Team 3. But the conversation with Kate has him rethinking his future.

The encounter has both of them feeling fate has stepped into their lives and altered their course. Unable to just say goodbye as lovers, they agree to carry on a correspondence. Kate becomes the girl Tyler wants to come home to while she is pressured by her family to reconsider her broken marriage plans.

Family secrets are revealed from the past regarding a young Marine and Kate’s mother which brings both heartache and a sense of clarity as old loves are unearthed. From the grave, a Marine’s love letters from the past affect the new love between Kate and Tyler in the present. And when Kate’s life is endangered, will Tyler be the man to save her without sacrificing his own?

 

Buy Links: 

Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK |  Audible | IBooks | ITunes (audio)

 

SEAL Of My Heart (SEAL Brotherhood, # 7)

8

September 2014 Subscriber Giveaway!

 

To show my appreciation to my loyal readers and followers, this month I am giving away a $50 Amazon Giftcard!

The contest will run from today, September 2, 2014 through September 30.  The winner will be only be announced in October's newsletter, so make sure that you are subscribed to the newsletter and you open the newsletter to check the winner.

To enter, you MUST be a newsletter subscriber (and over 18), the rest of the entries on the Rafflecopter are extra entries.  Know that I appreciate each of my followers.  Thank you for reading my books and participating in my events.  Best of luck to you all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2

Sharon Hamilton July Subscriber Giveaway!

 

July Subscriber Giveaway

This month, Sharon Hamilton attended the Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Sharon hosted a MASH themed costume ball.  Guests entered through a tent into a military themed room where multiple large screens played book trailers and military movies for guests.  Sharon wore a Doctor jacket, decorated for the occasion.  At the book signing over the weekend, every author in attendance and the cover models signed the jacket.

One lucky newsletter subscriber will not only win this special jacket, but also a swag pack including:

  • Pink Camo Recruit T-Shirt (XL)
  • Always Go to Bed T-Shirt (XL)
  • Blue Camo Swag Pack
  • Print copy of recently released SEAL My Destiny Novel

The main requirement for this giveaway is to be a subscriber, old or new, to Sharon Hamilton's Newsletter.  The contest will run from now through July 31.  The contest winner will be announced in the August newsletter!  So, be sure to check your inboxes for the newsletter announcement in August.

To Enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SEAL of My Heart Launch Party and Release TODAY!


SEAL of My Heart, book 7 in the SEAL Brotherhood Series releases today!  Don't miss the launch party this evening on Facebook, there will be lots of prizes to win, contests, games, guest authors and more!  The party officially starts at 7PM EST.  But, if you get there a little early, there will be some pre-party fun!    Head over to the Party Page on Facebook to get your RSVP in!
[button link=”https://www.facebook.com/events/509921709137604/” type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] RSVP Now![/button]

SEAL of My Heart

Kate Morgan’s engagement is at risk the instant she sets eyes on the handsome elite warrior sitting next to her on a plane trip to visit her sister. Navy SEAL Tyler Gray had thought he knew what he wanted in life, until he meets Kate and their obvious attraction for each other sparks something deep in his soul.  What starts out as letters between lovers turns out to be much more. Can someone fall in love deeply just with words and letters exchanged? And will Tyler be able to rush to Kate’s side in time when her life is threatened?

Buy Now

Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | NOOK |  Amazon CA | Amazon UK |  Audible

Cruisin' For A SEAL on #99cent #Sale!

To celebrate the release week of SEAL of MY Heart. Cruisin' For A SEAL is on sale!

99 Cents for a Limited Time Only!
[button link=”http://www.amazon.com/Cruisin-SEAL-Brotherhood-Book-ebook/dp/B00I2HEE5A” type=”big” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Amazon[/button] [button link=”http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cruisin-for-a-seal-sharon-hamilton/1118759124?ean=2940149591671″ type=”big” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Barnes & Noble[/button]

Book Summary: 

Mark Beale and several of his brothers from SEAL Team 3 board a cruise ship to bury a fallen buddy's ashes at sea. A risky affair with a beautiful Italian the night before they leave begins to ease his survivor’s guilt. 

Sophia Negri, suffering jitters over her engagement, falls for the handsome SEAL and pretends she speaks no English, letting their bodies do the talking. When Mark finds her on the ship and learns Sophia is half American, he is angry at first, but falls for her all over again as they set sail. 

Terrorists take over the ship and hold the passengers for ransom, Mark and the other SEALs are the only ones who can stop the plot. Will Mark’s actions be enough to save Sophia or will he have to sacrifice himself to save the woman he loves? 

Cruisin' For a SEAL is on sale for a limited time only!  Don't miss this chance to read Mark and Sophia's story!

2

SEAL of My Heart Blog Tour

SEAL of My Heart, book 7 in the SEAL Brotherhood series releases July 10!  

The blog tour has kicked off, courtesy of My Family's Heart Book Reviews & Tours.  There are prizes and books to be won.  Follow the tour to learn more about SEAL of My Heart and for chances to win.

About SEAL of My Heart

Kate Morgan is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in Sonoma County, the son of a wealthy wine family in Healdsburg, California. On a flight to visit her sister in Portland she is seated next to a young hard-bodied elite soldier who ignites her insides in a strange attraction she cannot deny.

Navy SEAL Tyler Gray plans to spend a weekend home before deploying to North Africa with the rest of his SEAL Team 3. But the conversation with Kate has him rethinking his future.

The encounter has both of them feeling fate has stepped into their lives and altered their course. Unable to just say goodbye as lovers, they agree to carry on a correspondence. Kate becomes the girl Tyler wants to come home to while she is pressured by her family to reconsider her broken marriage plans.

Family secrets are revealed from the past regarding a young Marine and Kate's mother which brings both heartache and a sense of clarity as old loves are unearthed. From the grave, a Marine's love letters from the past affect the new love between Kate and Tyler in the present. And when Kate's life is endangered, will Tyler be the man to save her without sacrificing his own?

Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK |  Audible

Tour Schedule

July 8

Cat's Reviewshttp://reviewsbycat.blogspot.com/2014/07/seal-of-my-heart-sharon-hamilton-with.html
My Family's Hearthttp://wp.me/p3dEGm-2Et

July 9

The Conley Cornerwww.anneconley.com
Brit Nanny Readshttp://www.britnannyreads.wordpress.com
Angels With Attititude Book Reviewshttp://angelswithattitudebookreviews-joelle.blogspot.com

July 10

Happily Ever Afterhttp://ashleyladd.blogspot.com/2014/07/book-tour-seal-of-my-heart-by-sharon.html

July 11

For the Love of Bookshttp://ftlobblog.blogspot.com/
Cindy's Love of Bookshttp://cindysloveofbooks.com

July 12

Laurie's Thoughts and Reviewshttp://lauries-interviews.blogspot.com

July 15

Carly's Book Reviewshttp://carlysbookreviews.blogspot.com/2014/07/seal-of-my-heart-hamilton.html
ssly bloghttp://wp.me/p38Iym-2wu
Stories and Swaghttp://storiesandswag.blogspot.com

July 17

Loves All Things Bookshttp://lovesallthingsbooks.blogspot.com/
Jodie's W.I.N.E. Listhttp://jodieswinelist.blogspot.com
BeanieBrain Readerhttp://beaniebrainreader.blogspot.com/

July 18

Books A to Zhttps://booksaz.wordpress.com/
Cheekypee reads and reviewshttp://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

July 19

Kirstenhttp://booklunaticramblings.blogspot.com
BookSkaterhttp://bookskater.blogspot.com/
Jen's Reading Obsessionhttp://jensreadingobsession.wordpress.com/
Amazeballs Book Addictshttp://amazeballsbookaddicts.blogspot.com
undercover book reviewshttp://undercoverbookreviews.blogspot.com/

July 21

LILLY MAC'S BLOGhttp://www.lillianmackenzierhine.com
Jill Prandhttp://jillprand.blogspot.com
Inspire to Readhttp://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/
Naughty Book Edenhttp://naughtybookeden.blogspot.com.au

July 22

LSK Sweetheart Reviewshttp://lsksweetheartreviews.wordpress.com/
Crystal's Many Reviewershttp://crystalsmanyreviews.blogspot.com/2014/07/seal-of-my-heart-tour-stop.html
deal sharing aunthttp://www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com

 

2

SEAL of MY Heart

SEAL of My Heart

Book 7 in The SEAL Brotherhood series

 

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE –  SEAL of My Heart                SERIES – SEAL Brotherhood #7AUTHOR –  Sharon HamiltonGENRE – Military romance, romantic suspensePUBLICATION DATE – July 10, 2014LENTH (Pages/# Words) – Full length novelPUBLISHER – create spaceCOVER ARTIST – Kendra Egert

 Book Summary

Full Summary:

SEAL OF MY HEART

Kate Morgan is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in Sonoma County, the son of a wealthy wine family in Healdsburg, California. On a flight to visit her sister in Portland she is seated next to a young hard-bodied elite soldier who ignites her insides in a strange attraction she cannot deny.

Navy SEAL Tyler Gray plans to spend a weekend home before deploying to North Africa with the rest of his SEAL Team 3. But the conversation with Kate has him rethinking his future.

The encounter has both of them feeling fate has stepped into their lives and altered their course. Unable to just say goodbye as lovers, they agree to carry on a correspondence. Kate becomes the girl Tyler wants to come home to while she is pressured by her family to reconsider her broken marriage plans.

Family secrets are revealed from the past regarding a young Marine and Kate’s mother which brings both heartache and a sense of clarity as old loves are unearthed. From the grave, a Marine’s love letters from the past affect the new love between Kate and Tyler in the present. And when Kate’s life is endangered, will Tyler be the man to save her without sacrificing his own?

Short Summary:

Kate Morgan’s engagement is at risk the instant she sets eyes on the handsome elite warrior sitting next to her on a plane trip to visit her sister. Navy SEAL Tyler Gray had thought he knew what he wanted in life, until he meets Kate and their obvious attraction for each other sparks something deep in his soul.  What starts out as letters between lovers turns out to be much more. Can someone fall in love deeply just with words and letters exchanged? And will Tyler be able to rush to Kate’s side in time when her life is threatened?

Buy Links

Audible | Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | iTunes

Book Trailer

Audio Interview with Tyler Gray

Sample Read

http://youtu.be/G2awjV2RUgk

Excerpt

Kate waited on the front porch of Gretchen’s home, watching the waterway below and listening to the sounds of late afternoon boat traffic. The constant commercial noise and the way the river meandered on its way out to the ocean was comforting. Life was in order and would go on as planned, even though her life felt, after this morning’s plane ride and adventure at the donut shop, chaotic.

Gretchen waved as she maneuvered her car up the steep driveway along the side of her house. Kate heard car doors slam and the voices of Gretchen’s three girls. The back door bang and she heard the patter of little feet racing towards the front door. Angela, the youngest, barely four years old, struggled to open the heavy wooden door of the large two-story bungalow. Her face was streaked with smudged Indian war paint.

“Auntie Kate!!” the little one squealed as she ran to her and embraced Kate’s knees. Clover and Rebecca, Angela’s two older sisters, hovered in the doorway, waiting for the hug fest to end. Clover appeared to have grown nearly a foot, and resembled her handsome basketball player father.

“What’s the matter with you guys? Clover, Rebecca, get over here,” Kate commanded. In two long steps, Clover had traversed the distance between them and bowed her head, giving Kate a tentative hug. The girl was nearly Kate’s height. Rebecca pushed Angela out of the way and took her place at Kate’s knees.

Gretchen appeared next and walked over to complete the group hug.

“Sorry about the mix-up. Angela’s preschool had an event I forgot about.” She turned to her daughter. “Angie, you need to wash that face now. Part of your war paint is already somewhere in my car or in the house or—” she checked Kate’s pants to be sure she hadn’t been slimed. “Oh good, you’re unscathed.”

Kate shared a grin with her sister. Despite curly hair that went everywhere—something she’d inherited from their father—her lack of makeup, and the ripped jeans/fluffy sweatshirt ensemble, Gretchen looked happy. Happier than she’d appeared in years.

“Looking good, Gretchen. You have your spark back,” Kate said.

The comment didn’t get past Clover. “Mom’s got a new boyfriend,” she said around her braces.

Good for you, Gretchen. “Ah, so that’s what it is.” Kate examined Clover for evidence the new man was a problem for her. It had been a very public divorce after her dad, the awesome professional basketball player, had been outed doing shots and disco dancing with a coed about half his age. Up until his indiscretion, if it could be called that, he’d been the golden boy of the family. She was proud that her sister refused his attempts at reconciliation and only accepted a minimal amount of child support, even though he had at least a seven-figure income.  Gretchen had told her she wanted him to feel as useless to their lives as she had felt when she saw the newspaper photos of him, bare-chested, dirty dancing with the blonde.

“Come on in. We have so much to catch up on,” Gretchen said, wrapping her arms around her girls, who lovingly hugged her back. Kate was glad to see again that her sister had the family she’d always wanted, even without the guy. In fact, she was a bit envious of her sister’s happiness.

“Let’s get Aunt Kate’s bags up to the room,” Gretchen said, and immediately the bevy of girls took everything and preceded Kate up the carpeted stairway to the top floor.

They had moved her into Clover’s room. A poster of Justin Bieber was prominently displayed on the wall, along with some posters of her dad in a Trailblazers jersey. Kate noticed a number of ribbons and small trophies. “Way to go, Clover!” she said to her niece as she pointed at them.

Clover stared at the ground and shrugged, embarrassed.

“She plays basketball, but loves volleyball even more,” her mom said.

Before she could stop herself, Kate blurted out, “Thank God.” The girls snickered and her sister handed her back a smirk.

Kate felt the need to explain. “I was just thinking she’s her own woman. Not to be following along in her dad’s—” She realized her slip and began to shake her head, angry with herself.

“Kate, best to stop digging now you’ve gotten that hole started.”

“I’m sorry, Clover,” Kate said.

“It happens,” she said with a shrug “I’m used to it.” Her voice wavered and Kate could see she’d hurt her feelings. She put her arm around the lanky preteen. “You’re nothing like your dad in all the wrong ways, and everything like him in all the right ones.”

And that seemed to make things okay.

3

Box Set Blog Hop: Win SEALs of Summer Box Set!

Box Set Giveaway Hop!

Thank you to Close Encounters with the Night Kind for hosting this fun blog hop!  I love joining in box sets, whether it be my own books or joining with other authors to create a box set!  Recently, I released SEALs of Summer Box Set,which made the New York Times Bestseller list!  For this blog hop, I am giving away 1 kindle copy of SEALs of Summer Set..  Enter in the rafflecopter below.
SEALs of Summer: Military Romance Superbundle, Navy SEAL Style
Military Super-bundle of ten novellas and novels by New York Times, USA Today and award-winning bestselling authors: Delilah Devlin, Sharon Hamilton, Anne Marsh, Cora Seton, Zoe York, Roxie Riviera, S.M. Butler, Kimberley Troutte, Jennifer Lowery, Elle James.

 
IT TAKES A SEAL, An Adventure Girls, Inc. story by USA Today Bestselling author Delilah Devlin: A travel agent visiting friends in the Bahamas is stranded on a desert island with a sexy ex-SEAL after their private pleasure cruise is interrupted by men who mistake her lover for a reclusive billionaire. 

SEAL OF MY HEART by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Sharon Hamilton: Kate Morgan’s engagement is at risk the instant she sets eyes on the handsome elite warrior sitting next to her on a plane trip to visit her sister. Navy SEAL Tyler Gray had thought he knew what he wanted in life, until he meets Kate and their obvious attraction for each other sparks something deep in his soul. What starts out as innocent letters between friends turns out to be much more. Can someone fall in love deeply just with words and letters exchanged, or is this just a pleasant fantasy that will ruin their lives forever? 

SMOKING HOT by National Bestselling Author Anne Marsh: When an ambush kills his teammate, Navy SEAL Tye Callahan vows to spend the summer in Strong, California, fighting fires with the smoke jumper team and looking out for Katie Lawson, his teammate's fiancée. Now, as the summer heats up, they must decide if the chemistry burning between them might just be their second chance at living their own lives… together. 


THE NAVY SEAL’s E-MAIL ORDER BRIDE by National Bestselling author Cora Seton: If Mason Hall, Navy SEAL, can’t find a wife and get her pregnant—and convince his three brothers to marry, too—before the year is up, he’ll have to forfeit the ranch his family has prized for over a hundred years. Who knew one city girl and three wayward brothers could put up such a fight? 
FALL OUT by Zoe York: Drew Castle is a Navy SEAL with a bad case of indifference. Until 
Annie Martin shows up on his doorstep, scared out of her mind, and all of a sudden, keeping 
her safe becomes the most important mission of his life. And this time, he’s on his own. 

CLOSE QUARTERS by Bestselling author Roxie Rivera: Nationally Bestselling author Roxie Rivera brings you Close Quarters. Getting tangled up in Jamie Pearson's latest hot mess—or her sheets—is the very last thing Navy SEAL Leland Gates needs, but in close quarters like these, there's no denying the white-hot passion blazing between them. 

KILLING HONOR by International Bestselling author S.M. Butler: Returning home after a disastrous extended deployment, Navy SEAL Brody Battles struggles with nightmares and government secrets building a wall between him and his wife, Devyn, especially when a security breach compromises his identity. While they’re adjusting to being a family again, an old enemy waits in the shadows, salivating for the sweet taste of revenge. 


COMING IN HOT by Award-winning author Kimberley Troutte: For Navy SEAL Mack Riley, rescuing a family in Colombian jungles isn’t as hard as seeing the admiral’s daughter again, but since Jenna is joining the hostage rescue team, his orders are to protect her. In the heat of battle, love breaches their defenses just as missiles lock onto their coordinates …can they save the family and get out alive? 


A SEAL’s SONG by Golden Heart Finalist author Jennifer Lowery: Navy SEAL Jack Taggart’s plans to catch some much-needed downtime between deployments are demolished when he risks everything to rescue beautiful wedding singer, Darci O’Shea, from a band of thieves. Will the battle between their inner demons be the hardest one to fight, or will they find rescue in each other’s arms? 


SEALS’s EMBRACE by USA Today Bestselling author Elle James: Injured Navy SEAL and the critical care nurse he's attempting to woo join forces to stop a terrorist attack.

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