Sunday, November 22, 2015

JOHN F. KENNEDY AND U.S. NAVY SEALs - A New Commander in Town

Today we commemorate the death of President John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963. This isn't the celebration it once was. I remember those days, when it was the "Land of Camelot" as they called it, the handsome president and his beautiful wife, someone we looked up to, even if we didn't vote for him initially. It was a different time and era in this country, and one I barely became part of. I was in high school when he was shot. I was in College when Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. It was a horrible time with lots of uncertainty. But we survived as a nation.

How soon we forget these things. I remember watching the funeral, sitting beside my mother, both of us in tears, especially when John-John saluted his father's casket.

But most people are surprised to learn that President John F. Kennedy formally recognized and created the U.S. Navy SEALs in 1962. While he didn't invent them, as is sometimes claimed, he was the first to sign into legislation the formal elite branch of the Navy that became the SEALs. Prior to that, SEALs had been known as UDT or "elite frogmen", since World War II. Learning from some of the heartbreak of earlier beach invasions, under water demolition (UDT) groups were trained to remove some of the land mines and obstacles to future invasion landings. These men were in fact the early SEALs.

In 1962 President Kennedy outlined in his now-famous speech to Congress that he desired to implement an elite fighting force that was well-trained and ready to respond to any "hot spot" or emergency that developed that threatened to destabilize our interests or those of our allies, or American citizens. Most people remember the speech as mentioning "putting a man on the moon," but he also talked about implementing the birth of the Navy SEALs. Kennedy was controversially interested in restructuring the military to make room for quick, unconventional forms of warfare, to augment and in some cases replace, the massive troop buildup and operations. He didn't create the SEALs, but he was the one who realized their importance and formalized their status and training, and helped gather the funding so the program could go forward and expand into what it is today. He had a vision for us all, some would say.

The two groups formed in 1962 later became 10, with other ancillary teams and crews of special operators from other branches, such that today we have arguably one of the best (not the only) highly trained elite fighting forces the world has ever seen. The gold standard.

You can read more history on the birth of the SEALs here. There is a great quote from Pierre Salinger, the John F. Kennedy biographer, part of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, I found fascinating.

The 1960's were a great time of political turmoil and upheaval in this country. Kennedy's presidency was questioned, frought with problems, and then untimely ended, ushering in another era we all endured: Viet Nam. Those of us who remember those days may find some similarities to events of today. But out of necessity, comes innovation. For a brief time we had Camelot. Kennedy's vision gave us two things: A man on the moon, and the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

FROM KENWOOD TO LAS VEGAS - Slowing it Down and Heating it Up!

View from my window
I just finished my new novella, Nashville SEAL. It is going to be included in an anthology coming out this December, called Holding Out For A Hero. I plan to release a print and audio version as well.

I've thoroughly loved writing this book, as I do all my books. These colorful characters come to life as I put the story on the page, and I see opportunities to add fun details, sketches of people who would fit in, or, in many cases, don't fit into the story - because I find the deets that don't fit in are sometimes the best and most likeable for readers.
Fireplace, tossed sheets, what could be better?

So I put myself up in the lovely Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, a place I have gone to before when I needed a story "recharging" and what I call growing the kernels of my story in my own cornfield.

It is impossible to live in a heightened state of emotional intimacy 24/7 with anyone, let alone a fictional character, but when I travel to some place like the Kenwood Inn, my regular life fades into the distance and I get to live in my story. I've heard other writers do the same. I try to pick not just a "motel" room stay unless I'm writing about college dorm life. In this case, I was writing about a young singer-songwriter who is experiencing a good degree of success, and decides he wants more out of life, right at the same time something very moving and important from his past comes back on the scene.

Wine bar writing
Room service keeps me in the story because I don't have to stop and prepare or share my dinnertime with anyone (yes, this is a solo trip, by necessity), I can go to sleep when I want to, stay up all night and write, edit and doze by fireplace. Just walking the grounds gives me ideas. I have a time-travel romance set in this location, and have referred to it in Underworld Lover, and several of my SEAL books. In my books, it's called the Waterwheel Inn.

With my chapters done and not polished, I decided to finish that job at Las Vegas, since I was going there this weekend for an author signing put on by my friend, Crystal Perkins. I've done events with her in the past. Met up with Lance Taubold, and met a couple of new shining stars in my collection of author friends. I have some posts planned later for that.

Everyone should lick responsibly, don't you agree?
So I ran across this store here off the Flamingo, called LICK. Okay, yes, it's a candy store, but OMG I should have shopped here before my bachelorette party at RomCon. Every imaginable thing that had to do with candy, and lollipops, and (ahem) licking, was present. The atmosphere couldn't be more different, but the end result: I still focus on the romance. Watched the beautiful Bellagio water shows several times, wandered along the promenade and did a little naughty shopping. Cherry stuff, like oh, warmers and such, lip gloss, and my Lick Responsibly tee shirt. Some of these things are going to have to stay private, but boy did I have fun! Love the beer cozies, don't you? Not sure where I can wear the tee shirt, but it could be a nice message to wear around the house. Oh yes, the tit mints are kinda cool too. Yes, I am two women wrapped up in one. Well, perhaps three or four, but if you can't have fun, what good is it to be alive?

Even got red Tootsie Pop glasses for my new Romance Rider!

And it gave the right amount of kink and spice I needed to polish the book to it's jewel essence. And I had fun in the process.

I go home to hopefully a pad ready for my Romance Rider, and now that the book is finished, I can start to clean out my office and get her all set up! Life is good!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Carneros Inn
WOW. Just Wow. I spent yesterday at an all-day seminar in the beautiful Carneros Inn in Napa, with the awesome Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a gift to myself for a year of inspiration, frustration, tears and mostly wonder. I'm at the point in my career I'm ready to hit the re-set button. Taking classes outside of writing, more in inspiration, the brain function and what it means to be in connection and relationship. That goes everywhere. And right now all these thoughts are like a school of colorful angel fishes swimming around my brain as I write them down.

To say I got inspired is to say I am alive. Several things she gave to me, but the first one was her connection with her readers and her audience. Her new book, Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear is a #1 Bestseller, and there is no wonder why. It is, as she puts it, her manifesto. I think every writer on the planet should read it. Here are only a few of the things that have settled in enough to be identifiable. And how perfect is it that I've booked a room at the Kenwood Inn for 3 days of writing, reflection and planning out next year's schedule for me. The Kenwood Inn has been prominent in some of my yet-to-be works, and some of my SEAL stories. I have an encounter with the uncompromisingly hunky Victorian British explorer in a time travel novel that is half finished, based upon bringing Sir Richard Burton (the explorer) to modern times, where he would have lived a perfect life. A man living before his time, for sure.

Anyway, that's another story or ten. Here's what I learned yesterday:

Have a conversation with Fear. Let Him Speak. Yes, for me, Fear is a man. He asked me some questions and suggested that perhaps I don't want to run away so fast from him, that his rooms were populated with some of the most interesting characters I've written, hope to write and real-life people who scare me with their brilliance. He was sultry and suggestive, I have to say, even sexy. Does that sound insane? He suggested I hang out with him more, that life would be a little more exciting, that he'd have my back, and would make sure I didn't really get into the kind of irreparable trouble I worried about...He asked me this question, "Sharon, when was it that you stopped riding on roller coasters you loved as a child?" And then he asked, "When was it you decided safe meant you'd live longer?"

Have a conversation with my Faery Godmother. She wrote me a long letter about what's in store for me. It involves dressing up in costumes, going to exotic places, going dancing in a big ball gown by candlelight. "Claim back some of the fun you folded and put away in lavender-scented drawers. They looked nice, Sharon, all folded up, and you thought you were practicing good self care."

Better to eat more gelato
Like the Velveteen Rabbit conversation, she suggested my fun have all the hair rubbed off it and get squishy joints. It doesn't deserve to be folded in a drawer, even if it is lavender-infused...

She also suggested more hair color. More laughter. Finding more people to share the vision with. Oh! I loved this lady, and she didn't look anything like Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, HBC, but she would have been her sister.

Write a Permission Slip. You know the ones, the hall passes you used to get in High School, the permission to do X,Y and Z. What if your inner principal gave you a permission slip for the rest of your life? What would it say? Some of the things on mine were:  Permission to be inconsistent. Permission to play the music too loud. Permission to feel and to mine for the feelings. Permission to express love, to be deserving of pure everlasting love.

This was the hardest list of all for me to write in. My inner principal is looking for another appointment. Summing it up, I think he wants to give me Permission to be happy.

Elizabeth gave me permission to do a creativity triage. Suggested we read this poem every day, and I will, by Louise Erdrich

Advice to Myself 

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first

what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons 
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

My hope is that I be able to play in this arena forever and that all of you who chose to join me will find your lives inspired as much as I have been by all the wonderful people around me. Enjoy your Sunday, my friends. May it be this way forever...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pirate Bounty (and lots of Booty) At KallypsoCon SUNDAYS WITH SHARON

We've had a wonderful two days at KallypsoCon. I got to meet readers I have never met. We had lots of opportunity to sit, have dinner with, and play games with readers, about half of whom were from the New England area. I had never been in New England in the fall, and, although the bright colors were gone, I still got to see the tail end of it. One more thing checked off my bucket list.

Kallypso Masters does a great job bringing together other authors and readers at every venue she's at. Her loyal fans soon became my fans, and vice versa. In the true spirit of love and friendship, we all help each other as authors, by serving the readers. A reader-centric convention is unusual in this business. In my opinion it is something I wish more conventions focused on.

So what did we do? We had panel discussions about why we write military heroes, how we got started being interested in our genre, what's new for us, and how we write. We told stories and played games that brought tears to our eyes. I met readers from the UK, from Canada, and even Puerto Rico.

There were several husbands who attended, and I was happy to see that. Great to see how they support their author wives, all of them had military backgrounds we could learn from.

Next year's KallypsoCon will be a cowboy theme, and I don't write those, so I won't be in attendance, but if you're a reader and you want to get up close and personal with some of the best cowboy writers in the business, I'd look to book your tickets for KallypsoCon in Casper, Wyoming, early. It will sell out. I already know they have a stable of great authors ready to thrill your reading needs.

We continue this morning with more craft events and some games, and more reader interaction. We had a grat time using old keys from my house fire, making necklaces that readers will enjoy for years to come. Wasn't sure how it would go over, but it was very popular. Now I get to lug that 15# anvil home!!

Sold lots of books, and networked with bloggers and several reviewers who had reviewed my books. It was an honor to be part of this group. Can't wait to get home today, but it was fun being part of this great event.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Bought this for Romance Glider's walls yesterday!
I've wanted a writing cottage for several years now. We attended a vintage trailer show recenly, and I bought this 1950 Glider for my writing cave. I need the dedicated space, where I can close a door and be in a different world, without the interruptions of daily life. Not complaining, but I have problems concentrating. My husband has been spending more and more time running his business out of the house, and, though I love him, I can't write around him and his booming voice and shuffling of papers. His personality fills the house.
My Romance Rider

My writing area, "The Bridge" is beautiful, but the house is so open, with the acoustics like a church, anything gets magnified. I don't like to have to turn my music down or change it!! So I've got my own little space to do all my crazy writer stuff in. The Glider was beiing outfitted with a new red canopy awning and arrives Tuesday!! So excited!!

Bunk beds in the rear. Middle bed. Waiting for red curtains!
This RV is fully self-contained, even having a full bath with shower. The man who restores them redid all the undercarriage, installed AC and heat and completely re-acid washed the outside and replaced the skin on one door and the roof. Everything works. All it takes is for my customizing. I have already raided the local antique market for my 1950's memorabilia, including an original Post Magazine with Perry Como on the cover, and a Marilyn Monroe calendar. I've bought Bakelike utensils and cherry juice cups. My theme will be Route 66/Romance Red.

It's 65 years old, so I won't be taking it on long trips. Except in my head. I plan to share all the pictures as I go along, but there are just a few of my faves! More to follow.
Kitchen, soon to be outfitted in red accents. My view. The chrome handles are really cool.

The interior has bunk beds in the back, perfect for babysitting grandkids, and will double as some storage. I'm working on quilting some coverings and curtains. Little by slow, because I can't drop everything to do it - got books to write - I'll have the cottage of my dreams. And how great that, just like my life, just like the house I live in, it's recycled from the past, pulling all the great things in my life forward, leaving behind what doesn't work. Hope you'll go on this journey with me.

Next year, I'm going to get a smaller trailer so I can still have that adventure with the Sisters On The Fly (remember that blog post? No men, no children, no pets, play fair). I became an honorary member in May. I intend to follow that conference. And write romance on an outing. Create a story on the road. What do you think?

LATE EDITION:  Thanks to a reader who sent this link. It applies, don't you think?  Love Shack.  Gitter on the highway...hmmmm. Love it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Band of Bachelors: Lucas Book Trailer


Releases tomorrow!
My new release, Band of Bachelors: Lucas, will be here tonight at midnight. I've loved writing this story from beginning to end. The idea first came to me when our son moved from New York City, to Park City, Utah, and then home to California. I go into this in depth in my Newsletter this month. Be sure to sign up, if you're not already a subscriber.

We get our stories from real life. You've all seen the tee-shirt: "Be nice to me or I'll put you in my book," and for some, this can be dangerous. For others, it could be flattering. I'm working on a new story this week for another anthology I'll be in that's due early November, and I've promised the real person I'd make a character that was as yummy as possible. You can bet I'll be taking all the good, and making up the bad.

DJ's experiences living with a household of bachelors in Park City was life changing. I can say here what I couldn't say in my newsletter (did you subscribe? LOL), that in addition to the fact that these men were older and divorced, they were also excommunicated (if this is the correct term) LDS members. I presume that's because of the raucous activity they participated in, namely the use of alcohol. But I imagine their language, general lifestyle and the use of "professionals" for their dating needs didn't ingratiate them to the church. It almost certainly made the possibility of a reconciliation with their wives a zero percent chance of success, on purpose. I certainly couldn't use any of that in the book, not that other authors don't, but I don't believe in knocking anyone's beliefs, whether they be traditional or otherwise. Besides, this has nothing to do with religion, but a lack of faith in something greater than themselves. My hero, Navy SEAL Lucas Shipley, eventually parts ways with them, just like DJ did.

My son came home with lots of material, and we actually had fun thinking up how we could turn this experience into some kind of TV show. The bachelors were always giving him horrible advice. Very bad advice. Being single and young, he knew he had to leave when, as he says in his words, "Mom, I'm starting to believe them."

And that's the kernel of what began to grow when I thought about the Band of Bachelors. The book trailer J.D. Hart, my awesome Storyteller and best friend, captures it perfectly.

It's always kind of cathartic when I finish one book. I never really want to say goodbye to my characters. So I try to weave people from one book into another, but not leave a future reader lost if they haven't read the whole series. It rewards the repeat and returning reader by allowing them to experience the whole chain of events, the arc of the whole team, from the first book, Accidental SEAL (still free) to the current one, Band of Bachelors: Lucas. Little novellas or boxed sets with other material are branches off the main tree of my Brotherhood. I want that tree to grow wide, have many strong arms and branches, and grow forever, or as long as my fingers and brain hold out.

So today, I prepare for my launch day. I'm not doing the crazy big parties I used to do, just trying something more generic and sane. Doing some promo today, tomorrow and during the next 2 weeks. I'd love for you to join me from 7-8 PM tonight, where I'll be at Authors Appreciation facebook event where I'll answer questions and we'll do some prizes and giveaways, and I'll also be at a live chat (my first one) from 9-10 PM Eastern at Writer Space here

Well, if you and I get to talk at a conference, or online, or in a chat, or by email or anywhere else you channel me, perhaps one day you too will become part of my story. I've been known to bend some rules and make my friends into dancers, heroines and heroes and everything in between.

Enjoy your Sunday, my friends.