Sunday, October 16, 2016


I'm writing this now at 30k feet, flying into SFO in a couple of hours. I got up early, so my apologies for not having this post out there sooner.

It was fun to get my batteries charged up. Funny how the attention of fans makes one feel excited, even more excited about the craft than we normally do. We hear those stories about what our books have meant to people, help celebrate other people's successes. I look at covers, and marketing and SWAG.

I came away thinking I need to be very choosy about where I go next year. I've already committed to some good ones. Some are new, some repeats, some I will skip for a year. My time is valuable writing. Those are my most expensive "billable" hours. I need to protect it at all costs. There's always that writing retreat, book signing, author event that looks too good to be true and tempts me. Especially when all my friends are going. I'm going to exercise the word "no" a lot more.

Naughty Nashville was good for me. So was the Unmask The Passion event in Valley Forge earlier in the month. I liked them mainly because everyone was so excited and happy to be there. There wasn't much in the way of drama (that I saw), and readers showed up not to browse, but to buy. So, attending those will require I say no to others, and I will. Valley Forge gave me a taste of history, which I loved as an added bonus.

I also learned that readers are inundated with free books, ARCS and overcommitted to Street Teams and Reader Groups. They're more overwhelmed than the authors sometimes! Reviewers are running behind. Readers avidly want to meet new authors, get surprised with new genres, books and series. My job as an author is to attract new readers, while giving my "one-click" readers material they'll devour.

I don't think there is such a thing as a One Size Fits All way of being a successful author. I see things I like and will try. I see some things that don't work and I don't have to spend time or energy trying. Success is one thing to one person and another to another. Even my own definition of success has changed several times this year.

But when the day is over and I head off to bed at night, the only thing I want to say is, "I did the best I could." That means I wrote my best, edited my best, said thank you more than I received praise, was kind to people I want to throw my computer at, and kept myself focused. I didn't gossip, envy, complain or make excuses. I did my job. and my job--my only job--is writing.

If I do my job well, then I get to spend more and more time in my fantasy world of my own creation. I'm happier there. It's safer there. It's the stuff of magic, and creating magic is what I'm all about. Give me make believe over anything REAL any day.

Some day I'll go there and stay forever. But in the meantime, there are a lot of stories to tell, tales to spin, and people to delight.

What a glorious job that is!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Valley Forge Celebration

Last weekend I attended a book signing at Valley Forge, at the Freedom Foundation Center building, hosted by Renee Fisher and A.L. Wood. I'd never been to Valley Forge before, and it moved me greatly.

I trust my gut instincts when it comes to events. This one was on my list because I have a lot of readers in the area, and I'd never been here before. I try to switch where I go so I can network with readers. As next year comes around, I will be cutting back, or hopefully so, so I'm going to be careful with my time and money. But Renee and I began emailing back and forth, and I found a new, warm friend, and one who I hope to get to know even more as the years go by.

As events went, it was wonderful, especially with all the planning Renee and her team did. Awesome fans, and people helping her. But the whole area was what made it even more special to me. Cloaked in history, I found myself so moved, it was hard for me not to cry as I toured the State Park and looked at the history of my country.

Remember, politics is completely separate from love of country. I wish it wasn't so, but especially this year, it is. Somehow, as a country we muddle through, because of the foundation that was laid nearly 250 years ago now. I was struck with the sacrifice, not only in terms of life, but title, fortunes lost and titles or privileges removed, including the impact the Revolutionary War had on Native Americans, who fought with either side. Their fortunes were caught up in the war as well. It happened again in the American Civil War.

It's been said more than once that we form an imperfect union. And yet, this union has withstood the battles of nasty elections, strife, intrigue, treachery, greed, and the life blood of the nation, a belief in a principle far greater than all of us combined: freedom. The quote that comes to me when I think about walking around the Valley Forge center is: "I never said it was going to be easy. I said it was going to be worth it."

In California, we don't have these types of monuments to honor our history of this time period. We have very few patriotic displays in California. Our local post office just repainted their lobby, and they took down all the pictures of the men and women serving in the military, some of whom bore gold stars, which was erected after 9-11. How things change, go back to the way they were before. I see fewer and fewer American flags and more and more bumper stickers for campaigns. I haven't had a political sticker on my car since I had the "Reelect Nobody" back in the 1990's. "Wag More. Bark Less" is another one I had for years.

As I had my tomato soup in the bar at the hotel after the signing, looking at the celebrations of two wedding parties, the glasses crushed, hugs given and kisses shared, the loudness of people celebrating and just going on with their lives, I was pulled back to what George Washington would think if he were sitting with me.

I don't know that I would have an adequate explanation for how our country has fared, except to say, we've made it this far. I hope we will continue. We continue to right some of the terrible wrongs of the past, we continue to try to hold up our system of laws and government that has proven to be the most stable in the whole world. I was reminded about what a special country we have here, how it's bloody roots were hard fought, and how much I appreciate the sacrifices. And just like the fallen heroes, the best thing I can do to honor them all is just to go on. Not give up. Keep the memory of the miracle that is this nation alive in my heart. And maybe to remind others.

Valley Forge is a place everyone should see. 10% of the men who wintered over here that third year into the war were diseased and would eventually not see the spring. Another 10% didn't even have shoes to wear. Dissertions were high, expectations were at an all time low. Our Commander In Chief knew that even in the worst of times, it was the time to prepare. The outcome of the war was uncertain. Philadelphia had been lost. Washington looked across the Delaware, and envisioned a country and it's freedom.

And he decided it was worth it. All those men did. They trained. They healed, those who could, and they got equipment and clothing, often having to seize it from local inhabitants who also needed the clothing and equipment, and sometimes at gunpoint. Loyalties were tested. The army of Washington faced a better armed British army, larger and better trained than our rag-tag Patriots in the Spring. And the Patriots eventually won.

It took 7 years. Even years later things were not stable. I complain about our political season lasting so long. But those woes are peanuts compared to what was fought, and lost during those 7 precious years. Families who were lost, sacrificed, interrupted by something bigger than themselves.

In the end, it was worth it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

GLAMPING! - Sin On Wheels with Romance Rider

Last year I made a minor investment in my writing career by purchasing a 1950 Glider. It's 27' and she's all original. A fragile babe, like me.

I had my eyes opened to Glamping, which is, camping with trailers, but tricking them out. So here are some pictures that are inspirations to me. My Glider, named, Romance Rider, will be just as cute, but I'm waiting until the power gets turned on, I have a cold refrig for my drinks, so I can run a blender and a coffee maker, and have air conditioning.

I used the idea of Glamping in my new novella, Love Me Tender, Love You Hard. My hero, Derek, interviews for a job at a wild animal park nearby, run by a former SEAL with one leg. Oh yes, you're gonna love this "sweet" novella, (told someone else today my editor is probably going to think I'm writing from a hospital bed), full of quirks and twists. Short, and to the point. All that a novella should be in a Kindle World.

So glamping is a new thing people do now. I know people who collect old trailers for their backyards used as pool houses, or guest houses. Some of the wineries in our valley have started using them in the Air B&B craze, and people pay hundreds of bucks to stay in them now. Especially cool are vintage Airstreams.

While not an Airstream, Glider was made by a sister company who also made (you guessed it), airplane gliders.

I've given you an interior look at my plain Glider. There are two videos:  One,  Two.  More to come. But after a year, it's finally in place. We wanted to build a firm pad to protect the frame, an overhang to product the beautiful aluminum finish and protect it also from the leaves and elements in general. We'll have a deck and two lawn chairs and who knows what else. I even bought a stopsign and a no parking sign.

So tell me, are you a glamour girl or guy? Would you come glamping with me? Just think of the adventures we could have together!

Warning!! If you click on some of these images, you'll be hooked!

Some Glamping ideas from around the world here.
Glamping in Wine Country
Flippin RVs TV Show
Wanna Buy One? Subscribe to a Blog?
Sisters On The Fly for sale
1949 Glider - Tin Can Tourist

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rich Like Chocolate. Warm Like Fresh Bread From The Oven. Passionate Like A Stolen Kiss. Living A Life Of Passion.

Yesterday was one of those days where the pieces just fell into place, where I got to practice some of the things I've been speaking about to several groups over the last few weeks. I got to play with purpose and passion.

Writing is a practice. Living a passionate life is a practice. So is raising a family, maintaining a long-term relationship, re-bonding with good friends and creating new exciting ones. Often I get caught up in what I'm NOT doing instead of celebrating what I do have.

In the writing community sometimes there is this "mouse in the wheel" effect. We want to do everything we are drawn to, or see others do. We wish we had the money or time or other resources to do it all. But the plain fact of the matter is that we can't. We have limits.

But limits are good!

Testing limits is how we get great. We don't start out great, we practice at it until we get there. Or, perhaps we never get there, but we strive for it. We apply pressure, we PUSH OUR LIMITS. We learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Everyone has different limits and everyone pushes at different levels. How hard we push or how hard we stretch is based on how hard we want that goal, or that change.

Marina Adair has been a friend of mine since my first RWA chapter meeting almost six years ago. It seemed like there was so much to learn, so much to do, it was overwhelming. But we both had the same excitement for writing, and although we both took different paths, we both got to experience stretching our limits and achieving goals we never even thought possible.

I'm amazed at how sometimes old friendships can turn into new opportunities and connections, and lead the way to more magic and mayhem. Because there is certainly a little mayhem too! None of us does this crazy thing called being an author alone. We give each other a hand up. Just like we have readers who tell other people about our work, people we work with who help make us shine and help spread the word. It does indeed take a community to make an author. It takes a life of watching and pressing against the walls, to become a great mentor to others, and a great writer worth reading.

Living with some degree of stress (my old mentor said if you didn't want any stress in your life, have them surgically remove your brain and spinal cord, and float it in a saline solution for the rest of your life) is actually healthy for us. Putting it in terms of loving someone -- we are driven to give them our best, because we care about what they think We are passionate about a relationship when we take the time to celebrate and treat it like the precious box of delights that relationship is.

I'm enjoying my venture in Marina's St. Helena Vineyards Kindle World. I'm also grateful for some of the good as well as the not so good things that have happened to me during my journey to get to this point. I'm not done, but I promise you, whatever comes next will be done full-on and with as much passion as I can stuff into my brain and my heart.

Because nothing else you can take with you. And that's a practice too.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


As we honor and memorialize the 9-11 anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, I'm reminded, again, how we are all connected. Forever.

We watched the towers fall from our television set in California, while on the phone with our son, who was attending NYU. He watched from the dorms some 26 blocks away.

I didn't know until later that I lost a member of my graduating class at Gunn in Palo Alto. Or that later I'd lose another member of my class in an attack on the UN offices in Algeria. I will never forget, as I'm sure most of you will never forget, where you were when you heard the news. We go forward with heavy hearts, but it never gets old to remember those who sacrificed so much. If we are truly to live, we need to do this as a world. It goes far beyond country, religion or cultural ethnicity. It is a scar on the landscape of the whole world, healed by love and remembrance.

Yesterday I spoke to the San Francisco chapter of Romance Writers of America. My topic was on becoming an Elite Warrior Indie Author. I've had the good fortune to meet, interview and be mentored by some of the greatest minds of today. Hopefully, I brought some of that to focus for the group.

A highlight of the day was that a group of readers came all the way from Sacramento to visit!  It became clear to me, as I was preparing my talk, that our stories, once they leave us, no longer belong to us, but belong to the readers. How perfect that they were there.

We all want the easy walk, the life without conflict, tooling down the road of success and happiness like the resolutions in our romance novels. But reality isn't like that at all. The beauty of the fabric of life is that we are all connected. We share our lives with each other. We share our stories. We share our tears, and we share how we all move on.

Thank you for being part of my journey.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Survival of the Coffee Drinkers, Sundays With Sharon

One memorable time I was at Acre Coffee in Santa Rosa, I witnessed a couple flirting and dropping notes to each other. He dropped a note to her. She opened it, smiled, wrote something in response, and, thinking no one was watching, dropped it off at his lap on the way to the bathroom. He smiled and did the same. It went on for several minutes. Did they leave together? I hope so, but I missed that part, having to make my own pit stop. My romance mind wanted to think they were strangers about to hook up. But wouldn't it be nice if it was a prearranged date between a very long-term couple?

Why don't we do this after years of marriage or long-term relationships? Well, if I knew that answer, I'd be selling that seminar out there. I suspect it's because as we age, we carve off the wild and crazy parts of ourselves, in favor of the more predictable parts that perhaps cause us less pain. I don't know about you, but I used to love jumping around with the full pot of coffee on Sunday mornings - working in the garden in cutoffs and braless, listening to Chinese music or an NPR interview. If it were today, perhaps a TED Talk blaring out over the 2 acre apple orchard we lived in back then, with a landlord from Columbia we thought might be a drug dealer. Oh my.

I often wonder what our neighbors thought of us. More than 23 cars, working at night because we felt like it with spotlights in the garden. Dancing. Running naked through the sprinklers. Oh yes, there was that day when I had to get in 13 cars in my little white uniform to get one that ran so I could go to work. And that vehicle was a 1941 Flatbed International truck we'd driven back from Indiana on a "vacation." You know those kinds? Drove to Indiana to look at the truck in 36 hours, via Minnesota to deliver a car to a serviceman coming home and it was a free ride (except for gas). We probably didn't have the money at the time to afford a plane ride, so it would have been a bus ticket home for us. But we bought the truck, and then in Illinois bought me a 1953 Chevy.

I even hitchiked in Baja, back in the day, when it was sort of safe. Met up with a couple of guys from LA and drove all around the back streets in a looooooong red Cadillac convertable. I had more to drink than I ever had before...a lost weekend for sure. But that's another story for another time before I was married...Back to the green Chevy.

I used that green-two-toned Chevy years later when I started to sell Real Estate. People would walk out of their houses to look at it, when I doorknocked neighborhoods. I had the old Girl Scout photo I used in the ads. Even put all 4 of my kids in the back of the car and took a picture, for my brochure (remember those?). I even took all 4 of the kids to City Council meetings and listing appts., which guaranteed they wouldn't go over a half hour long.

Oh those coffee days. A wandering heart way back then. Trying to be responsible, but skirting the edges at the same time.

I think about all these times when I lament getting older. No one can ever take these away from me. And I wouldn't trade a minute for anything. I enjoyed my freedom then, and I enjoy it now even more.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nesting and Making Space for the Miraculous: Sundays With Sharon

I've been perusing a couple of little books lately. An old standby for me is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Moving On, which is no longer in print, but you can buy here for .01 in hard bound. I literally highlighted every other page in this book after the devastating fire that took our house and many of our valuables in 2008. Miraculously, because I had hired someone (Connie) to help me sort and archive things, all my family photographs were spared. Several boxes I'd recently inherited from my mother weren't yet unpacked and were also spared. But all my old family jewelry, the doll my great great grandmother came over with from Scotland and her box, and a braid of my other great grandmother's hair perished.

The house we had lived in before the fire was one of those I "settled" for and never should have. It was all we could afford, since we were raising 4 kids. The unfinished projects and the Mystery House effect didn't bother me because we were warm and safe. And we were saving for college educations.

Luckily, my kids either got partial scholarships, or went into the military. After they were all gone, my husband and I were left with literally this empty shell of a monstrosity. And then the fire took it all away.

I was grateful in a way. I got to spend time designing a house I would be happy living in. So Moving On was a great book for me. After a messy divorce, she was literally starting her writing career and her life all over again. I did something similar. Gave up my once successful life as a Realtor, for the life of a romance writer. We weathered a couple of very rough years financially and emotionally as well. We were attempting to heal.

Until I started planning my new house, I didn't realize what a toll those 23 years of living in that unfinished and quirky house had taken on me. I began to read about making spaces I would love, things that inspired me, like when SBB found "Newton's Cottage".

When I read this comment, I was stopped in my tracks. It changed the direction of my life forever, as I pondered writing romance in a new house:

"Rosemary Sullivan (SBB had written about her treatise on falling obsessively in love) is meditating on the emotion women feel when they fall in love at first sight with men; I'm the one making the leap to house fever because I've succumbed to both. Suddenly, without warning (or so it seems) the trajectory of a woman's life changes, becoming "a vicarious route to some essential part of herself that she does not yet fully recognize or understand." The Beloved becomes "the heroic territory she longs to occupy."

She thinks she's found him--or home. (We say we feel "at home" with our true love). Interestingly, the name of the greatest lover of all time, Casanova, means 'new house.'"

My professional organizer, Connie, came back to my house this week, and she mapped out some ideas for me to ponder and work on until she comes back on Tuesday and we spend a couple of hours getting my writing area, which includes the writing computer and the packaging and blogging area, organized. "You're going to have to decide what Sharon lives here," she said as she walked around my space. Oddly enough, the office I once had, was given to my husband, who wanted to spend more time working from home. So, I was given the "bridge" - the walkway outside our bedrooms, but overlooking the gardens below and the living and dining areas below. And a "bridge" is what it's been. A place between two parts of me not yet put together properly. I have my gardens, and I have my bedroom. Between those two, is my writing. It's been growing faster than the garden and is less calm than the bedroom. The pad is unfinished to accept my Glider, so this bridge I'm finally making peace with. Instead of being temporary, I'm making it permanent. For now.

So, I'm throwing out things, moving things, clearing a space, a landing space so I can work on my projects. And as I'm doing so, I'm thinking about all those Sharons I am. Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, inspired and magical being.

I don't yet have a space of my own belonging, as Sara BanBreathnach writes about. But I have a place I can create from. It isn't an end game, I realize as I clean out, purge and choose. It's just the beginning of the Sharon I am becoming.

And that excites me totally!