Sunday, July 17, 2016

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

I have a good excuse for why this Sundays With Sharon is late. But I don't want to tell you! I'm becoming a nocturnal writer. I understand now those who are with their families during the day and then command the night to write. I have come full circle. I am one of those now.

Our tour of San Diego took us to one of the several SEAL bars (the touristy one) in SanDiego, run by a former SEAL. I make it a habit of not naming real places, so if I want to change them later, I can. That way I don't get lashed by the fact police. So, I won't tell you the name of the bar we hung out at with our little group of Coronado touristas.


The book I'm finishing now, has a beautiful sex scene before and after the arrival at the Waterwheel Inn, which is a favorite place my SEALs like to go. It is filled with romance. It just seems like the place to fall in love. It's where my SEALs spend a week's salary to take their ladies on a special night. The real name of the Inn is the Kenwood Inn. I say this because they want the publicity, and my son works there so it's good for him too.

I've used the lobby of this place in several books. It's also in one unfinished book, Be With Me, where my heroine places her palms against the glass of a case and the old pen that was once held by the strange man coming to her in her dreams rolls toward the glass all by itself. And then later she sees him looking up at her. He's standing in the mists of the azure pool at midnight, by full moon, and she is being pleasured by her then-partner, who stands behind her and does not see the vision. She will travel across space and time to find him because she instantly knows he's the love of her life.

The image of that scene is so stamped on my brain, I think it might be the last thing I think of when I finally close my eyes at the end of my days. Life was one way. My fantasy life was another way. Did I ever get there? Only time will tell.

So, when I sat at the Scupper in San Diego, I felt my SEAL Team 3 guys sitting in the corner, watching a ball game on one of the big screen TVs, or outside by the firepit watching the little hotties walk past. Fiction makes real what was formally unreal.

I bought challenge coins on the strand. I ate an ice cream like so many of my SEALs do. I put myself in my story, so I could write it from the inside out. And yes, fiercely. Because what I'm describing are not the facts, but the feeling about what it's like to be one of my characters so I can be inside their skin when I write their dialog. So I can feel like I'm on my honeymoon again, in a place where a mysterious man comes to me and I fall in love all over again, just in time for the next book.

Life is pretty darned good.




Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Little Brother Retires!

My little brother, after years of commuting from Petaluma to the City and beyond, is retiring. I'm so happy for him, for his roses, his garden, his lovely wife and his beautiful daughter. They will finally get to spend more time with this wonderful man.

Would you believe in all the years growing up and even now, we have never argued? I mean, not once! Considering how I seem to get into it with other family members from time to time - not often - but I speak my mind - we've never had a cross word. I don't know how that happened, but nothing was important enough to blow our friendship over.

Getting up to Roseville was a long 2+ hour drive in nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic. And coming home was no different. My husband drove 5 hours total yesterday, but it was so worth it. I left my purse there, but luckily my daughter will return it to me today.

Darrell has lots of things he wants to do with his time - volunteer work and things he's never had time for until now.

Will I ever retire? I laugh to think my YOUNGER brother is retiring. Do any of us ever really retire? I don't think so. Not if we have a long, loving and family or friend-filled life. Not if we do the things of our heart and soul. Not if we bring value and love to other people's lives.

Our parents are gone, but I think the spirit of their love and support was there yesterday. We shared many memories of family events from the past, and many of the cousins and relatives from nearby, some driving greater distances, shared in the celebration. We miss those gone, but we celebrate life and life's changes.


Oh yes, and I got to pass out some bookmarks. Like I said, I don't think I'll ever retire. And that's a good thing, right?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

CELEBRATING FREEDOM In All Its Forms

I'm reading a great new book co-written by one of my favorite authors, Laura Kaye, also known as Laura Kamoie for her historical books, America's First Daughter. It is so fitting that this weekend, as we celebrate our nation's independence, that we review some events that took place in the lives of key players at the birth of this new nation. This book is about Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Patsy, and her relationship with her mother, her father, and the woman who was her blood relative who also became Jefferson's lover, bearing several children for him, and remained at his side until his death, Sally Hemmings.

I have said over and over again the truth is stranger than fiction, and this story is no exception to that. The two authors researched over 18,000 personal letters written to and from Jefferson, and gives us a good glimpse of what it was like to live during those dangerous times. The details of their circumstances and the closeness between Mrs. Jefferson, and the slaves she "owned", inherited from her father, all the while recognizing that some of them were her half-siblings, shows what a remarkable woman she was. Her daughter, Patsy, would come to know the playmate she had as a child, rumored to be her relative as well, become her father's long companion after her mother's death. To say this very public and important family had issues and secrets, is putting it mildly. The story, as told by the daughter, Patsy, is so riveting it plays like a movie and I forget where I am while reading it.

While I can't begin to write a historical novel, I was first drawn to the book because I have a futuristic novel I'm currently working on, involving a direct descendent of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. There are similar themes, such as the concept of Freedom, the price and meaning of Independence, and the true definition of Liberty. And yes, that's all you're gonna get today. You'll be seeing some excerpts in the coming weeks and months when I'm ready to finish it. My tenative title, while I work on the story, is Free To Love.

They say circumstances don't make a man, they reveal a man. What I enjoy reading, and writing, are stories that acquaint us intimately with characters who make decisions in a hopelessly flawed and dangerous timeline. Moral absolutes become sometimes life-threatening and compromised. Often the decisions are between the lesser of two evils than the difference between a shining star and a grease stain. I love the rich conflict of this story, and hope that some of that will rub off into mine.

America's First Daughter helps me understand how precious our freedoms are, and appreciate the costs others who came before had to pay for that freedom I enjoy today.

Remember, evil exists when good men do nothing. If good men did nothing, we might still be a colony, struggling under the yoke of a controlling empire. Or, we might all be speaking German. Maybe with all the events happening this July 4th weekend, we would do well to remember that.

They say freedom isn't free. Are you willing to pay the price? Some of us may have to. And some of us are innocents, but just like those who lived and died during the times of our young struggling nation. Not just soldiers paid the price. Their families and loved ones did too. And in the end, it was worth it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

FALL IN LOVE WITH AS MANY THINGS AS POSSIBLE

I admit to being somewhat of a tee shirt junkie. But it's also my uniform. I should hang them in my closet on hangers, instead of folding them, and get rid of some of the St. John suits and jackets I'll probably never wear again. Letting go is hard for me. St. John has been replaced with tee shirts.

This one spoke to me, and if I'm not careful, I'll be buying everything in their online catalog. You know me already: 100 Koi, 60 Chickens. I'm a collector of things, not only stories.

So last night was so wonderful, attending my 50th high school reunion. Palo Alto was not the town it is today. It has grown, and in the maturing process, I'm glad to see some are still holding warmly like an old teddy, the roots that made it so magical. We were a collection of kids from differing backgrounds, able to come together and share our commonness, politely and with respect. Can you believe I never heard a word of politics? And we had a Congresswoman there! How refreshing!

They even warmly welcomed this smut author! What a treat for me. I actually had been a little apprehensive of it. Now I wonder why.

Funny how life's importance changes through the years. Not about what we do, but what we've experienced. What we've loved. We loved living here. We love being from here. I could live here again, but then, I say that every place I visit, don't I?

Do I regret there is no longer a way to have a little bungalow somewhere near downtown Palo Alto so I could dip into that familiar pool, have stimulating conversations and perhaps re-experience what a magical place it was growing up?

I regret my children didn't have this experience like I did. Maybe it was the year, the times, and a whole host of magical things converging to make it so. Maybe it was us. Maybe it was fate that so many leaders and great people came from this group. So many of us have changed people's lives, and still live to tell stories about the process and enjoy the prospects for a bright future.

I go home filled up. My tank being nourished from the completion of my last audio book, Band of Bachelors: Alex, and spending time with my best friend, J.D. Hart. Maybe it's from spending time with people who understand who I was then, and who I am now. (Not everything, but enough so that I feel appreciated). How special to reminisce about wearing 3 pairs of stockings we got for .33 each in those little blue boxes, so many that our garter belts sometimes flipped open when we walked down the hallways.

And like a true romance novelist, I want to know who they loved, what moved them, and what they are looking forward to. Not what is gone.

Life happens when we are making other plans. John Lennon is credited with this quote, and I think it's the wisest thing he's said.

If I could, would I move back? Or, would I take up another adventure, perhaps living on a beach in English Bay on Antigua where I'd have to take a motor ferry to get to my cottage? I think I'd choose the latter.


There is still so much for me to explore, but at the same time, it's so nice to feel like I've come home.

Yesterday was like that for me. What about you?






Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Art of Being a Father



Being a father isn't automatic. I think the biggest test of fatherhood is being one when times are stressed, tough, when your kids are perhaps not as grateful as they should be, when you've made mistakes you are ashamed of, when life seems to post more challenges than the day is long.

Often we overlook the difficult times when we talk about fatherhood. Taking resonsibility for a child created out of wedlock (a favorite of mine in romance tropes), being there to love a child who someone else brought into the world are two of my biggies.

Because a true test of a man isn't what's in his pants, but what's in his heart. The gentle part of a man is what we herald today. Yes, we need and love the protection his loving arms brings, so that we feel safe, so that we find the courage to go on when times are tough. And I feel sorry for those men who cannot find it in themselves to really love and cherish a woman, or a child.

One of my favorite stories of fatherhood was when I was about 3. My father told it to me when I was an adult, and I didn't know this story until he told me, with love. We were standing in my grandmother's big kitchen, at the parsonage in Napa. She had a large gas stove that had grease drawers, about 1/2" deep, one on the right and one on the left.

I came up to dad. "Daddy, do you want a cracker?"
He answered, "Well, sure."
I went to the grease drawer and pulled out one for him and one for me and handed it to him.

I had found this place, my secret hiding space where none of the adults would look to find the crackers I'd been given as a reward, and saved for a rainy day, or a day when I could give something back to my dad.

I love that image. I loved loving my dad, who, sadly, is now gone. But his heart and the love he gave me lives on forever. Thank you, Dad. I am richer and blessed because of you.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Intensity, Borderline Personality Disorders and Character Creation

The writer in me experiences many, many personality disorders in designing and growing characters I use in my books. I don't always have more than a kernel of that disorder, but sometimes, these can hit me square in the middle of my chest and I feel like a bug stuck on a pin in a collection, retired in a drawer at a museum. I can't escape the pain of knowing there's a big part of me in that character's flawed side, not their good side.

My new release involves the relationship between two high-intensity individuals. What might be a turnoff for one person in a relationship, becomes something totally attractive to another. In the beginning, neither one knows if they can trust their own judgment. They both have histories of making bad choices. In the end, they actually do know each other better than they thought, they rely on instincts that serve them well. There is always the Happily Ever After, of course, or it wouldn't be a romance.

"Here, rising from the stupor of a love-lust indulgence, his heart still racing with the intensity of their lovemaking, becoming as close as he possibly could be to her, this magical angel who had stumbled into his life, he had no defense. Nor did he seek cover. He was as engaged as he could be without wearing her skin. But even that he would do if it would bring him more of the pleasure of her being."

I try not to show it, but I have a high intensity life and lifestyle. There are times when this serves me, and others when it can be destructive. I show up for both. I pay attention to both.

I can remember sitting at dinner during my college years, and someone was asking me why I analyzed people so much. "Why not just accept them for who they are?" I looked in horror at that person. It was like I was being asked why I breathed.

I suspect everyone does their own private analytical version, but perhaps some on a more subconscious level than others. I use them to create the thread of the personalities in the stories I write, so it is front and center for me. And yes, I make up stories all the time about people, which doesn't cause me a problem, unless it is someone I'm very close to and I'm wrong.

So, walking that tightrope of personality disorder, addiction to adrenaline and intensity, bleeds over into my personal life as well. I think writers, actors and other artists tend to have this happen to them frequently. I don't call it an occupational hazard. It's that we live in several different worlds, not just one. One world would not work for me. It would be boring. And none of them are less "real," whatever that means.

Do I have to become like the character inside to write him or her? Does an actor need to become that person when they act? Or, is it possible to know the difference between where I stop and the character begins? And does it matter?


I guess that's what keeps me writing. I get to live in this character, in their world for a bit. I dress it up, dash it, reorganize it and then present it with a neat little bow, all put together the way the pieces should in a 1000 piece puzzle. I get to answer the question, "What if..." like I did the first time I wrote a story.

And I learn to have patience with myself and the process. I take off my robes of many colors and decompress, until the next fantasy. Now, isn't that all real, after all?

https://youtu.be/HjCSGhcywRc



Sunday, May 29, 2016

CAN I HAVE SOME ASPARAGUS WITH THOSE SWEET PEAS?

I've been enjoying all the wonderful blooms from the garden lately, and the beginning vegetables. Picked these lovely sweet peas (love them because they only last a day or two, and they only bloom for a short while but are so lovely!). This year, I'm trying to find my asparagus.

We'd let the garden from years past get overrun. (Truth? I planted 5 horseradish plants and it took over). Successive helpers continued rototilling it until I had bits of horseradish, probably 200 plants coming up all over.

It took a man 2 days to dig them all up last year. I have still a few that pop up, but they are manageable.


So now I'm discovering my asparagus! I had some beautiful purple giant ones coming up before, and I've seen 2-3 so far this year. My famous saying is: My Garden Isn't Dead. It's Sleeping.

So, when I was picking sweet peas this morning, I got the little asparagus tip too. It will make it to my dinner plate tonight...

Hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day. Remembering all the things we get to have and experience because others stepped up and made the sacrifice. Can't say thank you enough. Our

flag is sometimes tattered, like our gardens that are barren and overrun with weeds, but if we continue to remember those sacrifices and never lose the passion in our lives, the bloom of new life will always return.

Always.