Sunday, February 19, 2017

SEAL Of Time (Paranormal SEAL, Trident Legacy) or the Water of Love

I'm having a good time with a little novella, taking a break to finish my project due in March, SEAL Of Time, about the son of Poseidon. I'm doing this as a collaborative venture with Kathryn LeVeque. Our boys are from different earthly mothers, as Poseidon is known for loving mortal females. Their mothers have long passed, but the boys are also immortal, and may be able to father immortal children.

You know, if you've read any of my books, I like orphans, half-breeds and heroes who don't fit into the scheme of things, yet can come together to form a bond with others and in that capacity, become part of the glue of a powerful team. In romance, we want the hero to have major conflicts, especially when it comes to love, or the power of love in their lives. Try as they might, love is just too powerful for them and they all fall, one by one.

So we like opposites in our heroes and heroines. In my SEAL Of Time story in the Trident Legacy duet, my son of Poseidon has qualities he inherited from his father and his birthplace, the fierce ocean, as well as those of his mother, the grounding influences of a mortal woman on earth. He doesn't fit into either world, except to exist as a warrior defender of mankind. And yet, the conflict comes when he falls in love. Will this affect his mission to protect mankind? And is this a selfish move on his part, or the calling to which he was destined, now realized?

Here's a little excerpt of the character (unedited):

            He knew dolphins to be some of the happiest of fish, and he fully understood their drive to follow the large vessels that frequented the open waterways, exercising to capacity, and becoming one with the iron behemoths that traveled there. It wasn’t that they enjoyed playing with the big shipping traffic, they couldn’t help themselves. They were engineered so that they had no choice in the matter.

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            His directive alerted him to a possible foreign object some mile or two away, so he sped up to search for its origin and meaning, not wanting to put the pod of friendlies in danger. Though the dolphins were not human, they possessed enough human traits that they remained a species, like humans, he was honor bound to protect.
            The object was beneath the surface, propelled by some enclosed motor without external blades or bubbles, except for one curious detail. Attached to the rear of the object was a human male form, as if they formed some symbiotic relationship. The speed of the combined object and man made him consider perhaps this was a new life form: half man, half machine. The man’s torso was encased in a rubbery sharkskin type fabric. His face and head was covered in a mask with glass portholes.
            Poseidon’s son hung back so those portholes wouldn’t turn and focus on him. He swirled around the man, searching him from all sides.
            As if realizing some big mammal had tacked him, the man sped up. Tay heard the muted whir of an incredibly advanced motor. He saw the displacement of water coming from a tube the size of his finger, still without bubbles. As he crossed paths with the rivulet, his gills sensed the chemical of some sort of rebreathing apparatus.
            Ingenious! He’d heard of such things, but never seen one. Man’s inventions were an enigma to him, as they allowed their human species to defy their birthright and do the impossible, live in waters they wouldn’t be able to on their own, soar through the sky and drill through the earth.
            As the device continued to speed up, Tay joined him, like the dolphins, unable to resist satisfying his curiosity. He cloaked his body just in case the human’s vision was enhanced, so he could be undetected. The cloaking was warm, as his body heat was not allowed to dissipate into the cold ocean, much like the man’s sharkskin suit. It would continue to heat up the faster he went, sometimes even causing a small chafing burn he’d have to heal when he got back on land.
            The man’s body was well developed and efficient in muscle, with thighs much larger than most human males he’d seen. Unlike Tay, the man had flexible rubber blades attached to his feet, which helped steer and propel him further.



I hope you enjoy this new series. I know I am!!
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Where Stories Are Born

I find meeting other authors, readers and the social interaction with people in general to be very stimulating. I percolate with ideas whenever I come back from a conference, or signing or get-together. I am planning on some serious brainstorming with one of my writing buddies, Carolyn Jewel, at the San Francisco Indie UnCon later this month.

Just got back from the Love and Fifty in Sacramento last weekend, and saw the Fifty Shades movie with a whole theater of other romance writers and their reader fans. Now I want to buy a theater somewhere and put in those wonderful lounge chairs and serve beer and wine like they do in Portland...Okay, in my next life...Show nothing but romance 24/7. How about rented cubbies on the side where writers could work while watching the screen? Have a sound-proof office so you can turn off the dialogue or add your own music?

The possibilities are endless!

So everything I do, see and feel goes into my books. People ask me all the time where all the stories come from, or whether or not I'll ever run out. They come from everywhere! Watch out! Spend time with a writer and you'll be immortalized! That's more than a promise, it's a fact!


What makes a good romance story is that you can count on the HEA. Sometimes it's cataclysmic, sometimes it's subtle, yet speaks volumes. But between the beginning and that HEA ending, we go on a journey together and the writer stretches the boundaries, takes the reader on twists and turns of the unexpected, all to arrive at the expected (but not too predictable) outcome. I like it when I read a book and I'm screaming, "No! Bad decision. Don't go there!" and yet I know that that decision leads to a series of events that becomes part of the outcome, which could have never happened without those decisions.

Some say we writers like to torture our readers. Man, it does affect me when I have to have a breakup scene, or when the hero or heroine thinks the other is either lost or has been rejected. It hurts me as much as it hurts you, the reader. I've cried while writing in coffee shops and drawn some attention from well-meaning people around me, consoling me, until they find out I'm just a writer.

Spending a few hours talking to my 90 year-old-step mom brought out another series of stories you wouldn't expect after visiting her retirement home. Love blooms, friends become enemies, and politics infuses every aspect of our culture, of the world's culture. There's drama everywhere, regardless of the circumstances and regardless of age.

No, I'm not going to start writing Octogenarian Romance, although I've got a story there too. But I've got an idea that could start there.

Tropes are timeless, regardless of genre or age of the characters. An inciting incident can happen in a Retirement Community or in a shopping mall, as well as on a desert island. Because wherever there are people, there are relationships. The story of those relationships is what we write, how people both lose love and find it again, which is the story of hope that is in so many romance novels.

So, as we get ready to celebrate the Love Holiday with those who mean so much to us, let's remember the opening of the heart as the most worthwhile endeavor man has ever done. It is the one hope that every child seeks, every adult desires, at every age. It is the one thing we can't get too much of, as the song goes.

And the one thing we need more now than ever before. Let's celebrate together. You know that quote from Love, Actually? "Let's all get the s**t kicked out of us by love." I think that's fine advice. Couldn't have said it better myself!




Sunday, February 5, 2017

BEING A BEST FRIEND AND BIG SISTER TO MYSELF


The recent celebration with my granddaughter, who was chosen as Student Of The Month, inspired this post. Her standard, adorned with her funny picture and smiling face, chronicles all her favorite likes. It is an award for the whole student she is, not just the academic part. It's a "Hey, look at me, and this is who I am!"

Social media has made it possible for me to interact with my readers and other author friends, essentially saying the same thing: "look at me!" I work on writing things that readers and others will want to hear about, not just about my books, but the journey, things that might be interesting about my life and the ups and downs of it. As authors, we invite others in. We call it "being sticky" in the business.

It takes years to develop a following, to brand a name or series, or to be known for something. And then we try to give readers something different, ask them to go on another journey, expand their tastes a bit. Sometimes it works, others it doesn't.

There is no magic formula. In the meantime, and between the highs and the lows there is one constant. For the most part, I think I've been pretty good with it: confidence in ourselves. My goal is to be a good writer for my readers, but for myself, my job is to stay positive, and to continually be my own best friend.

I've probably told this story before, but one day in Real Estate I'd listed a big home, got another one sold, made my designated number of contacts (44 per day) and coached several other agents on coaching calls. I closed a big escrow. It was a huge day for me, spoken in terms of "deals" as 7, my record at the time. I was on cloud 9. I drove home, and on the way passed a house with a competing sign in the front yard. Those were my people! How dare they? But the truth was, they'd chosen someone else when I thought I had it in the bag.

I drove up my driveway feeling dejected, a failure. I was grumpy and tossing things around, making lots of noice in the kitchen. My kids picked up on it immediately and we discussed it. "What do you mean, Mom? You had a great day!"

And they were right. I'd forgotten the cardinal rule of mine, a rule I'd taught agents for years: "Give yourself that pat on the back. Be your own best friend first." By being upset I didn't do 100%, I completely wiped out all my previous wins. Big mistake.

Writing is lonely and most people would be surprised to learn how insecure we can be as writers. We wonder what happens when a reader we used to hear a lot from doesn't communicate any longer. We think it's us, and not something going on with them and their lives. We take compliments sometimes and judge the sincerity of them when we just should be grateful for the compliment in the first place! We don't encourage ourself or celebrate our wins.

I'm going to a collage/art class today up at Bishop's Ranch. It's the first class in a series of 5 given by the resident artist there. Like when I quilt and when I garden, doing something else than writing brings me new life and I come away feeling so good about myself and what I'm doing. I'm launching into two new series, and completing one trilogy. Spring is almost here and my daffodils are coming up.

Loved this blog post the other day, here which talks about some of the same issues. Have a fabulous Sunday my lovelies!!

Remember, you are exceptional!!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

SOME OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: SEAL STUFF!!

Yes. I'm all in for SEALs. I have some precious mementos, collected during my journey as romance writer. One of the most cherished items is my plank from the Navy SEAL/UDT Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida. I am a supporter of the museum, and have donated a portion of all my sales there for years, as well as raised money from quilts we've had made and auctioned off.

This last year we earned over $400 on our Operation Aloha Shirt Quilt project. I rounded it up and we sent $500 to the Museum. This quilt contains Aloha shirts sent to me by people from all over the US, lovingly stitched together by Sandie Greis, and quilted by the women of the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, the oldest of this group who is 90 years old.

When a SEAL detaches from his Team, he is given a plank, like the one in the picture. I was so surprised when I received this. If you ever want to learn about the history of the Teams, how they came to be and how they have developed, you'll love spending a day there. This museum is run by the SEAL community, friends and family of the community. No Federal funds are used for its support.

Another of my cherished possessions is a signed autograph by the man who eliminated OBL, Rob O'Neill, who says "SEALs are sexy!" It hangs just above my plank from the Museum. Thank you, Rob, and thank you Cherokee and J.D. Hart for helping me get this cherished gift.

I received a Challenge Coin from Anne Elizabeth's former Navy SEAL husband. Anne (who also writes Navy SEAL Romance) and I were in an anthology together a couple of years ago, along with a dozen other of my favorite military romance author friends. Anne awarded us all this Challenge Coin. It is a symbol of a mission, a job well done, and I have to say it was! Thank you, Anne.

I have my tattoo of the Hippy Bone Frog, as I call him. Made a little alteration to this picture, and sucked it up and had it done. I also have a frog print frog print tat on my right forearm for every SEAL book I've written. I'm going to have to start on the other arm now...lol.

I was honored to be given this helmet for safekeeping. It's now been returned to this SEAL's children, but it was on my desk for nearly six years while I wrote my first SEAL Brotherhood stories, and was a constant source of inspiration. These helmets are worn by BUD/S recruits on their way to becoming worthy of wearing the Trident. Whenever things get tough for me, I look at that picture and I remember, "Only Easy Day Was Yesterday."  How true.

It's been my honor to write about Navy SEAL heroes for these past six years. I hope to be doing so until they have to yank my laptop from my lifeless body!!

Working on a Son of Poseidon SEAL duet with another author which you will hear about very shortly, and then comes Jake, my 3rd book in the Band of Bachelors. I can hardly wait for you to read them both!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Crossing Genres, Mixing It Up, Making It Dangerous!


How does an author cross genres and still keep his or her audience? Or have her audience risk traveling with her on a journey into a new genre?

Along with pen names, this topic has been discussed many many times in writers' groups. It can be a scary thing for an author to change genres, or add genres. But I think the realities of the marketplace are such that we have to be prepared for genre tastes to change. Or become over-saturated. I think it's healthy to have a couple of sources you can draw stories from and pick up new readers.

The Indie community allows us to explore all these options at our own will. We don't necessarily have to give up one genre to explore another one. And we don't necessarily have to just chase the rabbit of "best selling genres" which I see so many try to do. That's something that is guaranteed to make a writer go crazy in a heartbeat.

Speaking only from my personal experience, writing in more than one genre is healthy for my writing. Not everything can be quantified in terms of sales, although that's what we're doing as authors, writing books readers will buy. But adding "sparkly body parts" to the mix of stories in our fantasy worlds is a good thing. Like exercising a new muscle, it can be painful, but overall adds to our overall strength.

I think what makes us stronger writers is that we take chances, not stupid chances, but chances nonetheless, and we have confidence in the work. Tastes change. What is the rage one day may not be the next. There is the phenomenon that readers are always looking for new writers they can discover, like treasure hunting. Someone with a good backlist is at an advantage because of past reader loyalty, but at a disadvantage if we're not the new shiny penny anymore. The work has to be shiny, not the author.

The answer? Just continue writing what we like to write, what tickles our fancy, and what readers in the past have loved. It has been said that every author tells the same story, just with different characters. Whether they are a Dark Angel, a Golden Vampire or Navy SEAL hero, the heroes in my book all find their true calling and higher selves through finding true love.

So, here are a couple of rules I think apply when writing across genres.

1. Have confidence readers will enjoy creativity and introduction of new characters.
2. Your voice as a writer doesn't change.
3. In romance, it's still about the hero and heroine's journey to find each other.
4. Be patient with yourself and listen to the writing voice inside your heart. Let that intuition serve   you and feed the faith, not the fear.
5. Explain what you're doing and make sure past readers know you are not leaving one area permanently, that you'll be back.
6. Take the new excitement of learning new things to your new writing, even if it's an old genre.
7. Writers make it every day, break out, do the impossible and defy odds all the time.
8. Payoffs are not always in dollars. Write from your heart, not just for the market.
9. Embrace change and know we learn from our mistakes.
10. Keep everyone guessing! (What the heck is she doing now?)

What about you?


Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Study of Love and Romance

It is my guilty pleasure, I admit it. If I wasn't a romance novelist, I'd be a romance reader and live in those books 24/7. The alternative to reading or writing romance? A world with not enough love in it. I live in a world where relationships magically happen and continually bring out the very best in all of us. Am I a better writer because I have loved so intensely? Or am I a better woman because I have written so intensely?

Of all the choices in my life, I think becoming a novelist has been my best one. I think, just like my SEALs, writers are born, not created. A hero is a hero from birth. We are surrounded by the ordinary all the time. Our fantasy lives enable us to live free from the earthly bonds of age, health, finances and opportunity. Not all of us will meet a titan of industry, a military hero or a man who knows everything about us and will always do the perfect thing to rock our worlds. But in our fantasy lives, that happens not just every day, but several times a day.

This addiction to studying love, falling in love, sex, finding one's highest self, living in a world were all is possible and nothing is impossible, is something that will be with me the rest of my life. And it's legal.

I scan the TV and look at topics on the internet and am amazed so few people live in the aspiration side of life, in the part where miracles do happen, where people find and do the right things. If I were to spend my focus on the "reality" of the world, all the signs point elsewhere.

So fantasy, love is my reality. I hope more of us join us there. I do think love can heal the world. I really do. This world needs a lot more romance, and a lot less rhetoric.

I'm just one of the grateful cheerleaders.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

EASY TO START, HARD TO STOP

When I was a full time business coach, I used to tell my customers, you must be easy to start and hard to stop. Everyone thinks they start from way behind the curve. They've procrastinated and now when they have to start, they have to work through all the debilitating emotions of frustration and discouragement, before they can even begin their project.

And then there were those who wanted it all today, wanted to catch up in one sitting, who were so anxious to make headway, they too had to battle the range of emotions and frustrations that they felt held them back, due to their impatience. I often have that form of "startitis" - in fact, it used to plague me whenever I'd start a new diet. And the worrying over whether or not I would stick to it long enough to have results would overcome me and by 10 o'clock, the diet was blown. And then it makes it harder to start again.

But starting is just that, starting all over. My opinion is that it's 80% of the battle, just beginning. If I can put out of my mind all the other little self-talk that is unproductive and just plain not true in many cases, I can get that big locomotive fired up and begin my new project. By "new" it could mean writing new or editing. Whatever the project.

I used to use the illustration of getting a big locomotive running. It doesn't matter how hard we press on the pedal on that big engine. The thing will accelerate at a certain speed no matter what. If we've floored it and really jumped on the pedal (they probably don't even have one, but I use it for illustration), that big machine would only go so fast in such a period of time. The extra effort on our part is irrelevant.

On the other hand, there's this little thing called Momentum that begins once we are sailing down the rails. The weight of the machine and the forward motion help propel us further, even if we should temporarily take our foot off the pedal.

And that's where people have the hardest time. After they start, they get some success, and do happy dancing all over the room, and then forget to get back to work. I'd have business leaders achieve a windfall month of profits and then take the rest of the year off, and wind up behind what they did the year before. We used to say that earning a huge commission check was the surest detriment to many people succeeding. Just ask lottery winners. They'll tell you.

The magic happens in the not stopping. Notice there is no mention of talent. We all want to be so talented someone will come along and give us millions of dollars for that screen play, that novel, but in fact, the world doesn't operate like that. Somehow, even though others have struggled, our path will be smooth and easy.

You will have a ten times better chance of dying in a commercial plane crash than winning the lottery. Chances someone will pay you $1M for your book? I'd say even less.

What about you? What do you do to get yourself started? How do you keep your momentum fired up?