Sunday, September 27, 2015


I can't tell where the idea came from to dress up as a pregnant bride, but before I knew it, I was in a bridal store, buying a beautiful gown on sale, with my husband of 44 years. It was so funny how the owner of the store, a man, came up to us, smiling.
"When's the big day?"
"Oh, we've had it," Don said.
The owner didn't quite know what to say.
"It's a costume. We've been married 44 years," I said. I was thinking to myself, as I stood in this beautiful white satin dress with beaded bodice, I'd never owned something so nice. I didn't really have a wedding dress, although the one I wore those 44 years ago I made myself. I also made Don's shirt. I was stitching the buttons on it as he was racing to the wedding site. But now, after 4 children and 44 successful years of marriage, I was finally buying a wedding dress.
My husband was beaming and gave me a big kiss. "You look prettier today than you did back then," which was something this lady can never hear enough.
"You okay with this?" I asked him.
He shook his head, and with that twinkle in his eye, said, "Am I going to be able to stop you?"
Of course, the answer was no. "Well, I'm using my money from my book sales."
"I know that. It's yours to spend however you want."

The Russian lady who did my fitting asked me, "So when are you getting married?"
"I'm already married."
"I'm buying the dress for a costume."
"Oh," she said as she cinched up my bodice. It kind of hurt.
"I'm doing a book signing, and sponsoring a bachelorette party. We're doing fun games. It's a chance to have fun with readers, my fans, and other authors."
"You do this book signing in a book store in a wedding dress?" she said in her thick Russian accent.
I knew I'd lost her.

Whether or not it was wise, I'm sure the moment was memorable. I'm sure people remembered me, and they certainly did have a good time. I missed the raunchy music, low lighting and some candlelight, but it was okay. There were no male strippers even though there had been rumors of such. But it was a photo op time. A chance to get WAAAAAY out of my comfort zone.

Like the time I drove to SFO in an MG with the top down (my roommate's boyfriend drove me), dressed as a nun. I was going up to Portland to see a boyfriend who swore if I transferred to Santa Clara I'd become catholic. My friends in the dorm helped me "act nun" like walk leaning into the walls and to keep my eyes downturned. No one sat by me in the waiting area, or on the plane. When I walked past, people stopped talking. One woman came up to me and said, "Oh honey. You're so beautiful," like I should be making babies instead of helping the poor.

When TJ took pulled up to the SFO terminal, we happened to park behind a taxi full of real nuns. And because his door was broken, I had to climb out by standing on the seat and climbing over the side of the car. The nuns stopped and looked at me, and then went on.

Well, it would have been nice to have my cinderella dress and dance the night away to a full orchestra, doing big turns and waltzing until I dropped. I was looking forward to one nice dance, but that was not to be. Perhaps that will be another story. Now I just look forward to coming home to my prince charming, who has watered my roses, fed the dogs and been more than patient in my folly of the past few days. The wonderful thing about him is that he has learned to take me with a grain of salt, and to patiently wait until my feet hit the ground again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

LOVE AND LUST Part II: Long Term Love

I love the chemistry of this couple.
I got married in 1971, and back then, I didn't understand what I do now about long term relationships. As I've said so many times before, I got lucky. I stumbled along the path of hearts and flowers, probably because my head has always been safely tucked in a rich fantasy life. I remember things as no one else does and I've stopped second-guessing this and just accepted this fantasy world as being every bit as real as anything else I've actually experienced.

The topic of love is fascinating to me and I've been a student of the effects of love on brain function. People meditate for lots of reasons--for clarity, peace, to calm their anxiety--why not for love?

Did you know that married people are five times more likely to have sex two or three times a week than are singles? A Vanderbilt study said, "While people get older and busier, as a relationship proceeds they also get more skillful--in and out of the bedroom." There are the seasons of the heart, too: when we're close, when we're in our separate worlds, when we fight, when we make up. We aren't one thing all the time. I didn't understand this when I was young. Yes, I write younger women as perhaps a fantasy ideal to fit in with the genre or characters I'm using, but I'd much prefer to be the age I currently am, compared to the care-free 20-something. And to be that woman, all I have to do is close my eyes or pick up my favorite book. I have learned we can actually physically change our brain and that this change is now being studied in psychology today as totally healthy. Yes, I said reading love stories, fantasizing and meditating on love, lust, sex and all parts in between, is actually life sustaining. It's good for you!

A recent study of long term marriages and passion says this: "One thing you learn over time is that no matter how log you live together, two people always inhabit separate worlds. Some part of your partner is deeply unknowable." Who besides me thinks this is sexy? Sara Ban Breathnach calls it "the search for the undiscovered other." Like an explorer of old, searching for love, for the adventure of love and being loved, is one of the sexiest things we can do. And it doesn't mean you have to sleep around. In fact, I'll wager sleeping around actually ruins it. One study calls it sexual mystery. I laugh when mystery writers tell me they can't write romance--the biggest mystery of the ages!

In a long term relationship my experience is that you wander around the halls of the heart, not knowing when the encounter will stop and start, but you know the potential is always there, might happen when you least expect it, but you have certainty that it is there, ready to surprise and thrill you.  "The familiarity of a partner is soothing. Is it too calming for couples to get it on? Or does it open the door for intense sexual arousal?" Quite different than being out on the prowl, looking for something else when the perfect love is right at your side. 

I allow myself to be conquered and captured, and all the sexy implications that that brings. I willingly submit to one man only, and turn that submission into a creative exploration of passion. That keeps sex fresh and new, ever-changing. It isn't dependent on frequency or some other arbitrary criteria. We are for each other what we want to be for each other. I will feel this way still even if he precedes me in death. The fantasies and the memories will never leave me while I live and breathe. 

I guess I would have to say that perfect love is what you dream it to be. That place I take with me everywhere. Always.

And is there anything more sexy than the picture of a bed with tussled sheets?

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

LOVE AND LUST: Becoming Your Own Courtesan

Not to worry. This will be very PG in words, but hopefully a little X in the fantasy of our minds. I'm a collector of ideas, especially about love and lust. Partly it's my job, and partly it's because it interests me more now than at any other time in my life. I used to wonder what it would feel like (and yes, I might have dreaded it a bit) being over a certain age (a lady never reveals her age but she will get nekked with the right guy). I distinctly remember being in my twenties and knowing my life would be over at 29. Anything after that didn't look interesting to me at all. And boy was I wrong.

In fact, I think love, romance, sex, lust and all things in between, either practiced, dreamt about, read or listened to is even more important the more mature we become. Nice thing that happens and a little secret to aging: we don't get old. We just enjoy all those fantasies in our head more than the reality of what's really going on as we climb the ladder of life.

I've read a lot of Sarah Ban Breathnach and find her writing touches me deeply. Her discussion of the word Casanova, that mythical great lover every woman wants to meet, literally means new house. She suggests a woman cannot be in love with herself or life if she is living in the wrong place. I think men are the same way.

I have Romancing The Ordinary by my bed and often read a chapter before I fall asleep. Here's a little quote: 'The true courtesan was traditionally more than a beautiful prostitute. Many of the most successful courtesans in history were cultured and sophisticated, enjoying considerable power and prestige. Courtesans were accomplished women of great beauty and intelligence. Highly sought companions of royalty, prime ministers, and wealthy gentlemen, they were expertly skilled in the elegant arts, which, besides lovemaking, included conversing, flirtation, entertaining, music, poetry, art, sports, politics and intrigue. The courtesan might seem at first to represent the antithesis of love, but in many ways her history is spectacularly romantic...These women often commanded intense love and prompted great works of art.'

Is there anything more exciting than sharing our passion?
She also talks about falling in love with love, how, she smiles more, expects to see her lover, whether real or fantasy, around every corner. She possesses more of the 2 extra senses SB says woman have: knowing and a sense of curiosity and exploration. Food tastes better. Drinking wine is a sensual ancient act. Shower gel and bubble baths are more important. Intimate tucked away places and soft music, tuscan orange hand lotion and bright fabric clothes and smooth Egyptian Cotton sheets that are way more expensive than we can afford -- all these things come into our lives.

Why do we do these things? Does our lover make us do them? No. We do them because we want to enhance our own lives, because it feels good to be in love, especially to love intensely, deeply. She calls it the practice of the sacred self-nurture. We listen to or write poetry, paint, sew, garden, listen to music, AND WE READ LOVE STORIES!

In short, we become the courtesan of our own bodies, our thoughts and dreams. We seek to create the environment where love is not only something that feels good, it sustains us, and alters everything around us.

SB calls it the place of belonging. And isn't the state of love, bliss, lust and excitement where we all belong? Is there any wonder why so many men and women read/write and enjoy romance? As I've said before, when we love deeply our truest, most generous and miraculous selves are revealed, unfolded like the shedding of our clothes. When there isn't anything separating us.

Nothing at all.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Navy SEALs - What's Not To Love? SUNDAYS WITH SHARON

Print/Audio books Available 9/25
Navy SEALs. As readers, we can't live without them. Like pirates of the High Seas and heroes of the Wild West, Navy SEAL heroes are big, big business in romance today. Mystery and suspense writers are having Navy SEAL and former SEAL characters show up in books. Paranormal writers have been adding SEALs to their menu of colorful characters. They are indeed the stuff of legends.

I'm not a purist, and I certainly take great liberties with non-fiction stories I've read, people I've interviewed and conversations I've overheard. I would hope that no one takes any fiction writer's words as gospel because the knowledge of the community is all over the lot when it comes to military romance. Some complain about the lack of "getting it right." I say a story is a story. We get ideas when we go to movies, but does anyone really believe the plots we view on the big screen are real? Even plausible?

After all, life is a story. It's all made up, anyway. We're all here acting out our little drama for this brief time on this planet. If we were all seeking pure truth, we'd still be arguing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin and still we wouldn't have the answer.
Releasing 10-14-15 including Audio

Good stories are just that, good stories. A kernel of truth, some mixture of angst, lust, love, desire to become better, more whole, loved more, respected, rooting out bad guys and seeking the elusive Happily Ever After - all these things make up for a good story. When we suspend disbelief, when we believe in things greater than ourselves, we say a book or a story inspires us. As writers, we all want to write that book that makes someone stay up all night long finishing. Grabs hold of you and never lets go.

When I first wrote my Navy SEALs back in 2011, there weren't a lot of other writers doing it. Now it seems like everyone is, and I say all the better. My first book faire was miserable. I sat and asked if people liked reading military romance and readers looked at me like I was nuts. Like the words military and romance didn't belong together. I even had a lady ask me, "What's so romantic about war?"

Heck, today we have zombie, ghost and caribou shapeshifter romance. I can remember when the critics used to argue with how much action and how much sex a military romantic suspense novel should have. Say what? That's like the judge who marked me down for having a female guardian angel, "because everyone knows guardian angels are all male." Apparently her antennae was not as bent as mine is and she got the straight scoop.

Well, I'm completing my 11th Navy SEAL book as you read this. And someone in advertising said no series should go beyond five or six. Meanwhile, I'm disobeying some law of fictioncraft (happily, I might add) and don't see an end to this series on the horizon.

I've attached some new covers of things you'll see coming soon, most of them will be completed before the end of the year and some of them on preorder or better.

I can honestly say to you dear friends, that I am not chasing the trend. I prefer to think I helped start it. The sound you're hearing is a big old pat on my back. But now I have to get back to my computer. After all, we are only as good as our latest book.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

WRITING COTTAGES: Sundays With Sharon

I've yearned for a writing cottage since the first publication of one of my novels in 2011. Just a place to dream, to play my favorite music, a place to take myself away to the fantasy of my stories. I can do that well with an empty house and a good set of headphones with some of my 50 days of music stored on my computer. I once read a writer's blog about how she set up her writing desk separate from all the rest of her "office activities" as a writer.

“Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become
quiet, and still, and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice;
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Franz Kafka

A very necessary part of our routine in life is paying bills. I know some feel it's a spiritual experience, but for me, the opposite happens. For years I took care of paying all the bills and for the past year, my husband has taken that over, and I'm grateful. Still, there are things I have to take care of, certain bills, reservations, emails and "stuff" of writing that isn't fun. I don't include in that sending off SWAG, because I truly enjoy it, and often make it the first or second thing I do in the day. So having a dedicated place for just writing has become more important to me. I blogged about the idea earlier this year. There are places you an rent a cabin for a week or two or a month.
Whitby Island Writer's Refuge

I've toyed with using a shed from one of those improvement stores, and we put a deposit down on one. Like most projects around here, it grew to huge proportions as we calculated what it would cost to lay a slab, or build a perimeter foundation, or lay down rock and drainage. The cost of the shed turned out to be the small expense and we abandoned the idea.

An Airstream trailer was my next dream, and I began looking all over the country for some used ones we could refurbish. We thought perhaps getting one that could be towed by my Murano so I could take it to Bodega and Marin beaches for a day of writing would be ideal. New ones were prohibitive, but beautiful. Much more fun getting an older one and fixing it up like the gypsy inside me. But then we stumbled upon the rock wall project in our rear yard, which seemed a better idea for the overall value of our property, and in the design there was no way to put a ramp to
Heaven on wheels
the backyard. The alternative of writing in my driveway was not sexy enough. And then the cost of the beautiful walls and concrete patio shot up in price, and the budget fell short. I again pushed the idea aside.

My desire to have a traveling cottage isn't dead, just on hold until next year. I vow it will be done, even if I have to be helped up into it in a walker or by cane! Some day I'll have one. Trust me, eventually I get my way. And I'm not complaining. Life is a series of choices and then adaptation to those choices and circumstances beyond our control. That's where the fun is. I still have the dream, and that's even more important than having the cottage at this point.

So, for now, I purchased another computer and Thunderbolt Screen, and when I write, I sit at my adjustable desk. I can stand, or sit on the stool. I light my candles, and inspiration does come. I usually have two sleeping Dobermans at my feet, vying for attention, so I have a jar of cookies nearby to reward their loyalty. I don't pay bills or even do anything email-wise or business-wise on that computer. I don't even write these blogs there. It was expensive to do this, but ever since, I have found it to be liberating. I've written poetry here. Sometimes I do a little research for my stories, but everything I do is related to a current book I'm working on.

And like all of you, I'm still waiting for my Happily Ever After. But this is my Happily Ever After, for now. Doesn't it make the goal, once achieved, that much more delicious?

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Going and Coming: Life

Ethan Aged 1 hour
Ethan's birthday was yesterday, and I had to miss it because I've been sick in bed for the past 3 days. Getting better, but still too sick to be around a group of little ones. I'm reposting this from the week of his birth. The theme still holds up today. Enjoy
A visit to the doctor reminds me of how fragile life is. I'm well. But I get to see a lot of not-well people. And right now experiencing some un-wellness in my immediate family. Along with new birth. I guess I've begun to get it, now that I am 6 decades old: life goes on. I can scream and yell and protest its passing, but it still goes on as if I never said anything.

I guess that's why writing has become so important to me. Taking stories from real life and weaving them into other worlds is what we do as writers. And we take the pain, the emotions, from those life events, and use them. I blogged today about Editing Woes over at RRR, and one of my points was that the reader reads for the emotions in the story, the emotions of the characters, the love scenes, not just the description of what went on and who did what to whom.

We are cheering Ethan's birth and how strong he is, while we are saying goodbye to my dad, who has lived a wonderful life, and been the best dad a girl could ever want. Good time to remind myself it's not all about me, but the people around me. My job is to feel. Sometimes I run away from my feelings because they are just too much to handle. But my job is to feel, and then write them down.

We don't get do-overs like some of our characters get in our stories. Actually, that would make an interesting story concept. Life is not permanent. Neither are feelings. What we do about it is. We love babies because we know we are only going to be around long enough to perhaps see them get married and perhaps have children and grandchildren of their own. These little ones, in the beginning of their lives, will know us, the older ones, at the end of our lives. We each get to discover what the world is like before or after the loved one has been born, or passes on.

It's a pea soup kind of day here in Sonoma County, which is good for the grapes. This misty fog means I can be a bit lazy with my watering, I'm tempted to make a fire, but know my house will heat up like a firecracker soon enough. My hubby is away getting inspiration from a mastermind meeting, and I anticipate seeing lots of friends at the Silicon Valley Romance Writers meeting tomorrow, where I will be a panelist and hopefully will give some nuggets of things I've learned along the way.

Book sales are going well. Accidental SEAL has been in the top 100 for Amazon Kindle paid sales for 9 weeks in a row and made some serious money. Over 13,000 people downloaded Honeymoon Bite on a free promotional 4 day blog, and it shot to #1 for Fantasy Romance for 3 days in a row. Same thing happened in June for Heavenly Lover. So, despite the occasional stinker review (which doesn't affect sales at all) people are liking my books. I don't go trolling for the 300+ reviews like some do. I have a problem with faking things to look like they aren't. Just being honest and taking my lumps as they come. And writing is the best cure for anything that ills me. Anything.

My family is safe for now. Prayers go out to those that have suffered with loss of life: the SEALs and other military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice recently, and all their families who proudly bear the mourning. The people who have lost their life in senseless acts of violence, and their families. My shock and dismay at the truth being distorted so much in our political campaigns, and all the hate it spews. How people fall like lemmings after slogans and catch phrases like "war on women" when we have more opportunity here than anywhere else in the world. And people have died to make sure it stays that way. I was thinking we were going to take the higher road this election season. I was wrong.

So I guess with this theme of what I have and don't have, in the going and the passing of life, what I'm feeling today is being connected.

And that's a good thing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Disney Touch of Magic

My favorite
I traveled home to San Francisco with this pin on my chest. I wore it proudly, like a true time traveler, reminded of my six days at Walt Disney World and the magic it inspired in me. I once got to spend some time with a long time friend of Disney, who told us tales of how the original park was built, the obstacles Disney overcame, and the vision and dedication of "getting things right," from the simple to the complicated.

At every turn, the branding that Disney does is consistent. Bus drivers to and from the parks play videos, and even the shuttle going from our Animal Kingdom Lodge and the sister lodge on property pumped in African songs, just like the lobby of the hotel. I have never been to a hunting lodge at Lake Tanganyika, or ridden the train to the Mountains of the Moon west from Kenya into Uganda, or stayed at the Treetops Lodge, but I'll bet some of what Disney created would feel similar. Sitting out by the pool, I got to listen to the piped in music of my favorite African performer, Samite and his lovely voice. The rhythms he plays are universal and would find a home in many genres, including folk and country. If you want a history lesson on some of the hardships he endured growing up in East Africa, you can read more about him here. A voice of inspiration and hope for a world that needs so much of it.

I admit, I have a problem.

I have to admit that, during this trip, I got my family addicted to collecting pins. I'm not proud of the fact that I spent easily a day or two's lodging on getting these pins, then trading them all over the park. It gave us something to do during those long line waits. We scouted out clerks and customer service reps who had whole books of pins we could trade, just two at a time. But if going overboard is a religion, I am a true believer. Those that know me well know that I don't do things half-way. Throwing myself into the pin trading game, including learning to negotiate with my very savvy 6 year old granddaughter (who really didn't need her parent's help to draw her line in the sand) was one of the highlights of the trip.

My second favorite.

My granddaughters got to be made up as princesses. Not sure what I was expecting, but walking into a magical makeup room, set with at least 10 beauty stations, all manned by Fairy Godmothers, making their little charges into princesses, was just simply enchanting. The message was clear: anyone can be a princess. To watch the little girls walk out of that dressing room, transformed into a make-believe character, and expecting a happily ever after was awe-inspiring. The old cynical me, before children, before grandchildren, would have said, "For what purpose? They're living a lie."

Not true. It's fantasy. The stuff of fairy dust and happily ever afters. The things your heart dreams about when you let it follow it's natural course. All things seek love. When you realize this, the world suddenly becomes a different place. We are lucky enough to be able to feel it every day in our lives. Our destiny is to spread it all over the world. It's the only reality we can truly create, after all.