Sunday, August 2, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Romance At 35,000 Feet

It's all fun and games until someone
winds up in a cone.
I'm looking down at the US from above the clouds, on my way back to California. I never know what I'll discover when I go on these trips. I have given up making long lists of things I want to accomplish. Besides, being a storyteller, I kind of like letting things go the way they go, not the way I go. Still, I can't help but have a few expectations.

I needed this trip, because nothing that I expected to happen, actually happened. I say this in a good way. I wasn't feeling that way last night. In fact, I sort of cried myself to sleep, asking myself why I did this in the first place.

But the beautiful thing about morning is that it is a new day and a fresh start. I hit the reset button. I read a little meditation this morning that talked about telling the truth, and I discovered (huge palm to my forehead), I'd forgotten to do so.

First let's talk about the weather in Orlando this time of year. Humid, raining torrentially and then next minute so sunny and hot, when I walked outside, my glasses fogged up. People used to this didn't blink. California is dry and almost never humid, or at least not enough to fog up your glasses.

I knew going in that most the authors would be unknown to me. I knew of no readers who were from this area, and I didn't do any advance promo because, well, my head was frankly stuck in another world in the weeks prior to the convention (truth coming with the fresh morning).

I participated in panels, participated in an online interview with my narrator, J.D. Hart (which was fun), all unscripted and without all the proper equipment, and listened to what panels were saying. I got two really great marketing ideas out of it. And of course, I got to spend time with my storyteller, who has become my best friend and biggest fan.



Blinding flash of the obvious
He was the grounding device I needed, and I'm so happy I had him come to help with the signing, and just mingle with other authors and readers, who always love him.

I also met my PA's incredible 13 year old kid, who is doing things with YouTube that made my jaw drop. I heard this morning he hadn't been looking forward to telling me about it, but I understand he enjoyed it, and his mom was sure proud. This awesome kid stood there, discussed what he does just like any college professor. I knew I was in the presence of greatness. Honest.

In short, I got what I was supposed to get. God gave me these cards, one of those unlikely hands that you don't have much hope for, but brings you everything you really need.

I'm happy to put back the crown as Queen of the Universe. I'm just a writer. I make mistakes, I enjoy some of them more than others. I just keep opening the doors and being willing to let in what's supposed to be there.

It was a perfect trip, not for what I got, but for what it was. It was everything I needed, and more.

I know this has happened to you. Love to hear about it? Are sometimes our unexpected miracles the best afterall even though they might not look like them at the time?





Sunday, July 26, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Living in Cinderella

Harry Chapin once said that every song he wrote had some little part of his life, some emotion he was feeling, or experience he remembered, and that it was impossible to be a songwriter without this "gift" as he called it.

I feel the same way as a writer. My early days as a child molded me in a very big way. We lived in Oakland when I was little, until my family moved to Palo Alto, where I lived until college. My parents bought the house from our pastor. It was way bigger than we needed, so my parents had two "grandmothers" who boarded two of the upstairs three bedrooms. The third bedroom was mine. My windows faced my mother's flower garden, some half acre going up a hillside. I used to spend hours and hours looking out that window at the garden and imagining all sorts of things in my future. Adventures and stories, and most of them love stories.
My best friend sent me this, the exact player I used to listen to!

I think I was about three when I moved in there. At first, I was scared, being all alone. We didn't get
the boarders for the first year. So I had the creaking upstairs all to myself--the locked attic doors at the side of the large staircase, and the empty rooms waiting for someone to come stay with us. My parents bought me a little record player, and I used to sit there all alone and listen to my stories on that single switch player, playing Walt Disney '45's, of Snow White, Cinderella, Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales sung by Danny Kaye.

These tales, especially Cinderella, resonated with me. It didn't take much imagination for me to put myself in Cinderella's shoes, waiting for my handsome Prince Charming to come take me away. I loved the beautiful blue gown with the lace trim made by her bird friends, as she danced the whole night in the arms of that dark-haired prince. I matched the tilt of her head, imagined what the feel of his hand would be on her tiny waist, imagined what the stars would be like as we'd twirl, and the ballroom would be transformed into some magical place where all things are possible and the future is brighter than the present.

I think I never stopped living there, really. I played those records so often, it's a wonder they didn't
wear out. I'd cry at the sad parts, and cry really hard at the Happily Ever After. I think those days were the happiest for me as a child. Being left alone, listening to songs and music and the spoken word of a love story.

And now it resonates with me. Life has come full circle. I've completed perhaps my "job" of being a mother, a dutiful wife, a career and income generator. I've done all those things for others, as well as myself. Now these days are for me, my gift to myself for a life worked hard for. I get to experience the fantasy of a life in the Happily Ever After, even if reality isn't there yet. I get to live in the fantasy of what could be. I no longer wish for the same things I did as a younger woman. I want to wrap myself in love stories and I don't care about reality.

I'm lucky enough to be living in Cinderella. It's as if I will manifest this fairy tale the more I write about it, the more I feel it. I gladly give up this world for that one.

I hear music. I feel like dancing. Won't you come along?


Sunday, July 19, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Honoring Those Who Serve By Living Our Lives

My heart bleeds for the families of the men lost in the recent tragedy in Tennessee. These types of things should not be happening, but, unfortunately, our world is becoming smaller every year. We are closer and closer to each other through social media. Along with this benefit, comes the unadulterated fact that we are also connected to the very worst of humanity. These cretins, as my SEALs like to say, can use our own freedoms, to take advantage and try to rob us of them.

They won't succeed.

I had a difficult time at first when I was plotting out SEAL's Promise. Oddly enough it was about a year ago now. I wanted to insert the plot line of home grown terrorists, or terrorists who come to our shores, familiar with our ways and customs, able to blend in and use that information to take advantage of us. I considered that perhaps I was going overboard, even though I knew the military had recently requested families get off social media, be very careful about who they invited into their circles, and to be watchful and observant.

I continued with that theme in SEAL My Home, using the scenario that someone from overseas would be allowed entry to the U.S. and would stalk and try to harm one of the SEAL warriors he'd encountered in Afghanistan. I used the theme of human trafficking and sexual slavery in SEAL's Code, which was a slight departure, but still focusing on a great evil in our world today. In Code, we discuss how heroism is handed down, is our birthright, and that love is always stronger than evil.

I firmly believe this.

Even if we all lived in cages, we wouldn't be safe. It is a great testament to our fighting forces that we haven't had to experience the ravages of war as some societies have. Here at home, we can't protect against every eventuality. But the steady tide, the history and the honor and love for our flag and our respective countries, fought and paid for with human life's blood, the vast freedoms we have to read what we want, speak what we want and live and do what we want, worship where we want, that overwhelms the evil little plans of the most evil amongst us.

It's hard to understand why someone would want to harm people who protect and defend our way of life. It's hard to figure out why a cause or movement that takes away more than it leaves, would be something that would be attractive to anybody. As I've said before, sometimes the cost of freedom is too great. It's not a burden shared equally. But we equally share in the benefit, whether we appreciate it or not. And just as I was blogging a year ago, the landscape of this evil has changed. Now some of us innocents, some not even wearing a uniform, will pay the ultimate price.

I am so thankful that I have a job writing heroes and happily ever afters, being able to bring fantasy to people's lives, to enrich them in some small way. Because the best way we can honor the fallen, both men and women who don a uniform and protect us, but innocents who just happen to be standing at the wrong place at the wrong time, is to go on enjoying those freedoms. The best way to honor the fallen is never to forget, always to remember, and always to live life to the fullest.

I happen to think that's what every true hero would want.

We've just wrapped up SEAL's Code on audio. Our last audio release, SEAL Brotherhood Box Set No. 2 is out on audio as of last week. You can hear a couple sample audio clips on my website, or click on the snippets I've provided you below.

Hope you'll continue the journey with my new series, Band of Bachelors, releasing in novella form, 8/4/15 in Cat Johnson's Hot SEALs Kindle World. More to come!

https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/seal-brotherhood-series-set-two-sample-3
https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/are-you-an-audio-virgin
https://soundcloud.com/j-d-hart/seals-code-danny-talking-to-grandfather

Book trailers: SEAL's Code, SEAL My Home.

Until we meet again, have a safe, and love-filled week. Don't ever stop believing we can all have our dreams become reality. Don't stop remembering love is always much stronger than hate. It's what we were made for.



Sunday, July 12, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Worshiping At the Altar of My New Computer

WORSHIPING AT THE ALTAR OF MY NEW COMPUTER....

Cleaning up my desk is good for my muse! The clutter-free space allows the stories to flow, allows me to get into my stories. It helps that lately I've been taking naps in the afternoon, and writing at ungodly hours of the AM, and late at night. I actually prefer it when I can have total and utter silence, except for the music or things I select to alter my environment.

My computer was acting wonky. That is a technical term. And yes, it did blow up and had to have a data transfer. I'm always part of it, but this time, I think "it" was feeling "unwell." I was forced to be off most social media for 3 days. I almost went through withdrawals, but my muse was dancing a jig.

So off I went to the Apple Store, and they hooked me up. Got another iMAC with a Thunderbolt accessory screen, so I could have a larger desktop. And like I said in my title, I'm worshiping at the altar of my new stand-up adjustable desk and the beautiful MAC computer and display. I'm in Heaven. Even my sunflower outside the second story window is happy.

I read a little bit in a mental warfare book that's part of my daily devotional at sunrise, and the message for today was about being focused. How perfect.

Environment makes a big difference to me in writing stories, especially stories that have to have emotion to make them believable, and "hooky" to readers. My son has recently gotten a part time job at my favorite country inn here in Sonoma County. It was rated the best country Inn in the whole US some years ago. In my books, I call it the "Waterwheel Inn", but its real name is the Kenwood Inn. I go there sometimes to hole up and write, away from my normal life, the barking dogs, the work being done on the house, where I can order room service, sleep in a big bed like my heroes and heroines do, write by the fireplace all night or all day long.

Some of my best sexy scenes have been written here. I've spent some verra verra nice Valentine's Days here, too. Some of the upper rooms have views of the Kunde Winery across the highway (it's only 2-lane, Highway 12 that winds from Santa Rosa through Sonoma and on to Napa). The lobby is decorated with old map drawings like in my yet to be finished time travel, Be With Me. Maybe my muse is taking me on another wild ride, but I have 2 SEAL novellas to finish this month, and I'm trying to focus on those while the luscious story of this WIP calls to me, like a hunky lover in a dream. And what's so funny, is the hero in this story comes to her from a hundred and fifty years in the past the same way.

So, I'm enjoying my Sunday, reading in a new world I'll be writing in for Cat Johnson, her Hot SEALs world, finishing up that and one other committed novella before I head off to Florida for the Indie Bash in Orlando, and then a week with the grands at Disney World.

But my muse is sitting with a pitcher of Sangria, listening to the music "Lips Taste Like Sangria". And I'm really sitting on a beach near Nelson's Dockyard on Antigua and writing another story, in another place in time.

To celebrate the release of our 15th audio book, J.D. Hart and I are offering a free audio book from Sharon's backlist, including the brand new SEAL Brotherhood Box Set No. 2.  If you want to enter, leave me a PM on my Sharon Hamilton author page on Facebook. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Writing Books is Like Quilting

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON:  STRINGING TOGETHER STORIES IS LIKE QUILTING.

My daughter just finished our giveaway for this month's Newsletter. We incorporate some of my SEAL book covers in it, and use the same Alexander Henry Pursuit of Happiness background, showing off George Washington, Abe Lincoln and other's abs like you've never seen before.

Writing stories, especially stories for different venues, is very much like piecing together a fine quilt.

Quilting and gardening are two things that bring me solace. Yes, I do enjoy reading while exercising and I've been doing a lot of that lately (trying to get caught up on some new projects I'll be involved in this year). Just like reading, quilting puts me in a "zone" similar to meditation or listening to wonderful music. We spend so much of our day "doing" things, showing up for events, communicating with readers and other authors, and running our businesses, sometimes it's just good to have "screw around time" planned into the schedule. When I used to coach Realtors, I always made my clients schedule "just daydreaming" time. I had a couple Realtors who were shopaholics and we had to plan their vices into their schedule, because it would creep in anyway - better to have planned it.

So when I'm quilting, I think up stories. In high school I made all my own clothes. I used to think about romances while I was sewing as a girl of 14-17, with hunky men who would sweep me off my feet. Little did I know how important "daydreaming" would be, nor how important those themes in the stories were.

Last night I was plotting a new story. I was supposed to be working on another one, but this new one just came in and took over. I know better than to try to push my muse to the side. It dresses up like a bright drag queen and sings drunken pirate songs of love until I have to pay attention to it. Still not sure whether my muse is male or female. One thing is for sure, it likes to sing and dress up in bright colors, including wigs. LOL. More than you ever wanted to know about me, right?

I started with a color: Navy Blue. And the symbols: The Trident. And some heroic traits, and voila, I was off and running. I've got 3 in the works already and I'm excited to say I'll be starting to write the first one this afternoon.

After launching a book I dearly loved writing and nearly wrote itself, I can't wait to get good and steeped in this one. The hero is already whispering in my ear. The heroine is a real randy spitfire, so I guess I'm getting to relive my 20's again...lol...He wants to come out and play hard and love harder. {{{sigh}}} Duty Calls.














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Sunday, June 28, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Living The Dream

Sometimes we aren't thankful enough for our successes. The world has gotten to be a strange and dangerous place. In my talk yesterday, I discussed how now is the perfect time to be a writer. And who can forget the 2008-2009 time when we were worried the stock market would crash and there'd be war right around the corner? Some writers wrote their best works, and great movies were produced during another dangerous time.

Here's what was happening some 70+ years ago:

Major Political/World Events:

            General Franco and his Nationalists won the Spanish Civil War
            Germany and Italy sign the “Pact of Steel”
            Germany annexes remaining Czech territories, Czech Republic is dissolved
            Italy occupies Albania
            Soviet-Japanese border war erupts
            Nazi-Soviet pact formed
            Germany invades Poland (beginning WWII)
            Britain, France, India, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany
            US decides to remain neutral, but begins to arm for war to help ease
                        effects of the depression
            USSR attacks Finland
            USSR is expelled from the League of Nations (precursor to UN)
Albert Einstein writes letter to FDR about the possibility of an atomic bomb
and the Manhattan Project is launched


Other background for those times:

World Leaders are:

            USSR:              Joseph Stalin
            UK                   Neville Chamberlain
            USA:                Franklin D. Roosevelt
            Japan:             goes through 4 in less than 8 months
            Australia:        goes through 4 in less than 5 months
            Germany:       Adolf Hitler
            Italy:               Benito Mussolini

And then some major accomplishments:


            Gone With The Wind is made from Margaret Mitchell’s book in 1936
            Heinkel He 178 is the first jet aircraft to fly
            John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath
            Of Mice and Men was made
            The Jefferson Memorial is started in Washington, DC
            Hewlett Packard is formed
            The first air conditioner is offered in a car: Packard
            New York World’s Fair is hosted by US

Here’s what things cost:

            Average new home price: $3,800.
            Average wages per year: $1,730.
            Cost of a gallon of Gas:  10 cents
            Average cost to rent a house:  $28. Per month
            Loaf of bread:  8 cents
            1# Hamburger:   14 cents
            Average new car:  $700.
            Toaster:  $16.
            Due to increased usage, cost of electricity is cut ½ in 10 years


Do you know that people thought publishing houses and the movie studios were done? That no new books would be printed, movies made?

They were wrong then. They are wrong now. Keep Writing!! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Celebration of Fathers Everywhere

Today we celebrate fatherhood. It takes a lot to be a father, and not much of it has anything to do with blood or actual paternity. A real father is one who sacrifices much for the care and protection of his children.

I think it is the greatest test of a man practicing fatherhood. It is a somewhat difficult job at times, often thankless and unnoticed. We make a big deal about motherhood, and I think fatherhood is often missed or glossed over.

And it shouldn't be. I am so fortunate to have had my husband of 44 years right along side me as we raised our 4 great kids. I'm sure their lives wouldn't be the same without his guidance. Men and women bring balance to the partnership of parenting. I know my husband's different style is often ten times more effective than mine.

I can remember once he came home to find our son, aged about 10, just getting ready to jump from our second story master bedroom window onto the trampoline he'd pulled over. "Watch this, Dad," was his comment. Don said he was afraid to stop him, and just watched as our son did a somersault and spiked a perfect landing on the trampoline, a skill he'd obviously been practicing all afternoon when he was left unsupervised by his older brothers and sisters. And his comment afterwards? "Well that's fine. Just don't do that in front of your mom."

One of my favorite things to do is to go to Disneyland and watch fathers and their children, sharing the happy memories of their childhood with their kids. You see dads in Mickey Mouse ears or Goofy caps, skipping, singing, eating ice cream or holding a child who has gone "comatose" in front of the light parade, fallen asleep from overload.

I think of the Navy SEAL dads and how they are known for "wrestling with their kids in their batman pajamas." I think any man who has opened his heart up to not only a life partner, but a child, has a special place in Heaven. Falling in love and being the hunky sexy hero of a woman's fantasy is one thing that probably stems from genetics and the basic sexual drives of our species. But being a father is something learned, practiced. It isn't always a natural act, and you get better at it the more you do it. Notice I didn't say it got easier. You just get better at it.

So, fathers, I salute you. I love who you are and what you stand for. It takes unselfish courage to be a true dad to a child, to stand for something, and stand with them when they need it. My own dad was a remarkable man, and the first man I ever loved.