Friday, October 10, 2014

Writing A Bad Boy SEAL

SEAL's Promise on Preorder
I've enjoyed writing Navy SEALs for four years now. One of the things I like about them is that they are rather unconventional compared to other branches of the military. I've often written about jealousy that can sometimes spring up between other branches, even between the SEALs and local law enforcement. I've gotten mail from people who want me to write about other Special Forces or the joint task forces combining some of the best from each branch of service or civilian specialty.

I'm sticking with the SEALs for now, just because I am not done writing about them. Everyone is jumping into this genre, and dozens of new SEAL writers are popping up every day, which I think is cool. Voracious military romance readers want more, and we're giving it to them. Because of the explosion in Indie publishing, "rules" of the genre are being relaxed as readers are attracted to great stories about unconventional heroes. This is one of the best things to happen to our industry. The narrow definitions of Romantic Suspense or Military Romance are being blurred, and the readers, as well as successful authors, are benefitting from this variety. It is also my personal opinion that readers are becoming broader in what they read, as a result.

A common theme of mine is how the hero or heroine finds their true, higher calling, usually enhanced by the introduction of true love. While it might seem a cliche, my theme is, "True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart." Defects are softened or mended. Honor and commitment creates a hero from someone who might have originally not felt worthy of being one. My characters rise up and do the right thing in the end, and save the day. I get to master a story of my own choosing with a Happily Ever After, unlike the reality of the real world.


I'm proud of that. My SEAL heroes don't become the special men because of the fame and fortune. It is a calling for them, a calling that can sometimes claim their lives, unfortunately. They put themselves in harm's way because it's their job, like many other men and women who put on a uniform and protect the public from those who would do ill will. Their job is to allow the rest of us to have a "normal" life because they protect the perimeter.

I've dealt with issues of PTSD and alcoholism, rampant divorce, survivor guilt and drug use. Unfortunately, these issues often play an important part of our character's life, in many cases branding and scaring them. In SEAL's Promise I have a hero who came to the SEALs as a damaged youth from years of mistreatment in foster homes. He knows that he is not great relationship material, and yet, he also finds his happily ever after, and it comes at him from the back door where he least expected it.

Another new thing theme I'm writing about in SEAL's Promise is the issue of homegrown terrorists and their potential impact on our "perimeter." What do SEALs do when the war starts being played in the streets where we live, work, play and go to school?

Well of course, they save the day. What else? Hope you enjoy my excerpt from SEAL's Promise:

They continued their journey through a set of automatic doors that opened to a reception area. Unlike the hospital in San Diego, this one was completely devoid of female nurses or staff. He chuckled to himself that he was right about the smell too. Straight institutional Eau do pee/vomit/bleach, just like juvenile hall, or at least the ones he’d “visited” in Texas and Nevada.
            His guide brought them down a wide corridor with rubber bumpers as wainscoting, stopping at the first door on the right with a sign on it that read, Chaplain. He unlocked the solid core door with the brass handle and inside T.J. actually felt like he was experiencing deja vu. The room was filled with gray file cabinets along one short wall, a well-worn and stained leather couch on the other. The file cabinets had large red inventory stickers, just as he’d envisioned.
            “You keep files on your flock?”
            Travis chuckled. “No. Those would be death records. I guess they thought no one would want to break into the chaplain’s office, and the chaplain, with a direct line to the man upstairs, wouldn’t mind housing the last written evidence that these souls ever existed.” He walked over to one cabinet with a large dent in the bottom file drawer like it had been kicked in on purpose. His hand placed on top, he gently tapped with his palm to some imaginary rhythm. “These are my flock, in a way. The ones that flew the coop.” His gold tooth gleamed in the morning sunlight filtering through the missing mini blinds like a spotlight.

            He could have been the Grim Reaper himself.

Hope you'll continue the journey with me as we explore some of the other members of SEAL Team 3 in the coming months and years. 

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





Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall Into a Good Book

Dear Romance Realm Readers,

Hope you find a free hour or two today to curl up with a fabulous new book. I was lucky enough to find time this week to finish reading one of the books I brought home from the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans. Love love LOVED it! If you're in to sexy, tatted, badass biker dudes, I totally recommend OWN THE WIND by Kristen Ashley.

OWN THE WIND

Too hot to handle . . . 

Tabitha Allen grew up in the thick of Chaos-the Chaos Motorcycle Club, that is. Her father is Chaos' leader, and the club has always had her back. But one rider was different from the start. When Tabby was running wild, Shy Cage was there. When tragedy tore her life apart, he helped her piece it back together. And now, Tabby's thinking about much more than friendship . . . 

Tabby is everything Shy's ever wanted, but everything he thinks he can't have. She's beautiful, smart, and as his friend's daughter, untouchable. Shy never expected more than friendship, so when Tabby indicates she wants more-much more-he feels like the luckiest man alive. But even lucky men can crash and burn . . . 

Available now on AMAZON.

AUTUMN'S KISS

I'm also excited to announce the release of my sweet and spicy Viking short called VIKING FOR HIRE. It is part of a romance anthology titled AUTUMN'S KISS which is available now for pre-order on AMAZON. Check out these fun blurbs:

Ten sweet stories of love. Ten great authors. Ten ways to celebrate Autumn. 

Falling in love is timeless. From a sexy medieval stonemason to a small town shopkeeper - Regency England to Napa Vineyards, this selection of Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal and Time-Travel short romance stories is sure to capture your heart.  


AUTUMN VOWS. Patricia Kiyono. Contemporary 
For 30 years, busy wife and mother Yolanda Murray pushed aside her career for family. With the kids grown now, it’s her turn. But her husband Craig needs surgery, and his worries extend far beyond his health issues. Will this couple survive the changes in the autumn of their lives? 

CAROUSEL MAGIC. LaVerne St. George. Contemporary. 
For Thomas Martin, feelings don't get in the way of business. As the new owner of an amusement park, he's determined to replace the old carousel with video games. Mayor Ginger Fairchild is equally determined to save the vintage carousel. Can the carousel's magic touch two more hearts? 

THE FALL APPLES AND MR. CRAIGSON. Kathy Bosman. Contemporary  
Trina knows most men are out for her money, so a fantasy rich husband acts as her shield. She hires attractive Seth Craigson to cut down unwanted trees, certain he won’t discover her secret. As Trina's heart leans toward Seth, he sees past her lie. Does he accept her for herself or see only her wealth? 

FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN. Beth Barany. Paranormal/Time Travel  
Sexy Medieval stonemason Julien relies on his fiancĂ©e Rose to adapt to 21st century life and struggles to find his place in modern times. Holding down two jobs to support her and Julien in expensive San Francisco, software expert Rose has no time for romance. A weekend getaway may provide just the spark these time-crossed lovers need. 

A HARVEST OF HOPE. Debby Lee. Historical   
After putting away a crooked bootlegger, Meggie and Luke Preston set out for California, hoping for a second chance at life. When their past catches up with them, Meggie must find the courage to face the issues that have driven a wedge into her marriage... or she may lose everything. 

THE LONELY SHOPKEEPER. Cindy Flores Martinez. Contemporary  
Lately, Judy has been too busy for love. Running a small business in her hometown occupies all of her time. When she meets Graham, a visitor from Scotland, it's chemistry at first sight--and impossible. He's not here to stay. She's not willing to move. What will happen when they fall in love? 

RUNAWAY LOVE. Nicole Zoltack. Historical  
After harvesting his crops, the last thing Corin Jannings expects is rescuing a woman tossed from a runaway horse. A woman who can't remember who she is. She's highborn, obviously, so it's only a matter of time before someone comes for her. And since she's a lady, Corin cannot dare risk falling for her. 

SOFT BURGUNDY NIGHTS. Ruth Roberts. Contemporary  
For the first time since she was abandoned, Jessica Rayne has a real home and her dream job as manager of Marchetti Vineyard. After ten years, Rafaele Marchetti has returned from New York, still bitter over his father's mistakes. Rafaele may take away everything Jessica's worked for… or make her dreams of love come true. 
  
VIKING FOR HIRE. Jo Grafford. Historical. 
Branwyn O’Tyre is convinced her estranged brother plans to arrest her for witchcraft, so she drinks a protection potion before he arrives. A Viking sea captain, living under a curse, witnesses her magic and offers her an escape if only she will help him. The hitch? If she fails, Branwyn's heart will be his forever. 

THE WITCHING WELL. KristyTate. Time Travel 
Celia Quinn holds Jason West responsible for the demise of her grandmother's dress shop, so when she takes a sip of water from the witching well and is transported back to Regency England, Jason West is the last person she wants to see--or kiss.

LOST COLONY BOOK TOUR

All of you historical romance lovers out there, we are wrapping up week three of my Lost Colony book tour. If you haven't already done so, I would really appreciate you taking a few moments to enter my Rafflecopter drawing. For chances to win free books, I'm asking you to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and/or sign up for my monthly booklovers newsletter. Thank you so much for your support during this tour!




REMAINING TOUR STOPS

We still have some fabulous interviews, games, and festivities remaining for the next week and a half. Please join us at:

October 6 Guest Blog (review later)
Historical Fiction Obsession

October 7 Interview
Deal Sharing Aunt

October 8 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  

October 9 Spotlight
Booklover Sue 

October 10 Spotlight and review
Illuminite Caliginosus

October 13 Review
Brooke Blogs

Wishing you an awesome Saturday and completely fun-filled upcoming Columbus Day holiday weekend. With a little luck, maybe some of you will receive a day off from work. ;-)

Cheers,
Jo

Website: www.JoGrafford.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JoGraffordAuthor
Twitter: @jografford
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Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/JoGrafford/

Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning More Stuff

I've nearly completed this year's whirlwind conference tour. Boy have I learned some stuff. I've met some wonderful people, and gotten acquainted with people I have known virtually, and now know physically. In the flesh. That means having a glass of wine with or shared a dinner or evening with. Don't let your mind stray to the gutter. I know, you're just like me, and you can't help yourself.

I'm looking at many of the things other authors are doing to market themselves. I'm fairly happy with what I've been doing in the past, but I'm not satisfied with my results yet. So, I keep striving.

A friend of mine, fellow colleague in Real Estate Sales Training, posted the picture above, and boy, did it bring memories to me. As frequently happens, my mind began to wander down a path of images of my previous life as a coach and trainer. A professional business woman. I still am that woman, but I do it now with words.

Everything in life is sales. The day I figured this out was the day I became a great salesperson in Real Estate. I became a great coach, a great mentor, and a great Realtor. One of the best, I'm proud to say. However, what I didn't expect was that now, after some 5 years of being a full time writer, I'm back to where I started in Real Estate. How do I let the public know about me? Unlike my former successful career, my fan base is ongoing and almost daily. I never did much with a newsletter because I felt it was intrusive. But now in my writing mode, it is essential. What I used to be able to do in person by phone (yes, I cold called on average 40 people a day for nearly 15 years, as well as contacted 5 past clients and customers) I now do with social media. While FB and Twitter and other modes may not be appropriate for a Realtor, it is a necessary evil in authorship.

I remember when I was coaching a lady who was unhappy in her marriage. She was unhappy because she felt she'd fallen out of love with her husband, and just "wanted a change" but had no specific reason for doing so. Though I was supposed to help her with her business, I suggested this to her (I've had to use this advice on myself when the fires need stoking, if you know what I mean):

When you wake up tomorrow, pretend that the man who is sleeping next to you is the sexiest, the most wonderful man in the world. Pretend that everything he does, from putting on his shorts, to making breakfast is sexy. That he is Prince Charming, and is and always has been the Man of Your Dreams. Pretend he loves and cherishes you beyond all measure of other things. That he would almost die for you. That he would protect you. And he wants to set your life on fire (in a good way). Pretend that of all the millions of men on the planet, God chose this one man to come into your life and rock your soul.

I'm paraphrasing, as I'm a much better writer now than I was then. It was incredible what she came back on the phone with the following week. It went something like this:

Agent A:  Sharon! I did what you said, and Oh Man was that an eye opener!
Sharon:    Okay. Tell me about it.
Agent A:  I woke up and thought to myself, this is stupid, and then I just tried it. I watched him in the                  shower, and darn it, he does have a wonderful body. His arms and shoulders are beautiful                    (her husband was a concert violinist) and he has a flat tummy. He turned around and                            caught me looking at him and he smiled. It went extremely well after that.

I won't go into the details of what she told me, but it involved a nice romantic dinner and a private serenade, naked, by candlelight.

She thought I was a genius. It was their love that was the main actor here, covered up with the "stuff" of life. She'd forgotten how to "sell" her husband and herself on the power of their love. How that love could transform their everyday lives into something miraculous.

Think of how we raise children. Ever done a sales job to get a little one to finish their carrots or go to bed on time? Ever negotiated with a five-year-old with some candy, or an ice cream. I used to tell agents all the time to watch their kids, because kids are better than their parents at negotiating things. They get away with murder, almost.

The bottom line is my job is to write, but to get it out there to the public. I have to be attractive in what I write, but I also have to make myself sticky, so that readers will want to come along. Just like I'd practice in front of the mirror in the mornings, shaking my head and winking and saying, "Come on, you know you want to do this," as I'd practice going on an appointment, I'm writing to give you all the flypaper to stick to me like glue.

I promise if you'll stick with me we both will have a good time. And we'll have all the violins and candlelight and wonderful sensual kisses, though virtually but nevertheless just as powerful, in abundance. Welcome to my world. Hope you find a home there.


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