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Blogging By the Sea
Monday, May 26 2014

I often wonder how many different answers I’d get if I asked random people on the street what Memorial Day means for them. Far too often when I contemplate the question, sadness overwhelms me when I consider some of the answers I might get.

When I was a small child, Memorial Day meant a parade, ice cream and visiting the cemetery to put flowers on family graves. Looking back, I remember my mother calling it Decoration Day and that meant decorating graves even though they were just great grandparents and not soldiers who had died in battle. When I got older the day still meant a parade, but by then I was marching with the high school band and sitting on a sunny slope listening to the local dignitaries make speeches. I began to realize that it wasn’t just about decorating graves. But it still wasn’t very personal.

As a young adult, half the men in my generation served in a country few of us knew anything about and the other half were protesting the draft, the war and the unfortunate soldiers who answered the call. What a difference compared to the unity of purpose of the Greatest Generation! My brother was one of those unfortunate young men who had unmentionable things shouted at them and thrown at them when they finally returned stateside, scarred forever by a war we could have won, but didn’t have the political will for. A childhood friend lost his life flying his fighter jet off a carrier in the South China Sea. High school friends died fighting, tending to the wounded and flying helicopters. I finally began to understand what Memorial Day is really all about. Later, when I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC for the first time my gut-deep reaction to that shiny black wall made it all very personal. 


Today, the advances in medicine and emergency care are saving more and more of our young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from the ultimate sacrifice of war, but there are still far too many who leave grieving parents, heartbroken wives and husbands and children who will never know their fathers or mothers. Today is a day for honoring those who have fallen in defense of an ideal. The ideal of Democracy. The idea of America. And in faithful service to each other.

There will always be parades and grand speeches. There will always be barbeques, beer and friends enjoying an extra day off from work. The beaches and parks will teem with people looking for fun and relaxation. Merchants will grab the opportunity for extra sales. But while your heart is thrumming to the beat of drums as the band marches by, while your mind wanders as the speeches begin to repeat themselves, while you’re pursuing your day in the sun or dickering over the price of a new car, take a moment to remember all those we have lost. Starting with that first brave soul who lost his life facing the might British Army across a village green in Lexington Massachusetts. Remember the sailors who finally trounced the seemingly invincible British Navy in 1812. And the thousands who fought over keeping America whole during the Civil War, the men in the trenches of WWI and the thousands who died in so many far away places in WWII, the men and women of my generation who struggled in Southeast Asia and all the little wars in between. And especially remember those who stepped up to volunteer, both before and after 9/11, giving up so much to defend us against an enemy who would like nothing better than to wipe America off the map.  

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. Honor those who have fallen in the defense of freedom in every generation. Today, when all the hoopla is over, I’m going to the cemetery alone. I plan to touch the top of each headstone and thank each one for their sacrifice. RIP. God bless you. You are not forgotten. What will you be doing to mark this day?

Posted by: Skye AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, May 19 2014
Big Easy Writing Process Blog Tour

  Happy Monday. Today at Blogging on the Beach, we have Kathryn Bain visiting us to participate in the Big Easy Writing Process Blog Tour. She is the award winning Author of Beautiful Imperfection, Catch Your Breath, Breathless, Day & Knight and Game of Hearts. Be sure to check them out - all of them will keep you turning pages and wishing there was more when you get to the end. 

And now on to the tour:  

1) What am I working on? Instead of an inspirational mystery or suspense book, I’m working on a book of encouragement for women titled “Holding the Hand of King ((Having the Confidence to Accept God’s Grace and Love). It’s a Bible study for women.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? Normally I write fiction and I’m a bit edgier than some Christian authors. I have a tendency to accuse Christians of not following Jesus more than a sweet Christian writer would. Plus I really enjoy killing people in my books.

3) Why do I write what I do? Being a Christian, I feel led to write what I do because of my beliefs.

4) How does my writing process work? I plot most of the story but leave myself room for changes if need be. I write the entire story through, then go back and begin my edits. I hardly have any setting in the manuscript to begin with. Most of what I have is dialogue, action, and of course murder (hehehe). 

If you have any questions for Ms. Bain, be sure to comment below and she will do her best to answer them. 

Next Week, be sure to visit:

Sharon E. Buck is one of those people who can find something funny in almost anything...backing up six feet in a far and getting her elbow stuck in the headrest, gardening in the backyard, screaming because there are snakes trying to crawl up her legs and then realizing it's the drawstrings on her shorts dangling down and gently caressing her kneecaps and've got the picture!

and Selena Fulton, who was born in a small town in Indiana and moved to Florida as a teen. Now that their daughter has grown, Selena and her husband are empty-nesters - if you don't count the cat! Selena enjoys camping, morning strolls along the seashore, making jewelry and reading. 

She is a multi published author with new releases coming (She'll post them as soon as the release dates are set.) She belongs to First Coast Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Ancient City Romance Authors. Currently serving as VP of First Coast Romance Writers, she believes in "paying it forward" by working with fellow authors in her critique groups and judging contests. 

Posted by: Kathryn Bain AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 12 2014
The Big Easy Writing Process Blog Tour

     Skye-Writer - on tour...

Hi folks. I hope you are enjoying this great Big Easy Blog Tour adventure and all the many authors you have met a long the way. Marilee Brothers was the lady who twisted my arm with an invite to join the tour. In her words, “how could I say no?”

The thrust of this tour is to share our personal writing process, and maybe pick up a few hints from other authors along the way.

1)  What am I working on?

I am currently working on three things. I am revising and editing the just completed first draft of book #2 in the Camerons of Tide’s Way series, LOVING MEG, which will come out from Bell Bridge Books next year. I’m also finishing the research and working on character back stories for the third book in that series. And with any free time I have, I’m revisiting a time travel romance I wrote some years ago that I know is a great story, getting rid of all the beginner mistakes I made while writing it and making it a stronger, better novel.

2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like stories I can relate to so I don’t write about the super wealthy folk who live a lifestyle I can only begin to imagine. I don’t enjoy either reading about or writing about glamorous models or movie stars either. I like heroes who work and play hard, but whose strong calloused hands can be gentle enough to cradle a baby or a lover’s cheek. I like the kind of men who put their lives on the line for others, whether it’s rescuing a puppy from a kill shelter, or gearing up and marching into war as an ordinary soldier. I like heroines who have a mind of their own and an agenda for their lives. Heroines who end up having to make difficult choices to make room in their lives for love. I want my readers to feel as if the characters in my books could live in their own neighborhoods. I like my characters to give of themselves beyond their own needs, wants, families and jobs. I want them to volunteer in soup kitchens, visit shut-ins, walk dogs in shelters, participate in fund raisers to help others, care enough to shovel the walkway of the elderly person who lives next door or stop to help someone with car trouble. Not too many people actually wear blue collars any more, but that’s the kind of characters I write about. Ordinary citizens – the great middle class of America. Jake Cameron and Zoe Callahan in my recently released FALLING FOR ZOE are just that kind of folk.

3)  Why do I write what I do?

When asked why I wrote WHATEVER IT TAKES, I often tell people that I am so discouraged by the current trend in politics, that I decided to write my own characters and my own endings. But in truth that book morphed from a story about one man’s struggle with a ghost from his past that seriously impacted his run for president. Other characters got created and the story began to take on a whole new life of its own. Mostly I write romance because who doesn’t enjoy a good love story. I write time travel because the concept of suddenly being plunged into the past intrigues me. I enjoy history as a hobby so for me the time travel is always into the past. 

4)  How does my writing process work?

I am a Pantser! I’ve tried to plot books. Struggled with outlines, used plotting notebooks and a half dozen other techniques for plotting before the book gets written, but it just isn’t my style. I get ideas from many places: some come to me in the shower or on long walks on the beach. Sometimes I see a vignette in real life, just a piece of something going on between two people and wonder how it ended, which makes me want to create an ending. One time travel book I wrote came to me as I explored a long deserted island off the coast of Maine, and while standing on the lip of an old fieldstone foundation, the thought came to me, ‘what if I fell in here, hit my head and then woke up with a roof over my head?’ I went home and researched a bit more about that island’s history and Iain’s Plaid was born. (That’s the book I’m revisiting in my answer to question #1 and I hope to see it in print one of these days soon.)

My stories are very character driven. I usually spend several days just writing backstory, starting when they were born or at least when they were young. I write them as if I was telling you all about this person I’ve known all my life. Sometimes going back to pick up an important incident or characteristic, but just sort of free hand, telling their life story. When I’m done I really know that character well. I do this for both my hero and heroine, then I put them down in the opening scene and let them go. I am often surprised where my characters end up taking me. Sometimes even shocked. And more often touched. As I hope you will be when you read my books.

Next week, be sure to see how Kathryn Bain, Heidi Sprouse and Sharon Drane answer the same four questions. Scroll down for more about these writers.:

Award winning author Kathryn J. Bain’s fifth book, Beautiful Imperfection, was released September 29, 2013. Her book Catch Your Breath took Third Place in the 2013 Heart of Excellence Contest for her inspirational romance and Breathless took First Place for Inspirational Romance in the 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards.

She was the President of Florida Sisters in Crime from 2010-2012 and is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.

Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn't far enough south, because two years later she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since. Kathryn will be a guest for this blog tour at this same Barefoot on the Beach address.

Heidi Sprouse was born in Albany, NY. A wife and mother, she's been teaching for 20 years in upstate New York, and can add big dreamer to her resume. After diligently working on writing for the past ten years, she's joined the team at Bell Bridge Books to bring readers a collection of romances and romantic suspense novels that are sure to make readers fall in love.  Her recent book, All the Little Things is a unique and heartwarming story that you won’t be able to put down. Sam and Megan have loved each other since childhood. Marriage has always been their destiny. But lately they've lost a fragile balance between them. Now Sam has given himself a deadline to win her back or lose her forever.

Many years ago, Sharon Drane was hired to work as a social worker in a large metropolitan area. During her tenure she saw the worst that humanity had to offer from abuse of innocent children to abuse of elderly or disabled adults.  She saw many people starving or in desperate need of medical attention.  Some clients she could help.  For others it was too late. In order to cope with the daily sadness, she began to write colorful stories of beautiful ladies and strong men.  In her world, no matter what happened the couple lived happily ever after, able to overcome any obstacle and find a way to be together.

Now retired, she writes full time.  She lives in north Florida where she looks after her two elderly Shih Tzus and her 93-year-old father. She is the current president of Ancient City Romance Authors, a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

Her first novel, Touch the Sky, will be published in late 2014.  True to her dreams, it is the story of lovers who suffer a catastrophic event.  Wrenched apart, each filled with pain, is there hope of reconciliation?

Posted by: Skye AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 07 2014
The Time in Between . . .

The time in between….

I just wrote THE END to the second book in the Camerons of Tide’s Way series. There is still a lot of revision and polishing work to be done, but I’m letting it rest. For a number of reasons. First, of course, is that writers get very close to their work, it’s a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. So, it’s better to step back and give it a little time and space. Then when you return to start the revising and polishing, you have a fresher eye to look at it with. Another is distance from the characters. One becomes to totally immersed in the lives of your characters, their feelings, hopes, fears and loves, that stepping away for a bit makes returning like an almost new adventure. Sometimes you read a passage and think, WOW! I wrote that? That’s awesome. Other times you go Whoa! That’s awful! Definitely need to fix that. And then there’s the What? Scratching your head wondering what you were trying to say here. So, giving your work time and emotional distance helps to return to it far fresher and ready to do the story and your characters justice.

So, what should I do with this moment? These several moments?

There’s book three in the series. Jake and Ben had two more brothers and a sister, all who want their story told. I am torn currently between Philip who is the eldest and who has a major personal struggle ahead of him that he doesn’t see coming, and Will, Ben’s twin brother. He’s on a fast track in his career when he meets the woman he knows is “the one.” Only problem is that she won’t even agree to a dinner date because of the line of work he’s in. Both stories and both heroes intrigue me. Both heroines are ladies I can so relate to, whose lives are busy, satisfying and yet have a hole they don’t realize is there.

Both books require some research and believe it or not, I love the research part. Learning new things and visiting new places are great adventures. My library unfortunately appears to have very little on either subject so I’ve purchased books online that are on their way to me right now. I am eager to get started. And then there’s the internet which is a wonderful treasure trove of links and information. I sometimes wonder how writers ever managed to find out all the stuff they needed to know back before Google. One book I was writing, was set in 1970 and my heroine was a Boston Red Sox fan, specifically a Carl Yazstremski fan. And I needed to know if he was playing regularly at that particular moment in time. In just minutes, I had the entire lineup for all the games played that fall. I knew what games the Yaz played in, who they were playing against, and even if he got a hit. Amazing!

Then there’s all the chores I’d have assigned my husband had he still been alive. Chores I kept putting off while I was rushing to finish the book. And if none of this appeals to me, spring has finally decided to happen, the weather is gorgeous and my rambles on the beach can be a whole lot longer. Then when I get back and Duff has had his shower, I can take one of those books on my To-Be-Read pile and go stretch out in the hammock and read. In fact . . . the heck with the chores – they can wait. I have a great book calling to me and that hammock sure looks comfy. 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 09:47 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
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