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Blogging By the Sea
Tuesday, September 29 2015

                       

There were a lot of things I expected to happen in retirement. Fun things I was looking forward to, like traveling and more time to write. And not having to dance to someone else’s piping or get up to an alarm clock. And, honest to God, it started out that way. My first move was to downsize my home which was a herculean effort and often a big nostalgic, but I did it with enthusiasm because I was headed off on another great new adventure. I moved to a fantastic little neighborhood in the oldest city in the US – which provided a whole new venue for my interest in history. I have a cozy little bungalow by the sea and I get to go for a walk on the beach any time I like, which is often and a whole raft of new friends, neighbors, fellow history enthusiasts and authors.

   

My bungalow isn’t new and there were lots of things to paint, repair, replace and fix up when I got here, and I got right into doing it. In between writing and visiting the beach. I got involved with the living history museum downtown and sewed myself several colonial outfits, learned how to do leatherwork as it was done in the colonial period, played a tavern wench at the fantastic little taberna that felt like you were literally stepping back in time and several other activities connected to historical reenactment. But then the Spanish Quarter was turned over to new management and volunteers, living history docents and any real feeling of being in another era was lost. I still love the downtown, but feel disenfranchised.

   

I still have a ton of neat things I want to try. I have lots of projects I want to get accomplished and, of course, I’m still writing books – especially now that four of them have been published and a fifth is on the way. I don’t know if it’s because I finally figured out that retirement is supposed to be leisurely, or, God forbid – I’m getting old. I still have places I want to visit, but lately I seem to do more talking about going than actually packing the suitcase and getting on the road. I have a huge tub of old photographs that need to be sorted and organized and Michael’s had a sale on photo files so I bought several. And there the project sits, right were I see it every day, but it’s not getting done. I promised my daughter-in-law I’d finish embroidering her Christmas tablecloth and it’s not done yet either. It’s a good thing I respond well to deadlines because she’s going to need it come December. I have another grandchild on the way and that means creating another teddy bear, but what do you want to bet, I’ll get to it two weeks before the new grandbaby is due?

  

I have become so proficient at procrastination if there were trophies for it, I’d have one. Not that I’ve been completely without achievement. I did publish four books since I retired. At the beginning of the year, I bought a FitBit and since have traveled over 2 and a half million steps since then - that's over 1,000 miles. In the six years since I retired, I've been to Ireland, France, New Zealand, San Francisco, San Antonio and Tonga, and that’s not counting my annual trips to New England in the summer and about three dozen jet-setting trips for family events. But there are still so many places on my bucket list to see. I want to go, really I do, but it seems harder and harder to get my butt in gear? Is this normal? Not that I’ve ever been what you would call normal, but still. It would be nice to know if there’s a club for procrastinators out there I can join. Somewhere, in a box of odds and ends somewhere, I have a Genuine Round Tu-It. Now if only I could find that box I might get around to all the things I want to get done.

                

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 19 2015

   What current issues are important to you?   

Today’s Round Robin topic is what current social and global issues are important to me and do they show up in my writing. There are a number of current issues that I feel very passionate about. But, as a writer, knowing that more than half my audience is probably in the other camp on any given issue, I try very hard to keep that passion off my social media and out of my books. If I didn’t care so much about those issues that really touch home, it would be easy to take a middle ground approach, but more often than not, because I do care passionately, keeping my opinions to myself is the only way to avoid alienating half my readers. I do love a getting involved in a debate with people who take the time to understand the issues and who are able to weigh all sides of the argument, but far too often today people are driven by the media, have done little or no real reading or research and don’t really understand the ramifications of their own views never mind, keeping their mind open to the possibility that they might be wrong or that the opposing view might have some legitimate points to be considered. And in the social media of the internet, not much thoughtful debate takes place, so I do my best to stay out of it.

   

That said, there are a number of issues I feel deserve serious thought: Immigration, the economy, unsustainable debt and entitlements, the threat of terrorism, and a political process that has begun to fail the promise this country began with, thrived and grew strong on. But what most distresses me today is the disintegration of the moral fabric of our society. Every time there is another horrific shooting, the media goes crazy with talk of gun control, completely ignoring such facts as the city with the toughest gun control laws in our country has the highest gun death rate. Clearly gun control does not work there and it seems to clear to me that making new laws that will be kept only by people who aren’t about to commit a crime anyway is not going to change anything yet the clamor to create these new laws completely overshadows all the other aspects of what is driving this problem. When I was growing up everyone in my neighborhood (and I didn’t live in Texas) had a gun of some kind. Just about every man had been in uniform in WWII and some of them surely were suffering from PTSD. We had our neighborhood bully and kids had far less supervision out of school than they do now. There were killings now and then, but nothing like what we are experiencing today. So what has changed? That’s what I wish people would start getting serious about. Personally, I feel that a lack of discipline and respect is a big factor. The notoriety a disgruntled person can gain from perpetrating mayhem via the media circus is certainly another aspect. Maybe violent video games and movies and TV are partly to blame. Maybe we don’t have the right approach to mental illness. Maybe, as a society, we have turned so far away from God and having any kind of moral compass in our lives that evil has mushroomed. And just maybe it’s partly due to having created a populace that has come to expect certain entitlements. Instead of the work ethic of 50 or 100 years ago, far too many people grow up feeling like they are owed something they don’t have to work for and when they don’t get it someone somewhere is to blame. And someone needs to pay. Our country was founded on the principle of life, liberty and the “pursuit” of happiness - but not the guarantee of anything we weren’t willing to work for.

    

 

But do I put this passion into my novels? Sometimes. My first book, Whatever It Takes, includes a peek at some of the issues of our day and I was pretty even handed in my treatment of them. It is mainstream fiction: Blurb: The photo caught Matt Steele off guard, jerking him back to a time he’d done everything to forget, to emotions he never wanted to relive. In the midst of a hotly contested three-way race for the White House, the photo and the man who brought it will challenge everything Matt thought he knew about himself. The choice he faces to put honor on the line could change the outcome of the election and the fate of a nation. Considering the background is a presidential election, it was imperative to include some of the major issues of our day, from gay lifestyles, to immigration, to the economy and the US at war.

   

In my Camerons of Tide’s Way series, which is contemporary romance, the social issues are not as prominent, but they do appear. In Loving Meg, my heroine is a female Marine returning from a year in a combat zone, struggling with the issues so many of our veterans experience. Similar issues facing our military men and women is a major theme in the current book in progress, this time a career Marine who has been injured and is facing the possible loss of his career and the only life he’s known as an adult. While not as divisive as gun control or immigration, our veterans and the way we support and care for them is one of the issues I am passionate about. So much so that 50% of my proceeds from Loving Meg goes to a non-profit (K-9s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra, FL) that provides service dogs to veterans who are struggling with their re-entry into civilian life.

Maybe someday I’ll get brave, or really fired up and tackle a major social issue in a major way in a novel. But for now, amidst the turmoil of our times, most people read fiction to escape and readers want the good guys to win, so I’ll continue to write happy-ever-after stories and try to avoid writing about issues that divide us as a nation instead of uniting us.

Take a hop on over to some of these other blogs to see how other authors feel about the social issues of our day and how they handle the inclusion of them in their writing.

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman  http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland  http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Marci Baun 
http://marcibaun.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham  http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Connie Vines  http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-vQ
Rachael Kosinski  http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright  http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

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Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 11 2015

We all have moments that remain stark and fresh in our minds no matter how many years may pass.

    

Some of those moments are personal: The moment you hold your newborn child for the first time, look into its eyes and know you will never be the same person again. Or the moment you clasped your mother’s hand in yours as she passed from this life to the next and realized there would always be a hole in your heart where she had always been. Some of us have unspeakably painful memories of an event so awful that it took our breath away and made us feel like our hearts were breaking. Those are moments that made you a different person, moments that live in your heart. Moments stamped in startling clarity and incredible detail      

But there are other moments shared by many that change us as well. Moments that are indelibly etched in our hearts and minds. If you are as old as my dad, you can still hear the echoes of FDR’s radio announcement of the day that would down in Infamy.” For my generation, we often ask each other, “Where were you when JFK was assassinated in Dallas?” I can’t answer for my dad, but I can most certainly answer exactly where I was on the day JFK died. I can “hear” the gasps that greeted the announcement over the school PA system and I will never forget the sound of clanging locker doors in halls where no words were spoken because we were all in shock. My daughter remembers the day the Challenger blew up because she was home from school due to illness and watching the launch on TV. Her disbelief is as strong now as it was when the replays of the disaster insisted the impossible had happened.

And now there is 9/11.

  

Each of us has private memories of that day. Some of us more poignant than others. For some it was personal – a loved one was on one of those planes, their mother worked in one of those offices, or their firefighter husband was in the tower when it collapsed. Or the woman whose husband left the message on her answering machine ending with “…I want you to know, I absolutely love you.” How she must have ached to have been home to tell him the same thing.

For each of us there are both personal and shared moments from that day that changed who we are as Americans. Watching the mushrooming cloud of dust and debris as the towers collapsed. The unbelievable horror of people jumping to their deaths. And in the days that followed, the images of firefighters and search dogs desperate to find survivors. Discouraged men and women, exhausted and filthy but not willing to give up. All those images and more are as fresh in our memories today as they were when they were happening. They were defining images that changed us all. Some young people who had never considered a life in the military were eager to enlist. Many installed flagpoles in their yards – people  who had never flown flags before. Some people learned to pray that day. Others have never prayed since.

But these are the moments that make us or break us, as individuals and as a nation.

 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Tuesday, September 01 2015

Brianna Reagan's life fell apart when her husband was killed in combat. Now, three years later, she and her son have started a new life in Tide's Way. She loves her job, and she’s convinced that eight-year-old Sam is all the man she needs in her life.  Then Sam joins the Cub Scouts and Brianna meets his scout leader. Will Cameron has a smile that could melt her socks off, and he isn’t shy about his interest in her or her fatherless boy. Unfortunately, he likes living life on the edge, and he’s a state trooper: another fearless hero willing to put his life on the line every day for the sake of others. As she struggles to remain "just a friend," Will offers so much more.

But how can she risk putting her heart in harm’s way again? Even for Will?

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

~~~~~

Will placed his remaining five letters on the board covering both the triple word and a triple letter squares. Gripy

“That’s not a real word.” Bree scoffed. She began to remove his tiles.

“Sure it is. Look it up.” Will covered her hand with his and flattened it over the letters on the Scrabble board. An unexpected jolt of excitement shot from the warmth of his palm to her heart. For a long moment neither of them spoke while their eyes were eloquent with so much that wasn’t being said.

Bree slid her hand out from under Will’s and snatched it to her chest.

“Why did you do that?”

“Do what?” Bree’s breath caught in her throat. She reached for the dictionary and tried to ignore the way her body had reacted to his touch.

Will took the dictionary and set it aside. “Are you afraid of me?”

She shook her head. She was more afraid of herself.

“Then why do you pull back into your shell like a turtle every time I touch you?”

“We’re friends. I’d like to stay friends.” And his touch made her feel things that were a long way beyond just friendly.

“Friends can be lovers too.”

“No. They can’t. Someone always gets—” She stood up and moved away from the table. Away from him.

Will got to his feet as well, but didn’t try to close the physical gap she’d created between them. “Someone always gets what?”

“Hurt,” Bree whispered. “Someone always gets hurt.”

“I have no intention of hurting you. I just want to l—”

“But what if I let myself care too much and something happened that you had no control over?” Bree fought the rising tide of confusion, alarm and desire.

His blue eyes widened. “Is that what all this has been about? You’re afraid to fall in love again because of what happened to your husband?”

Bree tucked her hands beneath her armpits to keep from reaching out to him.

Will took a step in her direction. She hugged herself tighter.

“And I’m a trooper so that makes me off limits?”

He loomed over her now. All six feet plus of him. He raked his fingers through his blond hair and left it standing on end. Tears abruptly swamped Bree’s eyes. She blinked furiously, trying to make them go away.

He cupped her cheek in his palm and ran his thumb across her lips. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you to live every day as if there were no tomorrow?”

Having no tomorrow is what I’m afraid of.

“Would you change everything if you knew what would happen to Ed? Do you regret loving him?”

Stricken, Bree shook her head.

“We could be so good together, Bree. Getting hurt sucks, I know. But shutting out love is worse.”

Then he swept her into his arms. There was nothing fleeting about his kiss. Nothing that could be misinterpreted as just friends. Just so much tenderness that her walls began to crumble. He didn’t try to force her lips apart, but she felt the yearning desire in him and opened of her own free will.

The kiss became a hot, fiery spiral. She clutched at his shoulders and let herself be overwhelmed by the sensations of Will’s mouth on hers and his body coming to life, touching hers in ways she hadn’t experienced in years.

It was Will who pulled back first. His eyes were closed and his jaw taut. His breathing as labored as hers. Then, he dropped his arms and stepped away.

When he opened them, passion still darkened the bright blue of his eyes. “Think about it, Bree. Think about how good we could be for each other. If only you can stop being afraid.”

Then he stepped around her and walked to the door. He let himself out and closed it soundlessly behind him.

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Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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