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Monday, July 9, 2012

Romance Novels Even Tough Guys Can Appreciate: Guest Hijacker Sharon Hamilton

         I am not normally a reader of the romance genre or anything that might be considered "chick-lit".   During the last Christmas holidays I did read a romance novel that I had won in a blog contest.  I actually enjoyed reading it. The characters were well developed, the dialog was natural, and the writing was quite good.  It was still not my favorite type of story, but it was something I was able to finish and not feel an oppressive obligation to read.
         If I managed that reading experience with no unpleasant repercussions, the books of Sharon Hamilton sound like something I could really get into.  Sharon, my guest hijacker for this post, writes in genre that might be called romantic military suspense.  If that has piqued your curiosity, then read on...

Men of Steel: Writing Military Romance (This is Not Political)

I didn’t grow up as a romance reader. I liked mysteries, science fiction and literary fiction as a youngster. I learned to read on Nancy Drew and then gravitated to science fiction and gory murder mysteries. I loved historical fiction, reading James Clavell and James Michener.

It would have been impossible for me to read a romance novel in my household growing up. Today, kids probably read unmentionable things on their ereaders or cell phones, but it would have been a problem for me to have anything like a naked man’s torso or a woman’s nearly bare chest on a book cover.

So I was late to the party. Because I think you have to read a lot to be a good writer, I have done just that, plowed into romance novels, and let all others go by the wayside. When I attended my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting, a multi-published author explained something I’d never heard before. “You know it’s a romance because the woman always wins and there’s always a happily ever after.”

This premise works for me. In a world where the woman doesn’t always win, and things, especially now, are not happily ever after, I have become a vehicle, delivering a rich fantasy life of what could be. Get me as far away from reality as possible. I can watch TV or listen to the radio for that.

I like that falling in love is not political. Same for military romance. We romance readers and writers like alpha heroes in our books—hunky guys who can go in and save the day. We don’t want to see a warrior in full battle dress unsure of what to do. Leadership coaches would call those types “stupid soldiers” – the ones that get everyone else killed. No, we like the take charge alpha who is so well trained that hesitation is drummed out of them. And Navy SEALs, in my opinion, complete that picture quite nicely.

I know several in the SEAL community, family members among them. SEALs are unique in that they don’t seek the spotlight, like to stick to themselves and their own community and don’t brag or draw attention to themselves for their amazing accomplishments. That’s not to say they don’t have an ego. I think most of them have enormous egos.

So you take this highly trained asset, and plunk him in a situation he hasn’t been trained in, like a love story, and voila, you have a romance novel. This highly trained military hero goes weak at the knees for the right woman. Readers love that.

85% of all romance readers are women (this statistic is changing, however as more men enjoy them), and the average romance reader reads 3-4 books a week. 5l% of all the books sold online are romance. It is a huge part of the publishing marketplace. I think a lot about that when my family asks me when I’m going to get a real job and not a hobby.

SEAL training is probably the most brutal program there is. BUD/S dropout rate is at least 75%. It isn’t uncommon, like in my book, for a class of young recruits to start out with close to 200, and wind up with less than a dozen graduated. The odds just to be selected to try out for the teams is 1 in 1000 already enlisted in the military.

Act of Valor realistically portrays the SEAL community. All the lead characters and many of the other actors were at one time or are now active Navy SEALs. The stunts are real, the ammunition was live.

Every member of the SEAL community knows someone who has made the ultimate sacrifice. Everyone. Team guys will gladly die for one another, without thinking. It’s just the way they are. We find that hard to believe in a day and age when lines are blurred and rules are morphed into guidelines. Our current SEALs are also trained, for the first time in a couple of decades, by SEALs who saw actual combat.

I asked one young SEAL why he decided to try out for the teams. “I just wanted to know what my limits were.” He knew that if he never tried, he would always want to know, just how far he could push himself. It had nothing to do with the rah rah. It was a deeply personal decision. I think most of these young men are the same.

Hope you’ll follow along with me and enjoy some of my fiction, based on these real men of steel.

Accidental Seal: 
 Christy Nelson embarks on her new career in Real Estate by holding her first open house. Entering the wrong house, by accident, she finds the nude sleeping body of a young man.

Navy SEAL Kyle Lansdowne, on a mission to find his AWOL Team buddy, is staying at his buddy’s home while investigating the disappearance.  When someone breaks in, he takes protective measures. He doesn’t expect to find that a beautiful young woman is responsible for his teammate’s abduction.

What starts out as a meeting by accident becomes a hot affair neither one is ready for. Kyle is conflicted about getting Christy involved in his mission, but his hand is forced when he learns the same San Diego gang responsible for his teammate’s abduction has kidnapped her.

Battling a cadre of dirty law enforcements hell-bent on getting military equipment, especially state-of-the-art firepower, Kyle is forced to admit that he would be willing to die to protect her.

Sharon's books are available from Amazon:

Sharon Hamilton loves all things paranormal: Angels, Dark Angels, Watchers, Guardians, Upogenie and Vampires. She also has developed a series of hot romantic suspense Navy SEAL stories. Her characters follow a spicy road to redemption through passion and true love—not exactly what they taught you in Sunday School!  

Sharon is represented by agent Jill Marsal, and has finaled in several erotic, contemporary,  paranormal and single title contests over the past three years. She regularly participates in four RWA and California Writer chapters, and two blogs.

An avid organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country in Northern California, where most of her stories take place.

Have any of you read any of Sharon's books? Have you read books in this or a similar mix of genres? What do you think of romance novels? Do you have any questions for Sharon?
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  1. I actually really like the sound of this book as it is Lee, in fact I liked the sounds of it the minute I read the title, I'd love to read one of Sharon's books.

    I'm actually quite into romance myself as weird as that sounds, so long as it's not too feminine and has a bit of a bite to it if that makes any sense.

  2. Waffles,
    Loving romance isn't weird at all. We get enough reality every day. Why not a good dish of fantasy? If you email me off loop, I'll send you the short, SEAL Encounter.

    sharonhamilton2001 (at) gmail (dot) com.

  3. I'm another romance fan - the world needs more HEAs in my opinion. I haven't read any of Sharon's books yet - off to correct that... :)

  4. Not a big romance fan, but I certainly don't want reality in my books. I'm reading to escape, not get a dose of the nightly news.

  5. Okay, I've got to admit, when I saw that hot form on the cover, I'd had to look twice to make sure this was Lee's blog.

    I'm one of those who like action mixed in with my romance (no, not that kind...well, maybe that, too). These have definitely caught my interest.

  6. Its great to meet Sharon and best wishes for her writing success!

  7. Jemi,
    I hear you about romance. Just think what my life would have been like if I'd discovered it sooner!! LOL.
    If you email me off loop, I'll send you the short to whet your appetite.

    Completely understand. Give me some great music, and I'm in my books. No talk radio, tv or anything else but pure fantasy. And just enough reality when I'm driving to keep me from getting into an accident!

  8. LD, LOL. Love to mess with Arlee, right? And yes, I like all "those kinds" of action things, as well as the action things. Your secret is safe with me...

    If you want the short, email me as above.

  9. I haven't yet read any of Sharon's books yet, but they sound like action from the get go. Interesting stats on the numbers that go into the SEAL programme and the numbers that graduate. It tells me that these have to be determined and strong persons. Should make for good storytelling. Nice to 'meet' Sharon.

  10. Thanks, Stephen. You too.

    I'm off for a little dental chair time (I'd go to a shrink but with all the dental work I've had done, I can't afford it).

    Be back in a few hours. Thanks again to Arlee for having me here today. Enjoy your day.

  11. Hi Sharon *waves* - Hello Arlee:) Yes, Sharon's story-stars are just that 'real people stars' that have emotional depth, a few quirks and whole lot of personality...besides the fact they are to die for good looking:) Well, the heroes are SEALs for goodness sakes - they have to be in the best of shapes:)

    I've read most of Accidental SEAL and it's an immediate gripper and takes you on a fantastic ride of romance and intrigue. It's definitely a keeper. I'm looking forward to reading the next in her series.

    P.S. Her angels aren't bad either:)

  12. My thanks to Sharon for hijacking my blog today and to the commenters so far. Today's post is more proof that Tossing It Out is truly an eclectic blog that tries to introduce new things to all readers.


  13. You may be converting some readers here, Sharon. What impressed me (besides the hunky guys on the covers) were the stats on romance readers. Wow! I can't read that many books.

    I enjoyed learning about the Seal program. I really had no idea how rigorous it was.

    Thanks for hijacking Arlee's blog. I loved your post and I guess your Seal books are now on my ever-growing list of books I'm interested in reading.

  14. Gosh, I may have to get those books just for the 6-packs! Dang, those are some smoking covers. Great interview!

  15. Great hijacker you found, Lee. I've read probably 500+ romance novels, no exaggeration. I know the formulas for regency romance, hot and steamy romance, romantic suspense romance...This was when I was in high school and college, but then life got real and I didn't read much, too busy making lesson plans, grading papers, coaching, etc. The life of a teacher is busy.
    I read very widely these days because since my goal is to write a book, I feel like the more books I read, the more I learn, whether the book is good or bad. I've explored some genres I never knew existed (cozy mystery, for example) and I try to read all the books my new friends write. My Kindle has a queue of them...all I need is time...which is in short commodity around here...
    I know for a fact that I'll enjoy your Navy Seal books, so those will be going on my Kindle next. Best of luck in your writing career, Sharon.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Post A-Z Road trip!

  16. Wow. Seriously feeling the love here.
    Back from the dentist and must be still feeling the effects of the laughing gas. Wait! I'd better get that love scene down before I lose it!

    Seriously, thanks to all my pals (waving to KayDee), Arlee and Tina. And so many new ones too. What a wonderful bunch to hang with today.

    If I've converted anyone to romance, well, my evangelist granddad would be proud (except he'd probably frown a little...)

    What else is there but to enjoy and inspire others to enjoy being alive. I'm honored. Let's stay in touch.

  17. Sounds like a great read. Nice to meet you, Sharon. Thanks for hosting her, Arlee.

  18. Thanks to you too, Carol. Arlee brings great variety to the blog. Wonderful to meet such new friends like yourself.

  19. Ok, Lee. You have encouraged me to read outside of what I normally read, which would be good. I am a romantic myself, but have not been a fan of romantic novels, but I do admire the Seals, so, I will read Sharon's latest. Sharon: What is your writing schedule and where do you get your ideas? And, congratulations on your publishing success.

  20. Loverofwords,
    I feel the burden of having you judge all romance novels based on my feeble writings. But thank you for doing so. Send me your email and I will send you the short for free, so you can dip your toes in without a huge investment of $4.99.

    sharonhamilton2001 (at) gmail (dot) com.

    As far as my writing schedule, I stole it from Stephen Cannell when I saw him. First thing in the AM, around 6, I read over what I've written the previous day, lightly edit it, and then write the next chapter. I have all the chapters lined out and the plot with "dark moments" and "turning points" similar to Alex Sokoloff's 3-act template. Alex has a great blog, btw where she gives all this away for free. Her sticky notes are still on my living room window.

    I like to write in series, so usually by the end of the book I know who has the next book, because that character has already been introduced. Just a trees and branches sort of thing.

    One of the blessings of getting older is there are lots of stories. I see them everywhere. In romance, we are always taking the perfect couple and messing them up. Or taking the most unlikely couple and getting them together. Or forcing them together and they start out hating each other, but falling in love in the end. Those are all common themes.

    But all my stories have a central theme of the healing power of love. I like to say, "Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart." It is my opinion that people who are in a deep committed love have a better life. It's a core belief of mine.

    Thanks for the great questions. Ask more if I didn't address everything you wanted to know.

    Thanks again, Arlee, for letting me hijack your blog.

  21. I don't read romance novels but I enjoy reading romance/erotic blog posts. They are usually only a few paragraphs and gets the job done.

  22. Well, sir, I cannot imagine whatever you mean?
    LOL. Well said.


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