Hot July Summer

I could have just called this July, and everyone in the state of Oklahoma would already know that meant hot summer.  We’re enjoying (I say that with just the tiniest bit of sarcasm) triple digit heat.  Ugh, and thank God for whoever invented air conditioning because it was non-existent when I was a kid.  I remember the first water-cooler my family bought.  We thought it was a miracle, but it did get a little crowded standing right in front of it where the air was the coolest.

Bedtime during those years meant plenty of hot sleepless nights.  We used to pray for a breeze, or an unexpected thunderstorm just to cool things off.  My sister and I would lie motionless on our backs, our arms out-flung, hoping to catch even the tiniest wisp of stirring air.  When our parents finally bought an old circulating fan, we took turns lying on the side of the bed closest to it, and we made a rule that no one slept on their side, because that would block the air.  It was either on your tummy or your back.

When the days got hot, it meant playing in the shade instead of out in the yard.  We still played, regardless of weather.  Where does that wonderful abandon go as we get older?  Do we trade creature comforts for joy?  I hope not.  I still remember what it feels like to run barefoot through hot sand, and the utter bliss of flying down the hillside toward the creek, knowing what that cool water was going to feel like on my hot bare feet.  Life was so simple then.  The sun came up.  We did our chores and played.  The sun went down.  We did our chores and went to bed.  The orchestrated ‘play dates’ parents make for their children now often leave me speechless.  Play should not be on a schedule for anyone under the age of ten.  It should be an inalienable right and batteries are not included.

But those days are nothing but fond memories.  All I would wish back from those times are my father and my sister.  They’ve been gone for far too many years.  Still, sometimes when the air is so hot that it burns the inside of my nose just to take a breath, I can almost hear my sister laughing as she would beat me to the creek; watching the water splashing up on the back of her legs and the joy on her face as she turned around and yelled.  “I won!”

Yes, she beat me at just about everything.  I imagine her now – never still – never quiet – and that clear, perfect laugh, ringing out all over heaven.

 

 

 

Following My Path

Isn’t this new website beautiful?  It’s a very personal reflection of both Sharon Sala and Dinah McCall and I hope you enjoy it in the days to come.  Sharon’s stories are usually romantic suspense, or straight fiction.  Dinah’s stories are the ones with Native American characters and a paranormal storyline.  Dinah’s stories honor my Native American ancestors.  Both of my daddy’s grandmothers were part Native American.  One was a three-quarter blood Cherokee and the other one part Cree.  The Native blood is very thin in my veins, but my heart and soul completely belong to the culture and to The People.

Most of you who know me and have been reading me for years might have heard this before, but for those of you who might wonder why I would do something so random and choose to have wolves on the page, let me share my story.

When I first started to school, my family lived way out in the country in a little rent house down on the river. It was a half mile from the house to the road where I walked to catch the bus.  The old dirt road was bounded on one side by a pasture and on the other side by a heavily wooded hillside that ran parallel to the road.  Laddie, a big yellow dog not unlike the Old Yeller dog from the movie, walked with me every day to catch the bus, and he was there waiting for me when I came home every evening.

Then one morning when the days were beginning to get colder and the air was still heavy with morning mist and frosty leaves, a big wolf appeared on the hill. It never threatened, it never made a sound.  But as we moved toward the bus stop, it began to follow me, staying high up in the tree line while we walked down on the road, pacing our every step.  Laddie knew it was there because the hair on the back of his neck would raise and he would growl all low in his throat.  But the wolf never threatened, and for some reason I wasn’t afraid.  It was just there.  This went on every day all the way to winter, and then one day it was gone.  I never told anyone and eventually forgot about it until one day I was telling the story in the midst of some Native American friends of mine.  An old man who’d been listening suddenly grabbed my arm and got all excited.  He told me that meant that the wolf was my totem, and that by appearing to me as it had, meant I had been marked for great purpose, and that I should pay attention to the opportunities that would come before me in my life.

I remember this every time I begin a new story, and when I get letters from readers who tell me that the stories in my books have helped them through some of their darkest times.  This is how I know I’m doing what I was chosen to do.  This is how I know I’m on the right path.  Wolves mate for life.  They are loyal to the pack and their family.  It is a good way to live.

So now when you see the wolves, remember a little girl beginning her journey into adulthood by walking a dirt path to catch a bus, and then look now at how far that path took her – all the way here to you!

The Resurrection of Dinah McCall

If you’re new to my work, you won’t know who Dinah McCall was. If you’ve been reading me for a while, then you do. So, FYI… Dinah McCall is my pen name, and the last book she wrote was THE SURVIVORS, which came out in 2006. I was writing The Survivors in 2005 when my Bobby became ill, and then was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died in our house, in my arms, and a piece of me and Dinah went with him. It took me over a year to finish that book after he died. Every time I sat down to try and write, all I could see was him, all I could remember was feeling his last breath on my cheek. I was a wreck.

Over time, I managed to get my act together, but thinking about writing a Dinah book just reminded me of the last one, which reminded me of him, and ultimately, Dinah quit. Thank goodness Sharon didn’t, or we would both be homeless.

Yes, my Bobby was gone, but his spirit is always around me. I know it. I feel him. When I am worried or down about something, I find pennies. His signal to me that he is near. When I travel…when I have a serious appointment at the doctor, when I am worried about my mother, my family, making the next mortgage payment, whatever it is, I know he is near.

And then a few months ago I had a dream. Again, for those of you who DON’T know, I dream my books. In color, with dialogue, etc… like you would go to the movies. So in this dream, my Bobby was showing me a scene (it’s in the first part of the book where the heroine is being attacked and then rescued). And then the next night, I got the rest of the story. Everything in this book is an homage to the Native American race and to their enduring spirit to be able to survive despite what would seem to many, overwhelming odds.. Bobby was from the Creek/Muscogee tribe. Both of my daddy’s grandmothers were of Native American descent. One was Cherokee, the other Cree. So we always shared a kindred spirit as well as the love.

So, it’s because of my Bobby, and the dream and the push he gave me, that prompted Dinah McCall to pull herself out of mothballs. This is the first book she’s written in seven years. She was afraid most people had forgotten about her. She was leery about a Native American paranormal when the hot topic in paranormal books seems to still be demons, vampires and witches. But this was the dream, and this is the book, and it’s from her (and me and my Bobby) to you, with love…

COUNTDOWN TO FALL

It rained today. I was beginning to think it would never happen again. We’re into our second year of short rainfalls and long drought conditions. Too many wildfires, and too many days of 110 degrees plus heat. I’m ready for fall.

When I was little, it always meant going back to school. For me, this was good and this was bad. I loved school and my friends. I did not like being a teacher’s kid, but what can you do? Mother was a teacher. We had to eat. Options over.

Fall is my favorite time of year for a lot of reasons. Growing up a farmer’s daughter, summer meant long days and long hours working, putting up produce from our garden, helping Daddy haul hay out of the field, milking cows, feeding pigs… you name it. I’ve done it. But fall was a time to slow down. Crops were nearly all put by. Sometimes Daddy would let the cows dry up so we wouldn’t have to milk through the winter, which I hated. Fingers so cold they didn’t want to squeeze the old cow’s udders anymore than she wanted my cold hands on her.

I love the way the air smells in the fall. A little crisp, like the way a ripe apple smells just before you take that first bite. And I love the days when the sun is still shining but you have to wear a jacket to be comfortable. The leaves on the trees begin to turn and the grass finally quits growing and no more days of mowing lawns. By the time the leaves begin to fall, I have already begun my nesting. Like a bear getting ready to den up, I gather things around me for the time when the nights are far longer than the hours of sunlight – like books I’ve been wanting to read, and renting movies I never got to see. I dig out recipes because it’s no longer too hot in the house to start an oven. I am counting down now. Waiting for the time to rest.

OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD…or MICKEY

So I’m heading to Anaheim next week for the annual RWA convention. Romance Writers of America to the unaware. Really, really looking forward to this, and mostly because it will be the first time in a year that I’ve had a chance to take a break. Being the sole caregiver for my 92 year old mother, who suffers from dementia and no short term memory is both a blessing and a burden, but not one I resent. HOWEVER… really really really excited about the trip.

I’m told the hotel is very close to Disney. I should go say hello to Mickey I guess, but I’m not making promises. I don’t do rides. I have motion sickness, and walking isn’t as easy as it once was. So I might just wave at old Mickey from a taxi. I’m pretty sure he won’t miss me a bit.

The annual meeting is so much more than the workshops and parties. After 20 years in the biz, I have a lot of really good friends, and the annual conference is the only time we get a chance to see each other. As a writer, being around other people who ‘get’ my world is refreshing. It’s like refilling the well of my creativity. I always come home full of inspiration and ideas… and hope that somewhere down the line things will get better.

My mom is already anxious though. Once she heard someone mention trip, she gave me the bug-eyed look and started worrying… when am I going? when am I coming back? I know I am the anchor to her insular little world. I know I help keep her crazy thoughts at bay and steer her somewhere left of rational. But I have the most amazing daughter who steps right into my shoes without a hitch. Were it not for her and her sweet family, I couldn’t do this. She just packs up her entire family and moves across town into my house for the entire time I’m gone. She’s my angel in training for sure.

So ya’ll be good while I’m gone. See what you can do about generating a few good downpours here in Oklahoma. We’re in dire need, for sure. I’ll see you when I see you and I’ll be bringing good surprises.

THE GREAT PRETENDER

Once upon a time there was a woman who walked through the world with her eyes only half open because she was afraid of what she might see. She was afraid to be the first to say she liked something, for fear she would be laughed at. She never tasted new food for fear she wouldn’t like it. She was afraid to love for fear she might get hurt. She took the first job she was offered at the first place that would hire her for fear she would never get another offer. And because she was so afraid of the world in which she lived, when her life was coming to an end, she realized – alas, too late – that she’d missed what it meant to be alive.

I have made countless mistakes in my life, but every time I got hurt, either by fate or someone else’s actions, there was a lesson for me to be learned.

Just when you think you know what’s going on and that you’ve got a handle on your life, it smacks you down just to prove you’re not the one in charge.

A very wise man once told me that every time he tried to take control of his own life that it was when he began to make mistakes. Often big ones that caused problems for years down the road. He said that it was only when he finally let go and let God that everything in his life became clear.

I have been afraid many times in my life – sometimes for myself – more often for others whom I love. But I have never been afraid to step out beyond the safety zone because it was there that I also found my greatest joys.

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THE BOARDING HOUSE

I’ve never devoted an entire post to one book before, but this book is different. It demands attention beyond entertainment, although by the reviews I’ve been getting, it will become a book hard to forget. If I had one wish for this book, it would be that it takes wing and spreads across the country like wildfire. It’s a story no one ever wants to acknowledge. A story known about in families but hidden because of shame. A story told and retold so often on the news that we hear but no longer listen.

It’s a story about child abuse, yet the ugly, graphic parts of that story are never shown. It’s a story about a little girl named Ellie, who is seen but never heard while the world goes on around her. And when no one comes to save her, you will weep, but you will cheer as she finally saves herself.

But it’s HOW she makes that happen, that lifts this story to another level. Just when you think you understand who she’s all about, there’s a twist in her tale that you’ll never see coming.

Read this book. Tell your friends. Take this act of outrage against children out of the closet. Take away their shame forever by being a champion for those who can not speak for themselves.

Ellie Wayne is not real, but the thousands upon thousands of children who endure abuse are.

I am but one person, but through this book, my voice is LOUD. Read this book and hear me roar.

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DOES ANYONE REMEMBER MAY DAY?

It’s almost the first of May, which was a great big deal when I was a little girl. It was called May Day and we made little baskets out of cardboard oatmeal boxes, made handles out of colored, braided pipe cleaners, covered them with crepe paper or construction paper, and filled them with either wild flowers or whatever was blooming in the flower garden and gave them to people as special gifts. Besides grandmothers and mothers, some of the elderly widows in my church were often the recipients of the baskets my sister, Diane, and I made. We’d fix the little baskets, fill them with bunches of climbing roses, or flowers cut from the bar ditches on the way to town. We’d hang the basket on the doorknob of the lady’s house, ring the bell, and then run back to the car and drive away just as they were coming out to discover their ‘special gift’. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. It was fun for kids and a lesson in giving back that we didn’t forget. Seeing the smiles of delight and the happy lift of a hand as we’re driving off was “the best!”. Diane and I would giggle all the way to the next house. Looking back, I realize that it was our mother who needed the pat on the back. She was showing us the way, even at that young age, how special it was to do something for others. At school, we had a tall flag pole that they used for a May Pole. Dozens and dozens of long long strips of colored crepe paper were hung at the top of the pole and two circles of kids stood at the bottom of the pole, each with a streamer of the paper in their hand. When the music started, the inner circle of kids went one way and the outer circle the other, and as we passed each other, we went over and under, over and under each other still holding the paper and proceeded to ‘weave’ the paper around the pole. When we were finished, we thought it the most beautiful thing ever! It stood on the playground, a testament to the day of fun (and being out of class) until wind and rain began to undo it’s beauty, and then it came down. Such simple things in a world from times past. Change is inevitable…but in the metamorphosis of time, some of the more special moments are lost. This year on May Day, I will spend a few moments remembering my grandmother, Mabel Shero, and her little lady friends from church. Mrs. Sutherland. Mrs. Patton. Mrs. Case and Mrs. Nosalek. You’ve been gone too long, but still not forgotten.

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HE LOVES ME

So my grandson, Little Man, is on spring break this week, which means a sleep-over at Grammy’s house. That means me. I’ve held him in my arms and rocked him to sleep. I’ve read multitudes of books over the years to put him to bed. We’ve play UNO and Bingo and Monopoly and every game you can imagine putting off bedtime, and I don’t care because I’m Grammy, and you’re supposed to get to do stuff you want to at Grammy’s house. But tonight, He informs me, on his own, that he guesses he better take his bath and get ready for bed. Without being told. Without bargains. And there he stands looking me nearly eye to eye and he’s only ten years old, and I see the beginnings of the man he’s going to be. I think I’m gonna like the Big Man as much as I like my Little Man. He’s sitting beside me playing Mario Cart on his DSI 3D and I think he’s so deep into the game that he doesn’t even notice I’ve changed the channel from SpongeBob Square Pants to Project Runway AllStars when he suddenly looks over at me and says… “Hey Grammy.” I think uh-oh. Busted. But when I look at him and say ‘what’, he gives me the same little grin I used to get just before he would fall asleep in my arms, and he says in a little boy voice – “I love you.” Heart melted. In a puddle. At my feet. Just like the first time I saw him in his mother’s arms. I loved him then. He loves me now. It’s a mutual admiration society thing. FYI… being a grandmother rocks.

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IN LIKE A LION

So, March arrived without any help from me. I was still trying to finish a manuscript that I wanted done before February was over, but it didn’t happen. However, it WILL be done by the end of this week so it’s not all bad. I have to say how grateful I am for the continuing support of A FIELD OF POPPIES, my first self-pubbed book.

This little note is a heads-up on what’s coming for the rest of the year. Unless release dates change, I have another women’s fiction book from Belle Bridge books due out in May.  It’s called THE BOARDING HOUSE.

Then the third book in my YA Lunatic series will be out in August, I believe. It’s called LUNATIC REVENGE. Teenage psychic Tara Luna is always in the middle of something and this book is no exception.

DON’T CRY FOR ME is book 2 of my Rebel Ridge trilogy, and I believe that book has a release date of October 1st, so three new books yet to be released this year.

Also, I will upload the other two books in my Whippoorwill trilogy to Kindle and Nook within a month. WHIPPOORWILL, which is book one, came out at the first of February. I’ll have THE AMEN TRAIL and THE HEN HOUSE up in digital format soon. They’ve been out in print for several years, but never as ebooks.

I’m also planning to release a new Dinah McCall book before the end of the year. At this point, all I will tell you is that it will be paranormal and that I will pub it myself, like I did Field of Poppies. The freedom to write what I want to and get it up for sale without waiting a year to 16 months for a publisher to do it is too enticing to ignore.

I hope you’re all ready for stories, because I have thousands to tell.

TTYL,
Sharon

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