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Blogging By the Sea
Tuesday, May 31 2016


Old Guard sets out flags                          Funeral for Charles Keating, Coronado, CA

Memorial Day was different for me this year. As a USO volunteer, I was invited to attend a memorial mass for decorated Navy SEAL Charles Keating, IV. There are lots of activities I could have chosen to spend this day doing. Things I’ve done in years past: either march in or attend a parade, join friends for a barbeque, visit a cemetery or attend Memorial Day Observances at the local national cemetery, or even stay home and mow the lawn, nap in my hammock or walk down to the beach. But supporting the family of this sailor who had given his life for the ideals I believe in seemed more fitting.

It was a humbling experience. Listening to his fellow SEALs, his parents, his friends, hearing snippets of letters he’d written to his siblings that began with “If you are reading this, I didn’t make it home…” All of it brought the enormity of this loss into clear and heartbreaking focus. Charlie was one of the thousands of men and women who write that blank check to the US for service up to and including their lives. His parents and his siblings are just one of the far too many gold star families who have had to bury a son, or a daughter, or a husband or a wife, or a father or mother. Their loss was personal and for that moment in time, it became personal for me as well. This is what Memorial Day is all about. Honoring all those who have fallen in service to our country, standing up for the ideals we all profess to believe in, laying down their lives to save those of their fellow warriors.

Later, as I watched the news on TV, a man was interviewing random people on the street asking what they thought Memorial Day was all about. I was appalled at the ignorance. So many people with no idea, no sense of anything beyond themselves. Has this nation of takers become so selfish and self-centered that we can’t even spend a moment in prayer or silence to remember those who sacrificed so much for our freedom to live life the way we wish? Or even be aware that the day they get off from work has a meaning beyond their small world? I doubt there was a single American soul who did not know or celebrate this day after the end of WWII. There was certainly plenty of awareness that we were at war, whether you agreed with it or not during the Vietnam era. What has changed? Did the ending of the draft mean that we no longer need to be concerned with the defense of freedom or the price that others pay to secure it? Or is this just another facet of the sickness that has led to random acts of killing, riots and looting masked as protests, lack of respect for life, and the breakdown of our moral society? If so, I weep for this country’s future.

At sundown last night, I took down my flag – humbled by my choice of how to spend my day and utterly saddened that for so many, the day meant nothing at all. In all the wars Americans have fought in the name of freedom, more than 1 million, 264 thousand men and women have sacrificed their lives. That should stand for something for every single American.

RIP, Charlie Keating – and all the brothers and sisters who went before you. God Bless.

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 10:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, May 21 2016

Welcome to the Blog Hop  - it’s the merry month of May and we are talking about confrontation and how it creates powerful drama. Without conflict there is no story and conflict brings confrontation before resolution. Whether it's a protagonist who finds him or herself thwarted by circumstances or opponents, or lovers on opposite sides of a problem, their desires and motives push them into the action that makes the story exciting. I'm fortunate that I have a brainstorming group we call the Sandy Scribblers because I tend to be a Pollyanna and I don't want to hurt my characters. But my Sandy buddies ask the tough questions that make me stop and rethink my plot or my characters' motivations. Often they help me come up with great ways to create conflict and confrontaion. My new book HEALING A HERO which is coming out this summer is a reunion story and the final black moment is full of confrontation. Here's an excerpt.


Background:  One crazy summer, in a whirlwind affair Philip and Elena fell in love while Philip was home on leave, and while no commitments were made when they had to say goodbye, both were eager for his tour aboard a Navy ship in the South China Sea to end so they could be back together again. But then 9/11 happened and due to circumstances neither could control, they lost touch. Philip, a Marine, was sent almost immediately and without warning to Afghanistan and Elena was left wondering why he stopped e-mailing her.


Now, fourteen years later, Philip is injured and in rehab and it turns out Elena is his therapist. Although it breaks all the rules the attraction and passion they once shared comes roaring back and both are eager to start fresh. Then Philip learns that Elena’s daughter Julie is his child.

“I was going to tell you—”

“You should have told me fourteen years ago,” Philip cut her off, his tone harsher than he intended.

“Fourteen years ago I didn’t think you cared.” Elena set her untouched sandwich back into the wrapping it had come out of.

Her accusation slammed into Philip with the force of a sucker punch. “After everything that happened to us that summer?” he asked incredulously. “How could you ever have believed I wouldn’t care?”

“You never replied to my emails. What was I supposed to think?”

“You could have called Jake. He’d have told you why I couldn’t write.”

“I didn’t know Jake knew about us.”

“He knew I loved you,” Philip shot back. He shoved the sandwich he no longer felt like eating into the bag and pushed it aside. “You could have swallowed that damned pride of yours and called my parents.”

Elena blanched. “I couldn’t call them, Philip. I’d have been too embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed?” Philip shouted. Several heads turned their way. Coming to the canteen for this conversation had been a bad idea. His uniform betrayed his rank, and his behavior was inappropriate. He lowered his voice. “You going to eat that?”

She shook her head.

“Good. Let’s get out of here.”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her from her chair, led her through the now goggling crowd and out the door. He dragged her along in his wake until they were clear of the buildings where he turned onto a short cut to somewhere on the next block and finally stopped in a cluster of young trees that afforded them at least the illusion of privacy. 

“My parents would never have blamed you. I’d have gotten a reaming, but if you’d gone to them they’d have helped you out in any way they could.”

“I barely knew them.” Elena crossed her arms over her chest.

“But they’re my parents. Julie’s grandparents. And they’d have been better able to reach me and get me back home to accept my share of the responsibility for getting you pregnant. I might have been in disgrace, but I’d have come no matter what was happening in Afghanistan. I’d have found a way.” Anguish was tearing him up inside.

Elena lost some of the defensive posture, but her body language told him she still blamed him for everything she’d endured.

“Do you have any idea how I felt when I got back and discovered you were married? After you promised to wait for me?” His chest ached

“I can explain.”

A bloom of anger erupted, shoving the pain aside. “You’ve had fourteen years to explain. You were pregnant with my baby. I had a right to know.”

“I’m sorry,”

“Sorry!” Philip shouted. He felt the veins popping out in his neck and temples. He shouldn’t be dumping on her like this, but he couldn’t seem to stop the steamroller that had gotten hold of his self-control and was flattening everything in its path. “I’ve missed my daughter’s whole growing up. And you’re sorry? You can’t ever give those years back, Elena. They’re just gone.”

Elena stopped arguing. Stopped apologizing and just stood there cringing like a whipped puppy. Philip ignored the stab of doubt and plowed on.

“What about last week? When we were baring our souls and promising each other a new beginning? What about then? Why didn’t you tell me then?”

Philip’s cell phone rang. He ignored it.

“Didn’t you think it would be important to tell me about Julie when we were talking about the rest of our lives? You’re as big a liar as Holly.”

Elena looked like he’d hit her.

“What about Julie? Didn’t she have the right to know her own father? If you’d told me you were pregnant, I would never have forced you to marry me if you didn’t want to, but I had a right to know. Julie is my daughter. I had a right to know about her. And she had a right to know who her real father was.”

Unable to stand still, he turned in an angry little circle and came back to loom over her.

“When I got home that next summer, I was all set to hunt you down and find out why you stopped writing. I meant for us to get reconnected. Then Andy told me you were married.

“Married!” Philip rammed his fingers through his already disheveled hair. “You can’t begin to understand how I felt. Every dream I had of coming home and making a life with you was smashed all to hell and back. I couldn’t volunteer fast enough to get back into action so I could forget. But if I’d known about Julie, I never would have gone.” His phone rang again, and again he ignored it. “I wouldn’t have been shipped out of the country on every deployment I could get signed up for since then either.”

 “But you were gone. And Julie had Eli. Eli was her father as far as she knew.” The whipped puppy was gone. Elena squared her shoulders and punched two fingers into Philip’s chest. “She had a father who was there for her.”

“And that was a lie too, wasn’t it. I’m beginning to feel sorry for the bastard. You lied to me. You lied to Julie. And you lied to Eli.”

“I never lied to Eli. He knew from the beginning how I felt.”

“You married him. You promised to love and cherish him. Or have you forgotten that part of the vows?”

“We were married by a justice of the peace.”

“So you never mentioned love? Or fidelity. What did you promise him that you didn’t really mean?”

“I promised to be his wife. And I did mean it.”

“You put that man through hell because you couldn’t muster up the kind of love a wife should feel for her husband. Gratitude doesn’t cut it, Elena. No wonder he went looking elsewhere.”

Philip’s phone rang a third time.

“Dammit!” He yanked the offending gadget from his pocket and glared at it. Crap! He should never have started this conversation when there was never going to be enough time to finish it. “We’re not done. But I have to answer this.”

“We’re definitely not done,” Elena snapped. “But don’t bother to call me again until you cool off. You aren’t the only injured party here.” With that, she spun on her heel and stormed off through the trees to the lawn beyond.

Philip gasped at the pain slicing through him. In just two short days he’d gone from ridiculously happy thinking he’d won back the one woman he could love for a lifetime, to finding out he had a thirteen-year-old daughter he barely knew, to this.

To this shattered empty place where his heart used to be.


Check out how all these authors have used confrontation to add drama to their stories:

Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax 
Fiona McGier
Rachael Kosinski 
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman
Judith Copek
Rhobin Courtright

Margaret Fieland

Diane Bator

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 11 2016


My bucket list has gotten so long I doubt I can possibly live long enough to achieve everything on it. But maybe that’s a good thing. I’ll never lack for something to look forward to. Or something to work for. And my life will always have the possibility of new experiences and great rewards.

Becoming a published author was a bucket list item and now that I have several books out, that desire has not diminished. I have so many stories I want to tell – that ought to keep me busy even when I can’t travel. The fun thing about books whether I’m writing them, or reading is that I can go anywhere in the world. I can even do the impossible and travel through time. I could envision a future that hasn’t come yet. Or I can visit a past that’s faded into history. I can meet famous people and I can create new ones. Writing more books is definitely still on my bucket list. My newest book, HEALING A HERO will be out this summer.


I love to travel, although lately most of my travel has been to visit my kids rather than explore new places. Being on Facebook keeps me in touch with far more people than I could ever hope to see on a regular basis, but it also provides me with stunning photos of yet more places I’d love to visit in person. So far, I’ve been to fifteen countries and spent time in twenty-nine states. Just in the US alone that leaves twenty-one states I haven’t been to and several of the places on my bucket list are in those states.

Living on the beach was another bucket list dream that came to be, but even though I live here and enjoy it every day of my life, beaches are still a very strong draw for me. Everywhere I’ve traveled on the world, if there’s a beach, I’ve walked on it.  From the windswept beaches of Nova Scotia, Scotland and Wales to the quiet coves in Provence, France, La Jolla, CA, and Tonga. I’ve gone swimming in the South China Sea in Vietnam, and from remote islands in the South Pacific, and even in the frigid waters of Maine and Coronado Beach California. Lucky for me, there are a lot more beaches yet to explore. The most recent one was Montauk New York - too chilly to swim, but beautiful anyway. As were the beaches of the South Island of New Zealand.


I’ve taken a helicopter ride onto a glacier in New Zealand, but not down into the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to Niagara Falls, but have yet to see Angel Falls in Venezuela. I lived for two years in the South Pacific, but I’ve never been to the Caribbean. I’ve marveled at the opulence Versailles, the Price Regent’s Pavilion in England and The Breakers in Newport, but haven’t seen the grandeur of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I’ve been in Times Square and Paris on New Year’s Eve, but Hogmanay in Edinburg Scotland is still on my Bucket List. So many incredible experiences in my past, but still so many more to look forward to.


So - what's on your bucket list? 

Posted by: Skye AT 09:30 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 03 2016
Abandoned Island Village and the Birth of a Book Idea

For twenty years, I lived on the beautiful coast of Maine. From my front yard, I could see the scattering of islands just outside of Boothbay Harbor. One of them has a light and the light keeper’s home on it. Some are just knobs of grass surrounded by stony beaches and ledges. But one of them, Damariscove, caught my interest in particular.


I’d read the history of the islands of the Maine and how there were communities of Europeans living on those islands fishing the teeming waters and salting their catch to be shipped back to hungry Europeans. The islands were a natural place for the Europeans to set up their fishing camps – protected to some degree from the native Americans by water, and easily accessible for the big ships from Europe. In the journal of Henry Winslow, a pilgrim who had come north to beg for food when the little settlement at Plymouth was starving and in need, he mentioned that there were thirty ships of sail in that harbor and that the good people of Damariscove had given them four hundred pounds of food. Later I read an account of how Capt. Henry Mowat of the British Royal Navy had been given orders to harass the communities along the New England coast to discourage them from joining the patriot cause just before the Revolutionary War broke out. While carrying out those orders, he put in at Damariscove and commandeered seventy sheep to feed his crew of sailors and Marines, then the following day set sail for Falmouth, now known as Portland Maine, and burned the little port city to the ground. During the War of 1812 the men of Damariscove were able to watch the sea battle between the British ship Boxer and the American Enterprise from their own shore. And there are even stories of a pirate coming ashore to hide his treasure in the pond.


Until the mid 1950s there was, like on many Maine coastal islands, a vibrant community of fishermen and farmers living on Damarsicove Island. There was a school, a lobster buyer, stores, a post office, a community hall and church services. For a number of reasons, including government interference in the lobster industry, as well as the changing dynamics of rural life and suburban development, families who had lived on those islands and fished their waters for generations began moving ashore and finding new careers. Eventually the schools and shops closed and one by one, the islands became deserted. Damariscove was one of those islands.

From my front yard I contemplated what I could see of this now treeless little island, and I was taken by the desire to explore it. We sailed out there on a beautiful sunny summer day, anchored in one of the coves and rowed our dinghy ashore. There are a few buildings still standing. The coast guard life saving station is kept maintained, although no one mans it any more. Folk interested in the history of the island have created a little museum of sorts in what’s left of a tiny house with bits and pieces of the past displayed for any who happens to wander ashore.

As I stood at the high point of the island and gazed back toward the harbor that Captain John Smith had once described as a busy place, I considered the ghosts who are supposed to haunt this place. A headless man named Pattishall and his faithful dog, a woman with long flowing hair who has been seen walking into the pond. There are others, I’m sure. But as I stood there, balanced on the edge of an old foundation with nothing but a carpet of grass and daisies spread out below my feet, the thought came to me: What if I slipped and fell into this old cellar hole? And what if I hit my head and was knocked unconscious? What if when I woke up, there was a roof over my head? What then?

That was how my book, Iain’s Plaid came to be. It’s not been published yet, but it will be one of these days. From a fascinating, yet little known island on the Maine coast with a long and storied history came a really fun tale of a woman who sailed out there just like I had, who did fall into that cellar hole and woke up in 1775.

Sign up for my newsletter and when this story comes to life in a book you can hold in your hand or download to your e-reader, I'll be sending out an announcement.  In the meantime, I interview a different author every month. You might get a peek into the life and writing of one of your favorite authors, or you might find a new author to check out.

Posted by: Skye AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
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