Why I love Happy Stories

I’ve been reminded recently why I crave happy stories. The simple answer is: life isn’t happy. There are happy moments, and happy people. But, like a good story, we each have a beginning, middle, and end.

I was talking with an older gentleman and the phrase “Alzheimer’s” came up. As a former social worker in elder services, I am all too familiar with this word, and the ramifications it has on family. It’s been over a year since I left social work and the emotions still hit me right in the chest.

Here is this sweet man, with a sad halo around him. His beloved has Alzheimer’s. There is no getting better from Alzheimer’s, there is only worse. This couple may have the sweetest, most romantic story around of how they met and fell in love. They may have been together for years. But this is the end.

Alzheimer’s means that the wife’s memory will fade, and her personality may change. Constant supervision will become a reality. She may forget who her grandchildren, children, or even her spouse is. Days of sitting down to connect will soon be gone. Leaving only memories, to those that can still remember them.

I write love stories. My heart yearns for a good romance, a happy ending. But an ending of a book isn’t the end. There is always what comes next from “happy ever after.” In any love story, sans a disaster that claim both at the same time, one person is left alone.

This means, either the romance doesn’t work, or one half of the couple passes away before the other.

Now, I’ve seen elders who talk about their departed loved ones with a smile on the face. The happiness continues, in their hearts, as they wait for whatever reunion comes after life. It’s bittersweet.

Perhaps that is why love stories hold the popularity that they do. In the midst of stressful, crazy lives, it feels good to kick back, curl up, and read someone else’s story. There are pitfalls and strife along the way, but the last few pages are filled with happiness, and we leave our characters with a wide-open hope for happiness to follow.

We forget, for a moment, that reality differs.

One day I will write a story without a happy ending. I yearn for reality in my work and I know a story will come along that meets that yearning. For now I have written a story where a beloved character dies. It gives the novel a bit of the death/rebirth cycle: from tragedy comes something good, when one person leaves us another enters.

And for me, and my own immortality, the words are on the page. If I’m lucky they will make someone smile, even after my time here is gone.

Author Corner – In Too Deep by Tracey Alvarez

Please welcome Tracey Alvarez to the Author Corner! Tracey is another author that I met on twitter. We’ve been chatting for a while and I was so excited when her book came out! In Too Deep is the first book in the Due South series. I’ve been fortunate that I have had the opportunity to read this novel. Tracey is a fantastic author and writes a remarkable story. Full of heart warming characters, steamy scenes, and a plot that pulls the reader along from page one.

Kindle ITD (1)

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She vowed never to return.

To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning  death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.

She’s a risk he can’t take.

West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?

Saying goodbye the second time might just destroy them both.

I asked Tracey what inspired her to write In Too Deep:

On Writing IN TOO DEEP

When people ask what I do and I reply, “I’m an author—a romance author,” I usually get one of two responses. Person A will smile politely, say, “Oh, really?” and quickly change the subject. Person B, (who doesn’t think romance authors are smut peddlers or a writer who can’t get published in anything but that tacky genre), will say, “Oh, that’s so cool. Where do you get your ideas?” (I like ‘B’ people, BTW). Odds are, if you’ve read other author interviews you’ll know the often quoted answer to that question is, “Everywhere.”

And it happens to be true.

Ideas are everywhere, but it’s turning those darting glimmers of inspiration into a 90,000 words plus novel that’s the tricky part. For some writers, ideas constantly hit them like a barrage of mini-grenades. For me? Not so much. I struggle to come up with ideas, but when I eventually find one, luckily it’s often damn good.

The idea for the first book in my Due South series had very humble beginnings and I can thank my addiction to charity shops for it. It was as simple (and as complicated) as spotting a book on rescue divers.  Standing in the charity shop, I had a conversation with my muse that went like this:

Me: Hey, rescue divers. They’re heroic, I could write about a diver.
Muse: Rescue divers are cool, but remember that article you read about police divers—they’re even cooler.
Me: True. A hunky police diver, hmm.
Muse: Wait a sec! Let’s twist this up a little. What if it was a female police diver!
Me: Even better. You’re so awesome.
Muse: I know, right? And you know what else is cool?
Me: Divers…divers…Shut up a second, I’m remembering a YouTube clip I saw a while back on free-divers. You know, those crazy-brave nutters who dive down to like a hundred meters on one breath of air? Now they’re cool.
Muse: Yeah, yeah. We’ll use the free-diver too—maybe as the hero. Because a police diver is gonna be frustrated as hell with someone taking those sorts of risks.
Me: Told ya. Nothing trumps a police diver AND a free-diver.
Muse: Except if they dive with Great White sharks.
Me: What?
Muse: That article we read last week about a woman who had a juvenile Great White shark wedge its head in the cage she was diving in? She said being up-close-and-personal with the shark wouldn’t stop her diving with them again. Now that woman has big balls. She’d be an awesome heroine.
Me: Fantabulous! Heroine—female police diver who dives with Great Whites, check! Hero—slightly crazy dude who free-dives to dangerous depths, check! But we’ll have to set the book somewhere where there’s a population of Great Whites.
Muse: Well, duh. Quick, ask Mr. Google.
Me: Aha! The Chatham Islands have shark cage dives with Great Whites.
Muse: Meh. The Chatham’s aren’t ringing any of my bells, sunshine.
Me: Okay, okay. What about Stewart Island in New Zealand? We live in New Zealand, and we’re proud to be a Kiwi romance author.
Muse: I love Stewart Island. All those birds, and trees, and sharks, and hot Kiwi men. Lucky us—we can set a whole series of books there!
Me: *Victory punch* Yes!

Note: All of the above took place in my head as I clutched the tattered book with a goofy grin on my face. No, I’m not crazy.

So, thanks to a little charity shop book, I wrote the first contemporary romance in the Due South series and published it on January 20th this year. And yes, it is set on Stewart Island, New Zealand. It does feature a heroine who is female police diver, a hero who competitively free-dives in his spare time, a couple of Great White sharks, and some seriously hot Kiwi men.

For more on Tracey you can find her at any of these lovely location:

Tracey Alvarez Facebook Page

Tracey Alvarez Website

In Too Deep on Goodreads


You can purchase In Too Deep at any of these fine locations: Amazon Barnes&Noble Kobo Apple

Trust me, you want this book!

Author Corner – The Blood of the Black Rose by Stephanie Collier

Please welcome Stephanie Collier to the Author Corner! I met Stephanie on Twitter during a pitch contest. I read her pitch and thought “I have to read this book!” Well you can imagine my excitement when I saw the book was published! Here is an idea of what drew me to her novel:

When a Nazi concentration camp murders Alhena, The Blood Countess damns Demyan to immortality, but his soul already belongs to the one who had died – bound by a Gypsy curse – and the promise of her rebirth is the only thing that can save him from an eternity of darkness.

Honestly, she had me at concentration camp, and the mix of supernatural and romance had me knowing this was going to be a great novel.

The Blood of the Black Rose ebook cover 6x9 copy

I asked Stephanie what inspired her to write The Blood of the Black Rose:

I was in a dark place in my life when I started writing The Blood of the Black Rose and I needed a way to outsource the pain that I was feeling. I found that way through the written word and this story, which inadvertently ended up being a healing process from all the anger that was built up inside of me. It then evolved into something that I never dreamed possible as I brought in elements of the holocaust and Elizabeth Bathory (things that had always intrigued me). And even though my life had dramatically changed, I couldn’t just stop writing Demyan’s story. His pain was my pain. His darkness was my darkness. Though my world was right again, his wasn’t and I couldn’t just lock him away in a drawer and pretend that it was. So, I continued to tell his story. Over two years later, his is now complete as well. It didn’t quite have the ending that I was prepared to write, but it was an ending that seemed to flow without a second thought. The story was no longer mine, it was his, and I trusted that.

Before you go, here is an excerpt:

Time seemed to blur and weave its way into stillness as I stared beyond what my eyes could see.  I lost myself in oblivion when…there he was, his nose only inches from mine.  The same soldier that had forcibly grasped her face was standing before me and I felt my temper begin to rise from within.  He turned on his heel, commanding that I follow.

I hobbled slowly behind him, my side aching and my brain working in chaotic alarm.  I was led to the brightly dancing flames and a steel emptiness obscured my contempt as we halted.  I was so close that the blazing sparks boiled my blood.

I watched in revulsion as an iron rod was placed into its fiery depths.  My teeth bared in frightened anticipation as it was lifted, my eyes intensely following the movement of the glowing shaft and the hand wielding it.  Then it was harshly thrust into my flesh, slightly to the left of my racing heart.  My head flew back as I howled against the pain, the smell and sound of my own flesh being scorched intensifying the suffering upon my skin.

My fury exploded, leaving all sense of reason behind, devouring the pain and completely swallowing every other emotion.  I leapt at the man who had branded me.

His eyes widened in alarm.

Before I could strike, a rifle was aimed directly at my face.  I stopped in my tracks, turned and staggered away.  Pure adrenaline was the only thing pushing me forward, not knowing if each extension of breath would be my last.

When nothing more happened, my breathing began to even and my taut muscles relaxed in their strain.  I approached the line and by the time I was able to take my spot next to her the blinding malice had subsided, leaving me completely drained.  My arm fell flaccidly to my side, the other holding tight to the provided clothing, determined to conceal my most intimate parts.

The sun had finally hit its peak in the sky and its rays enveloped me, warming my skin with their heat against my back.  My fingertips subconsciously reached up for the seared flesh, lightly playing along it.  Cringing at their touch, I unintentionally memorized the series of numbers that marked me as dispensable.  The truth of my fate began to sink in as I realized I was in fact no longer a human being.

The day wore on as a countless number of people were marked, all the men being the first to be branded.  And as the sun’s light diminished it took every ounce of its warmth, the chill air returning with a vengeance, ruthlessly freezing us in our nakedness.

The fire’s brightly glowing embers viciously licked at the blackened sky with its flaming tongue, its ominous sparks floating to the ground, destroying the grass beneath it and fueling the fear that was already there.

A wild look of hysteria clouded her eyes as they moved on to the women and I shifted my hand closer, my pinky finger gently entwining and hooking around hers.  I hoped the tenderness of the gesture would offer the comfort that words could not.

Another soldier approached and her body reacted in rolling quakes of nervousness.  My fingers softly traced and caressed the back of her smooth hand soothingly.  She squeezed the extremity with a frightening force then relinquished it.  With a deep breath, a look of determination crossed over her features and she followed him to the blistering inferno.

I called out to her, a wordless cry of despair, but my voice was lost among the sea of screaming sobs.  I watched as her body went stiff at the sight of the flaming rod, watched every muscle contort in unbearable pain, but it was her voice rising above the noise of the crowd that wound its way into my soul, tugging at my heartstrings. My jaw tightened, my hands closing into fists as my body lurched forward instinctively.

Feminine yet like a band of hard steel, an unusually strong arm silently darted in front of my bare chest, barring my way and keeping me from acting on the roiling emotions that kept churning, blinding me to all logic.

“You don’t want to be doing that, my darling,” a captivatingly sultry whisper at my ear demanded, halting me at once.

I turned my head to the side and amber-colored eyes, with all the answers to the world’s questions betraying the youthfulness of her face, intensely stared into mine in the dim light.  The mysterious woman’s arm dropped, setting me free and my attention immediately snapped back to the fire.

The skin above her left breast was red and swollen as she toddled back to me, the numbers deeply imprinted into her flesh. Numbers that matched my own.  Tears flowed down her beautiful face.  The salty drops trickled onto the damaged skin, causing her to shudder against its stinging pain.  As she turned to stand next to me, I remembered the woman who had kept me from my retribution.

My eyes scanned the crowd for her, but she had inexplicably disappeared, all trace of her existence vanishing into the night.

Click here to find The Blood of the Black Rose on Amazon.

For more about Stephanie check out her blog: http://www.stephaniecollier.com/blog.html

Lila’s Choice by Laura Brown Review

Reviews make a writer’s world go round, especially ones as amazing as this! Check out this review of LILA’S CHOICE, and go grab a copy yourself!

Indie Review Center


Amazon Purchase link:   http://www.amazon.com/Lilas-Choice-Laura-Brown-ebook/dp/B00IA6IKV2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1392234951&sr=1-1&keywords=Lila%27s+Choice

Lila’s Choice

Laura Brown


Never let your friends get involved in your personal life.

Lila and Nate learn this the hard way. They are the star-crossed lovers of Glendale High. For three years the students have waited for the two to get together. They begged Nate to put his past relationship behind him, and cringed when Lila started dating Bryce. Just your typical teenage romance, except they’re the teachers.

Lila, a guidance counselor with a sweet demeanor, has an answer for every problem, every problem but her own. A visit from childhood friend Bryce thrusts her calm world into turmoil, as emotions buried deep inside are dragged to the surface. He soon realizes what only a friend can notice and a lover regret, that Lila, unbeknownst to herself, is in love with Nate. 

Nate has seen better days. He is a history teacher stuck living…

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LILA’S CHOICE – Video Teaser!

Reaching out to the blogging/reading/reviewing community has been a terrifying and amazing experience! I was so fortunate to connect with the Indie Review Center and she made this amazing video teaser. Super talented and makes me giddy each time I watch!

Click here to watch!

She also made me a cover picture for Facebook and encouraged me to create my own fan page. By the eleventh hour I gave in. So come on over and show me some likes! https://www.facebook.com/LauraBrownAuthor

LILA’S CHOICE – Release Day!

Laura Ebook Final-small

Available Now!

Almost twelve years ago I sat down at my computer and decided to try my hand at writing a novel. The path was a long, windy, and crazy one. I couldn’t be more proud to say that I am now a published author!

LILA’S CHOICE is live! On Amazon you can purchase the eBook or paperback: link. On Barnes and Noble you can purchase an eBook for the Nook: link. Need a different eBook viewer? Drop me a line and let me know!

Thank you all for the support! I’m going to let the contest for a free paperback and eBook run until the end of the day, then announce the winners later on this week. If you missed your opportunity go here, now!

LILA’S CHOICE is also up on Goodreads: link. And I have another giveaway going on over there, because I love entering them myself! Giveaway link.

Come back tomorrow to see a video teaser made by the lovely Indie Review Center!


With one week to go until my debut novel is released, how about a little giveaway? I will be giving away:

  • 1 (One) Paperback copy and
  • 1 (One) e-book.

Fill out the form below to enter. Contest begins today and will end on February 10, 2014. Winner’s will be notified via e-mail on February 11, 2014.

**Giveaway Now Closed! Thank You to all who entered**