Choosing Happiness by Melissa Stevens
Publication date: July 21st 2015
I’m often asked if I base my characters on people I know. No. Each character’s personality is different. I do sometimes steal mannerisms, haircuts, personal preferences, but more often than not it’s what the character has told me about themselves and yes, they actually speak to me.
Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant with my family and over hear something at the next table that makes my mind spin. It may give me an idea or it may just sound so much like one of the people living in my head that they end up saying something similar in the future.
I may see someone somewhere who inspires my physically, and actually for Jade’s Peace, Steve was inspired by my mental image of what Model Jeremy Aaron’s personality might be like. I kept a picture of him on my desktop and when I had doubts about how Steve might behave, how he would react to something I could look at the pic and I just knew. Often, though I don’t need a visual aid. With Jade, she spoke to me, and told me things I didn’t have planned at all. She started out as an only child. And I was writing along and she says to me, “Watch out, my brother will be here tomorrow.” My immediate thought was, “You don’t have a brother.” She was adamant though and replied, “Yes I do and he’ll be here tomorrow.” Sure enough, he showed up, and I had to go back and fix a few things but I’ll admit, he made the story better.
I find that my best stories, at least to me, at the ones where I start out with a vague idea of the story, I have two characters and a rough ending, (Hey, this is romance, they always end up together, right?) and let the characters tell me their story as I go along. The characters always seem more alive when they lead their own stories.
GIVEAWAY Paperback copy of Choosing Happiness
Later in the evening, after people started to leave, Jake asked Andrea to dance. It was a slow song and he had his arms around her. He leaned in until his lips brushed against her ear. "I'd like to take you home with me."
Andrea smiled. "I’d like to take you up on that but I need to stay, at least until Ben and Jeanie leave. I have to help Mom load the gifts. She's going to take them home and keep them for Ben and Jeanie until they get back."
"That's fine. I can hang around and help."
"That's really sweet of you, but you don't have to. I'm sure you have to be up early tomorrow."
"Actually, I'm off. There's nothing stopping me from staying out all night if I want."
"Well," her face heated. "I also don't want my family thinking I would pick someone up at my brother's wedding and go home with him." She looked down so he wouldn’t see her blush.
"No problem." He smiled against her ear. "I'll hang around and help. When we’re done we can leave separately and meet somewhere else. We can go to my place or we can go out for coffee. I don't know about you, but after all this," he motioned around them, where the flashing lights and loud music vibrated through their bodies. "I'm going to need to decompress for a bit before I'm anywhere near ready to sleep."
She looked up at him a moment, seeing his point. "What part of town do you live in?"
"The northwest side, why?"
"So I don't tell you to meet me someplace in the opposite direction." She fell silent for a few seconds as she thought about places that would be open when they finally got out of there. "In the Ranch district, that's what that side of town's called, I don’t know why. There's a Denny's on the corner of Maple and Waterson. You know where that is?"
He thought for just a second. "It's in the shopping center with Grant's Market isn't it?"
"Yeah, I think so. Let's meet there. We can have some coffee, eat something if we feel like it and unwind a little. Then, we can decide where to go from there."
"That works. I’ll look forward to it." He placed a gentle kiss on her ear.
The music ended and they made their way off the dance floor, each going separate ways. Jake went to Ben, Andrea saw them standing together talking while she made her way to her mother.
“How are things going?” She sat down beside Sophia.
“So far so good.” Sophia looked around the room, watching for anything that might need her attention.
“He’s around here somewhere. I saw him over there talking to Eddie Cruz a little while ago.” She motioned to one side of the large room. “Is the car ready for Ben and Jeanie to leave?”
“I’m not sure. I’ll check on it.” Andrea went out to see if the car was ready. She smiled at the balloons attached to the top and trunk. She thought the groomsmen had decorated it well and let her mother know it was ready.
Less than an hour later they had loaded the newlyweds into the decorated rental car and sent them on their way with shouts of good luck and have fun. People started drifting away faster after the couple of honor were gone. Within an hour there were less than ten people left. Andrea started cleaning up, picking up the abandoned plates and cups scattered around the room and depositing them in a large trash can she dragged with her, until her mother made her stop.
"We'll get this done in the morning, dear," Sophia said "Let's just get the gifts loaded and call it a night."
Andrea looked around and seeing that all the plates of food were gone, she nodded. "Alright, Mom. Do you want to back the car up near the door? I think that will be easier than hauling them all the way out."
"Will you do that for me? I don't trust myself to back it in, not in the dark." Sophia held out the keys to her car.
"No problem." She accepted them and headed outside.
Between Andrea, her parents, Jake, and a couple other friends who had hung around to help, they made quick work of stacking the gifts into the back of Sophia's car.
Closing the trunk, Andrea turned to Sophia. "Do you want me to follow you home and help unload these?"
"No, I'm going to pull the car into the garage and not worry about unloading them until tomorrow. I think your father and I can manage it."
"All right." Andrea started to walk away but turned back. "What time do you want to meet here to finish the clean-up in the morning?"
"Not too early. I plan to sleep late tomorrow."
"So about nine?"
"That sounds good." Sophia agreed.
"I'll be here, too," Jake interrupted.
"You don't have to do that, dear." Sophia told him.
"But I do. I can't leave you two to do all the work. Those tables are heavy and you're not moving them by yourselves. Besides, Ben told me I could adopt his family and I won’t let you do all this work alone. You're just going to be stuck with me." He grinned, letting them know he was as serious as he was teasing.
Jake and Andrea met once. When Andrea was in college, Jake came with her brother Ben who was visiting on leave from a deployment in Afghanistan. Now, years later, Jake gets a job in Ben’s home town to be close to his best friend. He hadn’t counted on Andrea. The attraction he’d felt then was still there. And this time he wasn’t headed back to a war zone where he could very well be killed.
Andrea is drawn to the man who calls Ben brother. Something about him speaks to her, but she’s not sure what. She falls into things head first, but when something makes her question how fast things are going she slams on the breaks. Can the two of them figure out what’s going on with them before it’s too late?
Melissa was born and raised in Arizona, she's spent her entire life living across the southern half of the state. She's found that, along with her husband and three children, she prefers the small towns and rural life to feeling packed into a city.
She started reading at a very young age, and her love for series started early, as the first real books she remembers reading is the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Through the years she's found that there's little she won't read, and her tastes vary from westerns, to romance, to sci-fi / fantasy and Horror.
She's been writing since 2009, and enjoys nearly every minute of it.