Everyday Heroes – Inspiration Behind the Novel

I always get so excited when I finish something.  When I wrote Real Life, I wanted to do something fun and light with lots of humor and (admittedly) some pretty ridiculous situations.  Still, I love a happy ending so all’s well that ends well, right?

The idea for Everyday Heroes actually came from a ridiculous (what is up with me and ridiculous?) story I told my girlfriends on a sleepover at my friend’s house when I was in high school.  I’m sure none of them remember it.  It had something to do with the heroine saving a guy freezing in the woods in some winter wonderland. She drags him back to her cabin, hops in a sleeping bag naked with him, and saves his life.  (And stuff.)

This is NOT that story!!!

Having said that (loudly), the idea of saving a life without even thinking about the repercussions is interesting to me.  I also had a few goals in mind.  I wanted to:

  • Write a book about a woman who has faith.  I didn’t want to get all preachy and annoying about it, I just wanted it to be a natural extension of who the character is.  Kind of like me.  (Except she’s a doctor.)
  • Write about people who, on the surface, seem to have the perfect life, but behind the smile, are secrets.  No one’s life is perfect.  Ever.  At all.  Ever.
  • Have a subtle heroic theme throughout.

Maybe it’s because I worked on a game about heroes (and villains – trust me, there is one).  I think people who work in service to others (military, medicine, teaching, etc.) are already heroes.   There were many people I met while I was working on City of Heroes who had some pretty rough challenges (medical, personal, you name it) thrown their way and that made a mark on me.  I wanted to say thank you in a small way.

Also, since my experience working in hospice, I have come to the realization that the average person cannot survive in this challenging field.  It’s too hard.  Only a special person made of unique awesomeness, who is willing to look deeper than a terminal diagnosis and all the challenges that come with it (physical, mental, spiritual, social)  – and still perform their job with excellence and genuine compassion day in and day out – can.  I’m so proud of them, I can’t even tell you.

Grace

I decided to make Grace a doctor.  And a bit of a Doogie Howser.  Look it up if that name is meaningless to you.  She’s kind of awkward. over-achiever.  Imagine, if you will, that this woman who has succeeded at her career so wonderfully and so quickly (years ahead of most), rushes into a marriage with (she thinks) “the perfect guy”.  Except he’s not.  She spends the next 20 years a victim of physical and verbal abuse.  The book actually starts after she’s left that situation and is trying to get on with her life.

Wait!  What the heck happened to that cabin in the woods with the snow and the hypothermia?!  Yeah, sorry about that.

John

Okay, now we have John.  He comes from a great family, a military background, and over the years has worked his way up the military ladder.  Tragedy strikes.  He loses his memory and he loses his voice.  He goes from being a man defined by his career to coming home (in his mind) “broken.”  Rather than face these challenges, he runs away from his family, friends, and the world in general.  I’m not a military expert or a medical expert, but I did want to look at how the world just kind of moves on without you if you let it.

So I take two lives of people who serve so magnificently in their careers and they both get punched in the gut.  Thankfully, that’s just where the story starts…  Challenge and heartbreak is where heroes are forged.  They push through, they fall, they slide, but eventually they get back up, and push some more.  I love that notion.  Strength and character.  Integrity.  Honor.

This book’s subject matter is definitely a darker path than the popcorn and bubblegum of Real Life.  Of course there is still humor and silliness, this is a romance novel after all, not a documentary.

I really hope you enjoy it.

~Melissa

P.S.  My next book isn’t even a Romance.  It’ll be something completely different.  Stretch out those horizons!

My First Novel – “Stranded” (12 Years Old)

So, this particular story was a project for my grade 7 class.  I have left the story in its original form, leaving in all grammar, spelling, and my own 12-year old word-smithing.  I will have you know that I drew and coloured every single one of these pictures.  Enjoy!

Stranded

Stranded - Me

Lynn Valley Elementary School
Copyright January 1981 by Melissa C. Brouwers

Stranded - Map

We were flying around Mt. St. Frederick when suddenly we lost a propellor from the left wing of our plane.  We were going in circles and circles.  Suddenly we crashed…  Right then and there the teacher was killed and Beverly broke her leg.  When we finally came to, we decided that we had to have a leader.  We decided that it would be Jimmy since he was our student council rep.  I jumped out of the plane and found we had landed on a volcano.  With the help of Danielle and Suzie we took Beverly out of the plane.

Stranded - Crash

The first thing we did was get all the important things out of the plane.  We walked down the Volcano and stood at the bottom waiting for the other kids to bring down Beverly and the equipment.  Then we waited, we knew that if we didn’t co-operate that we would surely die!  We split up into groups.  Some people went to find food, some shelter, and some people water.  After we split up and found the things that we needed we went back to the bottom of the volcano.  Later on we went back to finding things for our stay.

I looked behind me as I went to collect some food and I saw Jimmy and Ian lying down under a tree.  I asked them what they were doing there and they said that they did not want to work!  So I said, “If you don’t want to work then you can’t eat our food, sleep in our caves, and drink our water!  In fact if you don’t help we will just leave you here to starve!!!”  Just then they said “We’re helping, we’re helping.”  That was the last time we had trouble with them.  “Thank god!”

When everybody started complaining about the groups they were in.  We decided that we would pick a partner.  Well everybody liked that idea so we went along with it.  The system worked like this, nine people would go for water, eight for food and nine for accessories.  After we got organized we started to plan our rescue.  A couple of people suggested that we light a fire and we thought that it was a good idea so we used it.  We started the fire with the package of matches we found in the plane.  We put four logs in a square angle, put a little gasoline (from our plane) on the logs.  Then we lit fire to them….  Was it ever bright!  Later on we decided that Suzie would stay by the fire so that it didn’t go out.  The majority won and poor Suzie was either collecting wood or watching the fire.  She did that all night.  The next day she started complaining.  She wanted to take turns with someone.  We voted again, this time Marisa was picked.  She was the day shift because she wasn’t so brave, and Suzie was brave.  They liked that idea so that was their job.

That night we were all thinking about the day of the plane crash, our parents, things like that.  Soon, after ten minutes of thinking, Kevin, Jimmy, Kathy, Jayson, Craig, Yvonne and Beverly fell asleep.  Everybody else was either stories or falling asleep very quickly.  I couldn’t so I just lay there on the ground staring up into the sky.  The reason why I could do this was that I was right by the cave door.  So I just kept staring.  Soon everybody fell asleep.  About ten to twenty minutes went by, I was just about to fall asleep when I heard a noise it was a helicopter!!  I woke up everybody and we ran down just to find Suzie snoring!!  By the time we woke her up the helicopter had already left.  Everybody was so depressed! except Suzie, she was still snoring.  We went back up to the cave and went to bed…

Stranded - Fishing

The next morning I woke up early (which is very unusual for me because I normally wake up at 12:00 in the afternoon).  Then I walked down to where Suzie was to go get something to eat.  (what I wouldn’t do for some shreddies right now)  Just then I heard three boys argueing.  It was it was Nicko, Tim and Jim, what a racquet!  Jimmy was very edgy.  He didn’t like giving out orders.  He thought that we thought that he was too snobby and pushy.  So we ran into our normal pattern again.  We took a vote.  We started by making ballots just as soon as everybody was awake.  (which wasn’t hard everybody was already awake)  Then we told them our plan and started to get ready.  When we had finally finished, the candidates, Marisa and Mehboob made up their speeches.  That day, Khadija, Danielle, Amber and I made supper.

When supper was finished we began the campaign.  Marisa won by three ballots, mainly because we trusted her more than Mehboob.  She promised that the more work you did the more privileges, and also that the boys and girls are equal they had to do the same amount of work.  Mehboob made promises such as the boys don’t have to work past 3:00 p.m.  The girls had to get food, water, clean the caves things like that.

Everything went okay with our new leader.  One hot afternoon Robert said to Marisa, “How do you expect us to kill the wild animals?  With our bare hands?!”  “You are very right.  Sooner or later I knew that you were going to ask me this so I have devised a plan.  We’ll make blades out of volcanic glass and then we will use very strong sticks.”  She divided us up into groups and off we went.  About an hour later we came back with all of the equipment.  Marisa then said “What we are going to do is make weapons with the things I asked all of you to collect.”  She split us up into our groups and we went to work.  For three hours we worked.  We were all finally finished.  I thought I did a pretty good job myself.  When we settled down she looked at every spear, knife, and axe.  Then she stood up and said that they were great!!

As time passed I decided that I needed a quiet place to think.  I missed my mom, my sister (believe it or not) and all my friends.  I went walking in the woods and soon found a tall, curved tree which looked very comfortable.  I climbed up the tree and lay down on the curved branch on the tree.  I just laid there thinking and resting.

After a couple of hours of thinking and resting I got up and went back to the campground.  I found Suzie, Amber, and Dana and we went for a walk.  In a way you could call it exploring.  They all agreed so we left.  Dana saw a baby cub, Amber saw an eagle.  We kept walking.  I opened a big bush and  I saw a ceremonial ground.  I ran back to the others and then we went back.  It had at least six stumps, three coconut trees around it and a sacrificing stone.  At first I got the shivers but I soon calmed down.

Suddenly something came out of the bush, We ran so fast that a puma couldn’t even catch us.  We were out of there in three seconds flat.  Later on we found out that it was only the little bear cub that Dana saw earlier.  When we got back to camp we saw Marisa making decorations.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  “We’re having a party.” “What kind of party?”  “An arrival party.”  Once we heard that we got right to work.  At six o’clock we had the party.

An hour went by and then Marisa silenced everyone.  She heard something.  It was a plane!  Not an ordinary plane, a rescue plane!!  Everyone did what they had to.  Even Suzie!  Then it landed.  We are going back to civilization.  “Civilization, here I come!”

Stranded - Rescue

Real Life – available online!

Real Life
Real Life

Finally!

I checked Amazon late last night and there it was, my book.  It’s pretty surreal that something I wrote has gone from closet gathering dust to Amazon.com, but I’m excited.  Really excited!

I’m oddly nervous, too.  Are people going to find it funny?  Or amusing?  Or just plain stupid?  Are they even going to know it’s there?  This marketing stuff is a lot of work.  I had no idea!

You can find my book on Amazon here.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1439204225

Now I have to send emails to every friend I know and get them to buy a copy.  😀

Waiting is Hard…

So I’m waiting for my book to appear on Amazon.com.   They said one to two weeks, but it feels like forever.  I should be patient, but it’s not one of my strong suits. 

You’d think after 5 years of letting the manuscript sit in my closet that I wouldn’t care.  Well, now that it’s print-ready,  I CARE!

It’s available on PrintSurge.com but Amazon.com is a much more recognized website so I don’t want to do anything until it’s on there.  I should be updating my website (I have the new layout for it and everything), but I ended up making post after post on my blog until after midnight last night.

Not my fault.  It was FUN.

I’ve done two searches three times today:  “melissa bianco” (a wine book keeps coming up) and “real life” (the movie Dan in Real Life keeps popping up, along with some music CDs).  So nothing yet, but I’ll let you know.