My Special Valentine

This is a blog post that was hosted recently on Best Selling Reads.

It was early morning. The sun hadn’t crested the horizon yet, and as we drove by the darkened homes I could imagine the people inside snuggled up in their beds, still catching those last minutes of sleep before getting up and starting their day. We were nearly alone on the highways while we drove east. The cold fingers of winter tried to pry their way into our van. Although I sat untouched from its reach, a bitter pain grew in my chest.

A flock of Canadian geese flew overhead. I’ve never understood why they choose Colorado over a warmer climate, but there they were, soaring through the bleak skies together as a large extended family on a winter holiday. The lopsided formation broke the silence with their honking as we glided over the black river of pavement, leading us to the hospital.

I turned around to look at her, my little angel, wide eyed in the back seat, too nervous to be tired or to watch the passing wildlife. When we arrived in the bright atrium of the hospital it had only begun to waken. Friendly faces, simple noises and smells distorted and numbed me. Time slowed.

Like a koala, she clung to me, her mommy. I was here to protect her, yet I was delivering her into the arms of pain. How could it make sense to her? Did she understand that we were only trying to help her?

Her voice was locked away, safe inside – the only thing that was in her control. When the time came and her eyes drooped into a soft and pleasant sleep, the nurses took her from me.

“We’ll take care of her. You’ll see her soon.”

The wait would have been unbearable if I had been awake, but I slept. I could not imagine a world without her in it. I refused to. So instead, I slept.

At her bedside, I knew I was where I needed to be. A motherly magnet, I snapped to her side, climbed under the covers and remained there, even as her poor body drooped and those terrible beeps rose, like a swarm of insects coming to frighten me away. Instead, a flurry of nurses clamored around us. Each held fluids and blood, ready to pump my sleeping princess with life so her delicate veins wouldn’t collapse.

This is one of the most painful memories I have. I’m sure you have your own – we all have them. This may not seem like a fitting story on Valentine’s Day, but it does have a happy ending.

My daughter was born with congenital heart defects like so many others, and has had two open-heart surgeries. When others focus on chocolates, red roses and sonnets, I am reminded of how lucky I am. My daughter is a healthy little girl and you would never guess the struggles she’s been through.

Heroes are born every day. I’m not talking about superheroes clad in spandex and masks. I’m speaking of the everyday heroes that walk the Earth like Clark Kent – in disguise. In fact, you probably know one, they’re not as uncommon as you may think.

I happen to have a very special hero of my own – my daughter. The scars that mark her chest will always be a reminder of what she’s been through. Even though her heart is unique and a little battered, it does not affect her ability to love or be loved.

So, this February and Valentine’s Day, rest well knowing you are surrounded by heroes, heroes who have battled and won. Who carry scars on their hearts, and keep going because they can.



Following her daughter’s second surgery, Natasha Brown wrote Fledgling, The Shapeshifter Chronicles (Book 1). She was inspired to write a story centered on a girl struggling with a heart condition. The novel was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Contest.

Mirror, Mirror

My teenage self

I remember when I was a teenager, wondering what it would be like to look into the future to glimpse my adult life. If I could just stare into the mirror and catch sight, a wisp or trace of what was to come. What will I look like? Will I be married? With kids? Where will I be?

Now that I think back to my innocent, and curious self, I wish I could send myself a message, a letter. It is really a message to all of the young and hopeful, or even confused and unsure.

Your life won’t be easy. In fact it will be downright hard at times. But never lose hope, because it’s the light inside you.

Never compare yourself to anyone else. You have the life you were given, and it is beautiful and special if you make it.

People care for you, and if you let them help you, you won’t be alone in your struggles.

It is never too late to follow your dreams and above all, laugh.

When I first dove into writing, it followed my daughters last open-heart surgery. I needed to create a world where I held the power to heal to her, and a place I could escape to. That is the beautiful thing about stories. They allow the reader (and in my case writer) an escape into a character’s life. An escape into another world.

My passion has grown and I wish I had enough time to focus on my writing full time, but unfortunately, I can’t. I am a busy mom, and web developer. Life has continued to challenge me and my strength. So much so, that I wish I could just climb into my make-believe worlds rather than have to deal with disability claims, my child’s behavioral issues, and paying numerous medical bills when money isn’t flowing like it used to.

As the holidays approach, and a chill creeps into the air I am having a hard time finding the spirit that has always carried me through the season. BUT, I do feel the love and support from my friends and family, who I am so grateful for.

Would my teenage self be disappointed to see where I am? I may have white hairs and bags under my eyes, BUT I also have accomplished more than I ever thought I would. I have more strength than I thought I had. And I’m not done yet.

I will keep writing. I will keep hoping. I will keep on until I can’t any more.


Upcoming Release

I recently completed the rough draft of Prodigy, Book 2 in the Shapeshifter Chronicles and am currently going though the editing process. I am very excited to share with my readers Chance and Ana’s new adventures. It should provide plenty of excitement and answer some of  those pesky questions…but of course, leave you with a few as well.

At this point I have plans for four books in the series, with the possibility of more. After the release of Prodigy I will put my attention to finishing another book that was shelved so I could deliver the second book in the Shapeshifter Chronicles.  It is a middle grade adventure series titled, The Novel Adventures of Nimrod Vale. More to come on that as I get closer to completing it.

Thank you for all the reading support!


Interview with Author Amy Manneman

I am late posting this, but  here is an interview I gave my friend, and author, Amy Manneman (The Deadly series).

Where are you originally from?

I am from a small town in Northern California named Nevada City. Tall evergreens, rolling mountains and fresh air, it’s my favorite place to visit. I used to walk down the road from my house and go blackberry picking for blackberry ice cream in the summer. Mmmmm.


What inspired you to become a writer?

Other writers are my inspiration. There is nothing more magical than being transported into another person’s life. I love experiencing another time and circumstance. It still amazes me how joy, fear or passion, are easily transferred from prose. I have always enjoyed writing, but my inspiration has come from authors and writers who force me to forget the laundry, making dinner or doing my work just to read one more chapter. I strive to do that for my own readers.


How did you decide on your book’s genre?

I absolutely love reading fantasy & romance. In the last ten years or so, the young adult genre has created a huge following. I love reading all of the above, so it was natural for me to combine them, when creating my new series.


What is/are your favorite genre(s)?

Growing up, I was never without a book. I am an only child, so they were the perfect companion. I’ve gone through different phases, as a young child my parents read The Hobbit to me in bed. Some of my favorite book related memories are begging my mom and dad to keep reading. Then as a teen I discovered classic romance novels by Austen, Bronte and Fitzgerald. When I moved out of my childhood home, I couldn’t put down fantasy and sci-fi novels. Now it has progressed into young adult and middle grade fantasy. I can’t turn down a good urban fantasy that has great character development, action and romance.


Are you currently reading anything?

Because I am a busy mother, writer and web/design contractor, I haven’t had the opportunity to start a book for myself recently, but I am in the middle of reading one of the Sister’s Grimm books to my kids. It’s a fun, and imaginative middle grade book, which entices imaginative minds.


Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?

The excitement for my story keeps me moving. I love my characters and their world, so my passion for them is what keeps me writing.


How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?

I wish I could say I was a full time writer, but I’m not. The reality is, I’m a busy mother, vice-president of the PTA, a web developer and designer. These elements keep me very occupied, but I try to carve out time in my days to write. While I write this interview, I am waiting for some muffins to finish in the oven for my daughter, who is home sick. It is a tricky balance, but I do my best.


Tell us about your book.

Fledgling is the first book in a series called, The Shapeshifter Chronicles. It is a young adult urban fantasy or I suppose it can be classified as a paranormal romance as well.


Set apart from other eighteen year olds, Ana Hughes knows she is different. A life threatening heart condition smothers her future and she yearns to feel normal. Her hopes are pinned on a fresh start in a remote town far from her native Colorado. Among the locker filled hallways in Clark Bend High, Ana keeps to the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to her violet tinged lips and wilted silhouette. And she almost succeeds, until she meets Chance Morgan.

Struggling to keep up appearances, she soon suspects Chance is hiding something as well. His animal-like senses, miraculous healing ability and peculiar reaction to her Thunderbird necklace compels Ana to question if there’s more to the stories about his Navajo ancestry. Without any other explanation, she fears he is playing tricks on her. But the truth may prove too much for Ana’s delicate heart…


How do you create your characters?

My own daughter inspired this books lead protagonist, Ana. My daughter was born with heart defects and my characters were created with that theme in mind. I think readers relate better to people who are imperfect. Creating a multi-faceted character is important when you want the reader to care about who is on the page. It is a fun challenge that I enjoy.


Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?

I recently added a lost chapter to my website- for readers who have downloaded my book from Amazon. There is a special code at the back of the book, which unlocks the chapter, The Prom.


Where can people find you and your work on the web?

I currently have it listed on Amazon-