Category Archives: HEA in real life vs fiction

Calisa Rhose says ~ Happy Birthday Wonderful Man!!!!! #mfrworg #myhusband


Today is dedicated to a special man. He’s the father of our three beautiful daughters, and half of what makes us proud grandparents to five beautiful little girls. We’ve been together for thirty-two years and celebrated a lot of holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I wouldn’t change of him, or our life together. He’s my biggest hero, a man who can do or make anything. He’s my inspiration, totally encouraging in my early writing, he pushed me to submit to publishers and threw a party when I got my first contract. He is my real life romance hero.

Here’s to my life mate, soul mate and love of my life!

To my wonderful, handsome husband I wish you a happy, happy birthday! I love you, Mitchell. 😀


                 Turner Falls, Oklahoma 04-15-09

Calisa Rhose with AJ Nuest ~ Write what you know

29 and counting! <3 <3











I wish a very

to us.

After twenty-nine wedded, though not always blissful, years- I love you more and more each day.

You are my rock.

My soulmate.

Thank you for three beautiful daughters who have blessed us with five lovely miniatures of themselves.

I wouldn’t trade a one for anything in the world because each is a part of you and me–proof of a long lasting and beautiful love.


with all my heart, Mitchell! Here’s to another 29 years! 

What IS love?


Turner Falls-April 15, 2009 (youngest daughter, Stephanie’s, wedding day)

What IS love? Is it a look? A touch or a whispered word? A silent moment of oneness in a special place?

Maybe it’s a bouquet of roses with crystal earrings hidden inside. That’s what Mitch gave me for out first Anniversary. Maybe it’s a surprise night out or a new car with a giant red bow on top (this he did NOT give me 🙂 ). After all, isn’t bigger better? Or is it?

As a romance writer I know about flowery romance. I WRITE it. I spend time thinking up the most radical, to the most simple ways my characters can display their love to a reader. It might be a grand gesture of putting their faith in that one person they have taken a long journey in words with, or it might be something as simple and unassuming. The hero might offer his heroine one single flower with words of love that magically turn it into a full bouquet. But even then, as a writer, I’m driven to make him work for it. Because we all know—romance is NOT easy! 🙂

I can already hear the conversation in my head;

“I had you pegged for a hundred dollar bouquet with your history.” She eyed the solitary pink carnation suspiciously—she loved carnations but he couldn’t know that, had never paid that much attention to her likes and dislikes—as he twirled the stem carelessly between two fingers.

“You have me pegged right.”

As if to reinforce his words he gave the single flower a careless flip and caught it. A show off, he seemed to need attention to thrive. Well, she wasn’t giving it to him, wouldn’t feed that over-sized ego for one breath. Not again.

“You’re wasting your time. I’m not falling for your grandiose expressions of a fake love. I’ve done that and you let me fall flat on my ass three years ago when you left me standing at the alter with two hundred friends and family watching. I only fall once before I learn from mistakes.” Anna looked around them with a pointed stare, arms spread wide as she slowly spun around. She knew he had it all planned out. She’d been tipped off to his hidden plan to sweep her off her feet again. That’s how Ty rolled. Spring the big surprise on her so she’d be too overwhelmed to refuse until it was too late. Then he’d have the last laugh as he sprang into the mist and left her hanging. Not this time. “So, let’s get this over with. Where’s the bundle of impressive you have to woo me into false hope? Where are the roses and posies? Where are the people necessary to hold you up with adoration because you’re incapable of standing on your own in naked sincerity? Where’s the fancy church and all the schmooze and glitter Ty Baker relies on to survive?”

Sure she wanted to marry him, had since she was fifteen years old and over the moon in love with the destined movie star. Heck, even at sixteen he was a showboat actor. The difference between then and now was Anna. One of them had grown up in the last twelve years. She wouldn’t fall for his big ways anymore.

She expected his hung head and shy grin. He wouldn’t fool her this time because he was caught in the act. He knew it, too. The dark green tux that matched his eyes perfectly only reinforced what they both knew. Even when her fingers itched to run through his long California-blond hair, to scratch against the perpetual five o’clock shadow he sported these days, no matter how her lips ached to taste his once more—her heart broke with what could never be.

Then why was she standing in front of him in the ice green dress she’d found on her bed an hour ago? Why was her heart pounding just below where the fabric ended with a daring plunge? Obviously, Ty had picked the sexy dress. It wasn’t even white for God’s sake! That alone should tell her to run like hell to the nearest hills and hide. But some morbid curiosity for what pain he held in store trapped her there, doubting her own sanity. “So, where are they?”

“There isn’t any.”

The serious tone in his voice sent shivers of fear up and down her spine. He’d pulled out all the stops. Why did he so obviously despise her?

When Ty sank to one knee Anna choked on a snort of laughter. Okay, this was the Ty she remembered!

“I’m asking you for the last time, Anna Montgomery, to please marry me?”

“Why?” Not why was he asking her, but why he did this. What could she possibly have done to earn this from him?

“Because I love you. I don’t want to live without you. Your smile is the sun that rises on me, your tears the moon.”


He was good! She couldn’t respond. The moon was cresting in full bloom and she brushed the tears away angrily.

Ty rose and took her limp hand to lead her around the silent merry-go-round. Yes, only Ty would think to take her to the carnival where they had first met to propose. The comical situation staved off the tears. That and her anger at his unmitigated gall. How dare he tarnish those early buds of young love, her favorite memories of Ty Baker. But she wouldn’t fall for it this time.

Anna caught a glimpse of the two of them in a crazy mirror as they passed the dark fun house. They stood out, even in a wavy posture the mirror created they looked perfect together. Dark green against light, tall and broad beside small and trim. Perfect, but for the one altering effect. Their image was one dimensional. There didn’t seem to be any substance to the funky shapes they made. Like their relationship.

“Why did you come back, Ty? You can’t live here, can’t be restricted to a small town. It can’t feed that huge ego of yours because there’s not enough people in Noble, Oklahoma to create the amount of hot air needed to keep you blown up and full of it. So I want to know why you’re here?”

He stopped briefly and gazed at her and Anna could almost swear his eyes glimmered with moisture. Nah. Not Ty. He’s an actor, Anna. And didn’t all actors have built in water works ready to flow at their beck and call? When he began moving again without replying she thought she had her answer. He wasn’t back. This, whatever it was, was nothing more than a pitstop to somewhere better.

She held her breath as he broke the stem of the flower and tucked the head into her hair over her right ear. “I came for you.” He resumed the near silent walk and she allowed herself to be pulled along. Curiosity was not her friend.

Anna slowed and stopped as they rounded the Ferris wheel. Two strangers stood under a hot air balloon, one in the basket. “Oh, well now I see why there are no flowers or people.” How like him! “Of course, you have to make your grand entry. How lame of me to forget that detail.” She wanted to scream her frustration but instead found herself lifted and placed inside the big basket. Ty joined her, still without speaking, and nodded to the pilot after he climbed inside. She had to admit a hot air balloon ride was something she’d always wanted to do and felt the giddy excitement regardless of where it would end.

The balloon rose just above the treeline and power lines and rocked gently through the air. Anna braced her feet and held on to the rope as she looked down and around.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”  Ty leaned beside her and smiled. “The first time I rode in one I knew I’d have to take you up, you’d love it.”

“Are we ready?”

Ty turned when one of the other men spoke and caught her hand to balance her. “Yes. We’re ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Ty Baker, do you take this woman…”


Three in the morning and Anna stared at the diamond and emerald ring on her left hand. He’d done it. Ty had married her. Even more stunning, shocking, was that there hadn’t been any people, flowers or anything grand about it. That balloon pilot was the only witness and he set them down at the airport where her bags had been delivered by her sister—whom she’d strangle later—and Ty whisked her off to Jamaica. Well, that was pretty grand, but not at all showboat-like. Anna couldn’t help wondering when it would fall apart.

“Quit worrying, baby. It’s just the two of us. Me. You. It’s not a joke and I’m not going to disappear when you blink, so can we go to sleep and begin our honeymoon in the morning?” Ty whispered beside her and dragged her into his arms to kiss her neck in the tropical breeze, under a blanket of stars.

“If this is real…why don’t you want to begin the honeymoon tonight? Right now?” She suspected he didn’t because it would all end when the sun came up, but irrationally felt the need to challenge him to the edge of her own sanity.

“I thought you’d want to rest first.”

“I’m sure you did.”

“If a honeymoon is what you want, Mrs. Baker, that’s what I’ll produce.”

Ty lifted her into his strong arms and Anna fell speechless when he carried her to the huge bed and removed the limp pink carnation from her hair. The salty sea breeze floated through the gauzy curtains as her husband stretched out next to her and turned off the lamp…

Ah- love.

For me it’s not about big gestures. It’s about what’s inside. My darling hubby bought me an early Valentine’s gift last week. I am sporting the cutest new work outfit. For the writers out there, you already know I’m talking about PJs. Is there anything more romantic? For the readers out there, writers often ‘work’ in PJs so you can appreciate how sweet his gift is. They’re Minnie Mouse!

What about you? Do you go for the amazing, grand gestures or is sweet and simple more your style when it comes to Valentine’s Day and your personal hero? Let’s dish! What did you get, or do you hope to get today?


>In Memorium- Can a Happy Ever After romance come from tragedy in REAL life?


Or is it only possible in fiction romance?
Today is a special day. A painful day. Today I dedicate my blog to anyone who has been lost to violent crime, and to those who have loved and lost anyone to violent crime.
On this day 8 years ago my family lost a very special young man to a brutal, senseless murder.
Of course, I know we aren’t the only ones who lost Jonathan Dewayne Shryock, but I’m speaking on my family’s loss.
Who was John? John was a vibrant boy I first met when my oldest daughter fell head over big toe for the brown haired, blue-eyed fourteen year old. When he had just turned fifteen she finally got the nerve to talk to him. They were in ninth grade, with a whole life ahead of them, yet she knew ‘he was the one’.
Did I mention he was a paternal twin? His twin was daughter’s best friend before John ever spoke to her. But John was the one to become a semi-permanent fixture around our house. And so it went through the next few years.
John practically lived at my house even after he dropped out of school and went to work. I taught him to drive- he took his driver’s test in my van, with the emergency brake on- I tutored him in continuation school (until he finally left that too). He helped hubby around the house, helped me ride my horse, I was breaking at that time, for the first time. He built fence, went to work a few times with hubby, washed dishes, repaired vehicles (all to be near daughter)… John was, for all intents and purposes, the son hubby and I never had- for three short years.
She and he became serious and he gave her a promise ring for Christmas when she was seventeen, after his insistence that I approve his ring choice. They hiccuped the relationship through the next few months.
He brought her home at Christmas that year after her visit, and he was so tall and filled out. Buff, muscular, deep voiced. Our little boy had somehow become a man in the months they’d spent apart! In January she spent New Years with him at his place. A couple of weeks later she spent a couple of days with him and he brought her home on Friday night. He had to work the next day but he’d be back. 
Saturday night, January 18, 2002.
He came by to see her and hung out, teased, acted like the teenage boy I’d helped his mother raise. But he had to go meet friends and hang out because he’d promised. Daughter and I watched The Butterfly Effect (1) and she talked to him on the phone half the time. Yes, he was with friends; at the automotive store, a restaurant, his mom’s house… But his mind and heart was with my daughter.
He called her at 10:30 and then she fell asleep. He’d call her again when he got back at his mom’s around midnight, he promised, to say goodnight.
Daughter woke briefly at 1:59. He hadn’t called but she knew he would and she went back to sleep.
Husband and I were jerked from sleep at 5:25 a.m. with three words spoken through my daughter’s heartbroken tears. Words that haunt me to this day.
“Mom, John’s dead.”
What does a mother say? Do? When her daughter’s future has just crashed and burned in a single phone call from her best friend, her boyfriend’s twin?
There would be no funeral, no memorial to acknowledge his passing, or his time here with us. His mother couldn’t do that, even though we offered, our church offered, to host and do anything to help her say goodbye to her baby child. John was the youngest of four. Two sets of twins instantly cut to one and a half living sets of twins.
Two days later she changed her mind and we worked to put it together. Over 300 people attended the two hour ceremony to remember and say good-bye to John Shryock that Friday, January 24th. On Saturday night we did a ‘Cruise For John’ with John’s twin driving his beloved white Talon, the funeral wreath, John’s picture still attached, mounted on the hood. Daughter followed him in her beloved black Talon.
We drove through Modesto, California with over 50 vehicles and others joined and left as we cruised the town he knew, one last time. There was no news media, and oddly not a single police car to be seen that night on the main drag of the town, the very McHenry strip made famous in the movie, American Graffiti.  And yet, in our hearts, that was to be the most famous cruise in our generations.
We didn’t acknowledge red lights or stop signs, and it seemed every car on the strip that night somehow just ‘knew’, even though the event had not been broadcast prior to, but set up at the memorial the night before. They patiently missed their own green lights, or joined the cruise, horns blaring, emergency lights flashing (as we all did). All of us had a ‘remembrance’ window decal in full view and those closest to John had a picture of him posted on our vehicles, car ink on most declared why we were there. It took over an hour for all of us to take the strip from one end to the other.
To this day our family can’t listen to the Puff Daddy song, ‘I’ll Be Missing You’, re-written and dedicated to his fallen rapper friend, Notorious BIG. It was the ‘good –bye’ song at his funeral, with a special poem written for John by his bff for the occasion, overlaid in it. I still have my cd copy which has never been played. I don’t need to play it.
A week after his death, daughter confided to her dad and me that John had proposed to her on New Years Eve. They had planned to get married that summer.
So what happened? He met with friends who had, earlier in the night, decided it would be fun to throw eggs at vehicles. He arrived after the last egg had been thrown, but apparently one of the friends had hit a gangster’s car and they came back to clean up. One of the gangsters chased one boy while one of the other two grabbed another. John went to the rescue of that friend instead of running to save his own life. The gangster had a knife, John kicked the guy in the head and the friend got away and ran. John ran but the third gangster got into a fist fight with John near the entry of the daycare. He was cornered when the second one returned with a steel post and came up behind John. He hit him in the back and head, while the other held him.
Before the gangsters gave up, the last one ran over, with his knife, to a fallen John and stabbed him several times in the lower back and leg (for kicking him). One of those stabs hit John’s femoral artery. This stabbing happened, according to one friend who witnessed from behind bushes nearby (as John yelled out for help), at 1:58 a.m., one minute before daughter had awoke and went back to sleep. The police were called during this time, but it was several minutes before the detective first on the scene arrived. He had been nearby and they said it only took him four minutes from the call to get there. He applied one of the now-returned friend’s belts as a tourniquet but John had already lost too much blood in the past minutes. I think it was reported that he died in his friend’s arms at 2:03, five minutes after the lethal stab. Though he was ‘declared’ dead at 2:20 when he arrived at the hospital.
Our only comfort at the time was when the coroner said he likely didn’t feel the pain of death because the blow to his head made that impossible. I don’t know how true that is, but I choose to believe that. The only other alternative is that he suffered all the pain as his life bled out.
What happened to his killers? They were all arrested within three months, and a year later John’s trial was knocked down to a plea bargain or the trial had to begin jury selection again. Their ‘confessions’ that they ‘accidentally’ killed him in anger filled the plea bargain ticket- all because of a ‘dirty’ juror sent in to cause a hung jury. They had been overheard at a bar, before any of this, planning to ‘find some trouble’. The three killers- The one who hand fought John got time served and walked that day (after his Romanian grandmother ‘spat’ at John’s mother in the court room). The one with the steel post got 6 years for assault w/intent to do harm (his girlfriend looked at us and laughed). The stabber got 8-12 years for manslaughter (and he was on probation at the time of John’s death-for injuring someone else with a knife two weeks before John). Nope, no murder charges, no ‘life in prison’. They are probably all on the streets today– while John’s ashes remain at his mother’s house, in an Angel urn, with a tiny tea cup necklace he’d given daughter when he first asked her out at fifteen. Is that justice? I don’t know. He’s dead, they are going on with their lives…
Can there be a happy ever after once real tragedy strikes a relationship like this? Is it only in fiction?
It was two years later when my (then future) son in-law found her. Ironically, he was a friend of John’s only sister’s boyfriend. Daughter lived with her, and one day her future walked in and never left. 
She’s the mother of two of our four granddaughters this year, and he’s the father, and that makes us all happy. That she had gone through more than any 18 year old should and made it out the other side a whole person is a miracle in itself. That she now (ironically) works in a prison shows how strong she is- when so many of the case files she deals with, the families she is required to speak with, are those of murderers.
I dedicate this post to my daughter. For her strength and the ability to let go of the past and build a bright and happy future that doesn’t include shadows of ‘what might have beens’, I admire her.
I take this time now to thank all of my sons in-law for being the true heroes to my heroic daughters, and my husband for being my rock of strength.
I ask you, is there HEA after real tragedy? Who do you admire? Why?
The true definition of irony: Be careful of the friends you choose because they might get you killed. ~ John Shryock, 9 yo – school assignment~