on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Sara Alva

Pura Vida - Sara AlvaTitle: Pura Vida
Author: Sara Alva
Publisher: Self Published (m/m Goodreads Romance Group)
Length: 25,400 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Love Has No Boundaries story, Free, Short Stories, New Adult, On Vacation, Diverse Pairing, Costa Rica, Second Chances, at the Beach, College, Summer Break
Rating: Really Liked It


Simon has found himself in an open relationship for the summer—though not by choice. Instead of wallowing, he’s decided to make the most of a family vacation to Costa Rica by hooking up with the first hot guy available. Trouble is, he has no clue how to go about doing that.

Luckily, he runs into someone with a little more experience. But when the moments of lust turn into something more, Simon isn’t so sure he’ll be able to return to his old relationship. And there’s no way to hold onto this new one, either, as thousands of miles will separate them in only a few short weeks. Either way, he’ll have to learn to let go.


I’m really happy that Sara Alva asked me to specifically review this short story of hers. Many of you will have read it, I know, because it’s a free short from the m/m Goodreads Romance Group’s LHNB event. I usually keep up a little better with the stories than I have this year and I also try to do a couple mass reviews of some of my favorites. But, I’ve really missed most of them, just because there have been too many new releases this summer! And way too many of them that I’ve wanted to review 🙂 Thankfully, Sara did ask me to review this one and I’m really glad she did because it was so cute and a real joy to read.

Simon is with his father, mother and sister on vacation in Costa Rica where his father is in development of vacation homes. It’s the few weeks after finals just at the start of the summer and Simon is in a bit of a quandary. His boyfriend back at college, Leo, has pretty much parted his company without much fanfare, giving Simon a “let’s see what happens over the summer” goodbye that pretty much means he just wants to fuck whomever he likes until Simon is back to be his bedwarmer throughout the year. Leo is a little bit cruel, but even if he isn’t what Simon really wants, he’s what he’s got and Simon figures that he shouldn’t give up on a solid thing himself.

What better for him to do than try to find a summer fling himself? At least so that he doesn’t go back to Leo having pined for him all summer. But Simon doesn’t really know how to go about catching someone’s eye. There are a lot of cute guys at the beach of their resort and it seems so easy for his sister Alyssa to catch a cute guy. It isn’t until he stumbles up on the local migration of sea turtles hatching on the beach at night that he meets Juan.

Juan is a local that doesn’t show much faith in another American tourist at first, especially when the two get off to such an inauspicious start. But Simon rallies and when he actually shows interest in the turtles, Juan invites him to help with his nightly duties. It doesn’t take them long to find a chemistry between them, but even if Simon did start to have feelings for Juan, there’s no chance of anything happening when he lives thousands of miles away.

This is such a perfect and sweet vacation fling story and this author does it in a way that sets it apart. There’s no easy out that things could continue in the future, that one could stay or the other could follow at the end of their fling. There are real differences between them. But we get to that point by getting to know the two of them in all of their awkwardness and by doing so their relationship has heart where other stories with a similar premise might not. And that’s because there are such differences between them. Juan is a local who has had only too many opportunities to get to know different kinds of people, but so many of them through the facade of the resort, bringing him into contact with a type of person that he can’t understand might not be rich or spoiled. He’s someone who has to work hard for what he has, battle his own family against his sexuality, and then battle the people he comes in contact with every summer to be seen as more than a stupid village boy. Though they come from different worlds, Simon is different. He can’t seem to make himself believe that their fling could be no-strings attached. He just doesn’t know how. And part of that is because he’s the type of person who would find interest in the beauty of the turtles and understand the beauty in what Juan sees everyday.

I don’t know Sara Alva well. And this is the first work of hers that I’ve read — no matter how many times I’ve remembered how much I want to read Social Skills. But, I can see from reading this story that she’s someone who really cares about what she writes and that she writes because she loves it. I’m not an author, but I can understand that. I want to read Social Skills now more than ever, because I feel into her prose and it was so easy and comforting to get lost in. I’m excited to see what to make of a longer story. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had so many people tell me to read it by now 😉

If you missed this one in all the crush of the free stories this summer, then definitely go get it. It’s sweet and heartfelt and you’ll probably find a new author that you like.

“Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.” — Oscar Wilde

I decided to self-publish over a year ago. I had a few different reasons, one of them being that I was lucky enough to have amazing cover art created for me that I did not want to let go of. And, at the time, the fact that I’d be in control of any deadlines (or lack thereof) seemed like it would be less stressful than having those imposed on me, what with the day job and other side-jobs also filling up my life.

I may have been wrong on that less-stress part.

I’m nitpicky. Especially about my own work. And as a self-published author, I realized that everything would come down to me—the cover art, the font I chose, the layout, the formatting, each chapter, each sentence, and each individual word. So while I had the benefit of not giving myself a deadline, I also did not give myself a place to stop.

I attacked Social Skills on a larger scale at first, for things like pacing and overall cohesiveness, and had several betas to help me through that process. My work is most certainly the better for it, and I would never tell any author to skip or speed up this step. How many betas you work with might vary, but the way I approached it was to keep going until I found some “dissenting views.” Though I didn’t necessarily use every change my betas suggested, I was at least informed on different viewpoints and prepared for my story to be interpreted in different ways.

Once that was through, I began the smaller-scale revisions. This is still a crucial step for any author. I worked on word choice, paragraph and sentence flow, and crisper dialogue. Again, my work is the better for it.

But then I started going sub-atomic on my manuscript. I’d sit and stare at my screen for hours, rereading a paragraph, or even just a sentence. I’d rearrange words, change them back, then rearrange them again. I’d IM my husband with random out-of-context snippets and ask him which one sounded best (and the poor thing always humored me). I’d bug my writing friends and betas, usually with the lead-in of “I know I’m being nuts, but could you tell me if I should switch this word for that one?” Then after I’d made any change, I’d second and third and fourth guess myself. Was I sure I wanted to do that?

I’d say this went on for…at least five months. Meanwhile, my friends who’d heard my “I’m going to publish a book” tale were beginning to question why it was taking so long. “Weren’t you almost finished?” they’d say. “You were only going to go through it one more time…”

Sure. One more time. And one more time after that, and one more time after that.

Eventually my crit partner, editor, and husband started to yell at me for dragging my feet and taking so damn long to publish. And I was getting frustrated with myself. I didn’t want to let go. I knew if I read the story just one more time, I’d find one more thing I could change. But on the other hand, if I never hit that publish button, no one was going to see what I’d spent years of my life creating by this point.

At the beginning of 2013, my dance troupe leader took me aside and shared the Oscar Wilde quote I have posted above—that “books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.” That sounded kind of sad at first; I didn’t want to abandon my book, but I did understand what Wilde meant. A writer’s craft can be like a living organism…always changing and growing. Since I’d drafted Social Skills two years prior to publication, I’d already seen how my writing voice had changed from initial revisions to later ones. And I knew it would change again, if I waited long enough. Each time I worked on my novel I could recreate it, if I chose to. So at some point, I was going to have to make the decision to “abandon” this current book and move on to the next one—either by shelving it or publishing it.

For me, that point came on January 21st, after one year of revising, ten beta readers, an editor, two final readers, and a big glass of Sorel (it’s liqueur made from hibiscus flowers, ’cause I don’t like wine).

Each author has to make their own decision about when to “abandon” their book to the readers. And it may be different for different novels, different times in people’s lives, and different author-personalities. I have another complete novel making its way towards release, and I honestly can’t say when I will hit that it’s time moment like I did with Social Skills. It probably won’t take quite as long, simply because I know more about the self-publishing process, but in a genre that is often criticized for a lack of proper editing, I’d never consider putting out a product I hadn’t revised and reread until it had driven me just a little bit nuts.

For my fellow self-pubbers: when do you make the decision to hit that publish button? After a certain number of betas? When the stars align? When you’re sure your manuscript is perfect? (If it’s that last one…wow. I wish I had your confidence!). Or are you still sitting there staring at your computer and wondering how to change the fourth sentence in the eleventh chapter to make it just right?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

socialskillsalvaSocial Skills by Sara Alva

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison. 

Jared’s attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor’s self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?

Buy Links: Amazon || AllRomanceEbooks || Smashwords

Connect with Sara:
Blog || Facebook || Twitter


Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Social Skills. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on March 31st. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck!