Meet VHP Author Lauren Shiro

Meet Author Lauren Shiro


My dear friend and fellow Vanilla Heart Publishing author Lauren Shiro DSC_4383sne
writes stories of Love Without Boundaries. Lauren Shiro is an author of contemporary and LGBT fiction. Her tales prove that love is truly blind to both color and gender. These are stories of regular people in real situations. Her books are sure to touch your heart and remain with you long after you’ve finished them.

Previously writing as L. E. Harvey, Lauren married the love of her life Vicki Shiro on June 2, 2012. Lauren and Vanilla Heart Publishing republished many of Lauren’s works in her new legal name of Lauren Shiro.

Lauren was recently acknowledged for a column she writes for the Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter; I’ll let Lauren tell you about this wonderful honor: 11263953_10153294041262417_5488455921978439418_n
Every year the Keystone Alliance Gaylife Newsletter holds its annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The readers vote for everything from LGBT couple of the year to entertainer of the year, staff writer of the year, and more. I have been writing for them for 4 or 5 years now; they have been kind enough to award me with something every year. This year, I was voted as Lesbian of the Year. It’s quite an honor. To stand out as a lesbian who is trying to make a difference in the world is humbling. I just write about topics and stories that are near and dear to me. To have people say that it’s good work, and to put a spotlight like that on me is such an honor. It is an award for which I am eternally grateful.

~ And now the interview ~

Do you have a vision board or other `trick’ to help motivate you?

I am a rather visual person. So I go on-line and look at images (faces, photographs, locations, anything relating to the story). I am able to connect with my characters on a stronger level, and the imagery tends to spark my creative juices. It’s amazing what has come out of looking at just one image.

Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

We do! I’ll start with my feathered friends.

We have CJ and Sparky, a pair of Love Birds.

We also have one of their babies (who is a full grown adult, but we call her baby anyway).

Then there is my muse. My Cockatiel named Rameses. He is so awesome. He loves to play, chatter and whistle (but don’t let on that you’re watching him. He can be rather shy!).

We also have three canine cohabitants. First is Bella. She’s our yellow lab. She’s a very relaxed lab, but wants all of your attention at all times.

Next is our pit named Marq, short for Marquez. I named him after Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Hispanic writer. Our Marq is full of energy and love. He loves to play, and he loves to cuddle and snuggle even more. He’s a hoot.

Lastly is our very mixed mutt, Sophia. Sophia is a rather unusual looking dog with a matching unique personality. She loves to play: if you’re playing fetch with her, she will keep going – even beyond your point of exhaustion! She’s a lot of fun.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

A little, but not a heck of a lot. People do travel, some even move. My stories are much more focused on people rather than places.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

At the risk of incriminating her, no. She doesn’t really read much of anything! LOL.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I hate to sound like an egomaniac, but for me, the Loving Her series is the perfect series. It’s 0linear in that each woman has her own story, but they can be read in any order. It was important for me to write about how our lives impact those around us. From the feedback I’ve received from readers, it seems as though I have done just that (which makes me incredibly happy). You never know what the end result is going to be when you start a story or a series, but I am really happy with and proud of how they turned out.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

I’m incredibly fortunate in that I am able to write as well as pursue other dreams.

I had a wonderful 15 year veterinary career. I have worked with everything from cows to marine mammals, and everything in between.

Currently, I work detailing  cars (another passion of mine). I work on quite a few Corvettes. So far the most expensive car I worked on was worth over $95,000!

As well, I spend my time doing wood working. I refinish furniture, revitalize wood carvings, I create talking sticks, prayer sticks, and other sacred objects. It can get dirty at times, but the end result is completely worth it.

Not many people can say that they get the opportunity to pursue their childhood dream. I do that by writing, and I am so blessed to enjoy my other passions as well.

Tell us about your current release.

My latest release is called Pianissimo. 3
It’s about a woman named Corinne, and she just moved into a new home. With impeccable timing, her husband was deployed right before they moved in. Corinne falls into depression, despair, and isolation. At first, it eats away at her. The longer she’s in the house, the more she discovers about its history and past inhabitants. Her world is completely opened up, and she discovers who she is just as much as what the home is really about.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a small, but absolutely wonderful family. My mother and step-father live in the same house we grew up in. My brother lives out in California so we only see each other once or twice a year, but we keep in touch regularly. My maternal grandmother is 93, and still sharp as a tack. Her age is just a number to her – she’s a great role model! My maternal grandfather passed away a couple of years ago, but we all still feel his presence. My wife and I live in Rochester, NY. My father-in-law lives in the next town just east of us, and my sister-in-law and her family live in the next town just west of us. My brother-in-law and his family live in Atlanta, but we keep in touch with them as much as we can. Family is very important to us, and we are blessed to have the wonderful family that we do.

Tell us about your favorite character from your books.

This is really hard. Really hard! I have such a connection to all of my characters. After some serious thinking, I’m going with Linda from the Loving Her series. She is able to hold her own – she beats up the biggest bully in school; she works in a male-dominated field, and is quite successful. Yet, she’s also incredibly vulnerable. From the bigoted driver to Katie’s parents, Linda isn’t invincible. I love that depth, that contradiction, that humanity about her.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

I am so blessed because I have such tremendous support from everyone around me. They all think it is wonderful. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was quite nerdy (still am). I was a theatre geek, mostly. But I was involved in a ton of other activities as well. I was in the choir, the dance troupe; I was also involved in SADD and our school’s Anti-Bias Committee, so I kind of hung around with a lot of different types.

What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Unique, comical, diverse.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

When I was writing Trajectory, and I was corresponding with a SWAT sniper, and he informed me that they wore diapers when they are out on a call.

When’s the last time you played “that” musical instrument?

I haven’t played any instruments since elementary school, and the world is a better place for it! LOL.

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? 



Twitter:   @authorlshiro


Is there a place where readers can reach you?

I LOVE hearing from readers! Please feel free to drop me a line at

Is there something, anything, that we all need to know about you?

I have amazing culinary skills. I can burn toast like it’s nobody’s business!

June is LGBT Pride Month

Book Promo: The LGBT & Modern Family Money Manual by Holly Hanson

by Holly Hanson
Buy Link

We’re living in swiftly changing times, and this is very good news for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals, same-sex couples and modern families. This means that there’s a groundswell of support for marriage equality, should you choose to get married. But it also means that now, more than ever, it’s important to stay educated and up-to-date about what rights and privileges are available to you so that you can be your own best advocate-in life and in finance. The LGBT and Modern Family Money Manual is the go-to resource for LGBT individuals and couples as they look to forge ahead into a brighter future, as well as for modern families of all shapes and sizes-even long-term partners of the opposite sex who have opted not to enter into traditional marriage.

Although financial planning is a concern to every individual, no matter his or her sexual orientation or family dynamic, the issues surrounding family planning, marriage equality, and estate planning-just to name a few areas of many-that LGBT and modern families face require a unique perspective. Harmony Financial Strategies Principal and Founder Holly Hanson and team of professionals are the perfect authorities to help LGBT individuals, same-sex couples and modern families navigate the wealth of ever-changing information out there on the subject within the comfort of a safe, grounded and empathetic environment. From developing a plan for protection of assets to understanding the benefits you should be applying for that could positively change your financial picture, this book aims to give LGBT individuals, same-sex couples, and modern families the foundation they need to plan and provide for themselves and their loved ones through financial strategies crafted with them in mind.

7 Ways LGBT Couples & Modern Families
Benefit from Same-Sex Marriage

Wealth Manager Reviews the Many Financial and Legal Advantages

Advocates for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender couples and modern families are adding another victory to their list, with 36 states, along with Washington D.C., to allow marriage among same-sex couples.

A critical turning point came in October last year, when the Supreme Court chose not to hear appeals against lower court rulings that had overturned same-sex marriage bans in five states. Despite actions such as Indiana’s recent Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow businesses in the state to refuse service to the LGBT community, the tide has been swift and overwhelmingly in favor of gay rights.

“I’ll always remember June 26, 2013 — the day that the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, effectively breaking down the major door standing between LGBT couples and marriage equality,” says financial professional Holly Hanson, founder and principal of Harmony Financial Strategies,, a firm that, in part, focuses on the needs of the LGBT community. “As a member of the LGBT community, the day is etched forever in my mind.”

“Naturally, a lingering suspicion remains in the back of our minds, ‘Is it too good to be true?’ And, despite the positive direction the country is taking toward same-sex couples, there remain many practical concerns regarding laws and finances.” 

Hanson, author of “The LGBT and Modern Family Money Manual,” touches on benefits that have become available recently to millions of Americans.

•  Social Security and Medicare: In states where same-sex marriage is legal, LGBT couples have access now to federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“Not only is it plainly fair—we’ve been paying into these systems as taxpayers regardless of your ability to take advantage of marriage—it will no doubt improve some of the issues that elderly people in the LGBT community face as they age and need assistance via partner benefits,” she says.

•  Military Benefits: Not only can same-sex couples now serve without fear of being dishonorably discharged or otherwise forced out, we can live openly together with military assistance as other military families have for years.

•  Federal and State Tax Benefits: Just by changing your tax status to “married filing jointly,” you can save thousands of dollars. We now have more choices in tax planning, and this is obviously something that ties into long-term financial planning as well.

•  Legal Titling to Assets: In the past, LGBT partners were unable to access retirement funds and pensions as heterosexual spouses could have. There are considerable taxation consequences for inheriting an investment vehicle from someone other than a spouse. Now, legally married LGBT spouses can have the proper access to these funds, both while their spouse is living or deceased.

•  Ability to Gift Money: Spouses can make monetary gifts to one another free of taxation. However, in the past, an LGBT couple would have had to pay gift tax on anything more than $14,000 (the current limit as of 2014). If I wanted to buy my wife a car, for example, that asset would have been subject to the gift tax. Not so anymore.

•  U.S. Visas for Same-Sex Couples: In the past, many LGBT couples would be ripped apart by forced deportation once visas ran out.

“My wife is a Swedish national, and now that we are legally married, I can sponsor her permanent residency in the United States,” Hanson says.

•  Parenting Rights / Family Planning: Second-parent adoptions have undoubtedly been smoothed over by the fact that it’s now easier to get a legal same-sex marriage in many states. Not all states in the U.S. have the same laws, so it’s recommended you attain the appropriate paperwork.

“Of course, there are millions of other Americans who, currently, do not have access to these and other benefits,” Hanson says. “Fortunately, those states are becoming an ever-receding minority. I think most of us can reasonably expect the possibility of marriage benefits within our lifetimes.”

About Holly Hanson, CFP®, CIMA®, ADPA®

Holly Hanson is founder and principal of Harmony Financial Strategies,, a recent vision which came to her after 16 years of experience in the financial advisory business and having attained the designations of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Certified Investment Management Analyst and Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor. She oversees the entire Harmony operation, mentoring and guiding the advisors to provide a unique combination of knowledge, dedication and service to LGBT individuals, same-sex couples and modern families. 

With the fall of DOMA and the repeal of Proposition 8 in California, Holly and her partner Sophie were married in 2013, and hope to eventually add children to their family of four dogs. Holly and Sophie are active supporters of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Human Rights Campaign.

(from Ginny Grimsley, National Print Campaign Manager, News and Experts)

June is LGBT Pride Month