Magical Realism in Romance #RachelleAyala #mgtab @Mimisgang1

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Take a modern-day contemporary romance and set it in a familiar city or town. Keep the technology: texting, cell phones, the internet, and all the engineering wonders of the 21st century. But inject an element of magic or time travel or even a bit of shapeshifting or ghostly visitations. Since it’s a romance, you have a hero and a heroine. One of them or both are ordinary human beings. Or perhaps he or she appears like an ordinary human being–sometimes. Add in elements of mythology or magic but keep the romance front and central. This is what I’ve been doing in some of my stories which mix magical realism with romance.

I didn’t decide one day to incorporate magical realism into my stories. I’ve always liked reading stories that have strange and unexplained things going on. But it all started with a novella in 2015, Christmas Stray where a boy who claims to be an elf and his puppy appear behind the woodpile to a couple snowed in for Christmas.

What is this thing called magical realism romance? It’s easier to say what it’s not.

It’s not Fantasy or even Urban Fantasy. The setting is in the real world and the main plot line does not center around the fantasy world. There is no battle between kingdoms and realms and most of the characters are not aware of the magic taking place. Furthermore, no undue attention is drawn to the magic that happens. It’s accepted as “just is.” The main character does not permanently change into a creature imbued with special powers, and it’s not a journey of discovery and mastery in another world.

It’s not Paranormal Romance, although there are elements of the paranormal. Perhaps some can interpret a character as a ghost or a time-traveling spirit. However, the story world looks normal to ninety percent of the characters, and the plot does not center around the otherworldly creatures. There is no explanation of the changes or appearances that take place or any lore about the strange creatures like in vampire or werewolf shifting stories where there is a system of clans, transitions, fated mates, etc. Instead, the central plot line is an ordinary contemporary romance set in a mostly ordinary world.

What we’re left with is a romance with elements of magic rooted in the real world.

Of the eighty romances I’ve written, I count thirteen of my books to incorporate magical elements into the mostly realistic storyline. Nine of them are Christmas stories, and ten of them are concentrated in my Christmas Creek Romance series where something strange happens in most but not all books, and yet, at the end of the story, the strange happenings are forgotten or kept secret by the affected couple.

This last detail, of having most of the characters unaware of the time shift or otherworldly visitation or excursion to another realm is what keeps my stories in the dimension of magical realism which is defined as a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction. Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-magical-realism

Are you ready to be shapeshifted into a vintage MG Roadster convertible while the guy you’re crushing on is driving his dates around your small town? That’s what happens to town wallflower Hayley Brockman in my newest Christmas Creek Romance, Nick’s Christmas Ride.

Nick’s Christmas Ride by Rachelle Ayala

Let me know if you like magic realism in romance. If you do, check out gem girls, Sapphire and Ruby, where ordinary women meet up with demigods on the streets of San Francisco. Black Tied: Sapphire [wok firefighter, the son of the kitchen God] and Red Hexed: Ruby [accidental sword bearer to Lord Frey of the sword that can stop Ragnarok].

Fellow Floridians, Beware of toilet lizard and iguana aggression

From Dave Barry– Miami Herald

Here in South Florida we’re accustomed to lizards, of course; they’re everywhere. When I moved here decades ago, the lizards were one of the things I had to adjust to, along with the hurricanes, the 250 percent humidity, and the fact that Miami drivers actually speed up for stop signs. But the lizards didn’t bother me, because even though there were a lot of them, they were small and cute and non-threatening. They seemed to spend most of their time just standing around doing nothing, like members of a miniature highway-repair crew.

The most aggressive lizard behavior I’d see was the occasional male lizard trying to attract a sex partner by displaying the skin flap under his chin, which is called a “dewlap.” Apparently it is a strongly held belief among male lizards that the chicks really go for a guy with a big dewlap. It’s kind of like weight-lifter human males who believe human females are attracted to large biceps and consequently wear tank tops everywhere, including funerals. But I was not threatened — nor, for the record, attracted — by the dewlap displays. I left the lizards alone, and the lizards left me alone. If I encountered lizards, say, on a sidewalk, they always respectfully skittered out of the way, in recognition of the fact that I was, compared to them, Godzilla.

But lately the lizards are different. I don’t know what’s causing it. Maybe it’s global climate change. But what’s really disturbing is that many of these appear to be a new kind of lizard: They’re bigger, and they’re uglier. They’re not the cute li’l Geico Gecko types. They’re
more along the lines of junior-varsity velociraptors. And they have an attitude. More and more, when I encounter sidewalk lizards, they do not skitter away. At best they casually saunter off in an insolent manner. Sometimes these lizards don’t move at all: They just stand there defiantly, giving me that beady lizard eyeball, clearly conveying, by their body language, the
message: “Why should I fear YOU? You have a small dewlap!” Which, much as it pains me to admit it, is true.

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting. Perhaps you’re thinking, “OK, maybe the lizards are getting bigger and more aggressive. But why should I care? I spend most of my time indoors anyway, so this issue doesn’t really affect ME.”
Oh really? Let me ask you a question: While you’re indoors, do you ever have occasion to use a toilet? I ask because of an alarming report I saw July 8 on NBC6 TV news. The report begins with a camera shot looking down into a toilet bowl, which contains a large iguana. This exchange introduces a report concerning retirees Janet and Bruce Bleier, who, since moving to Hollywood, FL. from Long Island, have encountered not one, but TWO commode iguanas. The first time was in October, when Bruce went to use the bathroom late one night.

Janet discovered the second iguana. She offers this advice to NBC6 viewers: “Look before you sit.” In both cases, the Bleiers called Harold Rondan, proprietor of a company called Iguana Lifestyles, who came and took the iguana away. (Iguana removal is a major industry in South Florida.) Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “OK, so this one couple had two iguanas show up in their toilet. It’s probably just a fluke. It’s not like it’s an epidemic.”

Oh really? Well perhaps you would be interested to know that on July 10, just two days after the NBC6 report about the Bleiers, another local station, WSVN 7News, carried a report about another Hollywood resident, Michelle Reynolds, who came downstairs one evening and looked into her toilet. Guess what she found? She found an iguana. A LARGE iguana. “He took up most of the toilet bowl,” she tells 7News. There’s video of the iguana being removed, again by Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles, who identifies it as a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana. Even by iguana standards, this is an ugly animal, and it does not look happy. You can tell by its facial expression that its goal in life is to grow much bigger so that one day it can come back and eat Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles.

And that’s not the end of our story. On July 11, one day later, the Bleiers were once again on the local TV news. It turns out they had yet another toilet iguana. This was their THIRD.
So please don’t try to tell me this isn’t an epidemic.
I spoke by phone with Janet Bleier, who said she and her husband are trying, with the help of Hollywood authorities, to figure out how the iguanas are getting in, but so far they’ve had no luck. “We never, ever, walk into one of our bathrooms any more without checking. Even if we’re not going to use the toilet, we look.”

In case you think this epidemic is confined to Hollywood, I urge you to Google “toilet lizards.” You’ll discover that this has been going on for a while now, and not just in Florida; it’s happening in warmer climates all over the world.
So I repeat: The lizards are up to something. But what? Are they planning some
kind of coordinated attack?
I don’t have the answers. But for now we all need to do our part. This means keeping our toilet lids down, of course, but it also means standing up to the lizards and letting them know we’re not afraid of them, even though we actually are. The next time you encounter a lizard, either on the sidewalk or, God forbid, in your bathroom, look it straight in whichever eyeball is closest to you and tell it, in a firm, clear voice:
“We know what you’re up to.“ If it’s a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana, you should say this in Spanish.
Also, if you have a dewlap, you should display it. They respect that.

I was lounging peacefully on my chair, admiring the ocean, but something was rubbing right under my …
Try to imagine my scream when I saw that big iguana
coming from under my lounge chair.

I hope you enjoyed Dave Barry’s article, especially if you don’t live in South Florida!!!

I have two gifts for you–a free book BABY PLANS and a new book, published yesterday, HEALING PLANS.

HEALING PLANS
He’s a widowed surgeon, with two adopted minority children. She’s a lovely surgeon dedicated to her career, and she can bring him love, passion, and… a miracle.
FREE TodayBABY PLANS
Competing colleagues and past lovers, they meet at the artificial insemination clinic. Zach is researching the procedure for his article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby. When her secret explodes, all hell breaks loose,
but artificial insemination works in many ways…

How to keep a guy interested?

Years ago I collected articles I found interesting, amusing, or useful for my writing. Here is one of them. I don’t know who the author is, and I don’t agree with everything he/she wrote. Many points are outdated, and many are still true.

Want to know how to keep a guy interested in you no matter what? Here are some sexy ways to make yourself dreamy and desirable in your man’s eyes.

Many girls may assume that guys are fickle and have a low interest span. But in reality, guys are no different from girls when it comes to staying happy in a relationship. Guys, just like girls, love novelty. And they always want to be with a girl who’s desirable, and one that’s envied by other girls and desired by other guys. Do you want to be that girl?

To keep a guy interested in you, you just need to remember a few ways to keep his interest aroused and his desire in you peaked.

Use these tips on how to keep a guy interested in you, and you’d see how easy it can be to make him want you all the time.

#1 Be spontaneous. Shock him, awe him, make plans for the evening or plan an entire elaborate date by yourself. Surprise him and never be too predictable.

#2 Don’t change yourself. Stay true to the real person that you are. Don’t change yourself constantly assuming he doesn’t like your personality. Be creative, but stick to your comfort zone.

#3 Take initiatives in bed. Your guy may like taking control in bed, but when you dominate him and show off your confidence, he can’t help but be awed by your confidence and sexiness in bed.

#4 Smell great all the time. Always smell great around him but don’t overpower subtle fragrances with sickly sweet perfumes though. Always smell good, and pay special attention to your personal hygiene and body odor.

#5 Awe his friends. Men are competitive. As long as he thinks he has the best girl in his social circle, he’ll always cling to you and want to be with you. Awe his friends and make them think you’re a great girl, and you’ve done a great job.

#6 Learn to seduce him. Seduction doesn’t stop in bed. Be sexy around him and be creative wherever you go.

#7 Show interest in his hobbies. A guy would absolutely love a girl who shows interest in his special hobbies, be it playing on his Xbox or climbing a mountain. Men want to spend their lives with a woman who truly understands them and connects to them.

#8  Be his shoulder to lean on. Give him your strength and support when he’s low on morale. Reassure him and help him confide his problems to you. Be his confidant and his warm pillow when he’s in the dumps and he’ll treat you like a goddess.

#9 Be his arm candy. Look good in his arms when both of you are together.

#10 Be financially secure. Be in control of your finances and have a well settled job. Guys love a girl with a steady head on her shoulders. At the same time, they stay a mile away from careless spendthrifts!

#11 Have intelligent conversations. A guy may want an arm candy when he’s on the streets, but he also wants a lover who can communicate with him and have intelligent conversations at the end of the day.

#12 Help him deal with life. Men may behave like the saviors of the world. But inside, they’re still little boys who need a cuddle and a hug now and then. Help your man deal with the issues life throws at him.

#13 Public display of affection. Your man may shy away from a bit of PDA, but he still loves it when you cling to his arms like a damsel in distress. It makes him feel more powerful and sexy!

#14 Stroke his ego. If you want to keep your guy interested and happy, learn to stroke his ego. Compliment his achievements and give him a pat on his back when he’s proud of something. Make him feel like a man and he’ll stay your man.

#15 Be interesting. Be interesting and creative with your life. See the happy side in everything, even in the most mundane of days. When you’re an optimist, your infectious happiness will definitely rub on to him.

#16 Don’t make him feel insecure. Flirt with others and talk to men, but never at the cost of his insecurity. When he’s around, hug him close and he’ll swell with affection for you.

#17 Don’t be easily available. Spend time with him, but don’t be ready for him at his beck and call. Be there for him, but make him miss you when you aren’t around.

#18 Don’t be clingy and needy. Guys like a damsel who needs their help. But that stops once the infatuation period is over. Show him that you’re self-reliant and he’ll always look for ways to help you and please you.

#19 Be sexually innovative. Know your moves in bed and everywhere else. Have sex in different places, role play with him, wear an apron and nothing else while cooking something special, tie his hands to the bedpost… You get the drift, don’t you?

#20 Be a good cook. No matter what people say, the adage, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach still holds good.

#21 Don’t ever be a pushover. Don’t be the submissive wife. You don’t need to sit at his feet to earn his respect and love. Instead, be opinionated and throw him around when he throws his weight around you.

#22 Whip him when he can’t behave. Treat him like a spoilt child when he doesn’t behave. Ignore his childish behavior. Be unpredictable and rude when he misbehaves, and he’ll fear you and respect you at the same time.

#23 Make him proud of you. Guys may be shallow at first sight, but they still want a girl they can respect and admire.

#24 Respect yourself. You’re not a doormat. Let him know that you have the strength to move on if he does something stupid or treats you badly. Be an achiever and a girl he can look up to in awe. Always make it look like you’re the biggest prize he’s won.

#30 Make him dependent on you. As long as he thinks he can’t live without you or if he feels helpless without you, he’ll always stay interested in you.

Pick the traits you can use and you’ll see how easy it can be to keep a guy interested in you. But never let him use you or treat you like a pushover. And don’t think twice about punishing him or putting him in his place when he doesn’t treat you right. Earn his respect and love. And let him earn yours. Treat him with love and affection, but only if he deserves it. After all, as long as he fears losing a catch like yourself, he’ll never put a toe out of line, would he?

Here are threw new releases, a book and two new boxes with novels where the heroines know how to keep a man interested!!!

Available at Amazon

HEALING PLANS, Love Plans Series, book 8, On preorder Publication Date: September 22, 2022 He thought he couldn’t have children and adopted two minority children, but he lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down and love accomplishes miracles.

Unforgettable Loyalty: Available on Amazon
Is there anything more important in a relationship than loyalty from the one you love…
knowing that person will always be there for you? And then they aren’t. What happens then?
Sweet & Sassy: Small Town Romances Available on Amazon
Trusted friends and family will be at their sides as they learn difficult and surprising news. A few might search for the truth or attempt to contain a secret they have carried for years.

Travel with Mona to France-The Loire Valley

A Writer’s Inspiration: France

Of all the countries I visited, France has always been my favorite. Maybe because of its rich culture and history, or maybe because I am fluent in French and have several friends living in Paris who always welcome me.

With its cobbled streets, stunning Basilica, artists, bistros … Montmartre is full of charm! Perched on the top of a small hill in the 18th arrondissement, the most famous Parisian district has lost none of its village atmosphere that appealed so much to the artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Sacré-Cœur basilica is a masterpiece of grace and grandeur. You can see this entirely white landmark from all parts of Paris. Built at the end of the 19th century in the Romano-Byzantine style, it is dedicated to the heart of Christ and is an important place of worship in the capital. It houses the largest mosaic in France, measuring no less than 480 m²!

A narrow street with cafes in Montmartre.
A unique view of the Tour Eiffel from the
balcony of my hotel room
Perched on the Butte (hill) Montmartre, the basilica is accessible by funicular from the Place Saint-Pierre or via the lawns and steps from the little public garden ‘Square Louise Michel’. 

If you go to Paris, you’ll probably climb the Tour Eiffel or use the elevator after staying in line for an hour. You’ll visit the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, Les Tuileries, many more monuments and must-see places and of course Versailles.

Although Paris would inspire any visitor with fabulous dreams, there is more to France than its capital. A few years ago, my husband rented a car and we toured the Loire Valley.

The valley is known for its dry white wines,
and sparkling-wine 
Blois, a hillside city on the Loire River, is the capital of the Loir-et-Cher region in central France.

The châteaux of the Loire Valley (French: châteaux de la Loire) are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the river Loire in France. They illustrate Renaissance ideals of design in France.

The châteaux of the Loire Valley number over three hundred, ranging from practical fortified castles from the 10th century to splendid residences built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux in the Loire Valley, the nobility, drawn to the seat of power, followed suit.

The Chateau de Chambord, the most sumptuous one, was built by King François I and inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. The chateau remains one of the most famous and visited buildings in France. Chateau de Chambord was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The château d’Amboise was built over an old roman fortress. Throughout France’s troublesome 16th Century, the château d’ Amboise was the home of King Henry II and his wife, Catherine de’ Medici. Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here, as a guest of King Francis I. Although he lived in the neighboring château of Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the Royal Château of Amboise.

The château de Chenonceaux, called the Ladies’ Castle, is famous for its architecture which bridges the Cher River. Founded on the pilings of a mill in 1513, the château was completed in 1522. The château was confiscated by Francis I in 1535. Henry II presented it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. On his death his queen, Catherine de Médicis, forced Diane to give it up. Chenonceaux was extensively restored in the 19th century. The village was occupied by the Germans and slightly damaged in World War II.

The château de Chaumont, built in the 10th century, is one of the oldest castles in the Loire Valley.

Villandry is better known for the magnificent gardens surrounding the castle.

The château de Blois has been the residency of several French kings. It is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English out of Orleans.

The château de Cheverny was built between 1630 and 1640, because a young wife was caught cheating on her husband.

While visiting so many famous castles, I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in lavishly decorated galleries and plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. I don’t write historical romances but kept thinking about the settings.

A year later, my niece related her summer training in France. As a Harvard University student in Architecture, she was offered the unique opportunity to work on the restoration of a chapel in a French castle. When I asked jokingly, “Was the owner a haughty old man?” My niece answered: “He was a young, handsome count and the five girls in my team had a crush on him. He dated my friend.”

Oh, oh. Château . Handsome count. Training on a historical chapel. Maybe looking for a historical statue. I had an epiphany. Here was my story premise. Below is the château I used in my story. When I pitched it to an agent at the RWA conference, she suggested I change the plot to make it a romantic suspense. I took her suggestion to heart and upped the stakes with a missing statue and the murder of a professor. THE MISSING STATUE was born.

THE MISSING STATUE: Are his statue and chateau worth endangering the life of the impetuous young woman who’s turned his life upside down? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010FX4OOY/  

“… is a great romance with an excellent mystery.” ~Publishers’ Weekly

This is a wonderfully exciting romantic suspense novel. The characters are appealing and the setting is very romantic, a chateau in the Loire Valley. There is an interesting cast of characters. The plot is full of action and the reader is never sure who is on the side of good or evil.” ~ Romance Studio
“Murder, mystery, and intrigue seem to follow Cheryl as she assists Francois on his project. A great contemporary romantic read.” ~Review Your Book
Mona Risk brings old-fashioned romance back into style… full of mystery and intrigue.  I loved Ms. Risk’s injection of humor into the story. A sweet mystery romance you’re guaranteed to enjoy.” ~ Two Lips Review


If you have a chance to go to France, do yourself a favor and visit the châteaux de la Loire. I promise you won’t regret it.

I have three new books on pre-order.

KISSING PLANS: From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the undesired fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.

FAMILY PLANS: The plane crash devastated two families and revealed painful secrets. Can a brighter future arise from those ashes at Christmas time?

HEALING PLANS: He adopted two minority children but lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down.