A Business Trip to Belarus

In a different life, when I was still working as a Director of the Analytical Division for an environmental hazardous waste company, I spent many hours in the lab supervising chemists who performed analytical tests on water, soil, and air samples. Everything changed when I received a request for proposal from the Department of Defense (DOD) for the refurbishment of a military laboratory in Minsk, Belarus. Excited by the new challenge, I wrote a winning proposal, but I never expected to travel to Belarus as Project Manager of our new DOD contract.

I went to Belarus for the first time at the end of October 1994, with my lab manager and our computer specialist. The long and tiring, twenty-four hour flight to Minsk started from Cincinnati, OH, on Delta, to New York, where we met the other members of our delegation: the program manager and the quality assurance manager from the DOD and their interpreter. We spent three hours before boarding the big jet to Germany, and arrived in Munich the next morning around seven. We hardly had two hours to change terminal. Carrying and dragging a lot of luggage, a couple of suitcases, carryons, and big bags, we rushed from one terminal to another to catch the Lufthansa flight connection to Minsk that flew only three times a week. Missing our connection meant being stuck for two days in Munich or rerouted to Moscow.

In Minsk, we were greeted by army officers who helped us through passport control and other formalities. Outside the airport, a brisk cold seeped through my bones and freezing rain left us drenched until we reached the military cars waiting to take us to the big Hotel Belarus. Colonel Eugene who became our delegation escort–and guardian angel–informed us that the government stops the heating between May 1st and October 31st. I spent several days shivering outdoors and indoors. On my first night at the hotel, I literally froze in my drafty room and stuffed a rolled blanket along the windowsill. During the day, I continuously requested a hot cup of tea (shaye), but was often offered vodka instead.

Our first official meeting attended by officers, chemists and doctors, took place in a government building called the Hall of Officers. After a series of speeches, our Belarusian hosts invited us to celebrate the new contract with toasts of vodka that we were supposed to drink bottoms up while saying Na Dzhrovia.  No orange juice or ice was added to dilute the 40% alcoholic drink. My throat burned and my stomach caught fire. After several trips to Minsk, drinking vodka became part of my job description. I found it a practical way to stay warm. When I got sick, my Belarusian friends insisted on treating me with vodka, their universal remedy against cold, cough, stomach pain, and headaches!

Receiving the American analytical equipment at the Minsk airport with two colonels present to facilitate the customs’ complicated formalities, transporting it to the Ecomir lab in trucks that we had to rent, and moving it to the actual lab by lifting the humongous boxes through the windows because they wouldn’t fit through the facility’s doors was a monstrous performance I never thought we could accomplish.[I will be eternally grateful to the staff of ECC and Ecomir]

The Belarusians are very hospitable people. The colonels invited us often for dinner in their homes. After the inevitable toasts of vodka, we ate the delicious stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, black bread and sausage. The children impressed me with their impeccable manners and fluent English. They often acted as interpreters for their parents.

In Minsk, I used a car with an excellent heating system and a chauffeur who spoke English. My rental car became a haven during the freezing months of winter and the only place where I felt warm and comfortable. Out of curiosity I took the underground train once. It was old and not very clean, a far cry from the magnificent trains of Moscow.

Many of my personal adventures are related in my book, TO LOVE A HERO.

The first chapter of TO LOVE A HERO relates my first impressions: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel weird as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. I was one of the only women without a hat. I remedied the situation on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy mink chapka. I still have it.

I even included my own fall on the broken escalator of the old airport on my very first trip when my pointy heel was caught between the irregular mechanical steps. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine fell in the arms of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

TO LOVE A HERO, highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess. I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting civilization while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

The Russian hero is a perfect example of an alpha hero: a patriotic officer, authoritative and chauvinistic but protective and gallant, honest and loyal.

HEAL MY HEART is another book set in Belarus, depicting the life of a middle-class family, a doctor and widower who lives with his small children and his strong-minded mother, a woman determined to find him a second wife.

HEAL MY HEART: Running away from Christmas celebrations and the demons of her past, Dr. Jillian has dedicated her life to saving third-world children. In a faraway country, a handsome doctor may teach her the true meaning of Christmas, with the help of a baby girl and four little boys. As Jillian and Fyodor work together for six months in his hospital, their fascination with one another surprises them both.

Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?

I Can’t Breathe by @TaylorLeeWrites

Ah, if only we could look away from all those who cry, “I can’t Breathe.”  But we can’t. We mustn’t. Jonathan Capehart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and member of the Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues.  His recent editorial in the Post was titled: “Being Black in America is Exhausting.” As the white grandmother of four biracial young men, let me tell you what else it is. It’s terrifying.

I Can't Breathe

I’m confident Capehart would agree with me. He says “‘Tired doesn’t just refer to the trauma of the Derek Chauvin trial or seeing replays of the video of the former Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd. Nor does “tired” just refer to seeing Daunte Wright being shot by a Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer after being pulled over because of an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror, as his mother has said. Or because of expired tags, as the police said. No, “tired” is all of that, plus whatever personal trauma we carry with us.”

I Can’t Breathe

According to the New York Times, since the Chauvin trial began on March 29, more than three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement. Blacks and Latinos represent more than half of the dead. Let me be clear. I write mystery thrillers, and in every one of my fourteen series, the heroes are cops, special agents, Fibbies etc. etc.  I have a team of law enforcement consultants who help me keep my books accurate and realistic. They represent the true heroes in uniform who spend their lives protecting us. These professionals also are the first to say that the Derek Chauvins’ and Kim Potters’ (and any other cop who ignores “I can’t breathe”) have no place in the police force they honorably serve. They also are the first to say that we need to dramatically rethink policing in this challenged world of ours.

Now that the verdict is in, please tell me that perhaps, just maybe…we’ll never have to hear I can’t breathe again. 

And while you’re grabbing that breath, grab my latest book in The Olive or Twist Saga.

Knockin On Heaven's Door

She’s a go-it-alone detective.  He’s a psychiatrist and FBI profiler. A serial killer brings them together.  In more ways than one. 

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door is the second standalone book in The Olive or Twist Saga steamy romantic suspense series. If you like smart characters, tough-talking cops, and scorching passion, then you’ll love this sizzling thrill-ride. Grab Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door to get hot under the collar today!

And be sure to pick up Unforgettable Deceptions of Heartbreak and Revenge.

Unforgettable Deceptions

Seven NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors invite you into a world of thrills, chills, and kills that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

My book in Unforgettable Deceptions is BETRAYED: Book 3 in the sizzling HOT detective series, The Criminal Affairs Collection.

BetrayedViviana, his renegade cop, is hard enough to control. Now Jax, her commander (and lover), has to fend off an interloper who is almost as sexy and arrogant as he is. And that is saying something.

Who Needs A Shot In The Arm? by @TaylorLeeWrites

Shot In The ArmWe all do. That shot in the arm I’m referring to is the Covid 19 vaccine. We now have passed the one-year anniversary of living amid a devastating pandemic. The statistics are horrific. Thirty million people in the United States alone have been infected by Covid 19 and more than five hundred and fifty thousand Americans have died from the virus.  Untold millions of people—men, women, and children—have suffered economically, socially, personally, and medically from this once in a century catastrophe.

My guy and I are social beings. We love music, art, the theater, and hanging out in sports bars. We are super connected to our families and can’t imagine not celebrating every holiday and special occasion without them. And, yet, that is what we have had to do this last challenging year.

Along Comes a Shot in the Arm

But then the miracle of scientific miracles came along in the form of a shot in the arm. We now have not one but three—with more on the way—life saving vaccines.

I got my second shot in the arm in a huge sports area along with thousands of other excited and grateful people. I was far from the only one who jumped out of my car and insisted that I get my picture taken with the first responders giving the shots. It felt like we all were part of a determined army insisting that we truly could turn the corner.

Now to my dismay I’m hearing about a scary new issue. Vaccine hesitancy. For some, it’s fear from past discriminatory practices associated with vaccines. For others, it’s a fear of what they see as medical conspiracies. And now there is a new group who say they won’t get the vaccine for political reasons. Ouch!

Let’s Live Life! Get That Shot!

I’m spoiled; I don’t mind admitting it. I want to eat in restaurants. Going to a movie theater is a favorite pastime of mine. I want to watch my sports teams in person. And most of all I want to hug my grandsons. I’ll also admit I’m a caring person and would never forgive myself if I caused someone to get sick or die because I refused to take precautions.

So please, guys, whatever your fears or reasons, let’s join together and defeat this Covid 19 monster. Roll up your sleeve and get that shot in the arm.

And while you’re waiting for your shot, treat yourself to my latest book in The Olive or Twist Saga.

Challenging Year

He’s a hard as nails police chief.  She’s a feisty ADA. The one thing they have in common is arrogance.  Sparks flare when the challenging duo face off.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want is the third standalone book in The Olive or Twist Saga, a steamy romantic suspense series. If you like smart characters, cops, courts, and scorching passion, then you’ll love this sizzling thrill-ride. Grab You Can’t Always Get What You Want to get hot under the collar today!

~  ~  ~

And while you are at it pick up a copy of Unforgettable Revenge: Glory and Satisfaction. Eight New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors have joined forces to bring you fast-paced love stories so filled with passion and danger, you won’t want to put it down.

Topaz

 

My book in the collection is Topaz, part of the provocative Ladies of the Night series. The Ladies are covert agents in a secretive, off the grid security organization. Highly trained fighters, they’re as gorgeous as they are dangerous. The only thing these formidable women are NOT is “ladies.”

Make the World a Better Place by @PatriceWilton

Know the old saying—God will never give us more than we can handle? Well, HE sure put the entire world to the test this year, didn’t He? (I think He might have been a teeny bit mad at us!) I want to make the world a better place, but is there even a way to get there from here?

make the world a better place

We faced the worst global disaster mankind has ever seen. The Pandemic took 2.4 million lives with 110 million confirmed cases of COVID19, and that was just for starters. Millions of people lost loved ones, their homes, businesses, freedom, faced school closings—all of this putting their mental health at risk.

Australian Fires

In other words, 2020 Kicked Butt. It began with the Australian Bushfire that swept through the country, devastating floods in Indonesia, hurricanes battering America, locusts swarming in Africa, a volcano eruption in the Philippines, earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and now Antarctica is turning green. How can we possibly turn this around and make the world a better place?

Okay, in all fairness we might have brought a lot of this on ourselves. Politics, racial problems, and hatred has split this country in pieces, but if we can open our hearts and regain our sanity, which includes acceptance and compassion, we can all begin to heal.

Make the World a Better Place by Finding Our Happy Place

I’m turning to music now—All We Need is Love! Sing it with me everyone!

We are the World! We are the Children! Again, it’s about unity.

We all have suffered great loss in the past year, myself included. I’d listen to gorgeous music, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and it would bring on the tears. No More! To make the world a better place, we must lift our own selves up. With that thought in mind, I will be listening to happy, upbeat music, the sound of ocean waves along the shore, sunshine, a new dawn. We must find our happy place, and look for it in our daily lives.

We need to be better, stronger, more resilient, and determined to leave a better world for our children than the one we made for ourselves.

Make the world a better place

Remember the many lovely beauty contestants that would say all they want is World Peace? Well, don’t you think it’s time we all wanted that too?

Wishing everyone out there a safe new world, healing, and positivity. Let’s learn from our mistakes and rise above them. Let’s do everything we can to make the world a better place. To health, happiness, and joy. We deserve it, don’t we?

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Coming March 30th! MRS. MORRIS AND THE SORCERESS, Book 4 of The Salem B&B Mysteries, by Traci Wilton. Tracy Wilton is the pseudonym of writing team Patrice Wilton and Traci Hall. The book is available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and in Paperback. Now available for pre-order!

Mrs Morris and the Sorceress