Travel with Mona, visit Poland

In 2014, we spent four days in Poland, visiting the charming city of Poznan and the magnificent capital Warsaw, the historic Jasna Gora monastery, the Auschwitz concentration camp, and romantic Krakow, and later traveled to Gdansk on the Baltic Sea.

Poznań is a town steeped in history, as it was the first capital of Poland and seen by many as the birthplace of the Polish nation. Today it is a diverse and vibrant town, with much to divert the traveler. It has a stunningly rejuvenated central square, thriving night-life, fascinating museums, Renaissance town hall, Poland’s oldest cathedral, and many attractions in the surrounding area.

The Old Town square in Poznan

Warsow is the capital of Poland. It was completely reconstructed after wartime destruction. Its wide avenues contrast with the narrow lanes of the old section.

Palace of Culture and Science 
The tallest building in the city and landmark of Warsaw, the Palace of Culture and Science, was a gift from the Soviet people to the Poles. From its 30th floor, it offers a panoramic view of the city. It houses theatres, a cinema, museums and trendy bistros
[Picture taken from our hotel room]
Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów 
Wilanów Palace is a true pearl of Baroque architecture in Warsaw. King Jan III Sobieski, who successfully fended off the Turks in the battle of Vienna, lived in Wilanów with his beloved Marysieńka. The building and the park have both kept their original form, despite the partition, war, and occupation.
 
Vistula River
The Vistula is flowing through Warsaw. Its natural banks, inhabited by wild fowl, are right next to the city’s boulevards. In the summer, the weekend city life comes alive here – trendy bars and clubs, charming bistros, and outdoor events attract both city dwellers and tourists, while the sandy beaches are the perfect place to chill out. 
Old Town
A UNESCO world heritage site, the Old Town charms with its colorful townhouses and the exceptional atmosphere of its narrow streets.

 

We visited the Jasna Gora Monastery near Czestochowa that withstood repeated attacks of Swedish forces during the 17th century. Since then its Black Madonna is venerated as the “Queen of Poland” and has become the country’s national symbol.

The Jasna Gora Monastery:Bell Tower and monastery complex.
The entrance to the church
 
 
The Black Madonna, a miraculous icon, is the most important religious icon in Poland. Poland’s Black Madonna is located in a central chapel in the monastery complex. The Chapel of the Virgin is small, but an extended worship area enables pilgrims to attend services within the walls of the church. The icon itself is small, and the Virgin’s darkened face and hands, and the two scars that mar Her cheek, are almost impossible to see. The icon is located in the center of an ebony and silver altar, where candles and flowers are also placed.
John Paul II said that he prayed the miraculous Black Madonna during the attempt of assassination at St. Peter Square, Vatican, on May 13, 1981. There is a display of the belt of his cassock, shot and bloodied, in a special cassette on the right side of the altar.

 

Auschwitz: The Largest of the Death Camps According to our guide’s explanations, the most notorious of all the Nazi death camps, opened in the spring of 1940. Detainees included anti-Nazi activists, politicians, resistance members and luminaries from the cultural and scientific communities. Not all those arriving at Auschwitz were immediately exterminated. Those deemed fit to work were employed as slave labor in the production of munitions, synthetic rubber and other products considered essential to Germany’s efforts in World War II.

Auschwitz consisted of several divisions. The original camp, known as Auschwitz I, housed between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. The biggest of the Auschwitz facilities could hold some 90,000 prisoners. It also housed a group of bathhouses where countless people were gassed to death, and crematory ovens where bodies were burned. More than 40 smaller facilities, called subcamps, dotted the landscape and served as slave-labor camps.

As 1944 came to a close and the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allied forces seemed certain, the Auschwitz commandants began destroying evidence of the horror that had taken place there. Buildings were torn down, blown up or set on fire, and records were destroyed. In January 1945, as the Soviet army entered Krakow, the Germans ordered that Auschwitz be abandoned. An estimated 60,000 detainees, accompanied by Nazi guards, departed the camp and were forced to march to Polish towns, some 30 miles away. Countless prisoners died during this process.

Huge posters gave statistics. Between 1.1 million to 1.5 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, died at Auschwitz during its years of operation. An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Poles perished at the camp, along with 19,000 to 20,000 others.

In Auschwitz we visited rooms with glass doors showing hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing or pairs of shoes or tons of human hair. Going through these rooms was heart wrenching. We were crying and couldn’t take any pictures. The worst nightmare you could imagine.

Krakow: Poland’s most beautiful city For almost 500 years it was the country’s capital and the residence of Polish Kings. Today it is the cultural center of Poland.

The Cloth Hall in the Main Market Street: It’s usually filled with tourists. We savored local pastry at a café.
Cardinal Wojtila’s –Pope John Paul II– house in Krakow, his hometown.

 

St. Mary’s Basilica with a dozen of lovely carriages to take us on a tour.
Enjoying the lively music in the street.
 
 
 

Gdańsk (Danzig in German) is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland. At the center of its Main Town, reconstructed after WWII, are the colorful facades of Long Market, now home to shops and restaurants. Gdańsk is also a center for the world’s amber trade; boutiques throughout the city sell the ossified resin.

Neptune Fountain, a 17th-century symbol of the city topped by a bronze statue of the sea god.
Dlugi Targ or Long Market or Royal Way is the main street through Gdansk.

Below: The Golden Gate is the Western area with cafes, amber shops.

The iconic Town Hall Tower.
Vendors displaying their amber jewelry.

Poland is a beautiful country with old towns and modern cities, now opening its doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees.

A romance novel that will lift your mood and make you laugh:

 

BABY PLANS, Love Plans, book 5

Relax with a sweet and sassy Romance  

They meet at the fertility clinic.

Zach is working on an article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby.

And a big mess results.

The Author’s Tools, Part 2 by @_NancyRadke

Author's ToolsAuthors use the Internet, resource books, movies, and their own experiences as tools when writing novels. An author’s tools are invaluable. I thought I’d mention more books that I use which sit on my writing table.

The book I use for every novel is Roget’s Thesaurus. You need a print copy of this book, so you can rapidly scan in the options given. It is like a dictionary, but instead of definitions, it gives synonyms and related words.

The second half of the Thesaurus is an alphabetic index which you use to look up the word close to what you want. For example, you have used the word “walk” several times in a paragraph. That becomes annoying to the reader and will pull her out of the story. Looking up the word “walk” in the index in the Thesaurus gives you  many nouns and verbs in different categories, such as route, gait, path, domineer, win easy…

You choose what category you are using, and go to it. These are numbered, rather than alphabetical. Going to the number for gait (273.14), I find gait, pace, walk, step, stride… up to 42 different words meaning gait. And under the generic number for travel which includes walk, I find 16 subcategories for nouns and 26 subcategories for verbs, including march and glide and creep. I can always find enough words to keep my words from being repetitious. The Thesaurus included on computer programs just doesn’t work as well.

More Author’s Tools

I also use an old English grammar book to check my use of lie and lay, which has given me problems all my life, since I use them interchangeably when I talk.

Another text is Getting the Words Right—How to Rewrite, Edit, and Revise, by Theodore Cheney. This book is very helpful. For example, in each sentence and in each paragraph there is a main point. This book helps you spot those points and determine where you want to put them. Maybe at the start of the sentence or the end of the paragraph.

Then there are the writer’s guides. Here are my favorites: Writing Novels That Sell by Jack Bickham, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, Heroes and Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, and Viders.

Story by Robert McKee. I attended a two-day intensive course by Mr. McKee that followed his book word by word. By buying his book I have the transcript, and re-read it now and then to better understand the elements of story. This is a classic that I feel every writer should read.

I am now working on another Cozy Mystery, this time titled: “Any Lucky Dog Can Find a Missing Child.” It is in pre-order form in the Authors’ Billboard Set, Murder is Scheduled for Monday.

Murder is Scheduled for Monday

College Application Responses

We’re done with Valentine Day and Super Bowl. Monday is President Day. But these are not important days for three young adults in my family.

“February 25 and 26 are the most important days of my life, Nonna,” my granddaughter declared this past weekend, her voice shaky.

This young girl who’s seventeen and two of her relatives who already turned eighteen are anxiously waiting for college application responses, the emails that would change their lives, or at least decide of their futures, and announce if they have been accepted or rejected by the colleges of their choices.

  • Review for college admission is based on:
  • Secondary School Academic Performance
  • SAT or ACT scores.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Consistent involvement throughout high school that demonstrates a student’s interests and passions, as well as how applicants contributed to their school, community and/or family.
  • The quality of thought in the admission essay.
  • Personal Background and Experiences: Students who show the potential and desire to succeed in an academic environment. Students who can be learners, leaders and thinkers.
  • No one single factor determines an admission decision.

I remembered my own children receiving the famous long-awaited letters with admission decisions from various colleges. Now everything is electronic.

So here I am, waiting and fretting with my first grandkid who is about to leave the family nest.

While the children are worried about the next steps in their lives, their parents are tabulating their bank accounts. “Do you realize how expensive colleges are now?” they often complain, conveniently forgetting that their own parents have gone through these anxious moments to pay their tuitions. “Oh, but now, fees are outrageous. They better get some scholarships to help.” Do they realize how much pressure they put on these young ones?

As a loving grandmother, I’m siding with my grandkids and praying they get accepted to the colleges of their choice, and start the next phase of their lives on the right foot.

I still have my tassels worn on graduation day caps, the yellow from Northeastern University in Boston, and the blue one for my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. They are proudly displayed in our home office.

Wishing our young ones good luck for next week and best wishes for a successful and happy future.

FOR SARAH’S SAKE (The Senator’s Family Series, book 3)

FREE on February 19 and 29, 25 and 26

FOR SARAH’S SAKE: A broken marriage. Second chance at love. And a precious little girl trying to escape danger and hatred to get herself a loving family. https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B07CTH8DJC/

What happens in life, transfers into stories

There is a saying for authors that goes, “Write what you know.” I have done that many times over the years.

It started when I was a cop. I wrote a lot of romantic suspense, and many were with lead characters that were female officers. Then I moved on to dealing with life issues. I wrote about domestic violence, something I am not a stranger to, both in personal and professional life.

I have suffered several bad concussions, and those have made their way into books, too. I’m a former military wife, and my son is currently active in the Navy, so I have close ties to the military. I fight with depression and have PTSD issues, and surprise, all of that shows up in my Rise Again Warrior Series.

When my father passed away, one of the next books I wrote had a father passing. Actually, two books since he passed, deal with losing loved ones (Unexpected Desires & Unexpected Ties). Those aren’t direct storylines, but they are subplots in the books.

I learned many years ago that the best therapy for me, is writing about the stress of my life, and by doing that, I not only feel better, but I touch readers who might be dealing with the same things, or perhaps know someone who is. I help educate them in

Right now I am dealing with a major issue with my home. Structural damage to our foundation and mold behind the finished basement walls. I have a character that I am going to write in the coming months that is an engineer (It’s Candy in the new Loving a Winston Series). I wasn’t quite sure what kind of engineer she would be, but I have a feeling, she might just be a structural one.

I don’t always write what I know. In Cara, she is a helicopter pilot and a paramedic. I didn’t have experience in either of those positions, so I reached out to someone who was a flight medic and got what I needed, and man do I love the way that book turned out!

So as long as life keeps throwing me curveballs and non-stop thrills, I’ll keep on writing what I know!

Cara releases on March 11st!

What happens when the man you fall for is all wrong for you?

Cara Winston has always been a bit of a rebel and an adrenaline junkie. As a helicopter pilot and paramedic, she relies on that to do her job. When Cara and her team respond to a multi-vehicle accident involving motorcycles, she’s expecting the worst. What she’s not expecting is to find herself intrigued by the blue eyes of a man wearing motorcycle gang colors.

Ryan Vigilante rides the road, mostly on two wheels, not four. When several of his club end up in an accident on the highway, Ryan never expects to see a future in the eyes of the intense female paramedic. The only problem is, she’s way out of his league, and he knows that getting involved with her could only put her in jeopardy.

With Cara’s family trying to keep them apart and Ryan’s club breaking the law, Cara finds herself more of a rebel than usual. Will things work out for Cara and Ryan, or will Cara’s law enforcement brother, Ethan, find a way to put a stop to it for good?

The Loving a WinstonSeries is a five-book steamy romance series that spins off of the Loving a Young Series. Characters from both series will appear from book to book. Each book is a standalone romance with suspense and spicy romance scenes.