New Year, Fresh Start, New Resolutions

Have you noticed how hard it is to get used to a new year? At least for me it’s always a challenge for the first couple of months when I have to fill in the date. Thinking back of my childhood, it’s hard to imagine I’m in 2020. I mean, back then, that was the future! In one of my favorite movies, Back to the Future, Steven Spielberg had imagined a much more evolved 21st century. According to him, by now we should all travel in space cars, have voice-command appliances, and eradicate most illnesses. Wasn’t he an optimist, back in ’86 when he made the first movie?

While we’re working on technologies that will eventually make all of these things possible, everything is moving slowly. And although we can definitely survive without flying cars and smart refrigerators, our quality of life depends on our health.

When we’re healthy we are unaware of how important this is. It’s only when we’re confronted with illness—or worse, death—that we start appreciating what truly matters in life. I’ve had such a terrible revelation right after Christmas, when I learned that a high school mate of mine died of cancer at the age of thirty-three. The news was shocking for all of us who knew him. We all hoped and prayed for a miracle until the last minute, but in vain. I can only shudder when I think of his poor wife and six-year-old-son, who have to deal with so much grief. I was touched by how many people jumped in to help them, morally and financially. It’s probably not that much of a comfort, but seeing this proof of kindness reassured me there’s still hope for humanity.

It’s a bitter irony that I have just finished a book where the hero is a researcher and fights to cure cancer. Although the book is a fictional suspense romance, a lot of the medical facts are true. With medicine advancing fast, I pray this terrible disease will soon be eradicated forever and stop being a constant threat to us and those we love.

In International Affairs: LONDON, Dr. Gerard Leon develops not one, but two cures for cancer, with the help of Linda, a beautiful and wealthy Italian artist. If in life we’re not guaranteed a happy ever after, one of the things we can do is look for it in books…

She has the money; he has the brains. In their quest to cure others, can they also heal each other?

Gerard Leon is a physician and researcher. Linda Coriola is an artist and philanthropist. After losing loved ones to this silent killer, they both fight cancer in their own way—her with money, him with scientific breakthroughs.
Neither expected to fall in love, but when they do, it’s hard, fast, and mind-blowing.
But they have a common enemy who will stop at nothing to see them fail. Can they give into their feelings, stay focused on their goal, and live to fight another day?

International Affairs: LONDON is the first book in a new series of suspense romance novels, International Romance Collection. I hope you will love these stories as much as I enjoy writing them!
If this isn’t in your New Year’s resolutions list, remember: stay healthy. When it comes to most illnesses your body will give you signs so you can do something before it’s too late–don’t ignore them! It doesn’t matter that you’ll keep your job, or get that promotion, or keep that relationship, or do whatever you want to do if you won’t live long enough to enjoy them. We can find love, build fortunes, make dreams come true, but the one thing we can’t buy is our health. It’s the most precious thing we can have. Take care of yourselves above all else. ❤

Here’s a photo of me on Christmas Day. I had the best time of my life during the holidays because hubby took two weeks off work, so we spent every minute together. We didn’t go to any parties or fancy events, we just enjoyed our time together cooking, watching TV, staying at home, shopping or just walking the streets and goofing around. 🙂

Frustrated Beyond Words

Have you ever had a day or event planned and it all fell apart for no apparent reason? I think we all have.

I was super stoked about releasing the 12th box set in the Sweet and Sassy series: SWEET AND SASSY HEROES. Pre-orders had been live for two weeks, promotions purchased, newsletters written (by all the authors in the set and a few others who weren’t), interviews given, videos produced: you name it.

And then the email from the big guys (who shall remain nameless): Your pre-order has been cancelled.

No reason was given, so as the publisher of the set, I made phone calls. After I spoke with three different representatives — including one at the senior level — I found out that they were as confused as I was. They still can’t figure it out, so asked for 72 hours to find an answer.

Corporations aren’t human, but they do make the same kind of mistakes. You know what I mean: dumb and unexplainable, costly and embarrassing, but mostly frustrating.

What can we do?  I guess we  – authors, readers, promoters – all have to be patient and wait for the Big Guy to find out why they thumped us off their list. Keep watching, though. SWEET AND SASSY HEROES will arise again: meaner, sassier, sexier. You can’t keep the great ones down, and this set is stainless!

Hurricane Irma by Mona Risk

For days we watched TV and prayed that Hurricane Irma would not come toward Florida. Twelve years ago, I survived Hurricane Wilma and watched the devastation it inflicted to South Florida and my building: broken windows, snatched shuttered, cars smacked on top of each other, uprooted trees. We were left without electricity and water for a week and spent a year repairing the damage.

The mandatory evacuation order annihilated our hope to avoid the hurricane path. Evacuating was a big hassle.

Not sure if we should leave–to go where?

The airports were crowded with stranded tourists trying to go home. The three airports within a two-hour distance responded with a “sold-out”. We couldn’t just take the car and drive north, and risk being stuck for hours on a cluttered highway.

In addition, I was dealing with a fractured kneecap and a big brace to wear 24/7 and had trouble riding in a car for hours. At first, we decided to stay and brace ourselves to cope with the hurricane.

We stocked on water and food, and filled the car with a full tank. Remembering that big buildings can shake under the impact of high winds, we removed frames from walls and delicate bibelots from shelves.

Not sure if we should stay here. We live on the beach–first line of defense.

I spent hours researching Google for “How safe are high rises during hurricanes?” High rises are built to sustain 185 mph wind. The safest place is the stairs, completely built in steel and concrete. The safest apartments are those on the 7th to 10 th floors. Floors higher that the 20 th are exposed to horrible wind. Floors lower than the 6th face the risk of flood and flying objects.

We live on the 22 th floor. Back to watching Irma’s news. The Governor of Florida urged us several times to leave: “We can replace your material possessions. We can’t replace lives.”…”If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone and don’t leave, you will be stuck on your own. No one can access your place. The bridges will be open and we won’t answer an emergency call.”

Enough to scare the heck out of us.

Our daughter insisted we should stay with her family. All our friends in high-rises on the beach were staying home, claiming that these buildings are 50 years old, quite sturdy and have survived their share of hurricanes in previous years. Praying for their safety and for Irma to get lost over the ocean.

On Friday morning, we drove to our daughter’s house, an hour away, northwest from our high-rise on the beach. It was good to be with family. Surprisingly I-95 had little traffic that morning. The calm before the tempest.

The house was all shuttered and we had electricity. We couldn’t see what was going on outside, but we could hear the noise, the wind, the rain. Strident alarms on my cell phone alerted us to the danger of tornadoes and raised panic in my heart. My grandchildren decided they needed a break from bad news and made us watch eight Harry Potter movies over three days.

And we survived Hurricane Irma.

On Monday morning, we welcomed the sun and nice breeze and opened the doors for a peek outside. Fallen branches in the driveway and yard. A few broken or uprooted trees. My son-in-law cleaned the driveway.

In our area the bridges were now accessible and the elevators of our building functioning. We returned home. At the entrance of our evacuated zone, police cars patrolled to protect us from looters and asked for ID to check that we lived in this area.

Our hurricane high impact windows resisted the strong wind. No leaks. I sent a thank you note to the man who did a great job on the installation ten years ago. Many of our neighbors had to cope with buckets of water leaking under the windows or from the sides.

We stayed without TV and Wi-Fi for three days. The Comcast box supplying the building was smashed during the hurricane.

All in all we are grateful we survived without damage. Others were less lucky in Miami, Fort Meyers and the Keys.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

A BRIDE FOR PRINCE PAUL                                                                                           

Spring is for flowers

Don’t overdo it in the garden this weekend. Or next weekend, the traditional start of summer.
Those words or warning come from every garden blog I’ve ever read. That and make sure you stretch first.

Okay, so stretch, figure out what needs done, then ask friends and neighbors if they know of any kids who want to make a few extra bucks. Churches usually have youth eager to raise funds for a summer camp or special project. Contribute to the community, the next generation’s emotional/work ethic growth, and save yourself at least a bottle of pain relievers and maybe even a trip or four to the chiropractor. Delegate.

If you don’t have a garden or a yard, or even a window box, enjoy these flowers. I’ve always been passionate about them. I spent many of my early years in apartments without a patch of dirt to plant in. I’m very much enjoying my big yard, raised beds, hanging baskets, and yes, calling on church groups and teenagers to keep them maintained.
When the day is done, kick back with your Kindle and read a great romance novel or five. Here’s my suggestion: Rebels, Rogues, and Romantics. Historical romance tales about those rascals, the ‘wrong’ kind of man a woman have been finding irresistible for centuries. Scots, cowboys, musketeers, and an Indian brave or two. They’re all so hot!

(Only #99cents for five or #free to read on Kindle Unlimited)

Whether you actually get in the garden this weekend or not, enjoy your time. No one can please you without your permission. Give it to yourself.