Bridal Shower

After an unusually windy and cold winter in Florida, today we welcome spring, and with warmth and flowers, we expect the season’s events. Graduations for two of my grandchildren, weddings and bridal showers for three young cousins, engagement for three relatives–a happy time to enjoy.

The last bridal showers are attended were years ago, long before the covid that messed up our lives. Three of them popped into my mind this morning.

My niece’s shower was kind of conventional with the women of the family bringing household items from the bride’s registry.

But my daughter had two unusual showers. The first one organized by her high school friends had a lingerie theme. With only me and my sister from the ‘older’ generation in attendance, the bunch of young women had a blast, giving the bride a collection of bedroom…hmm…cute things!

To compensate, one of my friends threw another shower attended by our friends. The guests were asked to bring a useful gift and more importantly to write ”good advice” for the bride. Several of our friends put together a cookbook for my daughter. As the mother of the bride, I prepared a Ten Commandments for a Happy Long-Lasting Marriage based on my experience. Later many mothers asked me a copy for their daughters/sons about to get married.

Another unusual bridal shower I attended was that of my daughter-in-law. The bride already had a shower organized by a friend and this one was prepared by my daughter. My son and his fiancée had recently bought a house and she wanted him to remodel it, so my son asked to ‘borrow’ her second shower and make it a wedding shower or more specifically a ‘groom shower’. The guests (male and female) received a copy of registry at Home Depot and Harbor Freight Tools. On the day of the shower, the happy couple opened their gifts together, and my son received every tool you can think of, from electric saw, to electric drill, tool cabinet, etc… We never laughed so much.

If you have a wedding or shower coming up, use your imagination and gift the young couple with something that will really help.

We’re All Heroes

They’re all heroes who pay a big price for freedom—The Ukrainian mom who spies for her country; her three small kids who struggle to survive; the wounded major who gets them out of a war-zone; Lauren, the flight attendant who brings them to the US; her parents who receive them in their home; and her ex-fiancé, Dr. Jake, who operates on the injured. And let’s not forget the two German shepherd puppies that dive in a pool to save a two-year old. Will the many crises they face head-on strengthen or destroy Lauren and Jake’s relationship?
We’re All Heroes is book 12 of the Love Plans Series.

FAKE FIANCEE ebook Audio book

Romantic Suspense FAKE FIANCEE “It was so good I couldn’t put the book down. I literally cooked while reading! Awesome! Thank you so much for making my world a better place.”

Joshua Dutton’s lifestyle and tabloids pictures threaten his father’s senatorial campaign. His parents insist on finding him a sweet temporary fiancée to repair the damage. With only her German shepherd for friend, Emma Cassiero struggles with a heap of problems. Attraction sizzles between her and Josh, but no one mentions the secret deal made by her stepmother and the Senior Duttons. When the truth comes out Emma is devastated. Were Josh’s kisses part of the charade? Has Josh lost her or would he be able to team up with her German shepherd to love and protect her?

A Bride For Prince Paul

A BRIDE FOR PRINCE PAUL ebook Audiobook

“Mona Risk has written another winner. Prince Paul is handsome and noble, and Amy is a dedicated doctor. Enjoy the sights of Paris and France, while reading this heartwarming romance.”

She can’t abandon her patients for his crown! To please his dying grandfather and protect his country’s autonomy, Prince Paul of Rensy Island must marry an American doctor, descendant of a Rensian princess. Paul, a confirmed bachelor, agrees to meet Amy incognito as her driver, during her vacation in Paris. Although her career and ex-boyfriend are major interferences, attraction sizzles between Amy and Paul, but the unexpected announcement of her engagement to the Crown Prince of Rensy Island infuriates her. Can Paul convince her that he loves her, in spite of his lies by omission? Would he be able to persuade her to put aside her medical dream and become his princess? The inspiration for the story: While cruising the British Isles, I visited Guernsey, in the English Channel. This quaint island with special privileges and autonomy became the setting of my new story—Rensy Island. 

February, a Time for…

It’s Valentine’s Day: a time for romance… Did you receive or give flowers, chocolate, cookies? Did you go out to celebrate, start or revive a relationship?

It’s Lent: a time to fast and pray, but not to go on a diet! “Give Love and Time to your neighbors, your family, friends or anyone who is lonely and in need of help,” our pastor said.

It’s snow time: a time to stay warm. Avoid careless and unnecessary driving. Get someone to shovel your driveway if you’re not in your best shape. OR it’s snow time: do you ski? What better time to enjoy a fun weekend on the slopes!

If you’re a student, it’s time for hard work and thorough studying. Keep the social gathering, partying, and celebration for vacation time.

It’s also time to get cozy: relax on your couch, sip a hot chocolate or tea, and enjoy a good book.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

DOCTOR’S ORDERS series (a set of three winning novels): Babies in the Bargain, Right Name Wrong Man, No More Lies ( previously titled Rx for Trust)

We’re All Heroes

Contemporary Romance with emotion, passion, action, and humor.

The joy of grapes and homemade juice

We were blessed with established grape vines on the property we bought nine years ago. The place had been abandoned for two years yet the plants still bore fruit. They were struggling, but that was because the surrounding trees had blocked their sunlight. We did extensive pruning and were rewarded with four varieties of grapes as a result. But enough backstory. Here’s a quickie lesson on how easy it is to raise grape vines and get some dandy (sugar-free) juice for drinking or making jelly.
Selecting Grape Varieties: Luckily, there are plenty of varieties suited for nearly every growing region. Early, mid, and late-season grapes extend the harvest. Consider seedless varieties like Himrod (green/yellow), Canadice (red)*, Lakemont (blue-black)*, Venus (pale green), Reliance (red), and Suffolk*. The * means they’re cold weather hardy. Check with your local agricultural extension service to find out which types grow best in your area. Remember: whichever type(s) you select, be sure to choose disease-resistant cultivars. This helps avoid common grape diseases like powdery mildew. Don’t be in a hurry either. Most vines take 2-3 years to mature and produce fruit.
Planting and Caring for Grape Vines: Grapes thrive best in sunny locations with well-draining soil. Space vines 6-8 feet apart in rows, with the rows 8-10 feet apart. Dig holes and amend the soil with compost to improve drainage. Soak bare root plants in water before planting. Water young vines regularly for the first two years until they establish an extensive root system. Installing a trellis system is also critical. As vines grow, train the stems along the wires. Trim away suckers and excess growth.
Ongoing Care and Maintenance: Prune grape vines before spring growth emerges. Remove up to 90% of the previous season’s growth, leaving just a few healthy canes with 6-10 buds each. Fertilize vines in early spring using compost or organic grape fertilizer. Put down mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds. Install bird netting as fruit ripens to protect from hungry birds. Scout for pests like Japanese beetles and apply organic neem oil if needed. With proper care, homegrown grapes will flourish!
Harvesting Your Grape Crop: Depending on variety, grapes will be ready for picking from mid-summer into early fall. Snip bunches off vines when grapes are plump and sweet. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sticky juice. Select bunches that are fully ripe but not mushy. Use sharp pruners or scissors when harvesting to avoid damaging vines. Pick grapes in the morning when cool and transfer immediately to flats (don’t pile them high) out of the sun.
Extracting Fresh Grape Juice with a Steam Juicer: Once harvested, it’s time to turn those grapes into delicious homemade juice! A steam juicer allows you to easily extract pure, concentrated juice. You can leave them on the bunch, but I prefer to pluck them, making sure there aren’t any moldy ones hiding.
Fill the bottom pot of the three-part juicer with a few inches of water and bring to a boil on the stove or hot plate (I process mine outside). Place the top colander section loosely packed with grapes over the boiling water. The steam rises and heats the grapes, releasing their juice which drips down into the center section. Stir, then add more grapes as the level lowers in the colander. My unit has a vinyl hose with a clamp on it. I decant right into sterilized canning jars. I add the lid and band, then set them aside on a flat surface to sit for 24 hours, undisturbed. If the lid hasn’t ‘sucked down’ and stayed that way after 24 hours, put that jar in the refrigerator and use right away. A boiling water bath is optional. Check online to find out more.

I made V-3 juice with the steamer, too. My orange tomatoes, Vidalia onions, and Poblano chiles produced a beautiful orange drink (top picture, with the pink and purple grape juices) that has just the right amount of kick.

Did you know that archaeological evidence suggests grape cultivation began 6,000-8,000 years ago in the South Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas? It’s big the world over now. I wonder if some of my time travelers ever went back that far to sample the vintages of Ancient Greece?
I’m pretty sure Big Mac didn’t. He only makes short ‘hops’ and always for doing good deeds. Check out his story while it’s only #99cents. Or read for #free anytime with #KindleUnlimited.

The Rise of Use of AI by Authors

Imagine: Two of Zoe Saldana’s alter egos having fun with karaoke. Limitless prompts!

Advances in AI are providing authors with exciting new tools to bring their stories to life. Recently, text-to-image generators like #MidJourney have popularized the ability to create original images simply by describing them. This emerging technology has intriguing implications for writers looking to vividly visualize their fictional worlds. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to add Artificial Intelligence image creation to my creative toolkit.

Benji, THE GREAT BIG FAIRY, as I visualize him.

For any novelist, a core part of the writing process is imagining how our characters and settings look. Translating those mental pictures into words through descriptions is part of the artistic challenge. Our readers take our words and reinterpret them into their own mental images. Something is often lost in translation. After all, we each imagine things in our own unique way.
I enter word prompts to the AI (MidJourney for me) and it generates a myriad of original images. After picking the one that best matches what I imagined, I fine-tune it with more adjectives. The AI helps me crystallize my vision into impressions that I can describe in new ways, boosting my creativity in how I share my vision with readers.
I love the way the technology bends to my will. I control the size of the image, lighting, and settings. I can also employ whatever media and technique I want to use. These images can be photos, woodwork, line drawings, posters,or works of art based on the Masters, all tailor-made to match my verbal prompts. They can also be fun, whimsical, and made out of metal!

My impression of 2004, the Chinese Year of the Metal Monkey.

It’s also useful for advertising books and sharing inspirations with fans on social media. I created the one above to describe my evening with a brown bat that had come in, uninvited. Isn’t this great for conveying a moment of panic?

Here’s what I got when I asked for a red-haired 18th-century Scot. No names or books were mentioned. Since he also happens to look like Jody Pomeroy in THE FAIRIES SAGA series, he’s a keeper

Fleshing out my fictional characters with AI-created images has allowed me to promote my books in exciting new ways. For readers, AI art shared by authors grants a peek directly into their imaginative process, a glimpse inside their heads to see how they see their characters. Like concept art in movies, it makes the fictional realm feel real.

Here’s Grace from THE SET UP and THE WHOLE SHE-BANG collection

As with all new technologies, there are debates on ethics we must consider, too. However, used judiciously and with respect for human creatives, text-to-image generators like MidJourney feel akin to any new tool in an author’s creative kit. Much like concept artists at Pixar using digital software, these AI can enhance imagination in fresh ways. But human creativity, skill, and labor still remain essential! Someone has to tell the ‘bot what to create!
At the end of the day, it’s the writer who breathes life into her worlds and characters through meaningful stories that connect with readers. In the hands of skilled creatives, AI image generators are an innovation to get excited about. This fusion of emerging tech with the enduring craft of storytelling will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Thanks for tuning in! Dani Haviland

If you’re looking for a box set of Romantic Sizzle, check out Unforgettable Devotion. It contains ALL these titles. It’s also free to read with #KindleUnlimited!