Driving the Al-Can Highway in early 1960’s- Unforgettable Memory #6 by Nancy Radke

While my husband, Walt, and I were attending the University of Washington, we spent our summers in Anchorage with his parents, where I worked one job. Walt worked two 8-hour construction jobs since we had almost 24 hours of daylight up there. We drove up the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway each spring, and then back to Seattle each fall. We could make enough to pay our tuition for that year.

There were some unique features about the highway that I won’t forget. There were miles and miles of nothing but mountains and forests. Not all that many cars. If you came across a motorist with a stalled car, you stopped and gave him a lift to the next town. The towns were marked on the map, all named, but usually consisted of just one house and some outbuildings; sometimes with a gas station, but always with someone who had a tow truck and extra tires. Unlike Seattle, the gas stations on the Al-Can all had hot water in the restrooms, hot enough you would almost burn your hands, and I remember just how good that water felt.

We carried extra tires, but once blew three in a row, so Walt took one tire and I took another and we rolled them down the road until a truck came by and took us to a farm where the man fixed our tires and drove us back to our car.

The roads were smooth in the fall, but in the spring, after the winter had frozen and thawed the roadway, there were parts of it like a washboard, with a series of humps about a foot high. They appeared unexpectedly and had to be driven slowly or you would ruin your car. After going through the humps, you would drive slowly for a while, and then speed up until you hit the next series. The roadway had no centerline, and no warning signs before you hit the washboards.

Besides the beautiful scenery, the highway offered plenty of wildlife, since what animal would tramp through the tundra when it could walk down the roadway? The moose especially liked it. Once we had to wait for a herd of several hundred caribou to cross near Tok Junction. The roadway was often elevated four to six feet to get it above the permafrost, and one other time, also near Tok Junction, we had a huge bison suddenly jump up on the road in front of us. He stood there, head lowered, while Walt slammed to a stop and backed up as fast as he could. That bison waited a bit, then sauntered across the road and down the other side.

One spot on the highway hadn’t been elevated, and when we drove through the mud, our car’s bumper wasn’t high enough to clear, so we skimmed off the top of the mud as we drove along. It crept up over the hood, then our windshield and finally over the rest of the car. The wipers weren’t strong enough to clear the mud, so I would open my passenger window and wipe it off enough that Walt could see the road. This stretch seemed endless, but was probably only about 20 miles.

Anchorage just had another large earthquake, but I figure the folks there will get out their trucks and tractors and do a quick fix on the roads and throw up some army type bridges to get them through until summer construction time. No problem.

So far I’ve only “visited” Alaska once in my novels. In Stolen Secrets, my hero and heroine fly to Anchorage to try to find out who is stealing company secrets. Stolen Secrets is my story in the Sweet & Sassy Suspense collection.

Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.
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Do you believe in the magic of Christmas?

They say Christmas is the most magical time of the year, that miracles can happen on the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I don’t particularly believe in miracles, but there’s still some magic of the winter holidays left in my heart.

I loved Christmas when I was a child, even though my parents were not wealthy and we never had a pile of gifts under the tree. But we were better off than a lot of other people, and I’m grateful for that now.

As I became an adult, the practicalities and problems that come with being a grown-up took away a little of my holiday enthusiasm each year. Stretching the budget, organizing things, breaking my back in the kitchen… The real tree turned into a plastic one to avoid the hassle and the mess, buying gifts turned into a stressful process, even going shopping is less fun every year because of the growing lines and interminable city traffic.

However, this year I believe in the magic of Christmas more than I ever had. Why? Because my friends in the Authors’ Billboard practically put the most amazing present under my tree: a USA Today bestseller badge!

A little over a year ago, the seed of what seemed like a crazy dream took root in my mind: to become a USA Today bestselling author. Not only that, but I realized that if I made it, I would be the first Romanian in history to achieve this prestigious title. Since that moment, I worked relentlessly toward this goal, and I’m still amazed by how many incredible people I met on the way, people who joined me in my journey and fought hard to help me achieve my dream.

Together, we did it with the anthology Love, Christmas 2!

My story in this box set is a romantic comedy called Boyfriend Wanted for Christmas.

THE DESPERATE YET HUMOROUS QUEST OF AN AMERICAN BRIDGET JONES TO FIND A BOYFRIEND IN THE SEVEN DAYS SHE HAS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS

Thirty-three-year-old librarian Andrea Sachse doesn’t have the time or skills to date. No man can ever live up to her dreamy book boyfriends, so why bother? But with her parents looking more desperate each time she shows up solo for their annual Christmas party, this year she’s determined to find herself a boyfriend by any means—fair or foul.

There are so many people I owe this accomplishment to, and who deserve a special THANK YOU:  Carmen, Mimi, my editor Sue, Jackie, all my wonderful co-authors of Love, Christmas 2 and of course, all of you, our dear readers and friends, who bought this box set.

The most meaningful THANK YOU goes to my husband, for being there for me, for believing in me, for offering moral and financial support, emergency hugs, pep talks, for playing housekeeper, tear-wiper, even chef when I was too exhausted, and never complaining when I worked twelve hours a day until 2 or 3 am, for keeping my spirits up with his endless supply of optimism, and for putting up with me – which is no easy job.

Each and every one of you who read this post, this victory is yours, as much – or even more – than it’s mine.  ♥ ♥ ♥

Now do you believe in the magic of Christmas? Here’s something that will make your holidays even more fun:  We’re looking for Santas and Reindeer! Visit our December Contest and YOU could win gift cards, paperback books, and book bundles. Click here to play! 

Wishing you the best holidays ever!

Love, Christmas 2: JINGLE WITH MY PRINCESS by Mona Risk

JINGLE WITH MY PRINCESS, Mona Risk’s contribution to Love, Christmas 2, a very recent USA Today bestseller anthology.

   “Have you lost your mind, Amy? Calling your former boyfriend to Rensy Island,” Prince Paul bellowed, his menacing scowl reflecting the gloom of the day.
   “Chill out, Paul.” Amy shrugged and picked up a yellow bear from the carpeted floor of the Yellow Lounge Room. “I don’t care that he’s a former boyfriend. I’m seeking Scott’s help for our son.”
   Paul followed her to stand next to the portable crib where their toddler lay, playing with his blue blanket. “I’m sure we can find a better doctor in England.”
   “Dr. Pratt is an expert in neurosurgery. People come to him from everywhere. He’s the best doctor to perform such a difficult surgery on Eric.” How could she make her husband understand that his outburst didn’t make sense? “For heaven’s sake, Paul, I dumped Scott for you five years ago. Now two malignant tumors threaten our baby’s brain. Would you sacrifice him because of your blind jealousy?”

My readers met the protagonists of JINGLE WITH MY PRiNCESS in the first book of Modern Princes Series, A Bride for Prince Paul. Dr. Scott Pratt is the hero of the p

 

resent story. Now he’s struglling with a strong conflict:

   Should he go?
   He’d never refused to treat a patient, never rejected a desperate mother’s plea.
   Would he be able to greet Amy without pulling her into his arms to ply her with kisses? Or more likely to shake her in anger?
   Would he be able to face her husband without punching him for stealing his girlfriend?

JINGLE WITH MY PRINCESS: The doc and the princess… He saves lives. Can she save his heart?

In the summer of 2016, my husband and I took a fifteen-day cruise around the British Isles. Our first stop was in St. Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey Island, the largest of the Channels islands, located west of Normandy, France.

The guide explained that the residents of Guernsey speak English and French, don’t pay taxes (or pay very low taxes) and enjoy free medical care for children under seven and seniors over seventy. The island originally belonged to the Duke of Normandy and then alternatively to England and France. Now it is part of the British Commonwealth. The ruler is a governor and the constitution states that in case of problems the island would revert to England.

I loved the setting. My muse immediately replaced the governor with a prince, just like the rulers of Monaco or Luxemburg, both in Europe, and my imagination changed their constitution–the heir to the throne must be married. Guernsey Island became Rensy Island, the setting of the Modern Princes Series.

In the Movie Jingle All The Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a detached parent trying to win back his son’s heart by getting him the perfect toy…which is sold-out throughout the city. When the son finally receives the toy, he gives it to the son of his father’s rival. All what he wants for himself is what he’s just gotten back—his father.

The movie makes fun of the consumerism of the holiday season and shows how ridiculous and crazy people can be when they get too obsessed with getting stuff for Christmas. It demonstrates how important it is to actually keep love and generosity ahead of material things and nasty feelings… As Dr. Scott  Pratt, my hero, will do with the help of Princess Charlene—the sister of Scott’s former rival, Prince Paul.

Did you know we are running a giveaway? Are you interested in winning a gift card or a free book? Click here to find out more details on this month’s contest

Mona Risk

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist.
Mona Risk’s name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher’s Weekly.
Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home.
If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.
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My favorite question: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

My husband would tell you that he’s the inspiration for everything I write. Perhaps there is a little bit of truth to that. The things I write about are often taken right out of the things I see around me. For example: The Butterfly MurdersI first got the idea for this when a story broke in my home town of Rochester, NY about funeral homes taking bones, replacing them with PVC piping, and selling the bone marrow. I thought, what if someone was murdering people who had received organ donation? I know, it sounds dark, and it is a little bit on the dark side, but this is really a romance. A second chance romance. One of my favorite tropes. It’s really about two people who for whatever reason, spent time a part, lived separate lives, and came back together to help solve a crime and save the hero’s young son. I just got chills!

I also tend to write about the places I’ve lived, or visited, that I have strong ties to and the biggest one is Lake George, NY. Do you every close your eyes and you think of your childhood, specific memories stick out? When I think of my summers spent in Lake George, I can see the clear crystal waters. Feel the chilly air in August against my skin. Smell the fire crackling while we roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. And I remember the feeling of climbing on the back of a State Trooper’s bike at age 8 and going for a ride down to the country store for an ice cream. I can feel how the State Trooper Helicopter swooped down low over the lake when I was 10 and I saw the entire SCUBA team moon me! What a treat for a little girl, LO.

I wrote a 7 book series set in Lake George, NY: The New State Trooper Series. Every single book is based on a location that has very strong memories for me. The first book in the series I borrow from the servants house we rented and my best-friend’s home at the time. I write about a big white hotel (changed the name) in the middle of Lake George, and a pub that was in my backyard where I used to pick big, plump raspberries. Each book has slightly different location on the 32 mile lake, but each one holds something special in my heart.

 

But, I also get inspired by mine and other people’s emotions. Their strengths and weaknesses. Their greatest moments and those times in life that bring into a dark place. My contribution to Love, Christmas 2 came to me when I thought of my best girlfriend who lost her husband and everything she has done over the last four years to help her children cope with the loss of their father, something I also know a little about since my father passed away when I was 17. The premise is based on a Hallmark movie, but the emotions are raw.

It’s often said that writers bleed on the page. I believe that is true. A little piece of me, my life experiences, my emotions, my perception of my past and my dreams of the future, all end up in my stories.

Welcome to my World! I’m an Award-Winning and Bestselling Author of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance. DARK WATER, book 2 in the NY STATE TROOPER series hit number 10 in Barnes and Nobel overall. THE BLIND DATE hit number 1 in the Contemporary Romance/Kindle Worlds List on Amazon. JANE DOE’S RETURN won both THE MOLLY and the BEACON before being published by the WILD ROSS PRESS.

I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.

I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.