Travel with Mona to France-The Loire Valley

A Writer’s Inspiration: France

Of all the countries I visited, France has always been my favorite. Maybe because of its rich culture and history, or maybe because I am fluent in French and have several friends living in Paris who always welcome me.

With its cobbled streets, stunning Basilica, artists, bistros … Montmartre is full of charm! Perched on the top of a small hill in the 18th arrondissement, the most famous Parisian district has lost none of its village atmosphere that appealed so much to the artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Sacré-Cœur basilica is a masterpiece of grace and grandeur. You can see this entirely white landmark from all parts of Paris. Built at the end of the 19th century in the Romano-Byzantine style, it is dedicated to the heart of Christ and is an important place of worship in the capital. It houses the largest mosaic in France, measuring no less than 480 m²!

A narrow street with cafes in Montmartre.
A unique view of the Tour Eiffel from the
balcony of my hotel room
Perched on the Butte (hill) Montmartre, the basilica is accessible by funicular from the Place Saint-Pierre or via the lawns and steps from the little public garden ‘Square Louise Michel’. 

If you go to Paris, you’ll probably climb the Tour Eiffel or use the elevator after staying in line for an hour. You’ll visit the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, Les Tuileries, many more monuments and must-see places and of course Versailles.

Although Paris would inspire any visitor with fabulous dreams, there is more to France than its capital. A few years ago, my husband rented a car and we toured the Loire Valley.

The valley is known for its dry white wines,
and sparkling-wine 
Blois, a hillside city on the Loire River, is the capital of the Loir-et-Cher region in central France.

The châteaux of the Loire Valley (French: châteaux de la Loire) are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the river Loire in France. They illustrate Renaissance ideals of design in France.

The châteaux of the Loire Valley number over three hundred, ranging from practical fortified castles from the 10th century to splendid residences built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux in the Loire Valley, the nobility, drawn to the seat of power, followed suit.

The Chateau de Chambord, the most sumptuous one, was built by King François I and inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. The chateau remains one of the most famous and visited buildings in France. Chateau de Chambord was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The château d’Amboise was built over an old roman fortress. Throughout France’s troublesome 16th Century, the château d’ Amboise was the home of King Henry II and his wife, Catherine de’ Medici. Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here, as a guest of King Francis I. Although he lived in the neighboring château of Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the Royal Château of Amboise.

The château de Chenonceaux, called the Ladies’ Castle, is famous for its architecture which bridges the Cher River. Founded on the pilings of a mill in 1513, the château was completed in 1522. The château was confiscated by Francis I in 1535. Henry II presented it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. On his death his queen, Catherine de Médicis, forced Diane to give it up. Chenonceaux was extensively restored in the 19th century. The village was occupied by the Germans and slightly damaged in World War II.

The château de Chaumont, built in the 10th century, is one of the oldest castles in the Loire Valley.

Villandry is better known for the magnificent gardens surrounding the castle.

The château de Blois has been the residency of several French kings. It is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English out of Orleans.

The château de Cheverny was built between 1630 and 1640, because a young wife was caught cheating on her husband.

While visiting so many famous castles, I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in lavishly decorated galleries and plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. I don’t write historical romances but kept thinking about the settings.

A year later, my niece related her summer training in France. As a Harvard University student in Architecture, she was offered the unique opportunity to work on the restoration of a chapel in a French castle. When I asked jokingly, “Was the owner a haughty old man?” My niece answered: “He was a young, handsome count and the five girls in my team had a crush on him. He dated my friend.”

Oh, oh. Château . Handsome count. Training on a historical chapel. Maybe looking for a historical statue. I had an epiphany. Here was my story premise. Below is the château I used in my story. When I pitched it to an agent at the RWA conference, she suggested I change the plot to make it a romantic suspense. I took her suggestion to heart and upped the stakes with a missing statue and the murder of a professor. THE MISSING STATUE was born.

THE MISSING STATUE: Are his statue and chateau worth endangering the life of the impetuous young woman who’s turned his life upside down? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010FX4OOY/  

“… is a great romance with an excellent mystery.” ~Publishers’ Weekly

This is a wonderfully exciting romantic suspense novel. The characters are appealing and the setting is very romantic, a chateau in the Loire Valley. There is an interesting cast of characters. The plot is full of action and the reader is never sure who is on the side of good or evil.” ~ Romance Studio
“Murder, mystery, and intrigue seem to follow Cheryl as she assists Francois on his project. A great contemporary romantic read.” ~Review Your Book
Mona Risk brings old-fashioned romance back into style… full of mystery and intrigue.  I loved Ms. Risk’s injection of humor into the story. A sweet mystery romance you’re guaranteed to enjoy.” ~ Two Lips Review


If you have a chance to go to France, do yourself a favor and visit the châteaux de la Loire. I promise you won’t regret it.

I have three new books on pre-order.

KISSING PLANS: From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the undesired fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.

FAMILY PLANS: The plane crash devastated two families and revealed painful secrets. Can a brighter future arise from those ashes at Christmas time?

HEALING PLANS: He adopted two minority children but lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down.

Dear Santa – Alone at Christmas

Hi There – It’s nice to visit every so often. I like to update you on what our members of The Authors’ Billboard are working on – especially during this season.

We love having you as followers, and as a group of authors, we always want to provide you with the best entertainment possible, and at the best price.

Therefore, a bunch of us – 18 to be exact – have gotten together and brainstormed a new collection called “Dear Santa – a Christmas Wish“. After discussing how we can satisfy a single niche during this special season, we decided that there were a lot of subjects we could use, Christmas babies, or puppies, or a second chance at love. Goodness, there were just so many paths to take. But one of our lovely ladies suggested we do it all and use Christmas wishes as our strategy. Wow – that resonated with everyone and so Dear Santa began to take shape.

Now… it’s ready for your holiday reading – Only 99 cents!

Purchase places:

AMAZON.COM, AMAZON.CA, AMAZON.UK, AMAZON.AU, APPLE, KOBO, B&N,

GOOGLE PLAY

***As most authors know, USA Today folks will calculate a percentage of sales from each store where it’s available, and so we hope to interest those of you who can buy from venues other than Amazon.

Purchase Places:

AMAZON.COM, AMAZON.CA, AMAZON.UK, AMAZON.AU, KOBO, B&N

***Amazon has promised Book Bites 13 will be free asap! I’m hoping it’s free now, but if not, please check back. Just so you know, I’ve written them again and begged! :->

We also organized a freebie called “Book Bites 13 – Dear Santa” and will be showing that as often as possible, especially in our weekly newsletters. This set has a collection of the first chapters of each of the 18 books and is a glimpse into what you will be receiving when you purchase the complete collection – Dear Santa – A Christmas Wish.

Because we’re so excited about this new collection and have challenged ourselves to take it as far as the USA Today list, of course with your help, we’ve decided to bring you a new post every day starting today. Each post will highlight one of the 18 brand new stories inside this wonderful cover.

I opted to be first…

My story is called “Alone at Christmas”.

I came up with this idea a long time ago when I was quite young and travelling to visit my folks for Thanksgiving. I met a chatty young woman on the bus who had no place to be that holiday. She was old enough to leave her family and was setting out to return to a small town a half day’s travel from where I was getting off. She’d chosen to go there because it was where her family had vacationed during earlier happy years, and she remembered it fondly. Having no place of her own, she’d decided to make a new life for herself in this strangely familiar setting, get a job, build a future, and try to be happy.

At one point, she left the bus to stretch her legs and her wallet had fallen from her purse. I spotted it and returned it as soon as she re-entered. Her expression made me understand that without that wallet, she would have been destitute. I warned her to be more vigilant, and she promised she would keep the strap around her neck at all times, and the purse zipped up.

Poor little auburn-haired beauty, so determined to make good, be strong and find her way. I would have scooped her up and brought her with me if I could have. I often wondered what had happened to her.

When it came time to write this story, she popped into my head, and I realized that if I were her, my wish from Santa that year would have been to find a special someone… so I wasn’t alone.

Tara overcomes her fears of being alone at Christmas by taking a bus trip to Carlton Grove where she once experienced happiness amongst kind people. Losing her purse during the trip results in her being stranded on the snow-filled streets. When the whines of a trapped puppy entice her to enter a dark, derelict house, she stumbles upon a stranger wounded and unable to move. Doing everything in her power to help them both, she strives to keep them warm during the vicious storm raging against the dilapidated building.

Once Ollie rouses, he finds the girl of his dreams doing everything she can to rescue him from the freezing elements. Being a firefighter, he’s usually the savior in these dire situations. Mind you, he’ll have a chance when she becomes injured in a freak accident. Will he have gained enough strength to save her when she needs him the most?

Friday the 13th -Lucky for me and you!

I was born on a Friday the 13th (June), and that day has always been lucky for me! Today it’s lucky for you – and it’s better for your eyes too!

In the world of technology, where we all have our noses stuck to television screens, computers, tablets, and cellphones, if you’re like me, your eyes need a rest. Generally, I am up by 5:30 every morning and on the computer within ten minutes of waking up. That’s after using the bathroom and pouring that first cup of coffee. Somedays, I am literally on my computer working for 12-15 hours.

So when I have a few hours off, the last thing I want to do is read because I need to give my eyes a break. It doesn’t help that I’m getting older and my eyesight is starting to change. The problem is, I used to read voraciously. I could read a 300-page book in several hours, and I used to read several books a week. Now I might read a book every other month.

What I have started doing is listening to audiobooks. I get a chance to relax my mind, enjoy a story, and clean my house, or cook something good in the kitchen. Sometimes, I just sit back and do nothing while I enjoy one!

I love audiobooks, and I know a lot of people are starting to enjoy them too. That’s why I am slowly having my books turned into audio productions! And this is where the fun begins!

I currently have several books in audio, and I’m going to give away 25 copies of several of them to you! All you have to do is look over the books on the sign-up form and pick your first and second choice. Then in a few days, I will send you a link and a code to download it for FREE from Audible.

CLICK HERE to sign up for a FREE Audio Book!

COMING SOON TO AUDIO

Make sure to join my AUDIO ONLY newsletter that is used to announce new releases and offers the first change of FREEBIES on new releases!

JOIN HERE

No New Resolutions by Mona Risk

May the New Year bring you health, joy, success, and many books. Have you made any resolutions for this year? Walk more? Eat less? Read more if you are a reader? Write more if you are an author?

Good books offer the best entertainment and vacation, sometimes even an armchair trip in the comfort of your home.

As I was reviewing my last year’s efforts and achievements, I discovered I wrote SEVEN new books. Seven?!  I was the first one amazed by the number! That makes more than a book every couple of months. Any short break was used for promotion, or editing and formatting.

Let’s count them:

Prince Philip’s Cinderella — Modern Princes Series, Book 4

It was also part of Sweet and Sassy Cinderella

A charming jogger saves her from danger. But he’s a prince… And she comes from nothing. Do fairytales exist today?

Not Ready Yet — The Senator’s Family Series, Book 4

It was also part of Unforgettable Charmers

M NotReadyYet.jpg
High school sweethearts separated by life… They meet years later, Successful but different, Each with a heavy baggage.

A Complete Family — Love You Doc Series, Book 1

It was also part of Unforgettable Christmas Dreams

Nurse Melody has an adorable four-year-old girl, a vicious German shepherd, a meddling neighbor-nanny. But Dr. Aidan wants to give her a complete family.

The Captain Christmas Leave –Sweet but Sassy Series, Book 2

It was also part of Christmas Shorts

Wounded and almost divorced, Dr. Joshua Alexander lost his medical career and any chance of happiness…until his sassy wife takes matters into her own hands.

A Dance for Prince Eric–Modern Prince Series, Book 5 Not published individually yet, but part of All That Glitters Box on pre-order

Love in the ER– Love You Doc Series, Book 2 Not published individually yet, but part of Doctors in Love 1 -Passionate and Dedicated on pre-order

Love on the Slopes– Love You Doc Series, Book 3 Not published individually yet, but part of Doctors in Love 2 -Sexy and Determined Coming soon