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When people ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.”  Every time I discover a new country, a new city or village, beach or mountain, or an ancient civilization, I imagine a lovely American young woman, my heroine, surveying the scenery as a tall, dark and handsome man, living in the area, approaches and exchanges a few words with her. If I feel they have the potential to share a good chemistry, I visualize a few more scenes, grant them life and start my novel in the setting that inspired me.

To Love A Hero   and   Heal my Heart   are set in Belarus where I traveled in the nineties as Project Manager to refurbish laboratories under a contract from the Department of Defense. Both books highlight the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess.

We left for our first trip to Belarus at the end of October. We included: a government person and his interpreter, me, my lab manager and computer specialist.

My two books relate my first impression: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur hat that is a must over there). I remedied the problem on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy real mink chapka. I still have it. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. I was often offered vodka instead.

Many of my special stories are related in my books. In To Love A Hero, I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine fell in the arm of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

Traveling is not only about visiting monuments and palaces in foreign countries or snapping photos in front of famous landmarks. Traveling opened new horizons, exposed me to different cultures, and introduced me to new languages. Every time I traveled I felt indelibly marked by what I saw, what I heard, even what I smelled. I discovered that the right setting triggers my imagination, sets my muse into action and creates characters for me.

My readers love to take an armchair trip with me to France, [Mother’s Day Babies in Paris, The Missing Statue in the Loire Valley]; to Greece [Her Greek Tycoon set in Mykonos Island]; to Sicily [Husband for a Week]; to Belarus, or enjoy a Mediterranean cruise in Spain and Italy [Honeymoon Cruise].

The whole series of Modern Princes deals with the Princes of Rensy Island. Rensy Island is a fictitious British island in the Channels, so similar to Guernsey.

A setting is not just a place or a time in history. It has its own architecture and colors, the particular noises associated with the area, the scent of the fields, the beach, and the streets.

In my novels, I let the setting mirror the characters’ feelings and use a romantic setting for a special kiss. The top of the Eiffel Tower, with Paris lights sparkling at night, provided an exceptional background for a first kiss in Wright Name, Wrong Man and also in A Bride For Prince Paul.

In Last Chance Plans, I included a trip to Argentina and an unforgettable tango dance that led to a fabulous love scene.

Love on the Slopes and Sunshine Over Snow are set in ski resorts in New Hampshire. In Time For Christmas takes place in airports during a blizzard and We’re All Together in St. John during a hurricane so similar to the hurricanes Wilma and Irma that I personally experienced in Fort Lauderdale. But many other books have stories starting or ending in Florida or St. John Island [Sailing Away Plans  and the whole Love Plans Series] or in small towns in Kentucky, Ohio or Georgia.

I included a war zone in some books—Valentine Babies with the war in Iraq and We’re All Heroes, with a rescue trip to the border of Poland and Ukraine.

Several of my medical romances are set in hospitals and their ORs but the wink of the hero in medical scrub and mask sends delicious tingles to the heroine at the wrong moment and creates the beginning of a romantic scene in a very unromantic place. Babies in the Bargain, Christmas Babies,  On Christmas Eve,   A Complete Family,   We’re All Winners, …

#New Release We’re No Saints

The ghosts from the past destroyed her peace of mind. Can the charming lawyer help her while keeping his own secrets?

Travel to Seychelles

When people ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done in my life, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.”  I visited over hundred countries on vacation or business trips. 

One of my most memorable trips was to the Seychelles in the nineties, after my husband and colleagues sold the first Boeing 767 with GE engines to the Republic of Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa, where natives speak English, French and Creole. The spouses were invited to accompany and cheer the hardworking and successful delegation on the delivery trip, or virgin trip as the officials called it.

On the tarmac of the Boeing airport in Seattle before boarding.

The night before the actual delivery trip we arrived in Seattle, home of the Boeing Co., for a reception and the next day we headed to the Boeing hangar where we boarded the brand new airplane. After a takeoff closely monitored by the engineers, the plane flew directly to a freezing airport somewhere in Newfoundland to refuel, then crossed over the Atlantic Ocean, transited in Paris for two hours, and continued to Kenya where it had to drop boxes of medication as part of an international aid program. The Kenyan minister of tourism received us with drinks and snacks and then led us to a tower for a panoramic view of the area surrounding the airport. He kindly invited us to come back for a safari–still on my bucket list.

Map and general view of the Seychelles.

The plane landed in the largest island of Mahé, home of the capital Victoria, to the sound of music. Young girls welcomed us with flower leis. The president himself shook hands with each one of us, and toasted the arriving guests with glasses of palm wine Kalou and coconut water. 

L- Arrival at the airport. R- In downtown Victoria. In January, it’s summer in the Seychelles.

We spent our first afternoon in Mahé, and couldn’t wait to run to the Beau Vallon beach and experience the white sand and turquoise water of the Indian Ocean. The evening gathered our delegation for a dinner of local fish and seafood cooked with rice in a Creole style and the delicious octopus and palm salad. Let’s not forget the mouth-watering exotic fruits that appeared at breakfast, lunch and dinner: mango, papaya, passion fruit, guava and a few I didn’t recognize.

The next day the Minister of Tourism invited us on a submarine tour to admire the underwater life, flora, corals and colorful fish; later we swam and snorkeled in the area.

On day two, we flew to the island of Pralin in a twelve-seat plane. In Pralin we visited the rain forest called Vallée de Mai, home to famous—or infamous—Coco de Mer, a huge coconut, for the female fruit, and an… hum… extra long penis for the male fruit. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it. These fruits grow on the tallest trees in the world. We had a fantastic day, but we were eaten alive by hundreds of mosquitoes guarding the rainforest. Back in the hotel, we spent the evening rubbing our legs and arms with a soothing cream made with the oil of Coco de Mer.

In the left top picture we are standing in the Valée de Mai, home of the Coco de Mer. On the right is a picture of the male nut.

On day three, we used the same small plane to go to La Digue island. It landed on a gorgeous white-sand desert beach with black granite rock shining in the sun—in my humble opinion, it is the most beautiful beach in the world. In La Digue, we also visited a park housing giant turtles. On the way back we had a bad surprise. Our small plane sank into the sand. We had to go down and push to get it out!

Over the years, I accompanied my husband to the Seychelles three times and enjoyed the islands tremendously: the beaches, the activities, the food. A perfect place for a honeymoon.

I wrote about the Coco de Mer in my book, THE GODS OF DARK LOVE, a sensual romance based on the legend of the gods, Isis and Osiris, in the Egyptian mythology. On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076K8442S/

Chapter 15 is set in the Vallée de Mai, home of the Coco de Mer.

“This forest is Gehanna created by a devil,” Shafika grumbled. “It has the most indecent fruits I have ever seen. I want to go away from here.”

“Stop it,” Isis ordered. “It’s the wrong time and place to whine.”

The girl pouted. “But my lady, look at those fruits. They must have been created by—”

“We have already seen so many of them at sea. Stop acting like a child.”

“But my lady, I am not talking about the Sea-Cocos.” She pointed to the top of a tree. “Look at these donkeys’ things.”

Exasperated, Isis exhaled and raised her gaze to where the girl pointed. Her breath clogged her throat. “Oh, oh. Osiris, look.” She caught his arm and shook it.

Osiris stared at the long fruits, shaped like a phallus as long as his arm, as long as a donkey’s penis. He swallowed hard and counted a dozen such cones on that tree.

What I miss the most…

CoronaVirus has locked me at home since mid-March–six months to the day. At first I thought it would be a three to four weeks confinement and accepted the situation with resignation. I prepared myself a uniform for grocery shopping, something easy to wash regularly, and I chose a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt I was about to give away, my oldest pair of sneakers, a cap, and the little yellow purse I hate. Unfortunately after three washes, these clothes shrank…and I uploaded five pounds all around.

In front of Walmart

But grocery shopping once a month was not enough outing for oxygen breathing. I was suffocating at home, writing eight hours a day or chatting on the phone. I hardly saw my grandchildren once or twice a month, on the beach or in their backyard, always with masks on and never for more than twenty minutes. To exercise, without mask, I walked on the building catwalk with my Fitbit recording 4 to 5 miles a day. I lost my claustrophobic feeling but developed a horrible pain in my left heel, diagnosed as Plantar fasciitis by the podiatrist. I had to stop walking and I started swimming–actually floating with a noodle–in the ocean, or swimming in the building pool if I was on my own or with only two or three people. Now I bought a foot peddler and use it while watching TV at night.

Life has changed so drastically. I miss hugging my grandchildren. I don’t even see the Chicago grandkids. I miss seeing my friends and our Saturday evening dinners in a restaurant or at each other’s place. I miss shopping at the mall or my favorite stores. After gaining fifteen pounds during this pandemic, my wardrobe is reduced to a pajama with elastic band and a t-shirt. I miss wearing dresses, jewelry, makeup. And oh God, how I miss going on cruises! I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable in a plane or a cruiseship again.

Unfortunately, we lost too many relatives during the last six months, two to the Covid-19 and several to strokes, heart problems, and even a goal bladder inflamation, all not treated on time for fear of going to the hospital. I was tested once for Covid-19 when I had a cold in July and was so relieved the results were negative.

Now I live day by day. It’s too depressing to remember the easy-going life from before Pandemic and too scary to think about the future. As long as I can swim, use my peddler, cook and write, I count my blessings.

I just uploaded four new books, funny stories and heart-warming romance that will cheer you up. They are on pre-order:

His Son, Her Daughter: High school sweethearts reunited after twenty years by their small children. Their conflicting baggage prevents them from fully trusting each other. Yet what wouldn’t Daniel do for his son and her daughter? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HKPNRWH

To be RELEASED on Septenber 23, 2020

Sunshine Over Snow: When his children manage to ruin his second wedding, Brad is caught between a furious fiancée and an offended ex-wife, both determined to keep him and make him pay for his mistakes. https://www.amazon.com/DP/B08HHNSSSK

To be RELEASED on October 14, 2020

Half a Dozen with Love: At twenty, Tammy is left with the responsibility of five brothers and sisters. Dr. Jack Conan stops the Foster Care system from separating the children, but his unorthodox solution may complicate Tammy’s problems—or bring her into his arms? https://www.amazon.com/DP/B08HKQSRYC

To be RELEASED on December 2, 2020

Between Babies and Girlfriends:Abandoned baby twins, a former girlfriend, an almost fiancée complicate Dr. Brian Dutton’s life to no end.

To be RELEASED on February 11, 2021

Losing Weight by Mona Risk

In our culture it’s easy to pack up pounds and indulge into eating calorie-dense food. Our body wasn’t designed to overeat high-fat, processed food. While we sit in front of the computer or TV, our body simply converts all this high calorie food into billion of fat cells.

Over the years, I tried every diet on earth. They all worked. Every time, I wanted to lose weight, I became very determined, very disciplined. And I lost the weight. It was the maintenance period that turned into a disaster. I lost focus and fell back in my old routine. And after a few months, the pounds returned.

A friend of my mother, a beautiful old lady told me once when she saw me desperate with my useless efforts. “Do you know that your face is the first place to lose weight? And then the lines form and the wrinkles deepen. Do you want to be a bit overweight and good-looking, or skinny and…”

Okay, I got the message and I bought the Mayo Clinic book on Healthy Weight.

The Mayo Clinic Weight Pyramid is my guide to health now. It shows me the healthy food to eat and the daily quantity in five steps.

1- Calories: Identify a daily calorie level suitable for me. [1000-1200 for women]

2- Servings: Identify the number of serving I should eat from each food group.

3-Serving size: Become familiar with serving sizes for a wide variety of food.

4- Record keeping: It’s important to record the amount of food –calorie–eaten every day.

This is the only non-diet ‘diet’ that’s working for me and allows me to maintain a stable weight and health. While you lose weight in a healthy way, reward yourself with two heartwarming romance novels, newly released at Amazon.

Prince Philip’s Cinderella: A charming jogger saves her from danger. But he’s a prince… and she comes from nothing. Should she run or risk her heart?

High school sweethearts separated by life…They meet years later, successful but different, each with a heavy baggage.

Not Ready Yet: High school sweethearts separated by life…They meet years later, successful but different, each with a heavy baggage.