Family memories and secrets #RachelleAyala @Mimisgang1 #mgtab

Have you ever been amazed at family get togethers on how a single event you vividly remember is entirely different in another family member’s memory? Or how stories are not the way you remembered? Or even that you’ve reinterpreted some happening now with the distance of wisdom and experience?

These questions are ever present for me as I am now a grandmother and asked to write down memories in a book for my granddaughter. I most certainly want to present her with as much “truth” as I know or am aware of, but I’m afraid I cannot capture everything outside of my perspective. I recently read a memoir of an author who was shocked that the stories her parents told her were not what she uncovered in their paperwork, and I realized the fragility of childhood memories when research showed that many more people during world war II reported unexploded bombs dropped into their homes, even in regions with no aerial bombing.

Is it because we are suggestable people? Especially as children where we’ve heard a story and then believe it to have happened to ourselves? I know that’s the case in our family where our children to this day claim things that happened to them but we “know” were things that happended to us when we were kids and we told about them. Could it be that “dog bite” story was actually transmitted from great-grandfather to grandfather to father to son, and none of them had actually been bitten? This question has haunted me as I recall my mom’s wartime stories and witness my children thinking certain things happened to them exactly like described in a time and place they didn’t exist.

As a writer, these mismatched family memories are fertile grounds for stories, especially those in which a child was lied to their entire life. In my latest book, Going to Find Love, Penny Barnes has a big shock when she finds out her religious parents lied to her by omitting her adoption and then denying it. What are they covering up? Compelled to find the truth, Penny leaves everything behind, including her high school sweetheart, to find the answers long denied her.

I know how she feels because I know real life people who have had a similar shock [too close for me to reveal who] of finding out they weren’t who they thought they were. I hope these musings will encourage you to dig into your memories, old pictures, and documents to make a sense of your past to reexamine and preserve what you hope is closest to the truth.

Going to Find Love by Rachelle Ayala

Penny Barnes has never left home. She’s a pastor’s daughter, has a long time boyfriend, and is a hometown sweetheart. Her fairytale life is upended when she discovers she’s adopted.

Excited by the discovery of a genetic match, Penny is lured to a distant town with secrets of its own. She meets another lonely young woman who has more questions than answers. Her adoptive parents disappear. She runs into roadblocks and dead-ends, and someone powerful is determined to stop her from finding the truth.

Mike drops everything to find Penny as she digs through old secrets. When disaster strikes, will Penny leave everyone she loves behind—including her hometown sweetheart or find love on her own terms? [Pre-order Going to Find Love for 99c]

Enchanted by Vikings #RachelleAyala @Mimisgang1 #mgtab

 

Everywhere I turn there’s a new movie, television series, video game, heavy metal bands, even costume-partygoers celebrating this ancient culture that hailed from the icy regions of Northern Europe.

Why are modern men and women of the twenty-first century so enchanted by Vikings? Perhaps it is a yearning to return to what we believe to be a simpler life, one that was in touch with nature and the elements of raw survival. Or it’s the fascination of muscled and bearded men who were too wild to be tamed. Or the glory of a warlike society, where valor, honor, and bravery were highly regarded. Possibly, it’s their reputation for brutality and slaughter and the fear they engendered on their raids. Although to be fair, the Romans, Assyrians, Mongols, Iroquois, British and all other human groups were no less brutal. Or it could be the love affair we have with their gods and goddesses and the stories they told that have been passed down to us. Their antics, their cavorting, their origin stories, and their views concerning fate and the afterlife and the finality of Ragnarok.

The Norsemen did not call themselves Vikings, and a lot of the stories have become romanticized as time went by. They get made and remade into operas, movies, novels, symphonies, plays, and video games, and the characters are invented and changed. Even a Norseman’s appearance has been creatively embellished. For example, they didn’t wear horned helmets as they were commonly depicted, and we don’t truly know how they wore their hair and beards, or whether they were as heavily tattooed as movies and popular culture now depict them. From Wagner to Marvel, everyone has their own appropriation of Norse culture, mythology, legends, and stories.

For me, I like the Norse mythology–from the world tree to the serpent surrounding the world, and stories of the various gods, goddesses, giants, dwarves, and other creatures in their pantheon. The stories and myths vary with the teller, and indeed the gods take on shapes of birds, totem animals, or even other gods as they scheme and plot for either power or entertainment. The Norse were also fatalistic, believing in norns who have woven the strands of their lives before they were born. The fatalism extended to Ragnarok, the end of the world or at least the end of most of their prominent gods. No one could stop what was foretold. It happened exactly as predicted. It was a horrible ending, and yet, some minor characters survived, but nothing is recorded or survived to our day. What happened after Ragnarok will always remain a mystery or even better, we’re free to invent our own endings or new beginnings.

I did just that with Red Hexed: Ruby where a modern-day woman in San Francisco comes face to face with a Viking in search of a berserker sword. She’s drawn into his quest to stop Ragnarok when he asks her to impersonate Hella, the goddess of death. Along the way, they get tangled up with Odin, Loki, Freya, Hella, and Surt while a shapeshifting horsefly turned cockatoo leads or misleads them while inadvertently playing matchmaker. [Check it out for 99c release week special].

Grand Canyon Adventure #RachelleAyala @Mimisgang1 #mgtab

My Visit to the Grand Canyon

I have no words to describe the majesty and awesomeness of being at the Grand Canyon. The beautiful views and the colors and textures are overwhelming. All I know is I had a memorable time with my two sisters and brother-in-law last week.

We were fortunate with the weather. It was cool in the morning and never got above seventy degrees in the afternoon. Upon arriving at the South Rim, we couldn’t get enough of the view. It was everywhere, since the path of the Rim Trail is about two and a half miles along the edge. We walked along the paved Rim Trail and then took a short hike down the Bright Angel trail, a series of switchbacks that descend from the popular Bright Angel Lodge. Even though it’s a “beginner” trail, well maintained with water stations, it was quite steep and we had to keep warning ourselves that traipsing downhill is easy, but what goes down must come up.

After a few turns of the switchbacks, I noticed the people coming up looked like they were red, sweaty zombies in a death march. Since the Grand Canyon is at high altitude, 6800 ft, we decided to turn back and were able to enjoy the hike back without passing out.

Watching the sunsets and sunrises make for more spectacular views and photos. We drove all the way to the East, Desert View, where there’s a tower [which is closed], and then made our way back, stopping at the view points. Being there, you get the full sense of the panoramic view, as well as the dry wind that blows sand and dust in your face. There’s the chapped lips, the dry mouth, and the sting of sunburned lips, but nothing takes away from the sheer beauty of the views, including a few patches of snow visible in a shadowed area.

We also took a trip to the Hualapai Reservation where they offer pontoon boat white water trips. Instead of paddling, you hang onto your seats on the sides of a motorized pontoon boat while the driver barrels through rapids for maximum splash and bumps. It was quite an experience and you can read my review at Yelp for the Hualapai (Walla-pie) River Runners. Another must-visit place is the Yuvapai Geology Museum. Out of their panoramic bay window, you will see rock formations from all the different ages. Finally, we ate several times at El Tovar Dining Room–a rustic restaurant with views of the Grand Canyon.

Since I’m a romance writer, I took a picture of a pair of lovers perched on the edge of the cliff watching the sunset at Grandview Point. I’m sure I’ll be coming up with a romance or romantic comedy set at the Grand Canyon. I learned about the grueling hikes, down the South Kaibab to the river and then up the Bright Angel, and I stood by while the mule guide was giving the orientation to the riders. Maybe I’ll have a personal trainer and a swapped itinerary for my heroine who finds herself on a vacation she didn’t expect. Yep. Grand Canyon is for Lovers.

Grand View Lovers, It’s a Long Way Down

Catch up with my books at my website. https://rachelleayala.net/ and if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I hope you’ll be able to make it there someday. Aloha!

My own Valentine’s romance #RachelleAyala @Mimisgang1 #mgtab

My 40 year romance. Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a romance writer, I’ve written over seventy-five love stories, from princesses and kings, to ranchers and busybodies, to demigods and bank greeters and all points in between. But funny thing, I’ve never written my own forty year old love story with my husband, Jose.

We met at Cornell University in 1982 at the International Living Center, heretofore known as the International Loving and Living Center. I was brand new, fresh off the turnpike from California and going from suite to suite introducing myself. “Hi, I’m Clare from California (Rachelle is my penname),” I’d chirp. “I’m so glad to meet you and experience the East Coast.” Never mind that Cornell, in Ithaca New York is in the Fingers Lake region and not East Coast. To me, anything west of Arizona was East Coast. I had most recently lived in San Diego, at the time known as America’s Finest City or Sandy Eggo. All my friends thought I was looney-tunes wanting to leave but I told them I wanted to see what life was like outside of this most southwestern corner of the United States. I mean, if Maine is the head of the beast and Florida the front leg, Texas the back leg, then what exactly is the southernmost corner of our country? At least it’s not Hawaii, LOL.

My future husband was sitting in his dorm room contemplating his future when one of his suitemates said, “Hey, meet Clare from California.” I kid you not. I never have inklings but I had a strong sense of, “What if this is my future husband?” run through my heart. Of course, I didn’t say anything and later one, he thought I was too happy and too chirpy. He’s a native New Yorker.

Fast forward to spring time skiing. I hadn’t seen Jose around and he didn’t see me, but on my first run down Greek Peak on a beautiful, sunny day, I skidded to a stop on top of a ridge to admire the view. The next thing I heard was a man screaming, “Ahhhhh!” and then my right leg crumpled. This wild skier literally tripped over my ski boot and fell face forward over his skis. His first reaction was to get up and ask me how I was doing. I was actually numb or in pain, I don’t know which, but he had a bleeding cut on his forehead from hitting his ski.

The ski patrol was called and the man and his buddies followed down to the medical center where the biggest strongest ski patrol guy pried my boot off my injured leg [as painlessly as possible].

If this was a romance, the man who cut his forehead would be Jose, or even the strong ski patrol guy, but nope, I never saw them again, although the cut forehead guy did come by to apologize as I lay there waiting for my friends to drive me to the hospital.

Instead, Jose had stayed back in the dorm over spring break to STUDY! Get this, I stayed to ski; he stayed to study. So here I was, a day later, sitting in the TV lounge with my crutches and leg in a cast watching daytime soap operas. Jose walks by probably with a stack of books in his hand and says, “What happened to you?”

From then on, he carried my books, walked me to the dining hall, and bussed my trays. And that’s how a real life love story started. Not quite a cute meet but a sweet one just the same.

How about you? Please share one of your real life love stories. Tell your children or a friend this Valentine’s Day and give your honey an extra kiss for being your real life Valentine.

My Valentine Romances are either FREE or on sale this month of February.

Valentine Hound Dog [free download]
Valentine Wedding Hound [on sale 99c]
Going Hearts Over Heels [on sale 99c]
Valentine Puppies and Kisses [free download]

For more freebies and a chance to win a $25 gift card:

https://mybookcave.com/g/5bbf53fd/?bcsrc=pmf38a

Hugs and Kisses and have very Happy Valentine’s Day, Rachelle