How audiobooks changed my life #mgtab @melinda_de_ross

Now a very popular format, ten years ago audiobooks were still making a shy debut – just when I needed them most. Reading has always been my biggest passion, but as I worked in an office all day with my eyes fixed on a computer screen, traditional reading became an increasingly difficult hobby. My eyes got tired easier, my neck became stiff from bending over a book. Not to mention that one can’t multi-task while reading a printed book. That was when my husband suggested I tried audiobooks.

At first I was reluctant. It seemed completely weird listening to someone read a book out loud. It didn’t sound the same when I read it in my head. However, my love of books was stronger than my stubbornness, so one day I took a chance and bought an audiobook. I remember it was Sandra Brown’s “Smoke Screen”, which was lucky because the narrator, Victor Slezak, is simply magic. From the first moments I was drawn in by his voice, fascinated by the way he interpreted each character, thrilled to hear the story brought to life. A love affair had begun!

Fast forward thousands of audiobooks listened and a career change later, and here I am today – a writer myself, who’s just producing her second audiobook. It’s funny how in the short run we never truly realize how much we’ve achieved, but sometimes in the rare moments when we take a good look back, we can be stunned by how far we’ve come from a certain period of our lives. Sandra Brown’s thrillers are still among my favorites, and although I like to think I’ve developed my own storytelling technique, her style will always be an influence on me. I know it shows in THE PLOT, my first suspense romance that was released as an audiobook. I had the privilege of working with an incredibly talented narrator, Austin Walp, who brought my characters to life in a way that still makes me grin in wonder whenever I listen to it.

An unconventional romance…

At 18, Yoko Hirano falls prey to a human trafficking organization and is forced into a lifestyle nightmares are made of. When the young Japanese girl escapes, her only focus is exacting revenge and saving other girls from the same fate by bringing down Michael Chen, the powerful mobster who destroyed her innocence.

Between two misfits…

Four years later she meets antiques dealer Mark Chandler, the only man who ever treated her with respect. Though she is torn by her unfamiliar feelings for him, Yoko’s grand scheme doesn’t involve falling in love, and a man like Mark would never want her if he discovered her past. What she doesn’t know is that he has his own dark secrets…

Brought together by love and revenge.

Mark never thought he could lose his head over a woman, but the haunted eyes of his beautiful new employee fill his soul with desire and tenderness. When he learns about what had happened to her, his vengeance knows no limits. Nor does his resolve to help her heal and discover love.

You can listen to a sample of THE PLOT on YouTube, watch the book trailer, and if you want to hear more, you can find THE PLOT on Amazon as well as on all major audiobook distribution channels. Enjoy!

Fondly,

Melinda

JUST A QUICK HOP

I LEARNED ABOUT BOATING FROM …
JUST A QUICK HOP by Paul Risk

[as published in BOATING Magazine]
Changing wind and sea conditions dramatically changed this boater’s chances for a safe arrival.

In 2015, we took our Regal 35 SC on a six-day, 800-mile trip from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan. To prepare, I plotted each stopover and secondary/emergency stops in a spreadsheet, and each harbor into my chart plotter.

Each leg was designed to keep at least 20 percent fuel in the tanks by arrival. The boat featured the latest in electronics: a sophisticated chart plotter, three VesselView screens, an EPIRB and two backup handheld VHF radios, in addition to the fixedmount radio, plenty of life vests and signaling equipment.

We filed a float plan with friends. We departed in flat seas and sunny weather, and it stayed that way for the next six days. It was a wonderful trip.

Our last hop would take us 90 miles from Holland, Michigan, to Chicago. I had planned to depart at noon, with an expected
arrival around 3 p.m. But we lingered to shop, despite the forecast for increasing waves.

We finally departed at 3 p.m. in rough waves of 4 to 6 feet, with a few
8-footers thrown in. The boat could barely make 10 mph. Any faster and it
would get mercilessly slammed. The kids already had their life jackets on. My wife and I donned ours, and despite the rough water I remained confident.

Then I checked the gauges. The boat normally gets 1 mile per gallon, and
at 90 miles to go with 162 gallons in the tanks, we had fuel to spare. Except
doing 10 mph in rough waves dropped the economy to 0.6 mpg—we’d run out of gas 20 miles from port in 6-foot waves, and it would be game over.

The alternative was to go back and try to hug the shoreline, but that was a much greater distance, plus the waves weren’t any calmer closer to shore. It was now 4:30 p.m. I realized that not only might we run out of fuel, but
we’d also run out of daylight.

If the marine forecast was accurate, the waves would slowly subside
the further west we went. If we drowned in the middle of Lake
Michigan, it would be because of the decision I was going to make
here and now, not in two or three hours.

I looked at the forecasts and fuel data again and again, and
decided to go for it. Then the sunroof belt broke, and it started slamming
back and forth with each rock of the boat. About an hour later, the waves had subsided a little, and I was able to increase speed to 5 mph. Then another hour passed, and we were doing 20 mph.

By the time we could see the Chicago skyline, we were on plane at 25 mph
and pulled into Montrose Harbor at 8 p.m. with fuel to spare. A trip
that should have taken three hours took five.

I learned a few things:
• Keep a close eye on the marine weather forecast. I’m now more conservative about departures.
• Know your boat, especially its fuel consumption in varying
conditions.
• I carry seasickness wristbands aboard now. They really work!
Paul Risk
Chicago
ILLUSTRATION: TIM BOWER

Writing Suspense

After working in law enforcement for almost sixteen years, I have seen a lot, sometimes way more than I wish I had seen. Maybe that is why I enjoy writing suspense so much! Don’t get me wrong, I love writing romance too, but suspense plots are where I like to get lost.

I find that when I start a suspense novel, I quickly get lost in it, and I love how most of the time my characters will take over the story and I’m only the means to an end for them. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down to write a chapter and it ends up completely different than what I had first anticipated. That all has to do with the characters having their own way of doing things, and they expect me to allow them.

The best part about writing suspense to me, is adding the twists and turns. I love to keep readers guessing. There is never a better compliment to me than, “Holy cow! I never saw that coming!”

Right now, I am working on two Romantic Suspense series, and have another one planned for early next year. The Pleasure Your Fantasies series includes, Mistletoe Fantasies and Whispered Fantasies with Secret Fantasies coming this fall. I just finished writing that one and I’m so excited about it!

The other series that I’m working on is The Twisted Love Series. It’s intense and gritty and down right Twisted. The fourth book in the series just release and my readers have commented over and over again about how it is one of their favorites series! I love that!

If you’re interested in Romantic Suspense – make sure to check out The Twisted Love Series. Right now the first two books, Love Lorn & Love Torn are FREE. And the third book, Love Inked is currently $2.99. The fourth book, Love Drowned is on sale for just a little longer at $2.99 and will go up to $4.99 soon. So grab your copy at that price while you can.

And welcome to my Twisted World!

Balance in Life

My husband often asks me to balance my time. To prove his point he showed me an article about the value of balance. According to that article, most of our troubles are due to imbalances.

We should divide our day in such a way that we can balance work, family time, socializing, exercise, spiritual time, and fun time. If a person works eight hours a day, drives half an hour each way to work, breaks at lunch for an hour, exercises for an hour, and sleeps seven hours, this adds up to a total of eighteen hours. I assume the remaining six hours are used for family time, fun, socializing, and spiritual time.

I am not sure in which category I can fit cooking, dinner and dishwashing time. Reading should go under the hour or two of fun time. And what about writing?

I retired from my day job years ago and write full-time—or to be more accurate I sit in front of my computer full time. I can manage an hour to exercise or walk every day. I can cook twice a week and eat leftover or eat out the rest of the week, socialize two or three times a week. I consider this to be a perfectly balanced life.

Except… Around Christmas time, I deliberately put work aside. With the kids visiting it’s impossible to reach my computer, considering there are always a couple, or more teenagers sleeping in my office who can never sleep early or wake up early. So I graciously relinquish my work area and remain in the kitchen where I’ve already spent two weeks cooking, baking and preparing for the family gathering and a happy holiday. Call it family time, fun and socializing,

Yes a perfectly balanced life. Except on the two days I have to take care of the grandchildren, picking them from school, driving them to their various after-school activities and waiting for them, cooking and serving dinner—all of that goes under work and family time. Let’s not forget their adorable Cocker spaniel, Bosty, that I have to walk—call it exercise and fun.

Quite a balanced life. Except on the weeks where I have a deadline for a book and write nonstop to finish my story and edit, or format a multi-author box, or promote a new release… The eight hours of work morph into twelve or fourteen hours of non-paid overtime. Forget exercise, except running to the bathroom, forget family time, my husband swore that I become deaf during this period and never answer with cohesive sentences.

Considering there is so much I want to do, I’m still faced with the same problem of balancing my time.

I think balancing one’s time is wonderful. In theory. I always learned that to be successful you ought to give your main goal your 101%.  So how can you divide your time in multiple activities and still be successful?

Yet some people manage to multitask and be successful at everything they do. If you are one of these fortunate people, how do you do it?

Don’t forget to check our two new boxes:

Unforgettable Passion – Unforgettable Charmers (The Unforgettables Book 10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet and Sassy in the Snow: Find Your Winter Romance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the Modern Princes Series:

A Bride For Prince Paul: She can’t abandon her patients for his crown!
A Bodyguard For The Princess: A murder at Harvard in Princess Chloe’s student building.
Jingle With My Princess: The doc and the princess… He saves lives but Princess Charlene may save his heart.