The importance of a Mental Break for me

Like many of you, I normally took a yearly vacation with my family, and of course, the events of last year kept me locked up in my own house. It’s hard to take a much-needed mental break when you are walking the same halls and sitting in the same chairs that you always sit in while working.

If you don’t know me well, you probably aren’t aware that I live and breathe my characters. They are with me all day, all night, no matter what I am doing. I talk through scenes while I’m cleaning, dressing, or cooking. I contemplate plot twists while I drive, and stare at nothing, or while I eat. My mind is usually going a hundred miles an hour, all the time.

In order to shut my mind off and let it relax, I need to put my entire body in another place. At home, I can attempt to stop working, but I’m always just a few steps away from my computer, and the emails, and marketing, and manuscripts that constantly need my attention.

I am so thankful that we were able to get away this year for a much-needed break. Not just for me, but for my husband who works so hard, and my daughter who is off to college very soon. Plus, this year we took our almost five-year-old grandson with us for the first time to Disney. It’s our family’s magic place.

My family in front of the Millenium Falcon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This year for the first time since I started writing, I put my computer away for almost the entire trip, and I focused on myself and my family. I was rather proud of myself. It was only toward the end of the vacation that I got on the computer for a little while in the afternoon, but that was generally when my grandson was resting and we were relaxing at the resort during the rain.

Now after almost two weeks away from the computer, the emails, the marketing, and my sometimes relentless characters, I am ready to come back and jump back in. In fact, on the ride home, I went through 200 pages to edit, and today I will jump back in to get at least another 100 done so I can get this book off to my editor and start writing the last three books required for this year.

After almost two years without a break, I finally feel like I can breathe without all the weight on my shoulders. Now, once I get my daughter off to college, I’ll have a nice quiet house and I can really start blasting out the words!

A Romantic Cruise: The Greek Islands

Welcome aboard. Today we are sailing to Corfou, next we will stop in Santorini, and then continue to Rhodes, an island close to Turkey, before turning north to Mykonos and Delos. Have a drink at the bar, relax in a lounge chair, listen to the music, and enjoy our cruise to the Greek Islands.

Corfou: A relaxing island

Corfu is one of the most beautiful and romantic islands of the Ionian island group. From lush green hills to noble mansions and from idyllic Corfu beaches, to interesting museums, this island has everything it takes to please any type of traveler.

Strongly influenced by the Venetians, the French and the English, Corfu Town is a brilliant base for exploration. The top places to visit in Corfu are Achillion Palace, the former retreat of princess Sissi of Austria, Mon Repos palace, where Prince Phillip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was born.

Don’t forget to stop by a Fish Spa as I did. Hundreds of well trained small fish will nibble on your feet. At first it hurts, then it tickles, and then you really relax and enjoy the exceptional massage.

 

Santorini: Island of Love


Today Santorini is a rock shaped like a fishhook, a cone formed by a volcano that erupted before 1600 BC. The current name of the island comes from its patroness, Saint Irene of Thessalonika, who died in 304. The Venetians called her, Sant’Irini and the name stuck. Sant-irini became Santorini.
The highest point of the island is marked by the monastery of the Prophet Elijah. On the eastern shore of the island there are beaches of black sand from previous volcanic activity.
In addition to a temple dedicated to Apollo, there is a shrine cut out of rocks to honor the Egyptian gods Isis, Serapis and Anubis, a reminder of the Egyptian presence during the Ptolemaic period.
The present capital of Santorini is the town of Thera built on top of the cliff. Excavations began in 1967 and scientists wondered if Thera was not part of the lost continent of Atlantis described in Greek literature. Views from this picturesque town are especially beautiful.


You can reach the top of the island riding on a donkey, or by cables. We used the cable. Since I am terrified of height I held my husband’s hand and closed my eyes, then opened one eye when he insisted the view was terrific and I was missing half of my life by not looking.
Once up on the cliff top, I agreed it was worth the scare. Look at the gorgeous pictures and be the judge. Santorini is an ideal place for honeymooners. I used my time walking and admiring the view, and shopping for souvenirs.

 

Our next stop was in RHODES: a strong island


According to Homer, the first colonists were Greek. They founded the city of Rhodes at the northern tip of the island and built a powerful citadel to protect it.
In its day of greatest power, Rhodes became famous for its impressive sculptures, like the huge bronze Colossus which stood at the entrance of the harbor. Created to honor, the sun god Helios, it was at least 110 feet high and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, the Colossus only stood for 56 years before an earthquake toppled it in 224B.C. but the enormous fragments remained half-submerged for another nine centuries. A scrap dealer carried the pieces away on 900 camels.

The most glorious episode in Rhodes history began in 1309 when the Knights of St. John took control after being expelled from the Holy Land following the Crusades. They built St. John’s Chapel and St. Mary’s Church.

You can see here a picture of one of the tunnels that allowed the Knights to secretly escape. They settled in Rhodes and increased the fortifications. The ramparts are impressive, several feet high. A moat circled and protected the city when the drawbridge was raised. After Constantinople was captured by the Turks, repeated sieges of Rhodes by the Turks weakened the city. At the end only 180 Knights remained to defend Rhodes. They were expelled to Malta and Rhodes became Turkish property. The Italian navy seized Rhodes in 1912 and it was turned over to Greece in 1948.

The famous movie of Guns of Navarone was filmed in Rhodes.


Mykonos: a cosmopolitan island

Our next stop was in Mykonos, probably the most cosmopolitan of the Aegean Islands. I visited four times in the last twenty years, the first time when my children were teenagers.

We fell in love with the picturesque island and returned the year after. The streets are a maze of narrow, winding alleyways – many only two or four feet wide, overhung with dazzling pink and purple blossoms.

All the houses, shops, churches, restaurants and windmills are immaculately whitewashed, with door frames and window shutters highlighted with splashes of sky blue and jade green.

On every second doorstep sits a cat, gazing down serenely at passers-by.

From HER GREEK TYCOON, here is a description of Mykonos as the heroine Ashley sees it from Stefano’s yacht: “See, we are passing Chora, the capital of Mykonos.”

Mountainous landscape and long sandy beaches faded away. Square whitewashed houses with flat roofs, flowered balconies, blue doors and window shutters lined the cluttered narrow paved streets of the picturesque villages. Beautiful churches, chapels and windmills lent a magical atmosphere to the quaint town.  

“Now, keep your hands on the helm and steer to the left.”

The Athena glided through the water and gained speed. Stefano opened the side windshield and let the breeze invade the pilot station. “What’s your pleasure?”
With a toss of her head, Ashley flung her hair back and took a deep breath. “Can we stay close enough to the shore to discover the beaches?”

“Absolutely. This little cruise is all yours.”

Exhilaration filled her heart. She steered a superb ship and the captain was determined to please her. “Thank you, Stefano. I really appreciate you taking the time to show me your beautiful island.”

“We’re passing Korfos. Keep straight. The main island is looping into a cape. Now you can see Agios Ioannis—St. Jeanne Beach there. It’s small but picturesque.” He handed her a pair of binoculars and she scanned the beach.

Blood rushed to her cheeks at the sight of the topless bathers lying on towels or relaxing on lounge chairs. A couple hours ago, she’d been soaking up the sun on a similar chair—in a similar pose. 

Lowering the binoculars, she glanced at him. His face expressionless, he stared at the horizon and hadn’t noticed her embarrassment. “We are crossing a strait between Mykonos and the ancient island of Delos. I’ll handle the helm while you enjoy the view. The rocky islet offers an impressive exhibit of columns, temple remains, and statues of lions.” Ashley shifted to the other side of the pilot station and adjusted the binoculars to her eyes while Stefano took back the control of his boat.

“Delos is the birthplace of Apollo. His mother, the nymph Leto, was seduced by the god of gods, Zeus,” Stefano explained while Ashley admired the sculptural ruins of sanctuaries. “When his wife, the goddess Hera, learned of his treachery she banished the pregnant young nymph from earth.”

“What happened to Leto?” she asked, genuinely interested in the sad love story. Had all the Greek maids been destined to suffer because of love? She had Greek blood in her veins and wanted to hear of a happy ending.

“Poseidon, Zeus’s brother, rescued the nymph and had her deliver her baby on the island of Delos which wasn’t considered as part of the earth.” Stefano told her more about the history of Delos, a necropolis with too many burials for her taste.

HER GREEK TYCOON:
A sexy and humorous Romeo and Juliette Greek style, set in Mykonos Island.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry.

 

 

 

Winter Vacation: A Touch of Summer when I Needed It Most

Good morning. Until I retired from teaching, the idea of taking a vacation in January was an impossibility. First off, There was no way I could leave my classroom at that time of year, and secondly, as an accountant, there was no way my husband could leave in March when I might’ve been able to. But now that I’m a bit freer, vacationing in January, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas, has become a reality.

In the last three years, I’ve gone south to the sun and heat on Caribbean cruises, visiting a total of fourteen different island paradises. There I found gorgeous turquoise oceans with incredible beaches, and a jungle vegetation where everything grew in a riot of green. Those visits gave me the idea for a couple of my novels, one published, and two currently works in progress to be released later this year.

But this year, I went to San Jose del Cabo, in the Baja peninsula of Mexico. If you can imagine the Arizona desert meeting the ocean, you’ve got it.  This place is absolutely stunning. Sunrises are colorful and so memorable. This is winter for them, and still morning temperatures were in the seventies. By afternoon, we hit eighties, but without any of the humidity one would associate with that heat here in Ontario.

Each morning, I had tea on my patio overlooking the tennis court, watching the birds play in the bougainvillea bush near the condo. The rest of the day was spent visiting the area or taking a drive to see the many sights including the marina with its incredible yachts, visiting a little town whose claim to fame among other things is the location of the legendary Hotel California. Most days, we crossed the stretch of sand and sat on the beach or played in the waves. At night, we ate in open air restaurants sampling the local cuisine. Believe me you haven’t had a taco until you’ve had one here.

As different as two places can be, there’s no way I can choose between jungle islands and a desert beach.  Both gave me the peace and quiet I needed.  From my seat in the sand, I could even watch humpback whales. How perfect is that?

Life often gives you lemons, and it’s what you do with them that matters. This vacation has given me the strength to make lemonade with whatever life throws at me next. Do you find vacations revitalizing?

In many ways, that’s what happens to MJ in Wedding Bell Blues, one of the books I wrote after a Caribbean vacation.

About the book:

Romance, mermaids, cursed treasure, and more.
MJ’s having a bad year. She’s canceled her wedding, but refuses to give up the honeymoon. When she arrives on Paradise Island, she discovers her ex has changed the reservation. Stranded, she has to rely on her first love, a man who sees her as his kid sister, for help. When Paul discovers the man behind her plight is the bully who made his own teen years hell, he gets MJ to agree to pretend to be his fiancée. Reluctantly, she agrees. Add in mermaids, treasure hunters, and Quimbois magic, and anything can happen—even falling in love.

Wedding Bell Blues is available from all Amazon outlets. http://bookShow.me/B078J5GVJ7 and is free to read in KU.

That’s it for now! Time to get back to everyday living with my memories to keep me smiling.

Where are the Moose Mugs?

Like most people, I love Christmas. I love the glittery lights, the music that touches the soul and the smiles- I love the smiles! I’m not a big fan of opening gifts, but I sure do love giving them!

I love how the holidays are filled with traditions, like in our family on Christmas Eve we have dinner with my husbands extended family. There will be fifty or more people there, all the way down to 4th cousins, for a fantastic dinner.

On Christmas Day, we open gifts in the morning with immediate family, and then the afternoon is filled with family entertaining and gifts being swapped while we pig out on finger foods.

There is one other major tradition in my house. The week before Christmas, we decorate the tree. While we are decorating, it’s a rule that my favorite Christmas movie needs to be playing. How fun it is to decorate while Chevy Chase is having a fun National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!! Have you seen that movie? What’s your favorite part?

I have so many that are my favorites – but one of my favorite scenes is when Clark and his cousin Eddie are talking in the living room and sipping eggnog from the moose mugs! I LOVE THOSE MUGS! So much so, that my husband bought me a set a few years ago. Now after we decorate, the hubby and I pour ourselves a cup and sit down to finish the movie in the glow of the lights.

That’s why I titled my story in the Love Christmas 2 box set, Finding Love on Christmas Vacation. It’s not like the movie at all, but they are on vacation and they do find love!

 

Reserve your copy today!

AmazonUS | AmazonUniversal | Kobo | B&N | iBooks