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!

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A Different Vacation–in Japan by Mona Risk

I had the unique opportunity to visit Japan a month ago. After a twenty-four hour flight from Florida to Illinois, a four-hour layover in Chicago, and an endless flight to Tokyo we finally arrived TWO days later–because of a thirteen-hour time difference–under a pouring rain.

Tokyo is a perfect example of modern capital, with more highrises than Manhattan and as many Toyotas and Hondas! Our organized tour around the huge city revealed a few surprises. Did you know that Tokyo has a Statue of Liberty offered by the US? And an Eiffel Tower taller than the original French Eiffel Tower?

The imperial palace is not open to the public, but we visited a reproduction newly inaugurated in April. Painted in bright colors on a golden background, all the walls slide open in such a way that you can have several small rooms converted into a large one. No furnitures encumber the rooms. People spread their futton mat at night and remove them in closets during the day .

The real old Japanese flavor survives in the temples boasting the vivid red colors favorite to the Japanese culture and the shrines hidden in caves overlooking the ocean or on top of mountains. To reach that particular shrine, Nichinan, we climbed down 400 steps. The problem was to climb them back up!!!

We visited gorgeous parks with incredible displays of colorful flowers. We walked around for hours, others navigated by train. Weddings are often held in these parks.

The blend of old and new is present everywhere. Every mall, airport or public place offers two types of stalls in the rest rooms, the very old style–a whole in the floor surrounded by ceramic. You don’t sit. You crouch low or stand and aim right! The other type is the expensive Toto type with a set of push buttons to spray water when you are sitting. A detailed set of instructions is affixed on the restroom door. 

 

 

In addition to all sort of suchi, we tasted new food, even new ice creams flavors: Green tea ice cream, gold or platinum ice creams: vanilla covered with a gold leaf or a platinum leaf. You pay double price for these.–$8.

 

 

 

 

Our tour guide explained that school children of all ages have one month of vacation in summer and one in winter. In addition to clearing their desks, the children must clean the class, the class restroom and the hallway in front of their classes. 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the geisha area, fought the samurai, but didn’t ride in a pulled rickshaw.

It would take too long to relate all the highlights of this incredible journey to the other side of the world. Maybe one day I will use it as a setting for a new book.

Meanwhile let me offer you my newest book:  FOR SARAH’S SAKE

 

A broken marriage.

Second chance at love.

And a precious little girl trying to escape danger and hatred, to get herself a loving family.

Girls just want to have fun!

A couple weeks ago, my three best friends, more commonly known as my sisters by other mothers, and I got a chance to hang out. We do this once a year in Cape Cod and from the time we leave each other until the next July, we look forward to doing it all again! One of Melissa Foster’s (Melissa is the one up front on the right) assistants created this for us the first day we arrived and it was all over social media. What a blast! The other two featured in the photo are Amy Manemann in the back, and Natasha Brown to the left side. #Besties

Now we don’t do anything super special while we are there, except hug each other, laugh until we cry, sometimes we just cry, we talk, we plot, we shop, we watch movies into after midnight, we eat yummy food, and then we plot some more! We all are writers after all! It’s a time for us to rejuvinate, really catch up with each other and unwind. It’s a time to just be. Its one of my favorite times of the year.

 

One of the things that Amy and I worked on this year was our co-authored series called The Twisted Love Series. It’s romantic suspense/police procedural. Currently, the first two books in the series are available (right now exclusively on Amazon and in KU). These two books are single authored, and back stories about our female detectives centered in Philadelphia.

Amy’s book, Love Lorn, is about her character Detective Evie Harper. She’s new to being a detective, and paired with a man who get’s under her skin.

My book, Love Torn, is about Detective Kali Mann. She’s been a detective for a while but she has major issues, including a total love-them-and-leave-them attitude that keeps her from getting close to anyone.

The third book in the series, Love Inked, will be released this fall (that’s what Amy and I were working up at the Cape) will bring these two detectives together as partners – and then all hell breaks loose.

Amy and I are having a blast writing this books. We even have a fan group on Facebook called Twisted Love Addicts where we give insight into the books, characters, plots, and Amy and I read chapters live. In fact when we were at the Cape, we read chapters 1 and 2 of Love Inked together. It was so much fun! If you want to join the group, we’d love to have you! Just click here to join and make sure to download Love Lorn and Love Torn so you know what we are talking about in the group!

To purchase a copy of Love Lorn or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited Click HERE

To purchase a copy of Love Torn or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited Click HERE