Monday, September 21, 2009

This Week's 5 Heart Sweetheart...

TO LOVE A HERO, a review from The Romance Studio

To Love A Hero won This Week's 5 Heart Sweetheart...

"Mona Risk has built an exceptional story of romance with a hopeful tale of what can be accomplished when people on both sides of the ocean work together to make the world a better place. The fly in the ointment is Colonel Roussov, a truly evil man who only wants power for himself. He doesn’t seem to care about his country or fellow human beings."

"Both Sergei and Cecile are well deserving of the roles as hero and heroine of the story. As a war hero Sergei has earned the respect of his country that allows him to work as hard for peace and the future of his country as he did during war. Cecile doesn’t let fear stand in her way as she finds a route around the problems to get what she wants if people stand in her way. She’s admirable in her inventive solutions when confronted by a male dominated society."

"This is a fast moving story full of colorful characters who enhance our enjoyment of the country and its people. Ms. Risk is one of those authors who puts together a tale that’s captivates from first page to last. I’ll have to look for more of her work in the future." - Dee Dailey

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ultimate Diet

Sitting at the computer for hours at a time, during the last five years, had helped me write seven books and publish four, but it definitely damaged my waistline and loaded pounds of fat on my hips and belly.

I tried to lose the extra weight on my own through Weight Watchers and South Beach Diet. I followed the diets for three to four weeks and give up at the first crisis.

Last year my daughter and husband encouraged me to seek help from a personal trainer and exercise. I did. Faithfully. For four months. Four times a week. One to two hours every day. I lost ten pounds of fat. Only of fat. The fat got converted to muscles. I felt good about myself and my health improved. But my clothes didn’t fit because overall, my weight and measurements remained the same. And my moral didn’t improve much. At the first crisis, I munched a lot, overate again and piled a few more pounds. Fat or muscles, who cared. The pounds stuck to my body determined to stay. I tried to ignore them.

Two days ago, I reached a record high on the scale. My heart sank as the damn arrow kept moving up and stabilized on a number I never reached even when nine-month- pregnant. Tears welled in my eyes. I had to do something. I remembered the phone number a friend gave me three months ago. I called the Quick Weight Loss Center. They told me to come right away.

The meeting was interesting but I was not convinced. Their diet excluded cheese, nuts, yogurt, mango, avocado,… all my favorite food. The manager took me to an office and asked me to sit across from her desk, in a chair positioned in front of a mirror. Every time I glanced up, I saw myself in the mirror and immediately asked more questions about the diet. Before I knew what I was doing I handed my credit card. Later I thought I should hire this manager to be my publicist. She sure knew how to convince a client to buy their services and product. That day I went home and indulged on all the food I love, the way people used to do on Fat Tuesday before starting Lent. But that diet looked much worse than Lent!!!

I started my diet yesterday. Phase one: I have to drink ten glasses of water a day, eat only protein and GREEN vegetables, raw or steamed. No salt or sugar. I was allowed 1/8 of a cantaloupe a day. It’s not a big piece, believe me. By 6 pm at the end of the first day I was dizzy, suffered an incredible headache and stomach cramps. I was hardly able to drive home and collapsed on my bed. I slept straight till the morning. Today was better. It seems that my body is adjusting to the lack of carbohydrates and the incredible volume of water I sip.

By next Wednesday, I will start phase two. They will give me herbs and vitamins to swallow. I can add some fruits and dark bread. I will receive as special treat packets of pudding and cappuccino. I hope they taste good but anyway after starving for a week, any remotely sweet food will be delicious.

They will monitor me for a year. Still I am not too optimistic considering my last year fiasco at the gym.

Am I crazy? To spend so much money to starve myself.

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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tennis Championships

How many of you regularly watch the tennis tournaments?

My husband doesn’t take his eyes off the TV for the two weeks of each of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US open. I glance from time to the TV screen to cheer a good point.

At the Wimbledon, we cheered Roger Federer, my all–time favorite tennis player. The papers describe him as the most elegant champion and a true gentleman. With his sixth Wimbledon win, he became tennis's greatest men's champion, watched by a legion of champions. He also set a record with his 15th Grand Slam title, overhauling the total of Pete Sampras who was in the Royal Box along with fellow legends Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.

Was Federer really unbeatable?

The US Open presented an incredible match that lasted more than four hours. Federer almost won but his opponent Argentinean Juan Martin Del Potro managed to come back and win the unbeatable Federer. The women’s final followed a similar path as Kim Clijsters defeated the famous Serena Williams.

Today I found myself establishing a parallel between tennis and writing.

I compared Federer and Serena Williams to the New York Bestselling authors, well-established, basking in fame for years and unbeatable.

And yet, there are a lot of Del Potro and Kim Clijsters in Romance Writing. New authors with charming voices and fabulous imagination. With perseverance and hard work, they CAN reach the unreachable goal, they can be the new champions, the new bestselling authors.

Remember that the biggest champions and the most famous authors were once beginners too.
Dream your dream
Set your goal
Work hard
Listen to your coach
Go for it
Develop a tough skin

You are almost there. One more hit is all it takes sometimes.

The Magic Knot by Helen Scott-Taylor, my critique partner, was voted among the ten best books of the year.

Through the Fire by Beth Trissel was a finalist in the Golden Heart.

Babies in the Bargain, by Mona Risk (yours truly) was voted Best Book of the Week by The Long and Short Reviews

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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ottawa: a neat capital

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

The second part of my trip to Canada included a twenty-four hour visit to Ottawa. We drove for a bout two hours from Montreal to the capital of Canada. The weather was gorgeous and a glorious sunshine brightened our trip. While my husband drove I munched on candied almonds, read the instructions and played navigator. I am proud to say we didn’t get lost in spite of my ususl poor sense of orientation.

The moment we stepped into our hotel room, the phone rang. It was one of my two high-school friends who live in Ottawa and was impatient to meet. They both joined us in the lobby. My husband smiled to his ears while watching our hugs and screams of joy. It was my fifth reunion with one of them and my third with the other since that far away graduation day.

We invited them to dinner in a restaurant of their choice on the canal. Later they gave us a tour of downtown Ottawa by night. We ambled through streets of cafes and restaurants in a lively city.

In the morning, my husband and I strolled in downtown and stopped at the Byward Market for a delicious breakfast at the very famous Moulin de Provence Bakery in Ottawa.

Look at the pictures and you will recognize President Obama who indulged his sweet tooth at this place. A video of the president ‘s visit played continuously and a special counter offered Obama cookies.

"I understand you've got some Canadian cookies … in the shape of a maple leaf," the president said during his surprise walkabout in the market last Thursday.
The baker, Claude Bonnet, obliged with maple-leaf-shaped sugar cookies with red and white icing.
"I figured, I'd get some points from my daughters," Obama said.

Since then the bakery is selling the Obama cookies all over United States and Europe.

One of my friends met us after breakfast and gave us a tour of the city.
We passed in front of the Parliament.

And visited the splendid Cathedral of Our Lady.

Notice the steel spider-shaped structure across from the cathedral.

We toured the Museum of Civilization. The front of the building looks like a face. Later we stopped by my other friend's house for lunch: salmon smoked in Ottawa.

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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quebec: a quaint old city

The pictures posted here are all from Quebec City. Would you like to take an armchair trip to Quebec with me? Relax and enjoy.

I just came back from a week vacation in Canada. We flew to Montreal, spent a night there at my cousin's, drove to Trois Rivières, a little French Canadian town, where we tasted delicious Napoleons--mille-feuilles in French-- and drank Cappuccino to warm up, before getting dressed to attend the wedding of my husband's best friend's son.

We ran to the cathedral, across the street from the hotel, under pouring rain. The reception was a lot of fun and we danced till two a.m.

The next day we drove for two hours to the former capital of Canada, the lovely old city of Quebec. For two days we walked through parcs, lingered in historical streets, negotiated steps and bought a few souvenirs.

Quebec is the only city in the American continent that still has a city wall or part of a wall remaining.

The statue of Champlain who discovered Canada dominates the main place of the old city, facing the St. Laurent river.

We had brunch in the rotating restorant of our hotel and enjoyed a magnificent view of the city and river.

The Cathedral reminded me of the Ghotic cathedrals of France and Germany with a lot of columns, elaborate paintings and golden statues.

Here is the most famous chateau of Quebec seen from close. It's decorated with bronze statues in alcoves framing the windows.

This gorgeous fountain was offered by France to the city of Quebec. It's located in front of the Chateau.

Notice the Indian sculpture called INUKSUK, which means Indian/Canadian. They used to build a human statue with a series of stones.

The inscription is written in English and Inuksuk writing.

We rode a fenicular to go down to the lower part of Quebec City near the St. Laurent banks.
After strolling for another hour, we climbed ten stories of steps to reach the top of a hill and walked to a cafe. My friend claimed it to be the most famous ice cream place in Canada. I was so out of breath I kept wondering if the ice cream was worth my effort. Believe me it was!!!

My friend eating the most scrumptious ice cream dipped in chocolate at the Cafe European, across the River.

Sunset on the River.

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.