Michelle P. Tonnesen

Introducing author Michelle P. Tonnesen

A writer, reader, traveller and chocolate-lover, soon to have two novels under her belt – meet Michelle P. Tonnesen!

I am originally from Denmark, but grew up in a multicultural family and have lived in Brussels, the Middle East and London before moving to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea with my family in 2011. My experiences with living in different countries and cultures inspire a lot of my writing, sprinkled with a bit of an anthropological globetrotter’s perspective on life due to my degree in Intercultural Management and Communication.

Words and playing with them have always been a great interest of mine. I am a linguist at heart; I grew up in a bilingual family, speak four languages and read from an early age. I have written for many years, but it was primarily non-fiction, academic papers and corporate communication.

When we moved to the island it opened the door to the opportunity of being more serious about my creative writing. I was lucky to become a writer here for Gallery and Agenda magazines, alongside working on my novels and running my consulting business.

I write contemporary fiction about strong female protagonists and the challenges they encounter in today’s world. Both my books have the geographical settings as drivers for their story and could be categorized in the travel fiction genre as the reader is taken on adventures around the globe.

My debut novel, The Cosmopolitan Islander, is an enlightening story of female roles and identity in the 21st century, traversing the timeless themes of love, desire, family, friendship, power and ambition. It takes the reader from the Isle of Man and around the world, joining the thirty-something globetrotter Chloe on her quest for happiness.

I am very proud of the five-star reviews my first published work of fiction has received on both Amazon and Goodreads. It is so gratifying to hear that readers from Atlanta to Australia not only enjoy the fruit of your hard work, but also can relate to the characters and the story. This is why you write. Not just to get that story out which is burning inside you, but in the hope of making a positive impact on others. Winning a gold award was the cherry on top!

Women in particular can relate to the main character, Chloe, and her challenges of juggling a career with family and relationships, discrimination in the work place and having to work twice as hard for recognition – especially when you are younger. I have had a lot of local women who recognised their own struggles of relocating to the island and finding their feet in a foreign environment. I have also had several men tell me that the story really struck a chord with them in relation to their careers and life crises – people who have been running and running till they hit a wall in one way or another and consequently questioned the purpose of their work struggles and whether there is a better way to find that elusive work-life balance.

I am running a Goodreads Giveaway throughout July – please enter if you are interested in winning a signed copy of The Cosmopolitan Islander.

My second novel is targeted at adventurous globetrotters and readers just longing to escape, who would enjoy a unique coming-of-age love story in an exotic setting. It is set in the Middle East in the nineties and follows the journey of a privileged young woman, Olivia, from Scandinavia to a region rich in history, culture, conflict and passion. A whirlwind romance with an Israeli kibbutznik, Chaim, takes a dramatic turn, leaving her caught between countries, belonging nowhere, and with the love of her life in danger far away.

It is a thrilling journey of self-discovery and rebellion, during which the female protagonist encounters the dangers of travelling unaccompanied in a male-dominated society, explores magnificent historical sights and cultural experiences, as well as questions the concepts of hate, fate, war and peace – all set against the backdrop of music and key events of the nineties. It will be released later this year. I am currently building my book launch “street team”. Feel free to contact me on social media @mptonnesen if you are interested in an Advance Review Copy or would like to feature on the book blog tour. 

When I don’t write I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love good food, but unfortunately do not have as much time for culinary experiments as I would like. I try to be gastronomically creative or go out for dinners when I get the chance.  I do as much travelling as possible. I enjoy discovering new places and cultures – particularly in the sun! I also dabble in yoga and running to look after my body and mind in a hectic life.

One of my favourite travel quotes is by Saint Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” So venture out there and explore the world – through fiction and in reality!

 

Michelle P. Tonnesen

 

The Cosmopolitan Islander

 

What if life as you know it was turned upside down? Would you still be the same person?

When Chloe is forced to leave behind her cosmopolitan life in London to move to a small island in the Irish Sea, she is faced with a myriad of challenges.

How will she and her family adapt to island life? Will she find new friends? What about her career? Most importantly, will the love of Chloe and her husband survive their amorous adventures?

Join Chloe on her journey through her past and her present to make sense of her life, herself, her hopes, and dreams amid her personal upheaval.

The Cosmopolitan Islander is a thrilling novel about female roles and identity in the 21st century – and about how the journey of life can change your destination in the most unexpected way. It takes the reader from the Isle of Man and around the world, traversing the timeless themes of love, desire, family, friendship, power, and ambition.

The Cosmopolitan Islander is a must read for the modern woman – and man; for expats and others in cultural encounters, for islanders and globetrotters, and for anyone in-between.

 

Michelle P. Tonnesen

 

Reviews:

“A richly evocative examination of life, love, loss!” Goodreads Review

“An entertaining and enlightening ride” Goodreads Review

“Absolutely riveting” Goodreads Review

“Intelligent, funny and well-written” Amazon Review

“Sexy and complex plot lines that make you think, feel, dream and believe… Awesome!” Goodreads Review

 

Find The Cosmopolitan Islander on Amazon UK

Find The Cosmopolitan Islander on Amazon US

Follow Michelle on Goodreads

Follow The Cosmopolitan Ialsnder on Facebook

Follow Michelle on Facebook 

Watch the YouTube Book Trailer Video

******

I hope you have found a new book to read, and a new author to follow. Can’t wait for the second book to come out! I’ll definitely let you know when that happens.

Melissa

 

 

About Melissa:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Kauai Adventure Photo

Jennifer S Alderson

Introducing author Jennifer S. Alderson

Aloha readers!

Today I’m especially happy to introduce author Jennifer S Alderson – a fellow traveler, writer, and all-around neat-o woman. We connected several months ago, and besides writing interesting books that combine fiction with the specific geographical settings of her travels, she has taught me a lot about supporting other indie authors. Her latest venture, aside from her newest book coming out, is Travel by Book, a Facebook page Jennifer administers to recognize the work of travel writers; whether you’re a reader or a writer, if you enjoy writing with a sense of place – fiction or memoir – join this page and find great new books to read.

Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands.

Jennifer’s travels and experiences color and inform her internationally-oriented fiction. Her first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery, is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, her second book, is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam.

Both are part of an on-going stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Smuggler’s Deceit) will be released in the fall of 2017.

Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand, is a must-read for those interested in learning more about, or wishing to travel to Nepal and Thailand.

Notes of a Naive Traveler

 

About Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand:

“The ride back to Kathmandu was comfortable and relaxing. There were more overturned trucks (the gas-powered ones seem to tip the most, I’m surprised there weren’t more explosions), goats being herded across the highway by ancient women, children playing games in traffic, private cars and buses alike pulling over in the most inconvenient places for a picnic or public bath, and best of all the suicidal overtaking maneuvers (or what we would call ‘passing’) by our bus and others while going downhill at incredible speeds or around hairpin turns uphill with absolutely no power left to actually get around the other vehicle.”

I was twenty-six years old, had a well-paid job, fantastic apartment and large circle of friends. I had everything, except I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing out on the experience of living.

Part cultural and travel guide, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a first-hand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family. 

Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of Eastern Nepal, take a wild river rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea kayak the surreal waters of Krabi and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.

Notes of a Naive Traveler is a must-read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to travel to – Nepal and Thailand. I hope it inspires you to see these amazing countries for yourself.

Thailand

 

Reviews for Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand:

For anyone who has never traveled to a country whose culture is different from your own, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s an incredible experience, as this journey through Nepal and Thailand portrays. The author’s story is whimsical and at times flirting with danger. For those who have traveled, it’s the trip home that actually is more of a culture-shock, than the places visited. Travelers expect and anticipate differences, but once experienced, we look at our own culture with entirely new eyes. This book gives you that look at Nepal and Thailand, and I recommend it for anyone thinking about taking a trip … anywhere.” 5 stars – Amazon review (Author Rebecca Carter)

“In this phase of my life when time is scarce travel becomes the casualty, but thanks to the eloquent and detailed ticket that authors like Jennifer Alderson buy on our behalf, along we can go for the ride into the most exciting, uncomfortable, frustrating and exhilarating backwaters of our planet — without the need to risk our digestive system on the questionable water and dubious plumbing.

I had the advantage of having traveled to Thailand some years ago, so that with more than half the book in the Himalayas and the balance in my familiarity, I was able to identify strongly with that part-2 of the travelogue and so set a gauge for me to sense how accurately she captures the spirit of a place.
I am happy to say that my experience aligns precisely with how she characterized Thailand; I have confidence then that I can fully trust her opinions from the Himalaya.

“Notes…” is a wonderfully engaging companion that took me to the Himalaya a place I’d love to someday see but am unlikely to ever reach. It did more than send me down the well worn path of Jane or Joe tourist, instead, it gave me an in depth view into the lives or ordinary folk I’d pass on the street of a backwater but likely learn nothing about.
To Jennifer then I say “thank you!” This is a rare gift indeed. Keep traveling for me and us.” 5 stars – Amazon review (Author Michael Smorenburg)

Read more 5-star reviews!

 

Thailand hat tham phra nang

 

Find Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand on Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Amazon UK.

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. Learn more about Jennifer on her blog or JenniferSAlderson.com.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s author introduction, and are intrigued enough to buy one (or all!) of Jennifer’s books. From my own reading experience, her writing is colorful with cultural descriptions, fast-paced, exciting, and worth your time.

 

Have a great week!

M

 

About Melissa:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Introducing author Dora Ilieva

Aloha readers!

I’m so pleased to introduce another author you may not have read! Please take a moment to read about her work.

 

Dora Ilieva is my pen name. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria which is why this part of the world plays an important role in my books. However, Toronto is the place my family and I call home now. Cicero once said: “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything.” I have both and I also have my family and my job, so I consider myself very lucky. Writing for me began almost as a joke, a dare to myself, but it has become an essential part of my life. I’ve written two novels (both are historical thrillers) and a collection of short stories. All three are available on Amazon. My third novel is almost finished (I still have to think of a title, though). It should appear on Amazon before the end of the year.”

My two thrillers The Devil’s Gorge, published in 2014, and The Master, published in 2016, feature some of the same characters and can be read as a series or as stand-alones.

The Master: Three years after her father’s tragic death, Kossara, a young Bulgarian scholar who lives in Toronto and works at a coffee shop, receives a mysterious phone call and a lucrative job offer involving the search for a long-lost book. Desperate to relaunch her academic career, she silences the voice of caution and accepts the proposal which requires that she return to her native Bulgaria. There she discovers that what seemed like an innocent research opportunity is a race against death and destruction.  Aided by her friends, she struggles to locate the valuable document only to realize that it must remain hidden forever.

“I loved this book. It caught me completely off-guard with simply how high quality the story was. Kossara is living a dull life and doesn’t really know what do with herself, but then suddenly everything is turned on its head when she decides to try something new. I love stories about characters who start out ordinary and become extraordinary, and this book was certainly no exception.” – Amazon Review

Read more reviews of The Master.

Follow Dora on Facebook and Goodreads.

 

I hope you’ve found some new books to read today!

Melissa

 

 

Find Melissa’s books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

An Enlightening Quiche

Introducing author Eva Pasco

Aloha!

I’m happy to share my new friend Eva Pasco‘s work with you. I hope you enjoy finding new authors and books as much as I do.

Eva Pasco is the author of acclaimed Contemporary Fiction novel, An Enlightening Quiche, which has merited a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Seal, ranks 1st out of 78 books set in Rhode Island (Goodreads Listopia), and is a 2017 ATAI Fiction Finalist.

Eva became a proficient typist at the age of nine, courtesy of her mother.  Thrills from the spill of words on a blank page occurred during adolescence, sparked by a malfunction in the electrical wiring which caused a doorbell to ring automatically. The bizarre incident prompted a budding author to compose, on her girlie pink Tom Thumb typewriter, “The Mystery of the Midnight Doorbell”—a short story involving secret codes and a smuggling ring!

Having composed several short stories and a Romance novella, the rigors of college and a teaching career shelved further creative writing ambitions until retirement.  Then, midlife restlessness reactivated Eva’s dormant flair for writing. As a result of that revival, she has published two books—her most recent, An Enlightening Quiche.

Eva credits Anne Lamott for the heartbeat of her writing which incorporates secrets, quirkiness, and spiritual transformations.  Eva’s novels are character-driven by flawed female protagonists who grapple with, confront, and overcome their personal dilemmas by empowering themselves to make profound life changes for the better. Written primarily for women over forty, her plots and themes are infused with realism befitting this age bracket.

A native Rhode Islander, Eva interweaves elements of historic landmarks, geographic entities, and regional culture as they pertain to the novel.  Besides pounding the keys writing memoirs or blogs in-between novels—Eva enjoys reading, solving challenging crossword puzzles, and walking along the shore.

Eva Pasco, author

An Excerpt from An Enlightening Quiche  where an heirloom quiche recipe and baking rivalry turn up the heat in northern Rhode Island’s French-Canadian mill town of Beauchemins during the aftermath of a tragedy precipitated by reckless behavior:

Augusta: I sprawled provocatively on the sofa and leaned back against overstuffed fringed pillows, a temptress in waiting. For a factory Gal Friday, my surroundings were none too shabby thanks to the largesse of a lothario. Replicated Baroque grandeur prevailed: hand-carved mahogany, gilded trinkets, ball-and-claw foot, winged griffins, and velvet opulence in shades of burgundy trickled from the parlor to the boudoir like spilled wine.

Yet, I was partial only to the elongated, leather keepsake box I’d scored at Lorraine’s yard sale last October, a false lull of normalcy before an Iraqi bullet struck her son dead two months later. Its bed lining simulated a much more suitable coffin to lay my mother’s effects to rest than Tante’s nondescript shoebox.

No doubt about it, the somberness of Louis XIV’s Versailles Revival suited my dark side, heretofore devoid of taking the high road along beau chemins.

The doorknob turned, prefacing his stride across the room. Boyish good looks and mannerisms belied the dysfunctional poseur hiding beneath a charming exterior. The tinge of his breath suggested he may have had a belt or two to blunt the edge of an illicit rendezvous precipitated and sustained by desperation. I sat up, ready for him to kneel at my feet and bury his face in my lap while he shed tears coursing from feelings of inadequacy. And, as of late, consumed with anxiety and gripped in its paralysis. I stroked his waves, knowing full well the gesture groomed a merge between two people fraught with human frailties.

 

Consumer Reviews:

“I really loved the characters. Flawed and believable, the characters were wonderful. The women were strong, independent, and, at times, snarky. The friendships and relationships in An Enlightening Quiche were both beautiful and refreshingly realistic.” (Amazon Customer)

“Wickedly sharp, bitingly sarcastic, Eva Pasco creates an unforgettable novel about life in a small town.” (Amazon Customer)

“Eva Pasco’s writing is descriptive and quirky, reflecting the French-Canadian idiom of the fictional town of Beauchemins, Rhode Island. The reader is drawn into the story through the parallel narrations of the lead characters, making them them feel as though they are a one of the townsfolk and leading them to decide for themselves who is honest or justified in their actions as the story progresses.” (Amazon Customer)

See more reviews:

Midwest Book Review

Readers’ Favorite

Authors Talk About It

AN ENLIGHTENING QUICHE is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

*Get Discounted Autographed copies @Authors Den Signed Bookstore

You can follow Eva on Goodreads, Facebook, and Author’s Den.

 

Enjoy!

Melissa

 

 

Find Melissa’s books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Sylvie Writes a Romance is on Smashwords – get your 50% off coupon!

Aloha readers!

If you’re unfamiliar with Smashwords, it is a wonderful online book store for both readers and writers. Thousands of books are available in every electronic format available – iPad, iPhone, iPod, Nook, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kobo, or even simple PDF downloads for reading on your computer.

As an author, Smashwords is an uncomplicated site to sell your books – download a Word document formatted properly, and voila, your book is now for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and many more retailers, plus added to library catalogs. The only catch is getting the format down correctly; but if you’re not computer savvy they even provide a list of people who will format your book for a reasonable price.

To celebrate my new foray into “the world beyond Amazon,” I am offering a 50% off coupon for purchase of Sylvie at the Smashwords site. You are free to email this coupon to anyone you think might enjoy Sylvie Writes a Romance! Spread the Love!

Coupon Code VT59Y – expires on 6/12/17 – use it for a Sylvie ebook.

Enjoy!

Melissa

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Introducing author Lynn Donovan

Aloha readers!

Today’s post is by special guest Lynn Donovan. Although I called it “Introducing Lynn Donovan,” she has written several books (way more than me!) and has many more on the way…

 

Lynn Donovan spends her days chasing after her muses, trying to get them to settle down and behave long enough to write down their words and actions. The results are numerous novels, anthologies, and short stories.

Lynn enjoys reading and writing all kinds of fiction, paranormal, speculative, contemporary romance, and time travel. But you never know what her muses will come up with for a story, so you could see a novel under any given genre. All that can be said is keep your eyes open, cause these muses are not sitting still for long!

Oops, there they go again…

You can learn more about Lynn on her blog, follow her on Twitter @MLynnDonovan, her Face Book Author page at LynnDonovanFGG and her website http://lynndonovanauthor.com.

 

Lynn’s new series is called the Java Cupid Romance Series. She has written 3 books already, with the first, Java Break, set to release on May 17, 2017; you can preorder it on Amazon.

Here’s the series synopsis:

At the Java Cupid Coffee Shop love is on the menu and the cup. Customers come to get great coffee and some find a mysterious heat-sensitive message written on their cup. These messages lead them to their True Love and their Happy Ever After. No one knows who the Java Cupid is, but when his arrows fly two things are certain: The Java Cupid always hits the target and Java Cupid is never wrong.
Sounds great, right?? I need to visit that coffee shop!
Book 1 synopsis:

 

Wendy Ashton and Dillon Cayne were both inspired by broken bones of their own. She to become an orthopedic nurse, he an engineer, designing more efficient and effective equipment for those recovering from orthopedic incidents. Their two paths so closely aligned, yet never intersecting.

Until a mysterious message appears in heat sensitive ink on Wendy’s coffee cup. A message of love that makes her take notice of the handsome barista who must have written it. Brought together by the message, their lives begin to merge. Could this be true love?

Together they learn that his dad is dating her mom and Dillon worries about the stigma of dating his possible step-sister. Add a crazy ex-girlfriend who won’t take no for an answer and a misunderstood phone call, the trust issues become almost too much to bear.

What will it take to bring these two together? Can the Java Cupid show them their Happy Ever After? Or was it all a mistake? Will broken bones turn into broken hearts? Answers can only be found with a Java Break.

 

Other Publications by Lynn Donovan:

The Wishing Well Curse (Spirit of Destiny, Book 1)

Thorns of Betrayal (Spirit of Destiny, Book 2)

Secret Voices (Spirit of Destiny, Book 3)

Rocking Horse Shadows

Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds

Merry’s Christmas Eve

Fertility Pirates (The Abraham Project, Book 1)

Cloned Chaos (The Abraham Project, Book 2)

Java Cupid Series

Phantom Horse Series (Coming September 2017)

For more information about Lynn and her books, please visit her author page!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest blog, and perhaps found a new book to read! I look forward to sharing more of my new author friends with you in future posts.

Melissa

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

 

Melissa Burovac

From travel to romcom and beyond – an evolution of my writing

In 2012, I embarked on a solo RTW trip that lasted nine months. I had never traveled solo before, and have a healthy dose of social anxiety plus a great fear of getting lost with my poor sense of direction, so this was an enormous undertaking for me. I had help getting prepared from traveler friends, creating lists of places to visit and gear I might need along the way. I put my furniture in storage, not knowing what to expect for how long I would be gone, sold my beloved Jeep Cherokee, and bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. I got a ride to the airport in Lihue, Kauai, carrying only a backpack containing clothes, a point and shoot camera, a 13” Mac laptop, and a water filter. A couple months after my 40th birthday, I was as ready as I would ever be.

During my travels I visited nine countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Cuba, Australia, Cambodia, and Thailand. I encountered natural disasters in most of the countries — two hurricanes, a volcano eruption, an earthquake and a wildfire. As I blogged, my friends joked they knew where I was by where the natural disasters were occurring. “Something exploded? Let’s see where Melissa is!”

Blogging as I traveled was mainly to let my mother know I was still alive. I had childhood dreams of being a writer, but those got lost in the flurry of making a living after college and were completely forgotten. When I returned to Kauai after my trip I didn’t expect such a reaction to my blog; people were amazed I traveled for nine months, mostly solo, and that I didn’t die in the drug wars of Mexico, or some other place they only knew from news reports. Or even that as a woman, I was able to make my way through the world without trouble — some trouble, but not much. The women who followed me online were especially impressed and wanted to know how I did it all by myself. As I heard, more and more, “You should write a book,” I recalled those forgotten dreams of becoming an author and decided to give it a try.

Wandering was born from my blog posts, mostly written in bars and cafes around the world— a little bit drunk, a little bit lost, and toward the end, a whole lot homesick from being alone. This first book of mine was self-published in June 2014.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, though. I was working full-time as a bookkeeper, writing full-time after work — mostly from the back of my truck at the beach with a $200 laptop — and I was exhausted. I lost touch with most of my friends, and was a little depressed with the sudden lack of freedom.

Finally, though, Wandering was finished, published, and it was the most exciting thing in my life to see a book I had written in print. I immediately had dreams of writing more books, but didn’t see enough income to allow me to quit my regular job. I sent copies to every major outlet and publisher I could find online but no one picked up the book. While visiting my sister in Portland I took copies to Powell’s and sold them as used just so I could go back a week later and see my book on the shelf at a bookstore.

So what comes next? I wanted to be a full-time writer but it wasn’t working out exactly as it had in my daydreams. I didn’t have another book planned, and couldn’t begin to imagine what to do with myself.

One afternoon I was flipping through articles about writing on the internet and came across one about romance writers. The three women depicted in the article were raking in huge monthly incomes from churning out romance e-books, and I thought to myself, How hard could it be to write a romance novel?

I was sitting at a bar in Portland, drinking Bloody Marys and turning my imagination to writing a quick, sexy romance novel to generate some income — and I failed miserably. This is actually the only non-fiction scene in my second book Sylvie Writes a Romance.

I love to read classic fiction, sci-fi, horror, biographies — really, anything but romance novels. In my snobby view of the writing world I didn’t consider romance novels as literature, but just a means to pass the time, and not even as “real writing.” I was completely confused when I couldn’t write anything in that genre that was remotely good. It opened my eyes to how much work any type of writing entails.

I came back home to Kauai and bought a couple used romance novels at a thrift store, and sat down to read them. The books weren’t grammatically complicated, and didn’t contain any lofty ideas, and I sat down to write again, never actually finishing either of them. I just wanted to write something for a mass market so I could concentrate on writing something more profound.

I failed again and again, never writing anything I was happy with. But these failures evolved into a new project about a writer trying to write a romance novel and failing, turning to online dating to meet men and hoping to learn the meaning of romance. It’s more comedy than romance, which suits my style much better.

Sylvie Writes a Romance was born, and published in 2016.

Since Sylvie was written, I have been working on a sequel, plus trying my hand at writing a biography. I hope to have both published this year, and still have my sights set on a full-time career in writing.

 

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

 

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Last Reflections – NYC Midnight round 2 submission

Last Reflections:

 

The glimpses of my past race slowly through my mind as the pills make me drowsy.

My mother’s voice sounds, condescending and condemning as always. You did this to yourself. I raised you as best I could, and you threw it all away because you couldn’t keep your legs together. Look what you have to show for your life — nothing but misery.

I inch toward the edge of the table, a centimeter at a time. It’s already hard to breathe. This is best for everyone.

I hear my estranged father next, even though he hasn’t spoken to me in close to 11 years. Just like your mother, you are. Have to drive the men right out of your life with your irresponsibility and unpleasantness. How many fathers do your kids have? I’m ashamed you’re my daughter.

Another inch, and my youngest daughter’s words from last week replay themselves. I’m pregnant, and I’m moving in with Jason and his family. We don’t want you in our baby’s life; don’t try to contact me.

My baby, I think, and a tear slips down my cheek. The youngest of my 10 children. I tried so hard for my kids, to have at least one of them turn out differently than me. I can’t teach what I don’t know, and they all followed in my footsteps. I’ve created and ruined 10 lives.

I reach for the flask in my pocket, this will be my last drink ever. I can’t help but smirk at that thought since I’ve thought that same sentence thousands of times in the past 30 years. This will truly be the last one.

The rope is tight, making it hard to swallow, but I force the vodka down my throat. It burns pleasantly; my old, familiar friend. My only friend now.

I close my eyes, hoping to just fade away, and my eldest son speaks to me from our last visit. My first-born child, the one who entered my life when everything was a game, so much fun. They’re treating me okay, I guess I can’t complain. I started a GED class and I’ve been going to AA meetings. Not like I’ll ever have any use for a GED but it helps me kill the time in here.

Another tear slides out and I empty the flask in my mouth, drop it to the floor with a startling crash of metal on cement that echoes through the nearly empty garage. I wait patiently for each of my children’s voices but so much time has passed since I’ve spoken to most of them that nothing is left. Ten children, and so many grandchildren I’ve never met, yet so alone. No pictures with Santa Claus, no family reunions with toddlers chasing soccer balls, no swimming lessons, no idyllic life for my family. I tried my best.

I hear my mother nagging for hopefully the last time as I wobble on the table top. A bad investment, that’s what your life is. Random men, booze, drugs — what good did any of that do for you? You should have invested in yourself, been a better person for your kids. Her last words to me, so many months ago.

The mix of pills and alcohol are finally making my vision dim. I hope the rope holds, I think, as blackness takes me and my legs buckle.

 

(PS  – my assignment was drama, mother of 10 children, a bad investment – just in case you were wondering…)

 

 

 

Just what you wanted today – my long-awaited second story for the NYC Midnight short story challenge. Cross fingers I get to the finals! A big THANK YOU you to my test readers for your input.

PS again – It’s my birthday, and the greatest present ever would be an Amazon review for one of my books, or recommend one to a friend. Links are below!

 

 

 

Check out my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Recent articles:

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Croc at Ambergris Caye

An almost-a-Darwin-Award crocodile adventure

Recently I published an excerpt from my book about a crocodile adventure in Belize.  You can find it here: crocodile blog post: One of my favorites.

Upon rereading the post, I remembered that I still had the video from the encounter.  I was upset at the time because my hands were shaking so badly that the video is nearly unwatchable.  But now I think it’s funny.  I can’t remember ever being so scared in my life and you can tell when you watch the video.  I was slowly backing away from the crocodile and thought that I should have something recorded to show John’s wife if he didn’t make it back… And a possible Darwin Award entry.

Thankfully, John was fine.  He is so fearless that the crocodile was probably scared of him.

The video showing just how chicken I really am:

Almost-a-Darwin-Award croc adventure on Ambergris Caye

 

Find the book on Amazon.

 

Croc at Ambergris Caye

Croc at Ambergris Caye

 

 

 

My first driving experience in Cuba

This excerpt is from my first driving experience in Cuba.  Driving there turned out to be a very stressful task without directions…

 

After talking with the German couple about how easy it was to drive around Cuba we decided on renting a car. We went to several rental agencies called Cubicar, all the same but with different pricing. We found the best price at a large hotel in Old Havana. It was pretty straightforward, but Gina argued about everything; I thought the salesman was going to kick us out. But she had spent the day angry about lunch, our host family, basically everything. She wasn’t afraid to tell people she was upset, which I liked about her.

We finally got our car, a generic blue four-seater, but we had no road map. That was another argument Gina had with the rental guy, which lasted for quite some time, but didn’t help us at all. Eventually, one of the men drew us a map to the autopista and we went home to collect our things and get on the road.

It was about 4 p.m. at this point, and we had to say goodbye to the people in our building, which took close to forever. One woman, Clara, with whom we made arrangements to spend our last night before flying home, wanted to introduce us to everyone who was currently staying in her apartment, and after too much small talk and very little understanding, it was 5:30 before we could leave. Our first destination was Viñales, about four hours away. We had no map and the sun was setting in two hours. I’m not certain why we thought it was a good idea to leave at that point.

But leave we did, with total fanfare from the apartment building. We agreed that I would drive and Gina would navigate. Almost from the start it was “slow down,” “watch the bikes,” “careful;” she was a classic backseat driver. I was surprised at how well I was driving given that it had been so long, and I finally had to tell her to relax, and just tell me where to go. Driving through Havana was a little crazy, but not nearly as bad as Mexico City or anywhere else where everyone owned a car. The first thing I noticed was that there were no street signs anywhere – no direction, no arrows, nothing. We followed the man’s hand-drawn map and everything seemed to be going well. Some roundabouts, a tunnel – we drove and drove and I was quite happy.

We entered a small town with no cars – everyone rode bikes or horses – and that was when I started to wonder where we were. The sun was setting and I thought, “Ok, we’re going south, I think that’s good.” But it turned out that Viñales wasn’t south. Then the road turned into a dirt track. “I don’t think this is the autopista,” I said. We drove through a muddy pothole the size of our car. Gina said we needed to follow this road for 24 more kilometers, or until the dead end that was just ahead of us.

It turned out that we weren’t on the autopista at any time. Gina knew this, she told me later, but didn’t tell me an hour earlier when it would have been easy to go back. I just figured that we were in an underdeveloped country and maybe their main highway becomes a dirt road in places. I’d spent months driving on dirt roads.

I turned around and we went back to the small town, and everyone was waving and making signs that we couldn’t understand. I wanted to stop, but Gina believed every person wanted to rob us and refused to let me talk to anyone. Our host family in Havana convinced her that this was true, and that we shouldn’t talk to anyone or pick up hitchhikers either. But I didn’t want to die in the middle of nowhere in Cuba, so I stopped and rolled my window down for the next man yelling at our car. I couldn’t understand a word he said. I pulled up to a gigantic black man who scared Gina more than the first guy, and he told me I was driving the wrong way on a one-way road. That explained the yelling. I wish I understood enough to ask why a town with no cars had one-way streets; that will forever be one of life’s mysteries to me. He used hand signals to direct us back to the main road.

As we searched for the elusive autopista, a gorgeous sunset painted the sky. Unfortunately, that meant darkness soon. We decided to go back to Havana, spend the night, and try again early in the morning. But at night with no signs, we got completely lost. “Have we been past this before?” “Which direction did we come from in the roundabout?” “Where the fuck is the tunnel?!”

After a couple more turnarounds, we found familiar ground – we found the tunnel, we found the glorious ocean on the left-hand side. Gina was almost in tears; I was trying to pretend everything was great, but all the while I was thinking about where a good place to spend the night in a car might be found when we were so lost we couldn’t find Cuba’s biggest city. I had decided that if worse came to worst, I could pull into someone’s driveway and pay them $10 to sleep in the car, but at no point did I find a single place that would be appropriate. I would have settled for slightly sketchy, but we couldn’t even find that.

I truly enjoyed my first driving adventure in Cuba, stressful though it was. Never once during my trip did I imagine I’d be driving across Cuba, so it was definitely a mark in the positive adventure column. We got lost, but I didn’t freak out even though there were no lights anywhere and I had to dodge bikes, walkers, and swerving oncoming traffic. I thought Gina might have a panic attack, so repeating “todo esta bien” over and over helped us both.

Havana

Havana

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

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Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

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Crocodile hunting in Belize

This is an excerpt from the new book, one of my favorite adventures on the trip.  It took place in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

 

On my final day, John and I went on a last crocodile expedition, this time to the south side of the island. We heard there was a place to see them just off the side of the road, so we jogged to the water tower. I was dying; that was the farthest I’d run in weeks, and in the blazing sun as well. We took the side roads by the lagoon, and knew we were in the right place when we saw the “do not feed the crocodiles” sign and saw a croc briefly before he went under. Feeding the crocs carried a $1000 fine or six months of jail time, according to the sign.

We didn’t spot any others, so we kept walking until we found a store to get some drinks. I asked where the best place to see them was, and apparently it was right where we were. The store had frozen chicken legs, so we bought a couple pounds and headed back. It was so hot I carried the ice-cold bag of drumsticks on the back of my neck; it was worth the purchase even if we didn’t get to feed the crocs. Police presence on the island was pretty minimal, so we weren’t too worried.

Our plan was to thaw the chicken in the water near the edge so we could break it up, tie the individual legs on long pieces of vine that were growing nearby, and go “fishing” for crocs. We made sure to get off the main road so we wouldn’t be spotted. As we were waiting for the chicken to thaw, a monster crocodile swam up and sat there, staring at us. He was inches from the floating chicken but didn’t seem to know exactly where it was since it was in a patch of sea grass. John picked up a short stick and pushed the chicken legs toward the big crocodile and instantly it lunged and swallowed the legs whole. Probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life was how fast this thing moved and how many teeth it had. I was a little nervous when it swam up, but after see- ing him move I was terrified.

I really hadn’t considered what would happen if we saw one since we had such bad luck on our first attempt, nor had I considered how frightening they might be. The chicken wrappers and John’s water bottle were sitting on the ground where we left them a few feet from the water, and the croc could smell it. Slowly, he climbed out of the water to investigate the possibility of more chicken, and that was when I got to see his claws. It was a thousand times more terrifying than when he was just sitting in the water. His eyes were tracking every move we made; as we walked around, he shifted his body to keep us in sight. No wonder the authorities didn’t want us to feed them.

The crocodile moved to check out the chicken wrapper but picked up John’s water bottle instead, mashing it several times in his jaws before spitting it out. My level of terror spiked. Terror for me, anyway. I wasn’t sure John was bothered at all. He’d done a lot of crazy things in his life; he was an adrenaline junkie who looked like a school teacher. I’m still not sure exactly how he convinced me crocodile hunting was a good idea, but traveling solo meant mak- ing friends where I could. All I could think about at that time was that moments before, I was holding a partially defrosted chicken and trying to tear the pieces apart, and how much I smelled like the croc’s last snack. I slowly began backing away.

I recovered enough of my wits to turn on my video camera, thinking that if the croc charged John, I’d have some great foot- age for his Darwin Award. The footage is funny only because it’s completely unwatchable from my hands shaking so badly. The croc finally swam off, and as we were walking home I asked John what he would have thought if a crocodile that size had approached us in the kayak the other day. He shrugged, not at all disturbed. I’m glad I didn’t think this idea through very well, or I would have missed a great experience.

 

 

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

 

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Still waiting…

I still have another two weeks to wait for the first proof of my book.  Time crawls by when I’m waiting for something important…

 

To fill the time, besides surfing, paddling, running, and generally enjoying my summer, I added some new pics to the website; mostly to the Australia and Tasmania section.  More will come soon.  I have hundreds more.

Check em out:

http://wanderwithmelissa.com/?page_id=166

 

Tasman Peninsula

Tasman Peninsula