April 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Mona Risk



Years ago, in a different life as director of analytical chemistry, I won a contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus. During my fifteen visits to Minsk, capital of Belarus, I worked with colonels and generals, was invited to their homes and became friend with their wives.

My new book, PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing, toast with vodka and make you forget the frigid weather of a Belarusian winter.

The first time Colonel Eugene invited me and two of my colleagues to his home, I was surprised by the lovely reception prepared for us. Col. Eugene lives with his wife and two daughters in a small two bed-room on the third floor of an apartment building. The entrance door is through a courtyard on a back street. The colonel led me to a narrow dark elevator where only two people could fit. My two companions climbed the stairs.

In front the apartment, I stared at the door. It consisted of double set of doors lined with thick leather, with an empty space between the double doors. Eugene unlocked the door with a sculpted bronze key and explained that such doors were excellent for sound proofing and privacy from KGB eavesdropping. Later one of my companions added. “These doors are a special privilege for high ranking personalities.” Too bad I don’t have a picture of such doors.

Natasha, Eugene’s wife, had prepared a lavish reception in her small living room that doubled into dining room. A hand-embroidered tablecloth covered a long table set with lovely china.

At night, the girls used the multi-purpose room as bedroom after removing the folding table and opening the sofa. Our host introduced his daughters, Katia, a student in medical school, and Daria, still in high school. Like their father, the girls spoke fluent English and served as interpreter for their mother.

I sat on the worn-out burgundy velvet sofa under the bay window. Eugene removed shot glasses from the cherry wood wall-to-wall unit and filled them with the traditional vodka and handed us the full glasses.

Natasha set several plates of home-cooked hors d’oeuvres on the table, orange caviar, sausage, raw ilk, (yes raw, a delicacy) and black bread. With a bright smile, Eugene raised his glass. “As you well know by now, in Belarus, we greet our friends with a toast. Nazhtrovia, moy drouk, my American friends.”

I cautiously sipped my drink until I got used to the fiery liquid. My cheeks burned and my eyes tickled but toasting was unofficially included in my job description.

Later the girls helped their mother with the dinner, stuffed cabbage, roasted chicken, potato pancake. Eugene poured more vodka. I made sure my glass remained almost full. After dinner, he brought his guitar and sang Russian songs to entertain us. Natasha and the girls joined him after bringing a delicious dessert, some bread pudding, and strong coffee that reminded me of Espresso or Turkish coffee. We stayed past midnight singing and drinking.

We regularly ate at Eugene’s place or at other officers' homes and always had a blast. By the way, most of the women were named Natasha.


An American Pediatrician

A Russian Surgeon

A man with four adorable sons who badly need a mother

Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?

“Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller. 

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.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.

Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.
Rx IN RUSSIAN just released by The Wild Rose Press

http://www.monarisk.com/

32 comments:

Maeve said...

What an interesting post and the people of Belarus sound lovely! Thanks for giving us a peek into Russia, Mona.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Maeve, I had the wrong impression of everything Russian when I first visited Minsk. I was so nicely surprised by the Russian hospitaliry I want to share it with everyone.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Mona,
You have led a very interesting life, my friend. That time in Russia sounds wonderful and like a time to be cherished. And how wonderful to have those experiences to be able to write from!
Cheryl

Debra St. John said...

What a fabulous experience. And how great you were able to use what you saw and experienced in your new book.

Congrats on the release!

Sandra Koehler said...

What a fascinating post! I was wondering why your books had a Russian theme. Now I know. That's so great to be able to put your personal experiences to such good use!

Alison Chambers

StephB said...

Mona,
Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful experience. I felt like I was right there with you.

I just finished reading your book and I LOVED it. But then I LOVE anything Russian. I really enjoyed Jillian and Fyodor's story.

Smiles
Steph

Mona Risk said...

Hi Cheryl, Minsk and Belarus were a fantastic experience for me. I can talk about my adventures there for days. The people received us in such a friendly way and treated us like VIPs.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Debra, I kept a journal with detailed daily notes about every day's work and after work activities. It proves quite valuable when I wrote my books years later.

Mona Risk said...

Sandra, my other big surprise was when Col Eugene found me on Facebook a year a, after I lost track of all my Belarusian contacts for ten years. I sent him my first book that was set in Belarus, TO LOVE A HERO. He said he loved it but I don't know if he recognized himself in the pysical description of the hero.LOL Now I am getting ready to send him, RX IN RUSSIAN

Mona Risk said...

Hi Steph, I am so glad you enjoyed Fyodor and Jillian's story. You made my day.

Mary Ricksen said...

I would love to visit Russia, it must be so exciting.
I am surprised with all the vodka, that there are not tons of alcoholics there!
Great blog Mona...

Mona Risk said...

Mary, they are all alcoholics! But you'd be amazed at how well they can cope with drinking. Being officers, some of them must have learned to drink and act as if they were sober. LOL

Barbara Monajem said...

How cool that you are back in contact with your Russian friends, Mona.

Barbara Edwards said...

What a wonderful description of what you experienced. Now I need to read the book!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Barbara, I try to keep contact with all my friends. Many of them are spread all over the world. So be sure, I will keep contact with you!
www.monarisk.com

Mona Risk said...

Yes! Barbara, you need to read the book, Rx IN RUSSIAN. I would love if you do it. And please, follow me on my blog if you are not already there. Thank you.

Beth Trissel said...

Very interesting Mona. I enjoyed your descriptions. Is that a pic of you? I love it.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Beth, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it's a picture of me, shivering in my coat and brand-new chapka. I still have it, and never wear it.

Nightingale said...

What an amazing transformation from chemist to author -- or maybe not. Rx is another winner!

lastnerve said...

Great post. I loved Babies in the Bargain and can't wait to read RX in Russian.

Val

Mona Risk said...

Thank you, Linda. So far two readers told me they read it and loved it. So I hope everyone loves it.

Mona Risk said...

Val dear, you made my day. So glad you loved Babies in the Bargain. In my humble opinion, Rx IN RUSSIAN is better written even.

Mona Risk said...

Sarah, I can't thank you enough for hosting me on your beautiful blog and allowing me to promote my book.

liana laverentz said...

What wonderful memories, Mona, and even better that you can keep them alive through your writing!

Toni V.S. said...

Loved TO LOVE A HERO and I expect this to be more of the same. Congrats, Mona!

Sarah Grimm said...

Mona-

What a wonderful experience you had! I think Russia would be an incredible place to visit.

BTW, very glad to have you as a guest. Sorry I wasn't around yesterday. I left the house at seven and didn't return until ten-thirty at night.

~Sarah

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Mona.

What a wonderful experience you had. I always like it when I can stay with with friends and family while traveling.

Sandra Sookoo said...

What an interesting life you've had and what a great premise for a book! Best wishes for sales!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Liana, that's exactly what I am doing when setting my stories in Belarus. I live again my wonderful adventures.

Mona Risk said...

Toni, I am so happy you read and enjoyed To Love A Hero.

Mona Risk said...

Keena, I didn't know anyone in Minsk and I was terrified to travel to Belarus. But after the first trip so many officers and chemists became great friends.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Sandra, thank you for your good wishes.