Traveling through the Coronavirus


Image from Pixabay

Notice I wrote traveling through, not traveling with. Although I wouldn’t know if I have COVID-19, the Coronavirus. I haven’t been tested, I’m not showing symptoms, but yes, I could be infected. After all, I was in the midst of thousands of others this past week, at Boston’s Logan airport, Reykjavík’s Keflavik airport, Zürich’s airport, the train from Zürich to Fribourg. Then the markets and coffee shops and restaurants and stores in Fribourg. And, sadly, just a few days later, the packed train from Fribourg to Zürich, a flight from Zürich to Dublin, four hours in the jam-packed Dublin airport, six hours on the full airplane to Boston.

My little vacation and book research trip was cut short after president Trump declared Wednesday evening that, effective Friday, all travel from European countries to the US, was banned for 30 days. That’s what he said, what he supposedly read off a Teleprompter. (Yes, I know that Homeland Security later clarified it, but he’d already stated the mistruth.) I watched the speech, at around 2:00 in the morning in my hotel room, with a sense of dread. I was scheduled to be in Fribourg until Monday, 16 March. Under his directive, I would be stuck in Switzerland for another month. Now, you know I love Switzerland! But I couldn’t stay for a month. So, at 2:00 am Thursday morning, I began packing. I thought, just in case. I sent an email to my husband, letting him know I was awake and aware of the situation.

A half hour later, he called me. After a few choice words for Trump, he implored me to come home. “Do whatever it takes,” he said. “Don’t worry about the money. Just come home.”

By 3:30, I was dressed and packed. I sent messages to my friend Barbara, with whom I’d spent a lovely day on Tuesday, and to my friend Fabiola, with whom I was supposed to spend Saturday. I had friends sending messages to me. ‘Did you hear?’ ‘What are you going to do?’ ‘I’m worried about you.’

Fribourg train station
Thursday, 12 March 2020 5:45 am

I checked out of the hotel. Four nights unused, and although the guy at the desk said he’d look into it, I don’t expect a refund. I walked through dark and quiet streets to the train station (that brought back memories of my student days!), purchased a ticket from a smart machine, and rolled my bag up a ramp to track 3. The 6:04 train left on time – of course – and filled up at Bern, its next stop. Every time I heard someone cough near me, I pulled my scarf up over my nose.

I arrived at the airport by 8:00 and traveled up escalators to the departures area. When I inquired about where to find the Icelandair check-in desk, I learned that Icelandair doesn’t have a desk in the airport. (Note to self regarding discount airfares: sometimes you get what you pay for)

I was sent to FinnAir. I tried calling Icelandair and was told I was number 76 in the queue. After twenty minutes, I was number 72. I asked the woman at FinnAir if Swiss was flying to Boston that day. She directed me to another counter, where a very nice man looked up flights available Thursday to Boston. It was 8:30 in the morning. I was operating on zero sleep, one cup of coffee. I had last eaten at 4:00 Wednesday afternoon. He told me my best option was on Aer Lingus, Zürich to Dublin, Dublin to Boston. $1,397.00

I handed over my Visa card. The crowds at the airport, my understanding of exponential growth, and my intense desire to be home propelled me to the Aer Lingus check-in counter and down to the waiting area.

Both flights were full. Two women who had arrived in Prague on Tuesday and were flying back to Seattle, a nine-hour flight. “We had one day, yesterday,” one of them said. Four male college students on spring break, heading home early because their parents were “freaking out,” one said. When I defended the parents’ concern, they grinned and acknowledged it was the right thing to do. Most of the passengers, it seemed, were there because of the speech. Even the officials at passport control understood.

Only one time I was asked if I’d been to China or Iran. No one cared that I’d been in Switzerland, where there are nearly 650 cases and 4 deaths. That was on Wednesday. One day earlier there were only 500 cases.

I am home. My husband was at Logan last night to pick me up. I’d been awake for nearly 48 hours straight. I’m going to self-quarantine while I monitor myself. I hope others do, but many won’t.

Photo M. Reynolds

As for Fribourg, it’s been in my memory for over 40 years. It’ll stay there, even if some of those memories aren’t quite as sharp as they once were. And the book? It’s still going to be written. A self-imposed quarantine gives me plenty of time to write.

Spotlight on my Happy Ever After series!


I managed to sneak in a blog post before the end of a January. Sorry for not being more consistent, but January finds me deep into drafting my new novel. And I write it out in longhand (with my favorite pen) in a spiral-bound notebook my dear friend Lynne gave to me. I’ve written twenty-four chapters so far – yay, me!

Meanwhile, the three books I wrote as my “Happy Ever After” trilogy are being featured on various book blogs over the coming weeks. This is a way to let readers who may not know me learn about my books, and there’s a giveaway of the trilogy as well. You can follow THIS LINK to find out about all the tour stops and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Hey, if you know me, you know I’m big on giveaways. Belated congratulations to Geri C. in Indiana, who won my big December giveaway box. I’ll have another one coming up in the spring.

Like all indie authors, I could use more reviews on Amazon. Yep, you’ve read this before. But I’ll keep asking because it truly helps. Just a few words will do, and I’d rather have honest feedback, even if it’s critical. It helps me be a better writer.

Back to the new novel. The year is 1981 and the setting is…..wait for it….yes, it’s set in Switzerland! That means I need to go back and research. No, really, my husband insisted. So off I go in March to visit with my friends and refresh my memory. Expect this new novel in late November – I’m already excited about it! I’ll share more as the year progresses.

We’re living in uncertain times, my friends. Each day provides us with opportunities to be kind. I don’t want to miss those chances, do you?

A Decade of Writing


Happy New Year! And happy new decade. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were freaking out about Y2K??!

Ten years ago, on December 31, 2009, I was still working as a fraud investigator. My work environment wasn’t good, but it would grow worse throughout 2010 until I finally had enough.

We lost our little pug, Jessie, in May of 2009.

While we were dog-less, we took a trip to Lugano, Switzerland, in September that year.

Then by October, my husband indicated he was ready for another dog, and our little Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Bonnie, arrived in early November.

After I finally quit the job that was making me physically sick, I began writing my first novel in 2011. And here, on the final day of 2019, I’ve published nine novels and one non-fiction journal. And I can’t wait to begin my new book!

Thank you, all of you, for reading these blog posts, for taking a chance on an unknown author, for being a loyal reader, for buying my books as gifts for yourself and for others, for posting reviews, for letting me know that I write books you like to read! I am grateful, so grateful.

Rhode Island Authors Showcase


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It starts this Monday, November 18 and runs all week, through Sunday, November 24. I hope you’ll join me online at Facebook (yes, this is a Facebook event) here

The Rhode Island Authors Showcase will feature 30 authors of varying genres (something for everyone!) – each author is giving away a prize at his or her Facebook page. I have a sweet chocolate sampler up for grabs. The chocolate is local (of course), from The Chocolate Delicacy in Warwick, Rhode Island. Dark, milk, white – it’s all there!

Each day you can visit the pages of the featured authors (four or five per day). Once you’ve visited and answered their questions, come back to the main page and answer the question of the day. Participate all seven days and you could win our Grand Prize, a $250 Amazon gift card, just in time for some serious holiday shopping. We’ve got a Bonus Prize as well for the runner-up, a Rhode Island-themed gift basket valued at $50.

I hope you’ll join in the fun! And don’t forget, locals – the Rhode Island Authors Expo is coming up on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Over 125 local authors will have signed books available! There will also be informative panels, author spotlights, the best raffles around, and Santa! Free parking, free admission.

 

Martha’s Big December Giveaway!


JINGLE VALLEY GIVEAWAY!

My 9th novel, All’s Well in Jingle Valley, is available for pre-order HERE and it will be released officially on Monday, December 2.

Cover All's Well in Jingle Valley SERIES Book 3

To celebrate the publication of this third book in The Happy Ever After series, I’m giving away a big box of prizes to one lucky winner. Here’s what’s included:

  • a black Eccolo journal with magnetized closure and a fancy pen to record your brightest thoughts (maybe this will be the year you write that novel?)
  • an Almond Cookie gift set from Carol’s Daughter, featuring Almond Cookie Softening Body Wash, Almond Cookie Frappe Body Lotion, and Almond Cookie Nourishing Hand Cream
  • A $10 Starbucks gift card
  • A set of postcards from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (Dalton, Massachusetts is practically next door!)
  • a small box of maple sugar candy from Stockbridge
  • a Vera Bradley zip ID case in Romantic Paisley
  • and of course, a signed copy of All’s Well in Jingle Valley with a fabulous BookFlip bookmark
  • and a few more surprises!

 

There are many ways to earn entries, loyal readers! This giveaway will conclude on Monday, December 23, 2019 at midnight, and I will randomly select a winner on Tuesday, December 24.  (NOTE: If you live outside the U.S., I will send you an ebook and a gift card valued at $75)

Here’s how to earn entries:

  1. Pre-order the book no later than November 15. You can email me the link or screenshot. 3 entries
  2. Pre-order the book by December 1. Again, email the link or screenshot. (if you don’t know how to do this, then you can let me know you pre-ordered the book, and I will trust you!) 2 entries
  3. Post a review of the book on Amazon before December 13. 5 entries
  4. Post a review of the book on Amazon before December 22. 4 entries
  5. Share the book and on Facebook (tag me!) 3 entries
  6. Post a photo of the book on Instagram using hashtag #JingleValley 3 entries

 

As a bonus, I’ve lowered the price of A Jingle Valley Wedding to just 99 cents (ebook) all month, in case you haven’t read it yet. Get your copy HERE

And thank you for your continued support!

Come see me on Saturday, December 7 at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI, where I’ll have all my books for sale!

Welcome to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop!


The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.

But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eye shadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!).

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We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!

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The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

3rd Annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Schedule

Monday, Dec. 3rd

Rich Amooi https://www.facebook.com/author.richamooi

Tracie Banister https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister

Beth Carter https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter/

Susan Hatler https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanhatler

Holly Kerr https://www.facebook.com/HollyKerrAuthor/

Jennie Marts https://www.facebook.com/JennieMartsBooks/

Robyn Neeley https://www.facebook.com/RobynNeeleyAuthor/

Melanie Summers https://www.facebook.com/MJSummersAuthorPage

Avril Tremayne https://www.facebook.com/avril.tremayne/

 

Tuesday, Dec. 4th

Glynis Astie https://www.facebook.com/glynisastieauthor/

Christina Boyd, plus Yuletide anthology authors

https://www.facebook.com/TheDarcyMonologues/

Whitney Dineen https://www.facebook.com/Whitney-Dineen-Author-11687019412/

Jenny Gardiner https://www.facebook.com/jennygardinerbooks

Amy Gettinger https://www.facebook.com/Amy-Gettinger-Author-1412625005719904/

Virginia Gray https://www.facebook.com/Virginia.Gray.Author

Cassandra O’Leary https://www.facebook.com/cassandraolearyauthor

Jean Oram https://www.facebook.com/JeanOramAuthor/

Janice Williams https://www.facebook.com/booksbyjanicewilliams

 

Wednesday, Dec. 5th

Maggie Aldrich https://www.facebook.com/maggiealdrichwrites

Shanna Hatfield https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShannaHatfield/

Erin Huss https://www.facebook.com/authorerinhuss/

Julie Evelyn Joyce https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJEJ

Maida Malby

https://www.facebook.com/carpediemchroniclesbymaidamalby/

Kirsty McManus https://www.facebook.com/kirstymcmanusauthor/

Diane Michaels https://www.facebook.com/dianemichaelsauthor/

Becky Monson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeckyMonson/

Joslyn Westbrook https://www.facebook.com/JoslynWestbrookOfficial

 

Thursday, Dec. 6th

Traci Andrighetti https://www.facebook.com/traciandrighettiauthor/

Alex Bailey https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexBailey/

Kristina Beck https://www.facebook.com/krissybeck73/

Angie Ellington https://www.facebook.com/angienellingtonbooks

Hilary Grossman https://www.facebook.com/HilaryGrossmanAuthor/

Daisy James https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009889775019

Kate Kisset https://www.facebook.com/authorKateKisset/

Tracy Krimmer https://www.facebook.com/krimmerauthor/

Joy Norstrom https://www.facebook.com/joynorstromwrites/

 

Friday, Dec. 7th

Melissa Baldwin https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabaldwin

Aimee Brown https://www.facebook.com/authoraimeebrown

Annabelle Costa https://www.facebook.com/annabellecostaauthor/

Lindsay Detwiler https://www.facebook.com/lindsayanndetwiler

Patricia Fischer https://www.facebook.com/patriciawfwriter

Laura Heffernan https://www.facebook.com/lauraheffernanbooks

Beth Labonte https://www.facebook.com/bethlabontebooks

Monique McDonell https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMcDonellAuthor/

Meredith Schorr https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/

 

Saturday, Dec. 8th

Laurie Baxter https://www.facebook.com/LaurieBaxterAuthor/

Laura Kenyon https://www.facebook.com/laurakenyonwrites

Cat Lavoie https://www.facebook.com/CatLavoieBooks

Nikki LeClair https://www.facebook.com/NikkiLeClairBooks/

Just Call Me “M” https://www.facebook.com/BooksbyJustCallMeM

Natalina Reis https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis/

D.L. Stewart https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDLStewart

Holly Tierney-Bedord https://www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Maggie Wells https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaggieWells/

 

Sunday, Dec. 9th 

Roseanne Beck https://www.facebook.com/RoseanneBeckWrites/

Laura Chapman https://www.facebook.com/laurachapmanbooks/

Karen M. Cox https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932/

Rachel Cullen https://www.facebook.com/RachelCullenAuthor/

Hannah Ellis https://www.facebook.com/novelisthannahellis/

Ciara Knight https://www.facebook.com/ciaratknight

June Moonbridge https://www.facebook.com/JMoonbridge/

Kate O’Keeffe https://www.facebook.com/kateokeeffeauthor/

Stacey Wiedower https://www.facebook.com/StaceyWiedower.author

 

*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open internationally.

Forty Years Back


Nice, France

Forty years ago today, I boarded my first airplane and began a year abroad that would forever mark my life. The thirty or so students who went with me might well have the same thought – we all were impacted by a year in Switzerland, with no internet or cell phones.

My first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was (very) loosely based on that year. Like Bernadette Maguire, I was 20, naive (yes), and hopeful. Unlike Bernadette, I did not have an affair with a married man, nor did I get pregnant with his child. 😉 I recall explaining that to friends, who took my storytelling literally.

I’ve returned to my beloved Switzerland often – in 1981 to work as an au pair (there’s a book I should write), again a few years later, multiple times in the 1990s, and most recently in January 2017, where I was inspired to write Villa del Sol.

But the year that began on 28 September 1978 was my year. I don’t have any Cardinal beer to drink, no Giandor chocolate bar, and the Café Chemin de Fer is now, I believe, an Indian restaurant. Things change, even in Fribourg, Switzerland.

“Mesdames et messieurs, it is time to go sleep!” 🇨🇭🇨🇭🇨🇭