Chocolate for Breakfast – First Anniversary!


Light tasty breakfast, on wooden table

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. Two years ago, I ended a career in fraud investigations, and once I’d healed myself (externally and internally), I began writing the book I’d always wanted to write. At the outset, I thought a story about a young girl who spends a year abroad in Switzerland, living in a tiny attic room, and who experiences the unexpected loss of a parent, would make for a compelling book. That was my story. But it wasn’t really interesting enough. So I let it take flight, using my imagination to create the character of Bernadette and sending her on a personal coming-of-age journey. Thanks to all who have read CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST! And thank you for your positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and for the kind and encouraging messages of support during the past year.

As many of you know, I’ve written and released a sequel, CHOCOLATE FONDUE, and I’m planning to release the third and final (really, last one) book in the trilogy, BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, sometime this fall. In the meantime, I’m celebrating the first-year anniversary of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST by hosting a little party, and you’re all invited!

You can enter to win a great prize here: an Amazon gift card, a copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST in e-book form*, a signed copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST*, or some Swiss chocolate! Just enter through Rafflecopter below.

*If you already own CFB and would like to read CHOCOLATE FONDUE, I’ll gladly make the switch. If you’d read both books, I’ll send you a copy of the new novel when it’s released. Your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So – I tried to get this Rafflecopter thing to work, but I don’t know if it’s going to take. So, if it doesn’t show up on this blog post, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what kind of chocolate you enjoy most. That’s it! If the Rafflecopter widget shows up, use that instead. (Hey, I’m technically-challenged and/or it doesn’t like WordPress.) If Rafflecopter doesn’t work, I’ll use random.org to choose the winners.

Write What You Don’t Know About What You Know


Today I was a guest on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog, and in case you didn’t see all the leads to it through social media, I’m reposting it here.

Welcome Martha Reynolds!

Martha Reynolds’s first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, effortlessly transports the reader to Switzerland,  and she creates a main character you just have to know more about. The story is heart-wrenching, fascinating and delicious, and I’m so excited to read the sequel, Chocolate Fondue. Martha as a person is kind, warm and funny, and I’m thrilled to have her here today. Welcome, Martha!

Write what you don’t know about what you know 
Elan Barnehama is a straight male who wrote a book (Finding Bluefield) about two lesbians in 1960s Virginia. How did he write about a situation so different from what he knew? We’ve all heard the mantra: “write what you know.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? But the story can be so much better by writing what could happen, perhaps what should happen, instead of what did happen. And it doesn’t mean you can’t use what you do know. Ann Hood’s first novel, Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, involves a teenage girl, Rebekah, who believes her tortured high-school life would be so much better if she could just get a nose job.
Readers thought Hood must have gone through the same trauma.  She didn’t, but her memory of wearing too-thick eyeglasses, and having to constantly repair them in class, evoked the same kind of feeling that Rebekah knew. For me to write about my character Bernadette’s experience of an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent decision to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption was sometimes challenging. I don’t have children, and writing about a young woman who makes the decisions Bernadette made provided opportunity for me to dig deep for emotions that would help me to write these passages.  Yes, online research is available, but it’s tapping into the inner emotion that will help you write your story.
Elan Barnehama says that all his writing is autobiographical – in that it comes from him – but it’s not biographical, because it’s not about him. Connecting with the essence of the characters’ humanity is what the reader wants, and it’s what propels me as I write about what I don’t know.

Light tasty breakfast, on wooden table
Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a  lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg, Switzerland. Ripe  for love and adventure, she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker, but is horrified when she discovers she’s pregnant. Protected and befriended by those  who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage  tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar  dilemma. Yet after an unexpected death and the discovery of her pregnancy by a  classmate, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that will take decades to  resolve.

Martha’s second novel, Chocolate Fondue, is a continuation of the story told in Chocolate for Breakfast, her award-winning début novel.

Twenty-three years ago, Bernie Maguire, a young student in Switzerland,  delivered a son. Giving him up for adoption was the right decision, she knew,  but Bernie always wondered about the boy who was now a young man.
Back in  Fribourg, Switzerland for vacation, Bernie is stunned when she sees the man she  knows is her son. Now she must decide whether to identify herself to him and  hope for a connection, or say nothing and leave the young man to live his life.  The matter is complicated by a hotel employee who discovers the truth, and who  intends to get in the way of Bernie’s plans.

Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. Martha Reynolds published her début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, in 2012. It follows a young woman into adulthood during a year abroad in Switzerland. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was voted the 2012 Book of the Year in the category of Women’s Fiction by Turning the Pages Books. She and her husband live in New England, never far from the ocean.
Connect with Martha!
Read and follow the writings of Martha Follow her on Twitter @TheOtherMartha1
Buy the books in both paperback and digital versions! Amazon

Third Time’s a Charm for This Book Cover


Cover by Stanzalone Design - property of Martha Reynolds
Cover by Stanzalone Design – property of Martha Reynolds

Finally, I have a beautiful cover for my first book! StazAloneDesign made the covers for both of my books, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’d created my own cover after severing ties with the small press I’d been working with since last summer. After educating myself about self-publishing (note: educate yourself before you self-publish), I decided that I’d paid them enough money. I wanted to keep what I earned, not give it back to them. And even though I believed I had ownership rights to my original cover (after all, I’d paid for it as part of their “e-book package”), I really didn’t want that cover anymore. I wanted to start fresh. So I took a photograph of a still life I created on my dining room table – a beautiful little cup and saucer from Italy (thanks, Kevin) filled with dark coffee, a croissant, and a bar of Toblerone. Chocolate for Breakfast! I learned how to create my own cover, and, honestly, I liked it better than the one I’d had originally.

But when I decided to create print versions of my book, I found that the photo was unacceptable. Not enough dpi, whatever that means. All I knew was that I couldn’t use it, and in an effort to get the print books done, I used a CreateSpace template that was pretty horrible. Anyone who purchased one of those, I’m really sorry, and all I can ask is that you don’t judge this book by that cover.

Anyway, I went back to my pal Lyn Stanzione, who create my luscious cover for Chocolate Fondue. She made this delicious cover, and I couldn’t be happier with the two! Thanks, Lyn!

My Five Favorite Places in Switzerland


Today I’m a guest on Nan Reinhardt’s blog, and I list my five favorite places in Switzerland (it was difficult to choose just five, trust me). You can read Nan’s blog post here.

My Top Five Places to Visit in Switzerland

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

5.            Arosa – located in eastern Switzerland, Arosa is both a summer and winter resort. I traveled there with my mother in the early 90’s. We didn’t ski, but enjoyed gorgeous views from the train window for the entire train ride to Arosa, as we climbed impossibly steep mountains to an elevation of 5,800 feet. A mile high! The delight was in getting there, and the memory I made with my mom, who was in awe of the spectacular mountains. We stopped for lunch at a nearby café, and neither of us could read the menu, which was in German. I ordered pig’s liver for both of us (ugh!). Arosa has been a famous Alpine health resort since 1877, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Mann both stayed there, giving it more notoriety.

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

4.            Vevey – Vevey lies on the north shore of Lake Geneva, in the canton of Vaud, and is French-speaking. Nestlé has its world headquarters in Vevey, and milk chocolate was invented there in 1875. It’s known as one of the “pearls of the Swiss Riviera,” and boasts gorgeous views and vineyards. Its most famous inhabitant was Charlie Chaplin, and there’s a statue of him at the shore.

photo by Martha Reynolds
photo by Martha Reynolds

3.            Lugano – Lugano borders Italy, in the southern canton of Ticino, and is about as Italian as you can get while still in Switzerland. It takes a few hours to get to Lugano from Zurich, since they’re at opposite ends of the country, but once you spot the palm trees, you know you’ve arrived in a totally different place. Although the area doesn’t have the majestic mountains of other regions, you can still climb, hike, and bike. And the food! Everything is regional and exquisite.

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

2.            Grindelwald – hey, this is why you go to Switzerland. The three mountains – Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (translated from German to Ogre, Monk, and Maiden) each top 13,000 ft.  In May of 1987, I ventured to Grindelwald and was surprised to find that the Grindelwald-First lift was celebrating an anniversary and tickets to the summit were half-price. I couldn’t wait! Dressed for a late May day in light clothes and no socks, I quickly discovered how the climate changes. The three-stage lift was once the longest chair lift in Europe, and by stage two, I’d rolled down the canvas side flaps for protection. At the summit, it was a blizzard! (The lift came equipped with a heavy coat, so I didn’t freeze). A respite with “chocolat chaud” and a croissant had me ready to descend, back to verdant meadows and edelweiss.

photo by Martha Reynolds
photo by Martha Reynolds

1.              Lucerne – If I retire to Switzerland, I want to live in Lucerne. Smack in the center of Switzerland, Lucerne has it all. Set on Lake Lucerne, it is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including Mt. Pilatus. The old town is car-free, and the city is easy to navigate. Tradition and modernity stand side by side in Lucerne, and, of course, it has the Blue Balls Music Festival (don’t ask me, I don’t know!).

CHOCOLATE FONDUE giveaway announcement


final-cover-amazon-copy.jpg

I’ve listed a giveaway (two copies) of CHOCOLATE FONDUE, the sequel to my début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, on Goodreads. If you don’t know about Goodreads, it’s the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love.

Just click here and you’ll be taken to the Goodreads page, where you can sign up to win one of two signed paperbacks!

Yes, if you’re wondering, my days have been filled lately with book marketing and promotion. It’s not my favorite thing, but it’s necessary to get the book noticed outside my circle of friends and family (aka my loyal readers and reviewers!). Last week I sent a copy of the book to the Hotel Walter in Lugano, Switzerland (the hotel is mentioned in the book), and I’ll be sending copies of both books to the Hotel de la Rose in Fribourg. Meanwhile, I’ve had some interest from a couple of book clubs, and will be appearing on three blogs this month.

I’ve begun my third novel – which has absolutely nothing to do with Switzerland or chocolate! – but the challenge I’ve found lately is writing darker passages when my mood is light and optimistic. After all, it’s spring, we’ve had gorgeous weather, everything is blooming all around me – and I’m struggling to write passages that are dismal and ominous. Perhaps a couple of rainy days this week will help.

Oh! The Places I’ve Been – “Z” is for ZERMATT


photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Of course I’d end up in Switzerland!

The name of Zermatt, as well as that of the Matterhorn itself, derives from the alpine meadows, or matten (in German). The name appeared first as Zur Matte (“in the meadow”) and became later Zermatt. It does not appear until 1495 on a map or 1546 in a text, but may have been employed long before.

There are no cars allowed in Zermatt. You can take a train, but once you arrive at the station, you can walk, ride in an electric car, or climb into one of the lovely-horse-drawn carriages

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

This photo, above, was snapped at Sunnegga, a ski area on the Rothorn mountain. As the name implies, there’s usually a lot of sun here. My sister, my mom, and I were here in the early 90’s.

The photo below is from Gornergrat, at 3,089 meters above sea level, March 2007. Yes, the air is thin, but look at this view!

photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Honorable mentions go to Zurich (where our dear friends Paul and Athena reside and have welcomed us), Zug, and Zweisimmen. “Z” was easy!

Thanks for following this blog during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I hope you enjoyed visiting some of the places that are part of my travel history.

Oh! The Places I’ve Been – “G” is for GRUYERES


Ah, Gruyères. We hitchhiked to the town from Fribourg (Switzerland). It was easy to get a car to stop for two girls. Even the guy who drove us was harmless, although he believed that by giving us a ride, he was entitled to spend the afternoon with us. Gruyères is just 20 miles from Fribourg. You can take a train from Fribourg – it stops in Bulle and arrives about an hour later. It’s a medieval town just made for photographs and its castle, now a museum, dates back to the 13th century.

At the base of the hill, we toured the cheese factory and breathed in the heady aroma of cheese-in-the-making. Then we climbed up and up to the village at the top of the hill. There, you can eat more cheese, followed by fresh fruit smothered in thick cream, and finish with some chocolate. Hey, you’re walking, it’s all good.

Photo by M. Reynolds
Photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds
photo by M. Reynolds

Blog Hop Eggs-travaganza!


Good morning and Happy Easter!

I wasn’t planning a post this morning, and it isn’t about this blessed day, but because I begin the A to Z Blog Challenge tomorrow, I’m posting today. Wishing you a day full of hope and renewal, whether you observe or not.

It’s a Blog Hop Egg-travaganza-elleganza! Thanks to my friend Sandra Bellamy at Quirky Books (here’s a link to her blog) for tagging me.

With CHOCOLATE FONDUE releasing soon (most likely in the middle of the blog challenge, probably around mid-April), it’s now my turn to answer the blog hop questions and pass this on to some hopping good blogs.

  • What is the working title of your book?

CHOCOLATE FONDUE (and is a sequel to my début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST)

  • Where did the idea come from for the book?

One of my closest friends inspired me to write this sequel when he asked about one of the characters in my first book. I knew that I could continue the story, and I wanted to stay with the chocolate theme.

  • What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fiction. A little bit of romance.

  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve always liked Emma Stone as Bernadette, but she probably is better suited to the first book, and the younger Bernie. Julianne Moore, perhaps, for Bernie. Abigail Breslin is a little young, but I think she’d make a great Lucia. Mila Kunis has a good look for Nani. I’m still thinking about Michael and Gary!

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Twenty-three years after giving him up for adoption, Bernadette Maguire unexpectedly meets her son, who is unaware of who she is.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am self-publishing.

  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November, and drafted this novel in thirty days. Then I spent the next three months revising it.

  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure. I’m inspired by Anna Quindlen, Claire Cook, Wally Lamb, but could never compare my writing to theirs!

  • Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Well, my first novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, was inspired by my own year of study in Switzerland. This seemed a natural sequel to the initial story, since I’d brought the character of Bernadette forward twenty years by the end of the first book. But I wanted to write CHOCOLATE FONDUE in a way that, even if you hadn’t read the first book, you could enjoy and understand the second.

  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s really a love letter to Switzerland. I would hope it would spark an interest in visiting this beautiful country. And it may inspire a little chocolate fondue creation!

Now I’m passing this along to…drum roll please…

http://kateeileenshannon.wordpress.com/

http://clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com/

http://meredithschorr.com/

http://traciebanister.blogspot.com/

http://www.catlavoie.com/blog/

Chocolate Fondue Cover Reveal


I’m just so excited to share the cover of my second novel, CHOCOLATE FONDUE, with you.  Lyn Stanzione, of Stanzalone Design, created my cover, and it’s just what I wanted! Lyn creates covers for e-books and printed volumes, and since I’m hoping to have both versions available for this book (if I can get through the blasted formatting – I’m a writer, not a techie!), Lyn creates both. Thanks to my friend Eileen Shannon for the recommendation, and I’m glad to have a fellow Rhode Islander as my designer.

Final Cover Amazon

When CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was published, I didn’t include those two little words – “a novel” – underneath the title, and one reviewer actually noted that she’d hoped it was more about chocolate. Well, just in case anyone thought they’d be getting a cookbook (filed on Amazon under Fiction, Contemporary), I added those words.

Hoping for an early April release – of course, you’ll all know when it happens!

Hearts and Flowers and 72% Dark Chocolate


sciencedaily.com

sciencedaily.com

My husband had a dozen red roses delivered to me about a month after we started dating. It was a sweet, romantic gesture that I’ll always remember. And on many Valentine’s Days after we were married, he’d have a dozen red roses delivered to me at my office. While I appreciated the beautiful flowers, I also paid the bills. And the following month, when I saw the outrageous price he’d paid for roses on Valentine’s Day, I’d cringe. He wouldn’t be deterred, but now that I work from home (and earn far, far less than I used to), I’ve convinced him to curtail the rose deliveries. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have chocolate?

According to a new study, eating chocolate can help you stay thin. What? Is this an early April fool? Nope, researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that people who frequently eat chocolate have lower body-mass indexes than people who don’t. Other evidence suggests that chocolate can ward off strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. So here are ten reasons to indulge tomorrow (unless you gave it up for Lent, not realizing that Lent starts today – oops).

1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk. A Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about one and a half ounces—led to a small decrease in stroke risk among women. Chocolate contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant properties help fight strokes, according to the study’s author.

2. Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack. Other studies have shown that eating small amounts of chocolate prevents blood clots, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks. Blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters, the studies say.

3. Chocolate protects against blood inflammation. Eat one small dark chocolate bar per week, and your risk of heart disease will decrease, according to a 2008 study. About a quarter-ounce of dark chocolate per day keeps the blood inflammation-inducing proteins away.

4. Chocolate helps with math. This is true! Flavanols (a class of flavonoids found in chocolate) helped people with their mental math. The findings suggest students who eat chocolate before an exam may gain a real benefit from doing so, according to the British Telegraph.

5. Chocolate may prevent cancer. Cocoa contains a compound called pentameric procyanidin, or pentamer, which disrupts cancer cells’ ability to spread. When researchers from Georgetown University treated cancer cells with pentamer back in 2005, the proteins necessary for cancer growth were suppressed and the cells stopped dividing.

6. Chocolate is good for your skin. Remember when you were a teenager and everyone thought chocolate led to acne? Well, not only does it not cause breakouts, dark chocolate is actually good for your skin! Flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect women’s skin from the sun’s UV rays, according to German researchers. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen.

7. Chocolate can control coughs. One of chocolate’s chemical components, theobromine, seems to reduce the activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits. Next up? Chocolate cough syrup – way better than that orange stuff my mother forced down my throat.

8. Chocolate may improve blood flow. In 2008, test subjects of a Harvard study ate large amounts of chocolate for two weeks (oh, poor things). Fourteen days of pigging out on chocolate, they found, sped up blood flow through the subjects’ middle cerebral arteries. In other words, more chocolate means more blood to your brain.

9. Chocolate strengthens your brain. Researchers found that dark chocolate shields cells in your brain, and protects the brain from damage caused by stroke. Epicatechin, a compound found in chocolate, significantly reduced the brain damage in mice who suffered strokes and that same compound improved mice’s memories.

10. Chocolate makes you live longer. Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122. Supposedly, she ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate each week. So if I follow Madame Calment’s example, I could be around for my 100-year college reunion.

But don’t just buy any old chocolate. Most of the chocolate you buy in the grocery store is heavily processed, which means that it has lost many of its healthy chemicals. Buy the good stuff. A small amount of good, dark chocolate (look for 72% cacao or higher on the label) is best. Happy Valentine’s Day!