Plus ça change…..

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

(Rue des Epouses, Fribourg, Switzerland)

I recently returned from an all-too-brief writing trip to my beloved Switzerland. 38+ years since I first traveled there as a wide-eyed college junior, bound for life with my classmates on a journey of discovery and appreciation. I’ve been back numerous times, with my sister, my mother, my husband, but this solo trip gave me space to contemplate.
A lot has changed in Switzerland, and I noticed it more this time. Certainly, technology plays a huge part. Mobile phones are attached to everyone, train schedules are available on the phone, tickets are scanned by the conductor’s phone. 

(Rue de Lausanne, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Tastes change, and reflect the demographics of an area. This restaurant used to be known for its raclettes (from the French verb racler – to scrape – it’s a meal of melted cheese, boiled potatoes, and gherkins). Now it offers gourmet burgers. The Lucerne train station has plenty of takeaway food shops – Indian, Middle Eastern, vegan.

(St. Nicholas Cathedral with the Schweizerhalle in the foreground, Fribourg, Switzerland)

And yet, some things remain. A cathedral dating back to 1430. 

(Pizzeria Mary, Lugano, Switzerland)

This café in Lugano, exactly as it was when my husband and I dined there in 2009. Even the  same gruff waiter was there!

(Atop Mt. Rigi)

(Marie and Marcel, proprietors of the Chemin de Fer in Fribourg, 1979)

(Brian Falzetta, Terry Cook, Mike Sirius, 1979, Fribourg)

Some friends have passed, too soon. We can hold onto memories and smile at photos.

(Martha and Fabiola Abbet-Dreyer, 2017, Chernex, Switzerland)

And when we have the chance to reconnect, we take it. ❤❤❤

Happy Book-iversary (to me)!

99centsMy first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was published on August 12, 2012 – nearly four years ago! (It was republished with a new cover in April 2013.) In those four years, I’ve written and published six novels, all of which have given me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that is sufficient. Well, pretty much.

New novels can trigger a sales flurry, but sales drop off after a time, even for beloved best-sellers.

So….for the coming week, every one of my six novels will be discounted to 99 cents for the e-book (Kindle version). I have no control over the print price, but if you come to the RI Authors Book Expo on December 3, 2016 , I’ll have print copies available for a great price.

You can grab a three-book series, described by one reader as “writing (that) draws wonderful pictures of the characters and allows you to really ‘fall into’ the book ~ which is one of my favorite things about reading.” Or read about a group of classmates readying for their 25-year high school reunion and visiting old grievances. A novel about a young woman pursuing her dream of becoming a best-selling author, only to face a harsh reality check. And finally, a lighter story involving two friends who gamble on a dream of turning a rundown farm into a premier wedding venue. If you’ve already read these books, here’s a chance to give some gifts. In any event, I’m grateful – so very grateful – for all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers new friends, over the past four years.

Smile and Say……”V” is for Vacherin Fribourgeois


For my friends who thought I’d cop out and feature this


VelveetaLet me just say that “V” is NOT for VELVEETA!

No, “V” is most definitely for Vacherin Fribourgeois.

Creative Commons/Tombat24

Creative Commons/Tombat24

Vacherin Fribourgeois is a Swiss semi-soft cheese made with raw cow’s milk in the towns of Bulle and Fribourg. The milk for the cheese is sourced from the Fribourgeois breed of cows that graze on the Alpine grass and wildflowers all the way through the late spring and summer. As early fall arrives, the cows are brought down to graze on grass and summer hay. That’s all they eat!

This traditional cheese making process ensures that Vacherin Fribourgeois has a pleasant nutty flavor underpinned by notes of fresh hay and milk. The inedible rind is stinky (it is!), but the cheese is not. The cheese itself is smooth and buttery.

Today Vacherin Fribourgeois is produced only by small number of artisanal cheese makers and is very difficult to find. Vacherin Fribourgeois is used in the best fondues, cooking and as a table cheese. It is a great melting cheese. Big and bold wines such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, or reds from the Rhone Valley in France will compliment the cheese well.



Not a Sad Cafe for Us

I was a fan of The Eagles in college; I mean, “Hotel California” was in just about every dorm room. This song, though, “The Sad Café,” was unknown to me until I heard it on a compilation CD that was released in 1993. The last song on the disc, “The Sad Café,” is sung by country singer Lorrie Morgan. It reminded me a lot of a place in Switzerland, the Café du Chemin de Fer on the Route Arsenaux in Fribourg. This is a photograph of the proprietors of that café – Marcel and Marie. (1979)

photo by M. Reynolds

photo by M. Reynolds

That café is no longer in existence – in its place is an Indian restaurant.

“…now I look at the years gone by, 
And wonder at the powers that be. 
I don’t know why fortune smiles on some 
And let’s the rest go free.”

I don’t know why, either. This past weekend I’ve thought a lot about the friends I made 35 years ago, some of the best friends I could ask for. Fortune has indeed smiled upon some of us, or all of us, because fortune is relative. Here’s the song:

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

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…

NaNo Week Two

As you know from reading these posts, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo. I’m trying to get a very messy first draft of a novel written in thirty days. And after the first week, I am proud to admit that I’ve written 34,800 words so far, way ahead of schedule. Yay!

Now, NaNo’s mission is to get you to write 50,000 words in a month. That’s a pretty short novel, in my opinion. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was about 70,000 words and has been reviewed as “a quick read.” So I’m aiming for about 100,000 this time around.

I know the story I want to write, which helps. Last year, I wanted to take part, but had already begun CFB and the idea of NaNo is to start something new. I didn’t have something new. This year, I’d already begun another novel, “The Reunion,” and have written about 50,000 words. I decided to put it aside while working on “Chocolate Fondue,” the sequel to CFB.

But NaNo can consume you! I’ve done little else besides write. Well, those dirty clothes don’t wash themselves, so yes, laundry, cooking, a bit of housework. But writing this draft is really foremost for me these days; hence the occasional blog post.

If you read CFB, you’ll remember that it ended with Bernie seeing a handsome young man behind the reception desk of the hotel where she and her aunt were checking in, upon arrival in Fribourg, Switzerland. Bernie is convinced this is the son she bore and gave up for adoption twenty-three years previous. She has no proof, and decides she doesn’t need any. “Chocolate Fondue” begins on that same day, after Bernie and her aunt Joan have taken the elevator up to their room. You’ll get to know Jean-Michel and his family. You’ll meet his co-workers at the hotel. And you’ll be happy to learn that Bernadette may finally find love that lasts and is meaningful. If she doesn’t screw it up!!!

So, it’s back to writing. I can’t imagine spending my days any other way.

Dream Becomes Reality


I did always believe it would happen.  I just didn’t know how.  The fact is, e-publishing has offered possibilities to writers, and I am living proof.

My début novel is “Chocolate for Breakfast,” and is an e-book only, available through Amazon.  It is fiction, based on a fact: I spent my junior year of college living in a tiny room in Fribourg, Switzerland, and during that year, my father died unexpectedly.  From that truth, I created a story.  I hope you like it.  If you do, please feel free to share this with your friends.  If you hate it, well, you don’t have to do anything. 🙂

If you don’t own a Kindle, or an iPad, you can read the book on your computer, or even on your phone, so I hear (but I can’t imagine that!).  Click here for the app.

Either way, continue to pursue your dream.

Lost in Translation (or, leber is not liebe)

It’s happened to the best of us, and usually at the worst possible moment.  Misunderstanding a foreign word or phrase can have hilarious or disastrous results, but when you make a mistake, you’ll remember it for a long time.

“Let’s stop and eat.”

My mother and I were somewhere between Landquart and Chur, in eastern Switzerland.  I’d wanted her to see the country I loved so much, and we were enjoying a week of travel by rail, the best way to see Switzerland.  Having started from Zurich, we thought we might go all the way to Bellinzona, in the sunny canton of Ticino, where Italian is the main language spoken.  I’d been thinking about Italian food all morning, but my mom was hungry at the moment and really wanted to stop for lunch.

Outside the snow was falling, fast and heavy.  My mother’s face was bright like a child’s as she gazed in wonderment at the scenery beyond the train window.  We were as high as the treetops, and watched the snow fall from steel-gray skies as we descended into the valley approaching Chur.  I checked the timetables and figured we could grab a lunch at the station in Chur and still get a train to Bellinzona, arriving in the afternoon.

“Okay, we’re here.  We’ll cross the street and eat at the station café,” I said.  Every train station has a café, either within the station itself or just outside.  In our case, we had only to cross the deserted, snow-covered street to enter the warmth of the café.

This was German-speaking country.  I don’t speak German.  Even after a year in Fribourg, where both French and Swiss-German are spoken, I had concentrated on French, so reading a menu was a bit of a challenge.  I knew just a few words.

“Look, schweinen leber.  That’s pig, so it’s either ham or pork, and comes with frites (fries).  Sound good?”  My mother nodded happily and we ordered two lunch specials, plus a couple of beers.

Our plates arrived, and the pork or ham didn’t look like either pork or ham.  The thin slices of meat were covered with a brown gravy.  My mom took a bite and make a face.  “A little gamey,” she said, and picked up her glass of beer for a long swallow.  I tried mine.  Ugh.  Mom was right (of course!).  We ate fries and drank beer.  The schweinen leber remained on the plate.

Before boarding the train to lovely, sunny Bellinzona, I bought some chocolate and a German-English pocket dictionary on display at the kiosk.  Back on the train, I opened the dictionary to look for the word leberLeber, I should have guessed, means liver.

The Summer of Princess Diana, and Dave

I started marking days on my 1981 calendar.  Not quite two years out of college, rudderless and fatherless, my objective was to escape.  Oblivious to the pain I would inflict by leaving again, I kissed my mother goodbye and was on my way.

The year I spent in Switzerland was such a part of me that I needed to return.  More than just about anything else, I wanted to be back in Switzerland.  I had no idea what I was searching for, but I was sure it would be more easily found nestled in the Alps than in a small town in the smallest state.

I had enough money, but not enough to enjoy a carefree summer.  In early May, I sat in the sunshine of an outdoor café with a new friend named Lynn.  Buy your drink and you practically own the table for as long as you wish.  The outdoor tables were crowded with people re-emerging from a closed-in winter to the warmth, the color, of spring.  Clinking glasses and laughter provided the background music.

A few tables away, an older couple sat, heads tilted back to catch the sun’s rays and ignorant of their three-year-old son, running an obstacle course between table legs and human legs.  At one point he darted into traffic, only to be pulled back by a woman sitting close to the street.

Lynn and I rolled our eyes and said, “Why can’t these parents control their child?” and “He’s a little monster.”  The child was returned to his chic blonde mother, and his father, in tinted aviator sunglasses, checking out the young women passing by.

A week later, I was still looking for a job, something to keep me in Fribourg for the summer, at least.  I’d made such a big deal about leaving that I couldn’t possibly return home after a mere sixty days.  In the grocery store, there was a hand-written sign looking for a “jeune fille” (I was 22 but still could be considered a young girl, I supposed) to work as an au pair (light housecleaning, childcare, some cooking).  Hey, I could do that, and I’d have a place to stay.  The monthly rate at my hotel was reasonable, but some of the tenants made me nervous, especially with a shared bathroom at the end of a long corridor.  Every time I passed door #12, it cracked open and a pair of black eyes followed me until I locked the door to the toilet.

I responded to the ad, left my hotel address, and was contacted a few days later by the man of the house.  His name was Mario and he met me at the hotel’s ground-floor café, where we drank strong coffee and talked about America.  He spoke no English, but my French at the time was pretty good.  He remarked that we Americans all think we’re number one.  And my reply was “Well, of course, because we are.”  Sigh.

He hired me.  I was to meet his wife and child the next evening, when I would dine at their house.  He picked me up in his Mazda and we drove just outside the town to a farm.  A small white house sat at the edge of the farm.  Their house.

I had not made any connection to this man when I met with him, but yes, this was the family with the little monster.  There he was, screaming at the top of his lungs because he didn’t want to eat chicken.  His name was….Dave.  I asked, “Oh, David?” (Dah-VEED?)  And they answered (in French), “No, Dave, like the singer.”  Dave.  I was not familiar with Dave the singer.  This Dave, the one screaming, was a little boy with a mop of black curls who was at his most adorable when he was asleep.

I lived with Mario and Danielle Gazel (I never called them by their first names) and little Dave from the end of May until the middle of September.  During that time, I had to leave the country once so I could re-enter with a passport stamp and gain another three months.  Eventually, Danielle’s boss stopped by the house to inquire about me, and Danielle became very nervous, and told me I would have to leave soon.  By then, I felt it was time to return home, too.

Mario’s friend Benny or Bibo or Bondo or something made a pass at me during a cookout at the house, in front of his wife.  Mario thought it was amusing.  Bondo stopped by the house a few days later, while I was home alone and Dave was sleeping.  He probably thought I would invite him in to have crazy mad sex on the floor, but that didn’t happen.  He left empty-handed.

The day before Princess Diana’s wedding, Danielle found out that Mario had not paid child support for his teenage daughter, and they now owed a great deal of money.  Mario worked as some kind of salesman, but I got the sense he didn’t work much at all.  She cried and instructed me to be very careful with men.  On a Saturday at the end of July, Danielle (with Dave on her lap, sucking his thumb) and I watched the royal wedding.  She cried a lot.  Mario breezed in a couple of times and made remarks that were very unwelcome.

During that summer, I turned 23, Mario turned 40, I broke an expensive lamp in their house, I walked at least two miles every day, and fell for a guy who could never love me back.  I drank beer, wine, and brandy, tried steak tartare, and slept outside in a hammock when they had friends stay over and needed my bed.  And I watched a 19-year-old girl, who was much more naïve than I, marry a man who was all wrong for her.