Book Review

Book Review: Not a Fairy Tale – Romy Sommer

Set in Los Angeles, Hollywood starlet, Nina Alexander is beside herself for losing the Oscar for a supporting role. Thinking it couldn’t get worse, she receives an unexpected proposal on the same stage. Not wanting to commit to someone she doesn’t love, she turns it down, thus attracting further media attention.

Dominic Kelly, a gorgeous stuntman and womaniser comes to her rescue. Nina’s always found him attractive, yet strangely he’s never shown an interest in her. They spend the night at his place to lose the paparazzi and Nina gains a glimpse into his life.

Nina loves fame, fortune, even the isolated life she leads. Her past has hardened her and she’s worked hard to reinvent herself as the actress she envisioned. She comes up with a plan to redeem her image by going after a coveted role. To do this she’d need to transform into an action heroine and asks Dominic to train her.

Dominic doesn’t exactly jump at the offer. He has reasons to decline, one of them being the fear of losing his heart to Nina. She was unlike the women he bedded and didn’t want to complicate things. Through his better judgement he agrees to her request and is unable to resist her charms.

Romy Sommer is a talented romance Author. The story is captivating, her characters are believable, the sex steamy and the ever-after beyond satisfying.

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A novel idea…

I’m in the process of writing my first romance novel. A way of staying in touch with my followers is to take you along with me as I share the highs and lows of fiction writing.

Many don’t appreciate the intricacies involved in writing a novel, short story or even a poem. Considerable time and effort goes into finding perfect words for a poem. A short story is fast moving generally with a beginning, middle and end (or a twist in the tale). Writing a novel is a labour of love taking months (even years) with a vision only the Author harbours (without a guarantee of it becoming a success or not).

Truth be told, writing is hard work! It requires belief, determination and a never give up attitude. Starting and finishing a story takes immense courage. Having stories critiqued is torturous. I learnt this the hard way when I received harsh reviews whilst fighting back tears. It made me question whether I was good enough and if I’d make it as a writer. At that stage I was very sensitive. My stories were my darlings and I couldn’t separate myself from them. It took a long time to accept that not everything I write is going to be ground-breaking. Every failure strengthened my resolve to work harder, learn from mistakes and KEEP writing.

For years I didn’t feel ready to write a novel as I didn’t have sufficient experience in fiction writing. I gave myself small attainable goals like writing short stories, learning the ropes, whilst building confidence. I surrounded myself with experienced writers, absorbing as much as I could from them. I’m not ambitious. I write because it makes me happy. The pay back is when readers appreciate my work, making it worth while.

This is my maiden journey in writing a novel. I have nothing to compare it to nor can I say that I’ll succeed in making it a reality. All I have is a strong belief that the time is right to do this.

I’m a planner when it comes to writing. I like to have a map of where my stories go. But this can spell trouble as too much preparation can block creativity. I saw this in some of my stories where I couldn’t identify with my characters as I was holding the strings too tightly. Characters need to be set free to find their own destiny and letting go wasn’t easy as I wanted to run the show.

The first step in writing a novel is coming up with an idea. Generally music is my go-to when I’m in need of inspiration. I listen to songs and like to come up with stories based on the emotions they evoke. And with so many songs available I could write countless novels… yet I couldn’t find something compelling enough to get lost in.

I was having anxiety that I may never find the right idea and was wasting precious time pursuing dead ends. The more I stressed, the more frustrated I became. I have a close relationship with God and live a spiritual life. I called on Him countless times, praying that I’d find an idea soon. I knew that if I left it in His hands something would come, maybe not as quick as I wished but in time it would.

And it did. Actually God has been sending me messages for a while now, steering me in a direction that confused me as I never considered anything like it before. After too many coincidences it finally dawned on me that the idea for my story was becoming stronger and what seemed impossible before could very much become a reality.

I finally accepted the idea and it felt so right in my soul. God listened to my prayers, heard my frustrations, soothed my doubts and tried to comfort me. He wants me to succeed, wants only the best for me and helps me in every way. You see, I’m not venturing into the unknown alone, my best friend has joined me on a journey that’s going to alter my future 🙂

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Writing Romance…

I adore romance. My adolescent years saw me curled up reading Mills and Boons. I swooned over the hero, the beauty that steals his heart, hated the obstacles in their way, longed to hear their confessions of love and felt sated when they lived happily ever after.

Of course I wasn’t surprised when I found myself drawn to writing fiction and in particular, romance where love is the order of the day. Yet it’s been a long and winding road getting here.

Writing is ingrained in me. It’s a medium I turn to when I can’t make sense of the emotional baggage life throws my way. It was my outlet when I loathed myself during my drinking days. It comforted me during recovery in sobriety. Today it’s helping me reach my dream one day at a time.

I’ve written countless short stories. I’m my biggest critic when it comes to sending work out for scrutiny, living in doubt of not being good enough. It takes courage to believe in your writing, to write everyday despite not everybody appreciating your work. I’ve finally come to a place where it’s okay if people don’t like what I write. What matters are the ones who do.

There’s so much to learn about writing that one gets caught in an abyss of information. I joined a Writing Circle a few years ago where I was challenged to write poems and fairy tales. I had no idea I could do this, yet I persevered and succeeded. It’s rewarding realising the untapped potential one has when stretched. But one can’t really be a pro juggling too many things at the same time.

Therefore I’ve dedicated this year to focusing on one objective. To write a romance novel. I’ve been to a Romance Writing Workshop in February where insight was given into the various imprints on offer. I had no idea of the vastness of the genre or the millions of dedicated readers waiting for fresh stories. I got a 101 on writing romance and set a deadline to get my first draft done.

I’m also part of the Romance Writers Chapter in Cape Town, a group of Authors living their dream writing romances. I actively participate in a small group of writers who task one another to produce stories. This year our aim is to write our novels simultaneously and to support each other during the process.

As much as I’m afraid of the unknown, of doubt setting in, of failing. I need to remind myself how far I’ve come already. This is my calling, it’s what I’ve been gearing for all my life and the time is now.

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Happy Birthday Sweetheart …

A week ago I had a medical procedure on my knees. I was pensive heading into surgery, unsure of the outcome, fearful of the effects of anaesthetic, battling to stay positive. Normally I turn to my faith in times of despair, but at that time I relied heavily on you to get me through.

True to your nature, you never let me down. You were there to wipe tears, reassured that it would be okay and you’d be waiting when it was all done. You walked beside me as they wheeled me into theatre, kissed me tenderly and whispered you loved me so so much.

I don’t recall much of what happened next, falling into an induced slumber. Coming to, I was wheeled to my room and caught a glimpse of your smiling face, asking how I was feeling. You sat with me through my mumblings of how very tired and nauseous I felt. You held my hand, spoke of things weighing on your mind, as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Later when I was discharged, you helped to dress me, carried the bag, walking beside the wheelchair, ran to find the car, ushered me in, escorting me safely home and into bed. Rushing to the chemist to fill out the prescription, ensuring I had something to eat before the meds, making certain I was comfortable.

Its times like these that I am eternally grateful to have someone like you share this journey called life. Because it’s not all about the joys that come our way, but the challenging times and the uncertainty of the unknown; that one clings to love and family to carry you through.

And you, my dearest make this world a better place to live in. Cementing the belief that there are still kind-hearted souls whose greatest desire is to see others happy. Epitomising what a role-model should be to our daughters, to mirror you and search these qualities in others. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband and partner to share forever with.

On this precious day we celebrate you and everything you are, the sacrifices you make, the time and effort you unselfishly bestow, your unconditional love, the sweetness of your soul and the vast difference you make in our lives.

Have a blessed birthday Sweetheart. We love you always and forever ❤

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Happy Birthday Handsome ❤

Book Review

Book Review: Grayson’s Vow – Mia Sheridan

This is the second book I’ve read by Romance Author, Mia Sheridan. As much as I’m acquainted with her writing style, I had no idea she’d enchant me again.

I read this book in a weekend! And it speaks volumes to the pulling power she has over readers. Especially when one salivates on romance as much I do and it racks up as one of the best reads, ever!

The setting is Napa Valley, land of vineyards, mountain ranges and timeless living. Kira Dallaire has returned from a sojourn in Africa to heal her soul from a scandal instigated by her father, Mayor Dallaire and an ex-fiancé, Cooper Stratton. Refusing their money, Kira concocts a plan to access funds bequeathed by her Gran on condition of marriage. A chance encounter with Grayson Hawthorn who is bordering financial ruin in a winery, fits the bill for a marriage of convenience.

Kira Dallaire is a vivacious, lovable character. Although raised in wealth, she refused to be sucked into a world of power and greed, instead fighting for the underdogs. Despite the strife those close unveiled upon her, she refused to be embittered, steadfast in the belief that love conquers pain. Grayson Hawthorn had been wronged all his life, never afforded love or worth by his parents. Even the prized winery bestowed by his father with a vow to keep it thriving was set to sabotage his efforts.

From the outset, the relationship between Kira and Grayson was a business arrangement. But living in close quarters, they discover annoyances to dislike and an inescapable magnetism. Rushing into a fake wedding, the prospect of living as a married couple becomes real and enticing.

Mia Sheridan is an extraordinaire! She weaves spell-binding tales. Characters to adore or throttle when they can’t get it together. Endless twists and turns to keep flicking pages at a rapid speed. Mostly, a Mia Sheridan novel is a lesson in love and hope intertwining in a symphony of words.

A must-read five star rating!

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Celebrating 21 years of Marriage…

21 is a significant number. I turned 21 in our first year of marriage. Zhané was born on the 21st. Today Neil and I celebrate 21 years of marriage…

Let me take you back to a time when I was still single, living on my own in a flat in Cape Town. I started my first job at the age of 18, was whisked away to perform parliamentary duty in South Africa’s first democratic government in 1994. I virtually had no friends or family around. During those long lonely days I envisioned the type of partner I wanted to spend forever with. He was beautiful, kind-hearted, a stickler for fairness, a balanced individual and most importantly, a music lover. I dreamed of meeting him, called upon the universe countless times for him to emerge so we could fall into a sea of love.

Despite all my wishing and hoping it took roughly a year and a half for Neil to appear. Of all places in the same hometown as my family, a few houses away from where I’d stayed. I’d seen him before when I was in high school, but he was seeing another and was unavailable. This time around he was single and was friends with my sister.

I’d returned to Cape Town after a short stint in Pretoria, unable to get him off my mind. I begged my sister for his number. She was hesitant, she felt he was a ‘player’ and didn’t want me to get hurt. I, of course would hear nothing of it – I had a strong sense he was the one I was waiting for and had to risk it.

I called him at work, said I was a secret admirer and wanted to get to know him better. He seemed rather taken aback not knowing who I was, but played along. He said to call in the evening when he had more time to talk, so I did. That call was the beginning of our love story. We chatted for hours, sharing likes, views, general outlook on life. What snagged me was he’s vast knowledge of music, especially artists I listened to, Karen White, Michael Bolton, Anita Baker… he spoke my language.

He had no idea I was living in Cape Town, he thought I was a girl from Pretoria and I went along with it. It was exhilarating playing someone else, being led by my heart. We continued to converse over the phone for a few nights, although he was becoming anxious to meet. I kept on making excuses, saying it wasn’t the right time. It seemed too hard to come clean that we lived in different provinces and the chances of us getting together were slim.

I didn’t realise that Neil had somehow figured who I was, where I stayed and I was the one being played! Since everything was out in the open, I gave him my number to call that evening and he promised he would. But he didn’t call, I waited and waited at the phone and it never rang. I was angry, thoughts were racing in my mind he’d disliked what I’d done and didn’t want anything to do with me. Were the feelings I developed misguided, were all those talks we shared in vain? I cried myself to sleep. I called in sick to work the next day, the air of disappointment stifling me, my heart crying in pain.

I had to fly to Pretoria for work purposes over the weekend and knew I’d spot him and didn’t know to survive that. He saw me standing outside my Mom’s house on the Saturday, glanced at me but didn’t wave or stop. Disheartened by what could have been drove me slightly insane.

Then on Sunday evening while watching Carte Blanche, the doorbell rang. My sister answered it, saying it was for me. Not in the mood for company but wondering who it could be, I walked into the front garden. I was taken aback to see Neil. He was breath-taking in real life, warm hazel eyes reflected by the light, a smile as bright as the sun and I lost a few heartbeats.

I forgot why I was angry, enamoured that he had finally found his way to me. I desperately wanted to be alone with him, there was so much to say, yet it was the end of the weekend and we didn’t know how to confront what had happened between us. Nervously I glanced at him, talking about trivial things, yet my head was bursting with thoughts, butterflies threatening to escape.

I struck up the courage and asked if we could go out the next night to talk things through. He agreed and said he’d fetch me after work. I couldn’t sleep that night – I dreamt of him, of all the things I wanted to say, feelings I couldn’t contain, an overwhelming love that couldn’t be denied.

I changed five times that night, finally settling on a skirt, jersey and boots to combat the July weather. Neil arrived in a just showered look, a heady fragrance of cologne curling around me as I was escorted to a baby blue Toyota. It felt surreal to be alone with him, something I’ve craved for so long. Our destination, a restaurant called Lady Chatterley’s.

It was an upmarket establishment, quiet and cosy, soft music setting the tone for romance. I felt like a princess sitting beside him, the flame of the candle dancing seductively at our table. Drinks were ordered and a main meal decided upon. Just when we were getting comfortable in each other’s company, a woman appeared, greeted Neil warmly with a peck on the cheek. I knew who she was… she lived a street away from us and seemed to have some connection to him. The uncertainty of whether they were more than friends entered my mind and I thought the worst.

Our dinner arrived and I’d lost my appetite. Neil enquired whether I was okay… and it all came out! Why didn’t he call when he said he would, how could he have left me hanging without some form of explanation? Was he involved with this woman and if so why did he bother to go out with me?

He said that he’d taken my number and written it on a piece of paper. When he left for home he looked for it but couldn’t find it. He felt bad that he hadn’t called and knew I’d be upset. He was glad I’d come to Pretoria but couldn’t strike the nerve to come sooner to explain. As for the woman, they were just friends. He searched my eyes, confessing sincerely, “You don’t know how much you mean to me,” and I melted.

We wrapped up dinner and headed for a movie. I insisted on paying, much to his surprise. We watched “Blank Man” starring the Wayan Brothers. I don’t recall a thing about it, all I thought was how close I was sitting to him. He appeared bored with the movie. My hand grazed his and he intertwined his fingers between mine. The heat of our touch firing every nerve-ending. I gazed at him in the dark movie house and that’s when it happened, our first kiss – languid, enticing, exploring the depths of our infatuation.

Stepping out of the cinema hand in hand, our relationship had evolved to the next level. I knew I was deeply in love with Neil and could sense the feeling was mutual. He drove us to a park in our hometown where we made out until the wee hours of the morning. We didn’t want to return home, the thought of being separated from someone you’ve waited your entire life for, seemed daunting.

Neil and I met every day in my short stay in Pretoria. The more we got to know each other, it became apparent how compatible we were. He even predicted on one of our dates that “he’d marry me,” something that sounded wonderful to imagine, but in reality didn’t fit my plans of attaining the career I dreamed of.

Having to return to Cape Town tore my heart. We were so new in our relationship, couldn’t bare being apart, yet alone provinces away. But we had no choice, we had to accept our circumstances, counting down the days when we could be together again.

A plan was initiated for Neil to fly to Cape Town for a weekend. I was bubbling with excitement as it was the first time he’d be visiting, sharing my flat. I spring-cleaned, even went so far as to prepare a home-cooked meal. Sadly, I burnt the steak, the potatoes were hard and the mushroom sauce watery! I was running out of time as the lift to the airport arrived and I was frazzled.

Neil looked dashing as ever waiting for me. He gave me the biggest smile and folded me in a warm hug. Cape Town seemed to glow when he arrived. I showed him around the parliamentary village I lived in, making our way to my humble abode consisting of one bedroom, bathroom and a tiny kitchen. He was impressed, especially with the candlelit dinner I had ready for us. He ate the overcooked steak, didn’t let on how awful it was, rather complimenting me on it! After dinner, we slow danced to the sounds of Karen White. We spent the night together… excelling all my expectations, bringing us closer, sealing our love.

The weekend was unforgettable. We shared it with mutual friends, clubbing, driving along the peninsula, taking long walks on the beach. We wanted it to last forever, yet couldn’t stop the hands of time before he had to return to Pretoria. I was left distraught, reliving the blissful moments spent together.

Our courtship ran for three months when I fell pregnant with Zhané in Pretoria. Neil didn’t disappear when he heard the news; in fact he didn’t leave my side. I may not have been ready for motherhood, for the responsibility it held, not to mention how we were going to break the news to our families. But he encouraged me every step of the way, said a child was a blessing, that he was ready for marriage and had faith that God would provide. He was wise beyond 25, owned a heart of a saint and I was blessed to have found a gold mine.

On the 13th of December 1995, on a hot summer’s afternoon, in a pink and lilac sari, I said “I do” to Neil in a small wedding at my Mom’s house.  It was one of the happiest moments I’ve lived, the commencement of a commitment to love, honour and cherish each other for the rest of our lives.

As Neil forecasted, God took care of us. He was transferred to Cape Town where we settled to married life in my flat. He was a wonderful partner – kind, caring, sharing all the household responsibilities, never voicing a complaint. When Zhané came along, he got up in the middle of the night to change and feed her despite having to go to work in the morning. Since we had no support structure in Cape Town, we had to learn to depend on ourselves even when things became tough.

When Lakeisha came along, we were better established to welcome her into the world. Through it all, Neil was the foundation of our home, guiding and protecting us. He was an incredible father, treating the girls like princesses, affording unlimited patience and an ocean of love. They looked up to him and still hold the most respect for him.

Like many married couples we went through highs and immense lows. I was battling my own demons and fell into the clutches of alcohol addiction. Not only did Neil step in and take care of the girls, he had to take care of me too. Not once did he berate me for not being a good mother and wife, instead loved me even more. When I eventually reached my rock-bottom and sort help through a support group, he continued to hold my hand, wiped away tears, listened to my fears, believed in me when I didn’t.

Our story isn’t a fairy tale. We aren’t a perfect couple. We curse, argue, feel like throttling each other when we don’t agree. But through it all, we find middle ground to sort our differences. We’ve never given up on each other, never stopped believing in our love, never stopped building a better relationship to armour us against the stresses of life.

I can’t discredit the hand of God in bringing us together. He steered me to Neil, knew he was the one destined to walk this path with me. God provided when we had a child on the way, gave us the strength to raise two children on our own, aided us when we moved into our first home, through the turmoil of addiction, into the light of changing our lifestyle through spirituality and exercise.

Each year we’re blessed together I reminisce how far we’ve come, how much we’ve conquered, the depths of our love, the beauty of our marriage. We go out of way to make it extraordinary, to celebrate in style, renewing our commitment to one another. May our story continue to be written in paragraphs of hope, pages of memories, chapters of love, reaching a promise of reuniting on the other side ❤

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Sweetheart, you will always be my forever <

Sweet Desire…

I know I’ve been slacking of late in my blogging and I humbly apologise. If I thought 2015 was an insane year, 2016 took off with a bang and I’m still trying to find myself!

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The Wilderness

My day job has been keeping me quite busy and I’m incredibly grateful having employment that pays the bills, however it makes it so much harder trying to squeeze in time for writing. I recently got the opportunity to travel to the Wilderness for a short stint as part of a strategic planning session and it felt like a sin to be working in a slice of paradise and not having time to explore its beauty. On a free moment, I took a leisurely walk along the shore and I was in awe of the timeless splendour of the Southern Cape. I could see myself living there – in a cottage close to the beach, cuddling up on a swing chair with Neil, soaking up the surroundings, without a trace of stress on the horizon. Ah – if only my dreams could turn into reality, how tranquil life would be?

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The garden route highway skirting the coastline

But alas here I am, still running like a hamster on a wheel, thinking I’m making progress, only to find I’ve stayed in the same place, dishevelled and utterly exhausted! I only got around to compiling my goals for the year towards the end of February instead of them being New Year’s resolutions! But no matter, promises made then tend to be too idealistic and fizzle out anyway.

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The lagoon and sea intertwining

I recently came across an insightful post on the Change blog  on how to achieve what matters the most and why resolutions never pan out. Many of us tend to list too many goals to achieve, being brain-washed by society into thinking that we can have it all. The longer the list, the greater the failure as we’re too busy juggling them in the air, dropping one at a time. The post recommends focussing on one goal at a time, making it a priority, investing enough time and energy to ensure it materialises. This was an A-HA moment for me – one that has worked well in the past, but has been watered down due to a growing number of goals I want(ed) to achieve. I emphasise the word “want” because they’re nice to haves… I want to run a marathon, I want to lose weight, I want a six pack, you name it, I’ve wanted it all! These wants are great to envision, however none happen overnight, some taking months even years to take shape. Patience is not my friend and we’ve been having an on and off relationship for years now!

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Malini and I 🙂

But the message sunk in. I needed to streamline my goals, I had to be real with myself and ask what held a burning desire for me to achieve. Last year carried a fair share of disappointment and made me realise that although it’s great to plan elaborate goals, life has a way of knocking the wind out of your sail and steering you on a course you had no intention of following. Instead of focussing on the same goals of yesteryear, I decided to attempt something I never thought I had the guts to commit to.

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My number one priority this year isn’t running, nor is it shedding five kilograms… drum roll… it’s to write the first draft of a romance novel!!! The mere thought of it makes me feel like a public speaker about to address a roomful of people.

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My fellow writers have enquired when I plan on joining them for NaNoWrimo (a month when they commit to writing a 50 000 word novel) and I’ve always evaded it, saying I needed more time to learn the craft and develop as a writer. However, I could procrastinate forever and may never be ready! But if I have the courage to take the first step towards making it a reality, then I would have learnt from trial and error.

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It takes me back to a time six years ago when I knew I had to turn my life around and find help to overcome my alcoholism. I’d researched the AA for a while, stalking them via phone for advice, sought ways and means to curb my drinking, to no avail. Until I had the courage to face my fears, to step into a meeting with nobody holding my hand, uttering the words “I had a desire to stop drinking” and forced myself to sit it out without running away was the day my life changed!

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For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a writer and now that I’ve been pursuing writing seriously for the past two years, I’ve finally reached the stage of taking the next step of penning a story from my soul. The past few months has seen me sitting around Meg van der Merwe’s table learning the art of creative writing. I could ask for no better mentor, she has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities, pulled me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to face my fears. I also form part of small writers’ review group who are happy to provide me with guidance as I take on this mammoth mission.

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So what does this mean for my blogging? Sadly, fewer posts 😦 although I will fill you in from time to time on how the process is unfolding. I vow not to abandon my blog and humbly ask for your support as I have a “sweet baby” on the way. The time has arrived to nurture it, give it my undivided attention and fulfil my dream of writing fiction 🙂

Book Review

Book Review: Archer’s Voice – Mia Sheridan

Natasha Boyd, an American Romance Writer I met in December last year revealed in one of her Facebook posts her awe in reading a Mia Sheridan novel and how she’s become one of her favourite Authors’. I immediately googled her books and found sterling reviews on all of them and knew I had to follow suit.

I selected Archer’s Voice. From the moment I held the smooth book in my hands, appreciating the innocent yet seductive cover, flipping to read the blurb at the back with delight, I was bubbling with excitement.

The only reading time I have is during my lunch hour at work. I lock myself into my office, sink into my red leather chair with a steaming cup of tea, immersing myself in the story. Bree Prescott runs away from her life to settle in Pelion, Maine, a quiet town set along a serene lake to escape the tragedy of losing her father.

On her first day of arrival in town, she comes into contact with Archer Hale. She is taken aback by his unkempt appearance, unsightly beard, yet he has the warmest whiskey eyes with an admirable frame of note. She is drawn to him and attempts to hold a conversation, with no response forthcoming. Bree is intrigued by Archer, enquiring from the locals the reason for his withdrawn behaviour and low self-esteem.

Archer Hale is a forlorn character, having lost his entire family in a freak accident and worst still, being shot in his vocal cords at a tender age of seven. He was taken in by his uncle until he too had passed on, leaving Archer to fend for himself. He never interacted with the town folk, they ridiculed him and he didn’t bother to set them straight. He kept himself busy taking care of his property, reading everything in sight, building a cocoon for himself. He thought he would never find love, until Bree walked into his life.

Mia Sheridan writes beautifully, simply and straight from the heart. Time whizzed by reading this book and I struggled to put it down and tear myself away. She pulled out all the stops in denouement, one moment I was reeling with delight, the next she yanked the carpet right under my feet and just when I thought it would all work out in the end – I was balling my eyes out!

Archer’s Voice engraved in my mind the reason why I love the romance genre. Writers like Mia Sheridan convince me time and time again that matters of the heart are the most magnetic, alluring and heart-wrenching stories readers will never become bored of. And when you discover a treasure trove in the form of Mia Sheridan, you know you’ve struck gold.

Week Seven

Recovery after Bunion Surgery

Finally the day of my appointment with my Doctor arrived and I was in high spirits – even though I had butterflies fluttering around in my tummy, I was eager to hear what the next phase in my recovery would entail.

Upon examining my feet, Dr Hastings indicated he was very happy with the healing process. He gave me the greatest news ever – that I could go ahead and fling those ghastly moon boots into the deepest ocean – okay I’m exaggerating here, but that’s what I imagined when he said I no longer needed to wear them *DOUBLE YAY*. He added that I could resume my normal activities – walking, gyming, driving – everything except running.

Next was my appointment with the Physiotherapist and she showed me a few exercises to perform to strengthen my big toes. Then came the moment of truth – whether my feet were strong enough to walk on as no pressure has been applied over the past seven weeks. She helped me off the bed and onto my feet and slowly led me by the hand to roll my feet and walk. I took small steps along the corridor and *drum roll* – NO PAIN – my smile was brighter than the sun!!! She commended how good my feet looked – although warning it was imperative that I perform the exercises daily.

Driving home with Neil felt like I had received an early Christmas gift and got exactly what I hoped for:-). Finally, I was given the go-ahead to walk in normal shoes – okay broad toe-box shoes – at this stage I really don’t care whether they are fashionable, as long as they’re comfortable. The very first thing I did when I got home was hop into the shower – standing on my own feet, water cascading over me, revelling in the longest shower I could stretch! I had dreamed of this moment for months and now that it was transpiring – I was in heaven! I truly appreciate my feet far more now and fully comprehend how simple pleasures can easily disappear from our lives in an instant without us knowing how lucky we are to have the privilege of our limbs or precious bodies.

I was over the moon to resume my normal activities and I went out of my way to ensure that my family celebrated a wonderful Christmas. I prepared as many dishes as I could before the big day to save time and not stress myself out. Even though I found it tough standing on my feet all the time, it was great being able to take care of my family and present them with a delicious Christmas meal with all the fan-fare. My friend Kim joined us and it was lovely having her at our table on one of the most delightful days of the year. Family and friends – the best blessings one could ask for:-).

As Christmas came and went and after eating far too much – I knew it was time to whip myself into shape. Over the past seven weeks, as much as I’ve tried to eat healthy during the course of the week, all the special outings Neil and I undertook over the weekends had cushioned me with unwanted weight. I was struggling to fit into my clothes and the moment of reckoning had arrived to resume an exercise routine.

On Saturday, Neil and I visited the gym eager to burn the excess kilograms. I could cycle, utilise the elliptical trainer, lift weights and swim. When I hopped onto the stationery bicycle, I was cautious not to hurt my feet and placed the level on one and set the time limit to ten minutes. When I finally reached ten minutes – I was flustered and sweating bullets! I couldn’t believe how unfit I’d become, considering I was training for a marathon and had built a huge fitness base before my op. It dawned on me that I was going to have to start from the very beginning and it would take considerable patience and dedication to get myself back on the road to fitness *sigh*.

On the same day I attended a talk by US Romance Author, Natasha Boyd on her journey into self-publishing. I belong to the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa (ROSA) a group on Facebook which provides a platform for Romance Readers and Writers to communicate, promote their work and review books. I reviewed an anthology by Angéle Wells and Phoenix Kelly “Taking Pleasure Seriously” and was blown away by their writing abilities. Angéle organised this initiative and I decided to attend the event even though I was nowhere close to publishing a book or even writing my first novel.

We met at the Aquarium, amongst the hustle and bustle of tourists in Cape Town, in a conference venue, aptly titled the “Tranquillity Room”. In the back drop was a massive glass panel filled with humungous fish swimming in a merry go round. Only a few writers were present, from the introductions made, everyone was published or self-published writers. Natasha Boyd was warm and friendly and proceeded with her talk on her journey into writing and her great success within a short span of time, the pitfalls of signing with publishing companies who bind you to strict contracts, the advantages and disadvantages of utilising an Agent to market your work, etc. It was a real eye-opener realising that even though a writer has written a marvellous book, the struggles they face in getting their work published and receiving their worth. Natasha Boyd has written two romance novels, and her third “Eversea” was self-published and she conveyed her sentiments on this initiative.

Natasha Boyd gave freely of her time with no compensation made as she was on a visit with her family in Cape Town. It was wonderful sitting with a group of seasoned writers discussing our passions especially in a genre we all love. Even though I felt like a complete novice in their company, it was great to get out again and mingle with other writers, networking and learning as much as I can from the industry and the secrets to their success.

This week was everything and more than I ever expected! Not only have my feet shaped up nicely – I have been able to resume almost all of my former activities:-). I truly feel as if the recovery period was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me the space and time to find myself, to open my soul to new endeavours (meditation), to read to my hearts’ content, to focus 100% on my writing passion, enabling me to meet new writers and broaden my contacts while committing to a genre I adore – ROMANCE. The highlight of this phase was most definitely bonding with my family – a priceless treasure – and I was fortunate enough to be afforded with their unconditional love and care:-).

I want to take this opportunity and thank all my amazing friends – you know who you are – who came out week after week to check up on me, all the messages and calls, I truly appreciated each and every one and I will not forget who walked into my life and left footprints on my heart:-). This might be the end of my bunion recovery updates – however the Sweet Life of Sumi Singh will continue to deliver bigger and better happenings in 2015. I hope you stay with me for the ride…

Week Six

Recovery after Bunion Surgery

I have to admit I’m becoming a bit antsy now that my appointment with my Doctor is around the corner. Although I cannot wait to get out of these hideous moon boots and start walking in normal shoes – I’m not certain whether my feet will be strong enough to handle my body weight on them. Jeez, all these pesky thoughts keep popping in and out of my mind!

However, my feet are healing nicely – the wounds aren’t as discoloured, the stitches have dissolved and they look pretty normal! My one hour marathon bathing sessions are still on track, although I’m hoping to shave some time considerably next week with any luck!

This week I’ve managed to help the family out with the cooking. I’ve also succeeded in getting some cleaning done around the house even though it takes me twice as long, taking plenty of seated breaks along the way – it feels great having the strength to pull my weight at home.

I’m still meditating – yay! I look forward to lighting my candle every day, spending ten minutes alone, my ME time to zone out and steer away nagging thoughts. I truly believe that it has benefited me tremendously, I’m calm and collected and don’t become easily frazzled – but then I suppose the real test would be to see how it works in the big bad world when life becomes super-busy.

I finished reading Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and as predicted, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m itching to write a book review. (Although can one write a book review on a writing book – not sure – but what the heck – I loved the book so I’ll give it a bash!) Another book I’m absolutely loving is One Day by David Nicholls – it’s such a marvellous read – the Author has me in stitches with his quirky clever writing. I’ve been on a FABULOUS read-a-thon for a while now and I’m enjoying every moment:-). It confirms once again why I love reading and why writing is my calling.

I was looking forward to the weekend for it marked Neil and my NINETEENTH wedding anniversary. WOW – I sometimes have to pinch myself for I cannot believe we’ve been married that long, but time flies when you’re having fun:-). On these momentous occasions one cannot help nostalgically reflecting on the wonderful years spent together, the beautiful daughters we created and the life we built. Neil walked into my life at the right time to save me from a very lonely period I was going through. And although we might have married at a tender age – the love we shared for one another continued to grow deeper and stronger with each passing year.

Neil and I don’t have a support structure in Cape Town – we raised our girls on our own, managed to provide them with a loving home even though we had tons of challenges along the way, the main ingredients that kept us together was our genuine love and affection for another. I always knew he had my back and he’d protect us till the end. A love like that is hard to find, needs to be nurtured and treasured at all times.

Normally when our anniversary rolls around, we go away for the day or even the weekend but due to my circumstances, this wasn’t possible. Nevertheless we decided to make the most of it by arranging a picnic. This would be the first time I would actually venture out of the car and walk on the grass in full sight of the world!

Luckily we headed to Maiden’s Cove and found a nice shady spot away from the crowds which did not require much walking for me. It was lovely to be outdoors, the mountainous twelve apostles surrounding us, cheery youngsters frolicking on the beach, overlooking a sprawling view of breezy Camps Bay.

We tucked into a delicious picnic of rainbow fruit skewers, greek salad, savoury samosas, beef frikadels, crumbed chicken strips, skewered prawns and topped it all off with caramel and banana pancakes smothered in crème. We were truly stuffed and ready to relax and doze off when a loud-hailer went off in the distance from a police vehicle summoning everyone in the vicinity of Maiden’s Cove to depart as closing time was 18h00! With utter shock and disappointment plastered all over our faces, we unwillingly packed our belongings and petulantly headed to the car.

This minor setback wasn’t going to deter us from enjoying the rest of our special day. We drove off in search of remote spot close to Llandudno to view the sun set. By this time the weather had also turned nasty with the wind blowing ferociously across the waves, shaking the car with its sheer force. But we refused to budge – we sat chatting about the good ol’ days, all the parties we frequented, all the crazy moments we survived all the while listening to some old tunes we loved way back in the nineties. When the time arrived for the sun to set over a blustry Cape Town, a rising cloud threatened to steal its final moments from us and ultimately won as it vanished into the horizon.

So even though our anniversary didn’t quite turn out the way I envisioned – I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it for I was with the one I loved, the one person who has stood by me from the beginning and continues to hold my hand even when things don’t work out as planned. Love isn’t always about romance, flowers and expensive dinners – it’s the small quiet moments with your special someone which snuggles into your heart and steals your breath away and spending time with Neil certainly does that for me:-)