Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Working in Belarus


Can you hear my squeal?

Today is the D-Day for my new contemporary romance.


Rx IN RUSSIAN is released by The Wild Rose Press.


During the mid-nineties, I often travelled to Russia and Belarus for business. I was quite impressed by the Russian culture and hospitality and decided to set my new book in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.



With my heroine, Dr. Jillian Burton, you will discover a different civilization, visit interesting places, marvel at the Russian architecture, taste the exotic food, toast with vodka, wear the warm chapka, experience many of the local customs, and fall in love with a gallant Belarusian doctor.


Traveling to Minsk was a long and tiring twenty-four hour flight. Starting from Cincinnati, OH, I flew on Delta to New York with a couple of colleagues, spent three hours before boarding the big jet to Germany, and arrived in Frankfurt or Munich the next morning around seven. We hardly had two hours to change terminal. Carrying a couple of carryon luggage, we rushed from one terminal to another to catch the Lufthansa flight connection to Minsk that flew only three times a week.


When we missed it, we were stuck for two days or rerouted to Moscow. In Belarus, the government stops the heating between May 1st and October 31st. I went to Minsk for the first time in October 1994 and was greeted by a freezing rain and a brisk cold that seeped through my clothes. Do I have to mention that I was shivering outdoors and indoors, and I never drank as many cups of hot tea—shaye?

Our first official meeting attended by officers, chemists and doctors, took place in a government building called the Hall of Officers. After a series of speech, our Belarusian hosts invited us to celebrate the new contract with toasts of vodka that we were supposed to drink bottoms up while saying Nazhtrovia. No orange juice or ice was added to dilute the 40% alcohol drink. My throat burned and my stomach caught fire. It took several trips for me to get used to the vodka and find it a practical way to stay warm.



When I got sick, my Belarusian friends insisted on treating me with vodka, their universal remedy against cold, cough, stomach pain, and headaches! But we have been instructed by our DOD to jump on the first plane and go back home. Unfortunately, the first plane was often not available until a few days later.



The Belarusians are very hospitable people. We were invited for dinner in many homes. After the inevitable toasts of vodka, we ate the delicious stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, black bread and sausage. The children impressed me with their impeccable manners and their fluent English. They often acted as interpreters for their parents. Our hosts often entertained us with Russian songs.




In Minsk, I used a car with an excellent heating system and a chauffeur who spoke English. My rental car became a haven during the freezing months of winter and the only place where I felt warm and comfortable. Out of curiosity I took the underground train once. It was old and not very clean, a far cry from the magnificent trains of Moscow.


To go to Moscow, railroads were the most comfortable means of transportation. I traveled with, the sleeper Red Train that left Minsk at midnight and arrived in Moscow the next morning. In the sleeping compartment with couchettes, we were provided with sheets, covers, wool blankets. Dinner was included in the fare and came with a bottle of vodka, of course.


PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN Short Synopsis:

Dr. Fyodor Vassilov is a thirty-eight year old widower and devoted family man with four little boys who need a caring mother. Still emotionally crippled by the loss of his wife, Fyodor can’t allow himself to get close to a woman again. Having a fling is okay but love? Forget about it! He has to protect his kids, and his heart, from any further harm.


Jillian Burton is an American pediatrician on an official mission to improve health care conditions in Belarus. A few years ago, she lost her son and her illusions about men, marriage and family, and she won’t risk being hurt again. Feeling guilty about her son’s death, she travels to third-world countries to cure and save children but she never allows herself to get emotionally attached to a child.


Fyodor’s mother presses him to marry a healthy woman who wants a big family and loves children. The last woman who fits the bill is Jillian, a woman who considers herself incapable of mothering a child, a doctor who can’t stop roaming the world.


When Fyodor and Jillian work together in Belarus, their cultures clash and their painful memories still hurt, but their attraction defies all odds.


Can love overcome duty and guilt? If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion.


BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite. Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.


Rx IN RUSSIAN just released at TWRP


30 comments:

Ana Morgan said...

You must speak Russian, Mona.
Do you dream in Russian? Someone told me once that when you dream in a language, you understand the culture of the people who speak it. (I used to dream in German.)

Misty Dietz said...

What an experience you had, Mona! I love talking to people who've done a bit of traveling in their lives. As Mark Twain said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." I've always loved that!

Celia Yeary said...

Fascinating, Mona! Is that you in the photos--the short, cute one?? I am so impressed with your background and credentials. I think this book will be a good seller. Congratulations--Celia

Helen Scott Taylor said...

This is such a wonderful romantic story in a fascinating setting. I'm sure it will be a huge success!

Mona Risk said...

Ana--I hardly say a dozen of Russian words, but they are the good ones, including Nazhtrovia (cheers) I use so often in my book when hero and heroine toast with vodka. A must. LOL I always had an interpreter. In the office picture, she's the woman next to me.

Mona Risk said...

Misty-- You've come to the right person to talk traveling. I have been to over fifty countries. I love your Mark Twain's quote.

Mona Risk said...

Hello Celia-- Yes, that's me the short one, with my interpreter next to me. We were always the only women with a bunch of men. In the middle of the office picture is the USA Ambassador to Belarus, with his little goatie and next him, Major General Portnoy who was I thing Minister of Defense at the time.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Helen, and thank you for all your help.

liana laverentz said...

What a fascinating glimpse into your life, Mona! Cheers to your release of Prescription in Russian!

StephB said...

Mona,
What gorgeous pictures! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I know what it's like to have the heating shut off. They did the same thing to us when we were stationed in Germany. I couldn't wait until Oct 31st! We bundled up with blankies at night.

I've got my prescription! Looking forward to reading it!
Smiles
Steph

Mona Risk said...

Steph, I bet you more than anyone will connect with that story and the setting. Thank you for buying Rx in Russian.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Liana-- I can rhapsodize about my trips to Belarus forever and I still have friends there.

Savanna Kougar said...

Mona, congrats on your release. It's a surefire winner. I would loved to have traveled as you have.

Maggie Toussaint said...

What a fun post! I love hearing about your days in Minsk and surviving in another culture. You had such a great attitude and really took it to heart.

I enjoyed the photos and hearing about all the vodka. You must have been very surprised about knocking back swigs of straight stuff. I can't imagine, but I'm very curious as to whether it worked with illness or not. Did it make you better? Or did it make you not care that you felt icky?

Wishing you all the best with this fantastic release!

Maggie

Barbara Monajem said...

Brrrr! I'm shivering just thinking about no heat for months and months.

Congrats on the release!

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Savanna. Traveling was part of the business. There was fun, but then there was work under difficult conditions.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Maggie, as you said after a few drinks I couldn't feel anything. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Barbara, there was no place to hide from the cold. I bought local chapka and mohair shaw to survive.

Mona Risk said...

A big thank you to Lindsay for having me on Lindsay's Romantics. It's such a beautiful blog.

Mary Marvella said...

Mona, you are a fabulous blogger.Your adventures and pictures make me feel I was with you. Let me get my sweater! I'm excited for you, girl!

Let's party!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Mona,
Great blog. I have always thought I would like to visit Russia, but the cold sort of puts me off. I'd definitely have to go in summer.

Cheers

Margaret

Mary Ricksen said...

Mona, You'e the tiniest one in the room, and the prettiest amongst all the officials!!
I envy you the experience!

Mona Risk said...

Mary, no need for a sweater. Make yourself a cup of shaye, relax in your favorite chair and enjoy Rx in Russian. You'll visit Belarus.

Mona Risk said...

Margaret, definitely go to Russia in June or July. Why should you suffer if you don't have to?

Mona Risk said...

Mary, I was definitely the shortest, even when the chapka gave me a few extra inches in height!

Nightingale said...

Great photos and most interesting post. What wonderful places you go, Mona. I know Prescription in Russian will be a best seller!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Best of luck, Mona. Your photos and story never cease to amaze me. What an exciting life you've lived and how wonderful you are able to share some of these experiences with your readers. :)

Mona Risk said...

Linda, thank you so much for your confidence in me. Rx In Russian is a one of my favorite books. I do hope it sells well.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Paisley, I enjoy taking my readers in unusual trips to exotic places. Come along.

Lilly Gayle said...

Mona,
Finally got around to checking out your post.So glad I did! What great pictures and an interesting peak at Russian life. Your book sounds great. I'm adding it to my TBR list. If you don't mind say, what kind of work did/do you do that allowed you to travel to such exotic locations? sounds fun!