Venice: City of Romance or a Murky Mess?

My husband and I just finished our tour of Italy. The one place I wanted to spend quality time was Venice, a city that survives all odds. Built on a eries of low mud banks constantly beaten by the tidal waters of the Adriatic the brigthly colored facades still stand in their architectural glory.

DSCN1013

And I wanted to walk in the same footsteps of William Shakespeare centuries ago.

DSCN1019

After boarding a ferry we went from the train station across the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. The boatmen had a muscle building tasks of tying the old-school rope instead of nylon. The earthy scent and squeaking of the line as the man wrapped it around a dock post helped distract from the constant downpour of rain.

The croweded pathways didn’t detour me from appreciating the streets made of water, or the black gondolas as the black and white striped shirted gondolier manuevered visitors through the narrow watery alleys.

DSCN1008

Much to my disappointment many of the churches and museums didn’t allow photographs. The art work of Venice and architecutre of the buildings cannot be adequately described…you must see them in person.

Oddly enough my favorite store consisted of Murano glass products. The beauty of the clear and brillant glass made by Venetians since 1291 helped me to decide on gifts for many family members.

Our time in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region was too short. I wanted to spend more time exploring and maybe going over to the glass factory in the small cluster of islands, Murano.

 

all rights reserved jj Keller

 

 

 

Advertisements

Italy: Amalfi Coast

If you’ve seen a painting or print of Italy, generally the scenery is of houses built into the mountain side. The Amalfi Coast has this spectacular landscape admired by most who venture along the rough, wicked turning roads to get to the quaint seaside towns. My husband and I joined two other couples in a van driven by an energetic Italian. The wheels of the van barely touched the asphalt surface, but the fear wasn’t enough to keep me from admiring the scenery. I couldn’t look past the terraces lined with lemon trees.

Crags of misshapen olive trees bursting with soon-to-be-harvested olives dotted the landscape breaking up the vibrant yellow. Houses, seemingly built into the sides of the mountain, glistened in the noonday sun.

We jolted to a stop for a thirty-minute sightseeing walk through Amalfi, where the infamous lemon liqueur is made. Our taste buds were not disappointed…and the next leg of the journey was not as shocking with a bit of 32 proof in me.

A troop of school girls in matching outfits rushed through the streets handing out flyers to a play being performed that night. Visitors and locals interacted despite the language barriers. Coins, EUROs, were exchanged and merchandise moved.

Our next stop was at Positano and lunch at Chez Black a few feet above Mermaid Beach. We tried the buffalo mozzarella and swordfish, both were excellent. Well worth the winding staircase trip to get to the location.

What do you think of the magnificent blue waters of the Amalfi Coast?

Italy: An Experience

Ciao! My husband and I returned from our Italia vacation. The international travel was from his bucket list and although the country isn’t a fav of mine, I am a fan of distinct architecture and classic art work.

Our pilots, on air Italia, were exceptional…coming and going. We prepared for the extended flight, but jet lag zapped our energy straight away. After a sluggish first day, we walked and walked, climbed and slid on the wet stones…loved every minute. Our hotel, while the small room had a water spotted ceiling and no air conditioning, the location near the Trevi Fountain couldn’t have been better…and was guarded by the military,

IMG_1593

because of this building.

Trevi Fountain, just a few steps away, is the largest and most famous fountain since 1762. Central Figures are Neptune flanked by two Tritons-one trying to master an unruly seahorse, the other leading a quieter beast. Symbolizes the two contrasting moods of the sea.IMG_1471.JPG

The Pantheon is my favorite building in Rome (outside the museum). Roman temple of all the Gods designed by Emperor Hadman in AD 118. The temple is fronted by a massive portico, with a screening by a cylinder fused to a shallow dome. The oculus lets the only light inside. 7th Century Christians made the structure into a church and today is lined with tombs and monuments to Raphael. There is a strict dress code and they didn’t allow women with no shirt sleeves or dresses/skirts above the knee to enter. IMG_1455.JPGIMG_1453.JPGAmazing!

After a late dinner,DSCN0962.JPG

we retired. Tomorrow we travel to the Amalfi Coast.

LASR Giftabration

LASR 2017.jpg

Do you like to read?

Want to win free books from exceptional authors?

Gift card anyone?

Join Long and Short Reviews for their 10th Anniversary.

My book Mystic Love will be given to a lucky winner!

  • Ericka Gilmore dabbles in life and death when she tries to conjure a ghost lover. But when flesh and blood, Joe Reeves appears on her doorstep in the midst of a storm, she has to rethink her destiny.

    A car accident left the former cop with the ability to foresee death. No longer willing to watch people he cares about die, Joe goes in search of a shaman to remove his “gift”. His remedy until then is to avoid all relationships. But like a lightning strike, he experiences a strong connection with Ericka. A nearby mystical ley line could be Joe’s solution if he and Ericka combine their gifts. But her secret past and his fear of seeing her death keep them at odds.

    Rating: Spicy
    Page Count: 282
    Word Count: 68692
    978-1-5092-1060-2 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1061-9 Digital 

    Excerpt

    She threw herself against her dream lover, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. His lips were cold, but perfect in form. At first, his mouth didn’t move, but after a couple of seconds, he pressed into her. She flicked the tip of her tongue over his mouth, outlining the curves, and then slid it between his lips. His tongue played with hers. Sharp, decadent longing powered through her.

    Wait a minute, he didn’t taste like she’d imagined. He tasted like mint and human. She touched whatever smooth cool skin she could find available between the coat and his neck and shoulders. Strong and virile hot body. She inhaled, taking in his scent; fragrant late fall wind and the odor of male sweat.

    Sweat? Wet skin? She licked her lips, savoring the zest. A spear of lightning brightened the sky. Six foot three. Left ear piercing. Broad chest. Wrangler posture, with one knee bent.

    Her heart thumped harder, pounding strong in her chest.

    Whom had she kissed?

    ****

    Joe supported her, keeping her in an upright position. Definitely a her as supple breasts snuggled tight against his chest. Her robe opened, and he fought the urge to remove his own garments to feel her warm body against his, flesh to flesh.

    Lips tasting of wine connected with his, insistent and passionate. Six months ago, he embarked on his solo quest, but it hadn’t been so long that he couldn’t remember previous intimacies, and those encounters didn’t compare to her lavish kisses. Whew, hot, he’d go with the flow for a little longer.

    She jerked, and then shoved him away. Sadly, the kiss had been a mistake, and from the flash of surprise crossing her face, she’d realized it as well. The pale blue, almost white, towel came loose from her head. She snapped the cloth off. Sexy dark ringlets fell in twisted disarray to her shoulders.

    Joe had been lucky enough to catch a joyful kiss and snuggle. He’d delighted in the touch of her lips, the scent of her womanhood, and her wonderful nipples piercing into his thin, sodden shirt. Enjoying the mistake and resulting benefits, he grinned.

    The gleam in her eyes went from surprise to anger. With a shaking hand, she wiped her luscious pink mouth.

    He stood in a quandary and debated how to explain. Under the circumstances, she wouldn’t accuse him of a forced entry.

    “Sorry. No lights. I didn’t hear a security system buzz. I would’ve shouted.” He took a step. “Instead of coming inside.”

    She retreated.

    Damn. He’d be sleeping in the rain after all.

MYSTIC LOVE if you can’t wait for the contest!

MysticLove_w8541_med

Ammunition & Protection

In my work-in-progress suspense novel/book, the heroine handles a quantity of guns and various types of weaponry. I love research, so my friend, Liz, and I packed our guns and went to The Well Armed Woman Shooting Club. A barn like structure (the size of half-an-acre, maybe a little exaggeration) was filled with ladies of all ages, races, backgrounds and skill levels. The most interesting aspect of the evening was the number of women who were seeking knowledge of how to use a gun: beginners.

IMG_1390

It frightens me that women in our society don’t feel safe on a daily basis. The desire to carry a gun or at least have one at bedside is becoming prominent.

I wrote down the reasons women attended the meeting and listed some of them below:

  1. Most women answered PROTECT SELF
  2. Learn more about guns and safety
  3. Not shoot with boys
  4. Living alone for the first time: Nervous
  5. Become more proficient with skills
  6. Comfortable shooting a gun
  7. Hobby
  8. Work at night and want to protect self
  9. Self-defense
  10. Want to be in a community of other women who want to protect themselves

As time goes on I wonder if more and more women will seek to gain life-altering protection. Will we revert to the days of our Western ancestors of carrying weaponry on our hips or in a shoulder holster?

On my way out of the range I crossed paths with an armed women entrepreneur who sold earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from old shells. What better way to recycle used ammunition? I bought some dangles. What do you think?

img_1389.jpg

Liz just shook her head. “Only you would go to a shooting range and leave with jewelry.”

Until next time,

jj

Fantasies with spice and humor.

TWITTER http://twitter.com/jjKellerauthor

 

FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/JJ-Keller/263353331459?v=wall

 

WORDPRESS https://romancewithjjkeller.wordpress.com

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=JJ%20Keller&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

 

GOODREADS:

https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomjj_Keller

 

The Valkyrie and the Marine, Pippa’s Rescue, Memory of Love

Shadow of the Hawk/Dark Sun. He’s almost an angel and she’s pure temptation.
http://cobblestone-press.com/catalog/author/jjkeller.htm
Trade Agreement, LASR Best Book, Prop in the movie RED.  www.thewildrosepress.com print and eprint.
All rights reserved.

 

 

Promote like a Food Network Star

I love to write a story, its especially thrilling to get the characters and their tale out of my head. But marketing…ah that is a beast I’ve yet to conquer.

Food Network Star is a program I’m becoming addicted too, not because of hot Bobby Flay or even the eye-rolling Giada De Laurentis, it’s because of their marketing tips. Food Network Star provides cooking information and marking ideas…how can you go wrong with recipes and promotion suggestions.

During the show a contestant must cook an impressive original food and get in front of the camera to try and convince people to eat said dish. The producers create many scenarios, like Beauty and the Beast dinner party, Flashback Dinner (recreate a old staple into a yummy contemporary) and All-Terrain Eats, an experiential restaurant experience.

My favorite star hopeful is Jason Smith. He has a charming Kentucky accent and clever euphemisms. As winner of Holiday Baking Championship, he has certified cooking abilities, but the camera segments each week are new. He’s adapted well and adds his sweet personality to sell his dish.

Like the food network star hopeful, an author must sell his or her book. Even if the author has an outstanding, interesting, story, if the book doesn’t wow the public with the possibility of what’s between the covers the book won’t sell and make the top one hundred.

The chef presents his/her dish, making it as attractive as possible. The book cover needs to draw the attention of reader.

Once the dish is in place the chef describes what the person will taste. And the author needs to create a tagline and blurb to entice the reader farther into desiring the book.

Presence, visual beauty, description and taste are key to becoming a Food Network Star. Bobby told a contestant to keep the film bit simple, the same concept should apply for the virtual presence for an author.

An author’s marketing plan should include presence in the venues where fans/readers might hang out. A writer should include a cover visually attractive to a reader, a blurb that draws the reader to add the book to the cart and check out. The book, like the dish, must have substance and flavor so the reader will get a sublime experience.

As Jason from Kentucky said, “It’ll make your tongue slap your brains out.”

Add a little something-something to your summer fun:Trade Agreement

tradeagreement_w278_120

TRADE AGREEMENT
ISBN: 1-60154-491-X 8.15.09

Falling in love with the next door neighbor—impulsive. Kidnapped by her ex-husband—startling. Traded for contraband on the high seas—unbelievable.
Photo-journalist, Georgina Barrister, realizes she has little time left in this world when her ex-husband hands her over as partial payment for a shipment of illegal imports. Apparently being the perfect wife, the perfect hostess, and the perfect lover hadn’t been enough for him. What did he expect of her now, to be the perfect token? As a captive on a freighter, how will she escape?

Special Agent Jake Callahan believes love at first sight is impossible, until he meets Georgina Barrister Kaplan. However, his assignment on a high-seas trafficking case must overrule his feelings when Georgina becomes the prime suspect.

In search for the truth will they lose their one chance at happiness?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxf1tPBXdSY

Trade Agreement

Available in Print and eprint:

jj Keller

Chapter 1

Atlantic Ocean

Shivers cascaded over Georgina’s body, the November cold penetrating her thin dress. She braced herself against the bumpy jolts as the speed boat hit rough water. The night was moonless, deep black ink surrounded them. The closer they got to the freighter, the faster her heart beat, a quick cadence to match the waves hitting the side of the vessel.

Georgina drew in a shaking breath and tried to lessen her grip on the rail of the boat as they pulled beside the ladder. Her fingers ached with the chill of tension. She glanced at the freighter. It was oh-so tempting to simply fall into the water, but she’d freeze to death or get eaten by sharks. No, the only logical means of escape was catching a ride on the gray metal whale floating in the dark night, on a black ocean, surrounded by a mysterious fog.

She glanced at Kandi, her ex-husband’s current femme-de-jour, dressed in a sleek strapless azure dress and spiked heels, then to Tristan himself. She’d loved him once, but now even looking at him made her colder. His fingers wrapped around the rail of the freighter’s ladder. He grabbed her hand and tugged her from the seat.

No.

Her spine tingled with dread. Tristan couldn’t be trusted. She knew better.

“I’ve changed my mind,” Georgina said. “You can let me off at the next port.”

Tristan gripped her hand tighter and pulled her toward the ladder. “Can’t.”

“Why not?” Georgina jerked Tristan’s arm, ready to throw him overboard. Did demons sink? Her stomach tumbled. Getting on that freighter would be a mistake.

Kandi slid beside Tristan and snarled, “Just get on the ship, Georgina, or I’ll throw your spoiled ass overboard and you can swim back to Virginia.”

Shocked at Kandi’s language and the threat, Georgina glared.

“It’s too late. There’s no going back…not for Gemma either,” her ex-husband spewed.

Damn him for using her best friend as a pawn.

Georgina’s heart rate went tachycardia. She blew slow breaths trying to slow the pace. She released his forearm, sat down on the padded boat seat, and crossed her arms.

“Georgina, climb the ladder.” Tristan’s jaws snapped together.

Kandi sighed and tapped her foot on the metal rail of the rocking boat.

Had Tristan really kidnapped Gemma? He had to be bluffing, but Georgina’s heart rattled against her chest. What if Gemma wasn’t safe? She’d already lost one baby, she couldn’t lose another. “I decline.”

Tristan gripped her arm and jerked her upright. She reached up with her other hand and dug her nails into the tender skin of his palm.

“She’ll go,” Kandi said.

Georgina sneered at the two, pivoted, and clutched the nearest brass rung.

The three-inch heels clipped the metal, and she slipped on the third rail of the ladder. Determined, she tightened her hold and stepped to the next rung.

Homeward bound. A precarious scramble on steps or fear of the unknown wouldn’t prevent her from returning to her little house and Jake. Thoughts of the sleepy little town of Nero intruded. She’d often complained about the boredom and photographing nothing but dog and garden shows. Well, she’d trade her current situation for some of that routine any day.

Jake, her lover. Her heart clutched a little in her chest. Was he searching for her? She maneuvered up one more rung. In the back of her mind, she hoped Jake would come to her rescue.

A wintery breeze blew up her dress and she shuddered. She was beyond chilled in the clingy little dress. She clutched a metal bar and pushed the hem down. Her foot slipped, and her spiked heel dug into Tristan’s fingers. She applied as much pressure as possible.

Tristan roared. He slapped her rear with such force she pressed flush against ladder. “Keep going, Georgina. Move it.” Bastard. She stepped to the next bar, releasing his hand.

Finally, she reached the top. Two goons, heavyweight bookends with matching blank expressions, hauled her over the rail. Tristan crawled on deck and helped Kandi onto the platform.

“Come.” One of the goons, with a melodic Russian accent, motioned with his head.

It didn’t sound like a request.

The men led them down a staircase, through a corridor, and into a square, frigid room. A stainless steel table and two metal chairs were the only furnishings. One seat was occupied by a man she assumed to be Aleksandr Stypopas, the captain of this fine vessel. Like the gentleman he was, Tristan sat down on the other chair. A bottle labeled IKON Russian vodka sat in the middle of them like a referee. Kandi stood behind Tristan, her hand resting easily on his shoulder. Georgina stood to the side, as close to the door as possible.

While the men talked, in Russian or Ukrainian, Georgina deliberated how to convince Aleksandr to return her to the States. He was as dark and mysterious in appearance as the freighter. His shaggy black beard seemed blacker as a result of the elegant gray shirt and pants covering his thin body. Would this nightmare ever end? It had to be a dream, because Aleksandr was wearing Armani for God’s sake, at midnight, on a freighter, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He didn’t look like a man who did favors out of the goodness of his heart. Would he want money? She didn’t have anything to offer. Or did she? She shuddered at the thought. A raised voice captured her attention. What had she missed?

There was a palpable sense of menace in the air.

Had they walked into a trap? Would they all be killed?

TRADE AGREEMENT
ISBN: 1-60154-491-X
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxf1tPBXdSY

 

One of the Long and the Short of Its Best Book 
Every year, The Long and the Short of It likes to reward the best of the best, and this year your story TRADE AGREEMENT is a finalist.
 http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm

Excerpt 2:

Aleksandr’s voice was oily and his smile– insincere. “Kaplan, we’ve been comrades for almost a year. Why the mistrust?”

“Do we really trust one another, my friend?” Tristan took a sip of vodka.

From Georgina’s viewpoint, Tristan’s hand appeared to be trembling. Damn. There were some underlying messages being sent back and forth that caused her alarm radar to go off. She glanced at Aleksandr. He was smiling. Like a crocodile.

Okay, Tristan, it’s time to leave—now! You’ll have to drop me off at the next port.

“Are you calling me a thief?” Aleksandr’s deep, heavily accented voice filled the tiny room like a sonic boom. He bolted to his feet and his chair clanged to the floor. The angry red glow on his face, either from the heated argument or from the drink, accentuated his gray appearance. His lips virtually disappeared into the mass of black facial hair as he sneered.

Tristan’s face remained calm. “Of course. Aren’t we all? We take items and sell them for a profit. The buyers are not important, nor the nationality, nor the cause, nor how illegal the goods. We steal them for the thrill of making a deal. For money.” His blond cropped hair, light crystal-blue eyes, and winsome smile widened, giving him the appearance of the boy next door.

Georgina stared at his devilish dimples while trying to get a grasp on the situation. She’d fallen in love with his dimples, before she’d fallen in love with the man. Now she looked past the façade and wondered how she’d been so foolish.

“I’ve never cheated anyone in my life, and I resent the implication, Kaplan.” Aleksandr nodded his head to one of his henchmen at the door. Georgina’s fight or flight urge was strong. She tensed and glanced at the exit, calculating whether she could get to it before the goons caught her. What she would do after reaching the entrance, she didn’t know. But she desperately wanted to go through that door.

“Please accept my apology. I meant no offense.” Tristan calmly lifted his half-empty glass of liquid fire and held it out to Aleksandr, for a customary salute.

Aleksandr stared at Tristan, a long, intense, soul-searching glare. “Ah, none taken. However, I do insist the whore be given to me as a fair trade agreement.”

Aleksandr slid his black-eyed gaze down Georgina’s body and came back to stare into her eyes. His thoughts about her were as clear as the vodka between them: brown hair, heart shaped face, an ordinary body, and not worth his time. The brunt of his perusal landed on Kandi. Georgina’s heart rate slowed from its marathon speed. Aleksandr lifted his chair and lowered to the seat.

Kandi gasped, edged closer to Tristan, and reached toward her diamond and jade bejeweled bodice. She tossed her long auburn locks out of the way and pulled the limited blue silk material of the strapless dress higher, trying to cover her endowments as much as possible. Her nipples protruded further as a result of her efforts. She folded her shaking hands at her waist.

“Consider it done,” Tristan said, the words ice cold.

“Tristan!” Kandi screeched, her voice, shrill and full of shock. Her pale pink lips quivered, and her bare shoulders twitched back and forth. Tristan had offered her as a door prize.

Could this be happening? The scene was a Saturday B-movie event. People in real-life did not trade off their friends or family to get a shipment of…of…of whatever obviously illegal thing they were exchanging. The goods had to be contraband to make Tristan sweat. Georgina knew him well enough after six years of living together to recognize the signs of his anxiety. Regardless of how calm he appeared, he wasn’t in control of the situation.

Aleksandr’s eyes glittered with dangerous ecstasy. He turned his cold, calculating stare onto Tristan and leaned back in his chair. His jacket gaped, revealing an old fashioned .44 revolver in a gray holster strapped to the side of his chest. Her father had one just like it in his gun cabinet. The racketeer’s don’t-mess-with-me attitude made him the perfect bad guy for any mafia movie.

Georgina tried to ignore the chills running through her body. She pushed a dry wind-blown strand of hair behind her ear. In an effort to appear to be in command of her emotions, she clasped her hands in front of her and waited.

Kandi’s brown gaze turned toward Tristan. She reached over and grabbed his arm, spilling vodka onto the table top. He peeled her fingers loose one by one.

“You can’t do this!” Georgina didn’t care how much she angered either man. Part of the reason she had filed for a divorce concerned Kandi and all of the Kandis before her. But she was still a human and Aleksandr, regardless of his designer suit, was scum.

“Shut up, Georgina,” Tristan barked.

Aleksandr’s glance took in the clear pool of vodka, and a scowl formed on his hairy face.

Apparently he valued his alcohol.

“How barbaric. Stop this right now, Tristan,”

Georgina reasoned, hoping he’d understand this was illogical and perverse.

The oppressive atmosphere grew weighty and thick. Sympathy coursed through Georgina. The black Russian wouldn’t give Kandi the spa treatment on this tub as she’d had on Tristan’s yacht. Tristan had to do something. Why didn’t he act?

“It’s done. Take her away,” Tristan spoke softly, as if the words were for his ears alone. He lifted his hand to his mouth and sucked the alcohol off. The goons started toward the door.

Georgina glanced at Tristan and witnessed the truth in his eyes.

TRADE AGREEMENT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxf1tPBXdSY

jj KELLER

Fantasies with spice and humor.

All rights reserved.