TOGETHER AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS

stock-vector-stop-human-trafficking-logo-template-359051405Since 2007, the European Union has marked October 18th as the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, and adopted the motto TOGETHER AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS. Many of us go through life without ever being confronted with this matter, mostly because we choose to hide from the horrors of life, such as sexual and labor exploitation, also known as modern slavery. I confess I rarely watch the news, not because I don’t care about what’s going on around the world, but simply to protect myself from the painful fury, knowing I can’t do much to make a difference.

I was only dimly aware that human trafficking existed, before I started writing The Plot, a book about a young Japanese girl who is lured to the USA with promises of well-paid work, then forced into prostitution by a Chinese organization. The book is fiction, of course, but the research I had to do while I was writing it is as ugly and traumatic as a raw wound. And just as real.

There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.  Approximately 19% of trafficking involves labor exploitation, and 80% consists of sexual exploitation, which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude, and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.

It’s unspeakable, I know. The estimated cost of a slave is $90. In the 21st century, one can buy a slave for $90. This is the price our society puts on a person, body and soul. It’s hard to believe, even harder to accept. When I first read these statistics, the only thing I could think of was how could anyone fall into such a trap, or if they did, why couldn’t they run, why don’t they go to the police? The answers are quite simple, and I’ve illustrated the most important in The Plot: because the interlopers in trafficking organizations threaten the victims they would harm their families. It’s the simplest and most effective way to keep someone in line and bend them to your will. Who wouldn’t sacrifice themselves to save their family?

I know I would do anything to protect mine. And there are millions of people like me. So the only thing that can be done is to destroy the groups that do this. My heroine, Yoko, succeeded. But of course, fiction is not real life.

What can YOU do to help put a stop to modern slavery? Start here if you’re a EU citizen, and here if you are a USA citizen. And don’t forget to share! ❤

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THE DIARY—between legends and facts

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you’re rested after the weekend, and since Halloween is getting close, I thought I’d start your week and mine with a bit of creepy entertainment. And a 99 cents offer of my suspense/gothic romance, THE DIARY.

Elizabeth_Bathory_PortraitI don’t know how many of you have heard of Countess Erzsébet Báthory, so I’m going to give you a little background.

Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614) is a known historical figure and was a Hungarian countess, also known as Elizabeth Báthory, The Blood Countess or Countess Dracula. She has been labeled the most prolific serial killer in history, being responsible for the torture and murder of hundreds of young girls. The exact number of her victims is unknown, but is estimated at six hundred and fifty. It is speculated that she kept a diary with the names of all her victims, but if such a document exists, it has never been made public.

Living in an Eastern European country, I’ve heard about the countess since I was a teenager, but have only began studying her in 2014, when I decided to write a book that somehow included this horrific historical character. I watched countless documentaries and even two fiction movies about Elizabeth Báthory, and I confess that getting into her head was a terrifying experience. To me, it seems that evil, madness and all things that conjure up horror stories were festering inside this woman, who was allowed to indulge her demonic depravity simply because she was an aristocrat.

I thought I needed to understand her in order to write a book that included legends about her, even tangentially, but I soon discovered it was an impossible, maybe even dangerous ambition. That’s why I started the book by quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, who said that “When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

So that’s how THE DIARY came to life:The Diary Cover

In the legendary Transylvania, a castle belonging to Countess Erzsébet Báthory is discovered. Cameraman Hunter Cole and broadcast journalist Serena Scott arrive to make a documentary about the discovery, and the sinister Hungarian noblewoman, known as the most prolific female serial killer in history.

The two Americans could cope with roughing it in a fifteenth-century castle, with no modern amenities. They can even cope with each other, despite their initial mutual dislike for one another, which gradually turns into a mind-blowing attraction.

But when two girls are tortured and killed in Báthory copycat style, the nearby village is shaken to the core. In terror, they wonder who will be next…

I’ll leave you with a short excerpt, and with the hope that you will find this post as compelling as I do. ❤

EXCERPT FROM THE DIARY

In the bathroom, I lit the three candles and placed the candlestick on the floor. It was lighter here because of the large balcony. There was an old-fashioned wooden tub in a corner, a few basins and some buckets. I turned one bucket bottom side up and put my towels on it, along with the soap and flashlight. Then I went outside onto the balcony and dipped my hand into one of the many containers. The water was still warm.

I went back in and dragged the wooden tub close to the balcony entry. I ran a finger over its bottom to check for dust, pleased to see that someone had cleaned it. When I lifted one of the water buckets and poured it into the tub, my shoulder screamed with pain. Irrationally, I cursed Hunter for not offering to help me, even though I had prohibited him to enter the room before I was done. I dragged another bucket to the edge of the tub and poured the water inside, deciding that should be enough.

I stripped off my jeans and T-shirt, then my bra and panties. I turned another bucket upside down and placed them on it. After I removed my makeup I stepped into the tub, enjoying the feel of the warm water. I didn’t quite fit in the tub, but complaining wouldn’t help.

It could be worse, I thought. What if I were as big as Hunter? How will he manage to wash in this?

The thought of Hunter naked was making me uncomfortable, so I firmly pushed it away, feeling my cheeks grow red. I stretched to get my bath sponge and soap, then started to wash thoroughly. After that, I just relaxed for a few moments in the fragrant water, staring out at the moon. It seemed lost in the inky-black sky, much as I felt in this foreign, strange place. Everything had happened so fast that I’d nearly forgotten why we were here. And when I remembered, an unpleasant shiver crept up my spine.

Had Erzsébet Báthory bathed in this tub? Had she bathed in the blood of virgins as the legends said? There was no concrete proof of that, but why else would she have killed all those young women? The official documents regarding her trial were held secret. It was even said that she’d kept a personal diary, but no one could attest to its existence. I didn’t know much about The Countess, so I would have to do a lot of research to put this documentary together.

I’d read that the evidence indicated the number of her victims to be around eighty, but according to the three-hundred witnesses that had testified at her trial, The Countess had murdered more than six hundred and fifty girls. It was preposterous to think of such atrocities. Even in the historical context, in those times when cruelty was far from unusual and the Hungarians were known for their bestial cruelty, this woman was a stand out.

I’d seen a couple of movies about The Countess’s life, but considered them a waste of time. They’d tried to picture her in a humane way, as a woman, mother, wife and healer, diminishing the most important thing for which she was known: her monstrous cruelty, and perhaps madness.

Lost in these sinister reveries, I jumped when I heard Hunter’s voice.

“Hey, Serena, have you fallen asleep in there?”

THE DIARY is available in eBook and paperback format everywhere books are sold online, and this week you can order it for only 99 cents from  AmazoniTunesKoboSmashwords

You think you can handle… CELEBRITY?

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Dear Reader,

They say 7 is a magic number. Since this is my 7th novel, released on November 7th, and it took 7 months to write, I tend to agree. During this time I was engrossed in the journey of my heroine, in the glamorous Hollywood life, where the general motto is”live fast, die young”.
However, few people know this book was inspired by one of my previous novels, The Diary. To me it is such a powerful book I would love to see it turned into a movie one day, and Celebrity includes how I imagined The Diary would come to life on screen. If you enjoy this book, I hope you will also check out The Diary and find out what inspired me so much. To entice your curiosity further, I’ve included an excerpt from The Diary on the last pages of this book. Enjoy!

BLURB:

Within twenty-four hours, Kendra Kensington’s life changes drastically. She lands a million dollar contract for her latest novel, now on the road to becoming a movie, catches her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and decides to move across the country from Chicago to California. But the City of Angels harbors more demons than she had imagined.
When she meets Blake Tyler, the famous movie star she’s secretly crushed on for years, she thinks her attempt to rebuild her life may just be on the right track. However, the past and the present seem to be conspiring against her and happiness may be harder to achieve than she thinks.

 

YOU CAN PREORDER CELEBRITY FOR 99 CENTS FROM AMAZON, I-TUNES, BARNES&NOBLE, KOBO, GOOGLE PLAY, SMASHWORDS, AND EVERYWHERE BOOKS ARE SOLD ONLINE. I WOULD LIKE TO OFFER FREE ARC COPIES TO ANYONE WHO WOULD LIKE (AND COMMITS) TO REVIEW CELEBRITY. PLEASE EMAIL ME AT:

contact@melindadeross.com 

One day left!

Morning everyone! In case you’ve missed it, my romantic comedy, UNABRIDGED, is free until 10/10/2017. That means there’ s only one day left to download it for free. Unabridged Cover

Now, I’ve had the unpleasant surprise to receive one-star reviews just because the reviewers either hadn’t read the description and expected something else, or they simply don’t like chick-lit/romantic comedies. I find that completely unfair, because IMHO a one-star review should be reserved for truly terrible writing. It takes work, time and a lot of effort to write a book, even if some people think it’s a bad one. While it’s easy to give a bad review, it is not fair to do so if the story simply is not your favorite genre. You shouldn’t download and read it in the first place.

That said, this is what UNABRIDGED is all about.

Ironically, it all starts with a popular book about BDSM.

When Angelina Jameson steps into her boss’s office armed with an acid article about ‘Billionaires, BDSM and Blah-blah-blah’, she thinks her career will take off. But her career aspirations drop into second place when she finds herself face to face with her nemesis.

Blade Spencer is the new editor-in-chief of Unabridged—the literary magazine where his ex-lover Angelina works. For three years, since she fled small town Jamestown without a word of explanation, they haven’t heard from one another. Now, when they meet again, the past and all the feelings they once had between them come rushing back, making them realize their love has never died. But can they reconcile their new circumstances and the changes that have occurred during the three years they were apart? Neither is the person the other used to know.

Then there is the faceless shadow who hunts them from the dark, driven by obsession and greed…

~DEDICATION~

Dear Reader,

I always like to surprise you, to experiment with words and genres whenever I write a new story.

With Unabridged I decided to try my hand at Romantic Comedy, and the result is a chicklit hybrid abounding in humor, but which doesn’t lack introspection.

Personally I adore this story, not only because of the mega-sexy hero, Blade Spencer, but also because of the hillarious incisiveness of some of the more spicy theories of Angelina’s and of the mysterious character Zorro Kalashnikov. You may not agree with their opinions, but I’m sure you won’t be able to resist their charm.

Enjoy!

 

If you’ve already read it, please stop by and leave a review. If not, be aware this is a lighthearted, easy-going story, that doesn’t have a complicated story and complex characters. It’s a story you read for fun, to escape and not have to focus on it too much. 🙂

You can download UNABRIDGED from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo.

WHO’S READY FOR A FREEBIE?

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Good morning, everyone! Do you know what’s better than to wake up to coffee and cookies? To wake up to a free book! I’m talking a lighthearted, super-funny romantic comedy that will make you start your day with laughter, one of those reads you don’t need to focus on and frown upon to make sure you didn’t miss any details. A book you don’t have to read, for school or to broaden your general culture, but one that you love to read just for fun!

I’m talking about The Job Blower, my romantic comedy that will blow your socks off. You can read it for free starting today. All you have to do is subscribe to my website, and join the fun. And please don’t forget to leave a review. ❤

Start here: subscribe

 

🇷🇴 CUM E SĂ FII FATĂ?

Cum-e-sa-fii-fataCând am primit o invitație-provocare de la Editura Univers să scriu despre această temă, m-am gândit că va fi ceva extrem de simplu și super distractiv. La urma urmei, îmi place la nebunie să fiu fată și nu aș vrea niciodată să fiu altceva. Dar cu toate că a fost distractiv, n-a fost deloc ușor să sap prin sertarele memoriei și să mă plimb prin casă cu orele, vorbind de una singură, în căutarea răspunsului la întrebarea asta atât de complexă: “Cum e să fii fată?”

Nu știu dacă am reușit nici pe departe să ilustrez o poveste pe-atât de frumoasă cum e coperta acestei antologii, însă după ce am citit textele celorlalte fete, am simțit că roșesc de mândrie să-mi văd numele în aceeași lucrare cu ale lor. Dana Săvuică, Ioana Chicet-Macoveiciuc, Cristina Andone, Adela Dan, Raluca Feher, Miruna Ioani, Andra Nistor, Victoria Serman – opt femei care, la fel ca mine, și-au așternut pe hârtie gândurile, amintirile, esența lor feminină. Această carte mi se pare la fel de evocatoare ca un parfum neobișnuit, cu note simple, dar și cu adieri exotice – o definiție a femininului. De un lucru sunt sigură: am să o păstrez ca pe o comoară, și-am  să o răsfoiesc iar și iar de-a lungul anilor ce vor urma, mai ales că acesta e primul titlu din cărțile mele în limba română care a apărut și în format tipărit. Trebuie să recunosc că arată superb lângă colecția mea dragă!

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Cartea poate fi cumpărată de pe site-ul Editurii Univers și din librării, inclusiv Cărturești, Diverta, Humanitas, și altele.  Lansarea oficială va avea loc la Cărturești-Verona pe 14 septembrie, la ora 19, și cu toate că spre marea mea nefericire eu nu pot ajunge, sper să ajungeți voi și să-mi trimiteți cât mai multe poze. Și impresii. ❤

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They label you no matter what

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Hello from sunny Timișoara! Those of you who follow me know that six months ago my husband and I moved into another beautiful city. Timișoara is one of the most stunning cities in Romania, and has been appointed the European Capital of Culture in 2021. Old aristocratic buildings dating from three hundred years and more carry not only the history of the city, but the legacy of our country. Each stone paved road and each intricate balcony tell a story, in this poetic new home of ours.

In fact, Romania is such a beautiful country it has inspired many authors to place their stories here. I was fortunate enough to meet one of these authors, bestselling novelist Carmen DeSousa, who’s writing an entire series that features a Romanian family.

And as we both are great chatters, one of the subjects that we debated is the pros and cons of being a multi-genre author. Since Carmen is a bestselling author and her sales are more than impressive, she has actively proven that an author can be successful and accomplished by writing in several genres.

On the other hand, I’ve heard about many narrow minded people who label writers after reading a single book, and never pick up another book by that author. For instance, I know people who have read a simple romance written by Sandra brown thirty or so years ago, when she was a simpleton newbie, and labeled her books as cheap and cheesy literature for housewives. They never even learned how much her writing style has changed, what amazing thrillers she writes and why her suspense romances are constantly on the New York Times bestsellers list.

Unfortunately, some readers don’t understand that authors grow, change, experiment, that it takes time and many tries to improve oneself as an author. They label you from a single book. This kind of mentality is wrong, but so common it often made me wonder if I should stick to a single genre, if I should un-publish my older books, if-if-if…

If readers knew how much effort, sweat, soul and tears an author pours into a book, even if it’s a bad book, I think they would have more respect for our craft. They wouldn’t be so quick to give bad reviews. Everyone can be a critic, but not everyone can be a fair critic. Are you taking your responsibility as a critic/reviewer seriously?

Funniest love declarations in books

Howdy, everyone! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while, but I’m working on several projects at a time. I must say, trying to build a bilingual career on two continents is unexpectedly exhausting, and the rewards are slow to come!

Anyway, the idea for today’s post came to me – as most brainstorms do – last night, when I was about to fall asleep. I’m just rereading (for the 7th or 8th time) Nora Roberts’s “Angels Fall”, a book I particularly enjoy, and the excerpt I’m about to reveal made me laugh out loud, as it does every time. The story’s main characters are Reece – a troubled woman who’s trying to escape some deep traumas, and Brody – a man who’s apparently an unfeeling jerk, but who develops a soft spot for the heroine in which many women will find themselves.

Love you worse 2Unlike the typical, syrupy love stories, their romance is more interesting and unusual. So, with this in mind, here is my Top Three Funniest Love Declarations in Books:

#3 is a scene from the very Queen of Comedy, Janet Evanovich and her well-known screw-up heroine, Stephanie Plum, forever torn between the love of two men, Ranger and Joe Morelli:

“How could you be tired? It’s eight o’clock. It’s time to get up! I’m leaving. Don’t you want to kiss me good-bye?”

Nothing. No answer. I whipped the sheet off him and left him lying there in all his glorious nakedness. Morelli still didn’t move.

I sat on the bed next to him. “Joe?”

“I thought you were going to work.”

“You’re looking very sexy . . . except for Mr. Happy, who seems to be sleepy.”

“He’s not sleepy, Steph. He’s in a coma. You woke him up every two hours and now he’s dead.”

“He’s dead?”

“Okay, not dead, but he’s not going to be up and dancing anytime soon. You might as well go to work. Did you walk Bob?”

“I walked Bob. I fed Bob. I cleaned the living room and the kitchen.”

“Love you,” Morelli said from under the pillow.

“I l-l-l-like you, too.” Shit.

 

 ~Eleven On Top, JANET EVANOVICH

 

#2 presents Claire and Jamie Fraser, the famous characters from “OUTLANDER”, the equally famous odyssey written by Diana Gabaldon, which has inspired Starz to create the TV series with the same name. This is when Claire first declares her love to her new husband:

“Oh, Jamie, I do love you!”

This time it was his turn to laugh. He doubled over, then sat down at the roadside, fizzing with mirth. He slowly fell over backward and lay in the long grass, wheezing and choking.

“What on earth is the matter with you?” I demanded, staring at him. At long last, he sat up, wiping his streaming eyes. He shook his head, gasping.

“Murtagh was right about women. Sassenach, I risked my life for ye, committing theft, arson, assault, and murder into the bargain. In return for which ye call me names, insult my manhood, kick me in the ballocks and claw my face. Then I beat you half to death and tell ye all the most humiliating things have ever happened to me, and you say ye love me.” He laid his head on his knees and laughed some more. Finally he rose and held out a hand to me, wiping his eyes with the other.

“You’re not verra sensible, Sassenach, but I like ye fine. Let’s go.”

 

~Outlander, DIANA GABALDON~

 

And now…Periods love

 

#1, the excerpt that has started this post, and one of the many reasons I love Nora Roberts’s books, full of edgy humor, among other things:

“I love you. I’m in love with you.”

She heard absolutely nothing for ten full seconds. And when he did speak, she caught the faintest trace of fear mixed in with the annoyance.

“Hell. No good deed goes unpunished.”

She laughed, rich and full and long. And the warmth of it soothed her raw throat, her raw nerves. “And that’s why, I must be out of my mind. Don’t worry about it, Brody.”

 

~Angels Fall, NORA ROBERTS~

 

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if it put a smile on your face, as it was intended, feel free to share the fun! 😉

Can He Love Her AND Her Past? Our Hero Has A Hard Decision To Make In ‘The Plot’ by @Melinda_De_Ross #FoolInLove #Romance

Siren Allen

FOOLINLOVE

The road to a happily ever after in Romanceland is never an easy one. This month, we’re highlighting the dark moments of our favorite romance novels. In The Plot, our hero has a decision to make.

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He didn’t know how many hours had passed since he was staring sightlessly at the ceiling, alone in darkness with only his thoughts as company. It had been more than a week since he and Yoko had been together in this bed, ready to make love for the first time. A week since she’d told him she loved him, and he’d said the same to her. Then her sordid confession had been like the hit of a bus.

He still couldn’t take it all in. Whenever he imagined his sweet, innocent Yoko in bed with some other man—or men—he felt he would go mad. When he thought of everything she must have endured, of…

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🇷🇴 De ce să alegem e-Book-urile?

Trăim într-un secol al tehnologiei, suntem dependenți de telefoane, tablete și laptopuri, însă e incredibil câți oameni nu au descoperit încă e-Book-urile. Este adevărat și trist în același timp că din ce în ce mai puține persoane citesc în zilele noastre, însă totuși sunt plăcut surprinsă să văd din când în când câte un tânăr absorbit într-o carte. Fie că sunt în metrou, pe bancă în parc sau într-o micuță cafenea boemă, mă bucur enorm de câte ori am ocazia să văd oameni citind. Cu toate astea, în România chiar și majoritatea tinerilor încă se agață cu încăpățânare de cartea tipărită, în loc să dea o șansă și cărților electronice.

Nu știu câți dintre voi ați auzit de Streamland.ro, platforma electronică a Editurii Univers, care pune la dispoziție cea mai variată gamă de e-Book-uri de pe piața românească, la niște prețuri incredibile. Am fost extraordinar de încântată când Streamland a publicat unul din romanele mele în limba română, Un sărut franțuzesc în Londra, și de atunci am tot încercat să le arăt tuturor cunoștințelor mele avantajele de a citi cărți electronice.

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În primul rând, e-Book-urile nu ocupă spațiu. Poți purta o bibliotecă întreagă în buzunar, pe un simplu stick sau DVD. Nu mai spun cât sunt de comod de citit, chiar și pe telefon. Când aștepți să intri la dentist, sau când stai la coadă la supermarket, poți să scoți repede telefonul și să mai citești un capitol din cartea ta preferată. În plus, dacă tot ne petrecem atâta timp în fața unui ecran, fie că e calculator sau alt dispozitiv, măcar să facem ceva util, în loc să pierdem vremea pe Facebook.

Oricât de mult ador cărțile tipărite, mirosul de cerneală și de hârtie, protejarea mediului a devenit o problemă serioasă în ziua de azi. Dacă stăm să ne gândim câți copaci sunt masacrați pentru ca noi să putem răsfoi paginile unei cărți, ne dăm seama că e-Book-urile sunt un mod de a citi nu doar comod, ci și responsabil. În plus, dacă vrem să căutăm ceva anume într-o carte electronică, trebuie doar să dăm un simplu search, nu să ne chinuim ochii parcurgând sute de pagini până găsim ceva.

Și dacă tot am ajuns la subiectul ochi, a apărut o soluție și pentru cei care au probleme cu vederea și nu pot citi prea mult, însă adoră cărțile. Mărturisesc că eu fac parte din această categorie. Sunt o cititoare avidă și devorez sute de cărți pe an — toate astea în timp ce merg pe stradă, dau cu aspiratorul sau tai legume pentru ciorbă. Ce face posibilă această minune? Cărțile audio, și programele gen TextAloud, care printr-unul din multele miracole ale tehnologiei moderne, face posibil ca o voce electronică să îți citească, pur și simplu, cartea preferată.

Un alt avantaj al e-Book-urilor este că sunt mult mai ieftine decât cărțile tipărite, și nu ocupă spațiu decât în memoria virtuală a unui dispozitiv. S-a terminat cu rafturile pline de cărți pe care trebuie să le ștergi de praf în fiecare săptămână, și care sunt atât de ghiftuite că nu mai ai loc unde să le îndeși. În schimb, poți să îți cumperi oricâte e-Book-uri vrei, și  dacă știi unde să cauți, ai să găsești o mulțime de cărți electronice gratuite. Da, exact: GRATUITE. Autorii moderni sunt atât de nerăbdători să își promoveze cărțile și să încurajeze cititul, încât de multe ori le oferă gratis iubitorilor de lectură.

Toate acestea constituie doar o listă infimă cu avantajele nemaipomenite pe care le au cei ce aleg e-Book-urile. Pe măsură ce veți deveni fani ai cărților electronice, veți descoperi o gamă nelimitată de atu-uri pe care cărțile tipărite nu vi le oferă. În plus, având ocazia să citiți numeroase cărți gratuite, oricând și oriunde, vă veți îmbunătăți cultura generală și veți descoperi noi autori. Nu-i așa că v-am pus pe gânduri? 🙂