Happy release day, CELEBRITY!

Celebrity_teaser

 

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!

 

First readers’ impressions:

“If you enjoy Jackie Collins, you will love CELEBRITY!” – Editorial Review 

“This gutsy woman won’t be broken as she sets out to remake her life Hollywood style. A MUST-READ!” – Susanne Matthews, international bestselling author

And the first review, as well as an interview I very much enjoyed from Ana K, book blogger and aspiring writer: https://toyangi.wordpress.com/2017/11/07/book-review-celebrity-by-melinda-de-ross/

Until next week, CELEBRITY is 99 cents, so be sure to get your copy before then, and don’t forget to leave a review ❤

 

Available as eBook and paperback on Amazon

TOGETHER AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS

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Since 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! ❤

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.

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I 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:

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. ❤

The Diary

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 on Amazon

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.

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Unlike 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…

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#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! 😉

30 Pieces of Honesty

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?

A: Liqueur chocolates.

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2. Where was your profile picture taken?

A: In Brasov, during our holiday in July.
3. Do you play Pokemon GO?

A: NO!
4. Name someone who made you laugh today.

A: Same person who makes me laugh a hundred times a day: my hubby.
5. How late did you stay up last night?

A: Midnight.
6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?

A: New Zealand or some tropical island without poisonous creatures.
7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?

A: No.
8. Which of your friends lives closest?

A: Costina.
9. Do you believe ex’s can be friends?

A: Depends on the reason of the breakup.
10. How do you feel about Dr. Pepper?

A: Never tried it.
11. When was the last time you cried?

A: Yesterday.
12. Who took your profile picture?

A: My husband.
13. Who is the last person you took a picture of?

A: Again, my amazing husband. ❤

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14. Was yesterday better than today?

A: Not at all.
15. Can you live a day without TV?

A: I don’t watch TV. Ever.
16. Are you upset about anything?

A: My current book is taking longer to finish than I hoped.
17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?

A: Relationships are the main reason that makes life worth living.
18. Are you a bad influence?

A: Maybe to small children. I tend to swear a lot. :-/
19. Night out or night in?

A: In is always better.
20. What items could you not go without during the day?

A: My laptop. It was in the repair shop for two weeks. I thought I would die, honestly.
21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?

A: I can’t remember.
22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?

A: Which inbox? I have loads of them!
23. How do you feel about your life right now?

A: Going up, wish it was faster, but all in all, happy.
24. Do you hate anyone? Hate is a very strong word. I dislike a few, but hate?

A: No. I’ve never really hated anyone in my life.
25.  Has anyone ever called you perfect?

A: My husband, all the time. Love must be blind! 😀
26. Someone knocks on your window at 2AM, who do you want it to be?

A: Since I live at the 5th floor, if that happened I’d probably have a heart attack first, then shoot the intruder, then ask what the hell he’s doing there.
27. Name something you have to do tomorrow.

A: Grocery shopping.
28. Do you think too much or too little?

A: Waaaaay too much!
29. Do you laugh a lot?

A: Yes. To quote Chaplin, a day without laughter is a wasted day.
30. Do you have any fears?

A: Many of them. But as long as I have my soul mate by my side, together we can face anything. ❤

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Saturday night fun

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been MIA for quite a long time, but it’s been a busy summer. Between a fabulous Transylvanian vacation, releasing a new book and writing another, my days have pretty much raced past me. Today however I stumbled over a fun challenge on Facebook, and decided to take it. It’s called Let’s see if you aren’t ashamed of your past…
So, here goes:

💪Tattoos? – Not yet…

👂Piercings? – 5 and a half. Don’t ask.

💍Engagements? – One that led to my wonderful marriage.

👫 Children? – Not yet.

🚗 Speeding ticket? – It’s in my future, I’m sure. :/

🚓 Been arrested? – No, why should I? Did you hear something? 😀

🚓 Been in prison/jail cell? – Nope.

👊 Been in a fist fight? – Um… Once, but I didn’t start it. :p

🔫 Shot a gun? – All the time!

🍻 Ever been drunk? – Not exactly…

🏥 Ever broken a bone? – No. God takes care of fools and all that…

💥🚙 Ever crashed a car? Same as above.

If you had as much fun as I did reminiscing over crazy days of misspent youth, I challenge you all to keep this going. Happy Saturday! 😉

First peek into The Job Blower ;)

Hi there, everyone! Don’t know about you guys, but I am melting at 104 (40 Celsius) degrees, and I think my tongue is hanging out a little from all this heat. The only light at the end of the tunnel (or, in this case, the promise of coolness and shadows) is the trip to the mountains my husband and I have planned on my birthday in July. One week of mountain views, fresh air, and possibly bears. Although they are considered one of Brasov’s main attractions, I do hope we can pass this last bit of excitement.

I plan to take a well-deserved break from writing as well, but since I’m at it now, I’m going to post the first excerpt of my latest novel, The Job Blower. Now, I know the title sounds naughty to your dirty little minds (I was counting on that!), but in fact this is a non-kinky, explosive Romantic Comedy about a pretty air-head, Camilla Jackson, who screws up job after job, leaving disaster and destruction wherever she goes. Until she meets the handsome and troubled Carter Evans, of course…

But first, here’s a little sneak-peek into the book, right after Camilla is fired from her first job at a law firm:

“I stopped by the supermarket and bought half a gallon of ice cream, three boxes of chocolates and a few other similar items any girl needs during a crisis. I’d just paid for my purchases when I realized I needed to pee quite urgently. I grabbed my bags and headed toward the ladies’ room. No one was about, but when I opened the door to a stall, I was confronted by the naked hairy ass of a man. I nearly dropped my bags in my indignation.
“Get out, you asshole! This is for women,” I shouted.
“So is this,” he said, turning around with his penis in his hand. I couldn’t help but stare for a moment, repulsed yet fascinated by the tiny appendage protruding from an impressive forest of pubic hair.
“Put that thing away and get out of here,” I shrieked, noticing from the corner of my eye that two other women had stepped into the room and were chattering loudly. They couldn’t see the guy, but I heard their intakes of breath when the guy asked me, “Wanna touch it?”
I pointed toward the door.
“Out!”
“No, no. Right here, so everyone can see,” the pervert said, still holding his wanger and wiggling it at me.
“Jesus!” I heard one of the women echoing my thoughts aloud as she inched closer to see what was going on. “Martha, call security!” she told her friend in a high, snooty voice. “Tell them there’s a naked man in the women’s restroom.”
The other woman took a peek at the exhibitionist, then clamped a hand over her eyes with a gasp and ran toward the door. I rolled my eyes in disgust and followed her. There weren’t many shocking things in Jersey, and I was really hard to shock.”


¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ THE JOB BLOWER
You can find THE JOB BLOWER on Amazon

Three reasons why you should read

I’ve always heard that, ironically, writers read very little because of the lack of time. Well, I’m proud to be the exception to this rule. While it’s true I don’t have much time to read, I listen to audio books most of the day, and my Mp3 Player is always handy. Thanks to my husband and the wonderful technology that makes this possible, I can turn every e-Book in audio format with a program called Text Aloud. Listening to books makes my life better, it makes it easier to cook and clean the house—which I hate, makes loneliness less painful during the long hours my husband is at work. Books can put a smile on my face and help me relax as nothing else does.

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I’ve loved reading ever since I was four and my mother taught me how to read. I suppose it was both an acquired as well as an innate taste, since my father is not only an avid reader, but a writer as well. Our home has always been filled with books of all kinds, and that makes the memories of my childhood pricelessly wonderful. I’m sad to see the generations that come after me read less and less. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy when I receive messages from teenagers who say they love, or at least like my books. That means they read, so there is still hope.

Why read? others ask me. Why read when you can play a game on your Play Station or watch a movie bursting with sex and violence? Well, I’ll give you 3 good reasons why books will make your life better:

  1. Reading makes you SMARTER.

It’s been scientifically proven over and over again that reading has tremendous influence in developing your intellect, improving your memory and imagination. It doesn’t matter if you prefer fiction or non-fiction, there’s always something to learn from a book. Your entire vision of the world changes, your vocabulary improves, and you become able to carry conversations regarding a number of subjects you’ll have to tackle one day for a job interview, or to impress a potential lover. You’ll never sit awkwardly again in a room full of smart people, embarrassed that you have no notion of ridiculously simple things, like on which continent Egypt is located, or who invented the light bulb. Shame on you! 😛

  1. Reading helps you RELAX.

Personally I prefer reading fiction, anything that contains a love story, to be more specific. Why? Because reading helps me escape the trivial or sometimes tragic problems of daily life. It gives me a state of optimism, a mental break from my inner turmoil, and sometimes even helps me find the most unexpected solutions to the problems I was trying to get away from. There’s nothing more stress-releasing than lying in bed or in a tub full of foamy hot water, reading a good book. I mean, what’s not to love about indirectly living the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn from the comfort of your own bedroom?

  1. Reading makes you SEXIER.

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You might think I’m crazy by this time, but I’ll prove to you in a minute that I’m not. It’s a known fact that women read more than men. Consequently, women find men who read immensely more attractive than those who don’t. After all, unless the woman you like is a sports fanatic, what the hell do you have to talk about together? This might shock you, gentlemen, but while you’re watching your favorite ball game, be aware that your girlfriend/wife is getting on with her current book boyfriend. Because you know what? Women who read are not only smarter, but those who love romance novels especially are also hornier and much more creative in bed.

So, guys, you’d better put down the remote and grab a book from time to time if you don’t want to be replaced by a fictional character. Better yet, buy your lover a pile of romance books and a negligee, and I can guarantee neither of them will collect dust! 😉

Mindless eating? Hell, no! FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

The idea for this post came to me just minutes ago, when I was working on my new book. Well, actually I realized I was eating, writing a sentence, then eating some more. That’s when it occurred to me that, in my case at least, creativity is directly connected with food.

Oreos

Believe it or not, I am a sweetaholic and I simply cannot live without sugar. Nor fat and salt, for that matter. I actually have a permanent stash of snack treasures on my desk (and on my nightstand, and in the kitchen, and okay, in the pantry too). My favorite treats of all are Oreo biscuits, chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, glazed peanuts… Pretty much everything that tastes good and crunches.

So why is it that most of us have an acute need to eat while we work? Whether it’s writing, making calculus, writing reports or studying microorganisms, food is the fuel of creativity.

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And I even came up with a scientific explanation of sorts. It’s been proven that intellectual effort can be even more demanding than physical strain. Therefore, it is in our nature to need food while we concentrate on something.

Now, I know I’m supposed to advise people to eat healthy, fear carbohydrates and sugar more than they do the Devil, and so on. The thing is I am all for healthy living too, but I’m fortunate enough to have a good metabolism and to be able to eat anything I want (I know this is the point when most women start cursing me, and it’s okay, I used to do that to women with perfect breasts).

Anyway, personally I try to eat a little bit of everything and have a balanced diet. Most of the time. Both my husband and I have tiny problems with cholesterol, so I try to cook healthy at least three-four times a week. We eat just about anything, but avoid fats, too many eggs and fried food. Other than that, we are both food fanatics living on snacks and Pepsi.

Kung Fu Panda

So, now that we’ve uncovered the mystery of the so-called mindless eating, I hope you are relieved to know that it’s your brains demanding food while you work, not your stomachs. And even when you’re not working, you’re thinking of working, so you still need food, right? Just don’t blame me if you end up getting fat, okay? 😀

Have a great week everyone! ❤