23 Dec 2021

Looking for light . . .

 


There's light beyond the mountain!

Since the advent of COVID-19, much has been in flux regarding so many aspects of life, particularly travel. And now, here we are in the Advent season, according to Christian tradition, looking for light and expecting something good to come. But, when?

"When will we be there?" is a question that echoed off the windows of our family car more than once while I was growing up. It has also silently bounced between my ears on many occasions, especially when I've been aboard a plane and arriving at my destination seems to take longer than my clock says.

When will this pandemic end? I'd be happy with a little benign pandemonium instead, that's for sure! I've just had my Jan. 26 trip to Cuba cancelled. If you've heard the phrase, "third time's the charm," I can tell you it's not always so. Not counting the original April 2020 cancellation due to the onset of COVID, this was my third attempt to return to my "second home." I've been trying to go in order to take a suitcase full of much-needed medical/health supplies, as well as to do some reconnaissance, prior to offering a group trip.

At some point in 2022, I WILL make it to Cuba! The duty-free exemption for a suitcase of supplies (including food) is currently in place until the end of June, and I very much want to take advantage of that offer. The Cuban government has extended the exemption deadline once but there's no guarantee they will do so again.

There's no guarantee about anything, of course. That's been driven home like a hard-hammered nail in the past two years. I haven't been able to travel to Cuba, where my heart is drawn, or to the U.S., where much of my family resides. Nor have I been able to host physical launches for my two novels, Cuban Kisses and the sequel, Cuban Wishes. The third book in the trilogy will be out in the early part of the new year, hopefully, so we plan to officially launch all three at once. (I'll be sure to announce everything, don't worry!)

I do feel hopeful about my writing projects, just as I do about making it to Cuba before my friends forget what I look like! As well as much-needed medicine and such, I have books to deliver to those who were particularly supportive of my writing as I was doing it. I guess you could say that I AM expecting good things to come, and I DO see light beyond the mountain. The dark clouds will pass and the sun will blaze brilliantly once again, both here and there – in Cuba, where support is very much needed due to issues beyond COVID.

I will let you know how my ventures go, regarding both my forthcoming novel and my upcoming trip to Cuba. Meanwhile, let me know if you want copies of either Cuban Kisses or Cuban Wishes – $20 and $25, respectively, or $40 for both, when ordered at the same time (CAD for all prices). I can mail them to you in either Canada or the U.S.; payments can be made by e-transfer or PayPal.

This letter, however, should not end with a sales pitch! So, let me just reiterate that I AM feeling cautiously optimistic about the coming year! (Okay, those of you who know me would probably say it's my normal state but, dagnabit, that's been a challenge of late.) But, really and truly, I do see a warm glow on the horizon, amid the majestic Sierra Maestra mountains, and I intend to go toward it as soon as I possibly can. After all, I have a new manuscript in the works, along with ideas for special travel experiences, and I need to do some on-the-sand research!

Take care, stay safe and enjoy the holidays!
Hasta luego & shalom,
Jenny
 

 

11 Nov 2021

What's up with Cuba... & Jenny's CUBAN KISSES novel series?

 

Here's an update about Cuba, me & my novels

Hola! I recently sent out an email (below the line) to people who'd purchased one or both of my novels, just to let them know the current status. But, I would be remiss if I did not check in with my JennicaCuba travel friends too. So, I'll give you a quick update on Cuba: it's gradually opening up!  They are madly vaccinating the populace and, as of Nov. 15, will begin welcoming more tourists with fewer COVID-related restrictions. I will send more information about what's going on there soon. For now, please peruse the text below about my novels and keep Cuba in your hearts!

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This is the synopsis of what's been going on during the past few months, regarding me and my writing. As some of you may know, the Ripple Press Publishing Corp. decided to close, primarily blaming COVID. I ended up buying the remaining physical copies of my novels, both Cuban Kisses and Cuban Wishes, which I'm now selling on my own under the banner of "Jenny Loves Words" (website coming soon). A new publisher is being sought. Hopefully, the third novel in the trilogy, Cuban Missus, will be available in the first half of the new year – it's written, edited and ready to go! In fact, the photo above is the one I have in mind as a cover image.

Meanwhile, you can purchase both Cuban Kisses and Cuban Wishes from me directly, or from a growing list of stores that now carry both books – mainly in the Muskoka area at this point. As well, if you are in Huntsville during the latter part of November, you are hereby invited to stop by the 2nd Annual Winter Art Market to pick up a signed copy! I'll be at the show intermittently and, if you're there when I am, I'll be happy to provide a personalized inscription.

The Winter Art Market is being presented by Muskoka Unlimited, in conjunction with the Huntsville Festival of the Arts, at the HFA studio, 58 Main St. East, Unit 2 (the entrance is at the rear of the building, across from Huntsville's River Mill Park, near the town docks). The show will take place on three consecutive weekends, Nov. 12-14 (Fri./Sat./Sun.), Nov. 18-21 & Nov. 25-28 (Thurs./Fri./Sat./Sun.). The hours are 2-6 p.m. on Thursdays & Fridays, noon-6 p.m. on Saturdays & Sundays.

If you can't make it to Muskoka, you're welcome to contact me via Facebook or email (jennyloveswords@gmail.com). I can mail copies to you and, if you order in the next few weeks, they should arrive in time for Christmas! Payments can be made through PayPal or, for Canadians, by e-transfer. If you buy both at the same time, the price is $40. Autonomously, Cuban Kisses is $20 and Cuban Wishes is $25 (it's bigger!). Shipping costs vary according to where the books are being sent but, in most cases, Canada Post fees seem to be around $20 for the set. That's all in Canadian funds, of course!

I hope to see you, if you're in the Huntsville area in the coming weeks. If we don't cross paths here, perhaps we will in a more southerly location, such as Cuba, southern Ontario or Scottdale, PA! 

~ XO Jenny


 

17 Aug 2021

Sad news from Cuba...

 

Some of you will remember meeting Ramón...

 
I first met Ramón Cisnero in 2013, when he was visiting Toronto with our mutual friend Felix Naranjo, who had arranged a show featuring Ramón’s paintings. At the time, I didn’t realize what a small sample of the artist’s vast array of work that was! I subsequently learned that he had created many of the wonderful sculptures I’d seen in Manzanillo de Cuba, along with numerous paintings that decorated the walls at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo y Farallón del Caribe. He was incredibly prolific and diverse in his artistic media and subject matter, although the importance of preserving historic architecture was often a theme in his work.
 
A few years after meeting Ramón, I had the pleasure of introducing this amazing artist to participants in several “Manzanillo Art Tour” excursions I organized with the help of Felix. Despite his well-earned acclaim, however, Ramón always retained a gentle, sincere humility. On Aug. 16, 2021, he succumbed to COVID-19, not long before his 53rd birthday. He will be sorely missed by his numerous friends and admirers in Cuba and beyond. His soft smile will live on in many memories, just as his exceptional body of work will provide a magnificent legacy. [You can find more photos in my Facebook albums or JennicaCuba group.]
 

 
 

17 Jun 2021

Are you getting ready to travel yet?

 


Wishing to travel? Here's something to read...

I'm delighted to announce that my second novel is finally in print! If you liked Cuban Kisses, you'll love Cuban Wishes – and I'm not saying that simply as a promotional hook. If authors are like parents, we're not supposed to have favorite "offspring," but I can't help feeling partial to the sequel.

Cuban Wishes is my big, fat baby. It's significantly larger than the first book (120 more pages!) and the story is more complex. Although it would still be considered an adventure-romance novel, there's also some murder and mayhem, a few mysterious happenings and, of course, more information about Cuban culture and history. It continues the protagonist's journey of self discovery as she faces new challenges and ethical dilemmas in both Cuba and Canada. If you want to be transported to my beloved island via my novels, you can order them by clicking here. The publisher, Ripple Press, will ship books anywhere in Canada, the U.S. or wherever.

Also, if you want to hear me talking about my books, you can tune in Saturday, July 10, to Chat & Spin Radio. I'm scheduled to be interviewed "live" on this Internet station at 12 noon,
Eastern Standard (Daylight Savings) Time. You can click here to listen in. During my interview with them last month, there were a few technical difficulties, so I hope everything goes smoothly this time!

UPDATE: The July 10 interview on Chat & Spin Radio had to be rescheduled. I'll let you know the new date when I have it – likely some time in August.

I'm always happy to talk about Cuba, as well as write and read about it, but I'll be even happier when I can travel there again! Although the country is gradually reopening to tourism, it's difficult to know what to advise. Some people are beginning to book trips; others prefer to wait. I've decided to wait until the new year to organize a group trip and, for now, my JennicaCuba travel business is still on hiatus.

However, if you want to travel without my personal assistance, my colleagues at P&G Travel will be glad to help with any booking, going anywhere. For those of you who have credit vouchers from Sunwing due to the April 2020 trip cancellation, you don't have to wait for my next group trip to use them! My friends at P&G can assist you with using the vouchers to travel anywhere that Sunwing currently offers travel packages. In fact, if you want to use a Sunwing voucher from that trip, you will need to go through this agency to book a trip; that's just how the system works.

Virgil Palermo, owner of P&G Travel, is aware that some of my clients may want to use their vouchers for bookings before I'm back in business. He advised me that people should contact him directly by email: virgil@pgtravel.ca. He or one of his associates will adeptly assist you with any booking! They're fully up to date regarding COVID insurance and other travel concerns. Here's a link to their website.

Until we can travel together, I wish you happy trails wherever you may go!
Keep smiling, Jenny

 

27 Apr 2021

Looking ahead to Friday & November

 


Looking for a light at the end of the tunnel?

I think we all are, particularly when it comes to COVID! But, let's start with something more easily visible – the end of this week.

On Friday, April 30, you're invited to tune in, via the Internet, to a radio station based in the United Kingdom called "Chat and Spin."  As the name implies, their format is primarily a blend of conversation and music. ("Spinning" originally referred to playing vinyl records, even though most stations don't actually use them anymore!) I will be a call-in guest on the Friday afternoon show at 3:40 p.m. in the U.K., which equates to 10:40 a.m. where I live, in the Eastern Standard (Daylight Savings) Time zone.

I chose this date for my interview because it's the day before "Workers' Day" on May 1. As you may know, it's generally celebrated in a big way in Cuba and, since I'll be talking about my novels, Cuban Kisses and Cuban Wishes, I thought it would be fitting. My few minutes of international fame, courtesy of this platform, will be brief, so be sure to tune in at the proper time! Here's a link to the station: Chat and Spin Radio. You'll find a button in the upper right corner to click for listening to the live broadcast. If you're unsure of what time it equates to in your area, try this link: World Time Buddy.

Looking further ahead on the topic of Cuba...

The sales manager for Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, Nusta Arévalo Rivera, has announced that the resort is now taking reservations for packages beginning on Nov. 3. Since she is one of the people working at Marea del Portillo who is most directly involved with Sunwing, I take this quite seriously. Certainly, we're not out of the COVID woods, but I'll take any whiff of good news I can get!

At this point, the prices look reasonable – not the best I've seen but far from the worst. For example, a double (shared by two people) basic Marea hotel room is $715/person for all of November and the first two weeks of December. The prices go up a bit on Dec. 15, when the Farallón del Caribe hotel opens. I'm not going to start working on a group trip just yet, but I will be keeping my eyes on the prize, so to speak!

However, several ducks will need to get in line before anyone's cleared for take-off – at least as a group. Meanwhile, if you have a voucher you're eager to use, please feel free to go to the Sunwing site and book it yourself. Since the vouchers are linked to each person's name, the funds being held are supposed to be automatically applied upon booking.

Below are screenshots of today's prices for double accommodation in the Marea hotel for one and two weeks, beginning Nov. 24. Cabaña rooms, of course, will be a bit higher. If you choose to book now, I would strongly encourage you to buy the Sunwing cancellation insurance, if nothing else! It's been updated to allow you to make one change to your booking without penalty.



 

4 Apr 2021

Easter greetings and a funny story!

 


Wishing you spring flowers & other happy things!


As you may be able to guess, the flowers in this photo were blooming in Cuba. I very much wish I could be there now, or could be planning my next trip. Unfortunately, it's still too early to set a date for a trip. I will most certainly let you know when I see a green light for safe travel...hopefully, that will be later this year.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to take this opportunity to send Easter greetings, as well as to offer you a little amusement. I've written a couple of short stories recently for some online contests and I think you'll find this one entertaining! The theme of the contest was "embarrassment."

I wrote about waitressing, which I did while attending university, although the incident itself is fictional. If anyone has ever eaten at the Stone Crock, I hope the scene I've described isn't familiar! I also hope it will make you laugh, at least a little.

Here's the link to my story, "World's Greatest Waitress."
Please read and, if you enjoyed it, give me a ❤️ at the end of the story.

Gracias,
XO Jenny

9 Feb 2021

It's time for a little good news, isn't it?

Sometimes, it seems, the thorns of life predominate. Nonetheless, bright spots can be found and, even in harsh settings, flowers will bloom. Both happy yellow flowers in these photos were blossoming in rocky, arid spots. When I came across them while hiking in Cuba, they made me smile. I hope that viewing them has the same effect on you!

Beyond flowers and photos, words of cheer and good news are vital for keeping our spirits up these days, in my opinion. I haven't had much good news regarding travel to share with you lately, which is why I haven't sent any recent emails. Now, however, I do have a small bit of positive information!

Sunwing has announced that travel voucher validity will be extended until Sept. 30, 2026 – well beyond the original expiry of June 20, 2022 – and it will be done automatically. You and I do not need to do anything, if we already have future travel credit on file with Sunwing due to pandemic cancellations of non-refundable bookings, as many of us do. This should alleviate stress and pressure regarding the need to use a voucher before you may feel comfortable or safe to travel. And, remember, you are not locked into going with me to Marea del Portillo on a specific date; the vouchers can be used for any of Sunwing's all-inclusive packages (not just in Cuba) whenever you wish, as long as it's booked before Sept. 30, 2026.

Some people have expressed concern that Sunwing could go under before vouchers can be used. Personally, I don't believe that will happen. But, if Sunwing went bankrupt or was sold, you and your money (as well as mine!) would be protected. Ontario has very strong legislation in place regarding the travel industry, and both Sunwing and the agency I'm affiliated with (P&G Travel) are registered members of TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario), as required by law. Even if you don't live in Ontario, you're covered because your travel package was sold here. For more information about TICO, click here.

Although some companies have transferable vouchers, Sunwing does not... at least, not yet! I don't have any insider information on that but I very much hope it will happen. I'm just putting the idea out there, you could say! Of course, it could be something Sunwing executives are already pondering. We'll have to wait and see, just as we must wait and see when it will be possible to travel to lovely Marea del Portillo, Cuba, where a piece of my heart resides.

I'm going to conclude this rather long email with another heart-related item – an early Valentine's Day greeting combined with a reminder that you can travel to Cuba via my mind, if you haven't already! I've been getting some nice feedback from people who've read my novel, Cuban Kisses, and felt transported to my favorite part of Cuba! The sequel, Cuban Wishes, will be out soon. The publisher says it can now be ordered via the Ripple Press website. If you only ordered the first book (not the two-book package) and now want the second, you should be able to order it at a discounted price (approx. $5 off) until the end of February. If you have any questions, click their "Contact Us" button in the upper right corner.

Keep smiling,
Jenny