Archive for July, 2016

Nicky and Marianne: Lovebirds After 24 years

Monday, July 25th, 2016





The relationship between Nick and Marianne Scarnelli is extra special for me. Kevin and Winona may have been modeled after my husband, Manny, and me, but Nicky and Marianne have as their models my late husband, Nick, who passed in 1987, and also me. I did have a roommate at college whose first name was Marianne, but the “Marianne” in “A Time For Peace” was more like me than her.

When  you read “Son of a Gun and the Evening  Star,”  a previous novel of mine, you will see that, like me, Marianne was a middle-school English teacher in love with a relatively tall, handsome and dark-haired gentleman, but the Nick in the novel was a police detective, and my Nick was a salesman and a small business owner.

In the novel, Nick and Marianne meet when Nick’s son from a former marriage misbehaves, and Marianne, his English teacher, has to speak to Nick, the father.   You can see how the problem is solved in “Son of a Gun and the Evening Star.”  However, Nick and Marianne fall in love and get married.

Now, twenty-four years later, Bobby has a family of his own, and Carlie, Nick’s and Marianne’s daughter, is grown up, too.  Bobby found peace when, through his step-mom’s help, he was reunited with his biological mother, which you can read about in my previous novel, “Son of a Gun and the Evening Star.”

Nick’s and  Marianne’s marriage has been a fruitful and very happy one.

Now Marianne is ready to join her friends in a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the Far East!


Next post: Michael’s and Gloria’s relationship




Another Complicated Love Relationship in “A Time For Peace”

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Another complicated love relationship is between two more fictional characters from “A Time For Peace,” this time the  Scarnellis.  They definitely love one another, but Henry is sometimes too possessive, and we know that hanging on too tight can suffocate any relationship!

When Arleen decides to go on a journey to the Far East with Winona and a few other friends, of course, Henry is against it from the start! He is worried about her and doesn’t want to be without her for several weeks, which is understandable, but at least by the end of the day, he is not standing in her way.

But part of the problem is that Arleen has not been assertive enough up to this point! She has to realize that there is a big difference between aggression and assertiveness. A person doesn’t have to be angry and formidable to make his/her position known and then to stick to it. He/she just has to believe in himself/herself and do what appears to be right after thinking it through and doing all the homework necessary.

I think that Arleen understands this concept and acts according to it. Going on this journey back in the winter of 2002, just a few months after the horror of September 11th, would have been dangerous enough, but certainly not as bad as it would be now with terrorism becoming so rampant.

Therefore, Arleen’s decision in the novel to join her friends to go on this self-affirming journey  is good for her and, yes, her marriage, too!

Romance and Love in”A Time For Peace”

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

I can’t believe it’s time to write again! Everybody is said to have a passion in life, and I know mine is writing.

I have a rotator cuff injury in my right shoulder, and I experience pain every time I move in the wrong direction (and most of the time, I’m not sure how to move to avoid the pain. )But I’d rather take the chance and write in spite of the inconvenience than not write at all until I see my orthopedist in three weeks! ( Imagine! I have been waiting so long to see him, but I guess a lot of people have these kinds of injuries, and I have to wait my turn. )

Anyway…I want you to know that copies of my novel, “A Time For Peace,” are available! Just google “A Time For Peace” by Cheryl Madeleine Lodico. A few companies on line have copies available at reasonable prices. (Anything that is over $16.00 is not reasonable. ). I have several new copies if anyone would like to purchase them directly from me.

Getting back to today’s theme: “Romance and Love in ‘A Time For Peace.’ ”

There are several couples in the novel: Winona and Kevin (the most complicated); Arleen and Henry, (also a challenging relationship); Gloria and Michael (a little easier); Sunny and Phil, (a perfect match); Marianne and Nick, (still lovebirds) ; Patty and Eric and Celia and Todd ( the last two couples having just met on the trip ). In today’s post I will give some background on the first couple mentioned: Winona and Kevin…because it is just so complicated!

It is generally agreed that second marriages are usually very difficult, to say the least.   Winona and Kevin’s marriage is no exception.

Winona was married to a brilliant lawyer, Sean O’Hara, whom she met when they were both very young.  In two previous novels,  “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie,” and “Beyond the Stars,” we follow their relationship from the time nine year-old Winnie  met thirteen year-old Sean to the time that they met entirely  by chance again in college.  Let me try to make a long story very short!

Nine year-old  Winnie and her cousin, Willie, were assaulted in a park by a gang of rough kids from the Rockaways.  A police detective by the name of O’Donnell  was on the case.  Winnie and her cousin had black eyes and an assortment of cuts and bruises, but they weren’t seriously hurt.  Sean and his gang members, being minors, were  not prosecuted, and ironically,  Winona’s  Uncle Arthur, who felt sorry for Sean ( for reasons you will discover when you read “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie,” ) took Sean under his wing and helped prepare him for college and law school.

In the next novel in the series,  “Beyond the Stars,” Winnie meets Sean again by chance.  She has no way home from a fraternity party and is told her only chance would be to knock on the door of one of the  geeks, who were studying upstairs.  If he were a Good Samaritan, he might drive her home.  And so Sean was the law student “geek” in a room upstairs!  Winnie is attracted to a very changed Sean, and the two embark upon a path leading to falling in love.   ( Read “Beyond the Stars”  for  all the exciting details! )

Sean dies of a heart attack at the end of “Beyond the Stars,” and Widow Winona and Widower Kevin meet at Church,  and over a period of time fall in love.   But they are both sensitive, still somewhat bereaved and emotionally unstable, and they carry too much emotional baggage.

Kevin has many fears and insecurities, as does  Winona. Will their love for each other help them overcome their many problems?  You will find the answer at the end of “A Time For Peace,” the last novel in the Winona series.  You’ll also find out why her last name becomes O’Donnell at the end of “Beyond the Stars,”  the same name as the police detective who was on her case when she was assaulted in the park when she was s little girl.

The books are available online. Just Google the title and my name!

Tomorrow:  Arleen and Henry Scarnelli!





“Pride Before the Fall”

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

“Pride Before the Fall”. Winona should have known better! The main character in my novel, “A Time For Peace,” thought too much of her own abilities and may have paid a severe price for it! I will try to reveal as much as I can!

In the last post we discovered that the plane could not pick up the six travelers at Khumbu.  It seemed that the terrain was too rough for the pilot to land there.

So the group stayed overnight at the Khumbu Lodge and got an early start in the morning as they began the arduous task of retracing their steps(hours and hours of “steps”) until they were back at the Lukla  airstrip, where they would be flown back to Nepal.

Fortunately, all went well at first, but then they reached an unstable footbridge with icy water beneath it.

All of Winona’s traveling companions, except her, graciously accepted the generous help of the Sherpas  and the porters, who were there just for that purpose…to help and keep everyone safe.     So one by one they crossed the bridge safely.  Finally, it was Winona’s turn.  She had already motioned that she didn’t need or want any help!

It looked very good for Winona at first, but when she was half-way across the bridge, she carelessly “stepped out too far on the right side of the rickety bridge, which, by now was tottering beneath her.”

Winona was terrified and lost her balance.  She was hanging onto the bridge with her legs dangling over.  If anyone needed to be rescued, it was Winona!  But would she let one of the Sherpas  help her!  One of them  gestured to her to reach for him, first with one hand and then the other!

Does Winona freeze or have too much pride to accept the help?   Or does she follow the Sherpa’s instructions and allow herself to be saved?

The answer is right there when you read my novel!

A little about romance in the novel in my next post!



On the Second and Last Rung of My Characters’ Voyage to Khumbu

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

The first half of my six characters’ journey to Khumbu went smoothly, as you saw in the last post.  While Gloria, Marianne and Sunny were safe in a hotel in Nepal, the other six travelers were braving the elements on their way to Khumbu, located at an elevation not that much below the Base Camp of Mount  Everest.

The beauty observed along the road cannot be denied.

“As they walked, Winona looked up as far as her eyes could see, but the Everest summit was hidden by a thick, unrelenting fog.  She could, however, see the outlines of neighboring peaks, lending a sense of majesty to the pale afternoon sky.”

There were a few very challenging aspects to the journey.  They had to cross an extremely shaky footbridge, requiring, not only careful footing, but also help from the experienced Sherpas.  They all crossed it safely because, inexperienced as they were, they did not depend upon their own expertise.  They accepted the help that was offered to them.   Ironically, this area was very warm because it lay just beyond the tropics.

Another dangerous part of the journey was ascending a steep canyon wall.  Again, they were helped by their competent guides.

After crossing the canyon wall, the group was surprised that, for a while, the terrain was smoother.  This small area could not be considered wilderness.  In fact, they discovered that it hadn’t been considered wilderness for one hundred years.

“The land had been carefully terraced and planted with a wide variety pf crops.  Prayer flags, chortles and mani stones all indicated spirituality among the people who settled the area.

Crossing a broad bridge brought the travelers to the center of Sherpa society, which is downtown Namche Bazaar.  Near the lower edge of town was their destination, Khumbo Lodge.

When they finally arrived at Khumbu, bad news awaited them.  Winona had planned for a plane to pick them up and fly them from Khumbu back to Nepal, but the terrain  was too rough for a plane to land! So what did this mean???

Naturally, they would have to trek back the same way they had come, stopping at  Phakding overnight and then hiking back to where they landed at the Lukla airstrip.

But at least for that night they could keep their reservations at Khumbu Lodge, have a hot meal and get some sleep before going back the way they came.  Also, they could call their companions at Nepal to let them know the change in plans.

This was not what Winona had planned or wanted!  Two unnecessary extra days of trekking on dangerous ground instead of being flown immediately to Nepal!

She and her companions could only pray that they were up to the extended journey!  In the next post we’ll see what happened!





Making Plans For trekking Right Below the Base Camp of Mount Everest!

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Of course, these are not real-life plans that I am talking about. Even climbing to Khumbu, ( not too far from the location of Base Camp, ) takes trained climbers, comparatively young, who are in the best of health. That excludes my sister and me…and a few friends …and some family members. But it wouldn’t stop our exceptional alter egos…those special parts of us who can do everything and anything…if only in our imagination.  And isn’t that what writing fiction is all about?

So a few of my characters in my novel, “A Time For Peace,” were able to attempt such a rugged journey. Imagine!! Their destination was not far from the actual base camp of Mount Everest!

But some of the characters- Sunny, Marianne, and Gloria- didn’t feel equipped to take such an excursion- if you want to call it that! Naturally, even though the main character, Winona, representing me, was ill-equipped for the journey, too, I had to include her! After all, she is the principal character, and something crucial to the novel will only happen if she is there!

Even though three of the women stayed at the hotel, there were still six travelers on the road to Khumbu.   They were, of course, Winona,  Patty, her boyfriend, Eric, Arleen, Celia and  her boyfriend, Todd.   Patty had met her boyfriend on the plane headed to Pakistan, and Celia met Todd in a hotel in Pakistan.

So I have to somehow equip my character, Winona, for the journey! (Friends, who know how unathletic I am, don’t laugh! After all, in the challenges of life, I have “risen to the occasion,” as they say!)

Winona has second thoughts before she, the five other tourists, the  Sherpas and porters embark on the first rung of their journey to Khumbu.

The group tales a plane from their hotel in Nepal to Lukla airstrip. Here, Winona  says to Eric, Patty’s boyfriend, “I was just hoping that this excursion won’t prove to be too risky. I never wanted to endanger anyone, Eric, especially my own family and friends.”

Eric  reassures her. He says, ” I wouldn’t be here with Patty …if I had any reservations at all. Relax and enjoy the trek you planned for us, Winona.”

The journey would consist of walking for a few hours at a time, then relaxing by eating lunch, having snacks, using the rest rooms along the way, and sleeping at the homes of various Sherpas overnight. There would be incredible mountain scenery on the way to Phakding, their first destination!  There, they would sleep at a Sherpa’s dwelling and continue with their trip after breakfast early the next morning.

And then they would be trekking on very rough terrain over to Khumbu, the second and last rung of their journey, on the lower levels of Mount Everest, considerably under the elevation at Base Camp.  The journey would be long, taking about two days with one overnight.

That is their itinerary, researched and organized by Winona in the novel in much more detail! Now in the next post, we will follow my characters on their exciting journey!!!

The Muli Monastery: Is It the Model for Shangri-La?

Friday, July 22nd, 2016


My Alter-Ego, My Friends’ and Sister’s: Join us for a Far Eastern Journey! I

Friday, July 22nd, 2016


Visiting Zhongdian County in China through my novel, “A Time For Peace.”

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Zhongdian County in China is now called Shangri-La County. In my novel, “A Time For Peace,” the group of seven adventurous women searching for Shangri-La “start a day of touring the countryside, including a few must-see lamaseries. As they started trekking, they couldn’t help looking upward, where they could see white, fluffy clouds that looked more like large marshmallows. On the grassland below, herds of cattle and sheep seemed to think that they were wandering freely, but actually the shepherds and cattle herders were paying close attention to their every movement.

“The air was fresh and clean, and the scenery unique in its serene beauty. Certainly, the ladies agreed, this area could have been the model for the real Shangri-La.”

When I googled “Zhongdian County” in China, I was able to obtain some invaluable information, which I want to share with you.

“Located in the midst of three rivers, Shangri-La is a sacred scenic region blessed with majestic mountains.

“Although a romantic name, Shangri-La does not refer to any specific place. The official name of Shangri-La is Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which includes Zhongdian County as its capital and tourist base, Deqing County and Weixi County. The Shangri-La tour starts and ends both in Zhongdian, and this is also the trBsportation, cultural and commercial center.”

If you are thinking of visiting, it is recommended that you go from mid-April to mid-June. At that time rainfall is light “and the colorful countryside wildflowers are blooming.” There are gorgeous blue skies and “crisp, refreshing air” from mid-September to November.

The highlights mentioned are the scenic beauty, Songzanlin Monastery, Baishui Terrace, and Zhongdian Old Town.

Back to my novel! My characters heard lovely Tibetan folk songs, “accompanied by sweet birdsong.” They enjoyed the Tibetan dances. Duke zing Old Town highlighted the tour. A 1300 year-old Tibetan town, located in Shangri-La province, it has known both prosperity in trade and war. Pointed out to our seven ladies were the authentic Tobeysn homes, the beautiful prayer halls and pagodas and lovely, meandering lakes.

The tour guide showed our group several lamaseries on the area since our tourists wanted to find a lamasery similar to “the one in which Comeay met the High La. Among the lamaseries visited were Gainduin and Dongzhulin, both significant historically and very lovely! In addition, they were treated to a plane ride, where they would get a memorable view of the region.

Is Zhongdian County the model for James Hilton’s Shangri-La? It is up to you to decide. Why not research Shangri-La yourself?
More in the next post!

Bhutan: Was It A Model For James Hilton’s Shangri-La

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Tandin, one of the guides in
Bhutan in my novel, “Lost Horizon,” says that Punakka, the ancient winter capital of Bhutan, reminds him of Shangri-La. He goes on to say, “Punakka is a fascinating sub-tropical area that was home to thriving rhododendrons, magnolias, oranges and bananas. …Punakka reminds me of Hilton’s Shangri-La. It is such a magnificent haven, safe from the rugged mountains and fierce storms.”

In Bhutan there is a unique set of beliefs that were based on the ideas of one of its rulers, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, known as “a man with modern ideas.” In 1998 the GNH ( Geoss National Happiness ) was created. This young ruler knew that money does not bring happiness!

The four goals of the GNH are as follows:
1). Increase economic growth and development

2). Preserve and promote the cultural heritage

3). Encourage the sustainable use of the environment

4) Establish ‘good governance.’

All of this sounds good, but is it being put into action? There are high environmental protection standards. The progress seems to be slow but sure! The goals are a practical set of standard benchmarks! Meanwhile, Tandon describes Bhutan as “a serene and harmonious society that continually looks out for the preservation of its rich culture and long-established Buddhist traditions.”

Winona sums it all up by saying, “So in many ways, Bhutan could be called a modern day Shangri-La”

Tandin agrees, “Yes. It is considered such by many in the east and in the west.”

So Bhutan is s possible model for Hilton’s Shangri-La!