Friday, August 29, 2014

A Little South American Signage

Hey all,

It's been awhile since I shared some of the funny signs and art I've seen on my travels, and since I'm a bit rushed today, I think it's time I do so.  It seems both Argentina and Chili have one that make me smile.  So enjoy!


These top three store signs are all funny on their own, but put them together and they're a real hoot!
The first belongs to a convenience store, the second a market and the third a clothing store.

Really?  Whoopies?  What do you think this store is all about?  It's not what you think.  *grin*  It's a juice bar.  LOL

 I've heard of happy meals, but having this as the name of your restaurant is probably not the best marketing tool on the planet.

And it just me or is this a bit more than wierd?  Meerkats dressed in hotwater bottles? I know it's a winter (invierno) sale but just hmmmm.  Although I have to admit the stocking caps are kinda cute.

Just a few more examples of the fun signage around the world.  Every time I turn around I find more, so it won't be long until you get another blog of giggles!  I hope you enjoy each and every one!!! Until next Friday!!!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 22, 2014

Head South and Straight On Until Morning!!!

Hey all,

We're here in Santiago, Chili and I finally have working internet.  The hotel upgraded things a bit and Jonathon worked his magic with the rest and now I can at least get on and work without it being so slow I want to scream!!!!

Chili may not be known for it's good internet, but I have to say, so far I'm loving the other things here.  The Andes are all around us and they're gorgeous.  I look outside my window here at the Sheraton Hotel and I see all these beautiful snow-capped mountains.  One of the best views we've had on tour!!!!

I thought I'd take this week's blog to share a little of what we've discovered here in Chili so far.  We've been here about three weeks now and have already had so many adventures.

The first week Jonathon worked setting up the show while I put our house together.  Then we had three days off and we took advantage of them by taking a road trip.  We didn't know exactly where we were going...we just pointed the car south and drove.

And wow...we had a great time.  While the first part of the trip wasn't all that--the road south went through an area that was pretty boring--by the end of the night we had arrived in a part of Chili that was absolutely breathtaking.

We wound up in the Araucanía region of Chili in the town of Temuco.  It is the very most northern tip of the Patagonia region, but it's more known for it's gorgeous mountains, lakes and volcanoes.  And it quickly became one of our favorite places on the planet.

We wanted to get as far into the mountains as possible, and since we'd gotten a recommendation about the same place from two different people in Temuco, we jumped into the car and headed to the small village of Pucón on Lake Villarrica.  (see sunset pic above)

This area is well known for some of the best outdoor sports around and sits at the base of an active volcano, Villarrica.  People actually climb it so they can get a peek inside, and while we'd have liked to do that as well, the winter snow made it impossible for us.

So, instead we drove through some truly beautiful countryside, enjoying the beauty of the area.  We grabbed a picnic lunch and hiked up to Tres Saltos -- a set of three waterfalls set in farm country beneath the smoking crown of the volcano.

Later, we wandered around Parque Nacional Huerquehue.  This area is one of the places where the native Araucaria Araucana flourish.  These unique trees are amazing and I hadn't realized until now they were native to Chili.

We ended our time out with a wonderful meal back in the village--a very interesting Chilean treat called Sopa de Conger.  It's soup made from conger eel and a local delicacy.  Apparently, it's NOT something tourist's usually order, because the waiter tried to talk me out of it.  He did everything but come out and refuse to bring it to me.  LOL  But hey...I loved eating haggis when we visited Scotland, so I enjoy "different" foods.

And I'm so glad I did try it.  While not as good as haggis, it was quite tasty.  A little fishy--more like eating fresh clams or mussels, but I enjoyed it.  Jonathon tried it and gave me the face.  He HATES anything that tastes fishy!

Curious as to what the eel the soup is made from looks like? See below...  Both are Conger Eels.  The paler one is called a Golden Conger and the darker one is called a Red Conger. (I know it looks black, but it's actually a red one.)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time.  The drive, the scenery, walking in the cold fresh air beneath a steaming volcano...all of it.  Not what we expected to do on our road trip, but sometimes when you play it by ear and just wing it, you discover something special that you would never have found otherwise.

And this time, we really did!!!

Until next week...

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Quick Note To Say Hey From Santiago!!!!

Hey all,

I'm writing this note to let you know I should have acceptable internet up and going the beginning of the week.  I can't stay online long right now without everything freaking out, but hopefully, once things get fixed I should be able to be online like I need to.

I just wanted to let you all know the status and to let you know to look for the blog and free read starting up again next week.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Backup Blog - What Is True Romance?

Hey all,

WooHoo!!!! We've arrived in Santiago.  I know I had promised you a blog about the Andes here, but unfortunately if you're seeing this, it means I wasn't able to get online to post my latest blog.  I'm writing this one here in Buenos Aires, just in case that happens.  We've been told that the internet isn't provided at the hotel we're staying in there in Santiago.  WTF???  In this day and age.  Ridiculous!!!!  

Anyway, this backup blog will have to make do until I figure out how to get online.  Maybe I'll do a bunch at one time, then head to Starbucks and upload them all at once.  *sigh*  What a pain.  But if you don't see me for awhile, you're forewarned as to why.  :-)

But until I do figure it all out, please enjoy this backup blog...


One of my favorite books that I’ve written is Eyes of Fire.  It has done quite well over the years and I still get fan mail about it.  It was the very first book I submitted, and as I've said, the reviews were fantastic.  Both from fans and reviewers.  I hope that everyone who has read it enjoyed it as much as I did writing it, because I think it's one of the most romantic books I've ever done.

Which leads me to our discussion for the day. What is romance and how has it changed over the years?

Now this can be a hot topic for some people, and those who read romance have strong opinions on the subject. At the risk of alienating some people, I too have a strong opinion, but I'm pretty sure if you've read one of my books, you'll already know the answer.

For me, Romance is a story between two committed people and will always , always, always end with a Happily Ever After, or at the very least, a Happily Ever Now.

Now I know that others feel differently, but for me, I feel cheated if a book that is touted as a romance, doesn't have these elements. I remember Nora Roberts said during an interview that no matter how the genre may change, an HEA will always be a must. And I have to agree with her.

I will fight to the death the right for authors to write any type of book they want, but for me as a reader, I want a happy ending and I always write what I would want to read.

So that being out of the way, what is it exactly that makes a book romantic? Sex? Emotion? Commitment? Love? Or is it all of the above.

In my humble opinion, a true romance book needs to have a couple who fall or are deeply in love with each other. While sex can be a wonderful addition to the story, I've read some truly wonderful books that weren't erotic in the slightest.
It's the emotion that drives a true romance book. Love, pain, angst, however you want to say it, we read these types of books to feel along with the characters. When the heroine weeps, we want to weep with her, and when the hero takes out the bad guy, we want to feel his passion and his anger. And when they finally celebrate their love, whether it's with a kiss or hot sex, we want to feel that triumph and satisfaction.

Has romance changed over the years? I don't think so. Not really. The stories are still about couples finding each other and falling in love. There are still problems and angst with them being together, and there will always be some type of resolution, that Happy Ever After I mentioned earlier.

The only difference I see is the way it's being told. Books are more explicit and sex is a big part of the equation. The types of couples have changed. True love can be found with those who are of the same sex. And now you can find true love with a vampire, a witch or a shapeshifter just as easily as you may find it with the boy next door.

Romance is the one genre that accepts everything and ignores nothing. Look around at the books available and you'll see a crossing of genre lines in our stories that is rarely seen in any other. I love being a romance writer because I can explore parts of myself and my imagination I might not be able to anywhere else.

So what do you think? What does romance mean to you? Has it changed in your opinion? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Hugs and have a wonderful weekend!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adios, Argentina!!!!

Hey all,

As you're reading this I'll be frantically doing any last minute packing before the luggage van comes and carts all our bags away.  I hate the last week of a city.  I always find more things to grab and I ALWAYS discover something else I just have to do.

But overall, we've loved Argentina.  It's a beautiful country, and we've only seen a tiny portion of it.  We've decided to come back in the spring (USA fall) and visit Patagonia.  It wasn't worth going now, everything is under snow and closed!  It's no fun going to a glacier and then having to see it through binoculars!  We want to get up close and personal.  So between South and Central America, we'll do a couple of jaunts before heading home for the holidays.

We're so lucky.  We've seen condors soar overhead as we nibbled on our picnic lunch.  We've wandered the pampas and seen bird life galore.  We've seen majestic churches, UNESCO sites in both cities we visited, palaces, museums, outstanding architecture and parks by the dozens.  

We've enjoyed delicious food.  From the famous Argentine Parilla (delicious meats cooked over an open fire) to seafood to die for.  I've enjoyed some damn good beer and Jonathon has really gotten the taste for Argentine wines.  

Our day out at the gaucho ranch was amazing.  Not many old broads can say they we're swept off their feet by a gaucho as we galloped around the arena.  The food, the open spaces, the beautiful horses and their friendly riders all made for an unforgettable day.

Just this last weekend we went to another habitat all together.  We took the train up to the Tigre Delta and had a tour on a small pontoon boat with the wonderful guide, Fer.  He took us everywhere, showing us this interesting habitat.  I could have spent all day out there just watching the wind on the water and listening to the sounds of the birds in the tall grasses.  

And the food?  Fer even fed us.  Some Argentine wine and thick steaks that were the best we've had since we got here.  And Dulce de Leche crepes for dessert.  It was a wonder the boat didn't sink on the way home!!!!

Add to that a lovely trip over to Uruguay to see yet more UNESCO Heritage sites and you can see why we absolutely love this country.  Friendly people, good food and beautiful scenery.  I'm already looking forward to coming back again.

We'll be moving next to Santiago, Chili!  We've heard this is another amazing place and from what I've found online to do, I have to agree.  So stay tuned for a blog next week on one of the things I'm really looking forward to...

Trekking in the Andes!!!  WooHoo!!!!

Until next time,


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams