This blog is for those 18 and older.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Island Life: The Bank Account

My adventures living on a Caribbean island. Welcome to my monthly, or not so monthly adventures. We try not to commit too soon here on island :-)

First Impression #1:
I already had a part-time job teaching at the University before I moved "on island," so that was one task completed, but I knew I would need a bank account to have my checks direct deposited.  

I reviewed the banking situation and found four banks here: Bank of St. Croix, Banco Popular, First Bank, and Scotia Bank.

Shortly after moving to the island, I went to the bank of my choice on a Friday, because I have Fridays off, and I walked in and waited for a representative. I had cash in my pocket and my license from Arizona ready. 

When it was my turn, I told the Bank Representative that I was there to open a checking account. She smiled and said she'd be happy to help me. "When would you like to come in to do that?"

I guessed from her expression that "Now" would have been the wrong answer. So I suggested next Friday.  Whew! Chalk one up for not making a fool of myself.  

Still a little surprised by this turn of events, I made to leave, but she quickly stopped me. She handed me a list of all the documentation I would need to open the account.
Exactly as listed I needed:
  •  2 pieces of Valid Identification
  • Proof of Mailing Address
  • Proof of Physical Address
  •  Employment Letter or check stub
  • Social Security Card
Needless to say, I was taken aback. But I thanked her and left.

The following Friday I returned at my scheduled time with all my documentation and after almost an hour I was the proud owner of a new checking account. I have moved many times, but I have to say that this was the most complicated process for setting up a checking account I have ever encountered. But as I soon learned, that wasn't all.

Main Street Frederiksted
I used the cash card the Representative gave me often to withdraw money when needed. Three months after opening the account, it stopped working.  Unbeknownst to me, it was only a temporary card. I had to go back to the bank in person to obtain my permanent cash card! Luckily, my license and my non-working cash card were enough for me to receive the permanent one :-)  Now, I am set with direct deposit into my official checking account and a permanent cash card.

View from the bank
Lesson #1: Island Life means processes are a little more convoluted and complex than living on the mainland, but I still wouldn't trade the warm temperatures and crystal blue waters for shorter time at the bank. 

Uh-ah, no way :-)


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Toni Noel

Today we are interviewing Toni Noel, Romantic Suspense Author.

Alexis: Hi Toni, Thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) I noticed on your website that all your novels focus on "Safe Havens for the Heart."  What do you mean by that phrase?

Toni: I love to read books I'm certain from page one will give me a satisfying, happy ending, not books that leave me an emotional wreck. I search for books about finding Safe Havens for the Heart, so those are the book I write.

Alexis: That makes sense. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your latest release, Decisive Moments?

Toni: Decisive Moments is about a gutsy photographer and the reclusive architect with a tragic past who denies her request to Photograph his boarded up childhood home. Without those photographs the young widow's graduate degree will be delayed, placing her daughter's financial future in doubt, so Amy is not about to give up her quest. 

Alexis: Interesting dilemma. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Toni: On our way to lunch one day we drove by a boarded up mansion in Mission Hills. The house peaked my curiosity. Why was the house boarded up? Why hadn't the neighbors complained? I hadn't heard about a house fire in the exclusive neighborhood, so what was up with those ugly boards covering the windows? Then a young woman walked through my thoughts, a camera slung around her neck as she strolled down that street, and the idea for Decisive Moments was born. 

Alexis: What are your favorite character traits of Amy and Charles?

Toni: Amy has a big heart and when she looks deep into Charles' sorrowful eyes is willing to shove aside her need to photograph his childhood home. The dour man needs to let the sun shine on him. Needs to learn to laugh and to have fun, she decides, and set about showing him how. She winds up changing his life, while he has an equally mind-blowing affect on hers.

Alexis: I have to admit I am a push over for heroes who are damaged goods . What a great idea.

I admire authors who can write romantic suspense because I never could.  What do you think makes the perfect ingredients for a Romantic Suspense novel?

Toni: I don't think the suspense needs to be throughout the novel, but the problem needs to bug the hero and heroine enough to keep them awake at night and out of each others' arms, a problem that will concern the reader as well. Perhaps even keep them awake.

Alexis: Oh yes, so that we keep reading to find the solution. What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Toni: Restored Dreams releases February 1, 2012. The story of a house-poor school teacher and the rodeo rider turned philanthropist and contractor determined to restore her childhood Victorian home despite the proud heroine's wishes. A house plays a big part in most of my novels, but this is my favorite story. In the hero's eyes her house has the potential to be a showplace, yet will likely fall down around the heroine's head if she doesn't take immediate steps to stop the deterioration, he insists. How can she without taking on a mortgage she knows she can't pay?  

Alexis: I like the idea of a house or home as a theme. And thank you so much for visiting our home and for letting our readers know a little more about your suspenseful romances. We appreciate you coming for a visit.

Toni: My pleasure, and thank you for having me. I'm always delighted to talk to avid readers about my books.

Alexis: For a chance to win Toni’s Decisive Moments, be sure to leave a comment for her.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday. Check the side column for your name.

For more information on Toni’s Romances go to

Check out this excerpt from Decisive Moments.

Excerpt: Charles meets Amy's daughter
"Miss Millington! What were you trying to do?"
Still brushing cobwebs from her hair, Amy stood. Lifting her chin, she gave Harding a guileless smile.
"M-Mr. Harding, I can explain."
"Trespassing, now? I thought I made myself clear. You are not using my property for your little project."
In her peripheral vision, two bare feet dangled from a limb of the corner oak. Marta. Making herself at home in the architect's tree.
"I didn't. I mean, I wasn't... I'd intended to stay in my car. There's no law says I can't roll down the window and--"
He glanced at the street, some feet away. "A little far from your car, don't you think?"
"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have come."
He nodded. "I'm delighted we finally agree."
She turned toward the oak tree and called, "Marta. It's time to go."
The leafy branches of the oak tree parted, revealing her daughter's round little face and wide grin. "Coming."
Marta shimmied along the limb until she reached the main trunk. Hesitating only long enough to cause fear to lodge in Amy's throat, she jumped, landing on her bare feet. Her undaunted child collected her shoes and socks and trotted across the lawn while her mother learned how to breathe again.
Frowning as she approached, Marta gave Harding a curious once-over.
Amy tried to head off her inquisitive daughter, but couldn't catch her attention.
"Hi, mister. Are you a lawyer, too?"
Amy watched as the hardness around his eyes melted and Harding knelt beside the little girl. "No. Why do you ask?"
"You're pret -- oops, Mom says I should say han-sum instead of pretty -- you're han-sum, so I thought you must be a lawyer, too."
With her child silenced for the moment, Amy turned to face Charles. "This is my daughter, Marta, Mr. Harding. She met her first lawyer at school today, and was very impressed. Marta, this is Mr. Harding."
"How do you do? You're dressed in a suit like my friend's father. He's a lawyer, but your suit is darker. Han-sumer and more mmpressive. What do you do?"
"Marta, that's quite enough. Mr. Harding is an architect. He owns this house."
"Oh-h. You're the man who doesn't like my mother."
"Well, I--"
"Marta." Amy blushed. "I'm sorry. My daughter is at the age where she repeats everything she hears."
Realizing her hasty explanation served to make matters worse, Amy's cheeks burned.
"My class is learning about what daddies do," Marta said. "Fathers come to school and share their oku-pashuns. Bobby Denton's father is a lawyer. My father died, so I don't have anyone to bring."
As if interested in her child's recitation, Harding responded with a thoughtful, "I see," each time Marta stopped to catch her breath.
The talkative imp sat on the steps, pulling on her socks and shoes. "We never had an arky--"
"Architect," Amy prompted.
"--arky-tek speak to our class. Would you be my father and come talk to my class?"

Or download from your favorite eBook source.

Alexis: Don't forget for a chance to win a copy of Decisive Moments, leave a comment for Toni.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The life of a witch isn’t all make-believe.

The normal, human, life Diana Bishop is determined to live leads her to the Bodleian Library of Oxford in her research as a scholarly historian.  Her research includes an old alchemical text, Ashmole 782, which is bound by witchcraft and may foretell an otherworldly secret. 

When Diana opens the text, witches, vampires, and daemons begin to stir up the library.  The creatures want her stuffed away powers and her life is threatened.

My thought:  The writing brought me into the scholarly atmosphere and I could feel the “real” world intermingle with the supernatural.  Scary and exciting at the same time.

The three underworld creatures don’t mix well, yet it’s a powerful and gorgeous vampire, Matthew de Clermont, who guards her against attacks.  Diana reluctantly trusts his efforts, knowing that a vampire can kill a witch with one bite.  He urges her to use her rare and extraordinary gift of witchcraft to save the text’s information, herself, and the forbidden love swirling around them.

 My thought:  If I had witchy powers, I’d definitely put them to use.  I kept urging Diana to accept her talent as I read.  Also, I don’t blame her for succumbing to a hot vampire.

Yet Diana needs a teacher, a witch who knows ancient magic well.  Diana and Matthew mingle their powers and gather strength from their family to ward off the random magical and spell-filled attacks.  Ultimately, they must be dropped into the past as a safe haven and for lessons in witchcraft. 

My thought:  As a history professor, Harkness fills the tale with history, suspense, secrets, and an undying passion-smoldering and ready to burst into flame.  The writing style is intelligent and I wanted to procrastinate many things to read more.  A Discovery of Witches is the first in a trilogy.  Diana and Matthew were dumped in the past and I believe that will be where the next story begins.  I’ll let you know next year when the second book is published as I will definitely read it.            


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Lisa Kessler

Today we are interviewing Lisa Kessler, Paranormal Romance Author.

Alexis: Hi Lisa, Thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) You have a couple paranormal works published now. What is it about the paranormal that draws you?

Lisa:  Hi!  Thanks for having me here today! :-) I think I’m drawn to paranormal because that’s the genre I tend to read.  I have always enjoyed reading as an escape.  I don’t want to read about events that could actually happen.  For me, magic, monsters, and immortal heroes who love for lifetimes provide the perfect refuge from “real” life.

Alexis: Hmm, immortal heroes sound good to me :-) Can you tell our readers a little bit about your latest release, Night Walker?

Lisa: Night Walker is a dark paranormal romance set in San Diego.  I think the tagline on the cover captures the heart of the story perfectly…  He gave up his soul for a second chance to love her.

Alexis: That is an awesome tagline! We already know him and wish he was ours. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Lisa: That’s a long story! LOL  I’ll try to paraphrase it though.  I’d been writing every night for a few years, just for fun.  Then I went on a business trip to New Orleans and brought the entire family.  Once night I decided to visit a palm reader.  She gave me a spot on reading that surprised me and left me a little on edge, but it was the walk to the door of the shop that changed my life forever.

She stopped me at the door and said, “Can I ask you a question?”

I shrugged.  “Sure.”

“Are you a writer?”

I felt goosebumps rising on my arms.  “I write every night, but it’s just for fun.”

She smiled at me with a knowing sparkle in her eyes and said, “You’re going to be a famous writer someday.”

I left the shop stunned.  Being a voracious reader, I never thought I’d be able to write an entire novel.  It seemed too big to me.  But she planted that seed and for the rest of the trip I was wondering what I would write.

I decided I wanted to write a vampire novel, but I wanted it set in San Diego.  When I got home I started researching the oldest building in San Diego, the Mission De Alcala, and my story came together from there.  The more I researched, the more Calisto came alive for me.

Alexis: Wow, talk about fate. No wonder you write in the paranormal subgenre. 

What are your favorite character traits of Kate and Calisto?

Lisa:  For Calisto I think my favorite trait is his habit of answering questions with another question.  It’s infuriating to other characters, but I find it kind of endearing.

I think my favorite trait from Kate was her passion for music and her love of her horrible old  Volkswagen Bug convertible!  Right now I hear her in my head saying, “I’m still restoring it!  She’s the best car ever!”

Alexis: Ah, my mom's Volkswagen Bug lasted 13 years and that was back then. I can completely understand Kate's feelings :-)

You did a lot of research for this book as I could see from the photos on your website. Why did you find this so important for a paranormal?

Lisa:  When writing paranormal, we’re asking the reader to take a huge leap of faith, and suspend their disbelief long enough to consider immortals walk among us.  I think the more “real” history and setting you can give to ground the reader makes your paranormal elements seem more believable until the entire world you’ve built becomes real.

At least that’s my goal! LOL

Alexis: That makes a lot of sense. What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Lisa:  I’m currently editing Night Demon, Book 2 in the Night Series, and I’m finishing up the formatting on a short story anthology, Forgotten Treasures, that I’ll be releasing at the end of the year.

Alexis: You sound busy which is good news for us :-) Thank you so much for letting our readers know about your fascinating romances. We appreciate you coming for a visit.

Lisa:  Thanks for inviting me by your blog today!  This was fun! :-)

Alexis: For a chance to win Lisa’s Across the Veil and Night Walker trading cards, be sure to leave a comment for her.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday. Check the side column for your name.

For more information on Lisa’s Romances go to
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from Night Walker.


 Kate watched them wander off before kneeling closer to the cross. Unable to stop herself, she traced her finger along the T in the center.

Behind her, someone cleared his throat. Kate jerked her hand away and shot to her feet. When she turned around she found a tall, dark-haired man staring at her.

Her cheeks flushed with heat. She hoped he hadn’t witnessed her touching the relic. She waited for some kind of admonishment, but he didn’t say anything.

Not with words.

Something in his dark eyes captured her. His gaze wandered over her face like a tender caress, and strangely, instead of screaming for Lori and Edie, she caught herself imagining his touch on her skin.

“I hope I did not frighten you,” he said.

His deep voice resonated through the empty courtyard, and the intimate tone weakened her knees. The hint of a Spanish accent didn’t hurt, either. Nervous laughter escaped her before she could contain it.

Her face warmed all over again. “Just a little startled. I didn’t see anyone else out here.”

He stepped closer without encroaching on her personal space, his eyes locked with hers from beneath thick lashes. “Forgive me.”

She swallowed hard and prayed she wasn’t blushing. “No problem.” She looked away before she embarrassed herself even further, focusing on the cross. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

Si.” He nodded slowly. “Yes, it is.” His barely there smile made her think he wasn’t referring to the flowers or the cross. “I am Calisto. Calisto Terana.”

Expectation hung as heavy as the scent of eucalyptus, as if he waited to hear something more than just her name.

“I’m Kate.” Instead of offering to shake his hand, she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“The honor is mine, Kate... ” His accent colored the vowel in her name. It had never sounded more beautiful. She reminded herself to breathe.

When he hesitated for a moment waiting for her to speak, she realized she hadn’t shared her last name as he had. She flipped through a rapid pro and con mental checklist, and decided it couldn’t hurt. Maybe they would meet again.

“Bradley,” she said.

A sexy smile curved at the corners of his lips. “I hope this will not be our last meeting.”

She glanced around the shadowed courtyard, feeling vulnerable, and almost gave in to her first instinct—to run. But she remembered her promise to herself. Be strong. Take action. She lifted her chin and said, “I guess you never know.”

With a smile that said he had every intention of seeing her again, he tipped his head. “Buenos noches, Kate Bradley.”

Her heart raced and her palms sweated when she realized he meant to leave. No man made her palms sweat. Ever.

His gaze held hers for a moment, full of unspoken promises she didn’t understand. Without another word, he walked away. 

Alexis: Don't forget for a chance to win Lisa's Across the Veil and Night Walker trading cards, be sure to leave a comment.