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Life Uncorked: Mastroberardino Historia 2000

 

This weekend my husband, Nick, and I uncorked a bottle of Mastroberdadino Historia 2000, one of the wines we purchased at the Radici Resort and Spa in Mirabella Eclano, when my family visited there in July of 2009. Trust me, it is not often that we have an opportunity to drink a sixteen year old bottle a wine, and one that predates both of our children, Nicholas and Katherine.

The taste: steeped in history, rich, bold, and earthy, took us back in time to what is poistively one of my family’s fondest memories of the three years we spent living in Italy: a weekend at the Radici Spa & Resort.

This Family owned and run Winery has origins dating back to 1878, and is now in very capable hands of Vintner Piero Mastroberardino. We met Piero when we visited the resort back in 2009. The family, staff, and estate were both welcoming and exquisite. The resort encompassed everything we grew to love about Italy: history, fabulous wine, amazing cuisine and people who are passionate about their Italian culture, and want to share the experience with the world.

 

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Radici Resort & Spa

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Kat in front of the Golf Clubhouse at the Radici Resort & Spa

Seven years later, we still reflect fondly on the wine, food and accommodations and our experience that weekend, where we relaxed and dined like movie stars. Tucked away in the hills of Italy’s Campagnia region, this little gem is well worth the trip!

 

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Little golfers

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Pool at the Radici Resort & Spa

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Tee Time at the Radici Resort & Spa

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Rolling Hills of Campagnia http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family and I were thankful to have experienced this amazing place. If you visit, please share your thoughts. Happy touring and tasting all! Thanks for reading!

The wine: http://www.mastroberardino.com/

The resort: http://www.mastroberardino.com/en/radici-resort/

 

 

www.eileenslovak.com

The Trump and Sanders Phenomenon

How do you begin to explain the current public interest in politics? Is it because the candidates offer more in terms of entertainment value or because they have actually struck a nerve? Are we tuned in just watch their antics or are they tuned in to us for once?

Possibly the most interesting aspect of the political rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is not in the why, but in that fact the Political “experts” still find it so baffling.  In my mind, herein lies the proof of just how out of touch those in Washington, DC truly are with the Country that they presume to govern.

A few years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Voting Rights” which sparked a great deal of debate. Then, I was of the mindset that Americans should not so easily take for granted their right to vote. What I learned from readers was that until they felt better represented by the candidates put forth, they refused to exercise their voting rights. The choice not to vote, spoke volumes.

There was anger in both the Democratic and Republican camps over the same political games and the question was raised that a truer, more in touch with the electorate, third party candidate was needed to shake things up a bit, as both parties were woefully disconnected from their bases. The Republican Party may have been the first to fracture, with the development of the Tea Party and a separate group of conservative right wing voters, but the Democratic Party is not held together well either. The true divide of both is even more evident now; showcased on the current political stage.

Wake up Washington!  Americans are fed up!

Bernie Sanders has answered the mail for Democrats by offering an alternative to career politician Hillary Clinton. For Democratic voters who want anything but the same old politics, Sanders is the new alternative as seen in the Delegate divide. His message is a draw for the changing and divided Democrats. Particularly tuned in are young voters, for whom Sanders presents a more liberal, European,

“free society” platform. He promotes free college education and an anti-war, anti-involvement stance. He has also captured the attention of older voters with his stand on social security. Whether or not these ideals are feasible, voters are responsive to the message. On the contrary, Clinton’s platform looks like more status-quo and four more years of President Obama’s current policies.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump has become the new voice of America. Although he has been called many names: bombastic, demagogue, non-Presidential and worse; none of the name calling and labels have done much to slow his momentum. His ability to speak off the cuff has America listening and taking notice of his focus on the conservative issues now being dismantled by the current administration: immigration, veterans, Second Amendment Rights, foreign policy and health care reform. A vote for Trump is a vote against the establishment and against the current administration.

Meanwhile, there remains an imperial attitude in Washington of: we know what’s best for the people and we’ll decide which candidates you get to chose from.  This way, at least on the surface, it would appear that we have a choice. On the Democratic side, Hillary plans to cinch the nomination by utilizing the super delegates. Proving again that the reason lifetime politicians have always dominated the political process is because they know how to manipulate it and in doing so, the voters.

The undercurrent of a contested convention on the GOP side still looms, echoing of back door politics. Murmurs of an already once defeated, establishment selected candidate like Mitt Romney could still cause an upset to front runner Donald Trump. Has the party literally learned nothing after all of these years? It is hard to imagine any other outcome from a contested convention aside from disgusted voters handing the presidency over to the Democratic Party on a silver platter. I guess in the world of politics, it is possible the Democratic Party alone is responsible for perpetuating these rumors? Or is there some truth to the undercurrent? Is the GOP responsible for floating the idea like a fly to see if anyone bites?

As rumors go, the Republican Party may well be responsible for promoting a Sanders third party run should Hilary finally defeat him in the Democratic primary. A divided party is easy conquest. Republicans know this first hand as their bickering within the party is legendary and has led to past defeat. There may not be a way to mend the fractures of a chasm so deep, leaving the door open for Democrats who historically are more successful at masking their differences.

Of course, it could also be argued that Sanders is hanging on too as he might need to rescue the party should Clinton be convicted in the ongoing FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail sever and potential misuse of Top Secret information while serving as Secretary of State.

All of this combined makes for hot headlines and a media circus like no other. This is the stuff of good campaigns. So my final question is this: will you be voting in the 2016 Presidential Election, and if not, what reason is there left to give for not voting?

“You see, you give the people what they want, and they’ll come.” – George Jessel

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-vs-bernie-sanders-on-the-issues-2015-9

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/donald-trump-voters/401408/

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions

http://www.snopes.com/sanders-vs-clinton-delegate-count/

http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/18/lawyers-present-fbi-with-a-dilemma-in-hillary-clinton-email-server-investigation/

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/12/06/want/

 

Chocolate, Wine & Dying Anyway? May as well enjoy ourselves!

Here’s hoping you enjoyed some red wine and dark chocolate yesterday in honor of St. Valentine’s Day!

I know I did.

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Handmade chocolates wwww.eileenslovak.com

 

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Brunello di Montalcino Casanova di Neri 2006 http://www.eileenslovak.com

Like you, I chose to ignore reports like the the JAMA Network study Resveratrol Levels and All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults which indicates there may after all, not be any real health benefits of consuming red wine and dark chocolate.

It was a lovely dream.

Based on this news will chocolate and red wine lovers cease our habits now that these guilty pleasures will not necessarily add years to our lives?

Unlikely.

There are still benefits that extend beyond the mere enjoyment wine and chocolate…like happiness.

The mood elevator Phenylethlamine a naturally occurring amine, best known as the “love drug” produced by our bodies when we fall in love is also found in chocolate. Some researchers say that if you crave chocolate or any other food, you may merely be deficient in one or more nutrients, vitamins or minerals like magnesium.

You could resolve this issue in the case of magnesium by eating seeds/nuts, green leafy vegetables or by taking a supplement. There is no need to turn to chocolate.

Do we drink red wine for its health benefits such as the presence of Polyphenols, U.S. National Library of Medicine as antioxidants? Or do we drink it because we like it and it makes us happy?

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My hubby in Tuscany! http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family lived in Italy for three years. Over which time we spent many a weekend in the Chianti region, where the JAMA study was conducted.

Should we stop visiting wineries and frequenting chocolate festivals because these lovely tangibles have reverted to mere vices and are therefore unhealthy?

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Nick and Kat at Villa Matilde in Cellole, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

Link to Villa Matilde

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Chocolate Festival in Teano, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

After three years of traveling throughout Italy, I can verify by my own experience, the inherent joy of the Italian people. What I cannot do is prove that red wine and chocolate are the reasons for this happiness. It is a good theory, and one that scientists may consider for their next study.

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Me in Tuscany!!!! http://www.eileenslovak.com

Until then, cheers with chocolate on top!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Link to my E-Book!

 

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Apologies & Book Sales Analysis

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Apologies!

I’ve been away for awhile, and I apologize for completely abandoning my blog and WordPress over the last few months! THANK YOU to all who remained loyal to my site during my absence. Some personal issues crept up: a new job, my Mother (who has dementia) moving near us, writing a new book, family, children, sports and so on. Everyone has busy lives, right? Is this any excuse to give up my blog? Not really.

The first thing I noticed when I came back to my site was that it needed a major face-lift. I’m trying out this new, colorful theme. Please let me know what you think.

Paperback vs. E-Book

This morning, since I am writing a new novel, I was motivated to analyze my book sales since the publication of my first novel in January of 2014, “Secret Agent of God: the Captive Clairvoyant” which is available in both paperback and e-book formats. I consider my first book to be my sales guinea pig.

Here is what I discovered. Although it may not be terribly shocking to seasoned Authors, it might help some new Authors who are in the process of publishing their first book.

I had originally planned to only publish my second book in e-book format since unit sales of my e-book are 5X the sales of my paperback. However, the sales dollars generated from my paperback, while not record setting, are almost 8X the sales of my e-book. Huh?

I attribute this to one thing (tried and true publishing 101): in person sales. Working book fairs, craft shows, farmers markets, donating books and simply talking about my book to people I know or meet has generated more sales dollars than anything else. You can actually make a decent margin on purchasing books and re-selling them yourself. Where this hurts you is in Amazon ranking where you get zero credit for these sales.

This is the paper I used to work for. One of the articles I wrote for the paper helped spark the idea for my first novel. A few years later, the paper covered a book fair where I was one of the Authors. Ironic?

Bay Weekly

FREE, Countdown Deals and Full Price Sales:

I will try any advertising method just out of curiosity. Free does help your sales rank but I always wonder if anyone reads the free books they download. I rarely get around to reading free books and am more motivated to read a book I paid for even if I only pay .99¢ for it. However, my unit sales from year one, where I stubbornly refused to give my book away for free to my second year when I completely caved enjoyed a 90% unit “sales” bump.

That being said, I tried the .99 price point for my book and did not like it. I felt cheap! I felt like I needed a shower after every sale. Furthermore, I did not in reality, sell more books at that price point than I did when my book was priced at the golden number of $2.99.

Paid Advertising:

Yes, I tried this too. I found out I’m really good at spending money. This is the reality of advertising. Advertising is a mode of spreading the word about your book. I look at advertising the same way I view gambling, never spend more than you can afford to lose. There are multiple factors involved in a good campaign and you need to analyze what you did right and wrong. It helps to start with a good product, but even a good product can be sabotaged by a bad campaign. If I could afford it, I would hire someone to do this for me.

With Amazon advertising I managed to spend 6X what I actually made in sales. However, I did experience a huge increase in KENP, Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read. Huh. Amazon pays royalties on these which is a nice bonus. The hope is that after reading some of your book, the reader is inspired to purchase it.

I have very little success with Facebook advertising, but I also have a small following there. Why? I really do not like Facebook. I quite often resent it. I keep my account because if I do not, I know that I will lose track of people who no longer live in my general vicinity which constitutes most of the people I know. Sound familiar?

I have had the most success with Twitter advertising because I love Twitter and have a considerably better following there. Make sense? I engage more there. And I feel as though the advertising capability is better suited for targeting, better reporting and allows me to customize my own campaign. Actually, I have fun with all of the charts and graphs and statistics they offer and therefore will actually go look and find out what I did wrong and right.

TWEET HIGHLIGHTS

Top Tweet earned 404 impressions

& Secret Agent of God: The Captive Clairvoyant via

So what have I learned? I have learned that I need to continue to diversify my marketing efforts. Free is OK if I only use it on occasion, but free is not a price point, it is only free. I like Twitter! I need to remember to blog once in awhile. I need to advertise wisely and not just roll the dice and then be to be lazy to do the analysis.

And by the way, I am running a Kindle Countdown Deal starting February 8th until February 15th. Check out my book if you dare!

Thank you for reading and keep writing!

 

 

 

 

FREE eBook Promo! & Here’s Why….

#‎FreeFriday‬ and Saturday 7/17-7/18 Read: http://t.co/OK0GFdB6J3 ‪#‎RRBC‬

Why Give Books Away Free?

When I first published my book, I was dead set against giving it away for free. Something about spending years of my life on something and then just handing it out gratis didn’t sit well with me. What I didn’t comprehend then was the massive uphill boulder roll of marketing a novel. It doesn’t matter how good your book is if no one knows it exists. Swirling in a storm of millions of books, it’s easy to disappear and maybe never even be seen at all.

So I tried the free book thing.

For a spell, I became obsessed with Amazon’s Ranking system. My novel hitting some of the Top 100 Lists was a drug, and I needed more. I began running monthly promotions and viola, my everyday ranking remained solid. Better yet, actual sales followed. HMMMM, maybe Amazon does know a thing or two.

Here’s a snapshot of my current non-promotional rank, which changes often.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,884 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

 

Why is seeing your book in the Top 100 is worth every free book? Because it means people are potentially reading your book. It means the cover, concept, writing, marketing copy, title, or something in that mix interested them enough to take the time to download your book.

Without readers, we writers lose our purpose. We are asking readers to take a risk. We are asking them to give us their time, which in many ways is much, more valuable than money.

Happy reading and keep writing!

Advice to my Twenty-Something Self:

I was ‘home’ in Rhode Island for less than 24 hours because my mother’s annual Christmas visit now includes travel escort service on both ends. Once your parents reach a certain age, this is as it should be, but it’s also a reminder of the passage of time and just what that means. As a side benefit my sister visited on the front end of my mother’s stay and I had the opportunity to see some friends and relatives on the back end. This doesn’t happen often now that I live over 400 miles away from ‘home’. I come from a large family and the holidays were always a big deal in more ways than one. Now we are all scattered about the country and at best only get together for weddings and funerals.

 

As the youngest of this large family, I became an aunt at ten-years-old and am now a great aunt. Scary thought. One nephew and two of my nieces now have spouses. Soon there will be more grand nephews and nieces. I often think of my nieces and nephews as being perpetually in their twenties, but now, some are approaching their thirties. Yikes. Twenty years can disappear just like that.

 

One of my nieces just passed the bar exam and is now working at a law practice. I was listening to her talk about her life which is really just beginning and it got me thinking. In my twenties all I wanted was to have ‘life experiences’. Now in my forties, I just want time to slow down or to stop altogether. Sometimes it feels like I sprinted through life, anxious to complete the next thing on some invisible list. I rarely cast a look over my shoulder fearful that was behind me might try to hold me back. It’s OK. This is what we are supposed to do when we are young. Live. Have no regrets. There is plenty of time later to ruminate.

 

But if I could go back and advise my younger self, there are few things I would tell her:

 

  1. Money is a means to an end and nothing more. Learn how to save it. If you are fortunate enough to have a good job, max out your 401K from the start. You’ll need that money later. Trust me.
  2. Live within or below your means. ‘Stuff’ will not make you happy it will only burden you.
  3. Never say never! You will eat those words so often you’ll begin to choke on them.
  4. Love is all that matters. Marry for love. Marry your best friend. You might be poor, but you will be happy and you’ll find a way to survive, together. It still won’t be perfect but you will be happier than many others.
  5. Give to charity. Self explanatory. No matter how little you have, someone else almost always has less and could use some help. Sometimes a little kindness is all a person needs to get back on their feet and moving forward again.
  6. Have children. A career is a wonderful thing, but if you can’t manage to ‘do it all’ and you must choose one or the other, you’ll regret not having children if you really want them. They are our greatest achievements, even when we make mistakes raising them. You will have many jobs in your lifetime and several that you will never lament leaving. If having children is not possible, be the best aunt you can be to the children of your siblings and friends.
  7. Travel. It will expand your mind, teach you compassion, and open your eyes wider than any other experience ever will.
  8. Right now you are taking your young skin for granted, but your forty-something self will thank you for doing this one simple thing: Start wearing sun block every day, especially on your face and neck.
  9. Be worthy of trust. It will make you a good friend.
  10. Stop talking and do. Do something you are passionate about, even if it can only be a hobby at first. You need money to survive but you need fulfillment to be whole.
  11. Take care of your body. We each only get one and the better you treat it now, the better it will carry you later.
  12. Marriage is tough. See #4! Nothing will test your resolve more. Sometimes you will want to quit. You’ll need to decide what is and what isn’t a deal breaker. See the rest of the list, especially #3.

If I could go back and tell my younger self these things and she would likely ignore me and say, “I’ll never be as old as you”. Then I would look back at her and say, “Girl, you have so much to learn!”

Happy New Year all!

 

Like this post? Check out my page turning thriller: “Secret…”

Are you kidding me!
www.eileenslovak.com

Top Five Things I Can Never Bloody Well Find In My Own House!

Got children? Then you know what I’m griping about.

From the moment my two, sweet, bundles of joy were born it was clear nothing was mine anymore. I can tell you that as they grow older the issue only magnifies. For the most part, as parents we resign ourselves to this. We embrace sacrifice. It’s a big part of the job. Although, I would be remiss not to admit that sometimes, I’m driven slightly mad by the smallest of missing things.

  1. Scotch Tape: I don’t mean just at Christmastime, when there is never any tape left, and I’m certain I’m contributing to the soaring stock prices of CVS and 3M. I mean every other day of the year. I search the junk drawer, I rifle through the office – no tape. I finally find a wad of it wrapped around a piece of red construction paper with little sparkle hearts stuck to the outside – under my daughter’s bed.
  2. A Pen That Writes: There are pens everywhere in the house and each one has exactly enough ink to write the first letter of the item that I’m desperate to add to the shopping list. The rest of the letters are written in invisible ink. I’m sure that I’ll remember what I was trying to write once I get to the market – not so much. Picture a middle-aged housewife standing in the center of the canned goods aisle, cursing at a mostly blank piece of paper.
  3. Toilet Paper: There is nothing more infuriating than being stranded on the potty, and then noticing the empty brown cardboard roll. The more I buy, the more they use. I wonder if I am really raising two baby elephants, because the size of their behinds are grossly out of proportion with the amount of toilet tissue used.
  4. A Brush: I love that my daughter has long, golden locks that she brushes all on her own now. I don’t love using the ‘free comb’ leftover from school picture day to try to make sense of my hair. I know for a fact, that there are at least five brushes in the house because I purchased them all. What I don’t know is where on earth they went. One guess is under the seat of my car, a place I cannot go easily without risking throwing out my lower back.
  5. The Good Snacks: I know, I ask too much to even fantasize that I should share in the good snacks…even the few that I hide. That’s right, I just admitted it, and if you’re honest, you’ve done it too. Squirreling away food is an all time parenting low, but I never claimed perfection. Snack stashing is futile anyway. No matter where I conceal them, they are always eventually found, and not by me. My parental brain is so scrambled most of the time, I forget my hiding spots. The worst is ‘the look’ and the comments when they discover the treats, “Wow, Mommy! Seriously! You hid these?”

My own mother raised six children and is a saint by comparison to me. Although, I do remember her having occasional outbursts of, “Don’t touch my things!” It was usually over something small, and seemingly insignificant like a safety-pin. My siblings and I would look at each other and shrug, “What’s her problem?” I know it took awhile, but I get it now, Mom, and someday so will my kids.

Like thrills, chills and dark humor? My Amazon U.K. e-book Promo begins Saturday 10/18-10/25: “Secret Agent of God”

Also available for readers in the U.S.A., not on sale but still a bargain: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Agent-God-Eileen-Slovak-ebook/dp/B00IDEI76Y/ref=tmm_kin_title_popover?ie=UTF8&qid=1413385183&sr=8-1Got