Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Stella May’

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

What’s in a Name?

by

Stella May

Have you ever wondered if or how a person’s name affects his/her personality? Does your name determine your fate? Or was Shakespeare right to shrug off labels? The older I get, the more I am convinced that the Bard was wrong—that there is something in a name, after all.

My great-grandmother was named Tatyana. There are several different meanings of that name. From ancient Greek, it translates as “founder of order” or “organizer.” According to other translations, it means “a fairy queen,” or “fairy princess.” She was both. Born to a noble Russian family, she was raised like a princess. Later in life, by fate’s capricious will, she became head of the household, where she reigned supreme, bringing order and organizing the lives of her family.

Let’s start from the beginning: Tatyana Fortushina was born in 1901 in Qusar (Kusary), located in the foothills of the Great Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan. One of her brothers was an orthodox priest. The other was in the army. She also had two sisters.

Unfortunately, the details about my great-grandmother’s family are sketchy at best. According to all the people I have talked to, Tatyana (or Baba Tanya, as everybody called her) wasn’t close with her parents or siblings. My guess? Probably because of her highly unusual marriage. As I said, my great-grandmother was raised and educated like a princess, graduating from an establishment (St. Nina’s) for girls of prominent Christian families, and was the apple of her parents’ eye…. until she met my great-grandfather, that is.

Here, we draw a big, fat blank. To this day, no one in the family knows how or why Meshady Abbas, the son of an Iranian manufacturer, ended up in post-revolutionary Azerbaijan.

When did my great-grandparents meet? And how on earth did a Muslim merchant get parental permission from one of the prominent members of Christian society to marry his daughter? The details are shrouded in secret. One thing we know for sure, though, is that in order to marry my great-grandmother, my great-grandfather converted to Christianity. And so, Meshadi Abbas became Artemy Kurdov and married my great-grandmother. Vera, my grandmother, was born the next year.

Their small family was happy—at least I want to believe that they were—but not for very long. When my grandmother Vera was a toddler, Artemy Kurdov, who embraced the Communist ideology wholeheartedly, was executed as an enemy of the nation. Ironic? Not in the least. It’s hard to understand now, but, during Stalin’s regime, just sneezing the wrong way was enough to be labeled as an enemy of the state—literally. And my daredevil of a great-grandfather had managed to become something of a Major in the small city where he lived. I assume that’s why he was ultimately executed… or perhaps he just said something, or did something, or looked at someone in passing, and some zealot took a notice and reported it. I don’t want to think about my great-grandfather’s days in prison or the beatings he endured. Torture was a regular practice of the NKVD—the original name of the KGB.

Thus, my great-grandmother Tatyana was left a young widow with no income to support her and her daughter, and no family to turn to for help. But instead of falling apart, this delicately built dark-haired princess squared her shoulders and spat fate in the eyes. She showed everybody what a graduate of St. Nina’s was made of! Remembering the sewing lessons she took in school, Baba Tanya soon became one of the most sought-after seamstresses—all the wives of the city’s elite were dressed by her. Much later, her granddaughters, my mom and my aunt, paraded in the clothes that were the subject of envy to their friends. She had finally found her footing, and life in her household became content. They had a roof over their heads, food on the table, but, most importantly, they had each other.

And then…

Her only daughter, her whole world, the reason of her being, fell in love with a man almost twice her age… and had to get married, or else. I can only wonder what Baba Tanya felt, when her nice and quiet world suddenly fell apart, as her own daughter repeated the same fate she had? As a mother, how would I react if I were in her shoes? Would I let my daughter chose her own fate, or would I try to interfere? I honestly don’t know.

In the end, my great-grandmother gave the couple her blessings and stepped aside. For the next five years, she lived alone. Was she hurt? I imagine she was. Feeling lonely? Abandoned? Oh, absolutely. But she was too proud to show her emotions. Always restrained, now she became coolly aloof.

Years later, when her beloved daughter became a widow with two small children at the age of twenty, she immediately took all of them under her wing. How could a woman, a mother, and grandmother keep harboring grudges when three people she loved more than life itself needed her? Hence, she became the head of an all-female household, one she ruled for almost three decades. The second meaning of her name – the founder of order—had come into play.

According to my family, she was a stern woman, fair and loving, but reserved. She didn’t suffer fools, didn’t forgive easily, and meted out punishment with a precision of a surgeon. Her scalpel was her tongue—sharp, cold, and merciless. But her love for her girls, although never visible, ran deep and was true.

My grandmother Vera always said that, if not for Baba Tanya and her sacrifices, they probably wouldn’t have survived the hunger of World War II. During that horrible time, to suppress her own hunger, Baba Tanya started to smoke. She went hungry for days, giving her tiny bread portions to her granddaughters. She learned to cook from bran and waste products, conjuring meals out of things unimaginable. She stood hours on end in bread lines, barely alive from hunger, all the while puffing away her disgusting handmade cigarettes. That cheap tobacco mix affected her lungs, ultimately causing her to pass away years later when I was barely three years old.

My memory of her is vague: a frail figure in a starched white kerchief, thin and pale-faced, coughing loudly. I remember I was afraid to enter the room when the ‘scary old woman’ was lying in bed. I suppose, for a small child, her frailty, her illness-ravished face, that horrible dry cough could and did look scary.

But still…to this day, I feel ashamed of myself.

Interestingly enough, while I don’t remember much of my great-grandmother’s face, one thing that stuck with me is her hands, which I can remember clearly.

Isn’t that just strange?

Or is it just the wonders of human memory?

Here is a peek at my latest time travel romance novel for your reading pleasure.

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart.

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.a>

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The always interesting Stella May who brings us her latest recipe for salmon.

Honestly, I don’t like to cook fish, especially salmon, but this recipe almost cooks itself. Yes, it’s that easy. This recipe works great with a whole fillet, individual ones, or steaks. Give it a try.

Baked Salmon in Lemon Juice
1 salmon fillet
1 or 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste, optional

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Wash and dry salmon. If you use a whole fillet, cut into serving size pieces for easier handling. Lay fish into any ovenproof dish that has a cover or use an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet then cover the salmon with heavy aluminum foil.

Pour fresh squeezed lemon juice over fish. It must be half covered in liquid. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

You can sprinkle salt and pepper on before you bake the fish, but I prefer to cook it without.

And that’s it. Hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does.

Here is a peek at my latest time travel novel for your reading pleasure.

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart.

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest shares a

Recipe from the home country

by

Stella May

This is an easy version of a very popular dish among Armenians and Azeris called kutab which is stuffed flat bread. In a classic version, you have to make a dough from scratch. But I am making my Kutabs with soft large flour tortillas you can find in any supermarket. This is so easy to make, any novice (and any man) can do it. Plus, it’s fast and a very filling dish.

There are several different stuffings for Kutabs. The most popular is Green Stuffing, a combination of different herbs. There is also Meat Stuffing that is delicious. The recipe I’m sharing makes 10 large or 12 medium Kutabs.

Kutab Green Stuffing

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch parsley1 bunch dill1-

2 bunches green onions, depends on size

1 bunch baby spinach

2 – 3 tbsp. lemon juice½ cup olive or sunflower oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

Wash and dry all herbs, then chop coarsely. Sweep them into a large bowl. Add lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Fill half of a tortilla with stuffing, leaving a little bit space at the edges. I measure it by handfuls and use 2 handfuls for each Kutab. Use a brush to apply egg to the edges. Fold tortilla in half and then press with your fingers to make the edges stick together.

Pre-heat a large skillet. Add a little oil. The classic version calls for a dry pan, but my family prefers the Kutabs fried in avocado oil. Olive oil works well, too.

Cook on medium heat until both sides are golden brown. Makes perfect lunch or dinner. We eat it with feta cheese and plain yogurt.

Kutab Meat Stuffing

1 – 1½ lb. finely ground meat

1 large onion2 – 3 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup cold water

1 egg

Use a food processor mash onion and garlic. Add already ground meat. Mix well together. Add salt, pepper, and water.

Instead of greens, spread meat on half of the tortilla, seal with beaten egg, and then cook per the Green Stuffing instructions.

For meat Kutabs, you can use any sauce. Works perfect with marinara.

Enjoy!

Here is a peek at Stella’s time travel romance for your reading pleasure.

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart.

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
 

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Independence day not always July 4th

by

Stella May

Leo’s passport photo

January 18th is a very special day for me and my husband Leo. In 1991, on this day, we arrived in the United States. Every year Leo and I celebrate January 18th as our own Independence Day.

Between the two of us, we carried $260 in our pockets, all that we were allowed to take with us, two small suitcases, and an unbreakable will to be free and happy.

Stella’s passport photo

But first, we had to survive. Literally. Yes, life was a precious commodity in those days. You see, we are Armenian Christians, who were born in Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, one of the former republics of the former USSR.

In the late 1980s there was a national and civil conflict largely provoked by the government. A conflict about a spec of a land that two nations, Armenians and Azeri, had argued about from the dawn of time. That land was called Karabakh. Located in South Caucasus, this tiny space was always home for the Armenian people. They call it Republic of Artsakh. But located on the Azeri territory, this region was a sore spot, and a reason for a long-lasting dispute between two nations.

That slowly-brewing disagreement finally erupted into a riot, and then war.

Since then, several wars were fought, and a sea of blood poured over Karabakh. The two nations, that were friendly once upon a time, became the worst enemies. Hatred replaced love, lies replaced truth, and white became black.

The horrors of those days are impossible to describe. Chaos. Fear. Death.

Friends and neighbors became adversaries; many mixed-race families were destroyed, and peace was replaced with war of the worst kind: racial/religious war.

Even though we lived in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, long away from that disputed land, we, Armenians, became the enemies simply because of our nationality. Blood-thirsty crowds of fanatics boosted on alcohol and narcotics, ran around our beautiful city, vandalizing, destroying, raping, murdering.

At first, people couldn’t believe that this situation would last. Everyone waited for the government to step up and put a stop to it. But…

I don’t want to go into a political aspect of that horrible war. I’m just saying that somebody higher-up— somebody evil— needed it and made those atrocities possible.

When it became obvious that no one was going to interfere and help us, people took matters into their own hands. Many ran away, but even more died trying.

My family was very fortunate. We didn’t lose anyone, and we were able to run away first to the former republic of Georgia, and then to Moscow. We still harbored hope that our government, not the local but federal, would somehow help our situation. Guess what? No one in our nation’s capital cared that millions of people were left homeless, penniless, and victimized. And no one cared about the dead.

At that time, when hope was the only thing that keep us afloat, the United States officially recognized the situation in Karabakh as war against humanity, acknowledged Armenians from Azerbaijan as political refugees, and opened the doors to my people. And that’s how we first met, my then future husband and I: in line in front of the American Embassy in Moscow. That day fate was hard at work. She brought us together, and opened the doors to our new life. Thirty-two years later, we’re still living that life, and couldn’t be happier.

But back then, it would be another year of hardship before we landed at JFK airport. A horrible year of struggles, sacrifices, humiliations, and personal tragedy.

That year we lost my mom just a few months before we were due to leave Moscow. We are still not sure whether the surgeon who performed her simple procedure made a terrible mistake or it was a broken thrombosis, but she died overnight in a hospital. The autopsy was inconclusive. But what does it matter? We lost our anchor, our rock, the glue that kept our family together. She was just 48 years old. In a matter of days, my dad, a vibrant man of 53, became a shadow of his former self. Our family was shattered.

Scared and emotionally beaten, we resembled a bunch of survivors of a terrible disaster. And that’s exactly who we were back then. We all went through hell and back, but somehow our spirits weren’t broken. Even dad managed to drag himself from the abyss of grief. We all were determined to survive. Freedom was our mantra and our God. And so, with my mom’s ashes, we finally left the old country.

New York 1991

And every January 18th I remember my first glimpse of New York, and those first scary and confusing emotions. We were so young, but my hero was confident.

At first, there was the nerve-racking illusion of being deaf because I couldn’t understand a word spoken all around me. I remember people, so many people, laughing, moving, eating, talking… And the noise! The lights! Everything so bright and sharp and loud. I remember clutching my husband’s hand like an anchor and afraid to let go. But most of all, I remember Leo looking at me with his dark tired eyes, and telling me, “We’ll make it, you’ll see.”

And we did.

Even though the events that brought us here were tragic and horrible, we look at it now as a blessing in disguise. If not for that bloody war, we would never cut our ties with the old country, and would never know what true freedom is.

We would never know what it is to be true patriots, and to love your country with everything you are. And it doesn’t matter that we weren’t born here. The old wisdom says the real parents are those who raised you, not who birthed you.

Such a simple and untarnished truth!

We are proud to be American citizens.

God bless United States of America.

God bless my wonderful beloved country.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 35 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Memories from Stella May about her childhood.

When I was a child, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year.

You see, in my old country, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even know what Christmas was. Instead, we celebrated New Year. How come? Well, I was born in the former USSR, the communist country, where Christmas as a religious holiday was banned since 1928. (I think they reinstated it in 1991, but I am not positive.)

But, back to my story. As sad as it may seem to you, our New Years were festive, and happy.

We decorated our flats with an abandon. A fresh pine tree was a must. I still remember how it smelled—fresh and green like hope. And, oh God, the decorations! Hand-made, or store bought, and the garlands… We had our own version of Santa Claus—Ded Moroz, who had his lovely granddaughter, Snegurochka.

Oh, the New Years of my childhood! It was pure joy, and expectation of something wonderful, and magic rolled into one.

The smell of tangerines permeated the air. Those little orange delights were an absolute necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–even more than champagne.

My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. And the most favorite dish of all? Olivier Salad, of course. (Look for the recipe in January on this blog.) It was, and still is, a synonym of New Year.

Then, on the big day, we would put our best china and gather around the table for dinner. For children, it was the biggest thrill, because only on New Year’s Eve we were allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV until we dropped.

And only the children received presents. Mostly, it was sweets, fruit, books, and an occasional toy— nothing the modern children would consider a ‘present’, especially a Christmas present.

But we were waiting for those special presents all year and treasured them immensely.

To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year.

No one wrapped our presents simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom used cellophane and some ribbons to make our presents a little more festive.

I remember how she would hide these funny-looking bundles from us, and how happy she was when she’d manage to transfer them in the middle of the night under the tree, and then looked surprised when we find them in the morning.

But most of all, I remember the feeling of absolute and total happiness. Oh, what a joy it was, that magical New Year’s night! The exhilaration, anticipation, celebration! I remember everything so vividly like it was yesterday, and my heart breaks a little each and every time.

In my family we keep the tradition and celebrate New Year’s in a big way. Now I am slaving in the kitchen, using my mother’s recipes to put on a celebratory dinner. And every year, there are tangerines, champagne, and Olivier Salad. And presents? There will be plenty of presents for everyone— not only for children. And they will be wrapped in a pretty paper, and adorned with festive ribbons and bows.

In first of the month, we sat around the table, and raised our glasses to toast 2022, wishing for health and happiness, peace and prosperity.

May this coming year be kind to everybody. Stay safe and healthy, love each other, care for your loved ones, and always keep a positive attitude.

Happy New Year, or as we said in Russia, с Новым Годом!

Stella

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The story of the women of my family by Stella May who shares with us her interesting family background.

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a long time, but never put the actual words to paper. Something always stopped me. When the story is vital, and the memories are bittersweet, it’s very hard to transform into words your emotions. At least, it is for me.

So, the women of my family: my great-grandmother Tatiana, my grandmother Vera, my mother Karina, and my aunt Stella. Even the names sound lovely, old-fashioned, and classy, don’t they?

Three generations, four amazing women who shared blood, but were as different from each other as night and day, or as only mothers and daughters can be. Four women, four fascinating life stories. Today, I will tell you about my grandmother.

Her name was Vera, but we called her Verunya. Even her daughters, my mother and my aunt, referred to her by that endearing nickname. No one in the family knew when exactly it started or who started it. But someone did, and it stuck. For three generations.

As a matter of fact, she had two names: Vera, which means “faith” in Russian, and Gulbahar, which means “spring flower” in Azeri. Why? My grandmother was unique in more ways than one. You see, her mother was from a prominent Russian family, and her father… Well, here’s where we draw a blank. To this day, no one in the family knows who his ancestors were. But as the family lore goes, my great-grandfather was kidnapped as a child and raised in Iran in a Kurdish family. When he met my great-grandmother Tatiana (and no one is sure when or how he ended up in post-revolutionary Azerbaijan, a republic of former USSR) he was so lovestruck that he converted to Christianity to get permission to marry her. And so, Meshady Abbas became Artemy Kurdov. My grandmother Verunya was the only child of that unusual union.

To say that she was a complex woman is truly an understatement of the century. Stunning, strong-willed, capricious, multifaceted, she looked fragile like a china doll, but was stronger than steel. She was beautiful and knew it. She drove men crazy and enjoyed it.

But she wasn’t flighty, shallow, or mean. There was not a single humble bone in her body, but she never hurt anyone on purpose. She worshipped at the altar of high fashion, but sold without hesitation her favorite dress in order to buy her two little daughters Christmas gifts.

She had a huge heart, and loved all four of us, her grandchildren, to distraction. And every time one of us would visit her, before she would open the door, she’d call out, “My dearest one has come!”

She was not your traditional grandmother. She was not traditional anything, period, and that was a huge part of her charm.

For me, she was a personification of everything female. Always dressed to kill, sporting an impeccable manicure and pedicure, she could apply mascara and her famous cherry red lipstick even half asleep. And grey hair? She refused to even acknowledge its right to exist.

She fell in love at 16 with a man who was almost twice her age. Needless to say, no one could stop her from marrying this dashing hunk who happened to be a popular jazz singer. My aunt was born less than a year after, and my mother three years later.

Then, tragedy struck. My larger-than-life grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. He died three months later, leaving a 20 year-old widow with two toddlers on her arms, no income to support them, and no place to live in a strange city. You see, my grandfather Sergey Periev moved his family from Baku, when my Verunya lived all her life, to Yerevan, where he was offered a position as a lead singer in Armenian Jazz band. The apartment they were living in was a rental for the members of the band only, so after his death my grandmother was asked to vacate it. And the year was 1942, the second year of World War II.

But instead of falling apart, this young girl, a child herself, grabbed her two daughters and whatever meager possessions she had, and returned home. With no help from the well-to-do in-laws, who decided they didn’t need an additional burden, she struck out on her own.

I can only imagine how scared she was. She needed to support her family, but had no real profession or formal education. What she had in abundance was sheer guts and a spine of steel. And a true gift that fate bestowed upon her: her amazing voice.

So, shaking off her own fears and insecurities, my Verunya stuck her perky nose up, squared her fragile shoulders, and set to pursue a career as a singer. And the rest was history. She became a star. In my former country, USSR, the name Vera Perieva was familiar to millions.

In her early thirties, she met her second love. Mikhail Kauffman was her impresario. It was a long, happy, and content marriage. But then cancer struck again, taking away the man who became a true father to my mother and aunt, and loving grandfather to my cousins and I.

When in 1991 our family relocated to the USA, Verunya tried really hard to adjust to her new country, but that proved to be a challenge. The language barrier, failing health, advanced age—everything added to the load.

She passed away quietly in her sleep on one brutally cold October morning, wearing an impeccable manicure and pedicure, with not a single grey hair offending her trade-mark mahogany mane.

Last February would have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday. I’m sure the angels threw a huge party for our Verunya, with my mom and dad, and all our dearest departed friends and family in attendance. And then the birthday girl sang, and her deep rich soprano flew over heaven making the Almighty sigh with pleasure…

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features

Shares a new book from

Stella May

This novel is a wonderful Time Travel Romance with diverse characters and a well-developed plot. Book One will have you eager to read the other novels in the series as soon as they release.

The twist of a key answers many questions…but could also break her heart.

Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

Available at Amazon in E-book or Paperback and all other major vendors.

Talented author Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new book from Stella May who brings us her latest Time Travel Romance. Be sure to get your copy today!

This engrossing novel has wonderful moments of humor and honest soul-searching. This book contains a house flipper who talks to her projects, a beloved grandmother, a case of mistaken identity, and a slow-burn romance. Look for its release on Amazon and all major vendors September 27, 2021.

The twist of a key answers many questions…but could also break her heart.

BLURB:
Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read Full Post »