CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mona Risk - A Chemist's Career


The daughter of a professor and writer, I grew up surrounded by books and started writing my own stories at an early age but I also wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand the sight of blood or dissect the adorable rabbit in my premed lab. It was easier to shift to a different major such as chemistry.
Mixing solution seemed like a lot of fun for a college freshman, but standing on your feet all day long to prepare samples for analysis and operate analytical instruments when you are working eight to ten hours a day resulted in a boring predictable routine and a back problem exacerbated by work and time. To improve the situation, I went back to graduate school, studied and passed exams again, and obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

As Director of the Analytical Division of my company, I won a contract to refurbish a laboratory in Belarus. I thought I would collapse when the boss said, “Now that you won your contract, you need to go to Belarus and work on this refurbishment.”

Suddenly my career and life changed. I opened the Internet to find out as much as I could about Belarus, capital Minsk, located South of Russia, East of Poland and North of Ukraine. After learning a little bit about the food, I decided to play it safe and took with me green apples previously washed and individually wrapped in plastic bags, a box of crackers and a bag of mini BabyBel (the Gouda cheese wrapped in red wax) and of course a dozen bottles of water.

We left for our first trip to Belarus at the end of October. We included: a government person and his interpreter, me, my lab manager and computer specialist. The first chapter of my book relates my first impressions: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur round hat). I remedied the problem on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy real mink chapka. I still have it. Between May and October there is no heat in Belarus. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. Of course I was often offered vodka instead.

More foreign assignments lead to business trips—fun trips--to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. I traveled a lot, organized laboratory refurbishments, visited environmental sites in Germany, Egypt, and in the USA, and attended conferences in various places. Over the years, I visited over fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from my hectic schedule, I avidly read romance novels or mentally plotted my own books. I was in a hotel room in the Ukraine, typing my latest work report, when the clamor of my characters in my head made me decide it was time to take an early retirement and write the numerous stories I had in mind.
Many of my special stories are related in my book, TO LOVE A HERO, available at Cerridwen Press.

I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine (the smart woman) fell in the arm of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

My story, TO LOVE A HERO, highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast, and make a woman feel like a goddess. I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting civilization while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press: TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL and medical romance in the genre of ER and Grey's Anatomy for The Wild Rose Press: BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, Rx FOR TRUST and PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN. All books are available at Amazon.com.

20 comments:

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Jnae for inviting me to blog on Hapiily Ever After about my careers as a chemist and writers.

Maggie Toussaint said...

You've had such a fascinating life, Mona. I'll bet you have lots of stories still to tell. And I'm looking forward to reading every one.

liana laverentz said...

Mona, I knew you'd led an exciting life, but wow--50 countries! And writing is in your blood :) How wonderful that you were able to take so many personal experiences and share them with us through writing the kind of books you love to read. Romance.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Great to see you, Mona, and thanks for sharing your career stories. Belarus! I can't even begin to imagine. The culture shock, everything, it must have been amazing. Do you miss any of it?

Jane x

LK Hunsaker said...

Every time I read about your experience, I'm fascinated and a bit awed.

I still need to check this book out!

Savanna Kougar said...

Mona, I know I'm awed. Your travel experiences are utterly compelling and amazing.
I certainly relate about the blood thing. As a young kid I wanted one of those nurse's bags. Well, my great parents came through. And, I was pretend-using everything to heal the other kids, especially the syringe.
Not much later, I realized I couldn't stand the sight of blood. There went the nursing career. And the bag didn't get used either.

Mona Risk said...

Jane, forgive me for mistyping your name. Did I mention that the only class I flunked was typing while I was an A student most of the time!!

Mona Risk said...

Maggie, my kids and friends are asking me to write the story of my life. No fancy romance there since I married my one and only love. But a lot of adventure, even suspense.

Mona Risk said...

Liana, one day I will tell you how I risked my life when I fell in love with an antique icon and brought it home.

Mona Risk said...

To be honest Jane, I don't miss it anymore. I enjoyed it to the maximum and then let it go.I love to live in the present and make the best out of it.

Mona Risk said...

Lorraine please check my bookS by all mean. The S is not a typo. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Savanna, one time I went with my DH who was having a minor surgery. I was present when the doctor gave him an epidural injection in the spinal column. When the doc left the tube and needle hanging from my DH's back I fainted. They had to ignore my husband and take care of me. Disgustingly softy.

Celia Yeary said...

MONA--I can say you had a fabulously unusual career. Since I'm freezing here in 50 degree weather, I could not survive in Belarus--or even in Nebraska. I'm so impressed with your abilities AND capabilities. You are one smart woman, and I'm glad I can call you a friend--an internet friend. Celia

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Celia. We will meet someday. Hopefully in Florida. Hop in a plane and come to warm up in South Florida, although now it's feel like Boston in the Fall, a cold Fall.

Mary Ricksen said...

I loved this book and fell in love with Sergai. Oh, to be treated that way by an American man, like my DH!
Mona you are one of the most educated people I know. Oh I didn't like my job, so I got another degree. Amazing Mona, most of us struggle to get through one. What a special woman you are. I am so glad to call you friend!
I love when you show pictures of your travels on the blogs.

Keena Kincaid said...

Mona,
And I thought I'd traveled a lot. Your blog is incredibly interesting. And even though it was likely a lot of hard work, I imagine it was a lot of fun, too.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, it wasn't just I don't like a job, I get another degree, LOL. It took four years of studies, exams and lab work. A lot of frustration until my project worked and my research thesis moved on. I had two children at the time. I took my books while watching soccer games.

But yes Keena, that PhD was the best thing I did for myself. I never regretted the long hours in the lab.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Brilliant, intriguing post, Mona! Amazing travel!Thanks for sharing!

StephB said...

Mona, wow!! You put a lot of your experiences into TO LOVE A HERO and it paid off. That was a great story and I enjoyed it very much. What a great opportunity you've had to blend two careers that you love.

Smiles
Steph

Sheryl said...

What a wealth of experience--and talent.

I love these blogs, so inspiring. Like I said to Jane, Mona,artistic talent will out in the end. :)