Happy Valentine’s Day

Hello, my dear friends!

Where did the time go? The holidays are behind us, and it is February already, the month that fills us with hope and wish for the early spring. And we have one very lovely holiday to celebrate in February: Valentine’s Day.

February 14th is a day to celebrate romance and love. But did you know that the origins of this festival of candy, flowers, and cupids are actually dark, and a bit muddled? Well, it is. And it all started with Romans.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain (!!)

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.

As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.

Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.

Well, after a bit of history, I want to wish all of you a very lovely and Happy Valentine’s Day. May this February 14th bring you love and romance, AND LOTS OF CHOCOLATE!

New Year’s Celebration

When I was a child, growing up in the old country, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year. I still remember the smell of our tangerines, which were an absolutely necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–more so than champagne.

My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. 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 were we allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV.

As children, we were the only ones getting presents. It was mostly fruit, candy, books, and an occasional toy, but we were waiting for those presents all year and treasured them immensely. To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year’s.

No one wrapped the presents in those days simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom would get creative and use cellophane and some ribbons to make the presents more festive. I remember how she would hide these funny-looking presents 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 presents. Only now they are prettily wrapped and adorned with festive ribbons and bows.

In two days, we will sit around our table, and raise our glasses to toast 2021, 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 positive attitude.

Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Hello Everyone,

It’s almost Christmas time!  We’ve made it to the end of 2020, and soon will be welcoming New 2021. Personally, I can’t wait. This year was one of the most challenging and unusual in so many ways!

But no matter how challenging and disappointing this year turned out to be, we still have a lot of things to be grateful for: our families, our children, our loved ones. And we have to move forward and keep light in our hearts no matter what.

Christmas and New Year are very important for me and my family. It’s one of the most special holidays for us. Every year we usually spend some time traveling either to Amelia Island or Georgia Golden Isles. Not this year: this year we’re staying home. COVID has changed so many things for everybody… But there is always next year! I’m looking forward to 2021 because I truly believe that our lives will be turning back to normal very soon.

I’m going to spend my holidays writing. My second book in Upon A Time series is shaping out nicely. I hope to finish it by springtime.

Meanwhile, I have decided to re-edit and re-write some scenes of my two latest books, Rhapsody in Dreams and Before & After.

And that is why I pulled them temporarily from the digital shelves. As soon as all final edits are done, both my ‘babies’ will be on sale again, boasting the brand new covers. Stay tuned for Cover Reveal announcements on my blog and Facebook page 🙂

I am wishing all of you peace, love, and joy this Holiday Season.

And as always, thank you for reading my books, for your kind emails, and for your encouraging words.  Every time you leave a positive review, you give me wings 🙂

With all my love and deepest gratitude,

Stella May

5 Star Review from READERS’ FAVORITE

Hey, everybody! I am super excited!! My new book “Before & After” just got 5 Star review and 5 Star Seal from the READERS’ FAVORITE !!

I’m copying it here (sorry, not very modest of me, but…)

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

“Before & After is a work of fiction in the fantasy romance, time travel, and historical sub-genres, and was penned by author Stella May. Written as the opening book to the Upon A Time series, this read is accessible and suitable for readers of all sensitivity levels. We find ourselves in the present day with protagonist Nika Morris, who intends to renovate a historic house on Amelia Island, Florida, which was once the property of one Elijah Coleman. So when Nika finds herself transported back to 1909 and in the company of the former owner himself, she learns a lot more about herself and the original Coleman House than she could ever have bargained for.

Author Stella May has crafted a beautiful and surprisingly realistic romantic story that seamlessly weaves its time travel elements into the historical and contemporary plot threads. I really enjoyed Nika (or indeed Daisy, as she becomes known) for her inquisitive spirit, but also for the vulnerability which she learns and is able to show when she finds herself lost in the past. She and Eli are solidly developed characters to lead the story, but I was also impressed by the realism and level of detail in the surrounding cast, from Eli’s past family to Nika’s present loved ones. The dialogue too was appropriately moderated to give a sense of the past clashing with the present. Overall, Before & After offers a very promising start to a sweeping, lovely story that fans of time travel, romance, and interpersonal family dramas will adore.”

Before & After

And so, it’s done. My new book, a time-travel love story Before & After–the first book in my new series Upon A Time–is finished and sent to my editor. I am happy and thrilled, yet scared as any mother of a ‘newborn’.

It was a long and somewhat arduous journey. I planned to finish this book long before now, in the springtime, but fate decided differently. Many things happened: some sad, some happy, some in-between. My writing was my escape and my salvation. When everything seemed to be turning and shifting beneath my feet, the simple act of putting words on paper (or computer screen, that is) was calming and grounding.

The seed for a time-travel story was planted into my head a little over two years ago, when my husband and I first visited Amelia Island and took a boat tour to Georgia’s Golden Isles. I remember looking at Cumberland Island–wild, untamed, and beautiful– and a crazy thought popped into my mind: What if a modern woman, petite and slender, with a short hair-cut, would find herself on this Island, say, a hundred years ago, dressed in jeans and t-shirt? They would probably take her for a boy…

The rest was history.

Needless to say, I fell in love with Fernandina Beach, its picturesque historic district, its unapologetic old-fashioned way, its unhurried rhythm of life. Even time seems to move slower there.

After that first visit, I’ve traveled to Amelia Island a few more times (thank goodness the trip is a short one ) and every time I felt like I was transported back in time to another era. I hope I managed to describe that in my book. I hope my love to the city of Fernandina Beach and the ocean shines through.

I am not sure how many books there will be in the Upon A Time series–time will tell (pun intended)–but I am in a process of the second book, which will be a continuation of Nika and Eli’s story. The tentative name for it is Now & Again. Hopefully, I will finish it by next spring.

For now, there is a teaser–a half-revealed cover of Before & After–which I’m planning to fully uncover as soon as my book is published (hopefully, in the first weeks of September).

Thank you and stay tuned!

Rhapsody in Dreams- new look

Hello, hello! It has been awhile.

Many things have happened in between my last post and this one, some are good– some are bad. But, despite the craziness that became our new normal, we must move on, and try to do our best to stay positive and kind, and care for one another as much as humanly possible. Life goes on. Just as simple as that.

Thinking back, I realized that on July 15th was the first ‘birthday’ of my book Rhapsody in Dreams. To commemorate this very happy and important for me occasion, I’ve decided to “dress up” my second child in its brand-spanking new book cover. It is totally different from the original one. I confess, I loved the first one, but have heard a few remarks that it’s a bit darker that a romantic fantasy calls for. I also heard from some fellow writers that my font – Old English– is too intricate, and therefore hard to read.

I don’t know. I kind of disagree, but, hey, I always appreciate an honest feedback. And I do get it that there is a lot of different opinions. The main point is– people are reading my book! That’s is the highest prize any author could ask for.

Thank you for reading my book, for your comments and reviews. I appreciate it more than I express in words.

And now, let me introduce you to the new second edition look of my ‘second child’, my musical fantasy-romance Rhapsody in Dreams. I really hope you like it. Please let me know what do you think about it.

Sincerely,

Marina/ Stella

After Jax Book Fest

Last Saturday, which happened to be a leap day of the year, Jacksonville’s Main library was very busy: it was the day of  Jax Book Fest 2020. As soon as we entered the library, we were greeted by the members of the staff who then walked us to our allocated tables and provided all the necessary help to make each and every one of us situated and prepared for the event. Everybody at the library did a great job and I’m very grateful for all the kind words, encouragement and help they provided to all of us.

I counted around 80 local authors ( Indie, like me, and traditionally published ) who participated in this great event. I met some very interesting local authors, bought some of their books. We exchanged the information about our craft and marketing, shared some ‘horror’ stories about writing, swapped some jokes.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day,  productive, busy and full of fun 🙂

Thank you, Jacksonville Library! Until the next time!

Jax Book Fest Feb. 29

Hey, everybody! I’m humbled and proud to be selected among other local authors to participate in the 2020 Jax Book Fest on February 29 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Main Library.

I am very nervous, but I hope that my very first public event will go well. Come check it out!

“My Book Place” Interview

Stella May

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.


Born in former USSR, I immigrated to the United States in 1991. I graduated with the highest honors from the Music Academy in Baku and earned my Master’s Degree. A resident of Saint Johns, Florida, I am a part owner of a family real estate business along with my husband and son.
Author of the poetry, novellas, and plays (since 1978). Family saga Once & Forever is my first full-length novel (in three separate parts). I first started to work on this manuscript in 1998, so it represents 20 years of hard work to bring this dramatic story to life.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?


Once & Forever is a family saga in three books: The Children, The Parents, and The Lovers. I dreamt of a young woman, holding the infant. She was scared and tired. And behind her back was some kind of a banner: Welcome to New York. I knew that the baby wasn’t hers and that she just arrived from Russia. And that’s how it all started.

What authors, or books have influenced you?


A lot of authors and books. I cannot name just a few. Every book I’ve ever read left an impact, one way or the other.

What are you working on now?

A love story that spanned over many centuries. I tentatively call it Once In A Lifetime.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?

Social media and email blasts

Do you have any advice for new authors?


Never give up and write every day even if it’s just one sentence.

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What is the best advice you have ever heard?

You are not too old and it’s not too late.

What are you reading now?

Re-reading my favorite Nora Roberts’ In The Garden trilogy.

What’s next for you as a writer?

The next exciting love story.

What is your favorite book of all time?

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy.