Today I would like to welcome Luba, author of Theft By Chocolate to the blog for a fun guest post and giveaway. I love museums so this all fascinates me!
Careers, Culture & Chocolate: Living the Museum Life
My book Theft By Chocolate could never have been written with any authentic flavor without the more than two decades of experience I had working at Canada’s largest museum. But museums were not a universe with which I ever imagined being so intimate. Growing up, my parents ran the local post office and general store in a town where the animal inhabitants far outnumbered the humans. Add to that the fact that we were first generation Canadians just trying to keep a roof over our heads, and visiting museums was not even on the family radar.
What worked in my favor was that my parents heavily immersed us in culture, Ukrainian culture to be specific, and strongly encouraged me to attend university. So, education was not only my path to a career at the Royal Ontario Museum, but it also landed this city-girl-at-heart in Canada’s largest metropolitan center, Toronto.
Despite having a Master’s Degree in History, I started at the ROM in a very junior level position in the Education Department. Over-qualified and seriously underemployed, I didn’t care. I was working in one of the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures, famed for having one of the planet’s foremost Chinese collections, and possessing the world’s largest bird skeleton collection, amongst six million other treasures.
I recognized how fortunate I was from the first moment I walked those granite floors. As a lover of history, art and science, there was no more incredible playground in which to spend my working days. The Education Department had its own collection of artifacts used in classroom settings. So, just walking down the hall meant passing authentic and uncased items such as medieval armor and elaborate aboriginal headdresess. I was employed in a ‘warehouse’ whose belongings were of value beyond calculation.
Reality set in soon enough. It turned out the appropriate nickname given to my first boss was “Dragon Lady.” So, when the division expanded to include an ambitious Continuing Education unit, I bailed on the first job and became part of what blossomed into one of the most reputable museum Program Department’s on the continent. I went from data entry (old position), to organizing events that highlighted the work and talent of world-class scholars, best-selling authors, and remarkably talented artists and musicians.
When you rinse off the sugar-coating, I do recall the challenges of those early days. What launched as a two-woman operation meant living in the museum day and night. That kind of commitment took its toll on my health and that of my amazing mentor of a boss.
Still, I wouldn’t change a moment of my spectacular journey. Where else would I have had experiences like: scouring Toronto’s downtown for a can of Diet Dr. Pepper (not an easy find in Canada back then) for infamous palaeontologist and iconoclast Robert Bakker; hanging out with forensic anthropologist and now best-selling author Kathy Reichs on her first-ever book tour; being charmed out of my socks and simultaneously having my eco consciousness raised by ethnobotanist and best-selling author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and One River, Wade Davis; or helping organize one of the Museum’s biggest lecture events ever with Titanic expert and underwater explorer, Robert Ballard.
Was this really my life? Hell, yeah! And these experiences are mere glimpses into my days at the Museum.
When workplace politics interfered with the magic of the Programs Department, I left to work in the museum’s newly created consulting division, Cultural Innovations. It is the time spent there that inspired the backdrop for Theft By Chocolate. I hope people will be drawn to share that particular part of my museum ride and laugh along with me.
Mystery, Mayans and Mayhem: looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places. Chocolate addict Kalena Boyko wasn’t prepared for this. Heading to work at Canada’s largest museum as an administrator, she hoped for quiet and uninterrupted access to her secret chocolate stash. Instead she’s assigned to manage the high-profile Treasures of the Maya exhibition with her loathed former boss Richard Pritchard. With no warning, her life is turned inside out and propelled into warp speed as she stumbles across an insider plot that could jeopardize the exhibit and the reputation of the museum. After hearing about a recent botched theft at the museum and an unsolved jewel heist in the past from security guard and amateur sleuth Marco Zeffirelli, Kalena becomes suspicious of Richard and is convinced he’s planning to sabotage the Treasures of the Maya exhibition. Her suspicions, and the appearance of the mysterious but charming Geoffrey Ogden from the London office, don’t help her concentration. The Treasures of the Maya seem cursed as problem after problem arises, including the disappearance of a key artefact – the world’s oldest piece of chocolate.
Buy Theft By Chocolate : Amazon
About the Author:
Soon after finishing her graduate studies in history, Luba Lesychyn (le-si-shin) landed on the doorstep of Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, where she worked for more than twenty years as an educator and consultant. Theft By Chocolate is Luba’s debut novel, though she has been amusing people with her writing since the age of eight. Her love of chocolate precedes this age and she has been in and out of chocolate rehab for most of her adult life. She currently works in the educational sector and teaches yoga in her home town of Toronto. When not writing or looking for her next chocolate fix, Luba can be found in dance classes, trekking to remote waterfalls in the mountain rain forest in Puerto Rico, running through the streets of Paris or doing any other number of calorie-burning activities that help offset the calories consumed in her chocolate intake.
Note: These giveaways are not sponsored by Book Briefs, so my contest policy does not apply. They are sponsored by the Theft by Chocolate blog tour.
Giveaways: copy of Theft By Chocolate and $150 Certificate
There are two chances to win!
1) Copy of Theft By Chocolate as ebook or print copy (winner’s choice). Answer this question in the comments section (be sure to provide your email): If you could choose any career, what would it be? In five days, a lucky winner from this blog will win a free copy of Theft By Chocolate!
2) $150 Gift Certificate Giveaway
Do you love chocolate as much as Kalena, the heroine in Theft By Chocolate? Here’s your chance to indulge in $150 US worth! The Giveaway Grand Prize is a gift certificate to a delectable chocolate online retailer. Winner chooses from one of three sites: http://www.chocosphere.com/, http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/ , or http://www.dlea.com.au/ . To be eligible for the Grand Prize, enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember to sign up for Luba’s email announcements (worth five entries). On occasion she’ll send out exclusive announcements for special events, blog posts, giveaways and free swag! On July 31st, the winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.
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