Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Special and Peculiar

My cousin had Down Syndrome. All she ever gave anyone was love, smiles, hugs, cuddling, friendship and kindness. All she ever cried about was cruelty, abuse, violence and anger.

All I feel when I remember her is love, smiles, hugs, cuddling, friendship and kindness.


There is a little giant

Hidden inside your heart.

He is good and fun,

And kind and honest,

And powerful and brave.

He is your secret,

But he is not your shame.

He is your secret weapon.

He is your superpower.

You have to let him do his job.

Just let him shine within you

And lurk through your eyes.

And no bad words,

And no violence,

And no illness

Will harm you.

(This poem of mine appeared in an international anti-bullying charity book Inner Giant.)


World Poetry Day

How long has it been since you last read some poetry?

#poetry #meditation #songs #verse #inspiration #therapy





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Have you seen a leprechaun?

Meet one of my favourite leprechauns – Speck from cheerful, fantasy part of The Forest of Trees.
Happy St.Patrick’s Day to all merry souls!

“Among others, The Gable was the home of a lively little leprechaun named Speck. Silly name but truth be told, he was no giant. Speck was a merry soul with a freckled face, curly orange hair, and hints of a beard here and there, just enough to prove he was already a teenager, about to turn 347 in the upcoming spring.


When Speck walked, the clickety-cluck of his shoes played a cheerful melody. It had a rhythm of its own, clickety-cluck, clickety-cluck, clickety-clickety-clickety-cluck, and even the woodpeckers sometimes pecked at the tree crusts in Speck’s rhythm. His walk sounded as merry as jingle bells all year long, and frightened away every evil thought, piercing the ears of the gable snakes and sending them immediately in the opposite direction. When Speck was in a rush, he would disappear in a flash and all you could see was a trace of green mist, as if someone had drawn an unfinished greenish line with a thick paintbrush marking the direction of the leprechaun’s movement.

Speck loved to sing. Had he been a giant, his voice would have echoed through The Gable with the might of a thundering waterfall. Being a wee leprechaun, humans would barely notice his sounds and would probably mistake him for a mouse or a hamster of some unusual green sort.
Oh and how he loved water! He loved to look at it, to touch it, to drink it, to bathe in it, to swim, to splash around and dive. And sometimes, after he’d enjoyed a good hearty swim, he just loved to lie on his back, floating on the surface of The Gable lake and gazing at the sun, as the sun gazed back at him, happy to see that pure, honest, child-like soul in Speck’s innocent eyes.

Those were the moments when Speck’s mind and heart talked to each other without his interference, and created such beautiful melodies that filled his lungs like sheer light. He would sing out notes as naturally as he breathed, without even being aware that he was producing a melody.”

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Yay! A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories!

Yay, my copies have just arrived! So proud of Helena Čačić for having her first story in English published by a foreign publisher – Plaisted Publishing.

A great variety of children’s stories by various authors, yours truly included. All stories can be read to kids 4 years old and up, and all are educational.

Congrats, Plaisted Publishing!

Congrats also to Claire Plaisted, Wanda Luthman, Mara Reitsma, Maureen Lartner, Paul White, Jacquie Rose, M. E. Hembroff, C.A.Keith, Patty L. Fletcher, D.M.Purnell Author and everyone who helped!



#childrensstories #Croatiantalent #Zagreb #readers #kidlit

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What do YOU have to say? – interview with Lieve Snellings

Lieve Snellings is an author and photographer I first became acquainted with through her nature books for children via Readers Review Room. It is a pleasure to have her over as a guest.


Lieve Snellings is a retired freelance photographer who lives in Leuven (Belgium).

Her series of picture books ‘Nature in Quebec, Pictures of Astonishing Wildlife’ count now 2 books, available in Dutch, English and French. Her children’s books are featured with whimsical photo- illustrations of wildlife, she took herself in Quebec.

Lieve Snellings became ‘BookGoSocial Top Voted Children’s Author 2017’ and ‘Readers Review Room’s Author of the Month October 2017’.

Her images illustrated many books, magazines and were published online. Her photos were shown in exhibitions all over the world.

Since 2008, after meeting up with her partner who lives in Quebec, you can find her for about 5 months a year in Canada. There she became a passionate nature photographer. She spent hours, weeks… Observing wildlife and searched every info she could find. This and her imagination made her publish two children’s books in which photos are as important as words.
Her stories take the traditional picture book experience and transform it by replacing illustrations by her own nature photography. The books are written in her mother tongue Dutch and translated in English and French.

Name: Lieve Snellings

Book(s): Margot gets an unexpected visit; Groundhog Secrets, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Woodchucks

Genre(s): Picture Books featured with whimsical photo illustrations of wildlife
Day-job: Retired social worker/dispatcher at the Emerency Room Department. Passionale photographer.
Likes: Life and ice cream
Dislikes: beetroot and violence
Favourite virtue: passion and persistence
Favourite sin or fault: ice cream
Favourite quote: It’s better to lose yourself in your passion, than to lose your passion.
Favourite movie: Hidden Figures
Favourite song: Gracias a la vida by Mercedes Sosa and Joan Baez


1. Welcome to Anita’s Haven. Pull up a chair, relax and fire away. Firstly, tell us five things about yourself that you think matter the most.

  • I am very happy that I was born
  • I think I can say that once I started something, I know the word persistence
  • I love children and nature
  • I see creatures in everything around me when I look at clouds, trees, water, dirt on the street, timber… I think it is the inner child that directs my eyes in a certain direction
  • I love connecting with people

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to do in life as an adult? Can you remember the moment you realized you had become an author? How did it feel to transcend from that point when you just wrote for yourself to the point when you realized this was what you wanted to do full time?

When I was a child, I didn’t dream to become a writer. I wanted to become a world champion in bicycle and then I would buy a big apartment in South Africa, in which half of the habitants would be black and the other half white. And so in my dream they had to learn to live together.

As many teenagers, I wrote poems as a way to express myself. But I didn’t think of me as a poet nor an author.

Later I became a social worker and photographer. And in the solidarity world, I heard so many times that white people talked about others, what they went through etc. I was interested in what these people wanted to tell themselves. So in photoreports and presentations, f.i. about Nicaragua, Bosnia, India… I wanted to let them do the talking themselves…
Maybe that’s the reason, that in my books, Margot the groundhog became the narrator of her own life.

3. Why do you write? What’s the most challenging aspect of your genre? Which genre can you never see yourself writing and why? How do you feel when you write? Is there a special ritual to it, a playlist, place, company, technology?

Why do you write?

This is a good question why do I write books? And it will be so different than for other writers, because I do it, in the first place, because I’m a photographer. Photographing nature was so good for my soul. And when I realized I had so many amazing photos of all those Quebecois animals and birds, I started thinking that these images could help reveal the beauty of nature to all kids, small and big ones. Making a children’s picture book seemed to me the best way to do so. Only my picture books would be different from others, because I would work with my own photos.

And it is that aspect that is the most challenging, I didn’t find much other picture books based on real photos. My work is a sort of special, something very different, in the big children’s book genre of picture books.

4. Which genre can you never see yourself writing and why?

I don’t like horror. Writing about something is going deeper into the story. I can not do that with horror.

5. How do you feel when you write?

When I write and do the graphics, featuring my books with whimsical photo- illustrations of wildlife, I took myself, in Quebec, I feel so exciting, I really can hear and see Margot talking, at that moment I live in another world…

6. Is there a special ritual to it, a playlist, place, company, technology?

I start with a general, vague idea. Then making a first selection of photos, see what these images tell me, what is the story that comes up… write the words down… After that, I start to create the illustrations in photoshop, add text and stuff, which can be different than my original words on paper. And so go step by step…

The photos play a very important role in the creation.

7. Tell us more about your book characters. Who inspired you for the heroes and villains? Who is your favourite character and why?

After spending some days with my godchild’s daughters in Belgium, I flew back to Quebec and suddenly it became clear to me. I can make a children’s book with these girls as main character together with Eufrazie the squirrel. But sitting again in our backyard, I saw Margot the groundhog waking up after her hibernation. At some or another way she made it all clear and told me ‘No, it’s not about Eufrazie, it is about me, Margot, that you have to write your book and and you have to show my pictures.’

I don’t know how she did it. But Margot the groundhog made me change my plans and give her the main role in the books, and that is the reason I more and more started to love her, she is such a strong character, she knows what she wants and goes after it.

5. We all know typing those special words, the end, gives us a priceless feeling, but that is when the actual work begins. How do you deal with the editing process? Are you your toughest editor and beta-reader or do you rely on someone for that?

I do have some beta-readers who go with me through the process. At the end, I asked an author-editor to read it. This is how I ended up with two books instead of one (My very first edition both books were worked out in one big picture book).

In the beginning, it was tough and I didn’t quite understand. But then a 10 year old girl made it all clear to me after I asked her to read. She said ‘one part in the book is more a story for kids a bit younger than me, but then this part with all the tidbits on groundhogs, I’m sure even my sister, who is 12, will enjoy that. And exactly this was it my first editor wanted to point out for me. And so I ended up with 2 books instead of one. After that process, they were both edited by a friend writer-publisher.

Another big job was the translation. I had a translator into French and into English. And after the translators had done their job, an editor came in and changes were made in agreement between translator, editor and me.

6. How much do praise and positive reviews help to fuel your creativity and keep you writing? How do negative reviews affect you?

Positive reviews give me, of course a boost, it’s like the fire of passion in myself gets some extra air and grow. Of course I also got critics. The first moments are a bit difficult, but then I let it lay down on me and after a while I can see what I can learn from it. And that pleases me then too.

7. What do you do when you are not writing books? Any hobbies or projects you are particularly passionate about?

I am a photographer, so that’s my big passion. I am also a women’s peace activist and member of Women in Black (WiB), an international network of feminists against violence and war and for peace. In Leuven we have a silent vigil every week.

I like reading, watching TV, films and hanging out with friends and family.

8. If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?

I like Pipi Langkous because she is so funny and full of energy and every problem is for her a challenge.

9. What’s the funniest or most interesting reaction you’ve had from people when you told them you were a writer?

I didn’t get a reaction that was funny nor weird that I still remember 🙂

10. If you could interview any famous person in human history, who would it be and what would you ask?

There are different famous persons in human history I would like to meet, but if just one person, I would choose Maya Angelou.

I would thank her for her poem ‘I rise’.

11. Would you like to add anything, share a brief sneak peek into your book, or send a message to the readers?

If you want to get astonished by the beauty of nature and a slight of humor…

Then the Margot books are really something for you!

Have fun reading and looking at the pictures.


Dogs or cats – CATS cats know very well what they want and they go for it

Ice-cream or fruit – ICE-CREAM I could do a death-sin for ice cream

Meat or salad – SALAD I love salad, but I love meat too

Fact or fiction – FICTION Once I read in one of Alice Walker’s books that in fiction the facts are never finished, everyone can fill in what s/he see in the story or continue themselves. In non-fiction the story is sort of finished. Because I like facts, but also dreaming, maybe that’s why my stories have a mingling of facts and fiction :).

Music or silence – SILENCE I like music, but I need silence too. I think I would miss silence more than I would miss music.

Indoor or outdoor – INDOOR when I was young, my choice definitely would be ‘outdoor’, now I think I love indoor more 🙂

Ocean view or mountains – OCEAN VIEW Watching the movements of the sea is like rocking your soul. Though I like mountains too

Books or movies MOVIES

E-book or print – Print for picture books, for other books I prefer now e-books

Teach or learn – LEARN I love them both. But when I first learn, teaching follow

Romance or crime – CRIME I love romance, but for reading it is so destressing to read a crime story



Margot Gets an Unexpected Visit

Hook: A children’s tale where nature photography, friendship, diversity, fun, education and ice hockey come together.

Blurb: As all groundhogs, Margot doesn’t like to have others around her. Certainly not humans. But is this also the case when she meets up with two little girls? You’ll find out in this book.
You will also enjoy the unique and touching photo-images of nature in Quebec, and an unpredictable anecdote on the special haircut for ice hockey fans.


Amazon smartly:

Universal booklink:

ISBN: 978-1532877650

Groundhog Secrets – Everything You Always wanted to Know about Woodchucks

Hook: Discover the secret world of the groundhog through the eyes of Margo the woodchuck while gaining a close-up view of wildlife in whimsical photo illustrations.

Blurb: Do you want to know more about the woodchuck? Then this book packed with information about groundhogs (who are also called woodchucks) is for you! Margot the woodchuck reveals all her secrets. She describes how groundhogs are born, what they look like and who is in their family. She talks about how they fill their tummies in summer and autumn, to store fat for the long winter months. Even medical doctors and scientists study the groundhog hibernation. Find out why in this fascinating illustrated book.

Asin: B071Z35TDB

Amazon smartly:

Universal booklink:

ISBN: 978-1546813033


Social networks:

Readers Review Room Author of the month October 2017:
BookGoSocial Top Voted Children’s Author 2017


Ready for a new fantasy?

Well, well, well, fantasy fans are in for a new treat by author C. L. Schneider! Check it out!

(All subsequent materials provided by C. L. Schneider.)

Nite Fire: Chain Reaction (Bk#2)

It’s almost here! Chain Reaction, the second book in my urban fantasy series, Nite Fire, will be releasing soon. In the meantime, I’m super excited to share the cover with you. Inspired by a compilation of several scenes within the book, the cover features empathic shapeshifter, Dahlia Nite, in her (mostly) human form. The artwork was created by my amazing cover artist, Alan Dingman.


If anyone can tell the difference between monsters and humans, it’s Dahlia Nite. For nearly a century, she’s hunted one to protect the other; safeguarding humanity from the creatures that slip through the torn veil between the worlds—creatures like her. But the lines are blurring. As people begin mutating and combusting on the streets, Dahlia realizes a strange affliction has descended upon Sentinel City. The mysterious ailment strikes all walks of life, from the posh, high-end nightclub district to the homeless community. Its victims, driven to random acts of savagery, are drawing attention too fast to cover up.

Assigned to the case, Dahlia and her human partner, Detective Alex Creed, investigate the deaths. But all they have is questions and bodies, and a public on the verge of panic. Working behind the scenes with her self-appointed sidekick, Casey Evans, Dahlia struggles to discover what, or who, is behind the alarming transformations. As the violence spreads and the mystery unfolds, she wonders: are the victims still human? Were they ever?

Chain Reaction is the second book in the Nite Fire Series.

Curious about the series?

Read excerpts at

Check out the trailer for Flash Point (bk#1)

Catch up with book #1 before book #2 comes out!

Chain Reaction will be available for paperback and up for pre-order soon. Subscribe to my newsletter for information on the official release date

About the Author

C.L. Schneider is an award-winning independent author of adult epic and urban fantasy. Born in a small Kansas town, she currently resides in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley Region with her husband and two sons. Her published works include the epic trilogy, The Crown of Stones, and Flash Point, the first book in her urban fantasy series, Nite Fire. Book two, Chain Reaction, will be released in early 2018.

Learn more about C.L. Schneider, and the worlds she creates, at where you can read reviews, excerpts and sneak peeks, join her Street Team, and subscribe to her newsletter. An active part of the indie author online community, you can connect with her on social media, where she is often found chatting about the daily ups and downs of a writer’s life.


All titles available in paperback or for Kindle. Read free with Kindle Unlimited.

Nite Fire: Flash Point (Bk 1)

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price (also available on Audible)

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Scars

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Borne







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As sorrow washes over
My pain-stricken soul,
And I feel something broken,
Losing all control,
I wish I could curl up
In a lily on a lake
To find a better world
Once I am awake.
I cry out to my friends,
I let my tears flow.
My body is so tired,
But it will heal, I know.
The moon will bring me night time,
Perhaps even a dream.
I’ll meet my gentle angel,
Or at least so it will seem.
And life will bring new miracles.
That’s one thing I do know.
When rain covers my sun,
Life sends me a rainbow.

(from Versus Verses – Feel)

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Visiting award-winning author Ashley Uzzell with my book Spikes for Hank

It is such a rare privilege to be a guest on a blog with a children’s book. So happy Hank made it:)

Thank you, Ashley Uzzell!

By the way, if any of you enjoy wordsearches, this book has its own here: and it’s free:)

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Unusual romance

Author Suzi Albracht sent me a little post-Valentine gift for the readers – a sneak peek into her popular paranormal romance A Love Haunting. Thank you, Suzi! Check it out, readers!

This short chapter in A Love Haunting begins Jordan’s existence as a Living Dead (LD). It appears a quarter of the way into the novel. It takes place after he feels he has lost his one true love and just before he meets Luke, a skateboarding angel, and the trio of ghosts from the 1800s who become his friend.

Love… death… forever. That’s the story of my life apparently.

So Emily had left the Banks. In my mind, I knew she had to go, but now I am lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Right after the accident, my world was devastated because of my loss of Emily, our baby and… my life.

And then when Emily was in the hospital, I found a way to be near to her again, if only in a small way. Now she is gone and my life is really over. Now I have no one.

Sure I could have hung around Allie, bugging her but it would not have been fair to her. Besides, she was on her way to being a nurse practitioner, and I knew she’d be a damn good one. So while Allie was in school, I was going to leave her be, but I did plan on helping her when she embarked on her new career. Besides, I wanted to convince Allie to shoot bigger and become a doctor. Being a physician was her real calling, she just didn’t know it yet.

In the meantime, I made up my mind I was going to make the best of my new dead life, and that would require some hands-on research. Research had always been one of my strong suits. That and evaluation.

And there was something else I wanted to research but didn’t dare until I figured out all the rules and restrictions of my dead existence. I didn’t want to lose my wife, so I was going to try to… do something.

So since I had loads of free time on my hands, I would start by exploring to see what was what.

What am I supposed to do about my feelings now that I’m dead? My life can’t end like this. It just can’t.

Wow, I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was actually dead until now. Dead and buried and the whole nine yards.

Well, it’s true. I died a few feet off a highway in North Carolina, not far from my favorite vacation paradise – the Outer Banks.

I am a ghost, and this is my love story.

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Real love every day

As promised, two of my favourite scenes of real, daily love between two married couples from The Forest of Trees – the Bosworths and the Stones. Both scenes take place during sleepless nights, filled with worry.

Intimacy is never (just) the physical thing. Love is in the small, everyday details which should never be taken for granted…

The Bosworths

The bed sheets were soaked in sweat and already cold, as John Bosworth kept tossing and turning, uncovering himself to cool down, then covering himself back hoping to get some sleep. He felt around the bed and realized it was empty, empty, so he opened his eyes, finally giving in to insomnia.
In a huge armchair close to the door, his wife’s face glowed in lamplight, as she sat wrapped in a fuzzy patchwork blanket.
He looked at her with worry and love.
She was deeply concentrated. Seeing her leather-bound diary in her hands, he knew she must have had a bad day at work. Although he loved to joke that their jobs were alike, she a psychologist and he a principal, he knew that the number of good days was in his favour.
“Zoe, do you want to talk?” he whispered.
She didn’t reply, and he noticed how firmly she held her pen and how she tightened her lips. For both selfish and generous reasons, he loved the fact that she had her diary ritual to blow off steam and cry or shout things into words. He wasn’t much of a talker, so he always felt inadequate offering her advice. Still, he was a great listener and that helped her get things out of her system.
Sometimes things were so difficult to bear that she would just cry, and all he could do was hold her and feel guilty for not helping. She knew this, which was why she started her diary. She hated making him worry.
“Paper can take it,” she’d often say.
He noticed she had her small yellow earphones earphones on, probably listening to classical music again. Debussy was his best guess, judging by how the sad look on her face was slowly relaxing, softening her lips into their usual lovely shape and mellowing her shoulders. He smiled.
John stepped towards the door, slowly walking past his wife. She looked up with a question mark in her eyes, but he just kissed her head gently, breathing in the smell of tangerine shampoo in her hair, and moved his hand in front of his face as if drinking something. She smiled and nodded.
He went into the kitchen to make some green tea with honey which she liked so much. He had hated that taste at first, but in time he’d gotten used to it as part of their little ritual.
Green tea and honey meant a talk, whatever time of day it was, talk without the stress of having having to provide a solution. Each of them told the other what had kept them awake, and the other one listened, understood and provided a hug in the end. The talk usually started with no talk at all, just inhaling the aroma of warm tea and enjoying each other’s comfort. Sip by sip, the conversation would begin, or wouldn’t. Sometimes just sharing the silence was enough.”

The Stones

“David blinked again, staring at the starry sky through the window. He couldn’t sleep, but he dared not move or he’d wake Emma. They were both overwhelmed with the last few days; the changes were as intense as a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
He felt her warm arm wrap around his waist, and Emma’s soft kiss land on the back of his neck. She cuddled up to him under the blanket, and he felt better in a second, with only a tiny pang of guilt for having woken her up.
“You can’t sleep either, huh?” Emma whispered through another neck kiss, her lips writing on his skin.
“Sorry I woke you up,” David said, his arm pulling her closer.
She rested her face on his shoulder and sighed, with a slight yawn.
“Not much of a sleep anyway, when you dream about real life…”
“Nightmare?” Worried, David wrapped her hair around his fingers.
“Not really, just a dream, but lots of them. Not connected, just… more worries than dreams. Whether Jeremy will be fine here, whether Dot will be happy, what if the car breaks down, any chance of some students ever being kind, if we’re going to be able to cover the bills this month, if… oh well, you know…”
She felt guilty. There he was, sleepless and anxious, and all she talked about were her own dreams and worries.
“Boy oh boy, you women just can’t stop worrying,” he mocked.
He was actually grateful for her speech. She summed up most of his own worries as well. He’d never been good with words, especially to talk about his feelings. It would probably have taken him half the night just to verbalize all the things she spat out in one sigh and a yawn. On top of all that, she managed to awake his protective side, giving him motivation not to whine, but to console.
“I’ll have to make you a dream-catcher then to help you sleep,” he teased.
“Better make yourself one while you’re at it. You’re the one lying awake here all night,” she said with a stern teacher’s look.
He loved it when her eyes got that grey shade of angry.
“I don’t need a dream-catcher, love,” he said, feeling mischievous.
“Oh no?” She teased, knowing exactly what he meant.
“I just bury my face in your hair and all my nightmares go away,” he said, cradling her face in his palms.
Their lips blended. They glued their bodies together, intertwining their feet.
“This is my favourite place in the whole world, you know? Right here,” she said as the kiss finished.
She buried her face in his shoulder. David’s hand glided down her back as he pulled her closer. He smelled her skin and inhaled her scent, meeting her lips in another kiss, savouring those precious moments when the two of them were only the two of them, no worries, or kids or the world around.
As their breaths caught the singular rhythm of passion, neither of them was aware of the trees and the wind singing their song outside.”

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