Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Sweet realizations

There is something uncanny and beautiful in this tiny detail from our family life yesterday. Anyone who writes will tell you it is sometimes a very lonely profession, which might even make you feel alienated from your own family. And then there are days like this one…

We have this habit of recycling paper by using it as drawing paper. My regular job is teaching, so there are always some extra copies of paper which has printing on one side and is empty on the other, or old calenders, handbooks and so on. Naturally, there are always pen holders, overfilled with pencils, markers and various drawing and writing utensils, all available on desks and shelves in our rooms. Nothing strange about that.

Yesterday, my daughter was drawing something on a pile of papers. They happened to be copies of my initial manuscript for The Forest of Trees. It always warms my heart to see that – at least all that paper has some useful purpose, right? As always, she showed me the drawing, but amond them was also a copy which didn’t contain drawings, but words. She blushed slightly and let me see it. They were words in English, in small, print-like letters. Now, she is not a shy person, but she is in first grade so writing anything is still an adventure, not to mention in English, which is not our native tongue. 

“What did you write, honey?” 

“Oh just some words…. from the other paper… I liked them,” she said. 

Needless to say, I praised her for writing and let her get back to work. But inside, I glowed. Not really sure why. She has only become aware of the fact that I write books last year when I piled all the paperbacks I have at home on our sofa and let her read the author’s name. The sparkle in her eyes was unbelievable.

Tiny things, right? Not for me. 

You see, my first stories seen by the world were inspired by my son – one of them is The Threshold, written on the floor next to his crib during sleepless nights of his baby fevers, and the other is Dragon Core, still patiently waiting its revision and publication. My daughter helped me choose illustrations for Spikes for Hank, and I told my first children’s book, Winky’s Colours to her kindergarten group when she was almost three. 

So this – our daughter learning to write by copying words from my book – this is our miracle.

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All the best

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The Power of Words

The power of words has always fascinated me. There are limitless possibilities in the use of only one of them, because its power stems not only from its lexical meaning but its historical connotations and changes, its previous contexts, media and user, its audience, location and timing. And, as is always the case with a superpower, it can be used for good or evil, and alas, misunderstood or misused as well. But whatever the effect may be, the desired one or its complete opposite, effect takes place, and it makes a change or a difference, or both. 

It never ceases to amaze me how many emotions and ideas can stem from just one word. When you see it, hear it or say it, regardless of whether its effect is immediate or delayed, it is simply unbeatable and irresistible. It’s like magic, and I do like magic, just like any other child trapped in an ageing body.  

One such word, hidden within a bundle of other wonderful and horrible, yet all impressive words, as I read it in one of my all-time favourite stories, grabbed my attention instantly. It was ‘threshold’. Mind you, in the story I was reading, it was completely unimportant, and simply denoted the entrance to a house in a description. But to me, it was that word which stopped me from reading and forced me to pick up a pen and write this story. 

As soon as I started writing it, a new world opened up before my eyes, like in those science-fiction TV-series, when a starship goes into warp and everything changes at light speed. The world becomes different and bigger, and you are transported into a place so far away from home that it seems you will never go back. Till the story is finished and you warp your way back, with the merciless blow of disappointment at your story being over, and still, quickly psyched up again over another new word and another adventure, beyond our world, yet so much part of our world. 

The Threshold is about change, which is different for everyone, no more or less than we deserve. The change is eventually always consistent with our decision on how we choose to react to that change. The threshold is always open, but what we choose to do with the door is our choice, and ours alone. 

(From the foreword of The Threshold)

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Reading with Children

To parents, friends  and educators reading to children

The actual process of reading, sitting down with somebody you care about, whether it is your child, grandchild, student, or even an adult, is a wonderful experience – you share time, place, dreams, worlds… Children are especially open to gratitude. After a busy day, having their parent sit down and set this time aside only for them… there is nothing better than this! There is no better gift that you can give your child than your time and attention. 

Of course, if you read and comment along with children, ask for their opinion and challenge them to think, it is even more worthwhile, but it is not always necessary. Sometimes you are tired, you skip words and they correct you, they stop you with questions, and you really don’t feel like reading at all. But their questions, their corrections, their hillarious comments, all this will just magically wipe away your stress, make you smile and forget about everything else. 

It is the love they share with you in those moments. 

The same goes with reading to and with adults. If you read with your partner, to your mother or father, to people who can no longer read to themselves, remember – we are all children at heart! Stories have that mysterious power of waking up that honest, non-constricted, free and imaginative child, dormant but present within us. 

I have seen the magic of reading stories to all age groups, and would never trade in its power and positive effect for any technological device there is, much as I respect and use them in my teaching. Reading awakens playful freedom, sets emotions free and channels them, challenges the mind into critical and creative thinking, and lets us grow, develop and express ourselves. 

So yes, children, meaning all of us, associate books with love and affection, because this is what we share when we read together. 

And if you are ever lucky enough to have your child read to you, relish every second of that love. 

(From the afterword of Mimi Finds Her Magic)

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A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories

It has been such a treat for me to participate in this latest anthology of children’s stories. I hope you find some magic in each of them! 

Watch out for First-Grader Angel, Diana the Daring (both by me) and Unicorn Rider by my goddaughter – Helena Čačić! If I am not mistaken, there is a story for each month of the year:). Thank you, Plaisted Publishing! 

#children #stories 

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Filling the Void

The paper is empty.

It looks at me blank.

I feel I have nothing to give.

Then letters come pouring.

Stories unwind.

The book people begin to live.


The canvas is white.

It looks like a shroud.

Will my colours help it survive?

I pick up a brush.

The strokes reveal all.

Emotions and dreams are alive.


The room is so silent.

It haunts me to pain.

If only a sound helped it heal.

My thoughts echo sounds.

My lyrics are true.

I know what I want and feel.

(Image source Pixabay)

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A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories

Can you think of a more enticing title for kids than a treasure chest;)? Thank you, Plaisted Publishing, for this wonderful opportunity to write a children’s story for a Christmas anthology.

Looking forward to this collection of children’s stories (due 15th December 2017), because my stories are inside, but also a very charming young lady’s story Unicorn Rider! Look out for her writing in the future – she has had literary awards for her writing in Croatian, but this is her first published story in English and she is still in high school! Her name is Helena Čačić and her imagination has no limits.

#anthology #childrensstories #comingsoon #Christmas

Promo video


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The Long Sleep

“Snowflakes were doing their gentle wintery dance, like ballerinas twirling to an inaudible melody, falling on the already icy ground and disappearing into the deep carpet of white. The streets were still empty and only the occasional delivery van or the early morning bus passed through the sleepy town. The previous weeks had painted the scenery pristine white and the night cold added that sparkling crust on top. Tillsworth was all tucked in, snoring under the white covers, dreams and nightmares bubbling beneath the surface.”

This is a sneak peek from The Forest of Trees.

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My Inner Child

Like a warm fireplace

Tingling inside my soul,

Regardless of the stress,

The work,

The worries and hardship…

A sparkle 

resistant to the reality of life…

My inner flame burns

expecting Christmas.


The sounds of Christmas music

Makes my soul sing.

Even if it’s within,

Not heard on the outside,

The melody is there,

And my body, unaware,

Swings to it.


My eyes glisten

At the red, the green, the golden,

And my hands itch 

in search of some simple Christmas craft

they could do and enjoy.


I yearn for cinnamon and vanilla,

For the scent of cookies

And candles…


I look eagerly at the sky,

Awaiting snowflakes

each morning,

hoping for the snow blanket 

to make snow angels in,

with a blissful,

sincerely happy,

childlike smile on my face,

believing firmly in the good of all,

and feeling that all will be well.


That’s why I like Christmas.

It keeps my inner child alive.

(From Versus Verses – Love, my free poetry e-book.)

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Just a little pre-holiday bookshelf…

Do forgive my bluntness, but I kind of enjoy watching my pre-holiday book display…

Four children’s books published so far…

And five adult books already out…

Along with plenty of short stories featured in several anthologies…








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