Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing


A little surprise! Announcing my new children’s book by July/August 2017, these 2 ebooks are on special summer offer! You might want to grab them – each has special activities for adults who read to/with kids or kids who read by themselves! 

#kidlit #childrensbooks

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Ever gotten this kind of a review/motivation for your book? Bev Tiernan, you are one of a kind♡. Everything this lady does is unique:) My first children’s book in rhyme (which should be out this summer), just got this poetic comment via email (posting here with author’s permission). 

Just read through your story

And read it with speed,

Don’t make any changes

There is no real need.

The characters are lovely

There’s no need for fright,

I love the cool ending

It all turns out right.

The lesson is taken

And taken so proudly,

One must spread the word

And yell it out loudly.

Whenever a flaw is in us at all

We must face it bravely

And follow our call.

So happy Hank did this and found his own way,

It just makes me want to shout out HOORAY!!!
B.J. Tiernan

Overwhelmed by huge support from fellow teachers and authors for my upcoming children’s book. You warm my heart and help me go on. Every second of your time is appreciated, and every line of (constructive) criticism, advice and praise is cherished. 

Especially now that the school year is in its finale, and all those who are teachers, like myself, know what a stampede that can be. I just squeezed this post amongst work phone calls, email trainee conferences, lesson planning, re-recording lesson music and stories, and I’m not even at work yet…. woohoo. Coffee time and then something exciting. 

Onwards and upwards!  Ready steady…

#amwriting #amteaching #newbook #kidlit

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New release in the summer

You may think authors take reviews for granted. We do not. I am so grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my book and craft a review. It’s like wind in my sails every time the sea gets too rough, the time too scarce, and my energy too low. 

Getting some inspiring advanced reviews for this little guy has made my week. Getting it published during the summer now looks promising. Planning on some online events, so stay tuned for a positive children’s book about accepting ourselves as we are. His name is Hank:) 

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LEFT OUT by Jean Gill – my review

Have you heard about the Looking for Normal books? They might be just the thing for your teenage and YA children and students, and hey,why not – even for you! Especially if you are dealing with such kids/adults:).

Another one of Jean Gill’s brilliant stories! The best thing a book can do is pull you in and make you think and feel, and this one does just that. No matter whether you are an adult or a teenager, this is definitely a story you should let into your library. Every educator and parent should read it, and so should teenagers (although we might try telling them they shouldn’t, just to increase the chances of it actually being enticing to them). 

The story touches on numerous important issues about growing up, without preaching, judging, laying blame or displaying any prejudice. Introducing the theme of prejudice through the seemingly simple problems of a left-hander in the right-handed world lures us into seeing our world as it is – filled with prejudice all around. We realize how many times all of us show it, unaware, yet effectively hurting each other. The witty and humorous parts of the story and the wonderful characters will feed your soul, and basically inspire you to be a better person, not a mere conformist. A special treasure are the various kinds of parents in the story – they made me angry and smile at the same time, as I recognized myself in their attempts at doing what’s best for their kids and loved them for it. Jamie and Ryan will, no doubt, resonate with teenagers – there is so much to relate to with those bright kids growing into great people.

The author shows admirable understanding of the teenage mind, led primarily by their emotional world, as they try to tug themselves out into reasonable adulthood. She displays the depth of their conviction, which sometimes may be misguided, but is deeply felt nonetheless, and we should therefore respect it in all its seriousness. For instance, when the main character Jamie observes her mother and never wants to be like her – we’ve all been there, right? Or when Ryan (mis)judges his mother’s intentions – that scene made me rethink my own relationship with my son. Reading about Kelly’s misplaced trust and about Ryan’s new school, opened my eyes to the fact that it is no wonder how many teenagers enjoy gaming and fantasy so much – it is easier to bear than their own reality. But life has its twists and turns, and when we try to do better, we can, as Jean Gill proves. The story is permeated with author’s expressive style gems, such as comparing Jamie’s family to a bus terminal, informative texts about left-handers (with charming comments by the main characters) and the realistic family conversations.

As a parent and a teacher, I felt this book in my gut. It hits so close to home on more levels than I can count. I felt for all those kids, all those teachers and parents trying, failing and succeeding at doing the best they can. It is amazing to see how similar parenthood is all around the world, how many things can go wrong, how many times misunderstandings stem from brief, implied (mis)communication instead of good old-fashioned listening. This may well be the best writing by Jean Gill I’ve read yet, and I am so happy to know there are so many books I still haven’t read by this author. 

Left Out on Amazon 

PS: You can never have enough of a good thing. Not only was I fortunate enough to read Left Out (and enjoy its remakewith this great new cover), but there is also a sequel – Fortune Kookie  coming out. It is the second part of the Looking for Normal trilogy. Quality reading for me and my YA learners!

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Still so many…

Can you believe it? These are just some of the characters whose stories I have written, and yet another year has gone by and I have not published them. Well, let’s say it gives me something to do when I get older;) 

PS: These are not my illustrations, just samples from the divine Pixabay.

#amwriting #childrensbooks 

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Hope you are ready for another thrilling CROOKED INTERVIEW. Mystery and spies are right up his alley, and he is no stranger to writing phenomenal short stories. Eric J. Gates rocks thrillers for life, and it is my pleasure to be his host as he chats about his books and Crooked Tales by Readers Circle of Avenue Park.


Eric J. Gates has had a curious life filled with the stuff of thriller novels. Writing Operating Systems for Supercomputers, cracking cryptographic codes under extreme pressure using only paper and pen and teaching cyber warfare to spies are just a few of the moments he’s willing to recall. He is an ex-International Consultant who has travelled extensively worldwide, speaks several languages, and has had articles and papers published in technical magazines in six different countries, as well as radio and TV spots. His specialty, Information Technology Security, has brought him into contact with the Military and Intelligence communities on numerous occasions.

He is also an expert martial artist, holding 14 black belt degrees in distinct disciplines. He has taught his skills to Police and Military personnel, as well as to the public.

He now writes thriller novels, drawing on his experiences with the confidential and secret worlds that surround us.


Website   Blog    Twitter

Amazon Author page links:  UK    US

the CULL – Bloodline  (FREE)               Outsourced    


1. What is your Crooked tale about and what inspired it?

‘Death of a Sparrowman’ is a spy story set in the present day but decidedly low-tech. My work has brought me into contact with several Intelligence organizations over the years and there is an internal ‘battle’ of sorts raging in all of them. There are basically two camps: one feels that intelligence obtained using high-tech means (SIGINT – signals intelligence – which composes satellites, cracking electronic cryptography, analyzing Internet traffic etc) provides the intelligence needed to feed government decisions. The other insists there is still a place for the man on the ground (HUMINT – human intelligence). I focused the tale on a man who had been a courier of critical information for his long career and who was planning to retire soon. By telling the story, I could also paint a picture of the changes in the intelligence world from its rather naïve past to the tech-obsessed present. All of this is told from the point of view of this ageing spy who is about as far removed from the ‘classic’ James Bond figure as you can get.

2. What do you like writing and/or reading best? 

I love writing thriller novels with ‘a touch of strange’ as one of my readers once put it. By ‘strange’ I believe they were referring to the elements of the unknown, even paranormal, that I weave into my stories. These are often the product of deep research into lesser known mythology (such as the Cintamani Stone from Tibetan mythology that I used in ‘Outsourced’ and ‘Primed’) or the answer to questions of the ‘what if?’ variety (What if vampires were based upon real history? Was the starting point for ‘the CULL’ series). 
My reading tastes run to thrillers, sci-fi, crime and mystery, and non-fiction (especially science-related) although if a book appeals to me, and it is outside these genre, that’s not an obstacle. 

3. What else do you do in life apart from writing?

I’m a martial art practitioner. Having been trained in over 25 different arts, I try to keep up my ‘particular set of skills’ whenever I can, which is not that easy as the fighting ability I have is all in combat arts, not sport. To relax I cook! By now I can heat water without burning it and have gained a certain reputation for my ‘Boeuf en Croute’ – once even had a lawyer offering to represent me for free if I made them that dish a few times a year! And, of course, I’m an avid reader!  

4. What are you currently working on?

Currently the words tapped out on my keyboard (if you’ve ever seen my handwriting, you’ll understand why I always use a computer) belong to the fifth and last book in my ‘the CULL’ series. This series takes an original and fresh look at vampire lore and has proven to be a firm favourite with readers judging by the number of emails I receive asking for more.


Time for Eric to interview himself – he chooses the questions and answers them. (Yes, I am crooked sometimes.)

1. Where were you born?
I’m a Brit in origin, though now living in Spain, and hail from the Wirral peninsular (turn left at Hobbiton).
2. Do you use real people and your own experience in your novels?

Very much so. Real people appear in my novels in two ways: either they are winners of the competition I run on my website where the prize is a character named after them, or they are individuals who I have crossed paths with in my prior life and who are heavily disguised (to protect the guilty). As for experiences, well, let’s just say I’ve had an unusual and interesting life…

3.What do you think is the biggest problem an aspiring author faces?

Without a doubt, it is themselves. Once they put so much effort into penning that first book, faced with the uphill struggle to acquire a readership, many give in to despair and exasperation. Yes, this is a hard profession (definitely not a pastime) and requires the three P’s to survive: Patience, Perseverance, and Positiveness. Hang in there for the long haul and meanwhile, write another book!

4. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Again, an easy one. Like most scribblers, I am always trying to improve my writing. A few years back I discovered a wonderful piece of software that I use for self-editing, and which has helped me improve my own skillset as an author in the process. No, I’m not talking about just a spell-checker. To explain why and how I use this, a while back I wrote an article which can be found on my website here:

5. Did you ever edit out something from a novel you wrote?

Yes. I didn’t include in the book what I did when I received the object used by fictional author Nic Stiles in ‘Outsourced’. But that’s another story…


Ask one or more of the other Crooked Tales authors a question or more. I would kindly ask them to reply in the blog comments below. Other authors also welcome.

ERIC: As nobody has asked so far, I direct this question to Anita:

What’s the one thing you would give up permanently if doing so made you better at writing?

Not an easy one, right. If any of the other Crooked Tales Authors want to have a go at that one too, well…

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Occasions in which an author has difficulty finding words are truly rare, but meeting Elizabeth H. Newton has been one of such occasions in my life. It is truly unusual to get to know someone whose work you admire (and I love her writing), and even more precious to find out how much in common you have. As for her books, this lady can weave aa gruesome horror into a sizzling, romantic tale with one snap of her dangerously manicured nails, and kill off characters with such a sweet smile that you can’t help but want to read more. Having worked with her on several anthologies so far (Awethologies and Twisted Tales), Crooked Tales came as a miraculously natural consequence. Read more about her short story in Crooked Tales, and about her ongoing projects. As always, it is a pleasure to have this amazing superpower of a woman over as a guest; in fact, sometimes we like to joke about starting a chat show.


Elizabeth Horton-Newton loves serial killers and all things horror. She has been this way since early childhood, much to her mother’s dismay. After releasing her two full length romantic thrillers as well as a steamy contemporary romance to assuage her guilt about her mother, she has returned to her original love, horror. She indulged her passion for the bloody in her short story in the first anthology from Readers Avenue Park, “Twisted Tales. Fascinated by the inner workings of the criminal mind, an interest strongly influenced by her father, she allowed her imagination to run wild once again in her tale for this anthology, “Crooked Tales”.


Amazon Author Page        Author Webpage 

Blog “Between the Beats”       Facebook

Google+        Twitter


– What is your Crooked tale about and what inspired it?

Because I love reading and writing stories about twisted crooked minds I based this story on a sexual pervert who loves young, beautiful girls. He also happens to be wealthy and able to get anything he desires. Of course sometimes what you want turns out to be something very different from what you get.

– What do you like writing and/or reading best? 

I love both reading and writing. I don’t think you can be a good writer unless you read a lot. Reading is my favorite form of entertainment. I can get totally involved in a good story. I feel the same way about writing. I can’t wait to see what my characters are going to do next!

– What else do you do in life apart from writing?

I blog and review books by other writers. I enjoy photography. I studied photography and videography in college and I love to take photos when I travel. Traveling is my big love right now. The more I see, the different cities and countries I visit, the more ideas I have for stories.

I currently have three major projects I’m working on, as well as several short stories. I’m putting the final touches on a book called “Stolen” that deals with the Witness Protection Program, drug cartels, and Gypsies. I’m also researching for my next book, with the working title “Highway of Blood and Tears”. It’s loosely based on a highway in British Columbia where a large number of indigenous women have disappeared or been found murdered. 


Why do you write about murder and crime?

I’ve always been interested in murder, especially serial killers. What goes on in the mind of one person that drives him to arbitrarily and often sadistically kill a stranger? What triggers the urge? It’s pretty interesting stuff. 

If any of your books could be made into a movie which one would you choose? 

I’d love to see all of them made into movies. If I had to choose one, it would probably be “Riddle”. I think the characters and the plot lend themselves to film. I also think of the location was chosen to closely resemble the one I describe it could be visually stunning.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three books would you want to have with you? 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, and “The Collected Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Elizabeth’s Question for other authors

I’d like to ask Anita Kovacevic a few questions. You have written in different genres, including children’s books. What is your favorite genre to write? Where is your favorite place to write? Who is your favorite character from one of your stories or books?

Thank you, Elizabeth. 


Read like a Child – with ♡

Happy International Children’s Books Day!

#children #reading #books

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The second guest in the CROOKED INTERVIEW series is the ever-surprising Geoff Nelder whose twist on the ‘crookedness’ of the interview/self-interview aspect is unique and unexpected. But only for those who don’t know this amazing SF and thriller author. His contribution to the product and creation of both the Twisted Tales and the Crooked Tales has been simply marvellous, as everyone at Readers Circle of Avenue Park knows. Here is a bit more on his ‘crooked’ tale and current writing projects, as penned by his extensive imagination.


Geoff Nelder is a former teacher in rural England, thrown out with hearing problems, but lured into writing and into being a bad-ass editor.

Amazon author pages 

Geoff’s UK Amazon author page

And for US readers

Geoff facebooks at

and tweets at @geoffnelder


1. What is your Crooked tale about and what inspired it? 

Ubiquitous is set in the near future about—hey, what’s this? Get off you mad quack!

“Va via, Nelder, you’re a nothing, a scribe, piccolo, whereas I am, Doctor Antonio Menzies and I’m a main character in your crazed award-winning medical , ARIA TRILOGY. I usurp the author and will give you the answers because Nelder is too lazy and my responses are magnifico. This spazzatura story you dared inserta into your otherwise bene Crooked Tales is just a crazy crime of the near future. Idiot uomo has the mafia after his fingers. He uses the web, but idiota boy cannot escape quando internet is everywhere, si? Ubiquitous. He gets off, a bit clever. Someone must have told Nelder how to write it. It must have been inspired by me, his best ever character, no?

2. What do you like writing and/or reading best?  3. What else do you do in life apart from writing?

Nelder doesn’t like writing, or reading. He’s a what-do-you-say, a Cassanova, haha. He wishes. He chases women on his bicicletta but they’re all faster than him. Butterflies overtake him. When he’s tied down he reads science fiction and literary nonsense like China Miéville and Julian Barnes. He’d like to write like them. Ho ho.

4. What are you currently working on? 

Nelder? Work? When he falls off his bike… Nelder’s gone all historical fantasy in his latest novel. He holidayed in Malta, discovered my predecessors, Ottoman pirates, abducted the people of a whole island. Well, the spirits of those slaves are crying out for revenge, apparently. Hence XAGHRA’S REVENGE is finished and the world will have to suffer it this year – 2017.

5. Ask yourself any 5 questions you wish to be asked and answer them. 

I’ve no time for this. No, I’ll give you un po. One question you shouldn’t ask. Does Nelder do research?  Arrgh. Don’t mention research! He’s obsessed by getting stuff right. He has to name streets, towns and rivers in the right places. I blame it on him being a geography professore for 100 years. In ARIA he read every damn book on the brain, amnesia, Alzheimer’s, you name it. No don’t. He emailed an astronaut, Leroy Chaio, for data on the struts of the International Space Station and get this, Leroy replied while he was in orbit! For some unfathomable reason the astronaut wanted a signed copy of Nelder’s ARIA: Left Luggage – huh, you should’ve seen his cycling with legs a whirr to the ufficio postale.

Un altro question. Where does Geoff Nelder get his ideas from?

He steals his ideas from ME. No question. Nelder says he oxygenates his brain while on his long cycling tours but I’ve no doubt at all that he sneaks a peek at my prescription pad and little black book for his ideas. He’s always after my women.

Okay, you want more questions and risposte? 

Does he have a favourite place to write?

As an idiot researcher, Geoff Nelder likes to write his stories in their setting. If a scene is in Paris, that’s where you’ll find him, sat at an outside café table swimming in the language, atmosphere and booze. I encourage this, especially with his science fiction. Go to the Moon I tell him. Often.

What would Geoff Nelder’s reaction be if a character from one of his books came to life and turned up on his doorstep?

You’re kidding, right? I am here you know. 

Whoops, he’s coming back with a shotgun. I’m off.

GEOFF NELDER’S QUESTIONS for other Crooked Tales authors
Please, reply in the comments below. Other, non-‘crooked’, authors welcome, too.

Ask one of the other Crooked Tales authors a question.
I know it takes Senor idiot Nelder two years to research and two more wasted years to write his diabolico novels so Mark Fine or anyone else, how long does it take you to write a novel?

Well, thank you both, gentlemen of the pen and ideas! Looking forward to more of your work.


SOREN by D. M. Cain – my review

Soren is a children’s fantasy book for the preteen and teen generation, although I have to admit I read it in two sittings. Being a fan of fantasy myself, and working with students of all ages, I know this book will appeal to many. 

The characters are well-set, my favourites being Dash and Callista, and there are plenty of magical events and creatures to satisfy a teen fantasy fan (even some honouring the author’s commendable writing influences, I dare say). The descriptions are clearly laid out but not burdening the story, the suspense really written with feeling, rhythm and even a tease; ending chapters on a cliffhanger gets you moving immediately to “just one more chapter”. Having also read this author’s Phoenix Project, it is obvious that D. M. Cain has a natural knack of vividly describing action scenes, especially hand-to-hand duels. The language is excellent, not over-simplified for children but just enough of a challenge.
My favourite part of the book (except for Dash:) is how the author depicts the (royal) family – with past trauma behind them, and the fears of the oncoming prophecy, they are still that imperfectly perfect family of different kids, a moody dad and a slightly controlling mother.

I am glad the story has many possibilities for a sequel, as it is obvious Soren will soon have his followers, the rebel with a (special) heart that he is.

This review will also appear on Readers Review Room with a gold bookworm. 
Amazon link

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