Anita's Haven

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Interview with ELIZABETH HORTON NEWTON

Isn’t it an amazing feeling when you discover a new author whose books you eagerly await every time they are announced?

Elizabeth H. Newton is one of my favourite authors, with her panache for political and psychological thrillers (View from the Sixth Floor and Riddle) and eerie horrors (check out her tales in Ghostly Writes Anthologies, Dark Awethologies, Electric Eclectic novelettes, Twisted Tales, Crooked Tales, an array of stories for the Gems collection, etc.), with a touch of sensual erotica (Carved Wooden Heart), and so on.

This prolific author has just released a spectacularly intense thriller Stolen Gypsy, which follows the unimaginably turbulent change which occurs in her life after her parents’ accident. It kept me up all night, because her characters lured me into their world and had me rooting for them all the way, my head dizzy from the plots and emotions. Movie-like action scenes and intricate relationships, with past mysteries and future hopes all resting on the cliffhanger of resolving the true identity of the main character. Nail-biting, I’m telling you.

So, naughty me, I came begging for an interview even before I’d written a so-well deserved review for this phenomenal book, and the lady agreed! So today – feast your eyes on this interview, and then run to get your copy of Stolen Gypsy (or any other book by Elizabeth Horton Newton) and make your weekend an adventure.

1.Your latest novel Stolen Gypsy is out. Has it been inspired by a real event? Can you remember which section, scene or character first came to your mind?

Stolen Gypsy was actually inspired by a dream I had about gypsies. The first scene that came to me actually turned out to be the first scene in the book. I saw the kids looking out the window of the classroom and smoke in the distance. How often do people see something like that or see an accident and not realize it’s someone they know.

I was thinking about the exact same thing – you see something like that and have no idea it’s about someone you know. Nobody ever thinks it’s about them.

2. Terza is such an unusual name, but perfect for such an unusual heroine. What gave you the idea for the name?

Terza is an entirely made up name. I researched gypsy female names and couldn’t find one that lit up for me. So I made one up. Do you like it?

Yes, I love the name Terza. What do you most love about Terza as a character?

What I love most about Terza is both her adaptability and her passion. She is one tough kid. I worried I was making her too strong. Although she cries easily she doesn’t give up.

Yes, Terza cries, and yet shows strength and stubborness. She must have been tricky to write, just on the verge of switching from teenager to woman.

3. Your novels often deal with a social issue such as domestic abuse, poverty, prejudice. This one seems to encompass so many issues on a huge number of levels. Did you have any idea the plot would develop so intricately and grow to such large scale when you started writing it?

I had no clue at all where this was going. I was fascinated with the gypsy aspect and the Witness protection program but initially wasn’t certain how they would gel. The drug cartel and the unwed mothers were only a couple of surprises for me.

4. By now, having reading your books and short stories, I have to say your collection of characters is quite something. Could you tell us what you love about some of your previous characters, and especially the ones from Stolen Gypsy?

My favorite character in Stolen Gypsy is Peter McCray. He has great instincts about people, can be tough but gentle when needed, and he has a sense of humor.

My favorite character from all of my books and stories is Gaunt Thibideaux from Old Habits. He is complex and dark but on the surface everyone loves him.

My favorite female character is Olivia Roberts from View From the Sixth Floor. She starts out as a sweet southern senior and as the story progresses she gets tougher and stronger. I think all my female characters do in a way. I believe that’s true of many women. We are ready and able to step up and do whatever is necessary to care for ourselves and those we love.

5. Has your writing changed with each novel, or better yet – what has changed and what has stayed at the core of your writing?

Hmm that’s a tough one. I think my desire to tackle serious issues while building a story that is compelling has stayed the same. I still write most of a story in my head and sort of see it before sitting down to write. I am still surprised by some of the twists my stories take. I often have those ah ha moments where I think “oh I didn’t see that coming”.

6. Stolen Gypsy has quite a few legal subplots and the criminal scene is quite tricky to write. How did you do the research?

I am a huge fan of court shows and cases. As part of my volunteer work with a local domestic violence group I’ve been to court many times. Besides I love research.

7. While researching the Gypsy and Rom differences, what details surprised you?

I had no idea there was such diversity within the gypsy cultures. It was fascinating to learn the various customs. I had to pretty much pick and choose what to add to the story without overwhelming the reader.

8. Your action scenes are movie-like. How difficult is it to write them?

The action scenes are easy. I studied film and tv production in college and I love action films. I “see” the action in my head. They are fun to write, especially if I’ve had a bad day. Lol

9. The relationship between Terza and Devlin develops from a chance meeting to an epic scale. Did you enjoy slipping in the little details which pointed them in the way they should go? (Trying to avoid spoilers in my questions;).

I had a difficult time writing those parts. I kept wanting to rush them along, take them farther. But it isn’t that kind of a story. It was one of the few times I pulled out graphic parts and rewrote them. I guess I’m too lusty for teen relationships.

10. Have you met a Nora in your life? She only seems like a side character, and then turns out to be a person deserving her own novel.

Nora could have her own book. She’s extremely complex. Like Tristan she has a big heart. But I feel she was overshadowed by her prettier younger sister. It gave her a darker side that can erupt. I don’t think everything she does is done out of kindness.

That’s what I liked about her, in my own twisted way;) – she makes stupid decisions out of pride and vanity, but deep down she is not a bad person so she spends her life trying to make up for them before she admits to them. It makes her real, human.

11. By now this may seem like a typical question, but if this book became a movie, who would you like to work with on it? From the cast to the crew, even the musical score?

Tristan is easy. It’s a toss up between Cillian Murphy or Jonathan Rhys-Myers. Music by James Newton Howard hands down. Elizabeth Moss as Nora. Peter would be either Cillian or JRM and Dakota Fanning as Terza. Andreas is the biggest challenge. I’d love Sir Anthony Hopkins but I think it’s simply because I love him.

I’d like Ron Howard to direct I think. But I’m fairly flexible there.

12. How does this novel compare to the things your previously wrote? How do you feel about it and what do initial reviews say? Would you say you have risked more?

I think Stolen is like View in some ways, the younger version of Olivia & Bill. It has action like View. And of course obnoxious FBI agents. The initial reviews are very positive. I was pleased that a male reviewer commented on the action sequence with the cartel. If I can get a man to appreciate the gun fight I’ve done something right. My biggest risk with Stolen was injecting Rom dialogue. I tried it in English but it didn’t feel right.

13. When you are a reader, how do you pick a book?

I love horror and historical stories. I also enjoy true crime. Big surprise, huh? Usually I read the blurb and decide from there. Sometimes I am attracted to a cover. Of course I have favorite authors. If I see a book by Stephen King or Joe Hill, I grab it.

14. Would you say people read less nowadays and why?

I don’t know if they read less or simply prefer short stories, magazines, and newspapers. People seem to be hurried these days. However if you give readers a good story they will read it. If they really like it, they will talk about it and others will read it too.

15. Any new surprises planned for us fans in the future from you or the Crazy Writer Couple, you and Neil (Douglas Newton)?

I’m finishing up the first draft of my next book. Blood on Murder Highway is loosely based on a highway in British Columbia where a large number of First Nations women have gone missing or been found murdered. It’s an exceptionally graphic serial killer story. As far as the Crazy Writer Couple, we’re still working on the first book in our series, Fungi Fandango. Since we have individual projects it’s difficult to find time for our joint work.

16. Thank you very much for your time, Elizabeth. I’d better go write that review for your book, or else I might become a victim in your next book.* Just kidding. Any messages for the readers?

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. If I may, I’d like to let readers know I have some more novelettes coming out through Electric Eclectic Books and a short story in a Stab in the Dark anthology. Also I’m planning a contest where the winner get a Kindle loaded with my books. I’m not certain when, maybe when my next book is released.

*review posted yesterday;)

Links for Elizabeth H. Newton :

Author’s Amazon Page

Author Facebook Page

Author Website

Between the Beats (Author Blog)

Twitter

Tumblr

Instagram

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Stolen Gypsy by Elizabeth H. Newton – my review

Wow, what a ride! This is by no means the first thriller I’ve read by Elizabeth Horton Newton, nor will it be the last. Do not expect any spoilers from this review, or me retelling the events! Just grab it and read it. It’s worth it!
When you read an action thriller and feel breathless, as if you’ve just been there or at least watched it in a fabulous 3D cinema, that’s just perfection. This one had me biting my nails, staying up all night to get to the bottom of all plots and subplots, on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to my favourite characters.

Much as I loved the villains in Riddle and Old Habits, I love, love, love the heroes and heroines of this book! Young Terza is adorable, just on the verge between a teenager and a woman, thrown into life’s adversity which forms her faster than she’d ever hoped. Tristan is strong, charming and supportive, and the balance Newton achieves between the two of them, and in developing their relationship, is wonderfully intertwined with the entire plot, filled with social issues, political intrigue and the criminal millieu. McCray and Nora, including Vanessa and the girls from Nora’s haven, they all paint a strong setting in which each detail makes a difference.

Feel like wandering into a breathlessly intense action story, with a fantastic couple at the centre and mind-blowing intrigue surrounding them? Grab this one.

https://amzn.to/2qBg0wr

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Common misconceptions about (indie) authors

Pondered for a while whether I should publish this. So before you begin reading know this – it is not complaining. It is explaining.

Being an independent author has its advantages, as well as disadvantages, just like any other job, I suppose. To be honest, I am not sure if I would have wanted to know about some of the disadvantages before venturing into (self-) publishing. For instance, if I had known how much financing it requires to be able to properly package and promote your work, I would probably have nevet dared to go into it. That would have been a shame, because I would never have met tons of wonderful authors and book supporters, or proven to myself that my books can actually be real books, no matter how many people like them.

As a reader and an author, I have discovered how seriously misguided many people are about authors, especially self-published, independent authors. Let me just share a few I have encountered, and do share your views in the comments, whether you are a reader or writer yourself.

1. People think all authors have a team of people who work with them on fixing errors and making perfect covers. (They don’t, unless they employ them and pay them. Otherwise, it’s all diy. Which doesn’t mean an independent author is like a quack doctor or a shoddy repairman. A self-made entrepreneur cares a lot about how he or she displays their work.)

2. People think authors get every single cent of the money readers pay to buy the book from a bookstore, online or not. (They don’t. Percentages of royalties vary, but you’d probably be sadly disappointed, if not shocked, if you knew the numbers. Not disclosing them here, because of contracts we have with printers and distributors.)

3. People think authors only write. (We don’t. See point no.2. Most of us have day jobs which pay the bills, hopefully also fill our hearts, and help sustain our writing dreams.)

4. People think authors are vastly supported by their families who read their books, buy them by the dozens and walk around promoting our work. (They don’t. If we are lucky, they understand us and support us as best they can – giving us some free time to write, understanding our insomnia and remaining by our side:). If we are lucky, we are able to repay them this kindness.)

5. People think publishing is what it used to be and everyone has an agent and a team to promote their books, lining up interviews and TV appearances for us, as libraries and bookshops fight over who gets more copies of our books. (Hahaha, she grinned with bitterness. I talked to a renowned author a couple of years ago and he admitted that he was lucky to have broken anonimity and gained a good publisher over 20 years ago. He says if he had to fight for it today, he’d probably stick to a day job. My ‘support team’ consists of kindhearted authors and readers who repost my shameless book plugs on social media. I am grateful for any one of my supporters.)

6. People think vanity publishing is just a myth, invented as an excuse for independent authors. (It is not. Vanity publishers are just as much a part of this business as any marketing scheme out there. They prey on your dreams, take your money to publish your book and then leave you to do the promoting yourself. If you need a cover, formatting or editing, it costs extra. I once read a testimony from an author who said it was not true because his vanity publisher was very polite, and he’d actually made £1000 from his books in 5 years through them. When asked how much he’d invested with them, he said £5000 in the first year, and about a £1000 the subsequent years. I may be a creative non-maths kind of person, but I think the numbers speak for themselves.)

7. People think authors are tedious and obsessed when we ask for reviews and promote our books. (We are, and some of us are moderate about it, whereas some are tiring. But see points above to know why. Most of us trust in our stories. Most of us really make an effort to bring out the best we possibly can under the circumstances. The readers have a choice.)

8. People think authors should give their books away for free, especially when they launch, since they get boxes of their books from the publishers, including promo T-shirts, bookmarks, bags etc. (We don’t get anything free except ideas. We work for everything else. We do research for our books, buy our own author copies, we pay for our promo stuff, we pay for packaging and shipment. So if you do get a freebie from an independent author, know that it is not free. Nothing is. We may write fantasy, but we don’t live in it. But also know it means a lot to the authir who has sent it to you. PS: applying for most awards costs a fee too. No guarantee of winning and no money back.)

9. People think authors are only good if they are famous. (Fame and quality may go hand in hand, but not always. Just like everything else. Plus, quality is a matter of personal opinion anyway. You may like a famous book, someone else will hate it. It’s that simple.)

10. People think authors write to make money. (Well then people in pharmacy would be writers too. Bankers as well. Not to mention politicians. Authors write to write. It is not even a matter of choice for most of us.)

Although I am sure there are plenty more misconceptions such as these, I have decided to list the ones I have come into contact with. Questions such as: “You’re an author? Are you famous?” and “So how rich are you?” used to be shocking; now they are just funny and slightly annoying. Especially when they are asked before even inquiring about what I write and where one might read a sample of my book.

Lines such as “You should put your books in bookshops, libraries, schools and give them away.” … well, they make me sad. Why? Apart from all the points above, it takes time to write a book. It takes heart. It takes time to draw illustrations. It takes effort and resources to create a cover.

But most of all, it takes gutts to put your thoughts out there, open for all comments. It takes a dream. You don’t just give that away. Or give it all up.

Would you?

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Another one…

Well, there it is – I have managed to combine my two professional loves, both not really known in my life as big money-makers:) – teaching and writing. Perhaps two minuses can make a plus, huh? Just kidding.

As the note says, this is the rough draft which I will soon be typing into the plan, proofreading and sending off to some beta readers.

As for the teaching method described, it refers to a little mindset I have devised for myself and shared with colleagues. I know it works because it has served me well these last two decades, from the micro to macro lesson planning, and thinking about learning and teaching in general.

Looking forward to revisions and edits, and all the little ‘bloopers’ I probably let slip. Ta-ta for now!

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Onwards…

And so it begins… My wix website is live:
http://anitakovacevic.wixsite.com/anitas-haven

#books #reading #teaching #learning

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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.

Giant

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.)

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World Poetry Day

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

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

#ebook https://tinyurl.com/ybpyubg9

#paperback https://tinyurl.com/y8jqwlwt

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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!

ebook https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Chest-Childrens-Stories-ebook/dp/B078G3Z83W

paperback http://www.lulu.com/shop/anita-kovacevic-and-c-a-keith-and-maureen-larter-and-wanda-luthman/a-treasure-chest-of-childrens-stories/paperback/product-23519005.html

#childrensstories #Croatiantalent #Zagreb #readers #kidlit

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How about you?

I am happy.
I am happy because Women’s Day is a reminder in my life.
I am happy because I grew up in a family where I have been loved for who I am as a person, not loved less for being a daughter.
I am happy because I chose freely where to go to university and what to do in life.
I am happy because in our marriage there are no women’s or men’s chores, but we do things as we agree to.
I am happy because I have friends and collegues who know the value of heart, not prejudice.
I am happy to work in a place where male and female colleagues help each other because they are polite and kind, and not according to gender.

I am aware of my responsibility to teach all this to everyone around me, espevially children.
I am aware that it is up to us to convey to the children, by setting example, a respect for life, effort and friendship, regardless of the things in which we seemingly differ.
I am happy because I am aware of my responsibility.

Happy Women’s Day to all good people!
(PS: I am happy because if anyone leaves a negative comments to this, I can choose to listen, skip, delete, block them… the choice for that is mine;), and the choice for comments is yours)

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