Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Why indie and proud?

What is #IndiePrideDay? For me, it means a lot of things.

I am proud to be an independent author because I know I dared to cross the threshold of my average daydreams, and walk into this huge forest of trees (namely: self-doubt, time-consuming book promotion, social media presence, the writing/illustrating zone, editing and revising, begging for reviews, battling to keep them, and so on and so forth…).

I dared to feel and love this hobby of mine called writing, and I dared to place it before your eyes for none or detailed scrutiny, giving voice to my characters who haunted me till I did. I am proud of giving life to the little penguin Winky, the romantic wannabe pirate George, the diva squirrel Mimi and the brave hedgehog Hank, and all their little friends in my children’s books. Not to mention all the stories and poems in anthologies such as Inner Giant, Awethologies, Twisted & Crooked Tales, Looking into the Abyss, and The Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories…

I have also been privileged to have met and collaborated with many wonderful people in the independent writers’ community, all of whom have been supportive, inspiring and selfless.

The support of my friends and family is never taken for granted. ♡
Thank you all!
So yes, indie and proud. Happy #IndiePrideDay!

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Song Hereafter by Jean Gill – my review

All is well.

If I were able to write a brief book review, the line above would probably be the shortest ever but would cover everything.

After reading four books in this series, what I can definitely say, as a fan of this type of historical fiction and Jean Gill’s dedicated writing style, is that this is the perfect ending to a phenomenal series. And yes – all is well. The writing is excellent, the characters are strong, developed fully and with all facets and dimensions, the plot is strong and unfaltering, the details of historical research, descriptions and relationships, both private and political, are astoundingly vivid and intriguing. Now, you may read this book without having read the previous three, but why deny yourself the absolute literary and emotional journey of reading the entire series?

I remember thinking how exciting history can be while I was reading the first book. By the time I got to the fourth book, I was no longer thinking that, because Estela and Dragonetz, along with an entire myriad of splendid heroes and villains, were no history for me. They were real, they were vivid and alive, and closing the book after that last page felt like saying goodbye to friends. Yes, that’s the kind of book it is – you don’t read it, you live it.

I can honestly thank the author for alowing me to travel to all those distant places (old Wales is absolutely striking in this book), experience extraordinary customs and witness amazing events, but most of all – meet the admirable, passionate, courageous people (oops, characters) I will always miss. The great thing about books though is that you can always revisit them.

(You can read all my reviews for the Troubadours Quartet books, as well as some other great books by Jean Gill, here on this blog.)

Book link

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Yahooty Who? – my review

I stumbled upon this cute book in my search and downloaded it based on the very optimistic cover and blurb.

Although primarily driven by beautiful illustrations and a cute little house ‘elf’ Yahooty, the wonderful visual aspect of the story is accompanied successfully with lovely rhyme, which flows smoothly for the most part. The story itself does not contain a traditional plot, but is phrased as suggestive questions for the little readers (or listeners). I enjoyed the playful tone, lots of useful vocabulary which will help expand the children’s own, and the repetitive pattern which will definitely engage the kids.

Yahooty must be in kahootz with parents though, especially regarding certain house cleaning tasks, so a parent might even get the idea to get kids to help with cleaning in hopes of actually meeting Yahooty. Just sayin’;).

Book link

PS: found this on their Twitter:

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Does working out really work out for you?

Lately, all this talk of getting ready for the summer and getting beach-body ready has become quite silly. Yes, I too like to look nice and feel fit, but let’s be honest – it should be done always, in order to be hwalthy, and not rushed in panic and through starvation. Anyway, trying to achieve physical perfection when it is just not your thing has reminded me of a chapter section from my light, carefree, unambitious romantic comedy Average Daydreamer. Perhaps some of you may even recognize yourselves:).

Average Daydreamer

Chapter 3 – Rock’n’Roll

“The zumba lesson with Petra went pretty well! Although zumba was a bit too unstructured and wild for my personality, I did try to make myself enjoy it, telling myself all the while that it would boost my immune system, make me feel good about myself and maybe make one of those ‘oh-I-wish-there-was-such-a-thing’ perfect guys notice me.

Feel good about myself I did, right until the moment I finally managed to grasp the dance routine and stopped looking at the steaming hot blonde leading the course. And then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had been so psyched into seeing the new Shakira-Priscilla shaking off the stress with sexiness, and oozing a sparkling cocktail of self-confidence, mischief and charm! Alas, major letdown! My expectations and reality were in such an oxymoron that it pained me to put it in thoughts, let alone words! So I’ll keep it brief here – my sexy just wasn’t happening. Period.”

Lulu link

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Meter of Corruption by Wolf Schimanski – my review

This is an action-driven, high-speed, adrenaline-filled thriller, with brutal villains and non-negotiable justice delivered upon them. Although the language style may not be my kind of music, this is the hard rock’n’roll for all thriller fans, stripped of linguistic fineries, but led by brutal plot twists and merciless characters, quite unique in their perception and delivery of justice. The action scenes are the strongest part of the writer’s arsenal, and it’s a great thing that this is only one part of a series, because his action fans will be hooked and want more.

Book link

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Seeing every tree – my book seen through the eyes of Jean Gill

This has been an extraordinary experience – being interviewed by a person I admire. Jean Gill drilled me about my book The Forest of Trees, but more importantly, about some life issues I consider very important.

Seeing every tree

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Recommending some great authors – Electric Eclectic

Today is Electric Eclectic Book Blatt Day. Having read many of these authors before, I can thoroughly recommend their writing. If you see a post anywhere, can you please share it. All books are novelettes and quick reads. Visit the website to find out more.bit.ly/ElectricEclectic

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Learn back from your children

Parenting

Plant a kiss on your daughter’s forehead
One that says all is well
Even when it’s not
Even when she sees it’s not
But make her believe it
It’s your job
You are her home
Her safe haven
Her parent.

Stroke your son’s hair in passing
A touch that encourages
Even when you have no courage
Even when you feel so weak
But make him believe it
It’s your job
You are his home
His safe haven
His parent.

And when she chirps around happily
With the smile of a thousand suns
Confident beyond any borders
And as tireless as spring
Be proud of your achievement
Don’t be shocked
Don’t be surprised
You’ve taught her life’s joy
Now it’s time to learn back from your daughter.

And when he dares to do the stuff he fears
And when he persists after defeat
Stubborn and brave and happy
And eager to make you proud
Be proud of your achievement
Don’t be tired
Don’t feel drained
You’ve taught him life’s battles
Now it’s time for you to learn back from your son.

Believe it
It’s your job
They are your home
Your safe haven
Your children.

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Plaint for Provence by Jean Gill – my review

(Warning : this is not going to be a short review. Books like this deserve all the respect a reader can provide. However, for those who enjoy short reviews – this is an etremely intriguing historical fiction about love, life and death. Read it, but it would be a shame to skip the first 2 books in the series.)

It took me a while to completely get into the book. At first I thought it was just my temporary mood, and trusting the process and all of Jean Gill’s books I’d read before (especially Song at Dawn and Bladesong, the first two in this series), I knew the story would grab me. And boy, oh boy, did it! To be honest, it is difficult to get it out of my head now.

By the time I was one third into the story, the feeling of the calm before the storm had crawled into my bones, and the faith of the characters seemed to rest solely on my ability to read it all till the end in one single read, which I practically did. And never regretted one second of my book-induced insomnia!

The growth of the characters from book 1 to this one, their relationships, political powerplay and the social changes are followed through perfectly. Estela and Dragonetz are fascinating in their strengths and weaknesses, their entrepreneurial spirit and the way they grow together as a couple but also individually. DeRancon and Hugues keep balancing the see-saw between good decision and wrong choices, constantly pulling at yournerves as they interact with others. Malik, Gilles and Sancha are so strong in their loyalty and staying true to themselves. The rulers, would-be rulers, nobility which is more or less noble, servants who remain below the radar actually pulling the strings from the shadows… all of this is written with precision, perfection and passion.

Just read the initial chapter to see what I mean – the interchange between measly messengers over a drink is so well guided – it shows the author’s authoritative command of researched historical facts, beautifully flowing syntax which abides by the vernacular of the time without losing its natural twists and turns, a phenomenal sense of showing the big picture through the simplest details and making history alive and exciting by engaging all of the reader’s senses – you can see their faces, smell the stench of travellers robes, hear the hushed voices eager to divulge their information but bound by secrecy, feel their excitement and fear at the impact of their news… And this is just chapter one! (Ending the book with another important messenger situation is a cliffhanger which will make you want to dive into book 4 immeditely.)

The introductions into chapters are something some readers might skip, but I particularly enjoyed them. Again, a sort of calm before the storm. As Estela’s interest in science and medicine grows, she reads all sorts of medical texts, which the author shares in introductory paragraphs very briefly, but so up to point that it would be a pity to miss them. Not only do they offer a glimpse into the way people of the time thought and lived, but the remedies and maladies mentioned often serve as an introduction into the events which follow, in a perfectly well-masked manner. The author pays a lot of attention to customs in this book (women’s medical issues, hunting and working with birds of prey, money making, etc.), but historical fact never turns this book into a history coursebook. In fact, it serves the story, builds it up and grows naturally with the plots and characters.

The intimate moments between characters, their sensuality, tenderness, debates, concerns, doubts, conflicts make you feel especially privileged to witness. I mean, you get to witness a liege talking to a ruler, a villain whispering a threat into your heroine’s ear in plain sight of a full court of noble guests.

After a while, you realize each and every chapter ends on a very cleverly planted cliffhanger which transports you into the next one and then the next one. Let me just repeat my own words from the time when I finished the first book – history has never been more exciting!

I cannot choose my favourite quote or my favourite character, although the punishment Hugues deserves from Estela for his sexual advances is still one of my favourite scenes. No more spoilers, I promise.

The ‘calm before the storm’ feeling, by the way, stayed with me till the very end, which shows the author’s genius as book four is out, so I am definitely getting it. Now!

Plaint for Provence

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Happy Mother’s Day! Take a nap!

For all the parents out there, especially those who, like my hubbie and me have children who considered sleeping a waste of time, so much so that we dreaded the process of putting them to bed – a comical motherly approach:).

By the way, didn’t you just hate those smug parents who claimed they had so much free time while their kid slept like a log? Free time? Really? What on earth is that?

Free Time

I finally have
A day off from work,
So it’s just the daily routine,
No one goes berserk.

But my heart is pounding
And she feels my fear.
Both she and I know
That nap-time is near.

We’ve done the yummy,
She’s had her bath,
The massage, the cuddling,
The story book path.

Changed the bedsheets this morning,
The music is low.
It’s time to relax
And to dreamland go.

Let’s kiss her cheek
And in her crib she can lie.
I’ll give her the Bambi
And say bye-bye.

She looks at me sternly,
With wide open eyes.
I just know in a second
I’ll be hearing her cries.

So I sit and pretend
I am reading a book,
But I just can’t resist
Taking a look.

She’s quietly hugging
Her bottle of milk
And curling softly
Her fair hair of silk.

And I feel such relief
As I sit in my chair.
Let’s just have some coffee
And breathe some calm air.

She should nap for an hour,
Or more if I’m blessed,
Let’s see what I can do
In that time – unstressed.

I could dust the whole house,
Or at least one room
For you can see my dust for miles
Without any zoom.

But wait! What’s that?
Is she sleeping or not?
Is that moaning I hear?
Is that a problem she’s got?

‘Oh mommy, come back,
You can’t leave me here.
I’m so little, come hug me,
Chase away every fear.’

My drama queen starts
Her anti-nap show.
It will last and last,
This I just know.

‘Mommy is here,
Go back to sleep.
And Bambi is here,
And his dreams are deep.

Here’s a big, big hug
And another kiss, too.
Don’t worry, dear, mommy
Is looking after you.’

A sob and a blink,
And she’s lying again.
Perhaps this time it works
And she reaches her zen.

I’m back in my plan-mode,
Stitching a sock.
The laundry is on now,
And I glance at the clock.

If she sleeps now,
I can just finish lunch,
And some work brought home,
As there’s always a crunch.

And minutes like hours
To me they can seem.
There’s so much to do,
But she just won’t dream.

For she’s back on her feet now
With a loud complaint.
She bangs on her crib fence.
(She might hit her head and faint!)

‘Oh mommy, you’re here!
What’s that over there?’
As her chubby fingers follow
Her smiling stare.

‘It’s a photo of your brother,
Just like every other day.
Now lie down and sleep,
And please, just – stay!’

‘Oh mom, before you go,
Can I just have a hug,
And I promise I’ll sleep
As snug as a bug.’

Her smile is like honey
So I quickly fly back,
And I hug her and kiss her,
And touch the curl on her neck.

And I lay her back gently.
She closes her eyes.
And I go back to work some,
But she soon screams and cries.

‘Bad dream, bad dream!
Hold me some more.
Take me in your arms
And close that door.’

And I curl up with her
On our big family bed,
And I sing to her and pat
Her warm little head.

I almost fall asleep,
Waiting for her to relax,
When she chuckles and wakes
And once again asks:

‘Oh mommy, please tell me,
what’s that in your nose?
And when I poke your eye,
Why’s it red like a rose?

Oh and, by the way, mommy,
Can’t we just read and play?
It’s so boring to lie down
And do nothing all day!’

‘But you must sleep, dear,
so your body can grow.
You’re just a baby,
You need sleep, you know.’

‘But what if I miss stuff
While I’m taking a nap?
Plane sounds or a phone call,
A fly buzz or jingle rap?

It’s so dull here in bed-
Nothing to smash, chew or push!
And you’re no fun either.
And you keep saying shush.’

‘Come to the kitchen with me
and let’s check on our meal!
But then – it IS bedtime!’
‘OK, mum, it’s a deal!’

My back is so sore,
But I carry her there,
Lunch is ready, work can wait,
She’s the one who needs care.

We go back to her crib,
She lies smiling and content,
And she closes her eyes.
(Will I regret and repent?)

I’m almost at the door,
But it’s ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy!’
‘What now???’ ‘A bellybutton –
right here on my tummy!’

After finding mine,
She’s out like a light,
But if I want it to last,
I’ll keep my fingers crossed tight.

Quick! Do I still have time?
Wash my hair, legs need wax,
For when hubbie gets home
He’ll be wanting some sex.

Boy, she’s sleeping – a wonder!!!
Can I still fix son’s shoes?
He messed up the bottoms
When he fell and got bruised.

He’ll be back in ten minutes
From his playtime with a pal!
Hope he doesn’t come screaming
And wakes up my sweet gal!

‘Hey, mom, I am home!
What’s for lunch? Starving here!’
There he is, and so is she-
Wide awake with a sneer!

But OK, I’ve done stuff!
One leg waxed, and hair wet,
Laundry done, work delayed,
But a simple lunch is set.

Kids are chatting and smiling,
Even hubbie is home.
As for me, well, at least-
I made this li’l old poem!

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