Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

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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The sea

And when the wave sings out my darkness,
Soaking my night into deep silence,
Only a whisper will stay within me,
The whisper of my darkness,
A solitude calmness,
No drama, no stress.
On top of the wave it’s me and my soul,
Pure, serene, my own.
Hence the sea.
Hence the wave.
It’s where I am the one.
It’s where I am I.

****

I kad mi val otpjeva moju tminu,
Mrak upije u tihu dubinu,
Samo će šum ostat u meni,
Šum moje tame,
Mir osame,
Bez drame.
A na valu moja duša i ja,
Čista, smirena i svoja.
Zato more.
Zato val.
Tu sam ta.
Tu sam ja.
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Progressing

“What matters most is to wonder and guess, not judge. Judging is final and leaves no room for improvement, communication and progress.”
This is from the book I am writing right now. In fact, the first version has been typed into my laptop and awaiting revisions.
#amwriting #teaching

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When Your Demon Comes

When your demon comes
(and it will)
A volcano will pound
A tumultuous sound
Your eyes will burn
Your head will ache
Lava will surge
Erupt from your heart
And flow through your body
At the speed of light
Don’t stop it
Or freeze it
Just let it flow
And wait.

When your demon comes
(and it will)
Keep still
It will heal
Close your eyes
Breathe deep
Relax your shoulders
And imagine a dew drop
On a green leaf
Sparkling in early sunlight
Caress it with your breath
Don’t break it
Or wipe it off
Then open your eyes
And smile.

When your demon comes
(and it will)
Let it live
But believe
It will help you
It is your friend
And let it wash its face
Cool the lava with the dew
Let it give its strength
To your mind’s power
Embrace it
And wield it
Then do what is right
And be strong.

From Versus Verses – Love

#selfworth #ebook https://tinyurl.comy7xww2l9

#paperback https://tinyurl.com/ycu3tv3r

(On loving yourself, demons and all;)

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THE DRAGON DREAMER by J. S. Burke – my review

Combining two of my most favourite elements, the ocean and fantasy, has certainly not put this author in an easy spot with me as a reader. My expectations were really high.

The author’s fascination with sealife is obvious, and it is intriguing how she intertwines it with the dragon world. There is so much lovely detail in the descriptions, and almost a science to it. I enjoyed the author’s comparison of the daily rituals of sea and dragon life with the human perspective. In fact, most of the story can be taken as a metaphor to our world, even the environmental issues, conflict and the importance of stories for the growth of a species. Although there are absolutely no human characters in this story (which took some time for me to get used to), all the characters and their relationships are developed well, with lots of love and respect. The weather threats and action sequences are intense, but it is the life described that I particularly enjoyed. This entire world has been created with amazing consistency and attention to detail.

The admirable symbiosys of skills from completely different creatures, shows us how humans should learn, united by a common goal – life on this planet. And how interesting it is that the author has both species celebrate and encourage art, creativity and healing, in contrast to humans! Dreamers they are, truly.

Any child or adult who loves to explore and go on nature adventures, will thoroughly enjoy comparing this fantasy world to nature lessons at school. Teachers could find it useful in dealing with biology, environment, even art. If your child has the heart of a zoologist, oceanologist, artist, and is a fantasy fan, this book might just be perfect for them.

What I especially liked in the story is the strong emphasis on learning and communication – each species can learn from another when willing to communicate.

Here is an interesting quote, one I wish we could implement to human life more often.

“…crowding can lead to fights. Art is good way to channel all that edgy energy.”

Dragon Dreamer

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Happy World Penguin Day:)

Happy #WorldPenguinDay!

How far would you go in search of your dreams? Winky goes farther than he’s ever been and finds more than he’s expected!

#childrensbooks #kidlit #parenting #polaranimals #envirnoment #educational

#ebook https://tinyurl.com/yb5a76wx

#paperback https://tinyurl.com/yask4nhy

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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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