Anita's Haven

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Real love every day

As promised, two of my favourite scenes of real, daily love between two married couples from The Forest of Trees – the Bosworths and the Stones. Both scenes take place during sleepless nights, filled with worry.

Intimacy is never (just) the physical thing. Love is in the small, everyday details which should never be taken for granted…

The Bosworths

The bed sheets were soaked in sweat and already cold, as John Bosworth kept tossing and turning, uncovering himself to cool down, then covering himself back hoping to get some sleep. He felt around the bed and realized it was empty, empty, so he opened his eyes, finally giving in to insomnia.
In a huge armchair close to the door, his wife’s face glowed in lamplight, as she sat wrapped in a fuzzy patchwork blanket.
He looked at her with worry and love.
She was deeply concentrated. Seeing her leather-bound diary in her hands, he knew she must have had a bad day at work. Although he loved to joke that their jobs were alike, she a psychologist and he a principal, he knew that the number of good days was in his favour.
“Zoe, do you want to talk?” he whispered.
She didn’t reply, and he noticed how firmly she held her pen and how she tightened her lips. For both selfish and generous reasons, he loved the fact that she had her diary ritual to blow off steam and cry or shout things into words. He wasn’t much of a talker, so he always felt inadequate offering her advice. Still, he was a great listener and that helped her get things out of her system.
Sometimes things were so difficult to bear that she would just cry, and all he could do was hold her and feel guilty for not helping. She knew this, which was why she started her diary. She hated making him worry.
“Paper can take it,” she’d often say.
He noticed she had her small yellow earphones earphones on, probably listening to classical music again. Debussy was his best guess, judging by how the sad look on her face was slowly relaxing, softening her lips into their usual lovely shape and mellowing her shoulders. He smiled.
(…)
John stepped towards the door, slowly walking past his wife. She looked up with a question mark in her eyes, but he just kissed her head gently, breathing in the smell of tangerine shampoo in her hair, and moved his hand in front of his face as if drinking something. She smiled and nodded.
He went into the kitchen to make some green tea with honey which she liked so much. He had hated that taste at first, but in time he’d gotten used to it as part of their little ritual.
Green tea and honey meant a talk, whatever time of day it was, talk without the stress of having having to provide a solution. Each of them told the other what had kept them awake, and the other one listened, understood and provided a hug in the end. The talk usually started with no talk at all, just inhaling the aroma of warm tea and enjoying each other’s comfort. Sip by sip, the conversation would begin, or wouldn’t. Sometimes just sharing the silence was enough.”

The Stones

“David blinked again, staring at the starry sky through the window. He couldn’t sleep, but he dared not move or he’d wake Emma. They were both overwhelmed with the last few days; the changes were as intense as a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
He felt her warm arm wrap around his waist, and Emma’s soft kiss land on the back of his neck. She cuddled up to him under the blanket, and he felt better in a second, with only a tiny pang of guilt for having woken her up.
“You can’t sleep either, huh?” Emma whispered through another neck kiss, her lips writing on his skin.
“Sorry I woke you up,” David said, his arm pulling her closer.
She rested her face on his shoulder and sighed, with a slight yawn.
“Not much of a sleep anyway, when you dream about real life…”
“Nightmare?” Worried, David wrapped her hair around his fingers.
“Not really, just a dream, but lots of them. Not connected, just… more worries than dreams. Whether Jeremy will be fine here, whether Dot will be happy, what if the car breaks down, any chance of some students ever being kind, if we’re going to be able to cover the bills this month, if… oh well, you know…”
She felt guilty. There he was, sleepless and anxious, and all she talked about were her own dreams and worries.
“Boy oh boy, you women just can’t stop worrying,” he mocked.
He was actually grateful for her speech. She summed up most of his own worries as well. He’d never been good with words, especially to talk about his feelings. It would probably have taken him half the night just to verbalize all the things she spat out in one sigh and a yawn. On top of all that, she managed to awake his protective side, giving him motivation not to whine, but to console.
“I’ll have to make you a dream-catcher then to help you sleep,” he teased.
“Better make yourself one while you’re at it. You’re the one lying awake here all night,” she said with a stern teacher’s look.
He loved it when her eyes got that grey shade of angry.
“I don’t need a dream-catcher, love,” he said, feeling mischievous.
“Oh no?” She teased, knowing exactly what he meant.
“I just bury my face in your hair and all my nightmares go away,” he said, cradling her face in his palms.
Their lips blended. They glued their bodies together, intertwining their feet.
“This is my favourite place in the whole world, you know? Right here,” she said as the kiss finished.
She buried her face in his shoulder. David’s hand glided down her back as he pulled her closer. He smelled her skin and inhaled her scent, meeting her lips in another kiss, savouring those precious moments when the two of them were only the two of them, no worries, or kids or the world around.
As their breaths caught the singular rhythm of passion, neither of them was aware of the trees and the wind singing their song outside.”

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Wearing our daily masks…

Today is the final day of carnival season in my country, and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it, to take off all masks before admitting you love somebody? It reminded me of the part of The Forest of Trees, when a loving married couple falls into the routine of wearing a happy mask to spare each other from their own sadness. I cannot stress enough how important it is to share your pain with your loved ones, how much that honesty and trust can strengthen your relationship. I am so glad Emma and David found their way. Here is a glimpse into their daily masks…

“It got to the point when hearing the word mummy was one of the biggest horrors in her life. She loved the scent of Jeremy’s ginger hair when she held him, she adored his big eyes gazing at her with expectation, waking up early not to miss a second of their time… and it made her heart ache that it was not enough for her. She missed reading a good adult book, having some time to herself, talking to an adult person about something other than rashes, the cost of diapers, prospective kindergartens and the danger of pedophiles everywhere. She missed dressing up to go out with her husband and be a woman, not a nanny. But she felt guilty, so she kept the smile on her lips, and buried the sadness behind her eyes.
David had been working almost non-stop, stressed by trying to preserve his job at the executive level and earn even more money, so Emma could stay home with Jeremy. Emma had put on a happy front to avoid hurting him, he’d put on his to avoid seeming selfish or lazy, so they slowly drifted away into pretence and lies without even realizing it and only with the best intentions.”

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I will be sharing two of my favourite scenes from their lives, but also another couple. Nothing sleezy. Real love.

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Cherish

In this hectic world, where evil seems easier and kindness is considered a waste of time, I admire people who make the best of their daily lives, cherishing their time together and seeing natural phenomena in the little things, such as a simple, loving smile.

#kindnessmatters 

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The Newton Force – special interview with authors Elizabeth H.Newton and Neil Newton

This Valentine’s Day I am so happy to present you with a special gift. It has been a huge honour and pleasure to host my first online interview with two amazing indie authors who are not only both gifted (I know, I read a book by each of them), but also married. Imagine having two authors in the same house, each tossing and turning at night with their own worlds spinning in their heads!

Well, these two are proof it is possible, and even entertaining. It’s all in the attitude.

It took a while to set up the same internet time, considering our time difference and family/work obligations, but where there is a will,there is a way. Welcome, Elizabeth H. Newton and Neil Newton!

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Well, hi there, you two! Finally in the same place at the same time! Do tell, how difficult was it to get the three of us in the same spot online, on a scale of 1-100?
Liz: 2.
Nah, really? Only two?
Neil: It’s a quantum entanglement issue 🙂
Liz: You did all the work; I just held on for the ride.
Are you actually in the same room right now?
Neil: There is a wall between us. We don’t like intimacy.
Liz: There is no wall. He’s silly. Go to your corner, Neil!
Hehehe…. Ready to start the official interview then?
Liz: Yup, I’m all set.
Neil: Yes, ma’am.

1. Were you both writers when you met or not? I’m just letting you fight over who answers this one.

Liz: Yes we were both writers. We met in a writers critique group Neil set up.
What were you criticising;)? Critiquing?
Neil: I had started a mailing list for writers and she joined. I found out later that she was also from New York and that she had gone to the same school my father taught in, but he never met her. I liked her stuff from the beginning. I don’t like a lot of fluff and she doesn’t have that. Sparse and to the point.
Would you call that serendipity or fate? Meeting her like that?
Neil: Absolutely. I never met her in New York. Or at least I don’t remember. There are a lot of people there. Meeting anyone is a low odds prospect.
Liz: Fate! Kismet!
I bet it was.

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2. Do you have similar writing routines or do they clash? The music you listen to, if any, the writing spot…

Liz: Hmm that’s a good question. I think I am more intense. Live what I write. It’s as though I experience it.
Is it a character trait or a male-female thing? Empathizing?
Liz: It may be a female thing. I like to get into the heads of my characters. I prop myself up in my recliner or at my desk by the window in the den and turn on some true crime tv thing and write away. Sometimes I write while listening to CNN.
No kidding? No wonder you write crime! What about you, Neil?
Neil: I write when I feel like it. No schedule. I don’t like music when I write. It’s distracting. But I can write with people talking and the TV on. Lizzie is more of a “trance” writer. It starts to affect her moods even whe she’s not writing. I am not that enveloped by it and can walk away. She thinks that if she loses a piece of writing it is bad because she will “never write that again”. I feel that if I write something over it will probably be better.
Oh wow! Huge difference there. But sort of balances you.
Neil: Crime is fine with me but not a passion. I tend to like stories of transformation of characters.

3. Do you help each other? Was there ever a situation when one spouse’s writing annoyed the other?

Neil: We help each other in practical ways, like proofreading, but I don’t think we have any desire to be back seat drivers during the writing process. I am happy to let her write what she wants. I may make one or two suggestions after I proofread her book.
Liz: I don’t think his writing annoys me. I suspect my intensity can be difficult for him at times. It must be like living with someone who has DID (dissociative Identity disorder) LOL.
Neil: That’s not just when she’s writing 🙂
Liz: Hush. I’ll let Olivia get you!
Neil: Olivia is on vacation. She told me so before she left.
Well, authors are a world in a person, right?

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4. Did you happen to name a character the same, envision a similar setting or scene, or even title?
Liz: No, I can’t even imagine that. Although we are working on a book together. But even that will be from different POVs.
Neil: No. We’ve discussed a project where we both write but we talk it out and usually persuade each other to do things a certain way. Never any arguments!
Lizzie and I have a character of a similar surname and that was from before we’d even met or published the books.OK, so tolerance in works for the two of you then. That’s good in any relationship, let alone marriage/writing.

5. Having read your books, I can sort of see the similarities and differences. You both write about socially relevant topics for modern times. Do you discuss them previously? Tell us a bit about this aspect of your novels.

Liz: We discussed my first book a lot. Neil went with me to Dallas and we discussed the whole Oswald conspiracy thing ad infinitum. As for his book, yes, we talked about his characters, child abuse, and of course 9/11. It gives me insight into how an outsider views an issue I might consider important.
Neil: We are pretty much apart when we write our own books, though not physically. I don’t feel the need to examine her writing and make suggestions. I think writing is so personal that that would be a violation but also I’m sure she is capable of writing her own books.
Liz: Darn right I am! Hee hee…
Neil: Well, that is true. I did say once “what if Oswald was alive”. But the story is hers. We did discuss a few details but I didn’t feel like I was responsible for the Oswald story.
I wonder what sort of a story Neil would write about Elizabeth’s Norma, seeing how he likes character transformations;)? Any chance of a spin-off?
Neil: Norma is a freak and I tend not to go that far into the darker parts of the mind. I don’t really write “horror”. If I wrote about Norma I’d probably ask her if she goes to the dentist a lot, since her teeth woud have to be in good shape to rip out someone’s throat. I don’t foresee writing about anyone like that in the near future. It doesn’t do anything for me.
Gosh, that scene was really memorable. I gulped it down, the ripping thing.

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6. Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Your books reveal legal plots, bribery, corruption, lack of empathy in the entire legal system. Was that written consciously into your novels or not?

Liz: I do believe in conspiracy theories. I actually feel very strongly about government corruption and political cover ups, much more than Neil does I suspect. Although he does see the injustice in the legal system re: domestic violence and child abuse.
Neil: I don’t see what I wrote as a conspiracy. Or maybe it’s a tacit conspiracy to ignore things that we don’t want to hear about. That conspiracy, including domestic violence and child abuse, is as old as time. It sets people apart and takes them out of “normal society”. But no one agrees to be in that conspiracy; they just react.
I meant covering up for a rich criminal.
Neil: Ah. Well we currently have a presidential candidate who discusses the horrible inequalities between the rich and poor. That is a real conspiracy in that people agree to lie or help other rich people, or take money to cover things up. I do believe in that kind of thing. We’ve had a lot of criminals get off here who had money and good lawyers.
Same everywhere. Sad but true.

7. Neil, who is your favourite character in Elizabeth’s novels? Elizabeth, who is your favourite character in Neil’s novel?

Liz: Moskowitz was my favorite character in Neil’s book. I wanted to smack everyone else in the head and tell them to get over themselves. I was particularly annoyed by Megan. I know that’s awful but I wanted to forego all my belief in no spanking and put her over my knee for a good wallup. Awful, I know.
Neil: Oswald did not really come out as having a defined personality but Liv did and I liked her, especially the way she toughened up at the end and started to fight for herself. She even threatened those that were persecuting her and made the back off. She is cool.
Liz: Oswald was hot. You’re just jealous.
Neil: Yes, little rat faced men are really sexy.

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8. Are you working on a novel together? What is that like? (Just a hint – ever thought about writing a book for children? Being grandparents and all;)

Liz: We have been working on this plot for over ten years but it keeps getting shoved to the back burner. It is, of course, a murder mystery. The characters are rather like us in real life I think. It should be fun and may be the start of a series if we ever get the first one done.
Looking forward to that one. The dialogues should be fun. Slapstick style;)
Liz: My granddaughters and I are planning a children’s book called The Walking Dogs based on The Walking Dead. They are Zombie Dogs. It will be quite funny I think.
OMG, that would be preteen?
Liz: Yes. It’s not scary, more silly of course.
Neil: I’m not sure I could write for children. I am too sarcastic. Though I did read a book about a little boy who could turn into a rusty nail if he was in a tense situation. That seemed really funny to me. It would have to be for precocious children.

9. Do you alfa-read each other’s novels? Out loud together or by yourselves and alone? How much feedback do you provide for each other and how much advice do you actually follow?

Do you ever read each other’s stuff and wish it were you who’d written something like that?

Liz: I am terrible about taking advice unfortunately. I read Neil’s book before he published and actually encouraged him to remove some stuff and one particular character and situation I thought detracted from the story. He is much friendlier about advice than I am.
Neil: I have never read a book by Lizzie and thought that I’d wished I wrote it. Her books are her books and we tackle different subjects. I don’t feel that her books lack anything. I just don’t think we want to write the same book.

10. What does the rest of your family say about both of you writing? Do they read your stuff?

Neil: You’d be surpised how hard it is to get your family to read you books. Some of them are not readers and some don’t have the time. I think that they consider writing a mystery and don’t understand what compels us to do it. Oddly they are more enthusasitic about my music but that makes sense. Everyone likes music and listens to it.
Liz: My grandson’s girlfriend and one of my son’s girlfriend’s read my books. I feel as though most of our family thinks we are crazy, which of course we are. Our daughter Alyssa hasn’t read anything but she is very encouraging. Oh wait my sister read our books and she loved View, liked Riddle, and thought Neil’s character drank too much. LOL.

11. If you weren’t writers, what would you love to do?

Neil: Play music 🙂
Liz: I have been fortunate enough to have done many of the other things I wanted to do. I was a pre-school teacher for a couple of years, I was a counselor for over 13 years. I guess I would like to be a counselor again. I like helping people find themselves. I also love teaching. Other than that I would love to have been a forensic psychologist or behavior analyst for the FBI.

12. Elizabeth, what do you think makes Neil’s writing unique? Neil, what do you think makes Elizabeth’s writing unique?

Liz: I think Neil is fearless in allowing his characters to be good guys with bad habits and weaknesses. It isn’t easy to make a flawed personality a hero but he does it. Even though I hated Mike Dobbs with a passion I could see his true “goodness” shining through. Moskowitz fascinated me because he was obnoxious but you got the feeling there was a real good guy underneath. He was sexy. I like bad boys who have golden hearts.
Neil: Lizzie doesn’t contemplate killing people while she’s writing. She gets her evil out in the writing :-). Seriously, I like her style in that it is very regional or “period”. She wrote one short story about a sailor who sees a ghost ship and she got the tone and language down perfectly. Olivia is another example. She is a really southern belle who knits and is obedient to her husband. She wrote another really good story about a crazy maid who was black and got the insanity down perfectly. I am a little too much me in anything I do so I can’t transform my characters too far from my personality.
Liz: LOL! Ah yes – Pearl.

13. What do the two of you like to do when you are not writing, to preserve your relationship in its fun, non-working fashion?

Liz: Travel. Getting away and seeing new places or going out to dinner is very rejuvenating, I think.
Neil: We talk a lot. She is my best friend and we have fun discussing things of all kinds. We go out to dinner but mostly we talk. I know of couples who get sick of each other and need a break. I can spend 24 hours a day with her and not get antsy. Pretty unique.

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14. You are both indie writers. What do you find most difficult to handle in the entire process and how do you help each other in that respect? Have you ever wanted to just give it all up, the whole writing thing?

Liz: I never want to give up writing. I don’t think I could. I imagine I will be a senile old lady writing naughty stories. Editing is the most difficult part for me. I hate it. I find it frustrating because once I finish a story I am ready to move on to the next one. I think Neil hates promoting but I like that. I think I help him with promoting.
Neil: I don’t think we help each other except for proofreading and some suggestions. I want her books to be her books. As far as giving it up, this has been an uphill battle. It’s not based on your writing skill but on luck, your ability to manipulate your presence on the internet or knowing someone. I want to be succesful but I realize it may not happen. So there are times that tweeting and facebooking every night gets discouraging.
Liz: I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t worry about a presence or a brand. I write because I must. Sure I want people to read and enjoy my books but it isn’t my goal. I don’t care about money.

15. Unavoidable question – do you fight over the remote? Do you fight at all? How? What about?

Neil: She has the remote. I don’t care what we watch mostly. We don’t fight much. I can get prickly if my job is annoying and then we might sort of pi.. each other off. But generally we don’t fight.
Liz: I control the remote at all times. We fight very little. I can’t think of anything substantial we have issues with. Maybe who gets the last cookie in the jar or chip in the bag.
Hehehe.

16. Please, Neil, finish this line for me, in your own words: What I value most in people is… And now, Elizabeth, the same thing with this line: What I am most proud of in life is…

Neil: Honesty, integrity, being willing to stand up for things that need addressing.
Liz: What I am most proud of in  life are my children and grandchildren. They have grown to be wonderful and responsible adults who have care and compassion for others.

17. What would you both like your legacy to your kids and grandkids to be? Since you are in the same room, you may as well agree on one reply before you type.

Neil: I would like them to find out what they want to do and be their own person and not take the safe route. I would also like them to be responsible for the rest of the world as much as possible.
Liz: Hmm, I want them to show care and responsibility for others and the world they live in. Sort of the same response. Oh I want to leave my shoes and jewelry to my granddaughters. LOL.

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18. What are you working on right now? Each?

Liz: I am writing my third novel “Stolen” which has evolved into something quite interesting, a couple of short stories, and bits and pieces of our joint venture. I want us to do a small book of short stories together as well.
Neil: My next book is a strange mix. Simply put a scientist fights the greedy powers that be on a tropical island using the technology of Nikola Tesla. It is a story about justice but also a cautionary tale about power.
Excellent! Your fans will be happy.

19. Any final thoughts for this session?

Neil: I would like world peace and endless supply of lobster!
Sandra Bullock might supply the first, but as for lobster – no idea…
Neil: And I would like to know why so many Europeans speak perfect English? You are not the only one. It seems like an epidemic 🙂
Must be something in the water;)
Liz: A big thank you to you for this interview. It was fun and thought provoking. Also I want to thank our readers who take the time to read our offerings and especially those who review us on Amazon. Indie writer’s live for those reviews. It’s how we know if we have touched a nerve. And I do love to touch those nerves! 😉

Before you go, you get homework. I AM, after all, a teacher. How about that?

Neil: Both my parents were teachers. I lived it. 🙂
Liz: Okie dokie.
Homework assignment (borrowing from Neil’s book): Think which book you would be(like in Fahrenheit;) and let me know in a day or two.
Neil: I already know. Emphyrio by Jack Vance. I doubt you’ve even heard of him. He is a hidden gem in science fiction. In fact he’s really not science fiction. But his stories are amazing.
Liz: It’s a toss up between “Rose Madder” by Stephen King or “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.They seem different but I see connections.
Oh, you both liked homework and finished already? Hehehe…
Neil: Extra credit?
You both get extra credit with me.

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Thank you both so much for your time. Just a sneak piece of news, Elizabeth’s Riddle will be 99 cents during Valentine’s Day. My review for this romantic thriller is here.

Read my review for Neil’s uncompromising contemporary novel The Railroad

Don’t forget, dear readers, your favourite authors share their dreams, sleepless nights and selves with you. Share your opinion with them in the form of a review! Read and recommend!

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Love

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Recommending…

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Another one of my yearly recommendations! A memorable story about a woman finding strength despite all odds. My review is here. By the way, FYI, this is the new cover for the book, and the review contains the old one:)

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You hear the news… Nothing special, just the everyday horrors of the world on TV… and you just count your blessings.

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A WOMAN’S WEAKNESS by Molly Gambiza – my review no.28

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FINDING STRENGTH IN YOUR WEAKNESS

Molly Gambiza is an author who has a lot of important things to say, especially about the position of girls and women in the world, and the need for tolerance in relationships and various cultures. Her family background, and the cultural differences between her homeland and Great Britain influence her work a lot, giving it a recognizable touch and becoming her trademark.

She offers a unique view on the life cycle of a young woman born in Africa, according to local customs and education system, later searching for happiness and success in the great, big world, and ultimately her marriage, where she realizes it all comes down to people and their souls, regardless of their geographical position or cultural herritage. You are either a decent human being, or you are not. The beginning of Eva’s marital story enfuriated me, because abuse is simply intolerable in my mind, but it is shocking how often we still come across it and how widespread it still is.

The story of Eva is dramatic. What I particularly like about the author’s position is that Molly Gambiza, although having empathy and sympathy for her character, tells the tale without forcing the reader to empathize, without begging for sympathy or cajoling us into compassion. She merely states the facts as they come to Eva, and the way Eva experiences and interprets them. She builds her characters as life happens, no mercy and no delays. Although the timeline might profit from some tweaking, and there is more telling than showing at times, as far as the author’s style is concerned, this book shows obvious progress in the writing craft from True Colours, another important social message by the same author. The language here is brutally stripped of all lyrical beauty for the single purpose of telling a tragically shocking tale of male-female inequality, nurtured by centuries of  tradition and  biggotry, which ignores changes in life and times. What paints the language into a particular style are the colourful expressions, often translated into English from the author’s African vernacular. It will be interesting to see how Molly Gambiza further develops her stories, characters and style. 

The value of Woman’s Weakness lies in the reality of the story (sad, but true), as well as the believable characters, all of them, from the sleezy ex-wife and gossipy neighbours, to the stern parents, the horrendous mother-in-law, and the abusive, misguided husband. Whether Molly Gambiza has witnessed some of these scenes herself, or merely met people like her characters, is irrelevant. Why she tells her stories is what matters, and I am sure her readers will recognize the value and message, and learn a lot from her stories. Molly Gambiza shows us that the woman’s need to be loved can be her weakness. But she also lets us know that love, when it is true, is not a weakness, but strength, and that you need to respect and love yourself, first and foremost, not clinging to others for evidence of self-worth. Because whatever we are and do, that is what we teach our children.

Sadly, I know women whose weakness remained their weakness, and destroyed their lives, and the lives of their children. Perhaps if they had read stories like this one, they would have discovered some inner strength and recognized their own value, and the true impact of their decisions. We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to be ourselves.

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IS KINDNESS OVERRATED? – guest post by Elizabeth Moore

Sharing her own life story and thoughts on kindness, author Elizabeth Moore is here today. Read more about Elizabeth below her story. Thank you very much, Elizabeth!

Is Kindness Overrated?

By E. C. Moore

I suppose I could say kindness is overrated, if I were speaking about the sort of false humanity masquerading as kindness these days, especially on the Internet. So many causes, so many tragedies, so many sad stories greet us on any given day, and all that is required is a click of the LIKE button to show empathy. We sympathized—as easy as that. No need to do anything more.

But, I’ve been the beneficiary of true kindness enough times to recognize true kindness when I see it. Clicking a button to show sympathy doesn’t begin to meet the requirement. Good deeds, whether small or large, entail personal commitment. And let’s face facts, personal commitment is being replaced by virtual exchanges that require little more than a few hastily-typed words of compassion in response to adversity and need. End of story. Moving right along to the next post…why, just look at that adorable baby animal photo, how good it feels to put that unpleasantness behind!

I married too young. We eloped. My brand-new husband had just dropped me off on his way to work. As I lugged my heavy suitcase down the hallway to our newly-rented, partially furnished apartment, I met the woman from the across the hall. She introduced herself and began to bombard me with endless questions. When she learned that one so young (I was eighteen but looked even younger) had just gotten married, she placed one hand over her heart and said, “I ran away to get married too. It won’t be easy you know.” I had already come to that conclusion on my own, and it hurt to hear it spoken aloud. When she finally said goodbye I unlocked the door and hurried inside.

The kitchen was tiny. I opened the refrigerator and pondered the cold empty shelves. I’d never had a bank account and didn’t have a penny to my name. My new husband would be my sole source of income. My stomach churned.

I hurried to the bathroom, and after I had finished using the facilities I realized there was no toilet paper. There were no towels, no shampoo, no sheets on the bed, no staples, no pots and pans, no silverware! My heart pounded wildly as a question screamed through my panic-stricken mind. How would we be able to afford the necessities needed to set up housekeeping?

A knock came at the door. Through the peephole, I saw the familiar face of the woman from across the hall. What a relief!

She rushed in and set a big box down on the dinette table. “You’ll need all this and more,” the kind-hearted woman told me, “Look inside.” I opened the flaps and began to pull out various items: a sauce pan, fryer and stock pot, salt and pepper shakers, spatulas and wooden spoons, dishtowels, potholders, plastic canisters, measuring cups and spoons, a nesting set of mixing bowls, four dinner plates, miss-matched mugs, silverware, and a dog-eared copy of The Joy of Cooking. I can’t remember what I said. I’m positive I didn’t express the gratitude I felt and she deserved. Overcome by her generosity, my response was inadequate at best.

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Three years later. We had just purchased a house of our own, it wasn’t located where we wanted to live but the place was affordable and we planned to fix it up and sell. After two days suffering fevers from a terrible flu that had sent the two of us and our small son to our bed, I woke up feeling much better and ravenous, as I was eight months pregnant. It was just after eight o’clock at night. The cupboards were bare, so I told my husband I was taking our son out to pick up some wonton soup from the drive-thru Chinese place. I hopped in our pick-up truck and took off. It was then that I realized how light-headed I felt. As I made my way down the wide boulevard the truck began to sputter and I ran out of gas, just managing to pull over to the side of the road across the street from a huge city park. This was in the age before cell phones. I had better find a pay phone.

I held my tiny son’s hand as we approached a cluster of buildings. No phone in sight. A group of men played basketball. One, sitting on the sidelines called out, “Hey, pregnant wonder, what are you doing here?”

“Is there a pay phone nearby?” I squeaked.

“You in trouble?” another voice rang out from behind me. I whirled around to see a big, scary looking man. The sight of him frightened me and I promptly snatched up my son.

“I think she’s lost,” the one from the sidelines called.

The big man squinted. “You lost, cupcake?” he growled, proceeding too close for comfort, so close I could smell the alcohol on his breath.

Another voice rang out, this one female. “There you are!” she cried. I flinched when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. “Let’s get out of here,” she said as she gave me a slight push. I followed the woman with the long hair across the lawn and towards the boulevard. “What are you doing out here?” she asked.

I relayed my story in her VW bus as she drove me to her house. I watched her fetch a spouted can from the side of the garage. Once we returned to my truck and she poured enough gas in my tank to get me to a station, she insisted on following me there. “Drive straight home,” she said once my tank was full, “This town is full of assholes and perverts. I’m getting out ASAP, going back to Arizona, just as soon as I save up enough money. Don’t you know you shouldn’t venture out at night? Ever!” I can’t remember what I said. I’m positive I didn’t express the gratitude I felt and she deserved. Overcome by her generosity, my response was inadequate at best.

These are but only two accounts of kindness from strangers, friends and loved ones I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from. The list of kind people I’ve encountered is too long to clog up Anita’s blog. I do my best to “pay it forward” whenever possible. When the elderly woman in line in front of me at the market doesn’t have enough to pay for her cabbage and onions, I kick in the extra eighty cents. When a friend’s brother finds out he has a brain tumor and needs money to come back home, I donate what I can spare. It’s not always about money though—the giving of our time is usually the greatest gift.

If someone tells you kindness is overrated, how will you respond?

About the author

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EC Moore is the author of INCURABLE, to be released by Booktrope Publishing July 2015. When Elizabeth’s not writing feverishly, you will find her out walking or sightseeing. She’s crazy about coffee, books, cooking, good wine, cairn terriers, miniature ponies, historical houses, tapas, and witty people.

She resides in a fifties bungalow in Southern California, with her creative-director husband, a yappy blonde dog, and one feisty Chihuahua.

E. C. Moore’s website
E.C. Moore on Amazon

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Enough

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He left…

The day was going just like any other day, except it was my birthday. My 55th, go figure! He didn’t remember. Not that I expected him to; in the 38 years we’ve been together, I’d grown accustomed to being ignored, abused and insulted in every possible way, so much so that it came to me just as natural as breathing.

I was so ridiculously young when we met, and so abandoned by my father… Pete was just ruggedly handsome, masking his cruelty as being protective. And I bought into it, as naively as you buy a lottery ticket along with a million other human sheep, expecting to win the big bucks and live happily ever after. And I wasn’t even going for the riches; just the happily ever after mattered. And when I didn’t get it, I blamed myself. And I hid it. From everybody. All the time.

Thousands of insults, regular bruising and cuts, four children, two miscarriages and six grandchildren later… and I have finally come to my senses. And all it took was a kid, a seven-year-old kid with my enormous patience, his grandpa’s eyes and the beautiful smile provided by our daughter, his mother. The boy had called just before lunch to say ‘happy birthday, granny’ and asked me what grandpa had gotten me. When I said ‘nothing’, my grandson asked a simple question: ‘Why?’

‘Why indeed,’ I thought.

I looked at Pete. I was trying to remember what I loved about him. I couldn’t. I knew there had been something, but it seemed a lifetime ago, and the memory had long faded. I didn’t blame him. I simply couldn’t. I should have said ‘no’ 38 years ago. I should have left during any of those 38 years. But it was enough now.

‘I don’t want to live with you any more,’ I said calmly.

He was devouring his food and wasn’t sure he heard me right from all the chewing, so I repeated my words in the same tone.

He looked at me. He seemed surprised. Then angry. Then disgusted. He just pushed his plate away, kicked his chair back and left outside by the back door.

I knew he’d be back, but I didn’t really care.

I stood up, left the food on the table and put on my shoes. I  took my bag and put on my jacket. I left our house by the front door. I didn’t look back. I wasn’t going to.

I left.

(PS: any similarity to real people is purely coincidental. The story is purely fictional. At least I think so;)

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