Albatross

There are no villains and no heroes, only people caught in a pivotal moment of their existence. Nothing is absolute, no one is only good or entirely evil. One’s life course can be deviated in an instant, and choices are often made instinctively, unconsciously, not only rationally, under socially acceptable terms. Imperfect, damaged characters struggle with their duality and evolution. Their reactions are the product of violence, physical and emotional abuse, neurosis, depression, but also of love, hope and melancholy. Fear is what they all have in common. Continue reading “Albatross”

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Some Stories Have to Be Told

Idea notebooks, random scribbling on post-its, notes on your phone, various drafts on your computer… if you’re anything like me – that is, if you enjoy writing – then you’ve probably accumulated all of them. I’m not as bad as it sounds, really…. It’s a neat mess I’m talking about here, I know where everything goes. I also know which nonsensical drafts/ideas might stand a chance to become something more, so I keep them… sometimes for years.

Sometimes I might have a story clearly shaped in my mind, yet the words just don’t flow. I’ll give it a try and if that doesn’t work, I’ll drop it until a later time, when I feel like I have to write it, and the words flow. That being said, I had a draft containing no more than one paragraph I’d written several years ago, yet I just couldn’t get myself to continue it. Once in a while I’d think of it, but nothing, even if I knew what story I wanted to write. That is, nothing until last year, when I finally felt the time had come for that particular story to be told. And it was not only the time for it, but also for a few others I had floating in my mind, notes about them in my idea notebook, secretly hoping to put them together in the one book.

Some stories need to be told…. and they’re not always the pretty ones.

This is how Albatross came to be.

My writing has never really been about pink clouds, sweet unicorns and happy endings, but these six short stories are very different from my previous attempts. They are about the darkness that resides within every one of us, that darkness which surfaces unexpectedly, at significant moments and during mundane, average acts alike. But who’s to judge it, when subjectivity rules the soul, when light and darkness are often interchangeable, depending on one’s perspective, when that delicate balance is also part of what makes us human, whether we like it or not?

In a nutshell, that is what I tried to mirror in Albatross. Beauty and darkness coexist and can even manifest themselves at the same time. I’ve never been a fan of trying to sweep life’s ugliness under the rug, either in literature or in one’s real existence. Trying to focus on the positive, being appreciative and making the best of one’s opportunities does not translate in ignoring the negative and closing our eyes in front of tragedy. Accepting, acknowledging and trying to understand darkness is how we learn, how we survive and how we manage to improve.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I would do with this set of stories, whether I would feel comfortable publishing them or not. What I knew was that I wanted to write them; I would decide whether I felt like sharing them or not once I was done writing them. So here we are… I eventually managed to finish the manuscript earlier this year and decided to publish it as an indie author, the same way I did with my two other books. Now that everything is finished, I can and I will share more details about my most recent writing accomplishment.

Well, now you know. As I have recently mentioned, this is why I haven’t been paying too much attention to my blog. Anyway, I will share more details and fragments from all the stories, in case you are curious. I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

Self-Publishing Decisions…

Since I opted for self-publishing several people have asked me if my books were available on Amazon as well. My answer has invariably been that they weren’t, but I was considering the option. Yes, I was occasionally considering it… most of the time, I was reconsidering considering it. For many reasons, it hadn’t been my first choice – I preferred having complete freedom over pricing options, scheduling giveaways as often and for as long as I chose etc. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Decisions…”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Driving Regina (Fragment)

Damn it, it’s all his fault… But the person Regina had in mind in her state of shock was not the driver of that other car. Now I won’t get to see him again, not this night… Or will I? An idea occurred to the woman as her trembling fingers were fishing for her work phone in the purse on the seat on her right. Involved in an accident on my way to your place. Need you. Pls. This should get him to come over and see her… Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Driving Regina (Fragment)”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina Gets Engaged (Fragment)

Like any other long-term couple, they had discussed marriage. The fact that they had spent more time apart than together, bickering and disparaging each other was generally an irrelevant matter to both of them. They’d swear to never reconcile again, professing their mutual loathing and would occasionally yell out their indifference in hurtful, offending words. But everything would be forgiven and forgotten in a few weeks, when they’d be back together again. Behaving as though nothing had happened came naturally to both of them. Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina Gets Engaged (Fragment)”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and the Nice Guy (Fragment)

It was a particularly beautiful summer when they met, one filled with sweet poetry of hope and unrequited dreams, when the remains of old loves become the seeds of new ones and the magic of a sunset can make everything seem possible… even for a beautiful, intelligent and independent young woman like Regina to fall in love with a Nice Guy like him. Tall, with deep, dreaming blue eyes and a kind smile, elegant in his middle management suit, he couldn’t resist consoling Regina right after she presented her resignation two days into the trial period for a new job. Who could have resisted those beautiful doe eyes of hers, mystified by tears of despair she was trying so hard to stop from rolling down her pale, silky cheeks? Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and the Nice Guy (Fragment)”

Same Place, Different Angle

I’ve been here before. I walked up and down these streets several times. But something would always come up and I could only see the castle from afar. Like this.

Or like this.

But this time, everything was only up to me… I could finally see the other side of the walls…

… and the view that unfolded.

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Place in the World.

Glass Slippers an Stilettos – Regina Experiments (Fragment)

Eeeh! That hurt! The high-pitched moan escaped her lips as soon as the woman in a white uniform removed the first strip of wax. It’ll be worth it! Pain followed by pleasure, it’s always worth it, she had to remind herself. As the wax touched her skin again and again, she felt the need to congratulate herself on the wise decision of taking the day off. She needed a few hours of pampering before the big trip, a reprieve from all the stress, so she could get ready to fully enjoy the weekend’s pleasures. But time was also required to clear her mind and figure out the optimal plan, that perfect balance between delectable debauchery and worthwhile, career-oriented depravity. Experience had taught her men were more open and supportive of her cause in an intimate environment and she was relying on this opportunity to reacquaint herself with an old friend. Continue reading “Glass Slippers an Stilettos – Regina Experiments (Fragment)”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and Selective Memory (Fragment)

It starts off light, little things here and there, which only make you believe she is simply a more forgetful person than others. An assignment not carried out in time leads way to an almost hysterical reaction as she is blaming everybody for not telling her she was the one supposed to do it. Nobody can possibly imagine she would react that way if indeed she had known and forgotten about it. That is, until the situation becomes a recurrent event… because she does indeed forget, she forgets she was told in the first place, then she forgets having forgotten. Therefore it never happened. Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and Selective Memory (Fragment)”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Belated Introduction (Fragment)

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She is friendlier than anybody would have expected a pretty girl to know how to be. She is incredibly hardworking, even when she doesn’t really do anything right. But most importantly, she is so deliciously vulnerable. The one everybody expected to be so smug and conceited is actually so surprisingly modest and demurred, even insecure at times, her big eyes filling with tears when she does something wrong. So nobody can resist helping her, nobody can bring themselves to criticize her, thus risking to cover that delicate doll face of hers with a dark shadow of regret, insecurity and fear. It’s ok, don’t worry, we’ll fix this…. No, no, no, it’s not your fault, you’ll learn, we all make mistakes, especially early on. Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Belated Introduction (Fragment)”

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and Separate Beds (Fragment)

Alone once more, with nobody to share her tragedy, having to face and accept the separate beds situation, Regina also has to accept taunting memories that refuse to stay selectively lost. Inconsiderate has no knowledge of it, but when initially leaving her for not being appealing enough, he became an influential factor in Regina’s evolution. Non-revealing, somewhat blend, often boring outfits used to be her signature style. That’s how you get a husband, she had been taught; she was also quite sure her mere existence would be reason enough for any man to reach ecstasy. On top of everything else, she had the upper hand, she looked the part of the moral compass she believed herself to be, thus feeling entitled to pass judgement on any other woman. Continue reading “Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and Separate Beds (Fragment)”

Awakening

In a way, spring snuck up on me this year… Perhaps it’s because of all that snow and cold weather in March. Perhaps I was simply not paying attention. I don’t know, I’m just doing my best not to overanalyse; instead, I’m trying to enjoy the sun, the pretty flowers, the amazing way in which nature is blossoming once more.

Like I said, I’m trying… But is it just me who feels like just the other day we were celebrating New Year’s, focusing on that particular new beginning?… Sure, I can account for all these months, but it feels like time just flew by too fast.

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In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Awakening.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 105

It was her way of saying a final goodbye to the man who could no longer bear her independent attitude and her refusal to hide the fact that she was doing better than him. Amalia had been there for the beginning of each of his projects, yet she could never bring herself to see them through next to him, because the woman knew he was no longer able to succeed. The man who constantly failed was not the one she wanted, the same way as he could not tolerate the woman who constantly competed with him in every respect and kept not only winning, but also thoroughly enjoying her victories over him. For one final afternoon, they could honour each other and their past with the petty honesty they deserved.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 104

The spell had broken the moment the scent of his skin stopped having an intoxicating effect on her senses. They were not a perfect match anymore, either chemical or rational; and now material things started to matter, as she couldn’t stop thinking about his shoes, that embarrassing symbol of his constant failure. She wanted a man who could earn and keep her respect, one she would feel proud to have in her life, not the weak shadow of such an individual making her feel ashamed of him. She was neither ready, nor able to submit to Adam and give up all she thought she deserved, she was still too young, too stubborn and too strong for that; she was not yet able to give up any faint hope for the slight possibility of success, happiness, power or glamour in favour of certain dull shabbiness next to him.

It was very likely for her to end up like him, to fail just as miserably – she was aware of it – but there was still a shred of hope for a better existence as long as she didn’t stop, as long as she didn’t tie herself to him. Settling is one thing, self-inflicted humiliation is something completely different.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 103

Robert’s words began to echo in her head – everything would be so much easier with a man next to you. But would it? Of course, so many of the current problems would find a solution, but how about the new ones? Why doesn’t anybody seem to consider the new problems such an attachment would generate? Living in a society that values the couple as foundation of a woman’s life imposes a variety of unpleasant side-effects even on the most determined independent women, one of them consisting in the occasional doubts and uncertainty regarding their lifestyle. Amalia was familiar with all of them, accepting that denying such aspects only complicates the problem, whereas questioning a decision doesn’t imply it was a wrong choice in the first place, it can actually reassert its validity.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

I’d Rather Be… Leaving

Sometimes it’s Paris or Madrid… sometimes it’s a snowy mountain peak… and sometimes it’s hiding in my car in a supermarket parking. Escape is escape, no matter where it takes you, and there’s a very thin line between exquisite and dreadful.

I’d rather be anywhere but here… Everybody has thought it and felt it at least on a few occasions, I’m sure. But sometimes the need to run becomes a constant, the fuel and reason behind one’s actions, when time gets divided in small, painful increments between escapes. It’s exactly these moments away that keep you sane, that give you the strength to bear that exasperating “everyday” and if escape plans fall apart, despair, depression, anger and frustration bubble up uncontrollably.

There was this large bag the contents of which I occasionally liked to spread all over the living room rug when I was a child, much to my grandmother’s exasperation. Postcards and stationary from countless hotels in what then seemed surreal exotic places were more amazing to me than fairy tales. I never wanted to be a princess and fairy tales weren’t real, even if I enjoyed many of them. But untouchable as they might have seemed, those places were real, and my mother had seen them all. The mere idea of it made her seem untouchable as well. Travelling wasn’t as accessible back then as it is nowadays, so that collection of postcards representing places she had seen was quite an achievement. An exciting, yet frightening achievement… I wanted to grow up and go see such beautiful places as well, I remember; I also remember having no clue as to how I would manage such an extraordinary thing. Grand things are in even greater in a child’s eyes.

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I have a postcard collection of my own now. I travelled because I loved to, I wanted to see all those places. I travelled because at times I felt I had no choice. But I also travelled because for a number of years I felt I had to be anywhere but home in order to be alive. No matter where you are, who you are and what you have, it’s all worthless, I was raised to believe; everything that’s truly valuable is that which you have yet to conquer; once you’ve conquered it, it becomes worthless and you need to move on to something greater, or at least new. Only weak people savour that which they have and they’re happy with their existences, I was taught.

Thinking back, I don’t regret taking any of those trips, not even the horrible ones. But eventually I had to understand the real reasons behind my need to leave, so that I could allow myself to feel accomplished and content with what my life is when I stay. There was a time when “home” had nothing for me and I was right to want to run; that attitude was no longer appropriate after a certain point, wanting to leave everything behind was no longer only a token of ambition. Instead, whether I liked it or not, I had to admit that learning to find joy in my everyday life was not a sign of weakness. And I liked it, even if it wasn’t easy… It was certainly better than constant dissatisfaction.

Some trips weren’t really for me, much as I tried to believe otherwise; they were journeys taken to gain approval I would never really gain. Other trips I haven’t taken in order to comply with somebody’s expectations and image of the person I should be… an image that would never be me. The rest… the rest of them were all about me and where I wanted to be, what I needed, and that’s the kind of travelling that I wish to be doing from now on.

Nurture is not everything; there’s also nature… my nature. And by nature, I am a restless, ambitious person, who often gets bored too easily. I can accept that, the same way that I can accept the fact that early summer, and sometimes early spring as well, make me giddy with that familiar desire… I want to get in my car or on a plane and keep going, not looking back. I love that impulse, it generally makes me feel alive, if it stems mainly in the need to travel, not to run away. That’s not a bad thing; it’s not necessarily a good one either, I remember.

I also remember something else I could no longer deny after a certain point… We desperately need to escape sometimes; what we tend to ignore or forget when we plot our escape is that there are some people who love us and whose desperate need is to be with us, when all we think about is running away…

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 102

It was a sign of weakness to complain about your problems, the fact that you weren’t doing well reflected poorly on you. That was the long, dreary shadow of failure and Amalia dreaded seeing Adam exactly because she feared he would see right through the paper-thin façade she had so cleverly crafted. But meeting him the previous day settled her competitive spirit – his façade was even more transparent than hers, disintegrating that hyperbolic mirage generated by imagination when you interrupt all connections with a person, when you refuse to inquire about them, but once in a while you still think of them as a landmark, a relevant moment of your existence.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Wordless Stories

Amazing beauty and incredible depth can be found in some of the wordless stories shared by objects…

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In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Story.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 101

Amalia’s rage triggered tirade against Robert was a flood of mixed ideas and furious regrets about the one she had considered a friend, yet who showed no compassion when she needed it from him. He was taken aback both by his reaction to her initial sadness and by her violent response, although the moment the room became silent, he began to perceive the magnitude of what had just happened. For the first time ever, he raised his voice at her, a thing that was so common when dealing with his wife; never had he thought of reacting that way towards Amalia. And never before had she managed or even tried to reduce him to nothing in a matter of seconds.

Instinctive and impulsive as her reaction may have been, it was the right one in relation to a man who devoured women if they proved to be weaker than he was, belittling and controlling them, the same way he had always done in his wife’s case. The shift in what Robert meant to Amalia happened in an imperceptible instant – it was no longer a rapport based on reciprocity and equality, on mutual understanding, acceptance and respect. It was now a matter of dominance.

“No, I’m not the one to talk…” His discrete admission of guilt in the deafening silence established her victory – victory she neither needed, nor looked for, an exhausting and saddening victory which was no more than yet another loss, when what she needed was a friendly face, some understanding and comfort, even if only for a few minutes.

“No, you’re not. But I am the one to leave. And next time you need someone to deal with your neurosis, inferiority complex and endless emotional and material failures, try your wife or your conceited friends; or even the hobo on the street, because I am no longer available to you for anything of the sort.” If he wanted her cold, Amalia knew she was perfectly able to freeze him out, although it pained her to do so after all those years and all they shared.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Read an Ebook Week

The annual Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week promotion kicks off this Sunday, March 4th, and runs through end of day, March 10th.

Each year, tens of thousands of Smashwords authors, publishers and readers participate in this global ebook celebration, which offers FREE and deep-discounted ebooks.

When the promotion goes live on Sunday, you’ll find the promotional catalogue on the Smashwords home page. The special home page catalogue enables readers to browse by coupon discount and filter by category, bestseller status, word count and multiple other factors.

Go ahead and have a look, especially if you support indie writers. You never know what little gem you may find, your new favourite book could be waiting for you. We can never have too many books… and what wonderful early spring gifts they make 😉 .

Enjoy!

You can download Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos for free during Read an Ebook Week using the following links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 100

Victor was quiet that night; and when he was watching her reflection in the mirror while she was slowly removing her makeup and brushing her hair – the way he had done every evening after her arrival – he looked old. With the odd angle and the cruel light accentuating his dark circles, he appeared the image of a man in mourning. And after all, wasn’t he? Was he not facing the need of accepting that another piece of the mirage he had created in his mind had died that evening?

Amalia looked at him, wishing he would fool around the way he had done the previous days, playing with her makeup, asking advice about a new haircut, inevitably stopping to hug and kiss her, or just lean his head on her shoulder, standing behind her, greedily looking at the reflected image of the two of them. We do look good together, don’t we? Of course we do, he would say, falling prey to the same vanity that often controlled Amalia.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂