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. Continue reading “Some Stories Have to Be Told”

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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)”

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…”

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. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 99

Victor’s mother sighed, sipping her coffee.

“I think I would’ve been a lot like you, had I been born in different times. I envy the freedom you, young women, have these days. Back then, I was among the lucky few, I was allowed an education, my family was supportive of it, and I was also blessed with a kind, intelligent and hardworking husband. And now it’s too late to change; besides, I like the way it turned out for me. In a way some things were better, more straightforward then – women were women and men were men, they each had their roles and everybody knew where they stood. You have it so great and so rough these days… you basically need to be perfect from so many points of view, you need to cover so many areas in order to be accomplished women. That’s what I really envy about you, not only your freedom, but the fact that you’ve managed to cover so many aspects already, to stand on your own, to do and experience so many things all by yourself. You see, I could never manage without my family, the same way they couldn’t manage without me.”

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. 🙂

Valentine’s Day…

 

“I want someone to laugh with me, someone to be grave with me, someone to please me and help my discrimination with his or her own remark, and at times, no doubt, to admire my acuteness and penetration.”

Robert Burns

Sometimes, it’s “Swan Lake” and dinner at a nice, romantic restaurant… sometimes, it’s beautiful red roses and phone calls, because everyday life doesn’t take a break for special occasions… and other times, it’s nothing but disappointment and frustration. Like many other socially branded times of celebration, the controversial Valentine’s Day will do that to us. Or… really… let’s be honest… we do that to ourselves.

It may not be my favourite holiday, but I’ve made peace with Valentine’s Day many years ago. Call me jaded, call me old, but I couldn’t have a meltdown because of it, even if I tried. And that’s mostly because I am who I am, I like what I like, and I honestly don’t care if those around me approve of it or not. I no longer try to adjust my expectations in order to fit their needs, nor do I feel guilty when I’m labelled as “spoilt” just because I want to be treated in a certain way. I get to choose who is close to me. We all do. We all should. Part of this choice is being aware that there are persons willing to offer me what I want, people who wish to make me feel special… people for whom I want to do the same.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again many times – celebrating a loved one, a relationship, showing them how important they are, can be so fulfilling. Perhaps some people are able to do that each and every day. Personally, I often drown in everyday nonsense and I generally need those pre-set occasions to shake everything up. I like thinking ahead, I look forward to birthdays, anniversaries and holidays and I have great fun getting and preparing all sorts of things for the ones I love, even months before any of these occasions. I once had two years’ worth of gifts for my mother, that should say it all. That’s also part of who I am, together with my expectations.

Yes, I like flowers – no heart shaped knickknacks, no cutsy teddy bears or other plush toys, no, thank you. It’s not that I need someone to buy them for me; I don’t mind getting them myself, if I need some cheering up. But I want somebody who cares enough to offer me flowers, just to make me smile, just because that’s what I like, and that’s important to them, even when it might not be their favourite activity. It’s about being offered what I want, not what somebody thinks I should want. I’ve learnt that such people exist. I’ve learnt that I’m also willing to compromise and make these people happy. These are the persons I want in my life, not the ones I need to change, not the ones who want to change me. They are the ones I think of when it comes to celebrating love.

Undeniably, I like the romantic side of the holiday. There’s something so adorable about watching a man get all dressed up for a date with me (even after being together for years), struggling to pick the right tie, the same way I struggle with choosing the perfect shoes. It’s fun to see him happy and elegant, impatiently waiting for a compliment, inevitably choosing to wear one of the ties and the cologne I gave him on some previous occasion. I know that at some point, he’s going to move his wrist just to make me notice he’s wearing my favourite watch as well. All these are small, irrelevant matters in the grand scheme of things. Yet it’s small, happy, fun moments together that make up the good part of life, the one that keeps one going through all the murky, unbearable times.

But this scenario is not always an option, and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s also not the end of the world when it doesn’t happen. As I’m listening to Bon Jovi, enjoying the red roses I received earlier and the delicious pralines I offered myself (first and foremost, I love myself), I’m thinking that a nice dose of realism is absolutely necessary on Valentine’s Day. A date on Valentine’s Day doesn’t guarantee love, nor does it reflect a person’s worth. Knowing what we need from others and from ourselves, seeing the value of who we are, celebrating it and those we love (be they a partner, a friend, a relative, the self) might be more important.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Find a little something that gives you pleasure and treat yourselves to it… or share it with somebody important to you.

Home

I take a left and there it is, vast, deep, seemingly endless, stretching under my eyes – the sea. I love to travel, but I have a small ritual whenever I return. I have to see the sea, as soon as possible. Trite as it may sound, it’s reassuring. It’s calming. It’s home… and there is a certain kind of safety and security in knowing you are tethered to a place, no matter how much of a wonderer you may be.

I wasn’t born here, but this is my place, my home. It adopted me from the moment I decided I would move here… or perhaps I adopted it, with all its beauty and flaws. First I would always say, “I live here… for now.” The idea of committing to a place for more than a few years seemed restricting, stifling, boring… Then I finally accepted what was already my reality – this place had become a part of me, and that was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a relief. I could allow myself to wonder and still have a safe place where I could come back. I could say, “I live here. This is my home.” I also knew that didn’t mean it had to be forever. One can’t really tell what the future holds…

Like me, it’s far from perfect. It doesn’t have the most impressive architecture. It could have more parks, more museums, more theatres… But it does have the sea… and when coming home, it’s always comforting to breathe in the salty air, to hear the seagulls and feel that annoying humid breeze mess up my hair.

Then there’s the atmosphere… This is by far my favourite region of the country. I could see myself living in another country; I could also see myself living here for the rest of my life; but I cannot see myself living in another corner of this country. Kind is not one of the first words that come to mind when describing the people here, not as a society. Neither is empathetic. Real? Yes, definitely. Self-centred, fun loving, often materialistic, certainly more open-minded than in other parts of the country, dark and incredibly bright at the same time, that’s them. But what I like most is that on the whole, they don’t pretend to be a much nicer group than they are; on the contrary, they take pride in their identity. This is why I felt I could fit in from the very first moment. One often needs to be rude, loud and pushy first, only to be able to create a context where one can then be polite, decent and respected. Otherwise there’s a good chance one will be devoured or at least stepped all over from the very beginning.

The question is, will I always feel the same way? Slowing down is rarely an option, there’s a constant sensation that you need to catch up, no matter how hard you’re trying. And it’s not only me or those here coming from other parts of the country. I’ve seen it in everybody; some don’t bother to hide it, others go to extreme lengths to do so. Regardless, there’s a constant drive to keep up with someone or something, no matter who or what you are.

So exactly what you love the most can become exhausting. Infuriating. Frustrating. It’s like that with people, it’s like that with places… That’s when I most need the vastness of the sea, the perspective it provides.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 98

Meaningless, harmless flirting was a long forgotten pleasure for Amalia, she had become so used to being aggressive with the men she wanted; and the men she wanted were normally guys who went straight for what they desired. The game, the chase were greatly appreciated stages in her flirting scheme and even in relationships, but nobody pretended to be innocent, nor was there ever a word uttered without a double meaning. That was exactly what she liked, she desired exactly the type of man who could engage in such a dance with her. Yet Amalia couldn’t deny the appeal of Victor’s way, he was reminiscent of a time in her life when she still had hope and she could still believe in the beauty of simple things, so she decided not to even try to resist him and his ways. The time spent with him would be a holiday from herself.

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. 🙂