Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 84

The brisk air and the slight noise the motion of the waves propagated in the winter night impressed their awakening effect on the senses, making urges grow stronger, feelings and thoughts becoming almost palpable in the shallow obscurity of the seashore. Possibilities and desires are the only relevant matters at such a time, especially if one manages to overcome doubts and anxiety. Amalia finally felt like she could breathe the salty air and appreciate the company of the man next to her, tearing herself apart from all comparisons, from past and future, from her own judgemental ideas, values and expectations, and just let the course of events determine her state of mind. Some young women are all too aware of the futility of their charms and of the steep, degrading passage of time, so they find the strength and the ability to break apart from the world and simply enjoy the euphoria one experiences when a man they somewhat value becomes their sweet victim, even in such instances when feelings are not mutual.

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 83

People hide from the truth in the most intriguing and senseless corners of their mind. Paul was one of those perfectly able to deny any of the facts his soul and character were not able to bear, avoiding coping with so many things that might have to change his vision of life. He would hold on to some statement or idea, acting as though that was what conferred it a value of truth, refusing to assimilate anything that might compromise the vision that kept him going. Yet he openly accepted Amalia, somewhat aware that she would most likely shake all his beliefs to the core, some perverted, masochistic side of his ego indulging in the anticipation of the coming struggle.

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 82

Such different people, such different concepts, Amalia stopped to ponder. On the one hand, you have a woman who is loved for who she is by her somewhat limited husband, but nobody expects her to have a mind, a life or an identity of her own outside the family; and she herself has no desire for such things. On the other hand, you have the wife of an intelligent, successful, worldly man, who has all the freedom she desires as long as she maintains the appearance of the proper marriage, simply because her husband couldn’t care less about her, as she is merely a commodity. Neither one of these situations is one to be desired by a woman, Amalia thought, and the saddest part is that theirs are actually two of the better marriages as far as the treatment of women is concerned.

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 81

Mounds of snow on either side of the road were threatening to roll over the car and suffocate them in their walking sleep. We’re awake, but we’re sleepwalking, otherwise I would feel so much more… But the man carefully manipulating the vehicle on the frozen snow appeared to experience an entire array of emotions, anything but lethargy.

The metal vehicle felt like a pleasant, warm and protective cocoon, offering shelter from the snow building up on either side of the road. Their warm breaths and the slow movement of the car were the almost magic foundation for illusory closeness. The man was obviously happy and nervous with incredulous hopes for their future, full of secret desire to shape an alternative universe just for him and her. His struggle was obvious, pleasing and heart-warming, yet incapable to call forth any deeper sentiment or attraction as far as his companion was concerned.

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 80

There were still hidden corners to Robert’s personality, his ability to pleasantly surprise a woman not being one of those traits easily noticeable about him. However rarely it might happen, certain men can create a much more special context simply because of the fact they present a certain value as human beings; timing moments when small gestures can make a split second seem pleasantly endless being one or their rare gifts.

Being proven wrong after having underestimated such a man can be one of the sweetest defeats a young woman might experience.

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 79

Some people are only meant to fill a void in someone’s existence; and that someone tends to generally be considered cold-hearted, selfish and abusive, when in fact most of us display the same type of behaviour, but more or less cleverly disguised under various pretexts and transparent, yet acceptable sentiments. As far as those people are concerned, they are mainly interchangeable. It’s not the individual that makes a difference and is actually appreciated, but the role they play, the tasks they carry out, the certain egocentric needs they might fulfil. In spite of them being generally nice, harmless people, they cannot offer anything more, they present the same shallow traits of character, no real personality of their own and an exceptional ability to accept and do anything without any matter of pride, as they generally have none. And ironically enough, if allowed to gravitate as harmless parasites around those selfish, cold-hearted, strong minded individuals, they tend to actually reach their full potential; whereas when they deal with their peers, they sink deeper and deeper in oblivion, laziness and narrow-mindedness, often becoming cruel torturers, virtual prison guards to those who decide to share a life with them.

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 78

She stands still, looking around, never moving, never changing. People leave. People change. New people always arrive, so they would take their turn leaving sooner or later. And they live and die, they experience a constant transformation. Yet she transcends stages of life without moving, because she cannot undertake the usual, normal human evolutionary path and follow it through the same ditches of failure and disappointment. So she stands still, most of the times alone, breathing steadily and sometimes stopping someone to keep her company, help her forget fear and loneliness and hatred… and just trying to live.

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 77

Paul avoided looking her in the eyes, just staring at the rug in the middle of the room. All he could see of her were the bare feet, the bright red nail polish on her toe nails contrasting with her skin, making him completely unable to focus on anything else. Those bare feet made it all so private, so intimate, he had intruded upon a part of her life that he had no idea about; and all he wanted was to see more of it, to intrude even more, to see her running around her apartment in her bare feet and her freshly washed hair dripping on her shoulders, not the way he normally saw her, on her high heels, with a proper hairdo.

Then the conflict finally struck him: he came there exactly because of the perfect hairdo, the high heels and the nicely matched outfits, that’s what weaved the spell in the first place; and now he had forgotten all about that, just wanting to conquer every little corner of that part of her life he hadn’t even thought about before. He didn’t know why he was there anymore, what he was hoping to accomplish, since she showed no feeling; annoyance was all that her face expressed from the moment she opened the door. So why? And what? And how? He started feeling as though he was chocking with fear and shame.

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 76

When Paul arrived only a couple of minutes later, Amalia had to wonder whether he hadn’t been in front of her building all along, even when he called her. She barely had time to put on a pair of old jeans and a pink sweater, her face still flushed from the hot bath, her damp hair hanging on her shoulders, emanating the sweet smell of conditioner. Her opening the door like that, looking so natural and her image unencumbered by makeup and carefully chosen outfits had a strong impact on Paul’s imagination and audacity.

Her voice sounded cold and distant when inviting him to have a seat and quickly tell her what his visit was about, and her pretty face was devoid of the usual warm, friendly smile. But Paul wasn’t observant enough to wonder if by any chance that image she put on was nothing more than the socially acceptable mask for such situations; all he knew was that his determination was fading away quickly and he wanted to run away, so her piercing eyes wouldn’t drill any more pits of shame and uncertainty into his soul.

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 75

Theirs was the kind of security that can only be reached when two persons have no deep feelings for one another, yet they still choose to be together, to share a common part of their lives and not to ask for more than the other one is willing to offer unconditionally. Neither one of them wanted to say it out loud, but they were both aware that things would most likely continue in a similar manner, unless some tremendously unexpected event broke their routine; and Robert was already at the age when he knew for a fact that there was no room and no tolerance for such an event in his life. However, Amalia was still a variable, not always reliable, not always understanding or understandable, with plans, dreams and a future of her own yet to build, so he would sometimes catch himself being restless when she wouldn’t answer his calls or reach him in any other way for a longer period of time.

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 74

“Last time I saw her, we went to a concert. It was winter, freezing cold, and the concert was outside. Guess what band was playing! I envy you, you’re still at that age, when you can bear the cold of a winter day in the mountains just to be close to a particular person, because that’s all you need to make your blood boil.”

“I am? Was I ever at that kind of an age?”

He wasn’t listening to her.

“Then we went back to her place. Her parents were home, but they were sleeping, so we could easily sneak in. We sat next to the heaters and drank hot tea to warm up, then we made love. For the last time, as it turned out. She was quiet, which left room to start telling her how I wanted to leave my wife and have her live with me. The only thing she did was point to a ring on her finger. She was engaged, she said. She was engaged, after having given me this speech about not believing in marriage; she was engaged, and he had only proposed to her once; the very same woman who had turned me down so many times…”

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 73

“My daughter saw me crying. For the first time. I don’t know if she was scared or just disoriented.”

Robert turned up the volume. The sound of old rock music, songs of his youth, songs of her early childhood, covered everything else, the noise of the street, the noise of her thoughts, the noise of his sadness.

“He died, did you hear about it?”

Yes, Amalia had heard. She nodded her head, as in a moment of silence for the departed. It’s strange how silent sound can be, she thought. Yes, she had heard, but she hadn’t paid too much attention to the piece of news until he seemed to make such a great deal of it. The lead singer of an old, local group had died the previous evening. All the news programmes were featuring their greatest hits, people were sending flowers to unknown places and to strange persons, trying to express their regret; but the fact that he died a natural death was probably what shocked everybody the most. She liked their music, but not enough to see the point in a nation dramatically mourning his death. He wasn’t exactly in his prime, she was about to reply sarcastically, but she bit her tongue and stopped just in time. It wasn’t about the death of the old rocker. Robert was mourning his own death, his own mortality, and this had brought it all to surface.

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 72

She relished having sex with him, it was always an escape, a brief pause from the world. For the first time, she could have sex with a man just for the sake of the satisfaction it would offer both of them, without any emotional drama, without any feelings, frustration or guilt. She liked having sex with him, because he wouldn’t judge, because he wanted sex to be nothing more than pleasure, the same way she did, and because he was able to offer her more pleasure than the ones before him had managed to.

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 71

“I’m so sorry… I know how important she was to you.”

The words and their emptiness reverberated against the white walls. White noise… That’s the best I can do. Because I can’t understand, I can’t feel anything like that. She finally tried to look him in the eyes. My words are false, I know that, but I can at least have enough respect for him and look at him while regurgitating empty words. He hadn’t moved, he was still staring at the written pages. Amalia looked at him carefully trying to penetrate the blank stare, and that’s when she noticed – tears were quietly and slowly rolling on his pale cheeks and dropping on the copybook, smudging off the ink. Without looking up, he reached his right hand and strongly gripped hers, as though he had to hold on to something, so he wouldn’t collapse on the floor.

“She just died.”

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 70

Other people’s emotions are often a burden, so one tends to avoid them as much as possible, one chooses to look the other way and to invoke various reasons that might account for an obvious change in their behaviour, since anything is better than acknowledging such situations, assimilating them and forcing oneself to live through such experiences together with another individual. We refuse other people our help not out of selfishness, but mostly out of a deeply rooted feeling of self-preservation. We know how to deal with our own pain, we can manage our own feelings, but any additional effort of the sort directed towards another person is likely to destroy the delicate balance of sanity that maintains our soul alive.

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. 🙂

Carol Balawyder’s “Mourning Has Broken”

Instead of sharing an image of a spectacularly dangerous corner of nature or of anything else around us that might suggest great peril, I’m stepping outside the confines of this week’s challenge. In fact, I’m dropping the “photo” part of the challenge altogether, and I’m focusing on the topic alone. Thus I would like to share a few thoughts on a book I’ve read recently, a book written by somebody you might already know from the blogging world. And yes, there is a connection… As I see it, one of the relevant dangers of being human and of allowing ourselves to experience the greatest joys of our nature is loss. Death is part of it – an unavoidable part of it. So we are all confronted with it and we have no choice but to learn how to deal it.

“Death is messy and often is accompanied with unfinished business. The leaving behind of everything and everyone you could possibly imagine. There is no way out of it.”

Carol BalawyderMourning Has Broken

Putting pain into words is one thing; putting those words in writing is another. But putting that writing out there, for everyone to access and interpret is an act of bravery. After reading Mourning Has Broken, one can only admire Carol Balawyder’s courage to share her experience with grief and loss.

I’ve read other books written by her, but this one touched me the most. Perhaps it’s the disarming honesty with which Carol writes about the pitfalls of dealing with death, loss and grief. Perhaps it’s the fact that everyone who has ever dealt with such issues can relate to the tone of the book and the emotions shared, if not also to some of the exact manifestations. Either way, a sense of gratefulness and respect builds up as one keeps reading – gratefulness for sharing and respect for the woman who has managed not only to work through incredible loss, but to also find hope and meaning in her experiences.

Grief is personal and there is no sure “recipe” for surviving it, and Carol’s book doesn’t try to give advice; but in trying to make sense of pointless, heart-breaking events, she does manage to cleverly insert a sense of hope. Somewhere, underneath all the pain, guilt and regret, there is strength – strength to move on, strength to remember, strength to hurt and fall apart, yet somehow continue living. The dead survive through the memories and feelings of the living, and allowing this connection to manifest itself once in a while is not only natural, but it can also be helpful, we are reminded. Memories of the past find embodiment in the present – a recipe, a book or a clothing item are not only a reminder, but a way to reconnect, to understand, to find peace.

There are numerous kinds of death and they never really find us prepared. What we know may seem useless, so we despair, but we also try and create our tools to help us deal with such situations. If nothing else, Carol’s book is a ray of hope from somebody who has survived and wakes up every day knowing she has to keep working at surviving. This is something that had to be said, Carol Balawyder’s fluent style convinces the reader – the same reader who gets a distinct feeling that the writer not only knows what she’s talking about, but has also thoroughly researched the matter, to facilitate the mourning process. The answers she found, she shares with us… and for that, we can only be thankful.

“Mourning, I realize, must come in small parcels. To realize the immensity of the loss at once would be too overwhelming and unbearable. It must be done in bits and pieces of dreams disappearing one sliver at a time.”

Carol Balawyder – Mourning Has Broken

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 69

Paul had indeed been very appropriate in all his actions towards her, but she knew what Robert meant about the way he looked at her. He was inclined to feel more than lust towards her, it was more than the attraction the married man feels towards the pretty woman next to him. He looked up to her and perceived her as his intellectual superior and the desire to be controlled and subjugated by such a person had a powerful effect on the inexperienced man. She instinctively avoided sharing such details with Robert; although all his questions had no bothering effect on her, knowing he was neither jealous, nor possessive, just merely perversely curious.

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 68

Stories about their past and present experiences with other people had become a very significant part of the relationship: he desperately needed to share them with a woman who would have a different view than that of admiration coming from his male friends. But he also found a perverted kind of delight in hearing about her own adventures, comparing himself with others on various levels, often not knowing whether he’d come out a winner or on a detrimental second place. So the image of the guy leaning on the car in front of her building would linger in Robert’s mind, curiously waiting to hear his story the following day, as soon as they would be comfortably settled in front of a cup of coffee.

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 67

New sensations become obsolete, jaded experiences with a phenomenal speed when the people involved are endowed with intelligence, culture and freedom, and are deprived of most judgemental features inflicted by narrow-mindedness. Flames and thrills need to be constantly maintained and fed. But nature does provide the possibility of balance, as the same people that experience boredom a lot faster than the rest will also be able to find ways of making pleasurable moments last the longest and they will extract the highest degree of fulfilment out of such endeavours.

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 66

She could see the fast burning flame about to disintegrate and take both of them down and she wasn’t naive enough in order not to separate shallow infatuation and sexual ecstasy from real feelings. Robert was allowing himself to be carried away by this new, odd and exciting woman in his life, but Amalia knew better than to leave to chance even the most remote possibility for real feelings to spark. There was something between the two of them, but it belonged on a different level; as situations and events untangled and intertwined their separate existences, they would both start to perceive they needed each other’s presence, but not mainly on a romantic level.

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 65

Life provides us with certain summers that can be blissfully filled with freedom and peace, open space and open souls, antithetical experiences that mark our memories, in spite of their mundane, insignificant character. Those are the summers we long for and those are the scarce moments of a particularly brief time in one’s life, which cannot be allowed to slip through our fingers unnoticed. Amalia was living such a summer, she was aware of it and its value, as she had planned it with desperate stubbornness.

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

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/1ac546fe-cc7e-480c-bba7-8c7f34c72830

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Lady by the River

Diversity is one of my favourite things about blogging. Different people, surprising people, interesting people, they all find a forum for their ideas. An unexpected email on a bright September day offered me the opportunity to be part of a project reflecting exactly this kind of beautiful diversity.

Would I be interested in writing something about perseverance or simply about overcoming a tough moment? Would I be willing to share a personal story on such a topic, Yvette wanted to know. (Many of you might already know Yvette Prior from our blogging community.) This is how it all started and nine authors from different countries, of different ages, with different beliefs and cultural backgrounds came together to write about one thing we all have in common – the need to overcome life’s hurdles.

Different as we all may be, we still have to find ways of coping with adversity – personalized ways, meant to suit our individual needs, abilities and character – and we did our best to share thoughts and experiences, hoping others may find them helpful. If nothing else, it is a good reminder that we are not alone. This is how Lady by the River came about, a book about perseverance and finding strength to move on towards (hopefully) the better days ahead.

We didn’t know what the others were going to share and to me, that was a good sign. We were talking a chance to be associated with people supporting ideas that might be contradictory to our own beliefs, but we were willing to accept them for who they were. Was I worried? Well… for a moment or two, I was. Yvette and I exchanged many emails and I started to feel the need to share a little fact about me. I was an atheist, I let her know, inquiring if that would be a problem. After all, many people rely on their respective faith to help them through difficult times and I knew Yvette was one of them. It may not be my way, but that doesn’t mean I have a problem with it. I was thrilled to see that we could find common ground exactly in our differences and what initially looked like a potential obstacle turned out to be one more reason to continue with this project.

The first rough draft brought a smile to my face and a sense of relief. Not only did I already know some of the authors, having read their blogs on various occasions, but our stories were indeed as different as I was hoping. Our voices, experiences and beliefs differ greatly, yet we share one common conviction: when we inevitably fall, it is up to us to find the strength to get up and keep moving, no matter how long we need to lie on the ground before we manage to do it. That strength may occasionally reside in the smallest of things, yet once we find it, we stand the chance to reach those pivotal moments of life. This is what we opened up about and shared with everybody.

Mark Bialczak shared about coping through divorce, death, and mounting setbacks. Mark shared his determination to stay anchored while humbly waiting for better opportunities. Mark also highlighted how timely companionship became part of his coping.

Mabel Kwong adeptly brought us along on her journey of self-discovery. She shared about how she has pushed on to pursue her writing passion while she also managed everyday responsibility, noting that we have “to stand up to live before we can sit down and create.”

Ana Linden highlighted societal masks, pain from putdowns, and reality acceptance as she shared about the past connecting with today. Ana’s sobering story reminds us that we don’t pick our bloodline, but we do pick our friends.

Jeffrey Simmons gave us a mix of prose and raw reflection about issues relating to race, faith, gender, and personal growth. Jeffrey shared culture rich contemplations and noted that his relationship with God filled his biggest void.

Mahesh Nair brought us along on his track “to get a hold of life” as he learned to let it be, live free, and accept others. Mahesh brought us picturesque places from his past, while sharing how he opened his mind to see humanity with a loving heart and learned what it means to let it be.

Chad Prior used fiction to illustrate that overcoming is successful with companionship, trust, and patience. He reminds us to at least try.

Sherri Matthews allowed us to travel continents with her as a mother, wife and writer while she found “fulfilment and contentment, despite our difficult circumstances.” Sherri has persevered over the years by enjoying small beauty and personal pleasures.

Kristen Rybandt shared about finding balance in an incongruent world, suggesting that humans often have a “perspective pendulum” and how she found that “gratitude is a wonderful tool for reshaping perspective.”

Yvette Prior shared self-care poems, which were written to the lady by the river, but also had messages for everyone. Using free verse poems, with thematic connections to some of the other chapters, she reminded us to neither accept apathy nor accept being done – because life has so much to offer.

The idea of this book was born from Yvette’s desire to offer support and perspective to someone dear to her, the lady by the river. But I believe it was the universality of the situation that appealed to all of us, motivating us to make an effort and tap into some difficult memories and life experiences. This is how I ended up contributing to the creation of a self-help book, or a wellness resource, as Yvette calls it. If at least one person finds some help and solace in our stories, I believe it was time well spent.

For bringing us together, Yvette, I thank you!

(If it piqued your interest, you can find Lady by the River on Amazon.)

Read an Ebook Week

2The 9th annual Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week promotion kicks off this Sunday, March 5th, and runs through end of day, March 11.

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

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – …Or For Worse (Fragment)

cover1

The woman in the mirror wasn’t the one she remembered. No matter how hard she struggled, she would never see that reflection again. Time had a perverted way of leaving scars on her body in spite of all her best efforts. Turning slowly, analysing every particle projected in the horridly honest mirror, she felt her spirits lifted by the image of a still beautiful, mature woman. Her thighs were almost cellulite free… and her stomach, almost flat again… her behind was no longer as firm, but the right pair of jeans made it look just as luscious… her breasts had definitely seen better days, but she would do something about that as soon as possible. It was a game of make-believe these days, she thought to herself.

[…]

“Babe… I don’t know what I would’ve done tonight without you… After the day I’ve had… you wouldn’t believe it if I told you!”

True enough, Lover would find it unbelievable, were he to find out. His image of her just wouldn’t allow it. The thought alone made her feel better. So did his wild passionate kisses. The man in the restaurant may have been her unfulfilled future, but the one in the car with her, whose strong arms were wrapped around her, whose luscious lips were going lower and lower on her neck… he was certainly her sexual present.

[…]

Hours of drinking and dancing with Lover and his friends, followed by hours alone with Lover between the sheets in the five star hotel proved to be just what she needed. The credit card wouldn’t be cancelled so soon, she knew that much and she deserved one more luxurious night courtesy of the one she believed to be the man of her dreams up until the previous evening. In fact, a morning of mindless, senseless shopping seemed appropriate as well. She needed to make herself feel better only because he shattered her dreams the night before, Regina reasoned.

[…]

She was waiting for years to see the old hag gone, years in which all King ever did was put his mother on a pedestal and point out all the ways in which she, his wife, was unlike her, his mother. The now defunct mother became less of a strain on their marriage after his father’s death, when she finally managed to convince King to put her in a nursing home in a different town. Regina no longer had to put up with inopinate visits and unbearable family functions, but the crone still cast a long, heavy shadow, often suffocating those few pleasures left from her shattered illusion of marital bliss. But she could feel the taste of victory. Regina was winning by default, she managed to outlive her nemesis and even if she couldn’t voice out her true feelings, she found that childish enjoyment coursing through her veins absolutely marvelous

[…]

He looked at her and after all those dark days, walking behind the closed coffin, King felt he finally had his wife back. The woman he thought was the love of his life was finally back, replacing the apparently heartless creature from the past few years. He squeezed her hand in his.

She looked at him in a comforting manner, the way only she could. Walking behind the coffin, Regina felt she could be generous. Seeing the remains of the woman she hated, envied and dreaded approaching the burial plot sparked a barely containable sense of power mixed with mischievous joy. She was alive and she was not going to let it go to waste. She looked at her husband again and her heart sank. How the hell did she end up there, next to that sorry excuse for a man?

*

You can find the full version of “Glass Slippers and Stilettos” on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords – and you can download it for free until February 15. I hope you enjoy it!

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

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

February Traditions

In the early days of this blog, I also started an early Valentine’s Day tradition. As my little gift to you (it isn’t much, but that’s the best I can do to show my appreciation during what many consider to be the month of love), you can download my books, Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos, for free. Given that neither one of them is a typical “they lived happily ever after” romance and they portray rather unconventional, uncomfortable twists and turns of relationships, they might also be a good choice for those of you not really in the mood for celebrating this year. Whether you get them for yourself or as a gift for somebody else, I hope you enjoy my small token of appreciation 🙂 . Feel free to download as many copies as you want form iBooks, Smashwords.com, Barnes&Noble, Kobo or Inktera, and share them with your friends.

 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

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/1ac546fe-cc7e-480c-bba7-8c7f34c72830

 

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

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/f3a2bcb9-41e8-4ee0-9b12-ad42b3e9771f

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – For Better… (Fragment)

cover1

The frantic scrolling stops abruptly as the busy fingers’ and blue eyes’ attention is now required by the buzzing phone. A large smile lights up Regina’s face, a languorous sigh accompanying her reply. She had spent the entire morning trying not to think that the text might never arrive and now her patience was finally being rewarded.

The picture on the desk caught her eye in spite of all her rushed gestures. It had been such a wonderful day! Everything she had ever dreamt of, really… look how beautiful she was, she had the most expensive dress and most extravagant wedding anyone in her group of friends and acquaintances had ever seen… and on top of everything, the man she was marrying was so wealthy and handsome… A real prince had come to finally rescue her from an average existence and she would not let this one get away.

[…]

“I needed this so much… you have no idea how I missed you, Lover…” the woman purred into the young man’s ear.

Regina wasn’t lying; his absence had occupied most of her thoughts. Her recreational drug, as she liked to call him, was losing his interest, she could feel it. There was no incontestable proof to it, but a woman knows such things… he seemed somewhat aloof, guarded and atypically quiet during the last couple of weeks. Letting him hold her silently while waiting for the rest of the story about her day, the woman started scrutinizing his features with a knowing eye. There was more than satisfaction altering that kind smile. It wasn’t the look of a man who had just made a conquest and satisfied his sexual urges; that spark in his eyes belonged to a man who still cared deeply about the woman he had just enjoyed, the same woman tracing little hearts with her long nails all over his toned chest and abdomen… the same woman he was holding so tightly, having felt her absence during the previous days…

[…]

With a fake, conventionally happy expression suiting the occasion, Regina was singing Happy Birthday. But her mind was working fast, all the pieces of the puzzle having fallen into place. She and her husband hand in hand, doting on their son, were the beautiful image of the ideal family. King only had eyes for her and their wonderful son, the child was truly happy, especially since he got to spend so much time with his mother planning the party, but Regina was focusing on the woman on the other side of the table. For one moment only, her feelings were written on her face, in that loving look she let wash over King and the little boy. But one moment was all it took for Regina to understand. She knew that look so well…

*

You can find the full version of “Glass Slippers and Stilettos” on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords. I hope you enjoy it!

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

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Regina and the Engagement Rings (Fragment)

cover1

The key didn’t turn and she opened the unlocked door without giving it any thought. She often forgot to lock it, so… Clickety-clack, clickety-clack on the hardwood floor and then the high heels flew in a corner, preceded only by the laptop case, which landed with a thud. Oh well, it’s just the work computer – what are they going to do if it breaks anyway, give her a newer and better one?… Her personal mobile phone was another story though, that one found a nice, cosy resting place when carefully placed on the hall table. Curling and stretching her toes happy to have escaped the restrictive pumps, her feet started blindly feeling around the cold floor, reaching for the comfort of those favourite slippers. They weren’t there.

[…]

Her heart was throbbing faster and faster. Could it have been with admiration for that man some would call disturbed, who had put such passion in finding out what she had been up to of late? Or was it just fear that he might have discovered it all, thus making it impossible for her to pose as the innocent, shy, heartbroken victim next time they inevitably got back together?…

[…]

She liked it enough, she decided. And she was as good as engaged. Another container covered in velvet made its appearance from the depths of a large box filled with shiny, fashionable costume jewellery. Smaller and more modest looking, set carefully on the bed next to the other one, it shed a brighter, more optimistic light on Boyfriend’s choice… on her choice.

With a gentle, elegant movement, the young woman extracted what had once been another engagement ring from the older box and placed it on her finger, on the other hand. Then and now… that one and this one… and as past and present merged in one emotional instant, the big blue eyes filled with tears again… tears of regret… tears of frustration… Alone in her room, in one of the happiest moments of her life, Regina couldn’t fight the tears and for one ephemeral moment she couldn’t fight the truth either.

*

You can find the full version of “Glass Slippers and Stilettos” on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords. I hope you enjoy it!

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

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – Driving Regina (Fragment)

cover1

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…

[…]

It doesn’t look like there was anybody else in that car, just the driver… and he seems fine, just terrified, the same way she feels right now. But he’s a man… I can work with that. I can get out of this and keep my driver’s license. And the insurance will pay for that piece of junk of his… Regina’s big, innocent eyes fill with tears and the shawl on her shoulders opens up, revealing her beautiful cleavage while she finally decides to emerge from the shelter of her somewhat damaged vehicle.

[…]

Taking a quick look at the two cars and at the two shaken drivers, Boyfriend cannot help but feel somewhat responsible… she will certainly blame him. He was the one who left after their fight; he was the one who took her phone, because he wanted to read all her emails and messages, suspecting that there might be more to be discovered about her so-called friendships with other men; and he wanted her to come running, asking him to go back to her. That was their game, they had played it so often! He just hadn’t expected her to be so careless and stupid. Look at her, she left wearing that house dress and flip-flops, speeding down the road to get to his place as fast as possible… His heart filling with pride when understanding how desperate she was to see him again, Boyfriend feels he can be generous and overlook the fact that she dares wear another man’s jacket.

[…]

Regina’s perfectly contoured lips part and then close again. For once, she has decided to think before speaking. Five minutes later you finally reach your destination. You and everybody else on the streets are finally safe, as Regina is neither a driver, nor a passenger… for the time being. Perhaps it’s you who’s exaggerating the importance of certain things. After all, the rest of the drive to her place was uneventful… if you don’t count being stopped and fined by the police, because she simply refused to inconvenience herself by wearing the seatbelt. Of course she’ll pay the fine, she mentioned in a very offended tone. But whether you like to admit it or not, experience has already taught you otherwise…

You can find the full version of “Glass Slippers and Stilettos” on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords. I hope you enjoy it!

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

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 64

cover2

“You treat that kid badly, that’s all. I’m not jealous, I’m just curious, you know. But you treat him badly and it gets to me to know that he just lets you be a bitch to him.”

“Maybe I do treat him badly, but as long as he’s happy with it, it’s nobody else’s business. I don’t pretend to be outraged by the way you treat your wife; nor do I get enraged with her because she allows you to get away for a couple of days with another woman, and meanwhile she pretends not to notice what’s going on right under her nose. It’s not my business to decide what should make other people happy; and when they do get what they go looking for, then they’re the only ones to be blamed if they don’t like the outcome.”

“You are something else…”

“Thanks.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good thing this time.”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: 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. 🙂

On My Third Year on WordPress…

3

December is rapidly slipping away and taking stock of the year about to end is something most of us tend to do. Here’s yet another reminder – a nice one, this time. Three years on WordPress… Thank you all for putting up with me for 12 more months! Thank you for your support and encouragement! And thank you for sharing your wonderful stories and opinions, for drawing me into your worlds each time I read your posts.

It was this third year of blogging that gave me the opportunity to put together and self-publish a collection of short stories, which started off as posts on this site. It was also this year of blogging that led to a very interesting collaboration (more on that and the book that resulted at a later time). So thank you for reading and since Christmas is near, here’s my small gift to you – you can download Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos for free until the end of the year.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/analinden

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ana+linden?_requestid=538455

https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/search?query=Ana%20Linden&fcsearchfield=Author

and on iBooks.

Happy reading!

On a different note, I took a quick look and these are the three posts that people were most interested in during this third year on WordPress:

1. Vicious Circles

As soon as that much desired snow covered everything, it seemed that those to complain about it most bitterly were the very people demanding it the loudest a week ago. Who would have thought?… Forget about that white fairytale-like magic so craved over Christmas, now it’s all about freezing cold, snow and ice covered roads, impossible traffic… and the cold, oh the cold… and did I mention the cold? I must have – after all, that’s what everybody keeps talking about.

We’re children at heart, really… we must be, since we constantly trap ourselves in the same vicious circles, even if we know better by now. Read more…

2. Glass Half Empty, Half Full, Or No Glass At All?

I may be able to come up with quite a variety of words to describe myself, but ‘optimist’ is not amongst them. I’m a realist. And as a realist, I cannot help having my moments of stifling pessimism, just as I also cannot help having hopes and dreams from time to time. As for that one person of the two who know me in real life, and have also been told about this blog – no, I don’t suffer from multiple personality disorder either… Or if I do, the one typing right now certainly has no idea about it. But we’ll go back to that later.

If you believe yourself to be a realist, then most likely you have often been accused of negative thinking and you’ve been labelled a pessimist more times than you can remember. Read more…

3. Down To Earth Or Up In The Clouds

As children, many of us are often told we can do anything and become whoever we want, when we grow up. Then we start growing up. With every year that passes, more and more of those options are stricken off that imaginary list. We discover ourselves, we understand what doesn’t suit us, we figure out what we don’t want to or cannot do. Whether we like it or not, we learn that wanting something doesn’t necessarily mean we can find a way to get it, contrary to urban legends and positive thinking myths. Yet we keep going, we still plan ahead and we find new purposes every day, because the present and the past are not enough, we also need some sort of hope for the future we can hold on to. Read more…

I hope it’s been a decent year for all of you. Happy Holidays!