Category Archives: Books I read

My favorite story collections

I read many story collections in my life. Many of them were very good and enjoyable to read. But there are only two I could name by their titles and which are the first to pop into my mind when speaking of inspiring stories. These are Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment and Being Here…Too: Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment by Ariel & Shya Kane.

In fact, reading of the first book ignited a turn in my life I have never thought would be possible. I might not have dared to write books or anything else as daring, have I not read that book and all other books by Ariel and Shya Kane, listened to their radio shows and participated in their live seminars.

I first saw Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment when an online retailer generated a recommendation based on my previous orders of self-help and motivational books. I read many self-help books before and still felt lost. So after buying and receiving Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment, I resisted reading it for almost two years. But my sight kept being captured by the beautiful butterfly on its cover, and even by its spine when I tucked it between the other books on one of my bookshelves.

At some point, I surrendered and read it. I learned about a unique approach called Instantaneous Transformation developed by Ariel and Shya Kane. And with time, I learned and experienced the three revealing principles of this approach.

First, I realized that if I resisted something or tried to get rid of something – a thought, a habit, a person, a task, a book (see above 🙂 ) or anything else – I didn’t get rid of it at all. This person or thing just kept on sticking around, dominated my life and often became overwhelming.

Then, I learned that I couldn’t be anywhere else or anyone else at any given moment – I could only be who and how I was (or wasn’t), whether I liked it or not. And whether I judged my situation or not.

Finally, there was the Kanes’ third principle – anything that I allowed to be exactly as it was without judging or trying to change it, completed itself in an instant.

As I read Ariel and Shya’s books and articles, listened to their Being Here internet radio show, and participated in their live seminars, I experienced what it meant to let myself and others be just as we were. I discovered how to breathe and savor my life moment by moment, completely and freely. I came to understand what I truly wanted, what was my heart’s desire.

Yes, reading Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment was the moment when this beautiful journey I am now on began. It was a journey of curiosity about what was happening at any given moment of now and what could happen if I surrendered to my wishes and did what my heart called me to do, instead of what I thought others wanted me to do.

As I practiced transformation, being in the moment, I discovered again and again that kindness and honesty were mutually inclusive, not exclusive. That allowed me to start observing myself non-judgmentally, in my life and also in the process of writing, teaching, and consulting.

I was delighted when I heard of the successor of one of my all time favorite books and of its concept. Being Here…Too: Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment is unique because the stories in it relate the magic of being here. These true stories were written by fantastic people of various walks of life, background and beliefs.

If I try to summarize the new book in three words, then these will be: Inspiring, empowering, brilliant. (You can read my full review of this book here.)

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading both books. You will laugh, smile, feel inspired, uplifted, utterly well in yourself and discover each time some new aspect of every story, which you didn’t notice during the previous read. They are that multidimensional!

#transformationmadeeasy #arielandshyakane #shortstory #truestories #inspiration #motivation #compassion #beinghere

What’s Your Favorite Thesaurus? Share It To Unlock The WHW Prize Vault

I’m a huge fan of thesauri. I often consult them to remind me of a meaning of a word or to teach me the meaning of an unknown one. Thesauri are simply vital for non-native writers in a language. They are fun, but they are also brilliantly structured. What can be better than a book structured in alphabetical order? After contemplating how to organize a resource for writers I am currently writing, I chose exactly that structure, the alphabetical one.

I also love studying various books on writing craft. So of course it was just a matter of time for me to discover The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. This resource is one of those I use most while I write the first draft of my books, but especially during revision and rewrites. I highly recommend it to all writers, both of fiction and non-fiction!

I have also a thing about settings. Or rather I often find myself trying to skip their descriptions and resist writing them. Therefore I was thrilled when Angela and Becca asked the fans of their website Writers Helping Writers, whether we would like to join the launch team. Of course I said YES. I am reading now a review copy of the The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces and I simply love it. It does take a lot of my fears toward the settings away. And I am growing curious to play with setting descriptions and see how they would change the stories I create.

Below you will find the details on the launch and especially about the fun activities planned by Becca and Angela during the launch week.

If you love thesauri, then join in the fun of sharing and discovering the beauty of English language and languages in general.

In spite of what happened in Orlando, have a wonderful day and week. I truly think that this launch week could help brighten at least a little the heavy times after what had happened.


There’s nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we’re striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character’s surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

writershelpingwriters_logo_300x300px_finalWell, there’s some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Is there more than one story looming in a favorite book?

Have you ever thought whether a book or a story you fell in love with while reading could have been told differently? Or have different characters?

I haven’t ever wondered about this until my writing teacher and friend Menna van Praag shared her one-minute writing class with an idea to develop a story, which starts with the first paragraph of her best-selling book “The House at the End of Hope Street”. You can find the posted on Facebook video here.

I’ve learned a lot at Menna’s international seminars, both from her edits of excerpts from my books, as well as her feedback to the works of others. My first book “The Truth About Family” profited considerably from Menna’s advice and feedback.

Each of Menna’s one minute courses provide a self-standing, inspiring and complete in itself piece of advice, which I never before believed possible to embrace in one minute.

So the idea I mentioned above was given by Menna in her one minute course titled “One Minute Writing Class – Play & Taking the Pressure Off”. Menna has been giving one of her students a sentence a day from her favorite books and her student wrote a page inspired by this sentence or paragraph. This exercise took pressure off Menna’s student because she didn’t have to come up with the first sentence herself and she didn’t have to face an empty page. The start was made by the sentence provided by Menna.

In this particular one-minute course, Menna read the first paragraph from her book “The House at the End of the Hope Street”. I read this book and loved it from the start, its every scene. Images generated by its text come up again and again as bright glimpses in various situations of my life. They make me smile. This is truly one of my favorite books.

As soon as I watched this video with Menna I grew immensely curious what story would appear in my head after reading this beautiful paragraph:

“The house has stood at the end of Hope Street for nearly two hundred years. It’s larger than all the others, with turrets and chimneys rising high into the sky. He front garden grows wild, the long grasses scattered with cowslips, reaching toward the long-hanging leaves of the willow trees. At night the house looks like a Victorian orphanage housing a hundred despairing souls, but when the clouds part and it is lit by moonlight, the house appears enchanted. As if Rapunzel lives in the tower and a hundred Sleeping Beauties lie in the beds.”
Menna van Praag “The House at the End of Hope Street”

And this is what came out. Menna’s paragraph is quoted here again, since it is a part of this new and still unknown to me story. I hope you’ll like the result below.


The house has stood at the end of Hope Street for nearly two hundred years. It’s larger than all the others, with turrets and chimneys rising high into the sky. He front garden grows wild, the long grasses scattered with cowslips, reaching toward the long-hanging leaves of the willow trees. At night the house looks like a Victorian orphanage housing a hundred despairing souls, but when the clouds part and it is lit by moonlight, the house appears enchanted. As if Rapunzel lives in the tower and a hundred Sleeping Beauties lie in the beds.

Elizabeth’s hands dropped to her sides and her mouth slightly opened.

Is this really the house she searched for? The house she came to, to find the answers. It looks nothing like the tall Gothic clog of the house with rain stains below its spiky turrets rising up in a war declaration.

Nothing like the house she remembers from her childhood. The childhood she’d tried to forget, but didn’t manage. Except one single gap. Something so immense that it erased itself from Elizabeth’s memory.

Something that made her the person she was today. Sad, pale, with lips pressed into a flat circle of a cold copper coin.

She came in the middle of the night, because she couldn’t face the house in the daylight after so many years. And now she was glad she did so. If it glowed now, in the moonlight, how would it look like during the day?

Elizabeth drew a deep breath and kept the aroma, coming from the wild roses that framed the door, inside her for as long as she could.

As she let the air out a sudden fear wrapped her into its icy arms. She came to find answers. At least she planned to do so tomorrow during the day. But this house, this fairy tale house surely couldn’t reveal anything. Someone new and good lived here. They were probably unaware of the torture and agony whirling inside this house when her family lived in it.

Elizabeth pointed her intent look at the door both hoping and fearing someone to come out.

And then she suddenly relaxed. Whether it was another gulp of rosy air, or the peacefulness of the street around her, or both, it made Elizabeth lower herself onto the fence base and lean on the metal vine branches behind her. She looked at the house.

Something must have happened here. Was this during this gap she was so keen to close? Maybe whoever lived here knew what happened.

It must have been something big and terrible. Like a hurricane.

Only a hurricane had the ability to remove everything and leave an empty space for something new to grow.

Was she and her father part of this hurricane?


What do you think of this first page?

Let me know in comments below whether you are curious of a continuation. If there is interest, we can start a new category dedicated to this story. And if you like this story to go further, let me know how you would like to name it. You are also welcome to offer the next episode or scene. Let’s discover what will happen next.

What story did appear in your mind after you’ve read the paragraph quoted above?

If you are interested to learn more about Menna, and her books, check out her home-page. And if you would like to see what kind of writing courses she offers, take a look here.  Check out this link if you would like to participate in the sentence game.

Picture: A window I discovered in Cambridge last year. I imagine the House in the story above have at least one such window.

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Did I exist before reading a book?

I can’t imagine my life without books. I rarely go out of the house without a book.

Yesterday I’ve downloaded an app allowing to read books on my mobile. So even if I go out without a book but have my mobile with me, I am still not book-less. A very nice trick.

I read in several different books during the day. Some I use for reference, some I read for pleasure, some for both work and pleasure.

But I can hardly imagine that I ever existed a day long without holding a book in my hands. These days definitely were present in my life, but fortunately I can’t remember them.

First I copied love of others for books. In my toddler years I imitated my father in reading. I took his books and pretended reading by holding my index finger against the text and making some unintelligible sounds. I was reading. Then I was eager to read what my elder sister read. I envied her in many things. So I repeated her in many ways. Including reading. I picked the books she did. And this is when it hit me. Literally. You can find the story on how I grew dependent on reading here.

Whatever the format, books are incredible creations and creatures, which have lives of their own.

My dependence on them grew so strong that at some point I wanted to create some of my own. And this is what I am doing. Reading and writing books. And I am having a blast. One of the dependencies, which I hope will never lose grasp on me.

Today looking into my notes with favorite quotes I found the following wise words about books from a hilarious and intelligent little book “The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett, featuring a queen who falls in love with books.

So here are the quotes:

“Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not.”

“A book is a device to ignite the imagination.”

“You don’t put your life into your books. You find them there.”

Alan Bennett “The Uncommon Reader”

Pictures: Niklas back in the beginning of 2012, when he was a few months and a year old, happy about a big thick book Mama have ordered for her work.

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Mid-month news: July 2015

The first newsletter

Many authors write newsletters. And many people read them. I do, too. Many authors write their newsletters once a month. Some of them do it weekly and have different names for these updates. Or they have different types of newsletters. Elizabeth Gilbert, for example, has a weekly “housekeeping”, as she calls them, news introducing into “rules” of her Facebook/blog practices and then there is a “pure” Newsletter distributed to the subscribers per e-mail.

Many authors send newsletters at the end of the month. I did share news in sporadic mails and blog posts. But I fretted to call them newsletters. Was it because it is so human to be afraid of making a commitment? Possible. I happen time to time to be scared of promising something and then not holding a promise.

It helps when the promise or commitment is integrated as something natural, neither big nor small, just a part of the flow of life. This happened with my blog posts. In more than two years I have written weekly posts and now when a Monday comes there is a natural need, just like hunger, to write and share. One could say, I am hungry to write every day and I am hungry to share something new at least once a week.

Thus, to help myself to incorporate these “oh-so-scary” newsletters into the flow of my life, and in order not to spam you, the reader, with too many mails/messages from me, I will be posting the newsletters once a month as a blog-post in a separate category for Newsletters.

Additionally, I love the cosy and warm “middles” or centres, to be inside of a process or a place. The edges do sound scary too. So, at least this first newsletter is coming in the middle of a month.

Any big news?

Yes. At least for my life as a writer.

I finished recently the very first draft of my second book. It is a wonderful feeling to know to be able to write more than one book.

The first four chapters of this second book are already published together with my first book “The Truth about Family”.

This second book, a novella, “A Spy’s Daughter”, the title of which I sometimes confuse in my notes and write “A Daughter’s Spy” — an idea for another book, right? —, will be the first in the series named “A Life Upside Down”. In this series, in which five books, most probably all to be novellas, are planned so far, the life of the protagonist Hannah will be turned upside down and entangled into fast-paced adventures.

This first book in the series will come out this year. Somewhere in November or latest in December. I will keep you posted.

In the meanwhile you can find a short description of it on the “Upcoming” page, as well as the links to various retailers of the first book containing the first four chapters.

What is happening now?

Now is summer vacation. For my son, for my family, and for the “Spy’s Daughter”. This novella is taking a break for a two-three weeks until I will read it and give it a thorough revision.

Right now I enjoy a family visit from Germany together with my husband and our two children.

And I practice translation. You probably noticed my interest in it when I interpret quotes and jokes I learned in languages other than English.

I plan to translate my books into German and maybe also into Romanian and/or Russian. Maybe some day also into Danish. Who knows, more languages might come too. Love to language learning is another passion of mine, and translation is a magical possibility to combine the passion of writing and my love to various languages.

Connected to this exciting side of writing, the translation or rather interpretation, I read currently a book in German with a title “Swetlana Geier — Leben ist Übersetzen: Gespräche mit Lerke von Saalfeld”, which can be intepreted as “Swetlana Geier — Life is Translation: In dialogue with Lerke von Saalfeld”. I recommend to read it to all, who can read German. A very inspiring book about life, literature and human nature, which is revealed in languages and great novels. This book inspired and strengthened me in my wish to translate books I like reading and writing. To think and to savor words and thoughts in different languages, mirroring different mentalities and colors each and every nation brings through its interactive and exciting history. And to realize that just like writing, translation is very personal and that I can express myself in it, because I reveal and open what touched me in the book I read or wrote. Just like with writing, through translation I share a part of me.

Any new writing projects?

Yes. Besides the four consequent novellas in the “A life upside down” series, there are two self-standing books planned. And an idea for the third one is floating somewhere in the air. After finishing my second book this year, I thought to bring out one of these stand-alone ones. It will be a story about learning languages, fear of life, hope, and love. And it will be my first attempt in romance writing. Various genres draw my attention both in reading and writing and somehow the stories draw me into their flow revealing their nature in the process of the story development. This third book of mine to see the light of self-publishing might become the first, where I will write using two voices: from the point of view of the two main characters in the story.

And what is my first one doing?

My first book “The Truth about Family” is coming into the next stage of its life. By writing more books I contribute to its adventure. I am curious about my life as a writer and self-publisher and to see where this adventure will take me. For you, the reader, this new stage for my very first book means a new price for the e-book. I am reducing it to $ 2.99. The paperback price remains for the time being as it was.

If the book touched you in any way, then I would be really glad to read your honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Your feedback will help me grow as a writer. And by following my writing career you might recognize the contribution you make by giving me your feedback. I am sure that first-readers, editors and reviewers find a piece of them in the work of the writers they like and follow.

Thank you, dear readers and friends, for being with me on this journey.

Picture: The four notebooks containing the hand-written text and notes for my second book, the first in the “A Life Upside Down” series, “A Spy’s daughter”. Two of these notebooks I bought myself, the other two were given to me by two of my dear friends, including the one with a motive dedicated to “Emma” by Jane Austen. I started filling in this notebook shortly after my daughter’s Emma birth and it had been a very special experience. Much of the text inside it was written while giving my little Emma her milk bottles.