Category Archives: Books I read

For a good laugh

I have several books with quotes, jokes and “Brain Droppings” as the title of a book by George Carlin name them.

This book is one of the quirkiest, funniest and sharpest of this kind I have found so far.

Here are five of George Carlin’s brain droppings I’ve discovered in this book today (and which made me laugh, as well as also stop and think), with some of my brain droppings on the side:

“A laugh is a smile with a hole in it.”
That made a hole in my smile.

“I never liked a man I didn’t meet.”
Did this make you frown and then laugh?

“Always do whatever’s next.”
Obvious, isn’t it? No more questions in the future.

The Rule No. 11 from “Rules to live by” is simply hilarious and makes daydreaming, of which I often blame myself, sound all the more attractive 😉 :
“Always remember, today doesn’t count. Trying to make something out of today only robs you of precious time that could be spent daydreaming or resting up.”

“The nicest thing about anything is not knowing what it is.”
True. As soon as we think we know it, this anything looses its sparkle for us. But if we notice that it interests others, we suddenly see it in a different light, since we didn’t know it could be interesting for someone else except us. So, it’s new and unknown again.

Pictures: I discovered these after waking from two different day dreams (And in case you ask, or maybe not – yes, I did make an “Aw!” sound and water the second).

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Countdown to the first self-published novel: 7 – How to enjoy chocolate

The countdown continues. SEVEN.

The process:

The edits are complete! My wonderful editor, Alice Jago, has sent me the last ones yesterday. I’ll incorporate them today or tomorrow.

Along with working on edits, I am learning formatting my novel as an e-book and as a paperback. It is amazing how many things need to be taken into account. And they are extremely interesting.

Have you for example ever noticed that most of novels on paper have first paragraph in a chapter without indentation and the rest are indented? I have never noticed this until challenged but Tim C. Taylor in his book on formatting for CreateSpace (Amazon’s daughter business for self-publishing paperback books). He challenged his readers to go and check the novels on one’s bookshelf and when I did it with many books on my shelf I found that he was right.

The same is with page numbers.

“If you are publishing a conventional novel, most people will never read the page numbers.” Tim C. Taylor in “Format YOUR Print Book with Createspace …and Lulu, using Microsoft Word”.

True. The page numbers are only observed when they are missing. I’ve learned that there are mostly two practices with page numbers. One is to place them centred in the footer and another in the header in the outer corners, while the book’s title and author’s name are in the middle of odd and even numbered pages, correspondingly. I haven’t decided yet, which to choose, the most important criteria here being, that they don’t attract too much attention.

It is amazing how we do not notice details when everything is to our comfort, but as soon as even a tiny thing is amiss, we notice it.

The same is with writing itself: as soon as we are torn out of the story and notice the written word, we wrinkle our noses. Although we do forgive our favourite authors for a mistake or two. Also a smooth flow of a story for one reader might become a trip full with tripping hazards for another. I am quite excited to further try my pen to create flowing and captivating stories.


We learn many of our habits from our parents, and we give them further to our children. Many of these habits relate to how we enjoy our food. We learn traditional meals and we learn how our parents enjoyed various treats. If you ask me what is the best way to enjoy dark chocolate, then you will always get the same answer: with white bread. This is how my father taught me to eat it. He used to say that it tastes best like this. And I agree. Although, I do suspect today that he enjoyed chocolate with bread and taught us to do so in order not to let usually small amounts of chocolate, we could buy on a rare occasion in Soviet Union, disappear at once in our mouths.

With the quote and scene below from Chapter 20, I wanted to capture this tradition invented and introduced by my father.


I never tasted chocolate at the orphanage. The first time I did was in Odessa, when Anatolii shared a small chocolate bar his mother had sent him.

I remembered breaking the dark, almost black chocolate, into small pieces, almost crumbs, on a slice of bread. For that occasion we had bought several pieces of white bread, instead of the usual grey. The gentleness of the bread’s soft flesh and the sweet but bitter taste of the chocolate had made me forget for a moment where I was. When I opened my eyes, I saw Anatolii’s, Nikita’s and Anya’s closed eyes, happy faces and soon finished slices of bread and chocolate in their hands. We laughed to tears when we opened our eyes and saw one another doing the same thing. We all agreed that combined with the tea, this was one of the best meals we’d ever had.


Call to action after the quote: If you ever try to enjoy dark chocolate like this, let me know how you liked it. And if you have another particular way how to enjoy chocolate, I would be very curious to read in the comments.


Candy, chocolate, ice-cream. These are the words, and in this sequence, used by my mother when she addresses my children in Romanian. I simply have to share these pictures of my two sweeties playing together.



Moment by moment

Today I finished reading a wonderful, inspiring, romantic, funny and very profound novel named “How to Fall in Love” by Cecilia Ahern (

I highly recommend it to both lovers of reading and writing.

Here are three quotes from this novel, which I would like to share:

The first two are quotations by other authors used in this book.

P. 207: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt wit the heart.” Helen Keller

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

P. 412 (the final passage in the book): “… Life is a series of moments and moments are always changing, just like thoughts, negative and positive. And though it may be human nature to dwell, like many natural things it’s senseless, senseless to allow a single thought to inhabit a mind because thoughts are like guests or fair-weather friends. As soon as they arrive, they can leave, and even the ones that take a long time to emerge fully can disappear in an instant. Moments are precious; sometimes they linger and other times they’re fleeting, and yet so much could be done in them; you could change a mind, you could save a life and you could even fall in love.” Cecelia Ahern

Picture: A very precious moment in my daily life: Niklas taking care of his little sister in the early morning before heading with his Dad to kindergarten. He played a lullaby to Emma on a small music box in form of a little donkey. I heard the music playing and when I came to the living room, this is what I saw and my heart melted.


Magic of science, dresses and cakes

“One proton of faith, three electrons of humility, a neutron of compassion and a bond of honesty. … that … is the molecular structure of love.”
Menna van Praag “The Dress Shop of Dreams”

As that of a physicist and especially as a solid-state physicist, who has ponded upon and worked a lot with atomic structure, my heart melted when I read this in the latest book by my dear friend and writing teacher, Menna van Praag.

I fell in love with her writing before meeting her personally and then this feeling appeared also toward her when I got to know her as a friend and my writing mentor.

What I loved about this book is how magical everything appears in this book, especially those things that many would not think magical, as numbers, molecules, and labs. Even if the latter have been seemingly portrayed as clean and too well organized as in the protagonist’s life, there is quite a lot of magic in many of these scenes, especially with her scientist parents.

The actual magic, which we don’t meet in our daily lives, like 3D-movies of books when somebody reads them to us, or the dresses performing magic, becomes a very organic part of the whole world in this book, and actually as I write these words now I start to believe that with a little bit of faith the 3D-book-movies and magical dresses could be possible in our world too.

This is what I like about Menna’s books: they show us human fears and very different ways they take us, but they show us also that we have all the ability we need to find our magical ways. And whatever the chapter of the book, whether it is a love scene or a suspense piece or a slice of mystery, all of them wrapped me up in a feeling of warmth and pleasure. And utter curiosity what would happen next.

I am very much glad that there are more books to come from this wonderful writer’s pen.

More on the author and the book can be found at:

Just a boy

As the work on my first novel progresses (I will work with a professional editor on it in February) I feel closer to my father, than I ever did since he died. But maybe also since I have ever consciously known him. I was only ten when he died, so I never got to know him in my adolescent or adult years.

I am very grateful to having been inspired to write this book. At the beginning I thought that it was too sad or too heavy of a topic. And then somewhere (I don’t remember exactly where, maybe in “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott) I read the following advice (reproduced with my own words): “If there is something you fear most or are most uncomfortable with, write about it”.

So this is what I did and as already said, I am very thankful and glad about it. During this process, I discovered many beautiful and joyful pieces in my father’s story.

Although many gaps between true events are filled in with my imagination, or maybe because of it, I felt often as though my father was present, when I wrote this book.

I always idolized my father. I guess this feeling grew stronger after he passed away. Most people start appreciating something or someone when they are not there anymore. And this appreciation is sometimes distorted by imagining them being ideal or even close to divine. This ideal picture of those who passed make them even farther away than they already are.

We all thrive for divinity but we feel the closest to all human.

And this what happened when I researched about my father and wrote the book. I started to see him more and more human with his possible flaws and fears. And with this, his picture, memories of him became vivid and alive.

One of the sweet discoveries about my father was that he was just a boy when he was young. You might smile about this discovery and ask “Who else could he be?” So let me explain.

Having grown up in an orphanage, my father didn’t know his exact date and place of birth. So he chose both deliberately. For his birth date he chose January 10th, the birthday of Alexei Tolstoy ( As many of those who grew up in Soviet Union, I knew of Alexei Nikolayevich Tolstoy mostly because of Buratino, his version of Pinocchio. But the bulk of his work was science fiction and fantasy. As soon as I read about this, I knew that my father must have enjoyed science fiction as many children and teenagers, especially boys, do. This discovery made me smile and think: “He was just a boy”.

Fueled by the discovery of my father’s favorite author, I am now reading the English translation of “Count Cagliostro” and I simply love it. The subtle humor, the seeming simplicity but at the same time beauty of descriptions (“The wet grass in the garden looked silver in those places where the light from the windows fell upon it. The air smelled of dampness and flowers.”), as well as briefness and precise strokes on dialogues are very capturing and intriguing.

See for example the following definition of magic uttered by the Count Phoenix, also known as Count Cagliostro: “There are no miracles. There is merely the knowledge of nature’s elemental powers, namely fire, water, earth and air; the states of the substances, namely solid, liquid, soft and gaseous; the forces of nature – attraction, repulsion, motion and rest; the elements of which there are thirty-six and finally of nature’s energies: electric, magnetic, light and sensual. All this is subject to three fundamentals: knowledge, logic and will …”

But isn’t the ability to write something like this with such simple words and with subtle reflection of the world as a wonder, a miracle in itself?

Picture: my father in his young years.