Sally Cronin has been running a wonderful series – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now, at her Smorgasbord Blog Magazine. There have been some fantastic entries by several writers and bloggers that many of us here know. I urge you to check out a few
I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
Today my friend and fellow collaborator here on Smorgasbord, D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) shares her thoughts on the prompt.
I Wish I Knew Then by Debby Gies
Thank you, Sally for inviting me here today to share my thoughts on, I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now. This was an interesting question because of course, hindsight is always 20/20.
I’ve lived my life learning from life – life lessons. These are experiences in life that we could never imagine until we’ve lived through them, that’s why they’re called life lessons. This makes it somewhat like a trick question because if we didn’t experience something yet, we’d have never been able to learn from it, so hence, that’s my answer, it’s really not possible to know then what we know now, but wish, yes. We didn’t know any better or different then that nothing is stagnant, the world is always changing. We followed in the direction that life led us, we experienced and then we learned.
Don’t we all wish that in some of our most glorious times in our heydays, that we knew then that those days could quite possibly become some of the best years of our lives? Did we take those days for granted? Did we think that the good times would always continue to roll unknowing the times would change and quite possibly there may be leaner years? I know that I just took it for granted that the good things would remain and continue to get better. I wish I knew that our accumulated abundance in life was never anything to take for granted, that nothing is permanent, and that we should always keep alert and protective over everything we’d worked hard to attain.
But I suppose back then, as we live in the now and endure new struggles, we didn’t consider that those days of past would become the very days we often long for in the now as this world becomes more difficult to exist in.
I wish I knew, what feels like not so long ago, that I was living in my glory days without struggles of today – not much to worry about, giving not much concern to the coming years, which ultimately became leaner and less. Less tolerance, less love, less acceptance, less understanding, less brotherly love and that it could possibly become more difficult to live with the lesser of these things taken for granted back then as we under-estimated change in the world, thinking life would get even better with progress instead of going backwards.
I wish I knew then that my thinking that the harder we worked and saved for our retirement years would undoubtedly add fruit to our baskets if we saved and invested smart like the generation before us, was no guarantee and offered a false sense of security.
I wish I knew then as we thought we were prepared with our future plans and our false sense of security that the ‘powers that be’ would be making the rich get richer, and big corporations and greed would become as powerful as governments while diminishing the middle class’s ability to stay afloat ( let alone those who already lived back then, and still, in poverty levels) and could possibly threaten our financial futures, and that flying high in the gravy days by no means was any guarantee for tomorrow’s riches.
But as I watch the world change and devolve in so many ways, I can look back on the errors of my ways and I’ve learned to adjust my sails and go with the wind and not against it while keeping my eyes wide open, so I don’t have to say in the future again – I wish I knew then. But, no doubts, I may quite possibly be fooled again and have to repeat those same words – I Wish I Knew Then.
So, I often write about some of the goings on in my life and in my head/heart. Last Thursday was probably the best day I’ve had since I was in Mexico with my new wonderful friends.
Today, (the post goes live) is my ‘something’th’ birthday, and I probably won’t be answering your comments till much later tonight, because it will be my new best day because I’ll be spending it with my bestie, Banan, known as Bri in my books.
But getting back to Thursday – weeks previous to Thursday, I’d come up with the decision that I have to start expanding my horizons and decide what kind of group activity I’d like to join. The time is long overdue.
I’d thought about joining a grief group where I could be among ‘my people’, or joining a gym, women’s fitness – no men as I’m not interested in getting hit on. I couldn’t find anywhere close that had an actual, non online grief group. I’m at the point where I need to be around way more people, to find new friends that don’t live far away and whom I have things in common with – not necessarily grief – but a human or two I can connect with, someone who I can look into their eyes when speaking as opposed to chatting on a computer screen.
I talk to my friends online often in chat boxes, but there’s nothing better than real talk with humans face to face. I’m a people person and feel myself shrinking by spending too much time left to my own devices. I promised my two besties I was seriously going to join something when I decided where I’d feel most comfortable, and I decided to email a contact form for a Goodlife Fitness Women’s Gym, only ten minutes away, and went for the tour last Thursday.
Asal showed me around with a guided tour for over an hour. She was a sweet young girl. It felt great just to get out and talk to Asal (whose name that took me three tries to pronounce, and we laughed together). She asked me a short questionnaire – my goals, what I was wanting out of joining, any classes I’d be interested in. I told her my husband died a year ago and I’m taking my first steps in trying to rejoin civilization, mainly joining to take part in some classes for social interaction – Zumba and Yoga.
I’ve pushed myself to commitment and went back yesterday, to use the free pass to try out whatever equipment I wanted in the gym for however long I wanted, and they had great special plans to choose from at reasonable prices, and Asal was dropping the ‘joinup’ fee of $100, if I signed up then. I figured I’d try the two classes a week and use the treadmill and some of the weights, before I dived into machines. So I told Asal I’d like to use my free pass day Monday, (yesterday), and that I’d come while she’s on shift so I could sign up with her. So now I’m a member. For approximately $20 a week I can go whenever I want and to however many classes I want. I liked midday because there were people but not so many. I figured I’d eventually strike up a friendship with someone, it’s close to home, it’s only women, so what do I have to lose. And who knows, in the process, I could get in good shape. Sounds like a win/win. So this is my progress.
So, getting back to Thursday, before I got to the gym. I was on my way to the gym waiting for the elevator on my floor, where this attractive older woman was standing. I’d never seen her before, but then again, I’m picky who I want in my close circles in the building where I live, lol. I have a few friends from upstairs on my old condo floor, neighborly friends, but not real close. And there were many lovely greetings from what seemed the, ‘widow’s floor’ I’d moved on to, but nobody I felt a connection with. But today, there was ‘Marsha’.
My condo is, unfortunately, close to the elevator. I came out, locked my door, turned around and walked ten steps to the elevator. I saw the back of her and her pretty blonde bob before she turned around and asked, ‘Does it bother you living close to the elevators?’ I replied, not really. There’s no noise. I just feel like my door is vulnerable for quick break-in getaways if there were any, and have to remember not to talk on the phone near the door for fearing of being overheard.
We laughed while waiting for the usual long elevator wait. She told me she just moved in last month and gave me a short synopsis of her being twice a widow. She’s very attractive, and we shared a similar humor. I took her for her early 70s. I gave her my short synopsis, and after we got off on the lower level together, while I was going to the parking lot and she, to vote in our library, we both finally took a breath and were about to go our parting ways, when she told me her apartment number and added, ‘knock on my door around 645, I’ll show you my place then we’ll go sit outside in our park.
After I got back from the gym, my new good friend from Mexico, Shelley, Whatsapp video called, and we had a two hour catch-up and planning when I’m going to visit her and stay at her place for a few days. She lives in Brighton, Ontario, about a two-hour highway drive east of me. Me, anxiety highway driving woman. But, I made up my mind. I am driving to Shel’s. I’m not taking the train. That, my friends, will be an adventure.
We laughed about all our antics this past winter, and the things we’re going to do together next winter in Puerto Vallarta- definitely heading up to the best market in Bucerias. And we’re looking at late June for my first summer visit, as soon as it warms up to swimming weather again, as typically, our hot summer is now feeling like the cool of spring, and it looks that way on the weathermap for the next few.
My Bestie, Banan called while I was talking to Shel. I declined her call, texted her that I was on the phone with Shelley. I did call her back much later, almost dinnertime, of course no answer. I left her a text to listen to my long message about my surprising day. I told her to call me tomorrow because I had to make some dinner and I was rushing to meet Marsha. Banan was thrilled.
We caught up the next day. And I will end this here, and then I will reveal more about my outdoor meeting with Marsha and our walk to the coffee shop on Sunday, in next week’s episode.
I’m being bold and stepping back into civilization – baby steps, but it’s happening!
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a book called Mayday by Mike Steeden. I haven’t read many books in this genre before, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read such a mix of genres, and the author was kind enough to invite me to read a paperback version of his book, sent all the way from England. Steeden has created a work of fiction with a sprinkle of sci-fi/fantasy, romance/thriller – certainly an interesting mix of genre for such a greatly imagined story. This is the story of Mayday, a beautiful, intelligent, all-knowing, healer with a zest and curiosity for all life has to offer, all the while having to dodge danger.
The girl known as ‘Mayday’ was born a fully-fledged human being, her creator, a professor of remarkable ingenuity for he had ensured that she had amazing capabilities, jealous scientists could never fathom…capabilities that easily trumped any claimed miracles from days of yore. Moreover, as she evolved she realized she had the wherewithal to cure the sick, feed the starving and humble the wicked, at the blink of an eye. However, her accomplishments were also her curse for in religious circles the powers that be could not accept that she was a bona fide mortal, after all she was not born of womankind, nor sanctioned by their alpha-God who would never countenance a female messiah. They considered her an irritating robotic, and rather than allow her to rock their boat and save humanity, they sought her legal execution.
This is Mayday’s extraordinary story, told by the man who loved her so.
My 5 Star Review:
What a ride this read will take one on. To be honest, I’ve never read this type of mixed genres of a book before, and the author’s blurb is an excellent condensed summation of so much more.
Mayday was created, human-like, savvy, intelligent, sexy, assertive, and gifted with superhuman abilities. She was created as perfection by a scientist, causing piqued curiosities about Mayday who becomes sought out by those of whose beliefs about everything she was created from, opposing her existence- mainly, the Catholic Cardinal society.
It begins with Mayday left hidden in a dingy cellar in Paris after being rescued from the ‘zoo’, and discovered by Andrei Voland, a wealthy Frenchman who would become her lover and protector. In this time of the early 1930s, where anything of the unusual was still considered sorcery to the non believers, Mayday had become the most wanted woman by authorities and the church. Voland takes her in to his place, and has Edith, a theatrical cosmetician, friend, dye Mayday’s hair and give her a new wardrobe so she wouldn’t be recognized. Mayday’s beauty is astounding.
After Mayday is disguised, and revamped, Voland learns about her sexual curiosity and voracious appetite as a romantic night ensues – the first of many more escapades to come. After Voland goes to retrieve her meager belongings from the basement where she was held captive, so as not to leave any evidence of her existence behind, he notices a suspicious woman down the street at Edith’s door, about to throw a hand grenade. He stops her in time as he discovers the explosion already up in smoke where Mayday was previously kept. He lifts the now shocked Edith into his arms and takes her back to his place. In fears he may have been followed, Voland makes immediate plans to take both women to another of his homes, in Lille, just outside of Paris, to hideout and and to avoid any potential danger.
Once safely at Voland’s village, the women and Voland enjoy each other’s company – verbally, and sexually, as Mayday has no inhibitions and continues to discover herself. Once the professor who created Mayday visits them, along with some other friends who are soon to become part of the harem gang of friends, Mayday, who prefers to be naked, as she was created, tells her story to her audience about what happened to her after she was created. She was captured and held in a private zoo where she was studied (inside and out) to see if she was human. She was left in a cage like an animal until inspections were satisfied, with the zookeeper’s intentions of having her executed for being blasphemous, defying God, because of her origin and power. Without spoilers, she is rescued, and the game heats up as Voland, Mayday and company enjoy their own company and stay vigilant that nobody is on their tail seeking out Mayday.
Mayday is brilliant, absorbs information like a sponge with a curiosity for learning, reading, observing, and has superpower abilities – like being able to heal the sick, feed the hungry (while in disguise), therefore, always having to dodge the evils who search for her. On her missions, she is always cloaked and uses her power to make those she’s helped, forget her from memory – but there are always ‘those’ who may have caught a glimpse of her. Her good deeds seem to always put her and the harem of characters, along with Voland, in peril.
There are private orgies with Valond, Mayday, Edith, and a few select others who are invited into their circles. Valond decides to open a travel agency where Mayday can use it for a front to escape to other places and realms and pop back in after saving others.
Mayday finds people to save in some of the churches she visits along a roadtrip with Valond, driving to Italy and visitng the Vatican as well as some famous churches and museums- dangerous places for her to go as the Papal system would have her executed for being who she is if she were to be discovered. She pushes her luck by telling Valond she wants to experience the confessional at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and transforms herself into ‘Black Frankie’, disappears and turns herself back into the posh Mayday. And once again the evil ones are in search for her.
In the last third of the book after Mayday and Andrei Voland return to Lille, they stop in at their Looking Glass Travel Agency to visit their gang of friends and find evil has prevailed. Their friend, Thunderman is murdered, Edith and Eloise are tied up and naked, and Princess, is missing. Eloise tells of what went on as the so called Latter Day Inquisitors on behalf of the Cardinals of the Holy Inquisition, loosely affiliated with the ‘Scientific Law Society’, had found their way to the agency in search of Mayday and captured Princess, mistaking her for Mayday.
After the initial shock wears off, Voland formulates a plan with his gang to rescue the Princess, who he knows well, was taken back to that same zoo where Mayday was once rescued from. Mayday uses her special powers to bring Edith out of shock and grief after what she witnessed with Thunderman’s murder and her own captivity while Voland sends off his brother Henri along with Eloise to rescue the Princess. They devise a short-term plan to have Mayday go around various places using her powers to cure people while Princess is held captive to show her captors Princess is innocent because the magic continues elsewhere – a risky plan for sure!
Alas, WWII is approaching. By 1940 the Germans invade France. The gang had already thwarted a bunch of Germans busting in their home trying to take it over, but Mayday used her mind control to chase them out. They knew they had to come up with a plan, so they decided to join the resistance. The girls would go dancing in those nudie bars (where they felt comfortable), and attract the attention of German soldiers, extracting information from them unknowingly, as Mayday wooed them with her body and used her hynotic eye contact to extract what she needed from them while leaving them to forget she existed. It was just after the dancing bar event after all members of the harem were home safely with Mayday that she decided there’s just just too much evil on this place called earth, and perhaps it was time she considered leaving for another realm. But does she?
Like I mentioned earlier, this book is a whirlwind of genres from romance and adventure, with a touch of science fiction, time-travel, fantasy, and also a thriller. That’s best I can describe it. The author has certainly demonstrated his vast imagination for such a story with its sometimes lude shenanigans and language, but nevertheless, keeping us keen on what on earth could happen next. I warn here of some explicit language and sexual content.
This is a well researched and written book that delves into the mood of the era with richly crafted characters and changing subplots. If some of the aforementioned content isn’t a problem for you, I invite you into the alluring storyworld of Andrei Voland and Mayday whom the author, Steeden, has eccentrically and masterfully created.
Earlier this week I posted my guest feature over at Valentina Cirasola’s blog about Spring Beauty and Books. Once the series was completed, Valentina kindly, made this beautiful short video, incorporating all the books from the authors she hosted. It’s a lovely video, and it was so nice to have my book be part of the video along with books by many of my writing friends. I’m reblogging Valentina’s ‘thank you post’ here, along with the video.
Note: Click on the Youtube link as the video will not show here.
Spring Beauty and Book Series has ended:
This Spring flew by, between winds of war, fake news, new diseases, corrupted politicians, investigations, and protests around the world to gain the lost freedom, we have arrived almost at Summer. What will it bring us? My hope is always that humanity will mend itself and be infused with so much love, compassion and empathy, as without these elements, life cannot be called life.
With the arrival of Spring, my goal was to instill beauty. Beauty multiplies as it is an entity that everyone wants and everyone recognizes for their wellbeing. I also wanted to spread kind thoughts. Who better than authors can do that? Authors are good with words, they know how to craft them to let the readers live a fantasy, see places and experience new emotions.
Please continue reading at Valentina’s blog and see a complete list of authors who were included in this series.
I was recently invited over to Valentina Cirasola’s colorful blog where she invited a few writers over to share our take on Spring Beauty and Books at her blog, Valentina Expressions
After two years of hibernation, taking care of my sick husband, and then ultimately, grieving the loss of my beloved husband, I escaped to a long winter vacation. My grief traveled with me, but the warmth of the Mexican sunshine and being around old friends and new was like a welcomed spring to my soul.
I came home dodging the brunt of our harsh Canadian winter here in Ontario as our city too, began to awake from what felt a long slumber. The freezing temperatures had transformed into crisp fresh air, and I once again began taking walks out in our beautiful walking trails as a wonderful escape into nature, and from the dark doldrums of my interior four walls. A vacation after two years of heaviness was like a new bud of spring opening for my sanity. I am slowly crawling back into life.
Bright colors with the promise of spring cheer me up, as does anything shiny and blingy. It’s the sunshine that has the power to lift me out of the dark abyss within, that sometimes grabs hold of me. On those days without enough sun? This is where my huge floor lamp with large, white daylight bulbs can fool my darkness. No substitute for the sun, but a satisfactory backup plan.
My life now is just only coming into spring after two years of my internal harsh winter.
In the Autumn of My Life
In the autumn of my life
I find myself looking back
On the springs and summers
Of glory days gone past.
As the winter of life approaches,
We often reminisce and look to reconnect
With things and people that brightened our springs and summers,
People who knew us and understood the times
And circumstances of our lives.
It’s a kinship of time that only those who’ve lived then can know.
A time when glancing back brings a dollop of comfort
As we march through the seasons of life
Before winter’s approach.
Please visit my original post at Valentina’s blog:
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Toni Pike’s latest release – Linda’s Midlife Crisis. I enjoy Toni’s books and this one didn’t disappoint. This womens fiction/chicklit-ish story is about a neglected housewife with an unfulfilling job who learns to take back her power. Yay for Linda!
How does a fifty-year-old woman start a new life?
Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.
Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.
With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. She begins to succeed, but there are still some more surprises in store Linda.
A feel-good and inspirational romance for older women who love second chances and chick lit.
***** “Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!” – Goodreadsreviewer, USA
***** “Highly recommended for a beach read, or as a feel-good book.” – Reader’s Favorite reviewer, UK
My 5 Star Review:
Linda had finally had enough of her husband Ron’s neglect, insults and emotional abuse. She was 50 years old, about 25 pounds overweight, and had lost her sense of self-esteem. She was also childless because nasty Ron never wanted any kids.
Linda was an English school teacher, and even her students were mischievous brats who liked to play mean pranks on her. The last prank had kept her at home for a month in a depression-like state. Her husband couldn’t give a damn and continued to belittle her, demanding she cook for him in her near catatonic state. But Linda finally learned to pay him back with silence and neglect of her household duties, a type of revenge that finally had him asking for a divorce and leaving – to her delight.
Linda was clever and held the reins on her demands since Ron was the one leaving, also threatening him with getting a shark lawyer if he didn’t comply, worked well. She then went to her cunning school principal, Wayne Forsythe, to inform she was retiring, demanding a package, she eventually got, thanks to her persuasion of assuring him if he didn’t comply she would use the information she had on him about his devious doings. Linda was getting out of her slump and taking her power back.
After selling her house in Sydney, Australia, she moved up to Canberra where her sister lived, bought a beautiful condo, got a part-time job in a clothing store to keep her busy, made some new friends at work, went for long walks, changed her diet, lost her unhappiness weight, and began enjoying her life. But before she left for Canberra, when packing up her house, she packed up Ron’s stuff and left it on the front lawn for him, warning him to pick it up by day’s end. She got a shocking and infuriating surprise when Ron came to pick up his things – sorry, no spoilers.
Linda learns to love her new life in Canberra and takes up her passion for writing, begins to submit articles about her journey back to healthy lifestyle, and was hired to produce weekly articles.
Life was good, and one day she discovers Ron looking for her, begging for her back. Ahhh yes, sweet revenge! Linda learns to step back into the dating pool with her work friends and is pleasantly surprised to meet someone while out with the girls. Dr. Tran was enamoured by Linda and her new life was nearing perfect – if only Ron would stop showing up!
This was a fun and very engaging read. I could have read it in two days because I didn’t want to put it down, but life calls.
Welcome to my May edition of Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring friend and fellow author, Jan Sikes. Jan is a multi-talented, multi-genre author and dabbles in tarot, runes and gemstones articles on her blog too, besides the blog tours she hosts and the books she reviews. So today we’re going to get to know a little bit more about Jan and her latest release – Jagged Feathers, Book 2 from her White Runes series.
Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. The entertaining true story comes to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, Book 1 in The White Rune Series, in 2020, which won a bronze medal award from Reader’s Favorite. Jagged Feathers released on January 31, 2022, as Book 2 of that series, and Saddled Hearts will release later in 2022. She is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.
Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann. On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed. A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks. Will these two not only survive but find unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?
Jan shares some wonderful quotes from her book:
“Wow! One of the top books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it more sparklers if I could. The author had me from page one and didn’t let me go until the end. She starts off hard and fast, then things kind of work out and the book goes into a “safe” lull, which is where most romantic suspense stories would end. But no. She doesn’t let you rest as the danger ramps up again before our hero and heroine are really safe and have a satisfying ending that leaves you happy for them.” V. Burkholder
“What an amazing and phenomenal book. Jagged Feathers has become my favorite suspense book I’ve read in 2022. Jan Sikes has a talent that mirrors the authors, that’s on top of the Best Sellers List.” T. Lucas
“Wow! Few books grab and hold me as quickly as Jagged Feathers. I can’t say enough good things about this story that’s brimming with heart. It has everything- -an ex-soldier dealing with trying to heal from wounds and trauma left by the war, a woman confused and scared by her psychic gift and running for her life, and a dog that’s suffered horribly but hasn’t lost his ability to love.” L. Broday
“This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.” S. Cronin
So, let’s get to know a little more about Jan!
Thank you, Debby, for inviting me to visit with you today. It is truly an honor!
D.G. – Thrilled to be featuring you here today Jan. Thanks for coming!
How has writing changed your life?
That is a great question. After my husband passed away, I was still working full-time. But honestly, I was lost. I didn’t want to stay in the home we’d built together. Too many memories and too much property to take care of. So, I transferred my job to another town where one of my daughters lived. I withdrew from the world and hid behind my children and grandchildren. That was my safe place. Then, when I realized I was the one that would have to write the story of our life together, it forced me to step out and reinvent myself. It took several years before I could comfortably call myself an author. It wasn’t until after my second book won an award that it felt right. Writing not only changed my life completely but gave me a therapeutic way to rejoin the land of the living. It has given me a whole new career and I have met some of the most wonderful people— authors and readers!
D.G. – Do I ever hear you Jan. I know well what you mean about ‘hiding away’ after such a great loss. And no doubts writing was your therapy. 🙂
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
Oh, for sure! Of course, the first four books I wrote were biographical so that was me all the way. But when I started writing fiction, I drew from a lot of my personal experiences, philosophies, and beliefs and instilled them in some of my characters. I think the biggest example was Jag Peters’ mother, Charlotte, in Ghostly Interference. There is a lot of me in Charlotte. She is a smart but gentle lady who is a vegetarian and teaches yoga. She also instills in her son a lot of the same beliefs I have about Karma and the afterlife. The love of Charlotte’s life is a musician. So, I put a lot of me into her. Someday I want to tell her backstory.
D.G. – Only makes sense that we as writers will instill some of ourselves or other people we know when it comes to creating characters. 🙂
If you weren’t a writer what else do you think you would do?
That is a question I ask myself often. I work really hard at not only continuing to learn and grow in the craft of writing but in marketing as well. There are times when I stop and ask myself if this is what I really want to be doing. All the hard work results in little to no monetary rewards. But, so far, the answer is the same every time. As long as story ideas and inspirations keep coming, I am duty-bound to keep writing them. And, if I wasn’t writing, I don’t know how I would be filling my time. For now, this is what I want to do. It’s a chapter in life I am enjoying letting unfold.
D.G. – Once again, I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
I know you have a very active blog. What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?
Blogging has created a whole new online family for me. I am connected to people all around the world. That is how I met you, Debby. So, I’ve gained a network of supportive and uplifting people as well as made what I consider to be friends. Even though we may never meet in person, through reading others’ blogs, I feel as if I know them. Besides this incredible network, blogging gives me a great platform to talk about my stories, accomplishments, failures, and everything in between. But my greatest joy is featuring others on my blog. I do lots of book reviews and have guest posts often. Another way my blogging platform has enriched my life is through sharing metaphysical things such as Tarot cards and Rune readings, uplifting meditations, and my passion, Gemstones and their healing properties. It’s a way of sharing something that is a huge part of my daily life. It helps keep me grounded and focused while hopefully helping others at the same time. We are all on this journey together. So anything we can do to uplift each other is wonderful! While blogging takes time away from writing, it is worthwhile all the way around. I can’t imagine stepping away from blogging, although it’s healthy to take a short break now and then.
D.G. – We share the same philosophy on blogging, once again. And of course we share a mutual interesting in the spiritual and metaphysical. 🙂
Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.
This is probably the hardest question of all to answer. I’ve been an avid reader since I could decipher words. As a child, I devoured fairy tales and believed life would have a fairy tale ending for me. As a young adult, I read books by Harold Robbins that taught me so much about relationships between men and women. “The Grapes of Wrath” is a book I have read multiple times. I think it has stayed with me because of stories my parents shared about the Great Depression. But a powerful book that changed the way I view worldwide governments is “The Captains and The Kings.” Taylor Caldwell depicted corruption among the leaders in such a way that I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a book I highly recommend to everyone. A book I’ve read within the past couple of years that has stayed with me is “Where The Crawdads Sing.” And now I see that it has been made into a movie and will be showing in July. You can bet I’ll be at the theater to see it. And I want to add one more to my list of lingering stories. “If The Darkness Takes Us,” is such a chilling and realistic tale of what happens when the grid collapses and people are left to figure out how to survive on their own without any resources. Unfortunately, I feel that it may be more realistic than imagined. But there are lots of good survival tips shared in the book. I’ll stop there with an apology. You only asked for one book. 🙂
D.G. – Had to laugh as the only books I could find around my house (in my mother’s room) were Harold Robbins’ books, lol. That was an education. And I loved Where the Crawdad’s Sing! I will now be checking out those other books you mentioned too. Thank you!
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Eva Hnizdo’s historical fiction book, taken from memoir – Why Didn’t They Leave? . This book was right up my reading alley. The book begins in the late 1930s Czechoslovakia just as WWII is heating up. A family saga that takes us into the life of three generations of women – Franzi, her daughter Magda, and spans through the decades of change into the early 2000’s as told by Magda’s daughter, Zuzana. This is a story of life-altering change, fear, humanity, and how each generation of women coped with war and its devastating effects on body, mind, and spirit, and an understanding for Zuzana born of another generation, struggling to learn why her relationship was strained with her mother from resentments to a final understanding.
You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from communist Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she says she just wants freedom. Her relationship with her mother, Magda – a Holocaust survivor who lost most of her family in the concentration camps – is toxic and Zuzana finds happiness in London with a loving husband and beautiful son.
But when her mother dies, Zuzana is crushed by guilt and feels an overwhelming urge to discover more about her family’s tragic history. So, she embarks on a life-changing journey, discovers some incredible stories and tries to answer the question which haunts her: Why didn’t they leave?
“Eva Hnizdo’s Why Didn’t They Leave illuminates the lives of one extended family from the beginning of Naziism. With meticulous detail and heart-wrenching scenes Hnizdo offers answers through her characters’ actions as to why some chose to remain in their homeland and others fled. A story filled with history and heartache… survival and hope.”– Julie Maloney, author and founder/director of Women Reading Aloud
“Eva Hnizdo has turned her own story into a gripping work of fiction that follows a secular Czech Jewish family’s fortunes during World War Two through communism to a multi-cultural life in Britain. Her book says much about prejudice and tolerance, survivors’ guilt and the emotional challenges of motherhood, all through the voice of her extrovert and sexy heroine.” – Brigid Grauman, journalist and author of Uncle Otto’s Puppet Theatre
“Zuzana is haunted by the choices that her family made during the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and later during the Communist regime. Her discoveries make for a compelling story of loyalty, love, and courage.”– Jacqueline Sheehan, author
Eva Hnizdo is a Jewish Czech, born in Prague in 1953. She is the granddaughter of a man who lost his life by deciding not to emigrate in 1938, and a daughter of parents who, after surviving the Holocaust, spent most of their adult lives under an oppressive communist regime. Eva studied medicine at Charles University in Prague and became a doctor. She escaped to the West in 1986 and obtained political asylum in the UK in 1987 with her husband and two sons. She worked as a full-time GP partner at the same surgery in Watford for twenty-three years. Now retired, she spends her time writing.
My 5 Star Review:
Magda is 13, it’s 1940 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Germans are taking over the country and Magda and her brother Oskar have already been booted from school, while their mother is sewing yellow Stars of David on their clothing. At first Magda thinks the stars look cool, then quickly realizes after getting pushed and shoved on the street, the star is a calling card for attention. Magda’s family was privileged and Magda’s mother Franzi and her husband Bruno did well with buying off SS agents by giving them many family possessions to avoid deportation to Theresienstadt, but by 1942 her family was finally deported. Some survived, some didn’t. When liberation finally came, Magda and her mother lived through the brutal and lean times and were lucky to be given back their home in Czechoslavakia.
Magda at 18 reinserts herself back into the school system and studies hard to graduate high school after missing four years of school and succeeds. She marries Mirek after she graduates and they live with her mother Franzi. Franzi mourns the loss of her husband, her son and all others while Magda wants to go on, avoiding the memories and deaths. By 1948 communism was taking over the Czech oslovakia and government was taking over private businesses, those who didn’t comply were sent to jails. It was like war was back but within their own country. Magda and Mirek were urged to leave in the late 40s, but Magda didn’t want to leave her mother. By 1952 they were stuck there. Anyone caught trying to leave the country was jailed.
In 1953 Magda gave birth to daughter Zuzana and was happy to let her mother Franzi do everything and look after her daughter while she kept occupied, entrenched in her job. By this time Mirek was already cheating on moody Magda. Magda decided she didn’t want her daughter to be Jewish so she convinced her unwilling husband to have Zuzana baptized to protect her from being a persecuted Jew, as anti-semitism was running rampant even after the war, especially while Czechoslovakia was under communism. When Zuzana was age 9, Mirek left Magda. He was tired of her whining and lack of interest in cultural things he liked to do. And he wasn’t happy about not giving their daughter a religion to practice, as Magda only wanted the baptism to protect her child from future incidence of anti-semitism, without teaching her about any religion.
In the mid 60s, Magda went to visit Bavaria. She was stunned at all the beautiful goods for sale in stores – something they didn’t have in the Czechoslovakia. Her pent up anger at Germans had her stealing from stores because she felt entitled after the Germans seemed to have stolen much more from her. Her passive- aggressive anger lingered.
By 1964, Zuzana was a young teenager who protested all her mother’s good intentions for her. Magda tries to send Zuzana for dance lessons but Zuzana doesn’t like it, doesn’t like girlie things or dresses. Magda wants to give her daughter everything she didn’t have, but Zuzana is rebellious. Zuzana prefers wearing pants and reading books to dresses and parties. Magda is often bitter at her daughter’s reactions to all her plans for her, as though Magda wanted to live what she missed out on vicariously through her daughter. Magda often mumbles to herself that her daughter doesn’t know how lucky she is to have access to clothes, classes and adventures as Magda internally remembers her time imprisoned during the Holocaust. But Magda stays firm in her decision not to tell Zuzana about her imprisonment or how so many family members actually died in the Holocaust. She never even told Zuzana they were really Jewish.
Part two of the book is Zuzana’s story in the year beginning back at 1966, til the early 2000s. Now married Zuzana with a 13 year old son, Adam, tells her husband Harry that she changed schools when she was a teenager where she could learn more languages, adding that her mother got her in through black market connections, which she reiterates was really such a thing.
In 1967 Zuzana’s Uncle Otto and his wife came back to Czechoslovakia to visit his remaining family and he went to the synagogue with Zuzana, her mother and grandmother Olga. This was the first time Zuzana realized that it was not only the communist anti-fascists who were killed in the war, but innocent people, including her own family. Until then, Zuzana had been sheltered from knowing about war and the fact that she was an actual Jew. As an avid book reader, Zuzana began to read ‘different’ books that were starting to appear on the shelves – stories about the Holocaust.
As a late teen, Zuzana left the country, organized by her rich Uncle Otto and moved to England where she went to university and lived out her dreams of freedom, education, meeting people from different races and falling in love with her to be black husband Harry who became a pharmacist.
Zuzana felt she didn’t love her mother because Magda nagged her all the time and never gave her daughter a compliment, almost trying so hard to force her daughter to do the things Magda never had the chance to do. The tension remained between mother and daughter throughout the story until Magda’s ultimate death, when Zuzana learned from Uncle Otto what really happened to their family during the war, and this opened up a world of curiosity for Zuzana about her real heritage inspiring her desire to travel to America to meet the sparse family who survived the war and ultimately, moved to America. Then Zuzana gets the rude awakening about how her mother survived and the PTSD effect it left on Magda that made her become the way she was. She meets up with aunts, uncles and cousins who were survivors and descendants of survivors, and her new discoveries give her a new sense of why her mother acted the way she did, discovering her mum not wanting to talk of what she lived was a shield for herself and the PTSD she suffered through the rest of her life from what she lived through. Zuz learns that she shouldn’t have judged her mother and once Magda dies, Zuz’s grief becomes overwhelming. As Zuzana begins to have regrets in this new appreciation for her mother, we begin to learn the true effects the war had on this one family.
This is a story about a family caught up in the brink of war, during the war, and their lives in the aftermath. It deals with racism, anti-semitism, communism, humanitarianism and inhumanity. Fascinating on many levels with the intricately woven characters and going deep learning how and why these people were shaped. Yes it takes place during the Holocaust, but it’s about people’s individual lives, living through hell, and how they become after. This is the story of one once large family torn by war, how they survived, why some left in time, and why some chose to stay behind.