For DM Newlun. I may not have all the answers....

1 2nd Favourite Dinosaur

2 Allergies
Nickel, pollen, don’t respond well to gluten, and get allergic reaction to too much (like after ten minutes) of direct sunlight.  (I’m a nerd, sue me)

3 Belly Button
Inny, deep, deep inny.

4 Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes and no. I think there’s definitely energy floating around. I’ve even encountered some. I don’t believe they’re the entire person you think they are. Just a particle your brain recognises. I don’t believe in ego in the hereafter.

6 Dice?
Dice? As in cucumber dices or gambling dices? Yes to the first. No to the second.

7 Dream job
I’m a nurse and I think part of me will always be a nurse. But I also see me writing and maybe organise writer’s retreats in some amazing location.

8 Favourite appliance

9 Favourite boardgame
Knowledge over strategy. Trivial Pursuit.

10 Favourite book
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brönte. With honourable mention: Holy Fools – Joanne Harris, and The Commitments – Roddy Doyle. Not much for series, but I loved the Harry Potter books. And The Commitments is part of a series (the Barrytown Trilogy) as well.

11 Favourite book hero
Juliette – Holy Fools.

12 Favourite villain
Deco – The Commitments. (most books I read don’t have a clear villain, this comes closest)

13 Favourite candy
Chocolate or soft&sweet liquorice.

14 Favourite cheese
Gouda, preferably young. Also like goat’s cheese. And Brie. And matured… I like cheese. A lot.

15 Favourite cleaning product

16 Favourite Cornetto Trilogy Movie
Hot Fuzz I think.

17 Favourite cuss word
I like shite a lot. Also fuck, shit, crap. And at the moment, for some strange, unbeknownst to me reason, drat!

18 Favourite doctor
It’s a tie between Nine and Ten. (and Dr Wayne Fiscus)

19 Favourite dwarf
The Red one.

20 Favourite film
Harisson Bergeron, Dogma.

21 Favourite film hero
Mary Poppins

22 Favourite film villain
Lady Catherine The Bourgh

23 Favourite food smell
Coffee. (Coffee is food, right?)

24 Favourite ice cream flavour
Either coffee or liquorice.

25 Favourite junkfood

26 Favourite non-food smell

27 Favourite RPG
Real life is enough for me, thank you.

28 Favourite TV show
Of all time: MASH. With Leverage, and Torchwood as runners up. Or currently The Librarians. Don’t watch much TV other than that.

29 Favourite TV hero
Eliott Spencer

30 Favourite TV villain

31 Favourite voice actor
Alan Rickman

32 Fuck, marry, kill (twitter)
Most people at any given time.

33 Go-to-karaoke song

34 “Hello…”
That’s it. In true Captain Jack Harnass style: Hello.

35 How do you like your marshmallows
Chocolate covered.

36 How many nipples
Ugh nipples. Don’t talk to me about nipples.

37 Phobias
Spiders and other creepy crawlers. Sometimes a little bout of claustrophobia (only when tired), small talk and meaningless human interaction.

38 Song you used to love but now hate
Time in a bottle

39 Spice

40 Star Trek or Star Wars
Don’t care much about either, but when pressed for an answer I’d go for Star Trek. I love the humanity in stories, not the CGI.

41 Super Power!
Mine? I’m empathic to fault.

42 Tea or coffee: brand
Coffee, not really into brands, as long as they can provide me with a good cappuccino.
Tea, Shoti Maa and my favourite flavour of theirs is Liquorice Lavender. Sounds yuck, but is really lovely. Always goes with me when I travel.

43 Twitter crush
Some things best remain private.

When depression hits

When depression hits

I wrote these ‘tips’ for a dear friend who’s having rough time. She told me it would be a very good idea if I’d share these publically. And since I can’t help but want to help people (hey, I’m a nurse, so sue me) I decided I might as well.

When it comes to depression and mental illness I don’t have any ready-made answers. I do have a few things that work for me (for as far as anything really works). These are not laws set in stone, or cures or solutions for my depression and other issues. They give me some relief though. Maybe they’re useful to you too.
I’ll try to keep some order in this, but my mind is usually all over the place, bear with me.

Be kind to yourself. That sounds really easy, but it isn’t.
Compliment yourself on what you’re good at, on things you get done, and things you did well. However small they may seem, (hey, I totally rocked that omelette today) little victories are your lego-blocks to build the castle. Take ownership of your skills. You got mad skills.
Conversely, be forgiving for your flaws, mistakes, and inability to do things. You cannot win at everything, and that’s just fine. Acknowledge it, and let go. So you burnt dinner, or you got the kids to school late. It’s not the end of the world and doesn’t reflect on the wonderful person you are. Accept and move on, don’t keep beating yourself up over it. (I’m still working on this one, but being aware already helps)

Tough times
Depression is an integral  part of a person. There is no amount of meds, treatment, or tricks to make that go away. Acceptance and recognising when it hits you are vital. Because depression lies. It tells you you are unworthy and alone. You’re not. Sometimes you have to actively remind yourself that it is your brain playing tricks on you.

On the physical side, it may help to ask for blood-work to be done. A big cause in depression can be lack of certain vitamins (B12, D). Or just take supplements for those and see what happens.

And for the non-physical parts:
The heaviest moments can make it impossible to get anything done. I very much know the feeling of being stuck in your own head. Thoughts just whirling around with no beginning and even worse, no end. I have a few ‘techniques’ that can halt them. For the most part it is distracting yourself while it blows over. But it does seem to help.

For me it helps to put on music and sing along. Did you know that 20 minutes of singing releases the ‘happy hormone’. Or I just watch a video of my favourite artist, beloved episode of a series, pick up my bass and play some, or, if it gets really bad, I attempt to paint.
For you it might be sitting down with your kids to colour, or anything really. Something soothing for the mind, something you know but is distracting enough to lower the volume on the depressing voices (knitting, drawing, colouring, sewing, gardening, anything you find distracting and comforting)

Another one for me, this helps me when I’m in bed and the whirl of thoughts in the downwards spiral prevent me from calming down, is visualisation. This is a really strong one in my case, because I’m absolutely not a visual person. So to imagine anything, thinking of what it looks like takes up so much processor power of my brain, it automatically drowns out other torrents of thoughts. Imagine your happy place. If you don’t have one, invent it. Where are you? What does it look like? Maybe it’s a beach, maybe it’s the kitchen at a beloved friend, anywhere that makes you feel good. What does it smell like, who’s there with you? What do you hear, taste? (I love lying on the grass with someone I love, getting my hair stroked. Silly, but it works for me)

Being overwhelmed by life
This sometimes happens to me. I don’t respond well to being around people all the time. And especially if there’s loads to take care of, it can happen that I get totally blocked. So much to do, I don’t have a clue of where to start, so I don’t.
What helped me was writing it all out. Last time I even made a colour-coded timeline. What had to be done when? I allowed myself to stress over a limited amount of things, saving the rest for after that was done. To de-clutter my mind I took care of the things I could take care of in advance and then I just put them on the shelf until their designated time. If the thoughts were trying to take over, I pulled up my timeline and reminded myself of where I was. Telling myself (sometimes out loud) ‘There is nothing I can do about/for that now. It is useless to waste brainpower on it’.
Give yourself time to worry, over-think, and fret about things for a limited amount of time once a day. Use egg timer and set for 15min, for example.

Wow, that was a lot more than I’d intended to write. As I said, these are things that work for me. I’ve done and do everything on the list, except for the worry-time with egg-timer, that one is from someone I know who was going through a heavy depression.
I hope you find useful tips in this, or that it helps you find your own mechanisms to handle things.
Keep in mind, you are a perfectly, beautiful person. The depression will try to convince you otherwise. Let that be your buoy on the wild waves until you find an anchor.

These were my tips. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.
Lots of love, stay safe.

In Praise of Dreams (Poem by Wislawa Szymborska)

In Praise of Dreams

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e., on my own.

Falling from the roof,
I tumble gently to the grass.

I’ve got no problem
breathing under water.

I can’t complain:
I’ve been able to locate Atlantis.

It’s gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.

As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.

I’m a child of my age,
but I don’t have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

Wislawa Szymborska
View with a Grain of Sand (1996)

NaNoWriMo2016 Excerpt

A little piece of what I'm working on this NaNoWriMo. For now it has the worktitle Finn. Unedited etc...

“Dad?” She yelled out. He wasn’t in his library, where he usually was. His laptop stood closed on the desk. Noises from upstairs caught her attention. Listening closely she walked up the stairs. The steps creaked under her feet. “Dad?” She yelled out again. It didn’t sound like her father. And why would he be in the bathroom across the landing when he had a perfectly good ensuite?
“Oh crap.” She heard someone groan. That wasn’t her father. Frozen she stood on the landing, torn between walking on and checking it out and running back down to call the cops.
“Shite!” The voice sounded again, followed by the sound of water splashing to tiles.
Finn’s worries won. She took two steps and turned to see what was going on.
It was a view she was not prepared for. A tall man in a blue T-shirt and jeans stood in the bathtub, trying to stop the water from streaming out.
“Oh, could you hand me the adjustable wrench?” He said without introduction. “It’s…”
“Yes.” Her voice sounded cold. “I know which one that is.” She handed him the tool she’d had automatically grabbed from his toolbox when she assessed the situation.
“Oh, great.” The water was still splashing around. Finn took something else from the toolbox and disappeared from the bathroom. Several seconds later the water stopped flowing.
“Better?” She asked upon returning. She took great care to put the wrench back into it’s rightful place. Most people she knew were very OCD about where to find their things. They needed to be able to grab them blindly.
When she saw him stand there, hair and clothes soaking wet, long curly hair sticking to his face and shirt, still holding up the wrench she couldn’t help but laugh.
“Every floor has it’s own valve. It’s underneath the floorboards on the landing.” She merely said, upon seeing his stare. “Who are you?”
“I’m sorry.” He lowered the wrench.
“Where’s my father?”
“Oh, you’re Finn, right.” He stuck out his hand to her. Seeing the water drip off of him, she stepped back. Finn looked her unusual self that day. Again a skirt just above her knee. She’d lost her size 6 to a size 10 and she didn’t care one bit. Under the skirt she wore sneakers, in a colour that matched her purple top.
It clashed with her red hair, which was as short as ever.
“Your father had to go into town for a few things. I’m Jaime. I’m…” He thought a moment about how to explain what he did there. “I’m helping your father in fixing this house.”
“Good job.” Finn turned on her heels and from a linen closet on the landing she got some towels. She handed them to Jaime. “I’ll see if I can find anything to wear for you.”
He was sturdier than her father. So that wasn’t an option. Instead Finn ran up the stairs to the attic. There was a closet there with clothes that time forgot. She found a pair of joggers and a light sweater that might just fit him.
“It’s old, and I hope it’ll fit.” She walked back into the bathroom. He’d taken off his shirt already. Finn had to swallow. Brent had a perfectly trained body. Jaime however had the muscle toning of someone who did hard, physical work. And to complement that, a bit of a belly. Why that made her blush, she wasn’t sure. Not that she imagined herself stroking that soft skin.
“Ah, thanks. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“I’ll be downstairs.”
“Wait.” He didn’t want her to leave like that. She averted her gaze. He had to have noticed her stare at him, because he smiled sheepishly. “I have to fix this. Otherwise your father will be stuck without water until I do. Before I put on dry clothes, I better close it up. Maybe you could turn the water back on, so we don’t get anything else wet.” He could bite his own tongue. He’d not meant anything by it. It sounded bad. Very bad.
“Sure. Just call if you’re ready.” She had to walk out.
She heard him chuckle when she stood around the corner waiting for his call. The entire situation was too ridiculous and she had to laugh herself as well. As long as he wouldn’t hear it, she’d be fine.
“Give it a try.” He said. She bent over and opened the valve.”
“We’re good.”
“That’s a relief.”

777 game

I was tagged by Antonius M. Hogebrandt (@melindrae), a Twitter friend of mine. The 777 game wants me to post 7 lines from page 7 of the current work in progress and to tag 7 authors to do the same. I am not the type to tag my friends, but everyone is free to join in and let us read a bit. So consider yourself tagged!
The excerpt is from the book I am considering for publishing, Monday. Genre: Erotic Romance. Thought the excerpt is clean... No worries.

Donna shrugged. “Amazing how much courage a few shots of rum can give.”

Kyle frowned at that. He bent towards her and thanked her with a kiss on her cheek. “You really did save my life.”

She patted his cheek in return. “Yeah, right.”

He left. He returned to his table to sat back down with his friends. That was the end of it. That’s what should have been the end of it.

A Green Beach Shovel - A story from The Pharmacist's Cabinet

A Green Beach Shovel

“Zoe is so excited.” Darren said as he looked over Judie’s shoulder. She stared outside. It was the perfect day. A few small, white clouds in the bright blue sky. There was no getting around it. Darren had taken the day off for this.

He kissed her shoulder. “You’ll be fine.” He promised. He knew her so well. “It’s just the beach.”

It wasn’t ‘just the beach’ to her. There would be people there, and sun, and fresh air. She’d have to go out there in a bathing suit and pretend it was nothing. For Zoe. Which incidentally was the only reason she had even considered this.

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Traintickets - A story from The Pharmacist's Cabinet


The first time they met they merely greeted each other with a nod. He sat across the aisle on the train. Handsome man, dark curly hair, crisp black suit.
She was so different from anyone he had ever met. About his own height, wearing a long black skirt and a purple coat. The steward had lifted her suitcase in the luggage rack before she took off her coat and sat down. Two very different people, in the first class carriage on the train.
From behind his book he dared observe her. She was ever so friendly when coffee and food was served. The cabin was filled with business men, like him. She looked so out of place. And yet it didn’t seem to bother her at all.

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A Set of Keys - A story from The Pharmacist's Cabinet

A Set of Keys

Memories washed over Gregory as he dangled the keys in front of him. He had gotten them the day before, after the reading of his grandfather’s will. He’d not seen the man in over ten years.
After a restless night guilt had mixed in with the nostalgia. He knew it to be unnecessary. His grandfather wasn’t someone to hold grudges. Old Jake Kendrick had the strong notion that everyone needed to live their own lives.
Gregory vividly remembered the keys hanging on a hook next to the backdoor in the kitchen of the small house by the lake. “Why would I lock my doors? What if anyone passes by and needs something?” On a few occasions they had gotten home from adventures to find cups on the kitchen counter or food missing from the fridge. Collapse )

Camp NaNoWriMo - The Pharmacist's Cabinet

In April I wasn’t going to do CampNaNoWriMo. But I suffered from a severe plot-bunny attack. After a first goal of 10.000 words I ended up writing 25.000. Sadly my favourite cabin was full by the time I started.

So for July the amazing Blacklilyf suggested I take up residence in her cabin and set myself a ridiculously low goal. Just in case.

To do that, I had to create a project. I called it ‘The Pharmacist’s Cabinet, because I often compare my brain to one. So many drawers, with all these ideas, and stocked with the Encyclopaedia of Useless information. Ít was a place holder name. The idea grew on me though. So many drawers, so many possibilities.

This morning the first drawer opened and a blue dress came out. Suddenly the road was clear. All the drawers contain items, pictures, stories, memories and what not more. I’m just going to open them and see what comes falling out. Some of these pieces I will probably share here in due time.

Until then… *looks at all the closed drawers* work to be done.

Just a teaser, the opening sequence of ‘A Blue Dress’

“Who on earth buys these dresses?” Dan wondered upon seeing her. The dress was lovely, nothing wrong with that. But the light blue was so wrong for her short reddish hair and her green eyes. It made her look like a ghost.

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Christmas Escape

For most people Christmas is a time for family, for celebrations. Not for Gaya. More than anything it's her time away from everyone. And away from responsibilities. She escapes cold and snowy New York and settles in for two weeks in the Florida Keys.
Eric would love to spend Christmas with his nine year old daughter, Paige. But he has found a good job in a beautiful resort in the Florida Keys, and has to work. No work would mean no roof over their heads, or food on the table. And maybe even worse, no presents.

This is a short story for my doing. It's split in three parts. Only some light editing happened, so there'll probably be some typos and things. Hope you enjoy it nevertheless.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3