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Four Days in Zagreb

 

 

I’m just back from a quick, and fabulous, trip to Zagreb. Mr. Grace was there on business, and with a cheap plane ticket, I was able to tag along. Just so you know, I never miss a chance to go to Croatia these days – especially Zagreb, which was my home for four years before the war in the Balkans. In fact, I met and married the lovely Mr. Grace there. While having to leave as the war began and watching the place I adored descend into chaos was a time full of heartache, Croatia itself holds four years of amazing memories for me, and I consider it a major turning point in my life, the point at which I discovered the world at my door step and realized there was no going back to the insular way of life I’d grown up in.

 

 

 

Returning after so many years to find the best of Croatia still there, still vibrant, but even more so since joining the EU has added a new dimension to my life and given me the much-needed chance to heal old wounds and reconnect, the chance to make new memories and new friends.

 

 

Zagreb has always been a beautiful, fascinating city full of history and culture, but now, with a growing tourist trade and wonderful balance of independence and cooperation, the place has become a true jewel in Central Europe. The people, the location, the culture, the history make me want to go back again and again. Here are a few pictures from my last glorious visit.

 

 

Cheese Burek with yoghurt, delicious fast food in Zagreb. The two are traditionally eaten together, only because they are a fab combo!Burek is basically a layered thin pastry with a meat, cheese or fruit filling. This little place off the Dolac Market sells nothing but burek — cheese, meat or apple.  And it’s the very best.

 

 

The Croatian National Theatre, a pilgrimage I couldn’t resist.

 

 

And this is why. I love Ivan Meštrović’s work and this is my very favourite piece, called the Well of Life. No way I could do it justice in a photo and no way I could resist the chance to sit in the sunshine and just take it in.

 

 

The most important pilgrimage I made, however, was to visit my old home on Goljak Street.

 

 

Strangely enough while almost the whole street has been renovated and is full of new flats and houses, my house was like stepping back into time. I got goosebumps just being there. It felt like I could just dig out my house key, walk right on in and make myself at home.

 

 

I created great deal of wonderful memories in this place on this very steep hill. I lived on the bottom floor, below where the laundry is hanging out to dry. I’m viewing it from the street below in this photo.

 

 

There were so many photos I could have taken, so much I would love to share with images, but this time, this trip, I spent most of my time in the moment, just walking and remembering and taking it all in while I shared my evenings and mornings with good friends. Oh! And coffee. There was LOTS of coffee shared with good conversation and laughter.

 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to be in the city for the opening of the Zagreb Festival of Lights. It was a wonderful warm night, perfect for walking about and enjoying the displays. This one was done by painting on small glass slides and projecting it onto the building. We were lucky enough to meet the amazing artists, Gordana & Zorislav Šojat  from the Zagreb School of Light Art. This was most definitely our favourite display.

 

 

The second favourite was in Tuškanac, which is a gorgeous walking part of the city, green and full of trees and grass and parks. I had walked the area the day before in the warm spring sunlight. What a transformation night makes. This area is very near my old flat. You can see how hilly it is.

 

 

I would like to thank Melina Popovic, for the wonderful private tour of the Old City provided by her son, Tom, who is a tour guide. Tom was amazing! And I’d also like to thank her for sharing the Festival of Lights with us. She knew exactly where to look for the best displays.

 

 

I’d also like to thank Tanja Miloš for pointing out all the best places to “graze” while I explored Zagreb, and for lots more good laughs and naughty talk over lots of coffee. She’s the one who introduced me to the best burek in Zagreb .

 

 

Wonderful friends and wonderful memories, those are always what give prominence of place in my heart, and Zagreb, without question, holds a very important position therein.

 

Filtering Our Lives

From the Archives:

 

While this post is from the archives, it is very appropriate once more, as I’ve been spending less time on line and more time in my private world. The cycle is forever turning, changing and beginning again and being filtered to suit my needs. Hope you enjoy the post.

 

I’ve been thinking about filters lately, going through one of my periodic stages of resenting smart phones, social networking and all things techno. That may well be in part because I’ve only ever managed to master what it takes to survive in that online world. I’m a klutz on my best days. But sometimes I’m an angry luddite wannabe, who grumbles incessantly while I bury my nose in my kindle to lose myself in a good book … Oh the neuroses of my life!

 

When I’m lost in the world of navel gazing and trying to connect to what matters without losing myself in the detritus and the trivia of a world online, I often find myself thinking about the filters we live our lives through, and what being once removed from everything, while at the same time up close and personal with the whole world and all the information in it means to us as a civilization – to me as an individual.

 

I can go online and hear the background microwaves that are the remnants of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. I have done, have listened over and over with goose bumps crawling up my arms.

 

I can go to Facebook or Twitter and have meaningful conversations with friends all over the world, people I’ve never met physically and yet I’ve connected with and feel somehow a kin to.

 

I can keep up on films and stars and gossip, I can join any group, be a fan girl, talk trash, be a part of any organisation with any cause imaginable – political, religious, medical, physical, magical, practical, any hobby, any sport, any obsession. It’s all there. All I have to do is log on. Easy.

 

When we were in Dubrovnik several Christmases ago, we found ourselves in a random café for lunch one day. The cafes that were open in the dead of winter were happy for customers, and when we arrived, we were the only ones there. About halfway through the meal a young man came in, eyes glued to his smart phone. He asked us if we’d read the reviews for this particular café. We said no, we’d just dropped in. The food was lovely. We had a local beer, local specialties, and the owners of the restaurant were friendly, and patient with us as we practiced our rusty Croatian on them. Meanwhile the man ordered without looking at the waitress, ate without looking at the food, all the time lost in communion with his phone. We left him that way.

 

Back out on the streets, after a wonderful walk in the sunshine around the medieval city wall, we stopped for coffee and once again were astounded by the number of tourists gripped by their phones even as they walked, obliviously, down the main street of the Jewel of the Adriatic, the sea the colour of sapphire and the sky a shade darker still, contrasting with the red tile roofs.

 

A few weeks later we went out for lunch and observed three very lovely young women who came in and sat down at a near-by table, again completely caught up in whatever was happening on their phones. They barely spoke to each other during the course of their meal and never put their devices down.

 

I recently received an email from a friend of mine in the States, and I was saddened when the rather extensive epistle
was all about what series she was now watching on telly. I know for a fact this woman used to be a librarian. We used to spend our time talking about books.

 

All of these events, and lots of others leave me slightly queasy, even as I sit here writing this blog post, hoping that a lot of people will go online to my blog and read this post. It’s the filters that leave me feeling this way. They leave me wondering about our connection with the real world, about MY connections with the real world. I wonder if we’re now more connected, and I just don’t ‘get it’, or are we less connected because we’re joined at the hip with our devices. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of the two.

 

The world I live in is totally dominated by the technology my profession depends upon. The first thing I do in the morning is get up my laptop and see what I missed over night. I do what I need to do for PR on twitter and Facebook, I see what I need to do for the rest of the day, and some days that involves a good deal of being online and interacting with social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I have some control over the promotion and sales of my books, no matter how little that may be. The feel that I’m at least doing something is worth a lot, even if it is at times only the placebo affect. In the brave new world of self-pub, a world in which the gatekeepers’ roles are changing and evolving along with the world of traditional publishing, I see how important it is to be present online. But I fear very much that being present online often costs me the simple pleasure of just being present.

 

I remember when I launched Interviewing Wade after a day spent mostly in promo, looking at reviews spending time on Twitter and Facebook and blogging, at last I went into the darkened kitchen to reheat the pasta from lunch for dinner and discovered something truly amazing. Through the kitchen window, I had the most exquisite view of the thinnest sliver of a new moon in conjunction with brilliant Venus, and for a few minutes there was the added pleasure of red Mars just about to sink below the rooftops of the neighboring houses. I was stunned. I couldn’t take my eyes off what I saw. I reached for the binoculars for a closer look

 

The moon was illuminated with earthshine and, through the binoculars, the darkened areas were visible with the brilliance of the sunlit crescent making the whole look almost dark purple, huge and 3D. As I tried to focus on the bright smudge of Venus, my heart beat kept jarring the binoculars, so I couldn’t resolve the phase, but I’m sure it was as close to full as Venus ever gets.

 

Venus is always in phase. How amazing is that! We never see the full face of Venus because it’s in between us and the sun, and it’s only full when it’s on the far side of the sun from us – something that’s only true with the inner two planets. Mars dipped quickly and was gone, but I stood for ages, trying to hold my breath and brace my elbows so I could look. But no matter how hard I tried, Venus constantly quivered through the binoculars with the steady beat, beat, beat of my pulse. I shifted back and forth between the shiver of Venus and the pock marked darkened surface of the moon with its crescent of brilliance at the bottom edge. When my arms got tired of holding the binoculars, still I stood.

 

It was one of those rare moments of being in focus, of standing with nothing in between me and my little sliver of the universe; experiencing a moment, one raw, naked, aching moment without anything in between me and my heart. That tiny shred of time felt like skin freshly formed over an abrasion. And I wanted to stay there forever in that little sliver of the present with nothing in between.

 

I couldn’t, of course. The moon set, and I had work to do. It occurred to me as I nuked dinner, that even that incredible few minutes of focus were filtered, brought closer through the lens of my binoculars. We’ve been filtering our world for probably as long as we’ve walked upright. Perhaps we can only be safe in – and from our little slice of the universe when we filter it, analyze it, look at it through eyes – and heart — well protected.

 

The next morning, online, there were more images of Venus and the New Moon in conjunction than I had time to look
at. I was far from the only one bringing that moment into myself through filters that helped make sense of it, helped make it personal and, clearly, I was far from the only person needing to share it. Somehow that makes the world community seem just a little bit smaller, just a little bit closer. Somehow that makes the filtering of my universe and all the contradictions that involves set just a little bit easier in my mind. That and the knowing at least for a little while that earthshine, that sliver of moonlight, that conjunction with bright Venus was mine. All mine.

 

Only 3 More Days to Nab some Steamy Romance FREE!

 

TURN UP THE HEAT! We in the UK have survived the snowpocalypse and that Beast from the East Siberian wind, and March has definitely roared its way in. What we need now is some steamy heat. While it’s always a great time for romance, the time is never more perfect than when we’re waiting with bated breath for illusive Spring to make an appearance. The only thing better than a really great steamy romance to ease the long wait for warmth, is a really great FREE steamy romance. AND there’s still time for you to partake in the Steamy Contemporary Romance  giveaway.  Don’t miss out on the heat!

I’m doing my part to heat up your winter with a freebie of my own. Pop on over to the Steamy Contemporary Romance promo going on from now until March 10 to find a brand new FREE surprise from yours truly. A KD Grace sizzling contemporary romance with a stilletos and steel sort of twist. There are over a hundred great romance reads available in this fantastic giveaway all totally free and all totally amazing.

So dive in, stay warm, and have a romantic reading feast with a special KD Grace freebie.

 

Izzy Szyn Launches Lizzy’s Temptation with a Great Giveaway

 

 

Izzy is giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Certificate and 2 ebooks of the winners’ choice from her backlist. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 

About Lizzy’s Temptation:

When Lizzy sneaks into an event where actress Ivory Rodgers was scheduled to appear, she gets more than she bargained for. Ivory Rodgers is hotter, sexier in person and takes Lizzy under her control.

 

 

Amazon Buy Link

 

Lizzy’s Temptation Excerpt:

“Looking for the Ivory Rodgers’ party?” asked a soft feminine voice behind her.

“Yes,” answered Lizzy, turning her head. Holy shit, it was Ivory Rodgers. Just be cool, just be cool, she told herself.

“Come with me,” she smiled.

“Okay,” admitted Lizzy.

“I’m Ivory Rodgers,” she introduced herself, holding her hand out.

“Lizzy Holloway. It’s very nice to meet you,” she replied, shaking her hand. Damn, the woman was even hotter in person, tingles ran up her arm. Damn, she’d never been this way with anyone before.

“I love your hair and dress,” complimented Ivory, walking towards a ballroom.

“Thanks.” Self-consciously, Lizzy touched her hair, still getting used to the different shades of purple spiral curls hung down her back. “I just got it done today.”

“I like it,” smiled Ivory, her jet-black hair hung down the middle of her back. Her trademark hazel eyes, made it hard for Lizzy to turn away.

“There you are Ivory,” said a man that seemed to command the room with his presence. Tall, elegant in a black suit. “We’re about to start. Who’s this?”

“My new friend Lizzy Holloway,” introduced Ivory. “Lizzy this is Spencer.”

“Hi,” something about him told Lizzy he was used to commanding attention. That most people he encountered would do whatever he would say.

“Ivory, I warned you about doing this,” he said to her, looking worriedly at Lizzy. “I told you this needs to stop.”

“Why? When I can make new friends like Lizzy,” questioned Ivory. “Get something to eat, and I’ll be back soon. I won’t stay here long, then we can go somewhere quiet and get better acquainted.”

“Me?” Lizzy couldn’t stop the shock from her voice. Lizzy wanted to get better acquainted with her?

“Yes, you,” confirmed Ivory. “I can’t wait until I get you alone.”

Why did it sound like she’d been expecting Lizzy? Maybe she should leave? But then she’d miss the chance to get to talk to Ivory. This could be a night she’d never forget. Walking to the tables that lined the wall, she picked some stuff off the plates.

“Drink?” asked a waiter behind her.

“Thanks, do you have any Pepsi?” she asked. Thinking it might be better to keep her mind clear.

“Of course,” he nodded, “I’ll be right back.”

 

 

 

 

About Izzy Szyn:

New York Times Bestselling Author Izzy Szyn was born in May of 2014 when a friend dared her to write. Born and raised in Detroit, Mi. Izzy now lives in Oklahoma City with her furchild Misty, the friendliest Chihuahua/Terrier you will ever meet. Currently works in a call center, where she writes in between phone calls.

 

 

Izzy loves to keep in touch with her readers. Email her at izzyszyn@gmail.com.

 

Find her on Facebook 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/izzyszynhome/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/izzySzyn

Blog: https://izzyszyn.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13836241.Izzy_Szyn

Google Plus link: https://plus.google.com/100905614042668276073

Newsletter: https://goo.gl/forms/Qh7MUUMhfmqdPupx2

a Rafflecopter giveaway ( http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/801c221b27/)

 

 

 

Lisabet Sarai Launches Butterfly: Asian Adventure Book 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contemporary multicultural erotic romance (X rated)

7400 words

Smashwords and Amazon KDP

ISBN: (Smashwords) 9781370492565

ASIN: B079KR62XL

HFN ending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love never lies

 

Butterfly Blurb:

 

My job makes it hard to have a real relationship. I never know where my next project will be, but I can bet that it won’t be in America’s heartland. So I read a lot, and seek my own five-fingered companionship. Busy with my construction gig in the Thai northeast, I didn’t think I needed what Bangkok had to offer.

 

Then Lek stepped onto the stage at the Butterfly Bar and began to dance. I fell for her during the first five minutes of her set. The weekend we spent together was pure heaven. How could I know our love would drag me through hell?

 

 

Butterfly Buy Links:

 

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079KR62XL

 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079KR62XL

 

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/787824

 

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/butterfly-lisabet-sarai/1127922517?ean=2940155120964

 

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38456644-butterfly

 

 

Butterfly Excerpt:

 

“They want you to buy them drinks,” Charlie told me. “Whenever a customer buys them a drink, they get ten baht.”

 

“Is that all they want?” I was overwhelmed by the feminine flood surging around me.

 

“Well, of course they want tips. And if you like one of them enough, you can pay to take her out of the bar.”

 

“They’re prostitutes?” All at once I felt slightly queasy. The atmosphere was so different from a State-side joint, light-hearted and playful. I didn’t want to think about how it might be tainted.

 

“Well—it’s up to them. The bar pays them to dance and to push drinks. If they want to make a private arrangement, that’s their personal choice. When they decide to leave for the evening, they simply compensate the bar for lost drink income.”

 

“Hmm.” As I pondered this, the music changed, becoming slower and more sensual. Meanwhile, the leftmost dancer stepped down from the bar, and the remaining women moved left to new positions. A figure appeared at the right end of the bar.

 

Something about her caught my attention. With casual elegance, she shed her kimono and draped it over a bar stool. Then she turned toward the shrine in the corner near the ceiling. Touching her fingertips together, she brought them to her forehead and bowed, her reverent gesture totally at odds with the environment.

 

I felt a strange ache in my chest as I watched her mount the steps to the bar, smooth and sure on her stiletto heels. She was taller than many of the girls, slender and willowy. Her long hair rippled around her as she moved, perfectly attuned to the melody and rhythm.

 

She was a natural dancer. Her fluid gestures held me transfixed. She grasped one of the poles leading from the bar to the ceiling and arched backward until her hair brushed the floor. Waves flowed through her, sweet undulations that began in her pelvis and shimmered up her spine. By comparison, the other girls appeared clumsy and coarse. She was not trying to entice, it seemed. She was lost in the music. Yet there was something supremely sexy about her performance. I found myself hardening as I gazed at her, turned on for the first time since entering this den of flesh.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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