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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.

 

A Very Crowded Room

writing image 2It’s crowded room time again, and my room that is 2013 is unusually crowded, surprisingly crowded, in fact. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination with the last week of the year. It’s completely different from the rest of the year. It feels more like there are actually just fifty-one weeks in the year, then there is a week that’s really the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, jam-packed with the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.

The last week of the year is a mental version of that living room, a room that we all have in our head. No matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that has happened in the year. Then we mentally pour ourselves a glass of our favourite, settle in to the one comfy chair that’s not avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.

Every item in my grandmother’s living room had a story — a gift from someone, a souvenir from some marked event in her life, something someone had made for her or she had made for herself. My grandmother’s living room was a book full of stories I only ever experienced through her eyes, stories that were lost in the mist to anyone but her.

This time of year, in this last week, we all sit in our mental story book living rooms and tell ourselves one last time the stories that have been our life for the past fifty-one weeks. We laugh at our joys, we mourn our losses and we nod our heads in satisfaction at our successes, promising they’ll be even bigger next year.

There was a finality about her over-crowded living room. It spoke of endings, of past events, of P1000885treasured moments. That last week of the year room we all occupy right now has its own finality. After midnight tonight, we can crowd no more into that room. We leave it as it is, papers strewn, boxes open, bed unmade, cup of tea half finished. Mind you, some of us spend our last hours in that room frantically trying to crowd just a little more into it. That’s me, sitting in the recliner madly tapping away at the computer trying to get another chapter written, another short story out before I have to leave this room and lock the door behind me.

It doesn’t matter though, if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills this room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it fuller, at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us that is 2014. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2014 have shaped us, anticipating how we will take the experiences into the next empty room. With that in mind, here is a very brief tour of my 2013 Room.

Empty Room New Year postMore Books in My Crowded Room:

This has been the year I had three novels published, finishing two trilogies in the process, along with a collection of my short stories.

Elemental Fire, the final novel of the Lakeland Witches paranormal trilogy came out early in the year.

Identity Crisis, book two of Grace Marshall’s Executive Decisions came out about the same time.

The Exhibition, the final book in the Executive Decisions trilogy came out in November.

Gracefully Aroused: The Best of K D Grace  a collection of my short stories, came out in the middle of the year.

First Drafts and Works in Progress:

medusa_bernini2013 was the year I collaborated with the fabulous Moorita Encantada on a burlesque play, Eye of the Beholder, a kinky, quirky twisting and retelling of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus. There’s more work to be done on that, and I’m looking forward to the rewrite and the next steps with Moorita in 2014.

With two days left in 2013, I finished the final read-through of the proofs for Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly, which will be out in February 2014.

I’ve written two short stories I’m very excited about, that will be coming out in 2014. I’ll be crowing about those when they happen, and I’ve written numerous blog posts. I’m not even going to mention the pages of new ideas for future novels!

Did I Do Anything other than Write in 2013?

Yes! I did! I made two major trips abroad for research as well as for fun. I spent five days in Las Vegas in March, along with ten days in Oregon. Both Vegas and Oregon figure strongly into novels I’ve written and ones still to come.

I just got back from a fantastic week in Rome, where book three of The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, will be set. I came home truly inspired.

This was the year of the allotment. I spent many long hours spent digging and planting and harvesting some of the most delicious veg ever grown. My back still aches and my mouth still waters at the thought.

This was the year I temporarily gave up long walks for time spent at the gym with a personal trainer. What started out as rehab for a gimpy knee ended up to be a different kind of challenge for me and one that I’ve truly enjoyed. As for the knee – it’s very much improved and I look forward to taking on some long crow-country walks in 2014.

555019_495828133815487_910474558_nThere were lots of readings this year, several at Sh! Women’s Store, including two Reading and Poetry Slams. Sh! is always a delight.

This was the first year of Smut by the Sea, a fabulous gathering of writers and readers organized by two of my heroes, Victoria and Kev Blisse. I’m elated to say that we’ll all be returning to Scarborough for year two of Smut by the Sea in 2014! If you get a chance to attend, please do. I’d love to meet you there!

This was year two for Eroticon – held in London in 2013, and expanded to two full days this year! Once again, Ruby Kiddell organized a totally stunning event. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to lead a workshop for the event – my first ever. Thought my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, it was a wonderful experience. I can’t recommend Eroticon enough, and in 2014 it’ll bet returning to Bristol. I hope to see you there!

The Birth of the Brit Babes:britbabes_sidebar

One of the most exciting things that happened at Eroticon this year was the birth of the Brit Babes. In 2012 at Eroticon, we put our heads together and schemed the fab Seven Deadly Sins anthology. In 2013 all that creativity became the creative force behind the Brit Babes, a group of eight British erotica authors dedicated to promoting quality and varied erotica and helping readers find just exactly the erotica that works for them. To learn more about The Brit Babes and their plans for world domination which very well could include you, please check out the Brit Babes Site

After a year’s hiatus, this was the year Erotica came back to London and Smutters organized a wonderful table selling books and promoting authors. I was very proud to be a part of the event, even for one day, and I’m still in awe of Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse who organized the Smutter table and readings. You two rock!

This was the year I got nominated, along with the fabulous Kay Jaybee, for ETO’s Best Erotic Author of 2013. Kay and I went and celebrated at the event in Birmingham. We lost out to some chick named E.L. James. Can you believe it? But we still had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We came away winners anyway.

Writers spend so much time living in our heads, in the worlds we create and, at least for me, that forces me to live in the moment most of the time when I’m not writing. I never think much ahead of the next scene to be written, the next chapter to be finished, the next blog post to be put up. As a result, the room that is 2013 has, like the ones before it, filled up without me paying too much attention to what’s around me. And then I reach this day, this last day of the year and I look around me. I’m stunned at all P1000814that’s happened. As I think back, reflecting on the stories, the experiences, the laughter, the sharing and camaraderie, the joy of seeing my stories in print, it seems hard to imagine that I could possibly fit so much into only 365 days. And all the neurotic struggles and self-doubts and fears, well they take up such a tiny space in the room of 2013 that I wonder now why I let them take up so much of my energy.

Once again I come to the end of the year, pick up the key, and stand with heart racing, head full of ideas and plans, with hand resting on the door knob to enter that new room, the one that is bright and shiny and labeled in spangles and glitter, 2014. I am moved by all that has been, by all that is crowded into the space of one single year and by how it has changed me. And I anticipate newness, challenges, more neurotic episodes, adventures, times with friends, and writing – LOTS of writing. That’s the part I anticipate the most. How could it be otherwise?

My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room of 2013 be good ones, satisfying ones, and encouraging ones. And at the stroke of midnight, may you enter that bright empty room of 2014 with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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