Discover Your Calling

If at all, Freud was right about one thing: All of it starts in early childhood. Especially the labeling and filing into categories. Flash some decades later, and we find ourselves as plumbers, teachers, lawyers or jobless. But, despite the illusion of diversity, social and professional categories are narrow. Our profession or situation rarely tells who we are. It’s mostly the things we do in our spare time for fun, pleasure and relaxation that actually define us. The things that, even though often achieved with as much hard work as our job tasks, give us a sense of fulfillment.

I’m a teacher and writer, with special interest in people’s core personalities, in what’s unique about them and what they and only they can offer. Predispositions, talents, the passion and dedication people are capable of when doing what they love fascinate me, and I decided to do everything in my power to foster that. My goal is to help you bring forth what you have to offer, the products you make or the services you render. I’ll start by presenting two very special people and their work, that I appreciate profoundly:

Elisabeta S. is my cover designer. She’s a trained painter and actress, but her passion lies with epic graphics.  It was her talent and hard work that I have to thank for that my first two novels received exactly the covers I dreamt of (Still not decided on the cover for Part II). She put up with me day and night – And I thought I was an easy customer; as if!

final cover Ifinal cover 2final cover II

And then there’s a person whose story and work have touched many lives, not only mine. Corina A. A cancer survivor. The day she found out about the disease – about sixteen years ago – she went ahead and . . . founded her own company! She decided to spend the rest of her life doing what she loves, and guess what – It freaking kept her alive to this day. She not only beat the disease but lost so many pounds she forgot the count – she went from overweight to virtually skinny. A wise mind spoken through a bold mouth, adventurous and so funny that you could get a six pack only from spending a few days with her. She makes beautiful and unique jewlery and objects of decoration. Here she is:

Corina

And here is some of her work:

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If you’re interested in more of Elisabeta S.’s and Corina A.’s products just let me know in a comment and I’ll put you in contact. I have great appreciation for both of these persons and their crafts.

As for me, I do in-depth profiling and I write. The first fifty pages of my upcoming novel “The Executioner” Part 1 are available here, and more chapters here. Part I is due on the 4th of September and will be up for a big givaway on the first week, maybe even longer. My characters are based on in-depth observation and research, since I’m a lover of human nature and character. This is also why I specialized in profiling based on psychology and medical astrology. For a free personal profile see this post.

Conclusion is, all good things started with a passion that couldn’t be boxed into a category. Let’s see some examples:

  • Toothpaste was invented long before the first dentist walked the Earth. More info here.
  • The best addiction counselors are experienced former addicts, not trained therapists. Allen Carr is a wonderful example.
  • The most successful mentors and life coaches aren’t teachers or professors, but people with a calling, with a passion. Take Marie Forleo, for example.

These people don’t fit in a category. They shape categories. They coin. They’re ice-breakers and pathfinders. And you can be one of them.

Leave a comment with your own passions. What do you enjoy doing? Is it writing, cooking, building, sewing, or something so new that it cannot be defined in a few words? Fell free to use as many as you like. VERY IMPORTANT! Feel just as free to advertise for yourself, if you already have a product or services. Tell us about it in your comment. Next time it could be your special products or services that are featured on this site. Looking forward!

Tell me the motto you live by, and I’ll tell you who you are

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time: You leave a comment with

  • your life motto
  • date, place and time of birth
  • an e-mail address where I can send you  your personal profile with focus on your strengths both on professional as well as on love level (for example what career would suit you best and what is most attractive of your personality).

If you have privacy concerns you can send me your contact details and birth info at anaatcalin@gmail.com, and only leave your motto in the comment.

If you’re wondering whether I’m “equipped” to do this the answer is yes. In my teaching career I’ve studied and researched heaps on general and educational psychology, which I like to blend with medical astrology.

These profiles will be tailored on your unique person and personality and I’ll work it “by hand”. This means that I’ll be completely concerned with you and only you while I do it.  Once a week I’ll let one of these profiles inspire me and write a novel scene starring the “literary avatar” (of course also with a fictional name) of the chosen person, which I’ll then publish. I’m looking forward to your comments, the wonders and depths of your personality! Until then, here’s some free reads for you to enjoy: The Executioner.

Love,

Ana

The Executioner Episode 13 and UPDATE Book Release

Now this is the lucky number – 13. Haha! Here goes part 13 of my upcoming – FREE for one week – novel “The Executioner”, a big chunk of which I promised to publish online on this blog. Here is me keeping my promises. Will reveal a glimpse into the approved cover soon, so stay tuned: the sexy villain, fog and all, as they so lovely say. BROAD GRIN. Go all through to the end of this post. There’s a surprise for YOU! So here we go.

Novel Synopsys:

When she meets heartthrob Damian Novac, shy student Alice develops a heavy crush against her best wishes. Hoping to get close to him, she joins Damian and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains – a choice that will change her life abruptly. When the train derails in high snow, they seek refuge at an abandoned cottage, but soon people of their group start losing their minds and dying. Alice barely escapes with Damian and some of their friends, only to realize she’s far from safe even back home. A shady corporation that conducts experiments on humans and which had ‘engineered’ Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail. A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, she can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner? forbiddenlove

Pic source

Tony stayed until after the last class that evening. He waited for us every break. He must’ve really wanted to redeem himself. I decided to give him a chance, only not the kind he would’ve wanted and expected, for sure.

“Listen, Tony,” I cut off his blabbering, smile broad, eyes soft, hand light on his shoulder, all rounded enough to convey the show as far as to the corner Damian’s group had gathered in. “Let us talk about this in a more comfortable place. Standing tables aren’t exactly suitable for long stories, so why don’t we go to Portofino?”

Surprised by my friendliness Tony agreed, babbling and grinning at the same time. But, contrary to what I’d expected, Damian didn’t follow us to the cozy restaurant on the corner between campus and the main road.

It was already evening. The place felt as welcoming as ever, the orange walls adorned with paintings of fishermen throwing nets in calm seas as hospitable as the broad tables laid with shell-shaped dishes. Ruxandra was pretty creative when it came to stories, so she even gave him details about this imaginary peasant granny who’d fed us homemade bread and roasted pork. It felt a bit like the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, with Rux often displaying a disturbed expression as if she remembered watching someone being chained and stuffed with food, then sliced open.

Tony made himself smaller and smaller in his chair, eyes wide like onions as he constantly expected a sharp edge to the story that Rux’s glowering and tone threatened with. Soon unable to put up with the game I myself had initiated, I suggested we continued some other time. “It’s getting late,” was the lame excuse. Plus, after an hour at the restaurant Damian still hadn’t made his entry, which meant that my attempt at making him jealous had failed. But, as we emerged from Portofino there it was, his 98’ BMW 3rd series, black with dark windows, parked by the restaurant.

Damian himself was nowhere to be seen, yet for a moment I hoped with all I had that he’d somehow been watching us, concealed, eating his heart out in jealousy. But the theory shattered when Damian appeared with Svetlana and two laughing couples from the neighbored gas station. They’d most probably had their dinner at the Hey fast food, a modern furnished place, loved by many of our fellow students. For some reason Ruxandra dragged me out of the way that very moment.

The bus ride home allowed Tony the opportunity to talk about himself. He’d sold his car to pay for his last year of studies at a private – and bad – university, and now he no longer lived with his mom, but with three friends in a rented apartment at the Lighthouse. I don’t remember details, since I was drowning in morbid jealousy, my mind spinning around Damian. I felt powerless at the thought of him and Svetlana, and used at how he’d had me give his blade a hand job last night.

Tony accompanied us to the gate. I wasn’t even angry with him anymore. Tonight he’d been merely an instrument that had failed its purpose and I honestly didn’t have the slightest feeling of guilt about it. He’d used me in far more vile ways, so this was the least he could do for me – accept my returning the favor.

Ruxandra didn’t explain why she’d dragged me after her from the Portofino until a week later, which passed with me overthinking Damian’s words and actions from our short moment of intimacy on the Marvimex evening. She sent Tony for coffee – poor guy was going out of his way visiting every day on campus – and bent sideward to me. She spat the words quickly in my ear.

“Don’t look now, but Novac’s been watching you. Whenever you glance at him, he looks away.”

And once again butterfly wings flapped like crazy in my stomach.

“He’s sure wondering what’s the deal with Tony,” I sneered. “He already made it clear he means to protect me, he owes it to Dad. As he does keeping his whore warm.”

“Listen, I don’t have the time to deal with your frustration, but know this: Last week at the Portofino I made you look away from him on purpose. No matter how well versed he is and how detached he managed to appear, I had a feeling he knew exactly where you were at any given time. I was right. Whenever you turn your eyes from him, his settle on you. He even followed the fucking bus every night, Alice.”

Another flapping of butterfly wings that I struggled to repress.

“That only confirms what I told you. He’s playing the bodyguard.”

“Oh, yeah? Even here, in the full cafeteria, where nothing can happen? When you’re with your back at him, he’s drinking you in. It’s growing more obvious by the day. Even Svetlana noticed.”

Her eyes flicked to the woman, and mine followed. Indeed, she was glaring at me, while Damian talked to another campus heartthrob, Gino Bogza – the blond Elven Prince, how I liked to call him.

“Rux, he’s just keeping an eye on me, making sure I don’t roll on my back and fall like a baby just when he’s not looking or something.” I let my shoulders slump, tired and hopeless. “I’m just gonna wait until this is all over. Dad is with the R.I.S., protected, Hector’s on the case, and I . . . I’m giving up. We’re not gonna be able to solve anything where the police and the R.I.S. can’t. BioDhrome, the Executioner, Damian, these are huge fish . . .”

“You’re talking gibberish,” Ruxandra interrupted. “Don’t you think we can help if we share what we know?”

“I don’t know what to think anymore . . .”

“Here’s what we’ll do. I’m gonna go see Hector. Maybe we do know a bit more than he does, and maybe we could put together what we have. And I’ll ask about your Dad, too.”

“No. Damian said Dad is safe as long I don’t try to find him. We might be followed if Hector takes us to his hideout.”

You might be followed. You’re his daughter and possibly still BioDhrome’s target. Maybe you were their target all along, if we are to trust the R.I.S. and your lover boy, which is the sound thing to do.”

“He’s not my lover boy,” I snapped.

“Stop that. You’re crazy about him and he’s crazy about you. He watches your every move, which means he won’t bother wondering where I am. I don’t matter to him or BioDhrome, so nobody will follow me. And I swear, if I have the slightest feeling I’m being tailed, I’ll abort mission.”

I nodded with a heavy heart and let her go. But after Ruxandra leaked out of the cafeteria, leaving me in Tony’s company, I also saw the downside. My ex wasn’t getting off my back anytime soon, now that we were alone.

He refused to go to his university and waited for me in the cafeteria on the next break too. I would’ve loved to know Damian’s reaction to this, but every time I glanced at him he happened to look away. Frustrating. Then I had the most brilliant idea to lose Tony, whose constant presence was starting to get on my nerves. I decided to attend Dr. Anton Barbu’s Educational Psychology class from 18.00 P.M. I originally intended to skip today, since it was late and already dark outside, but since Damian would apparently follow the bus home at any hour, I should’ve been safe.

“I can wait,” Tony said.

“No, don’t. We might stay for debates after class. It could get really late.”

“Then just call me when you’re done.”

“Okay, I will,” I lied with a smile.

It relieved me to see him walk out, but I was certain he’d wait outside for at least half an hour to make sure this wasn’t a strategy of mine to lose him. Tony and I had been a couple for over three years and I knew all too well that behind this fresh contact façade he was still a patronizing bastard.

The cafeteria was now a more pleasant venue with only a few students left, rain trickling down the tall nightly windows, and dimming lights. To my dismay, as I glanced to the place where Damian should’ve been, it was empty. He’d left. A chill went through my chest. I looked at my cell – Still enough battery for a few hours. If panic took me, I could still call Officer Sorescu, Mom or Ruxandra.

Despite the late hour and the scarce attendance, Dr. Barbu’s lectures always took place in a great aula, its amphitheater shape reminding me of ancient Greek plays. I loved attending seminars and lectures in these halls, wood-paneled symbols of history. A thin man in a tweed suit, bald on top of his head but with jet-black hair on the sides, the proud bearer of a Poirot-style mustache, Dr. Barbu always made an impression. A famous and infamous psychiatrist whose name reverberated as far as the Sorbonne, he intimidated not only us, but also the living shit out of the Rector. I guess that’s how he got the monopoly over the psych classes of all faculties.

He had everybody’s attention in a matter of seconds, and not because his lecture was fascinating – as you might falsely expect from psych classes – but because all people present desperately needed to pass his exam. Now that was a difficult task. His phrasing was complicated both in speech and writing, so we mostly strained to get just passing grades, while attendance added a few points. Right before the clock above his lectern struck the end of class, while I was already gathering my stuff, one sentence apparently spoken louder and clearer than all others before it sent a power current up my nape.

“More on gene-generated compulsions, their manifestations and how to identify them in Dr. Nathaniel Sinclair’s ‘Facets of the Nuclein’, available at the city library.”

My head snapped up. The professor was just writing the book’s title down a list on the blackboard. Recognition smacked me full in the head. I’d read five pages of a book written by Dr. Nathaniel Sinclair up in the mountains. The book had belonged to Marius Iordache.

To be continued . . .

***

Enjoyed this? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share a comment with the writer and the reader, and stay tuned for the cover reveal next week. I’m also super happy to announce that for the first week after the book is published on Amazon it’ll be up for a mighty giveaway. And there is also a surprise I’m preparing for you guys: How would you like to have YOUR STORY told? Leave a comment stating your interest and a motto – what characterizes you and your story?

Update on the Drama of a World-Class Ballet Dancer

For Blog Bogdan

UPDATE

Dear friends and readers, thank you so much for your help and support for Bogdan during these last months! Further donations won’t be necessary, but all the prayer you can give. Bogdan has passed away on the 21st of June, “tranquil and without regrets.” These were his words. The disease had advanced very quickly – four times faster than in the average case – and left him with solely the command of his eyes in a matter of months. He will always be remembered, loved and cherished.

R.I.P. Bogdan Nicula

The Executioner – Episode 12

As promised, episode 12 of “The Executioner.” Stay tuned next Friday for episode 13, and every week for much more.

Novel Synopsys:

When she meets heartthrob Damian Novac, shy student Alice develops a heavy crush against her best wishes. Hoping to get close to him, she joins Damian and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains – a choice that will change her life abruptly.
When the train derails in high snow, they seek refuge at an abandoned cottage, but soon people of their group start losing their minds and dying. Alice barely escapes with Damian and some of their friends, only to realize she’s far from safe even back home. A shady corporation that conducts experiments on humans and which had ‘engineered’ Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail.
A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, she can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner?

forbiddenlove

Telling her the conclusion I’d reached during the night was only a matter of minutes. Ruxandra listened with her usual concentrated frown. The discussion was shorter than I’d expected, since none of it seemed to surprise Rux. Hardly anything still could, she said. She asked no questions.
George still snored as we picked our outfits for today. It was an easy and fast process, with Ruxandra grabbing her bags from Marvimex, which she’d dropped on the chair by George’s couch when she’d stormed to him yesterday. I plucked from the wardrobe whatever my hand touched first.
The pair of thick black trousers and the brown sweater didn’t compliment my body the way the clothes from yesterday had, not to mention what an ill fit they were, but more creaking of the wardrobe doors would’ve woken George, so I had to make do.
Mom was up ahead of us, as usual. A rich breakfast was already on the table: marmalade, chocolate croissants, butter, scrambled eggs and, luckily, black tea, which is the only thing I managed to get down my throat.
Mom grinned, guessing what knotted my stomach. “Anxious about seeing Damian today?”
Ruxandra’s eyes flipped up at me over the rim of her teacup.
“He’s just a friend,” I muttered. The word prickled my tongue.
“Now that you mention it, I never got to ask,” Mom said, “how long have you known each other?”
“Um, about two months,” I replied, recounting our history in my head.
The first time I’d laid eyes on him in mid November. How I’d stalked him from afar for about a month and made plans over the Christmas break with Ruxandra to get his attention, falling deeper into a crush before I realized wasn’t even entirely human. How I’d stumbled into his arms in mid January at the party. How we started talking to each other in the cafeteria afterwards – most of this ‘talking’ consisting of short exchanges and jokes from my part – over the following weeks. Then the trip to the mountains and the events that had shaken me to the core. And now we had . . . Wow, already the 20th of February. “Three, maybe.”
“That’s a while,” Mom said. “I’ve seen great loves develop over that amount of time.”
“Not the case here,” I retorted, a little acrid.
“I really think he likes you,” Mom insisted, wrapping up sandwiches that I didn’t want to imagine what she’d do with.
“Are you and Rux hand in hand to make a sucker out of me?” – Not that it came into question that I’d still chase him, but I just had to voice the problem that had tormented me when I’d started to, at least for therapy. “The competition’s fierce for the guy, can’t you imagine already? And he’s actually seeing one of the campus Barbies,” I spat, a flash of Damian rolling his hips into Svetlana shooting me a headache.
As I’d foreseen, Mom moved with the aluminum-foil clad sandwiches in the direction of our bags. I instantly remembered the rice pudding she’d packed once back when I was in elementary, the entire classroom laughing and pointing fingers at me in the lunch break.
“What are you doing, Mom?” I snapped.
She ignored the question and stuffed the sandwiches in our bags. “He’s great looking and, as far as I can tell, darn smart, of course there’s competition for him. But all this must’ve concurred to his developing refined tastes. And setting his eyes on you.”
Ruxandra intervened. “Jenna, are you saying you have a good feeling about the campus Prince Charming? As far as I know, you hate the type.” She sounded and looked surprised, too.
“Yes, I actually do have a good feeling about him,” Mom replied with a warm smile and the look of wisdom on her face that I’d trusted all my life. Had I been wrong forever?
We took the bus to campus. It was packed and it stunk of dirty puffer and wool, onions and sweat, but Officer Sorescu would surely refrain from offering himself as an escort ever again, so crowds were the safest place to be. As was the constant company of trusted people.
The cafeteria was as loud and busy as ever, so Rux and I met there again after lectures, as usual. Though hating myself for it, I couldn’t help glancing around for Damian, while fellow students bombarded us with questions about the events in the mountains – They’d heard a mild, fabricated version.
Then I saw him walk in, looking stunning in a beige V-neck knit tight on his muscular arms, brown chinos and boots, backpack slung on one shoulder. My heart leaped into my mouth, but sank only instants later, as Svetlana appeared high on thin heels with a couple of giggling girlfriends.
Within a few minutes her arm coiled around Damian’s like a snake around a thick tree branch, her grin large and white, her hair falling long and glossy platinum down her back. Dressed in a fitted white blouse with a generous cleavage-view to her small but firm breasts, and slim khakis, she was beautiful and seductive.
She seemed to have recovered completely from the state I’d last seen her in. Not a shadow of distress on her smooth face, as if her whole life experience consisted of dolls and later beauty shops and cocktail parties.
Damian didn’t grant me one glance, as if he didn’t even know me, but Svetlana’s eyes did stop on mine at a certain point. I must’ve glared, feeling angry and impotent, unable to do my father justice, even though he didn’t quite deserve it – He had no one but himself to blame that his much younger lover and the only man he’d trusted with his secret banged each other behind his back. Nevertheless, he was my father. My allegiance to him before third parties was unconditional. Not to mention that jealousy I desperately tried to ignore if not deny ate at me like an army of rodents at a piece of cheese.
Svetlana sank her head. Though she’d already proved stronger than me physically, it was understandable now. I was so angry I would’ve stopped at nothing. I would’ve knotted her jugular around her throat if it cost me a whole bruised face, which must’ve been obvious in my glare.
She began rummaging in her designer bag as a man’s face suddenly replaced the sight. He stood real close, so I had to back up a couple of steps to bring him into focus. My mouth popped open.
“Tony?!”
He smiled a shy smile. “Hi, Alice.”
I stared at him, unable to utter one word. It had been many months since this man had stood before me with his round face, cheeks like red peppers, small eyes the color of bark and the ridiculous air of arrogance. But, unlike his usual self, he was sober. Even his hair was slicked back like that of mobsters in old movies. He looked halfway presentable with vest over shirt, suit pants, coat á la Clark Gable hanging on forearm. He brought cool winter air with him, so he must’ve just come in.
“I,” he began, voice shaky, “I saw you on the bus, I . . .”
“Aha.” Eyebrows high up, I still couldn’t recover from surprise.
“You were with Rux,” – who, I now noticed in a glance, was also staring with an open mouth – “Wondered if I should come and talk to you. I, I heard what happened, you know.”
“What did you hear?” shot automatically out of my mouth.
“The whole story, you know. The train, broken down in the mountains. The avalanche, you were trapped there. Until they found you, the villagers, you know,” he stuttered.
“Oh.” So the fabricated version.
“You’re looking good, Alice, really good.” Now he ogled me from head to toes, much the way Officer Sorescu had the evening before. Tony, too, seemed unable to control his slippery eyes despite my unflattering baggy brown sweater, overworn black khakis and leather boots with low heal. Un-fucking-believable.
“It took a while until I decided to come here and talk to you,” he said.
“I understand.”
“You do?”
“Perfectly.” – Resentful grin.
“You still haven’t forgiven me, have you?”
“You still ask?”
Slam on the table, coffee mugs clattering, my heart jumping out of my chest. Ruxandra’s eyes stabbed Tony, her fist clenched, knuckles showing white. “Can you believe yourself, asshole?” she spat, so loud that every head in the cafeteria turned in our direction. My eyes darted to Damian, who was looking at us with the expression of a wolf ready for attack. I had an idea.
I placed a light hand on Ruxandra’s forearm. She gave me a questioning glare with a quirked-up eyebrow.
“It’s all right, Rux,” I said, looking deep into her bitter-chocolate eyes and praying for telepathy to work, “the man has good intentions. Why don’t you tell him exactly what happened up there, if you feel up to it. I sure don’t yet.”
Ruxandra glared at Tony. It took a few moments until she was able to address him again, eyes down in her books, hand angrily flipping pages to stay busy. While she presented in short the fabricated story as alien from the truth as E.T. from Earth, involving peasants welcoming us by their stoves until the authorities found us, I observed Damian from under my eyebrows.
Observing is an overstatement, though. I glanced at him once in a while, trying to read the emotion in his face. The flashes revealed tight jaw and eyes fixed on us, metallic. Maybe he feared we might tell Stranger too much, but I’d sure as hell make him believe a hotter version.

To be continued …

***

Enjoyed this? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share your opinion with the writer, publisher and readers, we’re happy to hear from you. Stay tuned for episode 13 next Friday or subscribe at anaatcalin@gmail.com to receive notification at each new post.

Love,

Ana

The Executioner – Episode 11

As promised, episode 11 of “The Executioner”. Stay tuned next Friday for episode 12, and every week for much more.

Novel Synopsys:

When she meets heartthrob Damian Novac, shy student Alice develops a heavy crush against her best wishes. Hoping to get close to him, she joins Damian and friends on a winter trip in the Carpathian Mountains – a choice that will change her life abruptly.

When the train derails in high snow, they seek refuge at an abandoned cottage, but soon people of their group start losing their minds and dying. Alice barely escapes with Damian and some of their friends, only to realize she’s far from safe even back home. A shady corporation that conducts experiments on humans and which had ‘engineered’ Damian into something monstrous many years before is on their trail.

A man of secrets and obscure powers, Damian might be a villain or a hero. Though aware of the danger he poses, she can’t fight the obsession that draws her ever deeper. Will Damian become her lover or her executioner?

forbiddenlove

Pic source.

Rux nodded, neck long and face drawn in mock-refinement. “Words put to paper in your dear philosophic period. Freshman year, wasn’t it? When you were still tactless and fearless. Why play pretense now, Alice? You know that what most if not all women want above all else is to be beautiful and desirable. Fuckable.” She sneered the last word in my ear, Marlene Dietrichish enough to set us both laughing.

“I did say that, didn’t I?”

Twisting a strand of my hair on her finger, “You must’ve read it somewhere.”

“Most probably some philosopher.”

“Maybe Schopenhauer the Misogynic.”

“Maybe Nietzsche. I’d expect such impertinence of him, too. Wouldn’t hurry to ascribe it, though, it was a while back.”

“Well, you know what they say. We forget names and titles but the content shapes us. Do you still believe in the thesis?”

I pondered and, for the first time ever since Tony had stood and left me crying at a corner table, I spoke with the ugliest of truths, fished right out of the pond of mud and shit deep down.

“Strongly.”

Ruxandra smiled. “Then hear and savor: You returned home different tonight. It must be the adrenaline Novac makes boil in your blood. You’re still the sweet Lolita with baby blue eyes and creamy caramel locks but somehow more . . . glamorous. Striking even.”

“But still Lolita,” I whispered, then changed the uncomfortable subject. “What’s up with George? Why has he been so restless without you today?”

Ruxandra dropped back on the bed, hand already reaching to turn off the reading lamp. I jumped on the mattress next to her and caught it.

“I’m listening.”

She rolled on her back, eyes to ceiling. When she spoke, she did so as if she were talking to herself. “All he wants to do is cling to my chest and snivel. The entire time. Among sobs he might repeat apologies, although I dread it when he does.”

“Apologies?”

“He feels guilty for having been violent with me up in . . . up there. He fears he might’ve done with me what he did with . . . that guy.”

A heavy silence fell over us. What was I supposed to tell her? Oh, honey, everything’s gonna be all right? Overused and arid of meaning. I let go of her hand and lay down by her side. She turned off the light, and for minutes both Ruxandra and I stared upwards in the darkness.

“You think he would’ve done it, Alice?”

The question I feared. I squeezed her hand, my voice faint. “Yes.”

Further moments of silence, even though we were both wide awake and haunted. I decided that, since we were speaking with the dirtiest of truths again, we might as well do it all the way. Plus, this particular truth might just have made her feel better.

“You would’ve done it, too, Rux.”

The sheets rustled as she rolled to face me. I didn’t do the same, but kept staring upwards, eyes darting all over the ceiling in search of words.

“The gas, it rose our adrenaline to a specific level that stripped us of everything to sheer instinct. We were . . .”

“Killing machines,” she breathed.

“Every one of us was ready, willing, if not eager to spill blood.”

“Not every one. You weren’t.”

I couldn’t keep back a bitter laugh. The memory of the peasant in rubber boots, his bad-smelling grin, the wrinkled, bloodshot eyes that my fingers had clawed into, all of it played before me like a movie on fast-forward.

“Oh, yes, Rux, me too.”

She squeezed my hand harder. “That was different. It was self defense.”

“You call it self defense when you don’t have a choice,” I snapped. “But I overpowered him, Rux. I scratched his eyes, he couldn’t have followed if I’d used the chance and run away. But no, I wanted to finish him.”

A while later I was calm enough to add, “Malice is in all of us, I guess. When stripped of the glazing of civilization and given the proper chemical input, we’re all just instinct. We’d never guess who we really are until we get down there, to the most base of levels.”

Another few moments of silence, grotesque memories sucking us both in. When Rux talked again, I heard her as if through static.

“I don’t know, but base isn’t how I felt.”

Now it was my turn to be curious and surprised. “How did you feel?”

“Superior.”

The mattress wobbled as she rolled on the other side. She cried herself to sleep that night. The bed was a vibrating cradle, one that cast me into dark thoughts in the silence. For hours I thought about what she meant by superior. How could anybody feel like that in the state we’d been? We’d been animals. Stronger than in our civilization-coated environment where most of us are lost to apathy, but still base.

Maybe indeed better than merely human in some sense. In the sense of tougher, maybe more efficient. All due to the gas that had turned our bodies into some kind of high-performance machines. I’d even recovered from multiple fractures and God knows what else before I’d woken up. The realization gave me the chills.

But if the gas alone could do that, resulting in blood tests that baffled doctors, then what had BioDhrome done a whole year with Damian Novac? I shuddered at the idea of him lying on a metal table, needles sticking out of his body, his eyes half-closed and mouth open, a tube snaking down his throat.

Then I thought about Giant. That he was so large he could’ve easily won Mr. Olympia could be ascribed to steroids, the brightness in his eyes to the gas, but combined? In the context of Damian’s and BioDhrome’s story?

With his breathtaking looks that bordered on inhuman Damian seemed to be of the same outlandish league as Giant, so the latter was surely one of BioDhrome’s experiments, too. An agent, Damian had said. Then it hit me.

A genetically modified organism.

I sat up in a flash. This is it! This was the result of everything linked together: BioDhrome conducting medical experiments, the R.I.S.’ chase for them, my Dad’s part in it as a geneticist, the weird Giant and the striking Damian, all of it led to one conclusion: BioDhrome agents were genetically engineered killers.

I felt a consuming urge to find out exactly what they’d done with Damian and what made him “unable to live among people”. “An Upgrade is as doomed as a target,” Dad’s words came to mind. Yes, that’s what they must be called, Damian and Giant. Upgrades. More than ‘normal men’. Superior, as Ruxandra had put it.

For hours I strolled in circles around the room. Barefoot and gnawing at my partly nailless fingers, there was little difference left between me and an asylum lunatic. When Ruxandra shook me awake from the chaise longue in the morning, my eyelids were swollen and heavy.

“What are you doing, curled up there?” she inquired, black hair messy, eyebrows raised, eyes bitter chocolate.

“I’ve got it, Rux. I’ve got it,” I grumbled.

***

To be continued

***

Enjoyed this? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share your opinion with the writer, publisher and readers, we’re happy to hear from you. Stay tuned for episode 12 next Friday or subscribe at anaatcalin@gmail.com to receive notification at each new post.

Love,

Ana

SAVE A LIFE – A world-class ballet dancer paralyzed in full glory

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This is an appeal to all my friends and readers and to the world at large.
Sadly this post isn’t fiction, but the true story of an amazingly talented young dancer, Bogdan Nicula, whom I had the honor of knowing personally fifteen years ago. We didn’t stay in touch, but a couple of weeks ago I was shocked to learn that he struggles with ALS, the disease against which last year people poured buckets of ice on their heads and which nails Stephen Hawking in his high-tech chair too.

But in Bogdan’s case the disease seems to be advancing at a much faster pace than usual. Bogdan now lies on a hospital bed in Düsseldof, Germany, where he used to work as a ballet dancer until December 2014. His family and friends hope to raise the necessary funds for his transport to Thailand for a stem cell transplant, his only chance of survival.

His friends and colleagues, ballet dancers from Bucharest, Constanta and Cluj, Romania, organized beautiful charity ballet shows, but until now they could only raise about a quarter of the necessary sum.
Bogdan Nicula is a valuable, acknowledged artist in Romania and Germany, he danced on the world’s greatest stages includig the Balshoi Theatre, Moscow. For this reason the Romanian press reported his case, and I took the liberty of translating a chunk from an article that offered the detailed story.

View the original here.

The Tragedy of the Romanian Ballet Dancer who paralyzed in full glory. Bogdan Nicula suffers from the same disease as Stephen Hawking.

In less than six months Bogdan Nicula (35), a Romanian ballet dancer living and working in Germany, was forced to leave the stage of the Opera House in Düsseldorf for a hospital bed, now almost entirely paralyzed. His family is struggling to raise the money for a stem cell transplant, Bogdan’s only chance of survival.

He danced on the world’s greatest stages, from famous German theatres (Mainz and Düsseldorf) to the Balshoi Theatre in Moscow, being one of the most talented Romanian ballet dancers known abroad. But Bogdan Nicula’s career was interrupted this fall, after he was diagnosed to be suffering from a  relentless disease, the same one that nails Stephen Hawking – the famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner – to his chair, namely amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was to raise funds to find a cure for this disease that last year Hollywood stars poured buckets of ice on their heads in what became a viral movement on the internet (“The Ice Bucket Challenge”).

The first signs of the disease

For 25 years Bogdan Nicula worked every day to achieve the best possible muscular coordination, as well as strength, gracefulness and the discipline necessary to attain success as a dancer. He began dancing ballet in the 6th grade, when he moved from a normal school to the School of Coreography in Bucharest, where he managed to catch up the work of two years in only six months.

After graduation he worked at the ballet theatre “Oleg Danovski” in Constanta, on the coast of the Black Sea, and in 2001 he started his international career on the stages abroad as a main dancer at Ballet Mainz and later at Ballet am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Germany. His schedule used to start early in the morning with training and it would end late in the evening with ballet shows. But in September 2014 it changed abruptly. Bogdan began to feel drained of energy much faster than usual and increasingly exhausted. He began having difficulty controlling his arms and legs, and getting back pain. Bogdan went to the doctor’s for investigations. The diagnosis came as a shock.

In Bogdan’s case the disease avances four times faster than usual. By the end of December he was forced to use a wheel chair and since January he’s lying on a hospital bed, almost entirely paralyzed and barely able to breathe by himself. He only let his family know at the beginning of January, when his state worsened and he found himself unable to fend for himself in any way.

The disease evolved at a very high pace

The newspaper “Adevarul” contacted Bogdan’s mother two days before she came back home from Germany. She was at Bogdan’s side and crying. “We found out on the 10th of January. He didn’t tell us before, didn’t want to cause us pain. He’s in a good state of mind, he can still eat and talk even though with difficultly because of the oxygen mask, but he can’t use his arms and legs anymore. He’s a vegetable,” says Bogdan’s mother among sobs. “I pray to God for a miracle, he’s such a good boy, such a loving child. I spend the whole day with him. Friends from the theatre come to visit, they took care of him, he wasn’t alone for a second. I pray to God to save him.”

The family needs 50.000 Euro

“Adevarul” also contacted Monica, his sister, who explained that her brother’s only chance is a stem cell transplant, a procedure that can be successfully performed at the Beike Biotechnology clinic in Thailand. “This disease usually evolves between three and five years, but his case is particularly dangerous. Before Christmas he could still walk and in January he was almost entirely paralyzed. When we came to the hospital in Düsseldorf he was already wearing an oxygen mask. His only chance is a stem cell transplant. We already sent the documents to the clinic in Thailand, and the doctors told us the transplant must be carried out as soon as possible. The problem is that he can’t be transported as a normal passenger, he needs special transportation. The costs for the transport and transplant are very high, around 50.000 Euro,” Monica explained.

UPDATE

Dear friends and readers, thank you so much for your help and support for Bogdan during these last months! Further donations won’t be necessary, but all the prayer you can give. Bogdan has passed away on the 21st of June, “tranquil and without regrets.” These were his words. The disease had advanced very quickly – four times faster than in the average case – and left him with solely the command of his eyes in a matter of months. He will always be remembered, loved and cherished.

R.I.P. Bogdan Nicula

Much love,

Ana

The Writing Process Blog Tour

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Writers – Typing. Plotting. Sweating. And more and more often, getting together and working in teams on projects that are meant to entertain, please and heal. We’re on such a project today – The Writing Process Blog Tour. Together with a great team of writers and authors we’ll be talking about how the writing process works. We’ll talk about style, as well as about the inspiration and especially transpiration involved in creating work readers can enjoy to the fullest – our greatest dream as authors.

The first thing I’d like to do is thank Luciana Cavallaro for allowing me to be a part of this. She posted on this topic last week, you can read about how the writing process works for her here and more on  her original writing based on alternate mythology (!) here. I’m a regular reader of her posts and recommend them with great trust. I’d like to point out that I have genuine and deep appreciation for her and the writers I’ll be introducing you to in the last part of this post. I love and respect each of them for different reasons, which I will share with you.

My role in this project is telling readers and fellow writers about the strings and mechanisms behind the writing process and how they work in my case. I could write volumes on this one, but I’ll do my best to keep it to the essentials. For details I’ll gladly be at your disposal, so feel free to leave comments and tell me what you think or what you’d like to take from my experience. Experience is only useful when shared.

What am I working on?

I’m currently deep in crafting Cries of the Blood, a sequel to The Blacksmith. This is the second book in a series, but I don’t intend to go about it the way I don’t appreciate myself as a reader – making one story too dependent on the following. Each of my books offers some kind of closure, e.g. if The Blacksmith centers on human potential – backed by scientific research – and romance, Cries of the Blood is focusing on past lives – again, it won’t fall short on plausible, scientific explanations – and, of course, romance. I’m posting chapters of the book each week on my blog, so readers and fellow writers are warmly invited to give their opinions, suggest turns and edit if they see fit. This helps keep the project interactive and allows for team work – yes, I’m a hardcore team player, so I’ll probably be stressing the importance of that every chance I get.

Cries of the Blood binds past, present and future in a story that unfolds in France. It’s sewn with chateaus, cathedrals and history, as well as forbidden passions and struggle. You can read the first hundred pages here.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not struggling to make my work different. Different is not the right word for me. What I can say is that I find my inspiration in heavy loads of research in psychology, medicine and history and I haven’t read anything quite similar to my work so far. The characters go from humans like you and me – called Rooties or base humans in the books – to becoming the best versions of themselves. I called them demiangels and demidemons. I daresay this is my signature. I’ve been striving to prove that humans have all necessary traits to become like their ideals – immortal and invincible – and I’ve been spending long nights with the glasses on the tip of my nose, deep in books, reports and dissertations. Having a medical doctor for a mother and a physicist for a father helped my cause. I’ve drawn a lot on their knowledge and experience when I went on searching for the perfect bind of life and death, love and lust, purpose and bliss. This may sound a bit crazy, but I do believe in what I write.

Why do I write what I do?

With all the drama going on in today’s world, with stress, desperation and crime sinking their claws ever deeper in the throat of humanity, with cancer taking lives like once the Influenza, I’m stubbornly seeking to unearth humans’ natural ability to heal themselves and attain bliss – not in the next world, but in this one. I think passing to the other side – death – should be a matter of choice and not the Sword of Damocles.

Just as importantly, seeing how couples who’ve lived a lifetime together give up on each other, failing to see in their partners the “god” or “goddess” they once fell for, gives me the chills. I believe that the passion which brings two people together – the crush, if you like, or even the limerence – is a powerful tool that helps maintain the “kick” throughout relationships, a tool people could learn how to use. I strongly believe that couples can love and passionately desire each other for millennia, like when they were still new for one another. Again, I do believe in what I write.

How does my writing process work?

This may sound weird but, trust me, it’s the truest thing I can say about writing: it’s like having a baby. First, it grows in you. I just knew I wanted to write – yes, wanted, not had to. See the difference? There are those who have to – they’re chosen. There are those who want to – they choose. I tried putting ideas on page for a year and a half. But research elbowed its way to the font of the line. It wasn’t yet the time for writing. And then the characters took shape in my sleep. I saw Aurelia Novac – a Romanian English teacher whose face was slowly being marred by wrinkles while her students blossomed into youth. She didn’t talk at first, but I had access to her feelings – she knew she would die an old woman, undesired by her husband or any other man, feeling that her life was wasted. She asked me to change her destiny. I had the power to, so I did. But when the water broke, so to say, it was harder than I’d expected. Some pages just flowed from my fingertips, others didn’t. I had to suffer, breathe and push like at childbirth. Sometimes I’d just brace myself and rock back and forth in my chair, eyes stuck to the computer screen. Mostly it was like watching a movie, yet somehow different: scenes took place in slow motion, as if the characters wanted to keep me guessing. They’d sometimes give me one line at a time. Soon, I began to write as if I was watching a series on TV. I look forward to writing each day. That’s why I initially decided to post the episodes from Cries of the Blood each week – for readers to enjoy reading each episode of their weekly fiction as I did writing each of them. Starting next week there will be two episodes, Wednesdays and Saturdays. So stay tuned at anaatcalin.com.

Research never stops and neither does the flow of ideas. The work isn’t done with the first draft either. Yet even though I aim to offer my readers the best experience possible, I still write for myself. The reason is simple: that’s the only way to keep it real and – returning to the second question “how is your work different” – here is yet another answer. I totally enjoy other styles and foreign stories, but focusing on “what sells” functions like a virus in the organism of writing. Nevertheless, I do keep an eye open for new trends and developments. I doubt too many people would enjoy Dante’s style these days – I know I wouldn’t. I know I’d want a book that will entertain me and feed me, not strain my nerves. As an author, I will offer no less than I expect either.

Next week:

Camelia Miron Skiba – is one of my favorite authors. I discovered Camelia during another blog tour (importance of team work!) and would like to emphasize this: if you want a professionally written, perfectly edited, captivating story that will make your week, she is your author. I’ve read a lot of her work and preferred her Hidden Heart and Born in Sin even to Coelho and E.L. James (yes, funny that I have both of those in one sentence but people are complex and have tastes to match). As I stated above, I have genuine appreciation and respect for the authors and bloggers I recommend.

Stephanie Hurt – Stephanie’s blog posts have inspired and given me strength in difficult moments. She is the one who made me feel I’m not alone out there with my troubles and that other writers share them too. Her posts are slick, to the point and empowering. She lives in Georgia, is a writer, an accountant and a mother. She is a well of motivation.

Joe K – Joe is fairly young but he’s impressed me with many things. He works with a team of other young writers and together they have created The Forum. Their work is manifold and rich, they write really well and I found I have a lot to learn from them – again, binding past, present and future. Keeping an eye on their dynamic project often replaces New York Times at morning coffee.

Stay tuned for their posts next week, the 18th of November 2013. I’m sure they’ll be a pleasure to read.