Remembering my grandparents, Spyros and Antigoni Vassilakis

Spyros and Antigoni Vassilakis

Today (May 2nd) marks one year since my granny’s passing and the memories are flooding in. Granddad passed away back in 2010 on May 5th. As a result, early May for me has become a time that inevitably brings me sadness, but somehow floods my mind with loving memories and fills my heart with blessings at the same time too.

Last summer, having inherited my grandparents’ house in Moraitika, it was hard opening the door and finding an empty house inside for the first time. What’s more, I was burdened with the gruesome task of having to go through my grandparents’ belongings, deciding what was to keep, what to throw, and what to give to charity. The task took days, and it was a surreal experience. Being interspersed with short bursts of summer holiday fun, it felt odd to do this too but, somehow, my mission was accomplished. At the end of my holiday I had given loads of clothes and medical equipment no longer needed to a couple locals who were grateful to have them, my husband and I had scrubbed dirty and moulded walls and ceilings clean, the house was tidy and aired after having being left uninhabited for a long time, and our minds were enriched with beautiful new holiday memories.

I share with you today a couple photos I took while sorting through my grandparents’ personal belongings. I found these in their aged bedside cabinets.

I quickly recognized all the items in the above photograph from old memories and was deeply moved to see Gran Antigoni had kept a couple of the handkerchiefs I used when I was little. The moment I saw them I remembered them as mine. Those among you who have holidayed in Corfu in the 70s and 80s may recognize the item in the middle as a pill box. They were all the rage in the 80s, being sold in many shapes and with various depictions on them in the souvenir shops at the time.

As for granddad’s things, the only item I didn’t recognize was the binoculars. They are dented, as you can see, and you couldn’t see much through the lenses, but he must have been fond of them as he kept them all the same. I can only imagine how many years he must have had them! As for the torch, granddad had a few, and this one is the oldest I remember and probably his favourite! It’s the one he used during our annual ‘pizza nights’ at the beach when the August moon was out – a memory that made its way into The Ebb, the novel I wrote to share my love for my grandparents with the world. Speaking of The Ebb, Sofia’s dented fork is also real… and I have proof. Scroll down below to see a photo of it 🙂

Granddad Spyros, born in Moraitika in 1913, was one of the children of Stefanos Vassilakis, the priest and teacher of Moraitika in the early 1900s. Granddad never had an education beyond elementary school but his impeccable manners towards family and friends as well as his loving, giving heart were prominent parts of his character. During the forty odd years that I was blessed to have him in my life he’d always been upbeat, sweet and loving and I never witnessed him lose his temper or fight with anyone, not even when he had every right to. And believe me, in my typically dysfunctional Greek family he had many opportunities to act that way.

Being the son of a preacher, Granddad spent Sunday mornings sitting with a radio and chanting along to the priest and the hymn singers. He also chanted in the church with gladness whenever asked. As I share in The Ebb, he had an odd affinity for the TV remote control, driving Gran to a frenzy. Actually, all his eccentricities that I share in the book are true, and he was a man who loved to laugh and entertain others too. Near the end of his life, he kept asking us to be merry when he dies, saying he wanted people to laugh, not cry, at his funeral. I last spoke to him (on the phone from Athens) three days before his passing at the age of 97. His mind was crystal clear, his voice jovial, like a young boy’s. His answer to my question ‘How are you?’ was a hearty laugh and the typical answer, “Got to be here another day!”

Granddad loved a good joke. Once, when he was well into his 90s, we were sitting around the table and he was laughing his head off with his own morbid joke. He had recently paid the council for a family grave and had had it decorated with the marble top and cross, and even his own picture, ready for the big day! Apparently, a local had passed by and seen the grave and told another: ‘Crikey! When did Spyros Vassilakis die? I never heard!” Someone had told Granddad and he relayed it around the table, laughing heartily at the ridiculous notion someone had thought him dead, even though he had set the scene perfectly for anyone to be fooled! And that was Granddad. He had this wicked sense of humour that often annoyed Gran and led to those ‘fights’ at the table that always caused me and my sister to exchange glances and chuckle no end.

Granddad also loved to joke with his friend Andriana, a local woman, and mother of Leftis from Romantica. Granddad and Mrs Andriana had approximately the same age and often joked with each other, betting who would pass away first! As he lay in his bed towards the end, Granddad heard the church bell toll intermittently in the typical single strike that signalled a death in the village. He turned to Gran and said, ‘Andriana’s gone’, which was indeed the toll of the bell for her passing, but we will never know if it was just a guess or if he knew somehow. The next day he died too.

Above all Granddad’s delightful eccentricities, one stands out for me as the most endearing: he always carried a little plastic comb in his shirt pocket and loved for me and my sister to comb his hair when we were little. Ever since I remember myself this ritual kept going strong. When I stayed or visited his house in Athens as a little girl he’d sit on his armchair, pat his shirt pocket and give me a cunning grin. I’d then rush to him, take the comb from his pocket and begin to comb his hair for a long time, the longer the better for him, but it was something I enjoyed too so much that time just flew. Often, before I knew it, he’d be fast asleep while I did this, sometimes even snoring loudly! He’d often wake up a little later to find he had all sorts of plaits braided on his head with colourful plastic hair clips at the end of them. He had the softest, snow-white thin strands and to this day I remember how they felt in my hands.

Outside the house in Moraitika – early 2000s

When Granddad passed away in 2010, I asked Gran if she had one of his combs to give me. She gave one to me and one to my sister and we both treasure them. Often, when the going gets tough in my life, I take it in my hands and tell Granddad my troubles. It always helps me to soothe any kind of heartache or mental strain – the comb having been established as the ultimate symbol of his love in my heart and mind.

I was deeply moved and very fortunate to find these old documents in an envelope in my granny’s bedside cabinet last summer. Time had rendered them gossamer thin but the writing is still legible in most places and it’s been preserved quite well despite the dozens of humid winters. These documents were my granddad’s call to military duty twice: the first in 1935 and the other in 1945.

The document of 1935, when Granddad Spyros was 22, had him registered as a coffee shop seller who was assigned to serve as a telephonist in the Communications Corp (I translate all this to the best of my ability seeing I am not familiar with military jargon). The rules that were mentioned overleaf state that the person called to duty was obliged to appear on the date specified. It was also stated that a delay of one day in showing up would result in imprisonment, while a delay of two or more days would automatically declare the person a deserter, which was punishable by death, or a life sentence in prison if evidence was put forward for their defense. There was also a clear instruction in bold to treat the assigned post and the document itself as confidential.

The document of 1945 called my granddad to duty in Acharnes, Athens in September 30th, 1945. He was 32 at the time. The document listed the same kind of rules overleaf, although with less severity compared to the other document. It was also stamped in Patra in October 1945 and there’s writing beside it but sadly it’s impossible to make out what it says.

What I do know about granddad’s service during the war was that he fought in Albania and when released from duty he returned to Corfu on foot. I also know that in Corfu he was stationed in two places: the (Venetian) Old Fortress in Corfu Town and in the Palace of Mon Repos in Kanoni. In the latter, he served as a cook and rubbed shoulders with Greek and English officers.

Gran is pictured with one of her brothers and her father in Corfu town

Gran Antigoni was born in Lefkas (Lefkada) in 1924. Her father, Nikolaos Kopsidas from the village of Karya, Lefkas, owned two inns in the island capital but a devastating earthquake that destroyed many buildings in town, including his two businesses, forced him to leave the island and seek a new life for himself and his family in Corfu. Granny was about four when she moved to Corfu. Brought up in the ancient quarter of Campielo of Corfu town, she spoke melodically, her vocabulary rich with unfathomable Italian-sounding words dating from the island’s occupation by the Venetians. When she was nineteen, one of her brothers made friends with my granddad who was thirty years old at the time. Granddad would often say that when he first led eyes on my demure grandmother she was wearing a long pleated skirt and the sight made him loose his mind (‘tin itha ke vourlistika’, were the exact words!). The rest is history, as they say.

From left to right, Ioanna, Gran, and Stephania

Granny lived and breathed for her daughters, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania, who were also brought up in Campielo.

When I came to be, it was a story of love both ways. Granny and I soon developed a very strong bond. When I was little I’d often stay in her rented house (in Athens back then) and I was so attached to her I called her ‘mama’ (mum) and refused to fall asleep unless she held my hand. Gran would often laugh and say I gave her a hard time back then, seeing that as soon as she moved her hand away from my grasp I’d snap my eyes open, which meant she had to give me her hand and wait for me to fall asleep all over again.

 

Although my grandparents lived in Athens when I was little, we often visited Corfu in the summer to stay with my aunt Stephanie’s family in Garitsa (coastal quarter of the town next to Anemomylos). My grandparents had inherited a small quarter of my great-grandfather’s house in Moraitika but they needed to build upon it to make it a proper home with the necessary commodities first. They managed this in the early 1980s so I began to spend my summer holidays for three months at a time in the village as of then.

In The Ebb I share many of the terms of endearment Granny used to address me. There is an entertaining one I didn’t share, which tickled my husband’s funny bone so much he uses it for me now. The term is ‘kontessa’ (countess), my granny’s way of teasing me whenever, as all kids occasionally do, I acted lazy or self-indulgent. Every time Andy calls me that now if, say, I snooze a little longer in bed, there is a tug in my heart, but the feeling is wonderful, knowing the term  of endearment survived, somehow.

In the recent years, I’ve been blessed to have had Gran stay in my house in Athens for a month or so at a time during the winter. Back in 2011 when the above pictures were taken I had a dog, Nerina, a sweet and benevolent soul. I guess she must have found in Gran a kindred spirit, as she’d follow her around the house, especially when Gran cleaned fish at the sink as you see in the above photo. To stretch her legs, I often took Gran to the seafront for a stroll and as Gran loved eating fish, she often proposed we buy some for lunch straight from the fishing boats. On sunny days, more often than not, she would suggest a walk in the fields around the house to pick wild greens. You’d think a 90-year-old would cringe at the thought but Granny was tireless. She didn’t mind at all bending over for an hour to pick greens and often did a little gardening too, picking sprouts of spearmint from one place to put them in a new spot, or just watering my plants. She loved to be around plants and did the same in her tiny yard in Moraitika till the day she left it behind the last time.

 

My grandparents’ children, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania

 

When Gran and Granddad started their life together in the 40s, times were hard. If they needed to visit Moraitika from Corfu town, they often walked the whole way. That’s a 45 minute ride in the bus today! As a young married couple they lived in Campielo as I said before where, to make ends meet, Granddad used to do deliveries for a refreshment company. He made the deliveries all over town riding a horse carriage. During the summer, he worked a lot more hours to meet the higher demand, often on all days of the week. He’d leave home at first light and return after dark when the kids were in bed. As a result, his little daughter, Stephania, called him ‘o babas o chimoniatikos’ (winter dad) as this was the only part of the year where she got to see him.

Later in life, to seek a more secure future, my granddad took his family to live in Athens where he worked at the Skaramangha shipyard. In my debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, I mention the scrap fabric pieces that the workers used to clean their hands from the dirty work. Granddad would often take the odd scrap home and Granny made clothes for their children from them.

Back in Moraitika is where sheer bliss began to pour into my life. Roughly from the age of 12, I began to stay with my grandparents nearly every summer from early June to early September. I played and swam daily with a multitude of cousins and village children and as neighbours I had a host of great-uncles and great-aunts who’d each inherited a part of my great-grandfather’s big house. Every morning would find me and the other children playing with a ball or cards under the mulberry tree or on the cemented step that can still be found today outside the house.

The mulberry tree in front of the house always causes myriad fond memories to come to surface. This lane that leads to the village church has been my playground for many happy summers.

Towards midday, we’d all descend to the beach in large numbers for our daily swim. In the afternoons, after our siesta, my cousins and I would go for long walks accompanied by my grandparents or the odd great-uncle. One of them, Great-Uncle Lilis who was a retired teacher at the time accompanied us in our walks military-style, shouting out ‘ena-dyo, en-dyo’ to give the marching rhythm but of course we kids laughed it off. We did find it endearing though so from time to time indulged him by parading like little soldiers for him as he followed last on the side of the road, supervising us.

Most of the time, we’d walk along the Corfu-Lefkimmi highway and stopped at Messonghi past the tiny bridge near the turn off to Agios Mattheos where the petrol station is today. Beside it on the corner, there was a cafe owned by my uncle Thanassis Tsatsanis from Messonghi. This was our resting place for a refreshment or a sweet before our long walk back home on the hill in Moraitika.

All the things fun I just mentioned, interspersed with out-of-this-world good meals prepared by my granny only repeated themselves the next day and the next after that, for three months at a time. I am sure, therefore, you can imagine my joy every time June came when I was a youngster, and the absolute heart-wrenching sorrow that hit me when September arrived each year and it was time to go.

As I have said many times and also recorded in The Ebb, Gran Antigoni was an amazing cook and prepared her meals in a tiny kitchen barely big enough for two people to stand in it. These photos from the early 2000’s serve as proof!

 

Speaking of proof, here is a picture of the dented aluminum fork described in The Ebb. Every summer, on my first day in the house, Gran would take it out of her ancient cabinet drawer and set it in front of me at the table with a glint in her eye as Granddad chuckled. You can imagine what it means to me now they are gone. I took this photo last summer, and it was quite emotional when I set it down on the table to eat with my husband, without either of my grandparents present for the very first time. But of course, their love remains inside me, safe, where neither time nor death can ever take it away.

Below, I share a couple videos from happy days with my grandparents. These were taken in the summer of 2004.

The two first videos feature my conversations with my grandparents as I take the video and Andy and Granddad watch Gran BBQ fish for our lunch. During that time we elaborated a lot on the fact Granddad was difficult to cook for because there were many foods he didn’t like much (fish and meat included). I then tried to convince him to have some fish but he seemed intent on only having the boiled greens and skordalia (garlic dip) that were to be served with it. By the time Gran serves at the table, she and I have managed to annoy him somewhat to a hilarious effect right at the end of video 3.

“San polla de lete?” (Don’t you think you’re talking too much?) quips Granddad in his typical mock-stern tone. It made my grandmother and I laugh many times as we watched this video together after his passing. Grandma would laugh while her fingertips caressed his face on my tablet’s screen, the words ‘Spyro mou…’ issued wistfully and repeatedly from her lips.

I hope you’ll find the videos entertaining, even those among you who don’t understand much Greek, if only for the mannerisms and the real-life depiction of a typical ‘row’ between my grandparents at meal times as described in The Ebb.

 

I truly believe that Granny and Granddad were sister souls. They were married together for 67 years and remained in love till the last day when Granddad died peacefully in his bed in Granny’s arms. Granny often relayed how he opened his eyes and gave her one last, intense look, before he closed them again, this time, forever. Granny said it felt like he was aiming to take her image along with him.

Last year, my grandmother’s parting words to me were said over the phone and during a rare moment of lucid thinking as osteomyelitis had long begun to cloud her mind since her fatal fall. Even though she kept silent or mumbled to herself whenever I phoned the old people’s home in Limnos where she spent her very last days, during that call I was lucky to make out these words: ‘Na eisai kala kyra mou, na eisai panta kala’ (may you be well ‘my lady’, may you always be well). I knew that day this was goodbye. And I was right; she died just a couple days later. I do hope in her heart she knew I was there when that happened, if only in spirit.

Goodbye Grandma. Goodbye Granddad. Until we meet again.

 

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GODDESS ATHENA AND HER SACRED TEMPLE, THE PARTHENON

Today, I am re-issuing an old post of mine. It is about Goddess Athena and her magnificent temple on the Athens Acropolis – the Parthenon. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Goddess Athena was greatly revered by the ancient Greeks. One of her many epithets, Pallada (or Pallas), was owed to the peculiarity of her birth. According to legend, she sprang forth from the forehead of her father Zeus, fully armed and shaking her spear fiercely, making a fearsome sound. The word Pallada is derived from the Greek word ‘pallein’ which means ‘to shake’.

This divine young virgin was among other things, the goddess of wisdom and justice. Her sacred symbols include the owl and the olive tree. According to legend, she challenged Poseidon on the Athens Acropolis aiming to win the patronship of the city. The two Gods agreed to each offer a gift before king Cecrops and the witnessing Athenians; the better gift would grant the deity the greatly desired patronship status.

Poseidon went first, striking the Acropolis Rock with his trident to produce the Sea of Erechtheus; a salt spring. As the myth goes, the Athenians weren’t particularly impressed with this gift, as the water wasn’t fit to drink. Poseidon then offered a second gift, a horse, to be used for war. When Athena’s turn came, she struck the ground with her spear and an olive tree sprouted from it swiftly; a magnificent gift to be used for nourishment, beauty and light in the dark. King Cecrops and the people of Athens favored the gift of the olive tree and declared Athena the patron deity of the city that inevitably took on her name.

According to myth, Poseidon was enraged by this and stormed to western Attica, where he flooded the Thriasian Plain. His rivalry with Athena, even though she is his niece, is legendary in Greek mythology. Homer’s Odyssey illustrates it heavily, telling the world of this fearsome uncle and his cunning niece who fight over the fate of Odysseus. The cunning Greek king and his loyal crew roamed the sea for years, going through infamous trials and tribulations as they made their way back home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. Although Poseidon tried to lead Odysseus to his demise, furious with him for blinding his beloved son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, Athena kept going against his will assisting Odysseus out of difficult situations, until he made it safely home back to his palace and faithful wife, Penelope.

The Athenians loved their patron Goddess like no other deity. During the Golden Age of Athens (460-430 BC), under the leadership of Pericles, they built the Parthenon atop the Acropolis hill, along with other glorious edifices; all of them famous through history in their own right as well: The Propylaea, The Erechtheion and The Temple of Athena Nike.

Famous architects Iktinos and Kallikrates took over the construction and the legendary sculptor Phidias was commissioned to create the colossal chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Athena for the interior of the Parthenon, which was named Athena Parthenos (Athena The Virgin). Phidias also sculpted the gigantic bronze statue Athena Promachos (Athena standing in the front line in battle). This statue was placed between The Parthenon and The Propylaea.

The word Parthenon is derived from the word ‘parthenos’ which means ‘virgin’ as per the epithet ‘Virgin’ for Athena. Once in four years, the Panathinaia Festival took place in honor of the Goddess. Although it also involved athletic events similar to the Olympic Games, the main event was the religious procession that made its way from The Parthenon to the town of Elefsis via Iera Odos (The Sacred Way); today, Iera Odos survives as a busy motorway between Athens and the historical town of Elefsis (also spelled Eleusis in English). This historic town is also the very site of the infamous Eleusinian Mysteries of antiquity that to this day, historians know very little about.

The archeological site in Eleusis, the seaside town west of Athens that held the infamous Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient times.

Over the millennia, The Parthenon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, has suffered devastation repeatedly and on a large scale. Other than being occupied by the Turks and turned into a mosque in the 1460s, it was also bombed by the Venetians in 1687, cruelly looted by Lord Elgin in 1806 and has even suffered substantial damage by overzealous Christian priests who destroyed the depictions on the friezes that seemed indecent in their eyes.

In order to graphically illustrate the Parthenon back in its glory days as well as its demise through the millennia, I’m including below a remarkable video by the Greek Ministry of Culture. I hope you’ll also enjoy therein, a classic poem by the legendary philhellene, Lord Byron. The great romantic poet’s imagination has captured the wrath of Athena (Minerva, in Roman) further to the merciless destruction of her sacred temple. For the benefit of poetry lovers, I’m including here a link to the whole poem, that was written in Athens in 1811 by the great British poet.

 

Note: This post was originally published on the fabulous blog of author and historian, Adam Haviaras. If you love Greek history, Greek travel articles, and historical fiction set in ancient Greece then you should really check out this author. Visit Adam’s blog here

 

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An insider’s view of Greek Easter

Easter in Greece is the brightest holiday, even more so than Christmas. The Greeks celebrate it with wonderful customs that make it a huge joy to attend the festivities. No matter where you are in Greece, the evening of Good Friday will find you following the epitaph procession with a lit brown candle in your hand, an experience that always makes my heart swell as the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle from the yards waft in the crisp night air, and the solemn melody of the hymn ‘Oh glyki mou aiar’ delights my ears. The epitaph is a wooden structure adorned with a multitude of flowers. A depiction of Christ lies inside and the epitaph serves as His tomb. Seeing that the procession symbolizes His funeral, the mood of this procession is mournful and voices are kept to a respectful low volume.

Midnight on Holy Saturday is the exact opposite experience. Here, the atmosphere is joyful, and how can it not be with the fireworks exploding overhead and the church bells ringing madly! The priest brings out the holy light (flown into the country from Virgin Mary’s tomb in Jerusalem the same day and distributed to every church on time), and people light up their white or red candles as they kiss and exchange the news of Jesus’ rising from the dead. One person will say ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ has risen) and the other will respond ‘Alithos Anesti’ (indeed, He has) or ‘Alithos, o Kyrios’ (indeed, the Lord has).

On Easter day, the Greeks get up early to put the lamb and the kokoretsi on the spit. Lunch is a grand celebration that includes bumping together Easter eggs (traditionally dyed red).

Other than the above festivities that can be sampled anywhere in Greece, there are variations in places. For example, on the island of Hydra, the procession of the epitaph is not done on the road but in the sea by boat. Also, there are special customs in other parts, such as the spectacular ‘rocket war’ between two churches on the island of Chios and the burning of effigies of Judas in various parts of the country.

By far, and I am not just saying this because I am biased – everyone agrees here – the brightest Easter you can ever experience in Greece takes place in Corfu town.

 

The Holy Relic of St Spyridon is taken around town several times a year during the grand processions.

Other than the multitude of epitaph processions and spectacular fireworks display you’re in for here, Holy Saturday stands out for two things: the grand procession of St Spyridon, schools, boy scouts, and philarmonic orchestras that starts in the old town at 9:00 am, and the ancient custom of ‘botides’ that is a spectacle everyone should behold at least once in their lives.

Botides are massive ceramic pots that the Corfiots throw from high balconies when the bell tolls the ‘First Ressurection’ at 11:00 am before a huge crowd. What follows is a pandemonium of cheers and noise that is said to ward off evil and celebrates the victory of Man over death. The atmosphere soon becomes electric and you feel so elated, it almost feels like you’re ready to grow wings on your back and fly. You have to experience it firsthand, I guess, but that’s the best way I can describe the feeling! Here’s a little taste:

 

Here, I will also share Amleto (Little Hamlet, from Faccio’s opera) – my favorite piece of music played by the Old Philarmonic in Corfu town on Saturday morning during the grand procession I mentioned earlier. Total silence falls among the locals when the band begins to play this song as to enjoy it fully – this is a piece of music adored by the Corfiots, including me, as it has the unique power to compel and to make your heart swell. You be the judge – although again, you have to be there to experience the atmosphere to the max:

 

For the Greeks, Easter is a religious experience that goes on inside their souls. It is a chance to gather hope and strength inside and to keep going, no matter the hardship. It is one of the Greek secrets, if you like, for their ever renewed ability to withstand adversity and to keep the faith. During the Holy Week, the Greeks wish each other ‘Kali Anastasi’ (Happy Resurrection), which doesn’t only mean the enjoyment of the midnight festivities on Holy Saturday – it also means a resurrection in their lives; it wishes the preservation of hope until a better day comes. Therefore, as you appreciate, Easter to the average Greek is not just a cause for celebration but a form of psychotherapy too – a provider of renewed hope. I hope this makes sense. For what it’s worth, this is the best way I can share it with you, what Easter is to a Greek!

And with this, I bid you adieu, wishing you a wonderful Easter no matter where you are and how you plan to celebrate.

Please note: if you ever plan to visit Greece for Easter, do check online for the date of Orthodox Easter first. It coincides with Easter in the rest of the world only once in a few years!

 

And now, I am off to my kitchen to make Easter cookies. Holy week is a busy one for Greek housewives. Thankfully, I’ve already dyed the Easter eggs! I make mine with red onion leaves and curry to avoid those nasty chemicals. See how I prepare them here

Kali Anastasi & Happy Easter!

 

 

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Book Review: Kilty as Charged by Amy Vansant

I love the Outlander series as much as the next gal, so when I heard Amy Vansant wrote about a time-traveling highlander I felt compelled to read this book. Having read all her other novels I trusted her wicked humor would guarantee a lot of laughs and, indeed, this book did not disappoint. The romance was tantalizing enough to keep me turning the pages and the fantasy elements were delightful as is always the case with Vansant’s stories but, once again, I enjoyed the humor more than anything else. This is where this author truly excels and stands out! The protagonist’s Scottish accent had me giggling throughout – so spot on – and I felt compelled to read his lines out loud just to enhance my enjoyment further. His lack of understanding of vehicles and mobile phones had me howling in particular! A highly entertaining story you’ll want to read again and again! I highly recommend it!

 

My rating:

5-stars

A highly entertaining story you’ll want to read again and again!

 

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Wonderful kindle deals… and puppies!

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Siblings Phevos and Daphne are sent from ancient Greece to 21st-century Athens by their mysterious father without any explanation. Phevos falls in love with a local girl who proves to be anything but a random stranger. Shocking revelations lead the youngsters to new discoveries as an Olympian God offers magical artifacts to help them reunite with their lost parents. Now, they are ensnared in a war between two gods. Can they uncover their long-forgotten family secrets and fulfill their destinies?

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“A thoroughly enjoyable light read, full of magic, that will make you want to travel to Greece and will leave you with a smile on your face.” ~OLGA NM, Amazon reviewer

When Katie loses her office job, a gypsy woman hands her an amulet for good luck. Next, she gets hired as hotel receptionist on a Greek island where gorgeous Aggelos, one of the guests, keeps saving the day whenever she needs help. Katie is intrigued by him and the mysteries surrounding him, and falls in love, unaware that he is a guardian angel that came with the amulet…

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CORFU, 1987: During her summer holidays, Sofia Aspioti meets Danny Markson, a charming flirt who makes her laugh. Although she’s worried about village gossip, she falls desperately in love. That’s when strange dreams about a woman dressed in black begin to haunt her. Who is this grieving woman, and how is her lament related to Sofia’s feelings for Danny?

BRIGHTON, 1937: Dreaming of wealth and happiness, Laura Mayfield arrives in Brighton to pursue a new life. She falls for Christian Searle, a young worker at the theatre, but when she’s offered a chance to perform there, Charles Willard, a wealthy aristocrat, starts to pursue her relentlessly. Will Laura choose love… or money?

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Seven unforgettable romances! Seven hot heroes! These emotionally satiating, tales of contemporary love stories will brighten your day, warm your heart, and quench your desire for happy ever after. From merry-go-round passion, to a beautiful Chilean earthquake survivor, an aristocrat coming to visit or that excruciating puppy love everyone endures – this collection has it all. Unforgettable romances with hunky men who might just live next door. Fantasy satisfaction – Guaranteed!

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Thirty-nine-year-old struggling actress Alaina Ackerman isn’t just down on her luck today; lady luck has packed up and left town for heaven only knows where. Instead of ending up homeless on the streets of New York City in November, Alaina accepts her mother’s holiday invitation and heads home to Pittsburgh for a much-needed break. That’s when she meets Markus Klein again… the man it took her twenty years to forget. Her mother and sister are keeping a secret from her and now she lands a leading role that could jeopardize her chance at love…

$0.99   Preorder now on Amazon and start reading on March 28!

 

 

Fabulous space opera!

When the evil Obsidian Empire delivers a deathblow against the Star Alliance, fighter pilot Lieutenant Chase Athanatos leads a band of scattered survivors to the farthest reaches of the known universe, to a little planet called Earth. But Earth is in trouble. The Obsidian Empire is hot on their trail, and unless they find a way to stop them, what’s left of the Alliance and the entire planet are doomed to extinction…

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Do you love dragons? You will find Farloft irresistible.

What would you do if you were adopted by a dragon? When ten-year-old orphan James nearly drowns in a bog, he finds himself rescued by Farloft, a centuries old dragon with a glittering collection of treasures and an even richer collection of stories. But, dragons and boys are not meant to live together – or are they? When a wizard who harbores a secret hatred for Farloft finds out about James, he sees his chance for revenge…

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This cute image of Farloft reminds me I should strut away now in a similarly fashion for a well-deserved walk in the sunshine. Also, a stray doggie had no less than 9 puppies in an olive grove near home and she expects me to deliver lunch daily at this hour. Here are pics of her and the kiddies!

The stray has been taken under the wing of a kindly neighbor and he’s the one who’s taken me to see her, otherwise I’d never have spotted her. Would you believe the dog dug a pit under that olive tree to keep the babies? (You can almost see it on the first photo of the second line). It’s the perfect hiding place and the babies stayed dry even through the torrential rains we recently had. The neighbor and I hope to find homes for all the puppies, but it’s early still. They’re about 3 weeks old at the moment.

Anyway, Mommy awaits! Enjoy your day and make sure to grab these offers before they expire, which is very soon!

 

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Interview with actor and filmmaker Tom Malloy

Wu-hoo! I’m so excited today. My guest has just come in sprinkling Hollywood fairy dust all over the place and is bringing insights and heaps of inspiration for all you struggling entrepreneurs out there – indie authors and filmmakers included. Stick around to hear all about the awesome man I have before me today. But first, let me tell you how I was introduced to Tom Malloy:

Back in 2013 I watched a movie on TV called ‘Love N Dancing’. I still don’t know exactly why it spoke to my heart so much – perhaps because I love to dance, perhaps because I was down at that time in my life and needed a boost of positivity. And this deliciously sweet, uplifting movie certainly did the job. Next thing I knew I was on Facebook chatting with Tom Malloy – lead actor, writer and producer of the movie. A couple of weeks later, good to his promise after my request, Tom mailed me a signed autograph and even a signed poster of the movie. I was ecstatic. Between then and now, having joined his newsletter and by exchanging the odd email with him, I grew to be a massive fan. Why? Other than being a wonderful actor and an ingenious entrepreneur, Tom is also dedicated to helping others fulfill their dreams. Intrigued? My chat with him below will tell you all about it!

 

Hi Tom and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni. It’s great to be here!

Tom, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here today! It’s not often that entrepreneurs of your caliber grace my humble blog. Other than being an actor, writer and West Coast Swing dancing instructor, you also run a film production company and, a year ago, founded a film distribution company too. How do you find the time for all that? And how do you manage to balance it all with your private life?

I’ve always had what I call “life energy,” which drives me forward and makes me want to do as much as I can while I’m blessed to be here on this earth!  I’m the kind of guy who can go out to a film party and socialize and be sleeping by 3am, then I’m up by 6:30am, already checking emails and working. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an actor? And did you do any other jobs before the film industry won you over?

From the time I could remember!  Always.  For me, there was no other job.  I did take jobs as a computer expert, because I always had a knack for computers (and still do!), so I would fall into those jobs to pay the bills before the film business stared clicking!

I feel compelled to squeeze in here a question about one of my favorite movies – your 2009 production, Love N’ Dancing – a movie that oozes joie de vivre… Your character, Jake, is a deaf dance instructor who feels he’s got too old to ever win another championship plus his ex-fiancé has broken his heart. And yet, to other people he always seems upbeat. Same goes for the female lead, Jessica, played by the adorable Amy Smart, who tries to endure a selfish and aloof fiancé (played delightfully by Billy Zane) until love and dancing comes into her life to make her genuinely happy. What inspired you to write this original, sweet story of two people who kept their spirits up and refused to settle for less? And how easy did you find the wonderful dance routines you had to learn for the part?

The first time I saw West Coast Swing was in 2001.  I had started taking ballroom dance lessons for about 2 years and I was starting to get good.  Then I saw West Coast swing at a competition, and I was blown away.  I knew that was the only dance I wanted to do, and I took lessons for 6-8 years after.  That first night, I saw a deaf dancer win first place when no one thought he should.  That became the basis for the story!  As for the love part, yes, I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, not making people into stereotypes (could have easily made Billy’s character into a complete jerk), because I wanted to show how life really is!

You had a delightful scene with Betty White in this movie. What was it like having a living legend on the set?

The highlight of my career so far!  She was like everyone’s grandmother.  A beautiful, incredible, and hysterical woman.

I bet she was, bless her! What are your latest or current movie projects?

 I have 4 projects coming up! One is called Hero of the Underworld, which was released in November 2016.  I won several Best Actor awards at film festivals for that film! The next is Fair Haven, which I produced, and played a supporting role in.  That comes to theatres in April, and on Showtime in June.  Then there are two films which don’t have release dates yet.  A drama called Shattered starring myself, Ray Wise, and Arianne Zucker, and #SCREAMERS, this incredible found-footage horror, which has twice been called the BEST found-footage movie of all time!

Ooh, awesome trailers! Among all your roles so far, which has been your favorite one and why?

Favorite has been #SCREAMERS… that’s the one where I really hit my stride and you can see it on the screen.  It’s so realistic.  Here’s a direct quote from a critic talking about my performance with one of my co-stars, Chris Bannow:

“The performances from Tom Malloy and Chris Bannow are unbelievable. We’re talking, genuinely unbelievable. Think I’m exaggerating? Think I’m a shill? For the first 20 minutes of the film I thought what I was watching an actual documentary, and I expected the film to take some strange but simple stalker kind of twist. Tom and I don’t drink beer and play poker every Saturday night. This is no exaggeration and I’m no shill: Malloy and Bannow look like certified A-class talent. They may not be household names at this point, but this is highly refined and wildly convincing work.” – Matt Molgaard, Addicted to Horror Movies.com

Sounds unmissable! Have you had any hilarious, weird or thrilling experiences during filming that you’d like to share – be it as an actor or producer?

When we were shooting Alphabet Killer (starring Eliza Dushku, myself, Tim Hutton, and Cary Elwes), one of our grip trucks hit a power wire on a telephone pole that sent a fireball flying, which blew up a car and knocked out power to the entire town!  The papers were reporting it that we “blew up the town of Spencerport!” 

Ouch! 😛 Tell us a little about life in California. Have you always lived there? What do you do for fun when going out? What places (or things to do) would you recommend to a first-time visitor that are off the tourist trail?

Fryman Canyon

Right now I live back and forth between NY and California.  I moved to LA about 8 years ago, and I found it to be the greatest city in the world… especially if you’re in the movie business.  Besides that, the weather is perfect 24/7.  I just love every aspect of the city. 

If you’re new and visiting, you should do a hike… that’s something that someone would not tell you to do but really there’s no better way to see the beauties of living in Los Angeles than hiking Fryman Canyon or Runyon Canyon.  Then, I’d recommend checking out the Getty Center or Griffith Observatory.

Tell us about your non-fiction book “Bankroll: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films.” It is considered the “gold standard” of indie film financing instruction. You must be very proud to know you have helped so many people finance their own movies. Do you plan to write any more books on this subject or another?

Yes, that’s a great feeling!  One time at Sundance, twelve separate people came up to me and told me that they loved my book, and one girl told me her film was there in the fest thanks to the book!  It’s really great to know I’ve helped filmmakers… still get about an email a week (it used to be five or six) from someone saying how much I helped them!

Right now I’m completing a graphic novel (I did the writing, and it’s being illustrated), that will be out at the end of the year.  It’s a female-vigilante story, and it’s AWESOME.

Wonderful! Can’t wait to read it! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

Pictured from left are actors Tom Malloy, Ken Davitian (Borat), and Vince Lozano (Pirates of the Caribbean)

I absolutely LOVE to play poker!  My favorite pastime.  Second to that is Jiu-Jitsu, which I try to do 3 times a week, but my body is getting older and doesn’t recover as quickly!

 

Tom with jiu-jitsu champion Chad Robichaux

Who are your favorite actors/actresses, and what do you love about them?

The one actor I’ve always looked up to is Marlon Brando, because he was such a trailblazer in the acting world.  Every performance he does is so raw and REAL.  I’m not sure how he did it, and I’m not sure he knew how he did it!  So my acting life has been a search to try to recreate some of that magic.

You have been quoted for saying: “Everyone gets butterflies in their stomach… the pros can make them fly in formation. Mine can put on an airshow.” It must be wonderful to have such confidence! Authors are often expected to be confident public speakers but in reality so many of us are terrified by the very idea. What advice do you have for authors facing this problem? Any little tricks that might help?

With anything, you have to understand that experience is what it takes.  Just DO it.  Truly.  The more you do it, the more you get better at it.  People love to believe in overnight successes, but the truth is the truly successful are filled with grit and perseverance, and never give up!  Just because you may have fear, you can never let that stop you… do it anyway!  Sooner or later, the experience overtakes the fear, and you’ll be running on autopilot.

What types of movies do you enjoy watching mostly? Name three favorites and tell us what you love about them.

I love the classics.  I’m a sucker for old Hollywood.  I love Casablanca because it’s just a perfect movie, every aspect of it.  Also, On the Waterfront, because it changed acting.  And All About Eve, another perfect old-Hollywood movie.  I highly recommend people try to find screenings of these movies in theatres… the way they were meant to be seen.  Makes such a difference!

This is predominantly a book blog so I have to ask: Are you a reader of fiction and if so, do you have any favorite genres or authors?

I’m a HUGE reader.  I devour books.  I just finished The Dry by Jane Harper.  GREAT read.  I’m a giant Elmore Leonard fan… I think he was the master of the crime thriller… possibly the best US writer.  Also, I love Larry McMurtry.

What types of roles do you love taking on the most? Which ones present the greatest challenge?

It’s really not the role as much as the overall script.  I get so excited when the script is great (which is extremely rare), then I try to bring my A-game and give the best performance I can, 100% of the time.

Do you have any pets?

Not anymore… was always too tough because I live in a freakin’ plane most of the time!  Doing 100k+ Miles a year. 

Oh wow! That must be hard… If you could have one superpower what would it be? To be able to fly without needing planes, I am guessing? That would save you some time, wouldn’t it?

(*laughs*) Yeah, definitely! But actually… I’d love to have Green Lantern’s ring.  Hell, I’d love to play Hal Jordan when they remake the Green Lantern movie the right way!  But his ring runs on willpower, and I have that in spades.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

A lesson from my father: Always leave yourself room to maneuver.  He initially told me this when I was driving, but he meant it for life.  Never back yourself into a corner mentally, emotionally, or physically.  There have been times where this has happened… the saying goes, “I put all my eggs in one basket,” and that has caused me trouble.  I rarely do that anymore… I always leave options.

Great advice! If you could choose another profession, what would that be?

I think I’d make a great politician… I’m honest, I work hard, and I’m great at speaking to crowds!

An honest politician? Isn’t that an oxymoron? (*giggles*) No, seriously, you’d be great at it! What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Life is not a dress rehearsal.  This is the show, there is no warmup for the show.  You have one life to live, so you better live it.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

Without question, my kids Ella (11), and Tyler (10)… they light up my life everyday.

Oh, and I can see why! They’re two little angels!

Thank you, Effrosyni.

How would you like to be remembered?

There was a 1980’s movie called FAME where the main song would say “I want to live forever.”  What they meant by that was if someone is famous, even after they die, people will remember them.  Bogart and Brando are just as alive today.  That’s my goal… I want to live forever!

And so you will, Tom. You’re certainly in the right profession for that. And I LOVE Fame – the movie! Back in the 80s I watched The Kids from Fame on TV every week as if my life depended on it! My favorite character was Leroy Johnson. Yours?

I think I loved them all!

Me too! Well, Tom, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been an honor; I wish you all the best for the future!

Thank you, Effrosyni. Best of luck to you too!

A critically acclaimed actor, Tom initially wowed Hollywood with his stunning turn in the indie-cult favorite GRAVESEND in 1998, which was produced by Oliver Stone.

Tom is currently starring with Comedian Scott Baker in the improv cop comedy MIDTOWN, which can be seen on Amazon, and Tuff TV.  Tom is also a graduate of the famous Improv Olympic (I.O.) Training Center in Los Angeles (former graduates include Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carrell).  As a Stand Up Comic, Tom has appeared at Caroline’s Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club in NYC, and at the LA Improv.

In addition to his work as an actor and filmmaker, Tom is an accomplished author whose book BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films is widely considered the “gold standard” of indie film financing instruction. A second edition came out in 2012.

Tom has also competed and taught classes in the smooth, hip-hop dance style known as West Coast Swing. He was trained by seven time U.S. Open Champion Robert Royston.  He is also a professional poker player, and for two years was one of the highest-ranked celebrity players on MegaFrame Casino.                                                                 

Finally, Tom worked for 10 years as a nationally known motivational speaker for adults and kids. He traveled across the country spreading his positive message to students of all ages. Over the years, he has spoken to more than 100,000 students.

 

www.tommalloy.com

www.tommalloycomedy.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tommymalloy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tommalloyfans

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0540176

Tom’s indispensable resources for film makers:

The Film Finance Guide: www.filmfinanceguide.com

Movie Plan Pro: http://www.filmfinanceguide.com/movie-plan-pro/

 

MOVIE TRAILER FOR SHATTERED

 

MOVIE TRAILER FOR SCREAMERS **** NOT FOR THE FAINT- HEARTED! 😛

 

 

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Interview with Lukas Konandreas, author of Better Dead Than Divorced

Hello! Today, I am thrilled to share an author interview with Lukas Konandreas – a Greek doctor living in the USA who has published a real-life crime story from rural Greece in the 1950s. Back then, Lukas Konandreas’ father had a beloved cousin called Panayota. When he found out her violent and unfaithful husband planned to have her killed, he begged her to leave him, but she refused, not wanting to be stigmatized in the village as a ‘divorcee’. Choosing to live with the mortal danger instead, she stayed at home and eventually got murdered. The book tells a gruesome and riveting story of crime and punishment that provides food for thought and highlights the terrible social restraints women suffered in small village communities in the 1950s. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this true-life gem and will be reviewing it soon. For now, let’s meet Lukas and hear about the man himself and what drove him to tell this compelling story.

A romance. A forced marriage. A scandalous affair. A hit-man. A TRUE STORY.

“Better dead than divorced,” responds a young abused wife living in the confines of a traditional and isolated town… to those who urge her to divorce her controlling, manipulative husband.
A village dances, gunshots are heard; the town is divided. The court takes over.

Her cousin, a principled man, fights beyond his modest means to bring her husband, who has influence in the court system, to justice.

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The paperback is also available in Greek. VISIT AMAZON   US   UK

Hello Lukas and welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Effrosyni.

What has inspired you to write Better Dead Than Divorced?

I was inspired by many true-to-life insights contained and exemplified mainly by Panayota. Though she was finally murdered for reasons hardly anybody would appreciate today, her dedication and love towards her husband signifies utter commitment and a tragically heroic act, known only in the tragedies of ancient Greece.

I was also inspired by two other people: Thanasis, my father, who persevered against all adversities and odds making sure justice finally prevailed, and Demosthenes Dapontes, the only juror who after nearly 8 hours of deliberations and likely pressures from the other 9 jurors, listened to his honor and conscience and dissented, thus giving the opportunity to justice to hold a second court.

It must feel like a huge accomplishment for you, to have told this harrowing family story so well and after such lengthy and difficult research…

Yes, it’s true. And I am very proud of the book, not just for the 8 national awards it’s won but also because of the wonderful feedback I receive from readers.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I am still practicing Medicine and of course I write. Playing some golf, taking care of my garden, flowers, orchard trees and swimming fill up, in fact overfill, my time.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I see myself in my father whose tenacity and courage carried him to the end of the legal battle despite all odds. Also I wish I could have the opportunity to do what Demosthenes Dapontes did.

What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

History. True crime. Autobiography if I feel it is honest. Family stories with true-to-life insights. At present I am finishing “Excellent Daughters” by Katherine Zoepf.

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

By going to www.betterdeadthandivorced.com, you will first see a landscape of Greece and flashing key phrases describing the story. What follows is the front cover of “Better Dead Than Divorced,” some of the awards my book has won, blog posts with excerpts, my biography, some book reviews and finally photos with captions contained in the book.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To bring back the main characters in my story ( Panayota, Thanasis, Dapontes) and interview them OR as a compromise, have the two courts in my story in a video and watch them.

What do you think the qualifications of a good nonfiction author should be?

Sincerity. Patience. Intense research. Honesty. Determination to start the writing process. Also, the ability to ask people whose judgement you trust to critique the writing and express their honest opinion but manage to keep the final decision for yourself. More than anything, to write from the heart.

Your book “Better Dead Than Divorced” talks about the position of women many years ago. Yet similar conditions still exist in many parts of the world. Do you think the sacrifice of Panayota, the heroine in your story, could spark a “revolution” among these women?

I would prefer it to become an “Example” instead of a “Revolution.”  This is because the media today can create an example with the same effectiveness as a revolution. I have seen in my lifetime many people divorce almost because it was fashionable and for reasons that could have been resolved in the marriage. 

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My good Health. My solid family. My success in my professional carreer. The fortune to live in the USA, land of opportunity.

How would you like to be remembered?

Optimistic, Resilient, a fearless achiever.

Have you brought any photos to show us today, Lukas?

Oh yes! I’ve brought four. The first one was taken in the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics. The other picture is of my wife and me taken last year.

Lovely! And oh – what do we have here? Cowboys!? I’m intrigued!

*Laughs* Here you can see my family enjoying horseback riding in Wyoming. The last one is of my two sons and me in Yellow Stone National Park USA at a country cook out. 

Great pictures and a lovely family! Thank you for sharing these, Lukas. And many thanks for this chat. It’s been wonderful to have you here today.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, Effrosyni. I really enjoyed myself!

Lukas Konandreas, M.D., one of four children, was born in Kupaki, a small mountain village in central Greece. He finished elementary school there and high school in Athens, Greece.

After graduating from the Medical School of the University of Athens, he migrated to Toronto, Canada, and from there he received medical training in Chicago and Fresno, CA. He practiced Emergency Medicine in Sacramento, CA for 6 years and from there he moved to Connecticut. There he started an Urgent Care Center, which he still directs.

He is married to Georgia, a Doctor of Psychology, and has two sons.

He published his first book, Better Dead Than Divorced, after spending over ten years exhaustively researching the source material. The book won the 2015 Bronze Nonfiction Book Award.

For more info, visit: http://www.betterdeadthandivorced.com/

A video about the book on Annita Pania’s Greek TV show on channel ‘E’ that includes an interview with Lukas Konandreas (Greek language):

 

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A scary Christmas and an angel message

Angel stories spirituality

Hello All and Happy New Year. After a major surgery and a scary month that I like to call The Athens Hospital Tour Under Christmas Lights, I am back and, this time, fixed for good. Mind you, I’ve never felt more broken than I feel at the moment.

For one, I am suitably shocked still, seeing that I nearly lost my life last month due to severe anemia from my perimenopausal menstrual problems. The doctors at Tzaneio Hospital in Pireas saved me literally in the last minute when I was rushed there one evening with hematocrit 15.5. As they set me down on the operating table for an emergency D&C, I overheard the surgeon say it was a miracle I was alive as it was. When I was brought round afterwards, I heard the nurses discuss how scared they were to see I’d gone ‘white like marble’ while I was under. These shocking words were etched in my brain for eternity, as you can imagine.

A month later, and after a total hysterectomy, I am home and recuperating slowly. Christmas has been a blur and, despite having planned to visit Athens to see the Christmas lights more than once, I wound up visiting only city  hospitals three times throughout the Holiday Season, twice in an ambulance. Through its back window, and as its siren screamed in my ears the second time, I saw the Christmas lights in Omonia Square and my heart sank. But I knew that day there would be better days and so it happened.

My physical ordeal (and mental angst) ended in exactly one month – from December 7 when I visited the hospital the first time until January 7 when I returned home after the hysterectomy.

But I’m thankful for this gruesome month. For one, it has caused quite a stir in me. You hear this in movies often, when someone escapes death and they say they feel like they’ve been given a second chance. This is exactly what this feels like to me. I remember the first time I left the hospital, right after the D&C and the blood transfusions. It was sunny that morning. I felt the warm sunlight on my face and it felt like a caress from God Himself.

As gooey as this may sound, it felt like the sunlight was giving me strength, welcoming me back to life. And since that day, I still can’t help thinking that every day is a gift now. And do you know what’s really scary? The fact that I’d never realized my continuous bouts of iron deficiency anemia involved a mortal risk. My doctors and many older females in my social circle had advised me to just be patient; to take my iron tablets and hope the ordeal will end earlier rather than later. I imagine many women must have done the same and maybe lost their lives, unaware of the risk involved just as I was. But I was lucky. Had I not decided to call a microbiologist to come home that day and check my blood, I’d never have known my hematocrit had dropped to 16 from 37 in just 5 days. Had it not been for her to alert my family to call an ambulance I would have passed away that evening in my bed, thinking it was just another hit of anemia that was causing the migraines, the weakness, and the scary palpitations.

If you’re a woman nearing 50 and battling with excessively heavy menstruations and anemia, please, do not sit patiently and suffer it. Seek help now. Take drastic measures. The doctors I’d been seeing never alerted me to the mortal danger involved. I pray yours will and that my experience will serve to help you one day to fix yourself in your own good time.

Angel stories spirituality

It is not often that I choose to share publicly harrowing experiences of my life. But I made an exception today for two reasons. The first was to warn other women, as I just have. The second was to share, for those among you who believe in angels, a third angel message I received while in hospital before the op.

In my previous post, About Hardship, Angels, and my New Book, I shared two angel messages that were given to me in my tiny office at home. Both messages came just before a major hardship hit my life and they gave me the strength I needed to endure. In a way, it felt like my angels (whom I’ve always felt by my side) said to me, ‘You are not alone. We are here to see you through.’

The third message came in my hospital room and this time I even had a witness. My husband, Andy, was there and he was shocked to see what happened. It was the first day, one day before the op. After sitting around the room for a while waiting for instructions and to get my blood checked, I decided to sit on the bed. As soon as I did, a man walked in whom I knew from my first stay in the hospital. The kindly man rents out flat TVs to the patients for a small fee. After I accepted his offer for one, he left a Post-It-Note-sized piece of paper that advertises his service on top of the a/c temperature control on the wall by my bed and left the room, promising to return soon with the TV.

About thirty seconds later, and while my husband was standing talking to me from the foot of the bed, the note the man had left flew off the a/c temperature control, floated in the air away from the wall and landed on the bed beside me, its blank side up. I remember vividly following it with my eyes as it approached the bed, then landed; it flew ever so slowly as if hanging in mid-air, taking its time. Here I must explain that there was no open window, hence no draft, and that the bed was not near the wall. The distance between them allows a large bedside table to fit in comfortably, so the natural thing would have been for the paper to land on the floor instead.

After both my husband and I had gasped for air, staring at the piece of paper that had landed by me smoothly as if brought there by an invisible hand, my husband said breathlessly: ‘It’s from your angels, isn’t it’?

I only nodded, as I was choking by then, full of trepidation for what awaited me the next day.

Angel stories spirituality

And with that, I will leave you here, wishing you health and joy this new year and always. Personally, I intend to make 2017 the best year I’ve had in a long time. My happiest thought right now involves the summer swims in store for me, both in Corfu and in my little seaside town. Daily. Without another scary pause. Ever again. Month in. Month out. Freedom from this self-induced prison and fun times at last. Again, if you are going through this too, I beg you – don’t suffer it. Do something about it today.

There is a silver lining to every cloud. There is always a rainbow after a rainfall.

God bless you all and thank you for reading. If you’ve been through a similar situation, had a hysterectomy, or have an angel story/message to share, please add a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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12 of 12: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Wuhoo! Thrilled to present Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky – the 12th book up for grabs, which means I’ve now presented you all the tantalizing festive reads you could be reading for FREE this Christmas! The giveaway ends soon so hurry and enter! Instructions at the bottom of the post. Good luck to you!

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away. So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again. But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

‘I cherished every single page of this book… Holly whisks you away to this magical place that had me craving all things Christmas.’ Star Crossed Reviews

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Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She has worked as a hotel receptionist, bank clerk and schoolteacher. Nowadays, she writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

Visit her blog at https://hollymartinwriter.wordpress.com/

 

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How would you like a chance to read this book for FREE? Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin is up for grabs in Effrosyni’s 12-kindle book Christmas giveaway.

Join Team Effrosyni today to receive the exclusive giveaway link on your screen within seconds! The giveaway closes on December 19 and only team members get to enter. 28 winners will be picked and it’s all FREE! Join the fun now!

8 of 12: Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

Without further ado, here’s the 8th of 12 kindles up for grabs in the giveaway. The entries keep rolling in and it’ll close soon. Hurry and sign up – instructions at the bottom of this post! You could win this gem:

A gorgeous country house hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas?

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be…

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?

‘This is sooo much more than a festive read…a powerful and emotional story that will stay with me for a very long time to come …simply stunning!’ By the Letter Book Reviews

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Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and Kitty’s Countryside Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and USA.

Christie loves to hear from her readers; you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

 

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How would you like a chance to read this book for FREE? Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow is up for grabs in Effrosyni’s 12-kindle book Christmas giveaway.

Join Team Effrosyni today to receive the exclusive giveaway link on your screen within seconds! The giveaway closes on December 19 and only team members get to enter. 28 winners will be picked and it’s all FREE! Join the fun now!