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Sweet, sugar and gingerbread from Prague

26 Nov


Today I have the privilege of interviewing one of my friends and colleagues, Hana Rawlings. Hana is a Czech lady who found the love of her life in Australia and then brought him home to Prague. Along with her husband she brought her wonderful talent of decorative cake baking. Hana’s cakes are much in demand and if you have had the chance to check out her blog during the month you will know why! Welcome Hana and thank you for being my guest today.
So Hana have you always loved baking?
I think I was playing with royal icing even before I could read. Both my Mum and Gran love baking and you know how it is in a household with kids. You bake and bake and then run out of time to decorate everything you’ve baked so I was always eagerly waiting to help with that. Decorating cakes, cookies and gingerbread used to be my most favourite when I was little. I guess that’s how I came to love this amazing craft.

When did you first start these lovely creations?

Well, it wasn’t until we moved to Australia that I started discovering the world of cake decorating and cake design. And when I discovered Peggy Porschen, Debbie Brown and Paris Cutler just to name the few, I never looked back. I enrolled in cake decorating classes and started collecting cake decorating tools. I have had the privilege of attending cake decorating courses at the one and only Planet Cake, Sydney and even one of Debbie Brown’s workshops. That’s where I discovered that cake decorating is a form of art. From there I started baking for family, friends and colleagues. It was really their encouragement and reactions to my cakes that made me pursue this passion. Without them I would never have got this far.
Are they difficult to learn or do you have an aptitude for them?
It’s all about passion but steady hands and patience are helpful. Plus, it’s always easier to cover a cake on a dry or cool day. I’m not big friends with humidity.
Where does your inspiration come from?
From architecture, interior design, kids’ books, fashion, the world around us…
It’s a lot of work, to do these designs. What motivates you?
The moment I present the cake to the person I was making it for. I love to see their eyes and their first reaction. That’s very special and nothing can ever beat that. I always remember that during the hours and hours of work, especially when I come up with a challenging design. For example, this summer, I decided to make a 3D cake for my Dad in the shape of our weekend house. I’d finished the whole house apart from the balconies and railing, it was getting late and I still didn’t know how to solve the technical problem of attaching fragile railings to the cake and then packing it all in a box and driving it in one piece to the party. But then I imagined giving the cake to Dad and at that moment I stopped panicking and had a great idea, which worked a treat. The cake made it to the party in one piece and Dad absolutely loved it.
Do you have a favourite design?
I have never done a single design twice, however, cakes for kids are truly gorgeous. I love making them for my nieces. My wedding cupcakes have been a great hit that even one of the local food magazines, Gurmet, asked me to make them for their summer wedding special. That was a huge honour for me. More designs for Gurmet are coming soon
I hear there may be a book in your future sharing your beautiful designs with the world. Is this true?
This is a big dream of mine. The exposure in the magazine connected amazingly creative people to my blog who wanted me to teach them. And as I am a teacher with a passion for cake decorating, I couldn’t have imagined a better combination. So this summer, I ran several cake decorating workshops, which thanks to all the amazing participants were a huge success and so there are more workshops to come. But there are also people who live too far to come to Prague and would still like me to teach them, so that’s why I started thinking about a book (unless I set off on a cake decorating tour – imagine that, ha ha haaaaa, just kidding but love the idea though).
I would like to start working on the book soon, I have already started collecting ideas. I absolutely love thinking about the designs, colour scheme and techniques.
Hana, thank you so much for sharing with us today. I wish you all the best and hope you will allow me to interview you again once the book is published :).As a special treat Hana is going to share with us a special Czech recipe of hers for the festive season. See below.
Czech “Gingerbread”
You might ask why the inverted commas? Well, Gingerbread is perník in Czech and as you’ll soon find out (I’m going to share our family recipe with you), there is no ginger in our perník. We use mixed spices and honey to give it that irresistable taste. The best thing about perník is the whole process of making it. The whole kitchen smells divine and it is rather easy to make. The tricky, but most fun, part comes with the decorating. That’s my most favourite as you can imagine ?
So here it is and hope you’ll like it. One thing I should tell you about it though is that Czech perník is too hard and crunchy for eating after baking. We always make it at least four weeks before Christmas and store it on our balcony in cold temperature (fridge will do 🙂 as it helps it soften.
To make your own mixed spices for Czech perník you need a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground coriander, ground clove, ground star anise, ground fennel, ground aniseed, ground orange zest, ground allspice, and ground nutmeg. You can buy packets of perník spice mix online or make your own if you want to be adventurous, but please bear in mind that you only need a teaspoon of the mixed spices for this recipe. The rest is easy.
500g plain flour (divide 400g and 100g)
1 teaspoon of the mixed spices
1 teaspoon of Bi-soda
1 extra teaspoon ground cinnamon
grated lemon zest of ˝ lemon
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
250g icing sugar
2 medium eggs
150g honey
Glaze
1 egg yolk beaten with a dash of milk
1. Place 400g of flour, spices, cinnamon, soda, zest, cocoa and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well.
2. Make a well in the centre and add eggs and honey and use a bread knife to mix well.
3. If the dough is too sticky use the extra 100g of flour adding a small amount at a time. You don’t want the dough to be too dry.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic cling film and leave to rest in the fridge till the next day.
5. Roll out the dough, cut out desired shapes and place them on a tray covered with baking paper.
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C (160°C fan-forced) for about 10 mins depending on the size of the shapes.
7. Once baked and still very hot, brush over with egg yolk beaten with a dash of milk to glaze. This gives them a beautiful shine.
8. Decorate with royal icing and sugar pearls.
Happy baking and decorating!

Her blog which is in Czech and English is at :>http://hanascakes.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

Prague’s Old Town Square

4 Nov

To continue with the Prague series this week I have decided to concentrate on Old Town Square, in my opinion one of the most beautiful squares in Prague. It is nestled between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge. From what was allegedly a market place in the 12th Century has now become a major attraction of Prague.
It’s buildings boast different styles of architecture. Prague is also known as The City of a 100 spires, a few important ones are visible on the square’s parameter.
St Nicholas church built in baroque style, shows off three of these spires and towering over the square it’s gothic rival, Týn Church, the main picture.Tyn Church is an impressive building with two spires stretching heavenward. The spires are probably two of the most famous and often seen on photographs of Old Square. The church is enormous and stretches backwards from the square to into courtyard beyond.

St Nicholas Church


Another attraction, is the Astronomical Clock mounted on the south wall of the Old Town city hall. The clock displays an astronomical design on its face, showing the position of the sun and the moon in the sky. Every hour the figures of the 12 apostles appear as well as the figure of death depicted by a skeleton. Attracting hundreds of tourists crammed in front of it waiting for the hour to strike after which a burst of applause can be heard.

Old Town City Hall


During the festive season it transforms into a fairytale Christmas delight. The square plays host to the official Prague Christmas tree and many stalls selling Christmas nick nacks. The delightful smell of spiced hot wine and trdlo- a Czech and Slovak Christmas pastry – permeating through the market has become the ‘new’ smell of Christmas for this South African. Snow adding to the ambiance brings the magic of Advent to earth.

Offical Christmas tree of Prague on the square

Introducing Sheila Deeth

29 Oct

Sheila Deeth has very kindly offered to be the first ever guest on my blog. Thank you Sheila for trusting me to present you. As this concludes my first month blogging and have mentioned my ‘firsts’, I thought it would great to get Sheila to share with us how she got started on the path to becoming an author. So Sheila, how did it begin?

My first book was written on scrap paper with multi-colored pens and tied up with string… My first book’s languishing in a cardboard box; goes out on queries from time to time but always finds its way home… My first book’s called Divide by Zero and comes out in paperback next summer with Stonegarden… My first books are self-published childrens’ stories based on the Bible… There are so many answers to that question, “What was your first book?” But Refracted was my first to garner an acceptance letter, the first of my three ebooks with Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Flower Child being my latest, newest release.
When Anne offered to host me on my Flower Child blog tour, she asked if I’d write about getting my first book published. So here’s the story of Refracted…
1. I joined a small local writers’ group. Some of the members said they sent their stories to magazines and got them published; I started sending stories out.
2. I went to (my one and only) writers’ conference. Everyone said you need an internet presence if you want to get published so I started a blog.
3. I couldn’t stand the thought of writing about me, so I self-published my children’s Bible story books and wrote about them on my blog.
4. I started visiting other blogs and leaving comments. Much to my amazement, one comment won me an ebook by Aubrie Dionne.
5. Feeling jaded about writing novels—so much effort, so little reward—and magazine stories—so many, many rejections—I realized Aubrie’s novella seemed the perfect length, then visited her publisher’s website.
6. Aubrie Dionne’s book was published by Gypsy Shadow; they were running a competition with a lovely dramatic picture for a book cover.
7. Our local writers’ group was asking for stories set in the past; and I was teaching a Sunday school class on the history behind Noah’s ark. Putting all three ideas together I ended up with Refracted.
8. I got an email saying Refracted had won Gypsy Shadow’s competition. I danced round the room. I phoned my Mum. I emailed all my friends.
9. Then I edited. Denise Bartlett at Gypsy Shadow is a really good editor. She taught me not to use “that” all the time, and to cut down on “ing” words. She told me which scenes were unclear and suggested ways to fix them. She asked questions that made me realize what I needed to change.
10. After several edits I learned how to track changes in Microsoft Word. Then the story went to Charlotte Holley who added a cover. The cover picture was the prompt, but Charlotte added those finishing touches to make it just perfect for my story.
11. I approved the cover and got a final pdf, with one mistake, which Charlotte immediately fixed—it’s amazing how those typos slip past no matter how many times you check with however many pairs of eyes.
12. And then… I had an ebook out and learned to call myself a writer!
Twelve being such a pleasingly symbolic number I’ll stop there. I suspect we all travel different paths to get that first book published. In the end the best advice I received was keep writing and keep sending things out, so good luck to any of you reading this and keep filling the page with your dreams.

Thank you, Anne, for inviting me to your blog. Thanks too to my writers’ group for inspiration, Lyn Hywela for awarding me the copy of Aubrie’s book, Aubrie Dionne for the introduction to Gypsy Shadow, Denise Bartlett for her editing skills, and Charlotte Holley for creating such great covers and being so good about giving the author a say in how each book looks.
About Flower Child: When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Where to find Flower Child:
http://gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html#Flower
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Flower-Child-ebook/dp/B005PGMT4O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317398482&sr=8-1
on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91467
About the author: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and sons, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers’ group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.
Find her on her website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com
or find her books at: http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com

Sheila, thank you so much for being part of my blog and I you wish the best success for Flower Child.
Find out more about Sheila Deeth and Flower Child on Sunday with Jane Kirkpatrick on http://janeswordsofencouragement.blogspot.com/

Zvonek – ‘Pet Status’

22 Oct

Thought I would treat you all to a fun post about my boy. As Zvonek is the main character in my series and the only cat that has ‘pet status’ in the series.

Relaxing on a walk

For those of you not sure what that means, it’s a life of total luxury and all about having his very need catered for. I hope you will find it amusing. 🙂
A usual day in 08’s life:
4.00/4.30am: Meow for the window to be opened.
5.00-5.30am: get Mom out of bed for breakfast.
Let Mom do her thing while food is digesting.
Before leaving for school (in summer) goes for walk.

Out the door


Then of course the rest of the day is spent relaxing after the hard morning, waiting for mom to come back.
After school: (summer) second walk – on weekends I do take him out for longer periods. Metaxa won’t go outside at all and is happy to watch from the window.

Stalking the camera


Being a strong Czech boy Zvoni loves snow and is happy to walk in the snow too. He goes outside on the window still till about -8C!

Whats under the snow?


At night he curls up behind my leg or takes up most of the bed until it’s time for the window to be opened again. Yes, he and Metaxa are totally indulged but I have to say I love every minute of spoiling them. They give me so much pleasure!

Bones and Skeletons in the Czech Republic

20 Oct


Next week I have a guest, Shelia Deeth, who has kindly agreed to be my guest, please see Events. So this week I want to give you all an early Halloween treat. Kutna Hora is one of my favourite places in the CR, and kostnice Sedlec or the Sedlec Ossuary is one of the most interesting churches in the CR, in my opinion anyway. Why? Read on..:)
The Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic church located in the suburb of Kutna Hora called Sedlec. (Kunta Hora is about 75km from Prague.) The church is ‘decorated’ with the skeletons of past parishioners, artistically arranged around the interior to form different shapes. It is estimated to contain the bones of between 40, 000 and 70, 000 people. Having seen the size of church myself, I found this number unbelievable but there are loads of bones everywhere! It is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in the Czech Republic even if a little off the beaten track.
I first came across mention of this church in a magazine in South Africa and was fascinated. At this stage I didn’t know I would be living in Czech. But as you can imagine it was on my list of things to do when I arrived. I have visited it more than once. Am sure as you have been reading, you know there has to be story behind it.

Around 1400, mass graves were unearthed during the construction of a Gothic church. The church had an upper and lower level to be used to accommodate the exhumed bones of past parishioners. The task given to a monk in about 1512/1513.
In 1870, a woodcarver, was employed by the Schwarzenberg family, Czech aristocracy, to put the piles of bones into some type of order. The result:
four very big bell shaped piles of bones are in all four corners of the chapel, a huge chandelier hangs in the nave of the chapel and is said to contain at least one bone of every bone in the human body, a large coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family and various other skulls and bones.
I am not sure if it was a good idea or not but, make no bones about it, it certainly is different and an interesting stop if you decide to visit Prague. I hope you find the photos interesting. I would love you to comment and hear what you think.
Don’t forget next week Shelia Deeth. Happy Halloween.

Prague: the jewel in Europe’s crown

16 Oct


On my way to school this morning looking out of the tram window, I was once again reminded how beautiful autumn is. The trees have just started to change colour to golden orange, yellows and reds among the green. Truly a photographer’s inspiration.
Almost ten years ago this was the sight that greeted me on arriving in Prague. South Africa has it’s beauty too but we don’t have as distinct seasons as Europe. In all the years in Prague, I never eased to be impressed by the change.
Yet I digress. Why Prague? When I finished my CELTA course. A course to enable me to teach English as a foreign language, in SA it was difficult to find a job in western Europe because of not coming from an EU member state. One of my classmates suggested the CR which at that time was still not an EU member. Well needing a job and not having reason not to, I applied for a post in Prague. I was interviewed and accepted. I my made decision straight away without really thinking it through. It was only at the stop over in Zurich did I pause and think: ‘What am I doing?’ Well with a job and contract and half a world away from home,it was too late to go back so two hours later I landed on Czech soil for the first time in my life.
I clearly remember walking through the airport and not being able to read anything. Actually I was not even sure that I could pronounce any of the words. Czech doesn’t have the same respect for vowels as English does :). E.g. ‘zmrzlina’ which means ice-cream has five consonants before a vowel. I was slightly horrified as to how I was going to communicate. Of course I hadn’t thought about the language problem in my excitement to move.
After being collected at the airport I was dropped off at my flat in ‘rural’ Prague, given a few metro tickets and a map and told to turn up at school on the following Monday, four days away.
I was nervous to explore too much in case I got lost and I had arrived with an awful cold. A couple of days later my room mate and future colleague and friend arrived from the States. She had been to Prague a few time before so knew her way around and I followed.
Up until now all I had seen were buildings in my neighbourhood. Tall buildings with loads of apartments, called ‘panelaky’, the shopping centre and the school. This was not my vision of Prague. I could have been in any modern city not a city steeped in history and culture.
My friend decided it was a sacrilege that I hadn’t yet visited the Old Town and yes it was. So that weekend we caught the metro to Old Town square. This was also my first trip on a metro. I have traveled in Europe before but always caught taxis or walked. However, stifling my slight claustrophobia, I went underground to catch my fist metro. I still would rather travel by tram, but am fine in the metro now.
I remember we got off at the station Museum in the center and walked down Vaclavske namesti -Wenchless square. It has beautiful rows of historical buildings on either side dating back to before SA was even discovered by Jan van Riebeeck in the 17th century. The square is a mixture of old architecture and bright neon advertising boards. At night it transforms in a playground of underground clubs and seedier adventures.
We pushed our way through throngs of people down the square to the bottom, followed the road, as it narrowed, bottle necked, to the right, and opened to the one of the most beautiful sights, in my opinion in Prague. Old Town square. As one pushes through the narrow street for the first time, the sight before you is totally unexpected. The Astronomical Clock is the first thing you see, then to right the square opens up surrounded by well maintained buildings, the old town tall, tower and the spires of Tyn Church rising heavenward. The sight only to be rivaled at night with the lights and dark sky.
Later, sitting atop one of the hotels sipping wine (where my profile pic was taken), looking out at the city of 100 spires, it hit me, I was living in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe!

Feline Fancy

8 Oct


Feline Fancy

I always get asked the question: ‘Why do you like cats so much?’ My answer is usually, ‘I don’t like cats, I LOVE cats! To be honest there is no direct answer to that question for me. Although it is a fair one if you know me.
My house is a shrine to cats. I have a collection of cats ornaments (ever growing), cat coasters, cat teapot and mugs, cat salt and pepper set, cat jewellery and cat decorated luggage! I read books about cats and I write about cats..LOL. If you looked at my web history guess what you would find? Of course web addresses for feline sites. And yes.. I have been called the crazy cat lady 🙂
So, why do I love cats? To be honest I don’t really know why but I can’t remember a time that I didn’t. If I believed in re-incarnation I would say that I was a cat in a previous life or lived in Egypt and took care of the Temple of Baset. They have just always been there for as long as I can remember.
In case you wondering, I do love animals generally and growing up in Africa we always had an assortments of pets. We even had a bush baby monkey at one stage, Jacko. A delightful little chap that belonged to my brother.
The surprising thing is that I never actually owned my cat till I got Zvonek. Well in my 20s I smuggled a cat, Ashton Windsor was his name, into our apartment at the time. He was lovely, similar in colour to Zvonek with a great personality and totally spoilt, of course. However, we were renting and keeping animals wasn’t really allowed so when I got caught out, Ashton had to leave. Although he went to a cousin, who had a huge house and garden it broke my heart and I cried for two weeks! Unfortunately he disappeared from the house and we never heard of him again. After that I ‘adopted’ my cousin’s cat, Mary Poppins.
Mary was a great Diva. She died last year at the grand old age of 19. One of my favourite tales of her is how she intimidated the family dog. Lantis, is a huge cross breed of something, am not good with dog breeds. But about 27 times bigger than Poppins. Being around before most of the other animals Poppins claimed the house and garden as hers! Lantis arrived as a playful puppy and of course wanted Poppins as a play mate. Poppins was not having that. A canine! Whatever next? She brought Lantis into line and right up until the end if she entered the garden he would run to the far end out her way and stay there till she went inside.
When Zvonek arrived at nine months I couldn’t believe he was all mine!. I used, still do actually, spend ages just watching him. For the first weeks he would only sleep on the sofa in the living room. I can still remember the pure joy of waking up one night and finding him asleep against my leg for the first time. Now it’s his nightly spot. He is more friendly than Metaxa. On visiting me, he is the one who will meet you at the door and welcome you inside.
A few years ago I broke both my wrists in a fall during winter. I got home from the hospital with plaster casts from my knuckles to elbow. Zvonek immediately took charge and for the first few nights wouldn’t even let Metaxa on the bed! For the entire six weeks he would smell the casts twice daily and lick the part over the wrists! How clever was that? He knows when I am upset and will be by my side. If I cry he tries to lick away my tears.
Metaxa is the hunter of the family, my little predator. She is her Mom’s girl. Not as friendly as Zvonek, but will come up and smell you to check you out :). She is a one person cat and that person happens to be me! She loves to curl on my lap. Although at night unless it’s really cold, she will sleep in her bed on the window sill. At around 4am she will come and cuddle in by me.
He favourite game is playing fetch with me. She has this really old tatty mouse that she adores. It went missing one night and she had me crawling all over the place till we found it.
They both are individuals and I have a close but different kind of relationship with each of them. I do try and bring their individual personalities out in the books so if you reading the series I do hope it will bring a smile to your face. :).
Now he who must be obeyed is meowing for attention so I will end off here. Next week: My relationship with Prague.

A Tribute

4 Oct

Today I have the sad honour to pay tribute to a wonderful and outstanding woman. Sad? You may ask. I woke this morning to the news that a good friend of mine had suddenly passed away. Although Michelle and I had never met she was a trusted friend and confidante.

We were members of the same website, United Cats and later Facebook friends. Our friendship grew through emailing and sharing comments on our cats blogs.
This is indeed is the best side of the internet, making friends that make your life richer for having passed your way.

Michelle enriched United Cats by her stories of her cat, Sophie, and the antics of the kittens she regularly fostered. She also had an outstanding knowledge of cat care that she passed on to us. It was her advice that helped Metaxa on her way back to recovery.

One thing that I will always be grateful to Michelle for is her constant presence during a very difficult time in my life. Her presence, practical advice and follow up to check on me, helped me through a time of quite bad depression.
My deepest sympathy to her family and loved ones. Our loss is definitely heavens gain. We love you Michelle.
RIP MichyD

First Words….

1 Oct

Well here I go with my first ever blog. Where do I start? What do I say? Although I love writing and have no problem filling pages with words, I find myself kind of stumped as to how to begin. Well maybe as the song goes, ‘let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…’
….so I think starting at the beginning of what has bloomed into my first publication might be a good idea :).
My high school dream, I remember clearly, was to live in Europe, have two cats and write books. High school seems like a lifetime away now.
However, life got in the way and after high school for years I didn’t write seriously apart from odd bits.
Living in South Africa in the 80s was dangerous and exciting. Dangerous, from the point that the country tittered on the brink of civil war and exciting, knowing you were living the history that was unfolding and would be written about for years to come.
After Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President and the following year South Africa won the WRC 1995 we thought nothing was impossible. However, the country settled down to the grind of normal living and getting through the routine of sleep, work eat and sleep and a few social events in between.
I left South Africa in 2002 to work as an English teacher in Prague. Life again had become exciting and challenging living as an expat. It was in February of 2006 that I decided to get a cat. Realizing that I would be staying in Europe for an extended time and missing having a pet. Enter Zvonek. Just by the way Zvonek means ‘little bell’ in Czech. For me it was love at first sight. It took a bit of persuading on his side, however.
We lived in a lovely ground floor flat with window access to a private garden. Zvoni was able to come and go as he wanted. The garden was next to two other gardens. The older women who lived in the other blocks of flats, often walked around their gardens and Zvonek accompanied them, getting treats and pets, his life was idyllic. Unfortunately this wasn’t to last and Zvonek was to learn that freedom had its price.
One Friday night, he went out as usual and didn’t come home. I thought as a tomcat he was just taking time out and would be back in a day or two. A week passed and no Zvonek. I was beside myself. A neighbor, who since has become a really good friend, realizing Zvoni had disappeared, helped me put up posters in Czech around the neighborhood. We received a call to say he had been knocked down by a car and was in the local shelter.
I was overjoyed with relief that we had found him. Dealing with feelings of guilt and over protectiveness a cat net went up immediately and Zvonek and I both learned that freedom was expensive and a luxury.
It was that Christmas I started my writing again in earnest. An idea developed around the accident and Feline Intelligence was born. However, after playing around with the idea and writing the first two stories it was shelved for five years.
In the meantime Zvonek settled down as a house cat taken for walks on his lead. I felt really sorry for him as my teaching often took me away the entire day and Zvonek, being a people’s cat didn’t really like being alone. Enter Metaxa.
I knew exactly what kind of cat I wanted to be my boy’s companion. She had to be a calico kitten. A student of mine told me that her sister’s cat had just had kittens and there was one female matching Metaxa’s criteria. She showed me a picture of her on her phone and yes! She was exactly what I wanted. Metaxa moved in shortly after at two months.
However, Zvonek took a week to come round. Metaxa had taken over the household in two days and still reigns as queen.
It was yet another cold and long Czech winter – 2010/2011 – that I decided to turn again to my book and review it. I had chatted to a friend who liked the idea and recommended a publisher I should send it to. Somewhat nervously I sent off the manuscript and received back a reply thanking me for entrusting them with my manuscript and they would get back to me in about a month. Shelving the idea life continued for one short week when an email appeared in my inbox. I half expected a rejection when…hey ho…an offer of a contract for the entire series!!! It actually took awhile to sink in. Even once the process had started I think it only became real to me once the first book actually hit the websites.
So at last many years later I could tick the boxes: living in Europe, two cats and writing books.