Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rome Reads

While in Rome, Aimee and I visited my favorite English language bookshop The Lion Bookshop and Cafe.  It is pretty much only the bookshop now.  The cafe is more a discount rack than a place to get cafe.  While there I picked up another book by my beloved Jill Mansell.  I'm more than half way through Staying at Daisy's.  At the train station I found another Mansell: Rumour Has It.  

The last book I got a hold of is The Secrets of Married Women by Carol Mason.  I've never heard of her or this book, but it grabbed me on the front display table.

Hopefully I'll post the review of Staying at Daisy's soon.

Stay true bloggeristas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Roma Cinque

This weekend was my fifth trip to Rome. FIFTH! Can you believe it? And I have NOT been a good Rome visitor my first 4 times. Before this weekend I had never seen the Pantheon, I had never been inside the Vatican, I’d never been to the Piazza del Poppolo. I know. What was I doing all those times in Rome before?

Do you want to see some of the beautiful sights I saw? Would you like beautiful colorful pictures?

Too bad.

My camera broke in the Vatican. (Which was the hungriest trip to the Vatican in the history of all pilgrimages) Right before the Sistine Chapel. Of all times!?!? Don’t worry. My aunt Aimee took pictures. As soon as she gets back from Florence on Friday I’ll upload some.

I have had a bad history with cameras. Last three seemed to be duds. Bad things happen in threes, lets pray and hope that this is the end of my bad picture luck. And I just vowed to take tons more pictures too! I was doing a good job even! Grrrrr.

All in all my trip with Aimee was good. I’ve seen more than I’ve ever seen. And it was my first time taking the train there. I usually fly because it is cheaper and much faster. The train was nice and I’d take it again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with Jamie Ford

I have a treat for you today.  I got to interview Jamie Ford the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I heard about this book first through the Pub Rants blog.  She represents Jamie.

Moving onwardly!  

What does your writing space look like?

Hmmm. Variable.

I do have a home office––it’s what you’d imagine…walls with maps and notes all over the place. Bookshelves. One section devoted to Harlan Ellison, one devoted to graphic novels, one with Asian history, etc. Odds and ends are on my other shelves. A tiny urn with some of my father’s ashes. An old snuff tin used by my grandmother. A Daruma doll, both eyes colored in, meaning I set a certain goal and later achieved it. Okay, maybe not what you imagined?

Oh, and I say variable because I’m prone to write at the public library as well, usually in the summer when there’s a lot of kid activity going on at home.

Oops, almost forgot, our two golden retrievers, Asia and Sadie, (often mistaken for throw-rugs) are usually lazing around my office somewhere. 

What is your writing process?  Do you outline from start to finish or just write and see what comes next?

When it comes to writing, there are two polar opposites: The Outliner, who meticulously plots every detail, and the Discovery Writer, who starts with a blank canvas (and maybe a bottle of scotch). I’m sort of in the middle, minus the grain alcohol. I start with a premise and an ending, then discover the story along the way, but that ending is my guidepost.


Do you have any writing rituals?

Is procrastination a ritual? If so then at times I practice it to a religious fervor. Actually, if I were to map out my writing process it would go like this:

1)  Do tons of research. To the point where I’m dying to put words on a page for fear of forgetting. 

2)  Write at a steady pace, 3-4 hours/day, 1,500 words/day, until done. I try to take as few days off as possible, which has been difficult since I’m still in a bit of a promotional cycle for Hotel. But staying in Storyland is key to my writerly happiness.


Is there anything you know now, as a published writer, that you wish you knew when you first started?

Probably that writing takes practice, and to allow myself some truly terrible practice runs. There were so many points in my writing career where I took time off in frustration, instead of just sticking to it and allowing room for improvement.


Did you know that your novel was going to be called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet when you were writing it or did that come later?

That came later. The working title was The Panama Hotel, which I knew we’d change. Sure, it’s an actual hotel, but when you think of Panama you think of Manuel Noriega or pretty rum drinks with cocktail umbrellas. As I was writing, I wanted the story to be happy and sad, joyful and sorrowful, and well…bitter and sweet. So the new title came quite naturally.


Who did you dedicate this book to and why?
To my lovely wife––because if I didn’t she’d kill me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lumingnano Part the first

I went for a short hike this weekend with some friends of mine.  We hiked from JoAnne's house (JoAnne is the blonde in the picture) to Lumignano where there was a pea festival going on.  The hike was through cherry orchards and vineyards.  I know, I know.  The hard life I live.

While we were picking cherries, Mario came by on his tractor to give us a hard time.  I forgot to take a picture of Mario.  Picture an old man with white hair wearing a blue jumpsuit on an old tractor.  You can picture it?  Good.  

Anyway, as we were stuffing our mouths full of cherries Mario said in Italian, "You know we just sprayed poison on those yesterday.  I hope you don't die tonight."  

Oh, Mario.  Such a jokester.  Way to almost witness me go through a heart attack.  
He rides his tractor up and down this path a lot.

Only a few of the cherries were ripe.  In two weeks when they are at their peak, I'm going to Castegnaro for their sagra of the cherries.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writer's workshop with Daniel Wallace

Last night Daniel Wallace stopped by our little library on a European library tour.  He hosted a writer's workshop for an hour and then went into a book reading.  

Here's the main things that really stuck out to me that he covered:

  • Write clear, concise sentences.  
  • Write for you "toward" being published. 
  • Watch out for censoring yourself in your writing.
  • Keep at it.
  • Things only need to make sense in the context of the story.
  • Writing isn't therapy for the writer but for the reader.
  • Have a good reader to give you feedback.
Good advice, no?  I've been making writing a lot harder than it needs to be.  Defeating myself before I even got to the page.  Daniel Wallace really helped me see that even though it's hard work, writing is fun.  Just ask a runner.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is it fun? Oh yes.

People also asked his writing style.  Is he a plotter or outliner?  What's his process?

He said that writing for him is like driving a car at night with the headlights on.  You can see what's ahead of you, but can't really see where you're going.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Icing tubs and up high things

I was going to blog yesterday. But I didn’t. I was SAD. Sad because my husband left for Germany yesterday for a month. I asked him not to leave. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Don’t leave.

HIM: But I gotta.

ME: What’s in Germany anyways? Germans? And pristine autobahns? Politeness? Who wants to leave dirty Italy for that? Italy has CHARM and it has me and your house and please don’t leave I’ll love you forever pretty please with sugar on top. *insert Puss in Boots level sad puppy dog eyes here*

HIM: And they have schnitzel!


The thing is, I used to be fine with him leaving. I know that sounds mean and wicked but it was true. He would leave every other month for six months and then left for 15 months and I was good. I got to watch whatever I wanted on TV uninterrupted. I got to have everything in the fridge the way I wanted it. All of the juice labels were facing outwards. It was nice to have everything just so.

But he’s been home now for quite a few months. I’ve gotten used to finding boxers on the floor next to the hamper instead of in it. I’ve gotten used to hearing him sing while he’s shaving and I’m in the bedroom at night. And things on high shelves were ATTAINABLE with him around.

I’m not fine with him leaving any more. I NEED those things in those high places. We’ve been married three years and the first two were pretty much spent apart. Him coming home from Afghanistan this last time was really like our honeymoon period. And I discovered something. I LIKE my husband. I mean, really LIKE him. He’s funny and has a cute butt and is a reacher of high things and he drives slow when I’m in the car because he wants to keep me safe and he LOVES me even on my craziest day. Really, really loves me. Anybody want that to go to Germany? Me neither.

Yesterday I didn’t post because I was sad. And I was busy eating a tub of frosting and a roll of crescent rolls and feeling sorry for myself. Obviously much more important and productive things than blogging. (Small digression: If you eat a whole tub of icing and then watch True Blood for the first time late at night right before bed expect to have scary vampire dreams where it feels like you really have to poop in the dream the whole time. Just a kindly warning.)

MOVING ONWARD: I’m going to a writer’s workshop tonight with Daniel Wallace. He’s the guy that wrote BIG FISH. It was turned into a movie. I forgot my camera, which I’m still kicking myself for but I bought new pens. So I’ll give you a play by play tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Ok, so. I don’t know if I’m really behind the curve because I live in Italy or if it’s because I just recently got upgraded to NOT dial-up or if it’s because I only USE the internets for Facebook checking or blog reading or using the Google on my best friends names. Either way, I had no idea about the world of podcasts.

Did you know you can get podcasts for FREE from iTunes about books? Or cooking? Or learning Italian? Or sports?

I didn’t either!

It’s super fantastic. The other thing I put together is that my discovery of podcasts correlates directly with my success at the gym. I’m not really a music lover. I like music. I can sing along with most hits and all of my husband’s favorite bands. But if someone were to ask me what kind of music I like I don’t think I’d really have an answer. I’m just not that into music. Books? Yes. Food? Yes. My hub’s butt in gym shorts? Yes. Gilmore Girls (God rest their souls)? Yes.

Podcasts are NOT music. It’s people talking about many of the things I love. And I can workout for the duration of a 45 minute podcast without getting bored of listening to music!

Please join me in the podcast revolution.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Convert please?

Remember when I blogged about doing 800 squats? Remember when I wanted to kill my husband for thinking it was a good idea for us to work out together? Remember when I whined and complained and was generally acting like a big baby?

One of the main reasons I didn’t want to work out with him was because I didn’t want him to see how far I had to go. I was embarrassed. Ashamed. Unreasonable. My husband coerced me because he’s cute and he wants what’s best for me. That and I like to look at his butt in gym shorts. Anyway, I didn’t give myself any credit. I never thought that I’d go to the gym and impress my husband with how strong I am (thanks Papa for making me cut the grass all those years and not listening to my excuses to not cut it because I’m a girl. I’m a much stronger person now. Ask Hubs.) I knew that I was stronger than I looked from all those years of martial arts. I knew I had muscles somewhere dormant in my body. And oh, OH. My husband woke them up.

I am writing this today as a new woman. Not a smaller woman (yet), but a new one. After those first few work outs with the Hubs I started to feel a lot better. Energized, strong, capable. Now, as I write this I WANT to go to the gym. I haven’t been in a few days due to allergies getting me down. I’m itching to move. I’m ready to get out there and MOVE IT MOVE IT as the song says.

Am I converted?


Ahem. Maybe.