This week, I thought I'd try to do something a little different.
When that failed, I went back to cycling. Heh.
Anyway, most folks with even a vague knowledge of cycling are aware of the colorful nature of the uniforms cyclists - both professional and amateur - wear when riding. Most are made of lycra spandex - which is why they can sometimes prove rather, ahem, revealing on some riders - for the sake of better aerodynamics in racing.
On some cyclists, it looks cool. On others, it's kinda hot. Heh.
Okay, cycling fetishes aside, I thought this week would be a good opportunity to introduce some of you to the colors you'll see if you happen to catch a race this summer. (There are many races shown in "highlights" mode on Versus channel. Le Tour de France is shown in full in July. Check your satellite listings if you're curious.)
So, with no further ado, allow me to present to you, in no particular order:
13 Pro Cycling Team Kits
1) Test Team Cervélo. (Switzerland - though the company, Cervélo, is Canadian.)
Below, we have it modeled by the lovely and talented Heinrich Haussler.
(My thanks to Kristof Ramon for his lovely pic...)
2) BMC - Swiss Cycling Technology. (United States)
The BMC means, simply, "Bicycle Manufacturing Company". Okey-dokey.
Below, we have the George Hincapie special edition of the kit - a design only worn by George, as only Big George could wear it.
3) Team Astana. (Kazakhstan)
Not my favorite team in the world, though I do like Alberto Contador - who is the model below - behind that sweet bike. Thanks, Alberto... :)
4) Caisse D'Epargne (Spain)
One of my favorite kits - it just looks sleek and swift, to me!
Just a glimpse, below, on model Oscar Pereiro.
5) Garmin-Transitions (United States)
Below, we have it modeled by Ryder Hesjedal -a Canadian cyclist who might just have the coolest name in the peloton. LOL!
6) Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain - and, unofficially, the Basque national team)
Below, Lander Aperribai Aranda models for us.
7) Katusha (Russia)
Kim Kirchen models the kit for us in full.
8) Team SKY (Great Britain)
Just a glimpse here, too, modeled by Edvald Boasson-Hagen.
9) VacanSoleil (Netherlands)
And here we have brothers Romain and Brice Feillu modeling for us.
10) Française des Jeux (France) Simplicity itself, don't you agree?
Christophe le Mével models, below.
11) Footon-Servetto-Fuji (Spain) Quite simply the UGLIEST kit. EVER! Something about this one sparks a visceral reaction in me every time I see it. Just... YUCK!
After that last one, I need something to purge the ugliness...
Ahh... that's better... Thanks, Zabriskie! Doesn't he look like trouble? Anyway...
12) Liquigas-Doimo (Italy) Now, the color doesn't seem all that nice. You might even argue that it's more offensive than the beige monstrosities above.
But our model below, Daniele Bennati, shows just how good this kit can look.
13) Team Saxo Bank (Denmark) My current personal favorite, there are several variations within the team, representing the riders' nationalities.
Andy Schleck - 2009 Luxembourg Road Race Champion.
Matti Breschel - 2009 Danish National Road Race Champion.
And of course...
Fabian Cancellara - 2009 Swiss National Road Race Champion (shown here after his 2010 Paris-Roubaix victory).
And, yes, I know.
Scroll down a little, please...
I went with a themed pic, again.
And gosh, but...
Somehow, I doubt y'all mind... :)
(Thanks to Audrey Lafont for providing the pic!)
Ciao for now!
Hello, all! I'm finally feeling a bit better (except for this stupid *hack!* *ack!* cough I've got), so I thought I'd do an upbeat Thirteen this week. Since things are going nicely *knocks wood* with 27 Stages, I thought I'd share
Thirteen Things I Like About My WiP:
1) It takes place during a fictional road cycling race. This means I've had to invent the entire course and work out the logistics myself. This means research. Which can be a wonderful distraction, sometimes.
2) My hubby has been helping me out from the start. He has helped plan the course and offered advice for how key scenes should go. Now, if I could get him back out on the bike... (How handsome is he in his gear, eh? Eh?)
3) I have another reason to buy magazines I like about cycling. At least, now I can justify doing this. Sorta.
4) I have a valid excuse to sit in front of my computer and watch races. Research!
5) I've been able to create characters inspired by real-life cyclists. Only time will tell if readers will be able to identify them. (heh.)
6) I get to spend time (in my mind) surrounded by dozens of cyclists. It'll do...
7) I'm learning more about the sport than I realized - and remembering some of the stuff I had already known, but forgotten.
8) I get to chat online with some avid cyclists/cycling fans for still more research!
9) As always, I get to enjoy delving into the psychology of my characters. In many ways, these people become very real to me while I learn what makes them tick. And that's not just the male characters - although there are waaaay more men in this story than women. In fact, there's only one woman who features at all in the novel: Abby. And she's got loads of issues of her own. The more I get to know her, the more I like her. She was pretty much a blank slate when I sat down to write this, but she's evolving beautifully.
10) Abby aside, I'm enjoying the challenge of writing a believable male character in Federico. Writing him in first person is a huge challenge already, but trying to write a man that men will believe in is especially rewarding!
11) Though I'm not consciously applying them, certain themes are emerging as the story progresses. None of them are so obvious as "Cycling as metaphor for life" or anything like that, but the more I write, the clearer it all becomes.
What are the themes? You'll have to read the story to see! Bwhaahaahaa!
12) I originally hadn't intended to discuss the issue of doping in this novel, but the Stage/Chapter I'm currently writing suddenly demanded it. Rather than take a moral stance within the story (I'm against it, by the way. Just so it's clear.), I'm using it to illustrate how "one bad apple" is enough to cast doubt on everyone else. The end result shows how this issue complicates life for just about anyone involved in the sport.
13) One thing I'm really enjoying about writing this WiP is this: there are only a virtual "handful" of novels out there dealing with this sport in an honest and direct way. While I'm surely taking countless liberties in my tale, bending some facts to suit the story as all writers surely do, I'm trying to be as true as possible to the sport and the people who take part in it.
I still love cycling. 'nuff said.
No, of course, I remembered.
Just scroll down...
Triathletes do three things at a time!
We've all seen the bumper stickers - well, those of us who live in the US, anyway - which say "I'd rather be _____." and then fill in the blank with some apparently preferable task. The possibilities range from "Dancing" to "Riding my horse" to "Flying" (presumably in an airplane) to many, many other things.
Well, this week, I've been sidelined by a bad cold. I lost my voice on Sunday night, then started coughing like crazy on Monday night. After that, I had to cry "Uncle" (why "Uncle", by the way? Why not "Auntie!") and give into the creeping crud. Which meant I had to miss work this week, stay in bed and try to feel better as soon as possible.
Easier said than done, that.
As a result, this week, I've been able to compile a quick Thursday Thirteen of the
13 Things I'd Rather Be Doing
(instead of being sick)
1) I'd really rather have been in London for the latest Diiarts Book Launch Party, last night, or for the other festivities this week. I hate that I had to miss out on what is surely a good time.
Congratulations again to Heikki and Greta!
2) I'd rather be singing along to the music I play while I write. I can't stand not being able to at least mumble along - but every time I open my mouth, I start coughing.
3) I really would rather be enjoying my chocolate Easter egg - which I haven't even considered since I've been ill. I can't taste that delicious, delicious chocolate, so what's the point?
4) I'd rather be reading. But whenever I really get into the story, another coughing jag starts up, and I have to put the book down until it's over. And at the moment I'm reading The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - and it's sooooo good! Waah!
5) I'd rather have the energy to entertain my kitty when she's awake, in hopes of wearing her out enough to let us sleep through the night. (Fat chance, I know.)
6) I'd rather be able to breathe without feeling like there's a knife being jammed in the depths of my throat. Yeah. That'd be kinda neat!
7) I'd rather be on top of a snow-covered mountain, enjoying the peace and serenity of the view from there.
8) I'd rather be in my lessons! I know, it's hard to believe I'd rather work than be at home sick, but it's true. And if you knew my students, you'd understand why I feel this way. They're great folks.
9) I'd rather be watching rugby.
10) No, I'd rather be watching cycling. (And while I'm not a fan of Theo Bos, I'd like to thank him for doing that photo.)
11) I'd rather be writing. I haven't written much since I fell ill, and I was making pretty good headway at the time! Arrrgh!
12) I'd really rather be able to visit with my mother. Even when I'm sick, that makes me feel better. Mom-magic. You know how it is.
13) Finally, I'd rather just be cuddling with my hubby. But he's been sick too, and I don't want him to get sick again! ...sigh...
And in spite of Theo, I thought I'd add a little more somethin'-somethin' for y'all.
I mean, I may be sick, but I'm not completely out of it, or anything.
And I know this is what brings you here, each week...
If only I had a bathtub... I could go for a nice, long...soak.
Ciao for now!
Everyone's source of inspiration is different.
This week, I thought I'd share a little about how "Ask Me if I'm Happy" came about. In some ways, it's just like most people believe it would be:
I got an idea, and I wrote it down. It took two years of writing to get the whole idea down, though. And then it morphed and changed and became something very different from what I'd initially imagined.
It almost always does. Change, I mean.
The origin of the story was this: I watched an episode of Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe which took place in Bologna. There is a segment in that episode where she visits with a Bolognese family for dinner, and while I listened to them talking to her, I felt suddenly homesick. Or more accurately, I felt homesick for my students at the school where I teach. The Bolognese accent is different from a Reggiano accent, but the similarities were strong enough to bring my students to mind.
I continued watching the show, and started pondering what it would be like to have a native Bolognese taking me around the city. I love Bologna, and have loved it since I first visited with my husband several years ago. I go to the bookshops there, I have seen a couple of concerts there, and I just love the general atmosphere of the place.
Anyway, that night, I had a dream which took place in Bologna. It was a dream of the "Watching it on a movie screen" variety, where I was not an active participant, just a viewer. I saw a handsome man meet a plain but pretty woman on a train. I saw the newspaper headlines proclaiming a transportation strike, which kept her in the city. I saw him take her to lunch, and then seduce her, only to find his own personal conflict emerge when she left him. The would-be Casanova was caught in his own trap, and his prey escaped to return to her former life in another place.
The images stayed with me all day long. The sexy, sensual edge of the dream's images wouldn't leave me alone. This was a story I needed to write.
And someday, I might write it, too.
Instead, as I sat down and put pen to paper, the characters made themselves heard. Davide (as he was called) insisted that he wouldn't do such things. He was a nice guy, not a love-em-and-leave-em sort. Emily (as she was always called) said much the same. She was shy, and lacked self-confidence, and no matter how mad she was at her husband she wouldn't just run off for a dalliance with a stranger.
I had to change almost all of the story. I wrote it as a short story - roughly fifteen or twenty pages - called it "Lo Sciopero" (the Strike) and worked on it for the rest of my stay in the States. Now Davide was a gallant stranger offering Emily assistance when her trip to the US was complicated by the strike. He was a perfect gentleman who showed her the tenderness she needed to get past a difficult moment in her life, and nothing more.
But that didn't quite work either. I had to write more. And more.
The kernel of truth in the first version of the story survived. A friend critiqued it and made a suggestion which pulled the whole thing together. But the short story became a novella, and then the novella grew.
Davide insisted on telling more of the story. "You're not finished yet! What about what happened in Milano? What about when I came home?"
"Yeah!" Emily cried. "What about when I went home? What about the messages we wrote each other? What about...? What about...?"
Fine. I wrote it all down. I finished the tale two years after I started, after changes and rewrites and edits and agonizing hours spent deciding what could be cut, and what I believed needed to stay. And then cutting some of that, anyway.
An entire novella was added, then axed. With more work, I'll probably offer that separately, as a story of its own.
And, yes, there's much more to this process. This is just an overview. No story just "flows" out of a writer - well, maybe for some. Maybe when I've been writing steadily for a couple more years, I'll find the process easier. I doubt it, though. After all is said and done, this is me offering a piece of me to the audience, and that's never an easy thing to do.
But I can't stop doing it.
I hope you don't mind...
If I didn't have a bad cold, I'd be running around the house shouting my fool head off.
The little things that make you laugh, or brighten up your day can just be so utterly random, sometimes. Like this little tidbit I found while going through my Google Alerts last night...
That's the Google translator at work, there, and it's the final headline that made me go - "Do what, now?"
I don't speak Dutch - but I sure wish I did! Can anyone out there tell me if this is actually a good translation???