This blurry pic is of me, on Pietra di Bismantova (well, just above the parking area, anyway) back in February 2004. It was just a week or two before Alle and I got married.
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody!
Well, now. That was some hiatus, eh? Unplanned and longer than I'd like, but now I'm back, and for today, I'm going to keep it pretty random, with
Thirteen Fairly Random Thoughts
1) I went home to the US for the summer, as usual. While I was there, I managed to lose and then keep off six more pounds. (Considering how little physical activity I was doing for those two-and-a-half months, after riding my bike several times a week in Italy, I found that to be a good thing.)
2) Alas, when the hubby joined me in the US in August, we ate a lot of restaurant meals. As a result, I gained back four pounds. So that's a net loss of two pounds.
I'll take it, though.
3) Regardless, that's a grand total of forty pounds lost over the course of two years. I'm not ashamed to admit that.
4) With the help of an app on my new tablet (my birthday gift from my hubby), I started trying to do yoga. While I'm not terribly "good" at it (I don't think), I did see an improvement in my flexibility and a reduction in back/leg pain.
5) I haven't done yoga since I've been back in Italy, and that's something I need to change, soon. It would complement my cycling very well - not to mention the benefit of stretching before and after rides.
6) In the States, I got reacquainted with my roommate from last year. Yahtzee.
7) Yahtzee was much fluffier than he was in the above photo, and needed a good trim.
He got it. The results were rather...interesting.
I'm just sharing this one photo of him (a few weeks post-shave) because, well... It just feels rude to have so many people laughing at him. Bless.
8) I spent the summer driving a lot, running errands for my mother, taking her to appointments and occasionally doing my own thing, alone or with my best mate, Cristy. I do enough driving in the US every summer to keep me from wanting to drive for the rest of the year. Heh.
9) As a surprise, my mother and Cristy colluded on my birthday present and got me a FitBit Flex step tracker. I've enjoyed using it quite a lot and wear it every day. It's very useful for keeping track of my activity level!
10) Since getting back to Italy, using the FitBit for motivation, I'm managing to walk more than usual, which is great. I also drag the hubby along for walks in our neighborhood, which he enjoys.
11) What kept us busy last week was something that had been in the works for quite a while: We painted our bedroom and my office! Woo-hoo!!!
12) It was a loooonnnng week, but we got the two rooms done, and aside from the rearranging of items and disposal of others, we're nearly finished with the whole project. Hurrah!
13) And, yes, for those who are curious: I am working on a new project which I hope to get out ASAP. Now that I have my lovely office set up, I have the space I need to get to work!
And there you have Thirteen Random Thoughts from my fairly rattled mind.
I hope you've enjoyed them.
And it's only fair that I share this lovely image with you all, too:
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Well, I know I missed last week, but I wanted to post something for Thursday Thirteen this week and I'm slightly pressed for time (who isn't, amirite???). So, I thought I'd share a little something that's been taking up a lot of my time - in a good way.
So, this week, please allow me to share with you
13 Photos I've Taken During Bike Rides
And there you have them: 13 Photos I've Taken During Bike Rides!
I hope this little glimpse into my world was at least a little interesting for you.
If not, I promise to try to do better.
Because, you know...
I want to keep things interesting.
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! It's that time again, and I admit - I'm lagging a bit behind. So let's jump right in with this week's topic:
Thirteen Things Which Make Me Happy
1) Obviously, reading a good book makes me happy.
2) Writing a good book makes me happy, too.
3) A review like this? Yeah, that makes me happy!
4) Hearing the voices of my neighbors joking around outside makes me happy.
5) Watching a good TV show with my hubby makes me happy.
6) Finally sitting down to dinner after a long day (preferably involving a bike ride) makes me super happy!
7) Kitty spotting makes me happy.
8) In a similar vein to number seven, watching my kitty sleep makes me happy, too.
9) Watching a good bike race makes me happy.
10) Getting in a good ride of my own makes me very happy. Exhausted, yes, but very happy.
11) Taking photos makes me happy.
12) Hearing my hubby's voice when he's talking with friends (which generally means in Italian) makes me happy too.
13) Listening to my hubby's heartbeat when we cuddle? That makes me happy, indeed.
Well, there you go - Thirteen Things Which Make Me Happy.
What sort of things make YOU happy?
Feel free to share in the comments, please.
And in the meantime...
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! It's that time again, so let's just jump right in, eh?
Thirteen Things I've Seen While Riding My Bike
In February, I became the proud owner of a brand-spankin' new bike, and I've been tooling about on the mixed-use paths here in Reggio a few times a week ever since. So far, I've put about 382km on the bike, and I hope to put even more on it before I leave for the US for the summer.
Along with the new bike came the usual necessary goodies, including a helmet, gloves, cycling shoes and socks. Naturally, I'm loving all of this.
Anyway, let's get on with the list, shall we? Here we go!
1) Kitties! I see cats nearly every time I ride, since the paths I choose run alongside fields near people's homes. Of course, the kitties are out prowling around on their own.
2) Dogs/Puppies! There are loads of people out walking their dogs where I ride. Most of these folks are respectful and attentive with their pets, keeping them well under control so neither the dogs nor I manage to get in a tangle. There are a few owners, however, who don't seem to understand that someone's going to end up hurt, one of these days. ...sigh...
3) Pheasants! Where I live, pheasants are remarkably abundant - and they do seem to enjoy calling attention to themselves at awkward moments.
4) An enormous hare. I was treated to the sight of a hare (or was it a rodent of unusual size?) "racing" me on a ride last week.
5) Roadies. "Roadies" are what most folks might think of as stereotypical cyclists - non-professionals decked out head-to-toe in brightly colored kit on racing bikes. Once in a while, these riders (who are retirees, for the most part, since I ride in the morning) deviate from the road to shortcut through the paths to their destination.
6) An exhibitionist jogger in his late forties. I've seen this guy a couple of times, and the warmer the weather gets, the fewer clothes he bothers with. At this rate, it's getting pretty scary, as the last time I saw him he was down to a pair of super-skimpy jogging shorts and his shoes. That's it. Sure he's fairly easy on the eyes, but... Please, just stop.
7) New places. While just about everywhere I've gone had to be a new place to me at some point, certain places stand out for me. The photo above, for example, was taken the first time I reached the end of this portion of the path. I was only a couple of miles from home, but I'd never gone there on my own before. The more confident I become, the farther I want to go.
8) A kestrel flew past me on one memorable ride about two weeks ago. I wished desperately I had my camera with me, but it was gone before I could stop, anyway.
9) Nice people. I've made a friend of sorts as a result of my riding on the same paths with some regularity. An older gentleman named Rino stopped me one morning to ask me if I knew where the path led to, or knew any other paths to take. Let's just say my attempts to answer gave my Italian (and a tiny bit of his English) a workout. Rino's the first person I see regularly who now stops to talk to me. In the same vein as Rino is a charming older couple who always say "Ciao" or "Buongiorno" as I pass them by. I see them nearly every time I go out, and our exchanges are very brief since I'm on the bike and they're power walking, but the smiles are genuine and welcoming every time we meet.
10) The conductor. I think of one person in particular this way - a young guy riding on the path towards the city center who gave me a nod as he passed, and then proceeded to ride hands-free up and over the bridge while gesturing as though he were conducting a symphony or attempting to fly.
11) Miniature horse! On one part of the path is a most squee-worthy miniature horse. I must get a photo of it one day soon.
Alas, not everything I see is wonderful...
12) Poo! Despite the availability of bags for doggy-doo, some people are still inclined to ignore their pet's, um, "leavings". As a result, some rides do result in a bit of sticky dodge 'em. So far, so good. *crosses fingers*
13) Poopers! This was the biggest surprise - and one of the most bizarre, so far: On one reasonably remote part of the path, I was "treated" to the sight of an elderly couple relieving themselves on opposite sides of the path itself. She behind a shrubbery, he in the field. In full view.
Erm... Right. What has been seen cannot be unseen they say. To my sorrow, this seems to be true.
And so, there you go - a (regrettably photo-free) listing of the wonders of the world spotted from the saddle of my bike.
I'm sorry I might have left you with such an unpleasant vision with that last one.
Truly, I am sorry.
Here, let me attempt to provide some sort of mind-bleach for you:
There - did that help?
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! I'm back for another Thursday Thirteen, where I'm sharing some of my favorite book-to-film adaptations. Most of these are films I saw after I'd read the book, a few I read after seeing the film, and only one is a film where I haven't read the book at all.
It's worth noting that some adaptations were quite faithful to the source material and others weren't. In fact, one of my picks was actually "disowned" by the author, in that he asked they change the names of the characters and of the film itself because he didn't think the screenplay could do it justice. Do you know which film/book it is?
(I'll share the answer at the end of the post.)
If you have a little time to kill (heh, that's a little book-to-film humor for ya), I hope you'll have a look at these clips - I've tried to find the best quality version for each one, but some are too old to have a good trailer available on YouTube.
And so, now, please allow me to share with you
Thirteen Books-to-Film I Love!
1) First off, a Stephen King classic! (To be fair, I could have done nearly the whole list using only Stephen King stories, but I thought better of it.)
2) Next, a film which I still watch compulsively whenever I find it on TV. It truly had a profound effect on me at an impressionable age. I've been a fan of John Irving ever since. (Fun fact - Irving has a cameo as the wrestling referee in the film.)
3) I saw this film the day it was first released in theaters, and I'm not embarrassed to admit I still get chills when I watch the trailer. Michael Crichton created a classic which endures, in my humble opinion.
4) This film just might qualify as an addiction for me. I've watched it so many times I have literally lost track of my viewings. I have the DVD in the US. I have the DVD in Italy. If I come in at any point of the film on TV, I have to watch it all the way to the end. Irvine Welsh's characters really came to life in this film, and now I can't read their stories without picturing these actors in the roles.
5) I saw this with a friend of the family - she vowed never to go to a film with me again. I took that as a sign of the quality of the film as opposed to the quality of my company. *ahem* A genuinely creepy novel made into a supremely disturbing film. Another Stephen King classic.
6) To be fair, it might not be the best film on this list, but I really enjoyed it anyway. I admit I wasn't disappointed in the transition of this book to the big screen, but it would have been impossible to make a film as good as the source material.
7) It's the '80s in a nutshell; a slimy, scary, spectacularly twisted nutshell. Casting Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in this adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis' novel was a stroke of genius, as he gave the character all the nuances necessary to elevate the shallow go-getter to someone we start rooting for in spite of ourselves.
8) Another John Irving adaptation - this time of his novel A Widow For One Year - this film actually only depicts (approximately) the first third of the book. I had read the book long before seeing the film, but that doesn't make the story any less compelling.
9) Another film I compulsively watch is Fight Club, based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel. I don't know what it is about the film, but once I start watching it, I'm compelled to see it through to the end. Surprisingly, I haven't read the novel yet, but I have read a few of his other works. (I really need to add it to my TBR pile.)
10) Yet another John Irving adaptation (he even has a cameo as the stationmaster!), The Cider House Rules won two Academy Awards, for Best Adapted Screenplay and for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine).
11) Another brilliant film, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Stark, bleak and utterly without hope, it features Javier Bardem's chilling portrayal of a hitman on a mission. Tommy Lee Jones is also a wonder to watch; his final scene is particularly memorable to me, love it or hate it.
12) This film, an adaptation of Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, came along at precisely the right moment of my life. I'd already enjoyed the story (it was originally published in King's collection, Different Seasons), but the line "Get busy living, or get busy dying" hit home with me in a most unexpected way. An all-time favorite film.
13) As crazy as it sounds, Watership Down is one of the most important films I ever saw, if only for the effect it had on me. After becoming (essentially) obsessed with the movie, I sought out the book, and I can say it truly did change my life. I even wrote about it!
Well, I hope you've enjoyed these trailers. If you guessed that Simon Birch was the film "disowned" by John Irving (it was nominally based on his heartbreaking masterpiece A Prayer for Owen Meany), you guessed correctly! Well done!
And now, I hope you'll indulge me just one last time.
No, it's not a trailer...
But I hope you'll agree...
This is one actor who's worth the price of admission!
Ciao for now!
Today I'm pleased to share a link to a guest post I've written for the lovely and talented Dan Holloway, as part of his series on creativity and extreme sports. I'd be thrilled if you would drop by, read and comment.
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! It's that time again, and this week, I've prepared a special little tribute to my hubby of ten years - and tomorrow, that number is official! That's right, our tenth wedding anniversary is Friday the 28th, and I thought I'd "celebrate" a bit by sharing some of my favorite photos of my hottie hubby, Alessandro, taken over the years.
So now, please allow me to share with you:
Thirteen Photos of My Hubby!
And there you have them: Thirteen Photos of My Hubby!
I think you'll agree he's a cutie, eh?
And since this is a special edition of my Thursday Thirteen, I've prepared an equally special final photo for you all.
It's a little different from the usual fare (to say the least), but...
I sure hope you don't mind!
Ciao for now! :)
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! It's that time again - and this week, I'm sharing with you a portion of the books stacked up in my To-Be-Read pile, at the moment. So, here we go:
Thirteen Books in My To-Be-Read Pile
1) Sex is Forbidden - Tim Parks
2) Talking About It - Tim Parks
3) Adultery and Other Diversions - Tim Parks
4) Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
5) Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
6) Stardust - Neil Gaiman
7) The Red House - Mark Haddon
8) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Mark Haddon
9) Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - Matthew Green
10) To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
11) Look at the Birdie - Kurt Vonnegut
12) Joyland - Stephen King
13) A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
And there you have them: Thirteen Books in My To-Be-Read Pile!
Do we have any in common? Let me know in the comments, won't you?
And, in the meantime, I think we can agree that it's perfect weather for kicking back and reading a good book.
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Well, it has been another busy week for me, filled with writing, editing, cover designing, and blah-blah-blah (as my niece Mia loves to say). This week also saw - albeit very briefly - my novella, Alternate Rialto, at number ONE (sorry, mustn't shout) on one of Amazon Italy's freebie lists. (See this post for more details.) As a result, I've decided to share
Thirteen Reasons to Download Alternate Rialto
1) Call me crazy, but I think that's a reasonably lovely cover, if I do say so myself.
2) It's the story of an ordinary young woman making some important self-discoveries while in Venice.
3) It's romantic without being too saccharine about it.
4) There's a genuine friendship between the two female characters, who support one another without competition.
5) The male character has an air of mystery about him.
7) There's a darker undercurrent to the story which keeps you guessing.
8) If you've already read Ask Me if I'm Happy, but haven't read Alternate Rialto, you'll finally learn how Emily and Jacopo met in the first place.
9) If you haven't read Ask Me if I'm Happy, this is your chance to read the whole story in a more linear fashion, from start to finish!
10) It takes place in VENICE, ITALY! What's not to like about that?
11) It's a realistic portrait of the city, too, both beautiful and flawed.
12) Here's an excerpt, should you desire one:
The streets were virtually empty, the campi deserted. They crossed the Rialto Bridge again, Jacopo guiding her as before, but this time he steered her to a place at the wall. The bridge was aglow, the ghostly pale stone surface softly illuminated by strategically placed lights. They stood and looked out at the reflections on the water which rippled, rose and fell with soft, gentle lapping against the boats moored nearby.
"Emily," he said, his voice scarcely carrying above the soft murmurs of conversation around them. She drew her gaze away from the hypnotic dance of light on water to face him.
Yes? she wanted to ask, but the word never formed on her lips. Instead, his hands framed her face and held her still as he brought his lips to hers in a soft kiss. She raised her own trembling hands to cover his as he kissed her again. At once, the other people vanished, along with the bridge, the water and the city itself.
His hands slipped from under hers to stroke her hair, twisting and tangling in the length of it while his kiss deepened. Her heartbeat was distant and remote, somewhere else. There were only his lips, parting hers and lingering while he pulled her to him and held her securely in his embrace. Emily trembled as eagerness, anxiety and need warred amongst themselves, threatening to breach the surface at any moment.
An adventure. I need to have an adventure. I deserve it, too, don't I?
Awareness of her surroundings filtered through, murky and submerged but slowly clarifying in the laughter and soft talk all around them. At last, she opened her eyes to find herself looking directly into his. The pale, Summer-sky blue of his eyes held her transfixed for what seemed like forever.
13) Finally, I hasten to add: it's FREE!!! What more reason could you need? What have you got to lose?
And there you go: Thirteen Reasons to Download Alternate Rialto!
I hope you'll find them persuasive.
And if not, I'll just ask nicely.
So... Pretty please?
With sugar on top!
Ciao for now!
Okay, to be fair, I may have hyped that title just a bit.
Still, Alternate Rialto did, in fact, reach number one on the Amazon Italy Kindle English-language freebies chart for Contemporary Fiction (Narrativa Contemporanea).
Hitting number one meant I'd topped Melissa Foster, Sophie Kinsella and Nadia Lee for a day - and that's no easy feat!
So, "Hurrah!" for list-topping, for the first time ever! Here's hoping I can manage it again, sometime. Heh.
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! I hope you've all been well and happy. I'm betting that most of you have been busy, too - just like me! So, let's jump on in and see how I've been passing time, eh?
Thirteen Ways I Have Been Keeping Myself Busy
1) First and foremost, the holidays were a big factor in keeping me busy - and I'd wager they kept most of you busy, too! The season was unusually warm in this part of Italy, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I enjoyed it all the same.
2) Another thing which kept me busy was revising the English translation of a popular Italian-language YA Fantasy novel by a local writer here in Reggio Emilia. Actually, that's still keeping me busy, but the work should be wrapped up soon if all goes according to schedule. (I'll share more details when the book is closer to release, of course.)
3) I've also been doing some work on None So Blind, the second prequel novella to Ask Me if I'm Happy. Alas, this project has been slow to develop - but I promise, it's on the way!!!
4) I've also been revamping the covers of my novels for a somewhat more "uniform" look, as I'm collecting Emily and Davide's stories into a proper series. The covers above are the "works in progress" at the moment.
5) A little cleaning and straightening of my workspace kept me busy, as did rearranging the furniture in my office. Nothing dramatic, no, but it freshened the place up a bit. Yay!
6) Night-time visits to the city center for a number of different reasons kept me busier than usual, over the last few months.
7) As I mentioned last week, I did another voice-over job for a local company. I enjoy that sort of thing a great deal, and the person I worked with was fun to work/hang out with. I hope to work with them again, soon.
8) Riding my bike kept me busy while it was warmer outside (up until I crashed right before the rainy season kicked in). I've been on the stationary bike since mid-November, and am looking forward to getting out on the road again.
9) I've kept busy reading, too. I especially enjoyed Stephen King's Doctor Sleep and Joe Hill's NOS4A2.
10) Visits with family kept me pretty busy, as did visits with a friend who came back to Italy for just over a week at New Year's.
11) A trip to Montebelluna, near Treviso, with the hubby to visit other friends kept me pretty busy, too, if only for an all-too-brief weekend.
12) The Doodlebug always keeps me busy - to say the least!
13) And finally, repainting the guest room - and then rearranging the furniture - certainly kept us busy, at least for a couple of days.
And there you have them, Thirteen Ways I Have Been Keeping Myself Busy.
Do we have any in common? Let me know in the comments!
Oh, yes, I know what you're expecting now.
Did you really think I'd forget?
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! I'm back (for now) for another thrilling edition of the Thursday Thirteen!
Yes, it's a topic I've done before, but I was tagged on Facebook for one of those memes that go around every so often, and I thought it'd be an amusing (and generally positive) way to post again.
So, please allow me to share with you:
13 Random Facts About Me!
1) I took photography classes for three years when I was in high school. People who have visited this site before know I love photography, so it won't surprise them to know I've been a fan of photographic work since I was in my early teens.
2) I always enjoyed riding my bike when I was a kid, but my love for professional cycling has its roots in watching the Tour de France with my cousin, Dustin, when we were both visiting our fathers in Ashland, KY in the summer of 1987.
3) As I said on FB: Samuele Bersani is still my favorite singer.
4) In Italy, as a native speaker of English, I have done the occasional voice-over job, mostly for industrial videos. The most recent one I've done is for a video about Reggio Emilia.
5) I cried when my husband bought me my first-ever wool "dress" coat. I felt guilty because - with the exchange rate at the time - it cost more than any other article of clothing I've ever owned. It's still one of my favorite articles of clothing, though I rarely get to wear it - it's seldom cold enough now!
6) I've had two celebrity encounters via Twitter. One with Fabian Cancellara (Swiss cyclist), and one with Luca Argentero (Italian actor).
7) On a more personal note, in the last year, I've lost 28 pounds. I like to say I've finally lost my kummerspeck - which is German for "grief bacon" - gained during a turbulent and painful period from 2009-2011.
8) In case you haven't noticed, I tend to "over-share". Sorry!
9) I scream and run away from bees. Just ask my hubby.
10) On a similar tangent - wasps make me physically ill. If I see a nest, or a number of wasps in a particular area, my heart starts pounding until I'm ready to throw up. I start shaking all over, too.
11) I really enjoy designing the covers for my books, for better or worse. I enjoy working with graphics and trying to capture the mood of the story as best I can. I've been known to design the cover before finishing the story - if not before I begin writing it in the first place. It helps me to "see" the final product more clearly in my head, most of the time.
12) I wrote an entire book inspired by the music of Jarvis Cocker and Pulp. I need to revise it (heavily) before it would be a viable, publishable entity, but I hope to do that one day.
13) I call my mother in the US at the same time of day, almost every single weekday. Thank goodness for Skype!
And that's it for today's 13 Random Facts About Me!
I hope you've found them somewhat entertaining.
If not, I apologize, and I will attempt to better in the future.
In the meantime, I offer this to you in hopes of making reparations:
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody!
Have you heard the good news? Amazon's Kindle MatchBook program is now live!
Why should you care? Well, if you ever bought a paperback copy of any of my books from Amazon, you can now get the ebook version for just $.99! That's a substantial savings, see? What a deal! What a bargain!
If you still haven't purchased one of my books, now is a great time to do so. You can buy a paperback copy of Ask Me if I'm Happy on Amazon for your Italophile friend, and nab an ebook copy for yourself at just $.99! Or, you can grab a copy of 27 Stages for your cycling-obsessed cousin and get the ebook to read at your leisure.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out the MatchBook program today!