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
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Just a quick note, here, to let you know Ask Me if I'm Happy
is being featured on Thursday at The Fussy Librarian
, a website that offers personalized ebook recommendations. You choose from 30 genres and indicate preferences about content and then the computers work their magic. It's pretty cool -- check it out! www.TheFussyLibrarian.com
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Got caught unawares again - oops! So to be quick, I'd like to share with you
Thirteen Paragraphs from Chapter Thirteen
of Ask Me if I'm Happy
The waiter arrived to take their orders and Davide was grateful for the chance to focus on something else for a few moments. Still, his eyes were drawn back to hers. Each time he found it harder to breathe, harder to focus on the world around them. Each time, he realized all he wanted was to be able to look into those eyes uninterrupted for an hour, or perhaps for a lifetime.
This is insane. You’ve known her less than a day!
Abruptly he cleared his throat and brought his empty glass to his lips, tilting it back to coax the last few drops from the bottom. Emily seemed amused, though he didn’t understand why.
“Ho sete…” he mumbled, as the waiter approached with a bottle each of water and wine.
“Me, too,” Emily said, grinning. With considerable attention, she watched him open the bottle of wine.
He paused with the bottle poised over her glass. “Sì, o no?”
She tilted her head to one side in a becoming gesture. “Sì,” she said, nodding her consent.
Steadying his hand, Davide poured a modest amount into both glasses and sat back, struggling against the impulse to gulp down the contents of his own for courage. Pressing the back of his hand to his mouth, he swallowed a yawn as best he could.
Emily held her glass by the stem and swirled the wine with great care, her expression distant while she watched the liquid cling to the inside of her glass.
She’s thinking of him. Again. Davide was sure of it.
“Sorry,” she said, her voice only just carrying over the soft music of the restaurant. “I got a little lost there.” She rubbed her forehead and mussed the fringe over it, so it lay crooked over her eyebrow.
It took all his will to keep from reaching across the table to smooth the fringe into place. The desire to follow yet another impulse emerged and his heart raced while he contemplated pressing a kiss to her brow instead.
And there we have them, Thirteen Paragraphs from Chapter Thirteen of Ask Me if I'm Happy
.I hope you've enjoyed them.I know I enjoyed sharing them with you.And as always, I'd like to share a little something which inspired me during the writing of that novel.As ever, I'm hoping you won't mind.
Luca Argentero, Italian actor.
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! I'm off to a late start, and since I didn't have a Thirteen ready for you this week, I thought I'd do a quick post instead.
So, with no further ado, please allow me to share:
Thirteen Paragraphs from Stage Thirteen of 27 Stages!
I only wanted to get to my hotel, find my room number and send it to Federico. No sense in actually starting to expect him to arrive, only to be disappointed later.
One of the clasps on my camera bag refused to close. I fussed with it fruitlessly until someone reached out and pushed it from a different angle, sliding the sticky plastic tab shut with apparent ease. Startled, I looked up and found my photographer acquaintance smiling at me.
"Oh, um… Merci," I said, and he grinned at me.
"I wondered where you'd gone when I didn't see you around, this morning."
"Yeah, I was running behind."
He nodded and then extended one hand to me. "I'm Pascal, by the way," he said, taking my belatedly-offered hand in his. "And you are…?"
With one gentle shake of my hand he released me, and I exhaled a quiet sigh of relief. At least he hadn't tried to kiss it or anything.
"Abigail. Would you like to have a coffee?"
"Um, no, thanks… I'm, uh, married." I raised my hand to show him my rings, and he chuckled softly.
"It's only a coffee."
"I'm sorry, but I can't. I have to get back to my hotel." I pulled the strap of my camera bag higher on my shoulder and turned to go.
"Which hotel?" he asked, and damned if I didn't nearly tell him.
So, there you have it - a quick snippet from Stage Thirteen of 27 Stages.
I hope you find your curiosity piqued and perhaps are intrigued enough to the check the book out.
As for the final pic, well...
I know this is well-traveled territory for many of you, but...
I sure hope you don't mind too much.
Ben Swift - professional cyclist
Ciao for now!
Excerpt from 27 Stages
Stage Five (230 km - Sagunto - Reus, Spain)
Rom was fighting to get me to the head of the pack, in the throes of the final kilometres on the broken-heart-shaped perimeter road around Reus. Attilio did the same for Brunn, growing more aggressive as the stretch of roadway straightened out in front of us and the peloton surged forward as a whole.
There was some confusion at the long oval roundabout, and a few riders in the back of the peloton went down. More footage for the fans of crashes, then. After some tight curves, the road rounded gently to the left and we continued jostling for position, trying to reassure ourselves of maintaining our standings. It was unlikely that Schlessinger would try anything today – strategically speaking, the climb into Andorra was his best bet for a Royal finish – so it was all a matter of maintaining the status quo.
Rom, doggedly forging ahead of me to open a slot in the pack so we could advance, threw me a look somewhere between amusement and agony. Tomorrow he'd be happy – the mountain stage would be brutal for some of us but he'd be on his preferred turf – though he was suffering now. He never coped well with the monotony of flat stages.
Brunn and I were riding at speed amongst the peloton, but the group containing the sprinters was well ahead of us, gunning for the finish at the end of this flat stage. From Valencia to Torreblanca, Alvaro had sparred with Teodoro, promising his own victory to even the score with his brother. Teodoro had instead assured us all of his own imminent victory, going so far as to predict a one-second gap at the finish.
Braggadocio, all of it – but the good-natured teasing between the brothers was enough to entertain the rest of us for the length of the stage.
A burst of shrieking and screaming across the team's radio frequency was difficult to comprehend. Either Jerzy had slipped over the edge into insanity, or somewhere closer to the line, one or more of my teammates had made a tactical mistake.
Brunn glanced at me, his expression inscrutable, save for a flicker of concern in his eyes before he turned back to the matter at hand.
Listening to the invective spewing over the airwaves, I had the feeling things weren't exactly going according to plan at the finish.
We pressed forward, the final roundabout looming ahead when Attilio gave a shout and bumped shoulders with another rider who was riding too close as the curve tightened.
Rom broke through the last few cyclists blocking us and I followed close on his wheel, the two of us making our way up to the head of the pack to lead the group through the roundabout and down the short final stretch.
We breezed our way down Avinguda de Sant Jordi, avoiding the concrete lip of the island separating the lanes of the road, but other riders weren't so lucky, judging from the shouts of the crowd and the skree of titanium on pavement which followed the final turn.
Rom fell back behind me in short order and Brunn was soon at my shoulder, a slight grin on his face the only indication that he was pleased with how things had gone. As far as I could tell, there wasn't even a hint of curiosity regarding Jerzy's previous rant, not one iota of concern for Alvaro or Teodoro or for how they'd fared.
We'd find out soon enough.
In the meantime, for the riders who'd remained upright, it was a brisk finish. A few of the other riders picked themselves up and finished the stage with no problem. Only a handful of riders were unable to ride across the line, mostly from mechanical difficulties.
As for me, a strong sense of relief took hold once I was solidly across the finish line. The Royal was still mine, and I'd wear it into Andorra, regardless of whether I'd keep it once we got there.
As I made my way back to the team area to get ready for the presentation ceremony, the source of Jerzy's dismay was made clear. Alvaro and Teodoro had gone very, very wrong and lost the sprint – which, by all estimations, had been theirs to take.
To my amazement, Jerzy hadn't quite exploded yet. We were, however, fifty miles outside Barcelona, and it looked like it was going to be a very, very long ride.
Last week, the lovely and talented Suzy Turner had me as a guest on her blog with my article On Writing and Riding - one writer's thoughts
. This week, I'm returning the favor by introducing this talented (and busy) author to my readers. So please, get to know Suzy Turner, and enjoy an excerpt from her latest novel, Forever Fredless
Suzy Turner has worked as a journalist, assistant editor, features editor and magazine editor. Early in 2010 however, she began writing full time and has since completed six books for young adults (the Raven Saga and The Morgan Sisters series) and one chick lit novel, Forever Fredless.
Although Suzy is a Yorkshire lass at heart, she left her home town of Rotherham, UK, to move to Portugal with her family when she was ten. The Algarve continues to be her home, where she lives with her childhood sweetheart and husband of 15 years, Michael, and their two neurotic dogs and a cat who thinks she's a princess.
Kate Robinson has spent the past two decades yearning to find her soul mate, the boy she found and then lost during a family holiday.
Shortly after her twenty-eighth birthday, however, she inherits a fortune from an old family friend and becomes something of an overnight celebrity. Can her new-found fame lead her to him after all this time?
Thank God for anti-perspirant, I thought as I sat on the couch and waited for the countdown to begin. I clutched at my hands until they were white and looked across at the two people sitting opposite, both completely at ease in front of the cameras.
Five, four, three, two, one...
'Welcome back to this morning's edition of Good Morning GB,' announced Ireland Rothschild, the blonde-haired, blue eyed darling of morning TV.
'I'm here with Fergus O'Reilly and we've a special guest with us this morning. None other than Britain's love-struck multi-millionaire, Kate Robinson.
Welcome, Kate,' she said with a dazzling smile aimed more towards the camera than at me.
As my cheeks began to heat up, I was so grateful to the make-up artist, who had insisted on caking on the foundation before the show had started. In fact, I had so much make-up on that I was hoping once I'd removed it, nobody would recognise me when I headed to the airport in my now rather stupidly chosen car. I couldn't exactly blend in driving a pink Mini could I?
'Good morning,' I whispered shyly.
Fergus grinned back at me, tilting his head as if he was about to speak to a child. 'Now, tell us, Kate dear, how does it feel to never have to worry about money ever again?' he asked, his toothpaste advert teeth twinkling beneath the heat of the studio lights.
'Erm, well, I guess it's... erm, kind of... erm,' I felt so bloody stupid. Great time for my brain to stop working. 'I - erm. Great,' I nodded. 'Great, really great.' Idiot.
Ireland glanced across at her grey-haired colleague and pouted before nodding. 'Tell us how you knew this man. This,' she glanced down at the iPad on her lap and continued, 'Samuel?'
I cleared my throat and lifted my head, feeling like my brain was back in action. 'He was a very good friend of the family, some years ago,' I answered.
'Just a friend? Why did he leave you all his money and his property?' asked Fergus.
'He didn't have any family and I guess you could say that my mother and I were the closest he ever had to a family.'
'Isn't that lovely?' pouted Ireland. 'You certainly are a lucky woman. But what about your mother? Didn't she receive any of his inheritance?'
'No,' I said before swallowing hard. 'My mother lives a rather... nomadic lifestyle, in Africa. She doesn't want any of it. All she asked of me was to donate a sum to charity which, of course, I have done.'
'She lives in Africa? A nomadic lifestyle? That sounds intriguing. Perhaps we should interview her one of these days,' laughed Ireland and Fergus together.
'Have you splashed out on anything since receiving your inheritance back in June?' they asked, leaning forward eagerly awaiting my answer.
'Yes I have actually. I bought a car and a new house.'
'Well good for you, Kate. But now, most of us are curious about this boy you lost. Tell us about him?'
Oh no. Why did I agree to this?
Taking a deep breath, I knew I had no choice. Several articles had been printed since the one in Liberty; everyone wanted to know more and nobody was going to leave me alone until I told them everything.
'He was just a boy who I had a connection with when I was much, much younger. It was at Skegness. At an afternoon disco for kids. I was dancing and I felt someone touch my back and when I turned around there he was. The most beautiful boy I'd ever seen,' I said, stopping and smiling as I reminisced. ‘It was one of the happiest memories of my life.'
Sighing, I continued, 'We just looked at each other and it was like everything else just disappeared into the background. We stood staring, for what seemed like ages. I could barely move. And then, almost as soon as it had begun, my dad appeared and took me away. I couldn't do anything as we walked to the car. I looked around for the boy but he was gone. And then, just as we were driving away, I turned around in my seat and there he was. He had a daffodil in his hand. I always assumed he'd gone to pick it for me, but that's just a childish fantasy, I guess. The whole thing is probably nothing but a childish fantasy, really.'
Ireland was very carefully dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, pretending to be moved, while Fergus smiled sadly.
'What a beautiful story, Kate. I don't believe for one second that this is a childish fantasy. It's romantic and beautiful,' Ireland said.
'Now, tell us, Kate. Why did you call him Fred?' asked Fergus.
Smiling, I explained about the Right Said Fred song, just as the music began in the background.
'What a wonderful tale. Thank you, Kate, for joining us today. It's been a pleasure having you with us to share your story,' said Fergus.
'Thank you,' I whispered before the camera moved back to Ireland as she straightened her skirt and looked alluring. 'Do you remember this moment in time?' she asked. 'Are you the elusive Fred? We'd love to hear from you. You can contact us at...'
Before I could hear anything else, I was ushered off the couch and back behind the scenes where Jo stood, waiting patiently for me, with open arms.
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! Things have been busy this week (are they ever not?) and I've been a tad pressed for time. Still, I wanted to share a few images with you which have tickled my fancy in one way or another over the last few weeks. I hope you'll enjoy them.
So now, please allow me to present
Thirteen Random Images!
1) Okay, so this isn't just a single image, and there are a lot more than thirteen images in that video alone. But I won't be that lazy, honest! I've got more to share!
2) I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who with the hubby, lately. So yes, I *did* read this in Tennant's voice. And I couldn't be happier about it.
3) This makes me giggle. I can't help it.
5) KITTEN PILE!!!!
7) Amen to that. I just need to get some cuffs in case I meet him.
8) Damn straight, yo.
10) I'm reasonably sure I put out something like 10-20 watts when I ride. Maybe. On a good day.
11) I laugh every time this comes up on Tumblr. Every. Single. Time. (What's wrong with me????)
12) My favorite cyclist, Fabian Cancellara, moments before starting his ride in the World Championships Individual Time Trial. He came in third, which hopefully means he's saved some energy for the Road Race on Sunday.
13) I can't help it. I loved this. So sue me.
And there you go - 13 Random Images!
I hope you enjoyed them to the fullest, and at least one made you smile.
And this week I'll just cut to the chase, eh?
Besides, I'm trying to remember...
Is it rugby season, yet?
Ciao for now!
Ciao a tutti! Hi, everybody! After an extended absence - I'm back posting a Thursday Thirteen! Aren't you just thrilled? No?
Anyway, I thought I might as well dip my toe in the pool again by letting you know what I've been up to over the last few months. Narrowing that list down to thirteen things is pretty tough, but that's what the meme is all about, eh?
So, here we go, with
Thirteen Things I've Done This Summer!
1) In late April/early May, I was pleased to finally see the release of 27 Stages
in both ebook and paperback. After working on this novel over the course of the last four years, it was a truly satisfying achievement, made even better by finding the book included on the cycling-centric website Podium Cafe
's list of 101 on Tour 100 Books
(listed in honor of the centenary edition of the Tour de France)!
2) For the first time in a long, long time, I decompressed. This summer was spent doing many things, but travel was more limited than we (that is, my mother and I) expected it to be. As a result, I was able to actually relax for the first time in a long while.
Turns out I really needed that. Who knew?
3) My previous meetings with Yahtzee (pictured on the right, here) happened when he lived with my aunt in Florida. He was grumpy, growly, and generally demanding and unpleasant. My mother adopted him (long story) and brought him to Tennessee last spring. He and I got to know each other better this summer. Once he got over his grumpiness, I found myself frequently being followed by this moody little cloud of fluff. He grew rather fond of me, it seems, and I grew rather fond of him, too.
4) An online friend asked me to have a look at an English translation of a short piece originally written in Italian, and make corrections/suggestions as needed. It was hard work, but fun, and perhaps will lead to more of the same, one day. Who knows?
5) I worked (a little) on my own projects, and fleshed out the bones of a few new projects too. We'll see which ones take flight.
7) I watched an entire Firefly marathon.
'Twas time well spent, dammit.
As was the time I spent watching Doctor Who repeats.
8) I lost ten pounds.
9) I took self-portraits.
10) I bought books. (Nothing new there, right?)
11) I grabbed this picture when I saw it on sale at Ross Dress for Less, because DC3/C47s make me happy. I don't know why that is. Maybe because they're AMAZING???
12) At bargain prices, I also indulged my growing addiction to Converse All-Star sneakers.
13) Most recently, I rushed out with the hubby on September 10th to get Samuele Bersani's latest album, Nuvola Numero Nove. I've been listening to it several times a day ever since.
And there you have them - Thirteen Things I've Done This Summer. What have you done to keep busy over the last few months? Let's catch up!
And I'm sure you've missed a certain other something from these posts, too.
So I won't keep you in any further suspense, eh?
My jetlag is still making me sleepier than normal. Aren't you?
Ciao for now!
I was tagged again - this time by my dear friend and CP, Nell Dixon
Once again, here are the rules: Go to Page 7, 70, or 170 of a current Work in Progress or recently published work and choose either the first complete paragraph or 7 lines of dialogue to share. Just like last time, I've fudged this a little and gone with seven paragraphs instead.This time, I've chosen a sampling from page 170 of my recently published work, 27 Stages (a novel).
The whitewashed brick and concrete wall was cool at my back before he slipped his arms around me and held me to himself, heatedly kissing me. I wrapped my arms around his neck certain I'd do anything – absolutely anything – he asked of me then. If he wanted a quick coupling here amidst the smells of damp, concrete dust and the stale smoke of furtively-smoked cigarettes, then so be it. I wanted what he wanted, even if it was a one-time thing.
"Abby," he murmured against my neck, then kissed me again, his intended words forgotten.
I touched his face, his hair, his shoulders and back – I wanted to memorize everything about him, if I could.
"Abby," he said again, a little more clearly this time, a little more focused even as his hands slid down to my hips and gripped them. "I want you to promise me something."
"What is it?"
He framed my face in his hands and kissed me again before replying.
"I want you to call me if you need me. Any time, before or after the stage. Will you do that?"
Recently, I was tagged by the talented and lovely Gilli Allan
to take part in a 7x7 excerpt challenge. I haven't been able to nominate anyone else, as most of my writer friends have already taken part, so I'm pretty well going this alone, alas.
Anyway... Here are the rules: Go to Page 7, 70, or 170 of a current Work in Progress or recently published work and choose either the first complete paragraph or 7 lines of dialogue to share. I've fudged this a little and gone with seven paragraphs, actually. I hope no-one minds. (Heh.)I've selected this from page seven of one of my multiple Works-in-Progress, "None So Blind" - a prequel to Ask Me if I'm Happy.
There was no conversation and no sound other than the clink of the tiny cups in their saucers and the hum of the refrigerator in the next room. From where he sat, Davide looked out the window at a neighborhood which had remained virtually unchanged for as long as he could remember. At this time of year the whole town seemed somehow shabbier in the absence of late sunsets and warm breezes. The diehard remaining merrymakers now kept themselves indoors in the pubs and discoteche
of the town, well out of sight from the day-to-day business of the locals. The irony of his having grown up in a city best known for its party reputation was not lost on him. His own father had often despaired of having such a bookish son, especially one so dedicated to his books and studies he had little time for any friends or amusements outside the home. Davide had somehow been an embarrassment to a man who spoke with barely disguised pride of his colleagues' sons and their misadventures with their classmates.
When Davide was twelve, his father had taken him out for lunch and an early film. The lunch had been reasonably enjoyable; the boy had basked in his father's attention - a rare thing indeed - over pizza and a heaping gelato for dessert. The movie had been somewhat less pleasant, a sexy comedy full of double-entendres and men falling all over themselves ogling half-naked, large-breasted women. He'd laughed a little but his father guffawed and gestured toward the screen as if to say ‘This is what it's all about!’
Afterward, as they walked home from the city center, his father had sat him down on a bench in a park. Looking ill at ease, after waiting for a moment when no one was passing by or close enough to overhear, he'd leaned in close and asked Davide a question which he'd never forgotten: "You do like girls, don't you?"
In an instant, a day which might have become a fond memory was inexplicably ruined. The boy's only response had been to nod and stare at the ground. A cold rush of shame flashed through him, followed by a surge of anger like nothing he'd ever felt before. The heat rose inside him, threatening to surface before he stood and walked away from the bench and his father, leaving them both behind without another word.
The fury didn't fade. For weeks it resonated in his heart every time his father addressed him, any time they were together for more than a short while. Luckily, that didn't happen often. His father often went away for work - he'd rarely been home for long, in Davide's recollection - coming home for short stays before leaving again.
That same summer, Davide went to camp and a girl from Parma named Graziella sat next to him during a play and gave him a kiss - on the lips - during the confusion of the intermission. He had no idea why she'd done it; they'd hardly exchanged more than a few words before that, but when his thoughts drifted later on, he heard the smack of the kiss over and over again. Sure, he'd thought she was kind of cute - though he would have died before admitting to his classmates - after that, however, he was sure he was in love.
In his head, he composed a dozen poems dedicated to her long, dark hair and her dark brown eyes with heavy lashes that curled up so prettily, so perfectly. He didn't write them down and it didn't matter, since he never saw her again.