Friday, October 21, 2016

Ken Follett in Milan

This week Milan has enjoyed a series of interesting events about all sorts of topics. The magazine Panorama (sorry, no English page here) is organizing a tour of Italy and it was our turn.

I signed up to hear Ken Follett speak and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's a pic I took at the event.

It's important for writers to hear other writers speak. We can learn a lot. However, that's not really the reason to go. We need to remember that we are in the world and we have to stay connected. I don't write only for myself - I write for my readers. Now, I have a very small fraction of the readership that an author like Mr. Follett has (thanks to all 5 of you), but I am interested in hearing what you would like to read.

This is why I put an email list sign up on the page. You can type in your address now and be notified when I post.

In the comments today, let me know what you're interested in finding when you come by to see me.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Reading List: Yard Sale Books

Don't you love yard sales? All those things priced so conveniently. All those treasures changing houses. It's a lovely tradition that not all countries share. Italy, for example, does not do yard sales.
So I guess you can imagine that I don't go all that often.

For those of you who have never heard of a yard sale, these are sales that people hold privately to sell their own belongings at a 90% markdown. Some people set their stuff up in the garage, and call them garage sales. The unofficial verb would be "to go garage sale-ing". You don't need a permit or other type of authorisation.

Outside the US, I'm sure you have second hand shops, or maybe you just donate your used items in good condition to charities. Maybe you could find a bookcrossing point to get something to read free.

I've been to several sales already this year, and here are a few of titles I picked up.

Mad Merlin: garage sale.
When I started it, I thought it was just another take on the King Arthur legend. Boy, was I wrong! The author integrated all sorts of mythology and the story is impeccable. Merlin is the main viewpoint character, and the author developed him into something really unexpected.

The Bait of Satan: thrift shop.
A Christian non-fiction book about the consequences of offence. This book explains how getting offended and holding grudges messes up relationships. In modern times, offense is very common and we are seeing the damage to our culture.
To give you a concrete example, let's think, for a moment, about the idea of forgiving yourself. Have you ever done something that was stupid or that resulted in tragedy? You know that the longer you hold that against yourself, the worse your self-esteem will become. You will even pass this mindset to your family! Forgiveness is necessary for a happy life in general.

Roots: table outside a shop in Milan.
The sign on the window says to leave books you've finished reading. (I really need to take something down there.) Anyway, I watched the new mini-series last spring in the US and when I got back to Italy I found this book waiting for me. What a nice coincidence! (Or gift from God, depending on your perspective....) I want to read it because I haven't studied this part of history as closely as I would have liked to. I am a firm believer in knowing where your roots are.

What have you been reading?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September Reading List: Wattpad and Goodreads

I like to read different types of media, and I love to try out different platforms.
So I have accounts on both Wattpad and Goodreads.

For those who don't know, Wattpad is a platform for writers to share what they've written and create content for their readers. I posted the Italian version of the Coma short story I wrote two years ago because it is no longer available on the Giallo Milanese website. You can find the English version here on my blog.

I'm working on a new story and today I wrote 640 words.

Goodreads, on the other hand, lets you write reviews about books that you've read, and you can keep track of what you are reading - and what you would like to read in the future. As usual, I'm currently reading three different books: two paper books and a digital version on my phone. I also have another ebook on my tablet that I have barely started.

Here they are:
The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Frangipane
This year, I've read quite a bit on Christian subjects. This book is an eye-opener on spiritual warfare. I haven't finished it yet, but I am taking notes. It contains descriptions and explanations of biblical references that I had never understood until now.

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
Another Christian book - this one is about prayer. I enjoy listening to the author speak (on YouTube) and I think these strategies will help me get more organized in my prayer time. I need to remember what I ask for so that I can tell when I have results.

Lancejack by Phillip Richards
I downloaded this from and I am enjoying it. It's a character-driven science fiction story about a war on a distant planet. I usually read this story on the bus going to work, so maybe I'll finish it before too long.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
I know I need to read this book, and I will. And when I do, the time will be right.
I keep up with this writer on his blog, and he follows me on Twitter. :-)

Check these books out on my Goodreads page, and let's be friends.
What are you reading today?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

On Being Discontinuous and Busy....

Sometimes it happens. You interrupt an activity that you like (blogging) just for a bit, you think. And then months pass before you get into it again.

Well, I'm back.

In the past year, I've become a grandmother, I've worked a lot, I've learned how to paint (sort of), and I've started working on my novel (again). I want to sound encouraging because it can be frightfully depressing to think about the things that I want to do, but never get around to.

Time management is one of the keys. I've started using a site called Toggl to keep track of what I really do during the day. I'm discontinuous and distracted, almost the point of being jumpy if I hit the coffee pot too hard, and from a business angle, I'm tracking the hours I spend on projects and other important activities. I have found that I can, after all, find time to write so please check back in a week or so. I'm putting together a new reading list.

Too many interests can also cause erratic writing behavior. One of my favorite pastimes is watching TED talks and in the last year I found one that led me to Puttylike. Here, I found out that I am perfectly normal. Passionately curious people who like to learn will enjoy both of these sites.

And what about dreams?

Most people have some sort of dream, a secret thought that they hope to dedicate time to one of these days. I have found that many people talk themselves into believing that there are good reasons why they don't succeed. I am one of those people.

I started with questions and then I tried to find positive statements as answers. I don't want to use negative wording. I've heard people say that if an activity is important, we find the time to do it. I'm not sure that it is completely true, because I often feel a wave of guilt coming on when I consider the implications of that statement. Life gets in the way, and I'm convinced that my dreams are important even if I'm not actively working on them at the moment.

And so are yours. Don't give up.