Friday, January 27, 2017

Dr. Livingstone, I presume (the Wandering Writer)

As you already figured it out, this time we followed the steps of the famous Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who was the first European to discover the Mosi-oa-Tunya, (the smoke that thunders) or as they are known worldwide, the Victoria Falls.
Differently than David Livingstone, we could fly comfortably from the cold Finland, and we landed at the Livingstone International airport on a very warm day of December, leaving the winter and darkness to those who enjoy it.
The first impression is how small the airport is, it didn't even look like an international airport at all, rather one of those used only for domestic flights, and in fact, as we understood it later, the airport is a military airport, which is also used for public flights.
That also meant that the time we had to wait for the passport check and visas, were longer than normally you could expect. However, being on holiday, we didn't have any hurry, and we enjoyed chatting with other passengers in the queue.
We opted for a double visa for Zambia and Zimbabwe, as the price was very advantageous and we heard that from the Zimbabwe side, you have a better view of the falls.
It took something like one hour, from the moment we left the airplane to the time we were looking for a taxi, and once again finding a taxi was easy, so reaching our hotel was a smooth operation.
The town of Livingstone is very small, but, at least from my point of view, extremely cozy, and walking around was a pleasure.


Most of all, because right on that day there was a parade for the election campaign of the new president, so the streets became suddenly very colourful.











The morning after, we moved to see the falls, so we had a taxi driver waiting for us after breakfast to reach the border, after which we would have walked to reach the National Park and visit the falls.
We were told that December is a dry season so we might get a less impressing experience of the falls than during the wet season, so I was already hoping there could be at least something to be seen in the Park.
The walk from the Zambia-Zimbabwe border to the entrance of the National Park was not far; however, as we were expecting a lot of people were offering to reach the place with their rickshaw. If you are going there, prefer to walk, it takes just a few minutes, and generally, those guys are charging crazy sums, just for the old principle that since we come from Europe, we have a lot of money to spend. I don't know other people, but we always travel with a small budget.

So here we were, to the entrance of the park; we were supposed to meet our driver at about 17:00 on the Zambian border, so we had a lot of time to roam around discovering the marvels of the Park.















I must admit that the park itself is very beautiful and worth the visit, but then...
The FALLS!!!















MOSI-OA-TUNYA, the smoke that thunders, and indeed there was smoke, and believe me, it did thunder. It was almost difficult to hear each other talk so that we decided to stay silent and enjoy that breathtaking show nature was offering.
One thing really amazed me, and that was when I recalled that it was a dry season, just think about what it might look like during the wet season!!
I will have to go one more time to see that.


We walked some more, and in the end, we finally met him: Dr. Livingstone, looking at the falls with a severe expression, as to look for the next adventure, or still wondering about the source of the Nile.


Nevertheless, the park, as I told before, offers a lot more than simply the falls. Surely that is the main attraction and reason why tourists decide to visit the park, but you really need to take your time and look around:




The colours, the diversity of plants and animals amazed me and made me wish I could just remain there forever. I had no wish for returning to Finland, knowing that there, I would have been welcomed by the old brisk cold, darkness, and snow.
But even knowing we had time reserved for the next destination and to discover the beauties of Zambia, leaving the park was not easy.


Nevertheless, when you have your bungalow immersed in the very same nature, you might agree that being inside or outside any National Park in Africa, doesn't mean necessarily much any difference.















Mostly because during the wet season, also the elephants might visit the premises of the lodge, and it was a real shame that we arrived during the dry season. I suppose this is another reason why I should go back and have a fuller experience of the local wildlife.


We spent in Zambia only one week, due to the tight schedule to reach ad enjoy the other destination of our journey, for which you will have to wait until the next time, so stay tuned as other 'adventures' are waiting for the Wandering Writer.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Easy travel, loads of inspirations, and experience for The Wandering Writer

Defining me, it is not easy either for myself, and that might cause some identity crisis, I am a scientist, a novelist, an incurable dreamer, a traveler, but most of all, I am extremely curious about everything around me. Coupling travel and writing came for me also very natural as the places I visit, the cultures I meet, the people I talk to, have a tale to tell, and there is where I get my inspiration. Traveling itself might not be the real theme of my novels (otherwise they will be travel guides) but the reader might get from my stories the different cultural background I try to put in each character is easily detectable.
Nevertheless, as I promised in the previous post, here I am to tell you about another pearl in the human civilization. Once again, it has nothing extreme involved, as we remain in the sweet environment of Italy, bringing you to another very old city.
This is, in fact, the city where I was born and raised, before moving away first to Germany and then to Finland.
The Augusta Perusia, or as it is named Perugia nowadays. The origins of the city are dated back to the Etruscan age, and this can be still seen in many of the buildings and monuments like the Etruscan arch and the Etruscan well.

However, wherever you walk in the old part of the city you will be walking through the different historic periods that made the history of the city and of central Italy as well, as it is a melting pot of different ages, architectonic styles, and, also cultural heritages. 


Italy has been for centuries the hub of culture, arts and sciences, and Italian people cooperated closely with many other countries, importing cultures and exporting its own culture, and you will always be able to detect this particular, by walking around, admiring the buildings and comparing them to the French, German, Spanish and Arabic cultures.
The city of Perugia, likewise many other in Italy were built taking advantage of the local topography, dominated by gentle hills and surrounded by the mountain chain of the Apennines, that offered a wider view on the surrounding valleys, in order to spot every threat .
Today, the same topographic advantage is used to admire the beautiful valley, gently sloping to the main rivers, that carved the sinuous shapes between the hills.
It is now a source if inspiration for artists, thinkers, poets and writers, just like me. I have been spent hours and hours losing my mind in those panoramas, fading away in the horizon, where the land meets the sky.

and Sun leads the way to the next destination, eventually. Nowadays, I do not go back there much often, but I keep in my heart the sweet memories of the countryside, those places full of peace that inspired my solitary walks. Those places where you know you are never alone, where the woods talk to you, leading your path to unknown and hidden places where the soul found in more than one occasion relief and true happiness.
Every time a problem bothered my soul, or I found myself at a turning point, and I didn’t know which path I had to take; there I knew, I could find the right answers. All I needed to do, was walking, and listen to the voices of the woods, which much probably, translated the voice of my inner self.
I thought it wouldn’t be hard to leave those places, and for a very long time, being far from them didn’t bother me at all, perhaps going on with the years, I start to value what I left behind, and what I need to find back. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

The wandering writer, turns (for one day) into the marketing writer!


Changing my hat for one day, after which I will be back telling new traveling adventures to more or less exotic destinations.

It has been already three months since my first novel has been published. The public (people like you and me) found it quite interesting, and I have to admit it, it pleased me to see that my story wasn't enjoyed only by me as I was writing it, but also by people who had nothing to do with me.

You know, I do believe that every first-time author, particularly when we talk about self-publishing and indie, are taken by thousands of doubts.

"Should I publish it?"

"Is it good enough?"

"Will anyone read it?"

There isn't a clear answer to any of those questions because the world (Thank God) is made by people with different tastes, cultural backgrounds, and preferences.

There will be definitely people interested in what you write, the only shrewdness is to make sure that there aren't any sort of errors, particularly obvious grammar error.

Those can turn the best plot in the world into something unpleasant to read, and difficult to follow, and of course, it will turn down every potential reader/follower.

The third question is a great mystery, because if you don't have any experience in distribution and marketing, you might end up with making fatal mistakes, which will cost you dearly slowing down any chance of a result.

Surely there are thousands of websites, promising visibility and great marketing strategy, but who’s to trust? Orienting in this labyrinth can become difficult, stressing and frustrating, as in the meanwhile you try to figure out a way to market your book, building an audience, time is passing by, and nobody has yet even noticed that your book was there.

My personal experience is that spending money on marketing getting the help of a professional is an investment, rather than a waste of money. And for this reason, I have been investing some money also in that direction.

In that meanwhile, somebody started to read and buy my e-book, and with that, the first review started to come on Amazon (different marketplaces) and also in Goodreads. Of course, the road is still long from where I am now, the small, almost unknown author to the Author with an established audience.

 

So if you are wondering about what I do write, I tell you that my first published novel is a crime story. However, what makes it different from all the common crime/thriller, is the introspective journey each of the characters is going through during the entire story.

Each character has his/her own personality and nature which meets the ones of all the others in an engaging plot.

Ok, I know what you are thinking, “well, of course, you as the author, you won't say negative things.”

That is undoubtedly true, but going to see all the feedbacks I received, this is also the impression of general readers. Some of them gave me 5 stars, others 4 or 3 stars, but I really value their opinion, as it is a way to grow up and improve.

At the side of this post you are reading, there is a link to BookViral, there you can find a more detailed feedback about my novel, or going to Amazon.com, you can find what readers say about it. 

I do not exclude that even you, who are reading my blog at this moment, might find it a compelling read as much as I do not exclude that you might find it nothing special. Everything is possible, but I dare you to give it a try.

If you are looking for crime, thriller, introspection, complexity, heartbreaking moments and revenge; my novel, A Tale of a Rough Diamond, is what you might be looking for.

I would be pleased to have also your opinion.

Another issue that had been bothered me for a long time is also concerning the cover of my book. It is clear that a cover is the business card of a book, and an uninteresting cover can push away a potential reader. Although a cover does not necessarily speak for the book itself, rather for the cover artist who has designed it, I would like some opinion about it, and whether would be a good idea to change it.
As I am approaching to say goodbye, and the sun is setting, I greet you with a cozy, freezing view of Helsinki:
 
 

Are we really happy?

This is a post about the myth behind the happiest country in the world: Finland. Once again, Finland has been declared the happiest country ...