Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!!

Never like this year, Halloween sounds like a cliche. We have experienced a real dystopian horror movie throughout these ten months, and yet we still have a couple to complete the collection. Yet, there's nothing more exciting than the thrill given by ghosts, vampires, witches, monsters in the closet, and so on. Those are the creatures that give us an entertaining thrill, allowing us to forget for a moment the other horrors that accompanied this year.

Living in a country that doesn't celebrate Halloween, I find myself as if I were watching it from a window, although this year, the same feeling is going to be applied to everybody. We will all celebrate the incoming festivities as if we are watching them from the window. However, this doesn't mean that we can't celebrate.

In Finland, we have something similar to Halloween, which is celebrated on Palm Sunday. Likewise, going trick-or-treating, children dress as witches and knock at neighbors' doors while carrying salix tree branches decorated with colorful feathers. If accepted, they pronounce a blessing rhyme and leave a branch as a gift while receiving sweets in return. This year for that celebration, children still took their rounds, but with the pandemic going on, people arranged creative ways to make sure this wouldn't have been the year when they had to forget about the celebration.


Therefore, I'm sure that also for Halloween, people will find a way to have safe fun regardless of the tense times we're going through. Moreover, we have to admit that no time like this year, we can allow ourselves to be really spooky and scary, like in Edgar Allan Poe's novels.


We can allow ourselves to be even scarier than those times because... well, if for dreams the sky is the limit, for a horror night, you really have no limits LOL.

Wear your masks, keep your distance, but don't forget to have fun. 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Two men in a house (to say nothing of the rabbit)

For those who remember the famous and hilarious book written by the British writer Jerome K. Jerome, the title would certainly bring them back to the adventure of the book "three men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog).

For the specific tale, I'm going to tell, I'm referring to what is probably the most known of the stories told in the book: "Uncle Podger hangs a picture" (http://rosyhunt.blogspot.com/2013/01/uncle-podger-hangs-picture.html).

For the last two weeks, my house has been almost torn apart to remove the wallpaper from the stairwell walls and repaint it. Two reasons led us to this decision; the first is that we don't really like wallpapers, and the second was that our lovely rabbit decided to create a graffiti ripping it off. I have to admit that she has talent, but that wasn't matching with the rest of the house decor. Therefore, since my husband lost his job, he decided to use this idle time to fix that problem.

He invited one of his friends to help him with the job, and "I promise, in three days, these three walls will be cleared from the wallpaper and painted back."

For the occasion, Carolina, our lovely artist-bunny, was relegated to the kitchen, as this would have been the only place bunny-safe of the house.

So, the first day my husband's friend arrived with all sorts of tools to carry out the job. I left for work, happy to be far from them for the whole day. 

Day one: The wallpaper was ripped away only from half of the first wall. As I returned, I immediately understood something was wrong by the glance in Carolina's eyes. That particular glance that begs you to be brought far away from that mess.

I kindly suggested that to remove the wallpaper, it was sufficient to wet the surface, and the job would have become a piece of cake (I have experience with it). At that point, it was clear that three days would have been enough just to remove the wallpaper, particularly for them.

Day two: I returned home, and the two men could rip the wallpaper from two of the walls. Fine, I considered that, since the other wall was shorter, the third day would have been used to rip the wallpaper and start painting. 

No!

The tension between the men started to grow, and their voices could be heard from the outside. I felt like a kindergarten teacher, and remembering my mother, I silenced them with a louder-than-their yell. 

Me: "I don't want to hear a single fly flying for the next three minutes, and I want you to use this time to cool down."

Them: silently seated, with the tails between their legs.

I started to climb the stairs, and at halfway, they started already to scream at each other. Climbing down, I yelled: "WOW, How fast those three minutes have passed!!"

Silence again, and then the two toddlers returned to be adults.

It took the whole week only to completely remove the wallpaper when their promise of doing the job in three days was already forgotten.

Week two:

Monday, I decided that I would have remained at my office after working hours, log myself out of work and take my time there to market my book, write something new of the new novel (which now is completed), and prepare myself to return home, hoping to see some progress.

Well, to paint the three walls it took another week, when I'm more than sure, if I had called my sister, we would have done everything in a matter of two days. Or even better had we called a professional, this would have been completed even faster.

Nevertheless, at the end of the second week, things started to look like going in the right direction. Carolina looked facepalmed for most of the time and was extremely grateful when she saw me arriving home.

Week three:

At this point, the walls were finally painted, and what was needed was to place back the moulding, clean the mess, and hang the frames on the wall. That was a one-day job, which took the rest of the week for our two men in the house.

Note to self: Next time my husband decides to do some work at home, I need to either be there full-time to supervise or take a long holiday back to Italy, switch off the phone returning only when I receive the confirmation email, Coronavirus, Ebola, black plague or not.

Nevertheless, the result was absolutely fabulous, and after having cleaned the whole place, the house returned to the original splendor:



I hope you enjoyed this small anecdote bringing a smile to your faces. And remember it's better to spend some money and leave the work to professionals than doing it yourself, risking losing your sanity.

Take care!



Saturday, October 10, 2020

Rome, the eternal city - a research for a series

For a long time I've been thinking of writing a series. So far, I published a trilogy, of which I cannot say I'm as satisfied as I am with the other standalone novels I've written. Nevertheless, now I finally got the right inspiration and help to start writing a long series.

As you have already guessed, it's set in one of the most beautiful locations existing. A place that's full of history and culture.

Rome, Italy's heart, the place supposed to unify the business-oriented north and the culture- and art-oriented south. A city with the difficult duty to seal two different heritages, so close, yet so different.

In this scenario, I created my main character, Maurizio Scala, Detective at the Rome State Police, and this man is how I imagined him to be:



To help me with legal matters, a skilled Italian lawyer agreed to answer my questions. I am trying to get in touch with a former Italian Police officer to double-check my story and ensure the most complete consistency with the Italian Police protocol during the investigation.

But who is Detective Maurizio Scala? He is a thirty-five-year-old detective, living in Rome's metropolitan area with his wife Anna, and their three-year-old daughter, Giovanna. The biggest challenge in his life is represented by one of the busiest roads in the whole country: the Tiburtine. Being constantly stuck in the traffic jam contributes to his constant grumpy mood.

However, there's another factor to test his nerves. His name is Leonardo Romizi, technical manager at the forensic department. They know each other since High School, and Leonardo has always enjoyed teasing Maurizio. 

From the day they met again as colleagues in the same Police Department, teasing Maurizio became Leonardo's life mission.

The release date for the first book of the series is not yet decided, as I'm still writing the conclusion and check for consistencies. I forecast it will be ready by March 2021. Meantime, I will have the chance to release another standalone between the end of this year and the beginning of the next one.

If you are intrigued by Italian culture, history, food, and people, this is a series you shouldn't miss. I will keep sharing work in progress, excerpts, facts, and curiosities about Rome and particularly about the characters.

Therefore, as usual, stay tuned, and particularly, stay safe!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Horror tales for writers



This is a story that will make many other authors shake in fear, although it might leave many other baffled. 

Losing half of the content of the latest novel.

This happened to me two days ago, and I wanted to show this to everybody because I know it's not a question of being careless or distracted; it's something that can happen regardless.

I recently finished one novel that should be published next year, and I thought I could go through the pre-edits for another story to be published before, perhaps already this year.

My style is writing a book and as soon as it's finished, start another one letting the previous one in the backburner for about one month before starting to edit it.

In the present case, I let it be for about three months, and I was ready to read it through with clean eyes.

I generally have several backups for the same novel, one on my computer, one on the external memory, and another on the cloud storage. In theory, they should be synced together, and, in the end, there should be at least one viable updated copy among these all.

What happened shocked me completely. In the latest draft saved, the one that should have been ready for editing 11 chapters were missing, for a total of 45000 words. 

My husband isn't a writer and has no idea about the meaning and consequences of such a catastrophe. He just said, "It's not the end of the world, you can write them again."

WHAT???

I mean one chapter, yes, I could have written it once again, no problem, but eleven, after a break of three months, when I hardly remembered what I have written there? Impossible!

At midnight, knowing that the day after I needed to go to work, I had to give up, and with tears in my eyes, I went to bed, hoping I could at least find some sleep.

Enough to say that I couldn't, and the morning after, in my office, I was already thinking about how in the world I could have rewritten the half story.

Then, just because I need to check everything, I went once again to my cloud storage and searched every single file and folder to make sure that I've searched every place.

The last place I expected to find the full draft was the trash bin of the cloud storage. Now, I wish to understand how in this human world, it could end up there, because for sure, I would have never thrown away a full-length novel, not at least without having it published or at least stored somewhere else too.

Despite my amazement, I saved the copy in the other five locations, because at this point, I really don't trust anything anymore, not even myself.

On a very positive note, everything ended well, and I don't have to rewrite half of the novel unless, when I start to read it through, I will find something to be changed.

I hope you will never find yourself in the same situation, and please, save, save, save at least one thousand copies of the final draft.

With a lighter heart, I wish you a great weekend!

Back from the cave

I've been deserted social media recently to get deeper into the preparation for the next novel. People who aren't in the writing bus...