Sunday, October 30, 2022

One week in Erbil

 It finally happened, and it's official. My wanderings will resume as they used before.

We decided to resume precisely from where we interrupted two years ago: the trip to Iraq. The original program was quite different, including not just Iraqi Kurdistan but the whole country and also Egypt. 

So let's start with some information about Kurdistan. It is a geo-cultural territory in western Asia, where the Kurds represent most of the population. The borders are roughly defined, and although the Kurds have constantly asked to have their territory also politically and internationally recognized, it never happened. 

The boundaries stretch into four regions: Southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan).

That said, let's dig into Erbil, the capital of Southern Kurdistan. Getting the visa is as easy as possible and can be purchased at the airport before passport control. That was a relief because we arrived at destination after a roughly ten hours flight via Doha from Helsinki at 03:20 in the morning. All we wanted was to reach the hotel and sleep for as long as needed.
The first thing I noticed coming out of the airport was crickets singing. That meant something I thought was lost for the next six months: Summer.

The following day started, the quest to discover the city. Not knowing whether I was supposed to even wear a scarf in Kurdistan, I brought one with me. However, I kept it first on my shoulders, then on my hand, and for the rest of the day and holiday, as a decoration for my camera bag :-).

The lifestyle is easy, the people are friendly, and I've felt far safer than in many other holiday destinations. Not to mention the food is an experience impossible to forget. However, it takes a bit of time to discover the places where you can have more food choices than kebabs. 

The first two days, we practically lived off Kebab, but the crispness on the outer part of the meat and the juiciness of the inside made me forget the existence of other food.

The heart of the city is the  Erbil Citadel, locally called Qelat. It is a tell or occupied mound and the historical city center of Erbil. It has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 21 June 2014.

The earliest evidence for the occupation of the citadel mound dates to the 5th millennium BC and possibly earlier.

The citadel is nowadays uninhabited, and it's going under reconstruction to bring back the old shine that characterized it in the far past. For this reason, many of the areas weren't accessible, but it was enough to appreciate its beauty.
From the southern gate, you can enjoy the view of the main square and the Bazaar on the right side.

The Bazaar is the center of social life in Erbil. There beats its very heart in a vibrancy of colors, scents, and tastes; you find everything you need and even more for your everyday life, from food to house appliances to house decor, name it.
And that's why we lost ourselves in its endless alleys, first discovering it all, then searching for something to bring home.
After a long day of walking, we ended up at a cafeteria on the Citadel with a stunning view of the main square.

The city isn't located within any natural attraction, but the presence of the many parks offers the soul a place to rest and enjoy beauty.

Yet, also the chance to remember what is the most essential things in life at the memorial Sami Abdulrahman park:

The dustiness of the semi-desertic environment isn't something that really disturbs you. When the evening comes, after extremely long walks that will bring you to discover new corners of this fascinating and vibrant city, you will sit on a terrace, at a bar in the crowded food streets, or in a cafeteria surrounded by quiet and harmony.
There, sipping tea, you will find yourself indulging in one of the most spectacular events in nature: the Sunset!
For the moment, that's all, and remember to keep yourself safe and entertained!

Stay tuned,

The Wandering Writer

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Some news from the Wandering Writer


Yes, I can finally say that from this year on, my wandering can resume!

And isn't this just wonderful? I have been waiting for this moment for more than two years. First, the pandemic that closed all the borders, then the problems connected with the pandemic, which was a stagnation of the general economy. As if this wasn't enough, there had been health issues and (last but not least) the war in Ukraine.

Now it's time, and I'm ready to hit the road at any cost. If you have followed my previous travels, you can imagine I'm not going to head toward a typical tourist destination. Yet, it will be one of the most interesting for its history, political situation, and heritage.

I'm talking about Iraqi Kurdistan, and I'm going to visit the city of Erbil.

So, here is short info about the place I'm going to visit:

Kurdistan isn't a geographically or politically defined country. However, its population keeps fighting to be recognized as such and obtain the status of a political nation with defined boundaries and autonomous government.

It's mostly a geo-cultural territory stretching between southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northwest Iran, and northern Syria.

Iraqi Kurdistan, in particular, obtained autonomous status in 1970 with an agreement with the Iraqi government, which was also reconfirmed in 2005 as the Autonomous Kurdistan Region. 

As a population, the Kurds have an indo-iranian origin, and their own language derived from the Iranian is known as Kurdish. Their culture has been shaped by the combination of different ancient heritages, and like the language, it is closest to the Iranian.

Kurdish weaving is renowned worldwide, so I expect to return home with rugs to change the ones that have deteriorated with use and time.

For the rest, I expect to return home with a deeper knowledge of these proud and interesting people.

The departure time is set for the 15th of next month, so a little more than one month, and I am already super excited, as I know this will bring inspiration for my writings.

My only hope is that for the period I'll be visiting, I won't be trapped within the crossed fire of any terrorist organization.

So stay tuned because the wandering writer is back!

Take care!

Friday, January 7, 2022

A tale of a cursed novel

It all started in 2020 when I finally finished the first draft of my novel in September. My editor announced to be off work for some time due to family problems. For this reason, I searched for another editor to help me with the developmental part of the novel.

The job of a developmental editor isn't something you can improvise. It requires time, communication with the author, and qualifications. 

Driven by the good reviews, I chose one who seemed to be up for the challenge. I told them that I needed developmental editing because I felt that novel required something more than a simple copy- or line edit. I also warned them that English isn't my first language, so I also sent them a one-chapter sample to give them an idea about the work.

The contract was signed, and the novel was supposed to be ready by December, so I set up a pre-order, a blog tour, and worked on the cover art. On that occasion, I also engaged my Newsletter subscribers in a competition to win a paperback of my book. Five people won and got the communication of their winning.

The novel revolved around the stories of cursed gemstones and was set in multiple locations, New York, Moscow, Milan, related to my travel experiences.

One week before the release, the editor returned me a very angry letter full of insults about my novel, my characters, and (worse than ever) me personally. Saying that I was deeply hurt is a euphemism. Still, thanks to other fellow authors' support, I didn't let this episode discourage me.

I did cancel the pre-order, the blog tour and explained to my subscribers that they would receive their prize later due to 'technical issues.'

It was a hard bite to chew, but I decided to leave the novel on the back burner and focus on a series I had in mind for some time. 

I published two books of the series and had them translated into Italian together with one trilogy. This year, in August, I took the novel back into my hands. I read it once and twice, changing something here and there and searching for a REAL editor.

I was lucky enough to find an amazing person who helped me release the novel's full potential. Therefore, one year later, on 31.12.2021, I finally published the story, and now it's in the hands of my translator for the Italian version.

I will be forever grateful to Barbara Gerig and Elisabetta Emilia Mancini for their ability to see the hidden potential of that novel and believe in me. 

Now, I leave it up to you. If you're interested in reading a good international thriller, with shady characters and mysterious stones, you got to read Merchant of Pearls.

Here's what the readers say:

"An applause to the author who was able to give an even original cut than usual by giving a life to his characters where I immersed myself and I felt like I was with them. Lots of suspense and twists."

"A beautiful novel that fascinated me very much. full of suspense and twists. A very fluent reading that never gets boring I congratulate the author for the plot."


Find out more here:

The long road of writing a book.

Publishing a book is a journey on a rocky path that involves several stages, from writing and pre-editing to editing, formatting, selecting ...