Love-story with… beads & handmade crafts

Let’s get back to my love stories that will run on Fridays until the end of May – after which, Friday will be the linky day and Saturday will be WoW again (as in Writers on Writing or Words of Wisdom, like last summer) until September. Then we’ll see what inspires me…

So today I will explore one of my hobbies. I’ve always wanted to be an artisan, but never actually been one. I tried to sell paper stuff like stationery with my drawings on it, but it didn’t really work (it’s not working even on Zazzle now if you ask me! ;-)).

Then I discovered beads and patterns, and this allowed me to create wonderful jewelry – both copied from patterns I could find on magazines or made up experimentally. I even sold some, but… I produce more than I can sell. So my “workshop” sits there unused, with all the material in boxes and drawers.

At the moment blogging, reading and writing takes all my free time, but eventually I’ll bet back to it (it’s as good as drawing to keep my mind working on story or plot while keeping my hands busy).


I had in mind to do for myself twin handflowers for the medieval dinner, but I guess it’s too late (although, if I really really wanted it, I could do both in a Sunday…). Besides it’s supposed to be historical and there’s no evidence of such jewelry in 12th century Europe. I guess it’s more fantasy stuff, like the head piece I bought at the NY Renaissance Faire back in 2002…


… which I’d be able to duplicate now if I really wanted to, as I have learned the skills in the meantime! 🙂

necklace - same technique as the headpiece (made this for Mum)

Anyway, now you know: don’t buy jewelry because 1) I still tend to buy some myself and 2) I make my own. And if you’re  a woman and we’re friend, you might as well get a bracelet or a necklace or earrings for your birthday from me. Handmade with love! 😀

I know I should put up an online shop, but… not enough time. So that will stay in the back burner as a hobby for now…

Love-story with… England

It all started with… a royal wedding! The Royal Wedding Of Last Century, though. Yeah, Wills’s parents. First time I went to England was for three weeks in June 1981 with EF. I spoke mostly Italian (even if we had young people from Sweden and Norway in the small town of Folkestone, all brought by EF to study English – and my fellow males took advantage of it, mangling with those northern girls, haha! Teen Latin lovers in action… imagine that!) and basically hated it. I was so sick of Charles & Diana’s faces everywhere, I refused to watch their wedding the following July. Which is something I stuck to even this year, by the way… 😉

Then I went back to the Eurocentres (the Lee Green one, in case you’re wondering, as there’s more than one in London) to improve my English in 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1993 (+ some spurious visits to London as a tourist, or better, shopper) when I met my British teacher and started one-on-one lessons, novel and screenplay revisions, etc. The first times I booked my two weeks with him, he enrolled the help of his friend Ken (he was still teaching full time back then), the sweetest British gentleman I ever met, who, when he discovered I loved the middle ages, took me to visit castles (Bodiam is still my favorite – they even shot Robin of Sherwood series 3 there! ;-))  instead of a normal lesson (I guess my level of English was quite good at that point, I didn’t really need boring grammar lessons anymore! ;-)). Sadly he passed away last year, but I always got a Christmas card from him, and even took him around Rome once, when he visited in the late 1990s. Ken, I miss you when I go to London now, sigh.

I’ve been going to London almost every year since I started Day Job, mostly for shopping, but also to explore more. A day trip to Warwick Castle, my adventure with my groupie friends, the workshop in Wales, a tour of Scotland in 2008, and then we’ll see. I still have to schedule a castle tour with my teacher reaching even Bamburg Castle (another set of Robin of Sherwood, it’s Castle Belleme in the TV series…)  and then Scotland, but I don’t know when that will happen! 😉

I have now 2 screenwriters, 1 poet, 1 artist and my teacher to visit anytime I go to London. I love England, I love British humor and that’s where I started learning the language. As a tribute to it (and to the setting) I’m writing the historical novel with British spelling. Ain’t it cool? Yeah, the blog and Silvery Earth sound very American to my poor teacher! 😉 At least he won’t grumble “It’s so American” when he edits it – which, by the way, he said also of the lyrics of a Def Leppard song I had inserted in a fantasy book (that was 15 years ago, my English wasn’t so good, and I used mostly song lyrics to write…): those were the guys who, when Steve Clarke died, wanted a guitarist with a British passport as a substitute to fit in with the rest… I guess rock music, no matter where the musician comes from, sounds American anyway! (Is this why I prefer pop? Because it’s more British? Mmm…)

So, there you have it, my ongoing love-story with the land of the queen… the island who, when there’s fog on the sea, says the continent is isolated… you gotta love them! 😀

Love-story with… God

Because it’s Good Friday and I have been raised as Roman Catholic (I’m Italian, after all), I thought this could be a good day to tell my story with religion at large.

Growing up in Switzerland where Catholics weren’t the absolute majority, and having attended mixed masses of Catholics and Protestants, when I did my First Communion (1975) I was indeed very Catholic. Mr le Curé was a great old man who brought bread from Palestine and handed me an ivory cross for my First Communion that came straight from Jerusalem. He could keep children still for one-hour-and-a-half-long masses! 🙂

the ivory cross from Jerusalem

I loved Christmas and our Nativity scene with Santons de Provence. I loved Jesus. I loved the world.

Then I came back to The Roman Catholic Country, where the Pope lives, and was so disappointed with masses that a couple of years after Confirmation (1979), I stopped going to church altogether.

Since then I go only for weddings, funerals and baptisms. I don’t think the Church today is following Jesus’s teachings.

I now have my own form of spirituality. I believe in God and Jesus and my poor Guardian Angel with a nervous breakdown, but I don’t believe the Church has any right to dictate anything to anyone. I add some Asian beliefs such as karma, chakra and reincarnation, and I’m following my own path to enlightment, whatever that means! 😉

I picked up my copy of the New Testament, given to me for my Confirmation over thirty years ago, and am slowly wading into it – I don’t think I ever read it all, so curiosity it taking me through it. As for the Bible, it’s not on my TBR list yet (sorry, Janna! ;-)).

So now I pray, try to be a radiant center of divine love, accept my humanity and wait for what’s to come. Times are quickly shifting and I do believe the Age of the Aquarius is the age of truth: see how those false myths and castles of lies are crumbling down these days? 😉

Hopefully soon I won’t be requested to add subtext because people say one thing, think another and do a third! I’ve been told my characters are too straightforward – sorry, I have been writing what I know! 😀

God bless you all and have a wonderful Easter (or a great weekend if you’re not Christian)! 🙂

Love-story with… dance

As a child I did ballet dancing. I loved the tutu and the graceful positions, but around 10 or 12 I stopped going. Luckily, as I wasn’t able to do the splits at 10 when I was much shorter than now, imagine a 1,79m (5’10”) ballet dancer! 😉 No way, that wasn’t my purpose in life for obvious physical reasons.

But I still love music and shaking to the rhythm, know what I mean? In the 1980s I did those disco moves and dance steps. Now I wish I were Shakira. And my love for dance has widened: I like not only watching ballet, but also ethnic dances.

Natives (America First Nations), Hawaiian, Indian (yeah, from India, see how easy it is to confuse them? And they don’t even look alike! :-(), heck, even Japanese, as long as it’s people moving to a catchy song or music. I love Bollywood for its dance numbers! Check this mix of India and USA from KANK which is set on the East Coast anyway (in the Indian community) – pity Shah Rukh doesn’t dance in this movie at all.

I still tend to shake and improvise dance steps when I’m home alone with music on – if I’m not drawing, of course. I wish there were more dancing celebrations. We could dance this world away (whatever this expression means)! 😀

Love-story with… Japan

When I jotted down a list of love stories, Japan was still doing fine. In the aftermath of last March events, I guess it’s time to share my love for a country so different in culture and language from Europe, that it’s still on my list of countries to visit ASAP.

It all started in 1978 with the anime invasion of Europe. Grendizer‘s pilot was my first love, baptized Actarus both in Italy and France (his real name being Daisuke, like I learned some 20 years later), and I followed any anime that would show up on Italian TVs and Antenne 2 (French national TV that could be seen in Rome up to 2005). Some I saw in both languages (including Grendizer, and I preferred the French dubbing to the Italian one, he was cooler! :-D), most in Italian. The last series I saw in the late 1980s were Cat’s eyes and Saint Seya.

To this add the TV series (spoof or Star Wars) Message from space: galactic battle, where I was in love with Ayato (or Hayato? That’s how they wrote him on the Italian DVD… and that’s why I wrote it with an ‘h’ in Air… I spelled it right in the late 1970 and not now? Ah, these foreign languages… ahem, whatever!). Doesn’t look bad today either, now that I’ve seen his face on IMDB… at the time he was 18 and absolutely gorgeous! 😉 And, wow, he’s now working with my muse… ahem! Sorry. Let me get back to Japan.

Then there was the manga invasion. Today I concentrate on a few authors (Ikegami, Hojo, Katsura and Miura), but I’ve read many, from Dragonball to shonen ai and shojo manga. I know a little more about the country today through (pen) friends and studies, but I still need to see the real deal. I really hope to visit one day, even if I know I’ll be Lost in translation… 😉

I had two Japanese pen pals, one is long lost, the other is Masayo I have already mentioned. And may I say my Muse is playing a half-blood Japanese (which isn’t hard for someone of Chino-Hawaiian origins… ;-)) in the Hollywood version of a Japanese historical event? (And he’s working with “Ayato”, yay! :-D). His Japanese co-stars were safely in Budapest when the earthquake and tsunami hit, but they must be very worried for their families…

Let’s hope the world dismantles ALL nuclear plants and starts using cleaner energy, more eco-friendly, such as winds or the sun…

Love-story with… Indie Publishing

You might think it’s something I started this week. But actually, it’s not. Back in the days of paper zines a.k.a. self-published ventures, I was one of them. I have mentioned it on this blog already, but I guess it’s time for a re-cap.

My really very first indie publication was a single-copy hand-made (meaning hand-written and drawn on notebook fillers) that lasted 3 or 4 copies and maybe a year in the very early 80s. The typed version (mid 80s) didn’t even reach the end of its first issue.

Then I started Day Job, and going to comicons. I saw other artists “making” their own zines and distribute copies at the fair. By 1996 I started my own. The very first was A4 (approx US letter size), but then I discovered A5 (half the size) which was good for cheaper, neater booklets. Black and white, of course, as color photocopies were waaaay too expensive! Maybe I had one with color cover, but it didn’t last much – I didn’t sell enough copies to recoup the costs.

In 8 years I published 2 long sagas (500p approx – each), 2 short sagas (150p. approx – each) and a half dozen of one-shots (let’s say another 200p.) – that’s a lot of drawings, no wonder my style improved in spite of my lack of talent and total ignorance of human anatomy! 😉 I also worked with other artists, from Japan (Masayo), Indonesia and Italy. AND I issued bi-monthly the International Mag, a collection of drawings, poems, short-stories, short comics from my pen-pals and beyond (that one ran from 1996 to 2001).

By 2004, after a “misunderstanding” with She-who-shall-not-be-named (she’s an excellent artist, but she will not get free publicity from me), I was burned out and withdrew. Even from drawing for myself (except drawing my Muse all day long, haha! 😀 Now I don’t have time for those pencil drawings anymore and I do less than 10 a year – used to be around 30 + the illustrations for the stories I was writing).

In 2008 I picked up drawing comics again, experimenting coloring with Photoshop (after discovering through illustrations that it came out much better in print). By late 2009 I had a blog and started putting work on Lulu. E-readers don’t read graphics very well (and no colors, except the i-Pad) and I didn’t feel  web-savvy enough to do a web-comic. So comics and graphic novels are confined to Lulu, and unless you’re bold enough to download a PDF to read on your PC, you’re stuck with the costly paper version.

We’ll see what happens with e-publishing! It’s just the beginning of this adventure, and I know that at least for novels (or short stories collections) I’ll do also a print version – for those who hate e-readers and for my little shelf space. It’s much cheaper and easier to prepare an e-book (what’s formatting for Smashwords compared to preparing the pages to be photocopied and then stapled and then put in envelopes, and then sent through the world at costly mailing fees? ;-)), so I can invest on hiring a copy-editor or buy some music for book trailers.

I still like the feeling of doing it all myself, it adds to the creation. It’s like dressing up your baby after you’ve given birth. On the contrary, the thought of querying (which I have done, while trying to conquer Hollywood) or dealing with publishing contracts is too daunting. I hate legalese, at least I don’t have to deal with any of that! 😉

Besides, the world of publishing is changing fast, and I’m usually fast to adapt… we’ll see what happens in the coming years! At the moment everything is very exciting! 😀

Love-story with… reading

Here’s the postponed love-story that should have come out last week, slightly edited to adjust to this week’s events.

I thought I could talk about my relationship with reading. I don’t think I ever was an avid reader like my sister – too lazy! But I did read a lot, both comic books and novels.

In Switzerland there was a “bibliobus” (two, actually, one for adults and one for children) that came every week to our village. My parents always filled the house with books, although not many were fiction.

Being forced to read some classic at school kind of turned me off reading, but then I discovered adult comic books. Then genre novels (mostly fantasy, starting with Dragonlance). Then historical research. For years I read mostly comic books and magazines, but now I’m definitely back to fiction reading.

I don’t read a book a day, last year I read less than 50 books, but that felt a lot compared to my past average. Either research or entertaining fiction, I’d rather read after dinner instead of watching a movie, lately. My poor TV must hate me as my DVDs gather dust on their shelves.

Like for screenplays, I read the good and the bad. This helps me in my writing, as I know which mistakes to avoid. I have a clearer idea of what style is acceptable and what isn’t. And I’m still catching up on classics, which are written differently from contemporary authors.

Last year I read Ramona after reading about it on June’s blog. I sometimes understand better 19th century English, but I chuckled every time I read some dialog tags in that novel.  Now today the word has nothing to do with sex, but the author used “he ejaculated” instead of “exclaimed”, so imagine my hilarity when SHE did it. Ahem, well, Olde English it was! 😉 And I’m not sure I like the modern “he said she said” limit…

I look forward to getting back to reading fiction. As I don’t have an e-reader yet, I might order some paper books (especially signed copies! ;-)), the rest will be PDF downloads – which is good for my book shelves. How do you sign an e-book, by the way? Sooo glad books sigings are over in the e-book era, haha! 😀

As for my own works, they’ll come out as e-book first, but I will always do a printed version for my records – I have made a little shelf with boxes for my babies, and I want to fill it! 😉 Happy reading!

shelves for my babies - the pandas and DVDs must GO!

Love-story with… music

“Oh, I say thank you for the music” sang the ABBA. Or, to say it in French, “Heureusement que la musique est là quand le coeur n’y est pas” (so good there’s music when the heart is not there – song by Dave). Both are from the 1970s, a time when I moved from kiddies songs to “adult” music. I listened to a lot of classical music as well (my parents’ tastes…), but then my teens and the 1980s hit and there you have it: British Pop Music (and some Italian during the very first years, but I had enough of Sanremo after the Duran Duran visit of 1985 and now I don’t listen to much Italian music anymore).

First album I found the lyrics to and learned them by heart and still listen to: Dire Straits – Making Movies (1980). Favorite all time song Richard Sanderson‘s Reality from La Boum (1980). First favorite band: Duran Duran. First favorite solo artist was Miguel Bosè (1979-1981).

Then came Day Job (1988), and anger, and Skid Row. So the 190s were all Hard Rock… well, not all, half of them. Favorite band was Slaughter, as I’ve already said in my Other Muse post. By the end of that decade I was back to pop (Aqua, Ace of Base), and now it’s… everything. Shakira, Shania Twain & Robbie Williams sit next to Bollywood soundtracks, Celtic and Ethnic music (America’s First Nations, Arabian, African, Icelandic). I even have a CD with best of Opera, CDs of minstrels and other medieval music, and classical music.

What I really don’t like is that so-called music that sounds more like noise. I have a good ear for melodies and I can remember a refrain after  listening to a song twice. These days I have less time to listen to music, as I do it only when I draw, and reading&writing use up most of my day. I miss the afternoons in front of Videomusic (our local MTV, and apparently the first all-music European TV, it ran only from 1984 to 1995, unfortunately) or MTV (but does MTV ever show videos anymore? From the MTV Europe programming, I wonder! Oh, well, another reason NOT to switch on the TV… ;-)). I just loved those 80s videos. So I’m closing with one of those, from a band that doesn’t exist anymore (sigh).

P.S. I have a question/request for my Indian friends: can you point me to some on-line place where I can find out-of-copyright Indian music to use for the Book Trailer of Air? Arabian suggestions are also welcome (did I mention that novel is India/Persia inspired? Yes, I did, you weren’t paying attention! ;-)), thank you! 😀

Love-story with… art

From the Merriam Webster:

cover of Thorgal #30 @ Lucca Comics 2008

Definition of ART

: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation <the art of making friends>
a : a branch of learning: (1) : one of the humanities (2) plural : liberal arts b archaic : learning, scholarship
: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the art of organ building>
a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : fine arts (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
a archaic : a skillful plan b : the quality or state of being artful
: decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

Examples of ART

  1. a piece of modern art
  2. It’s a remarkable picture, but is it art?
  3. The museum has a large collection of folk art.
  4. He studied art in college.

Origin of ART

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin art-, ars — more at arm
First Known Use: 13th century

What it is for me is probably different. I’m very visual, so I could put movies in the lot, but I’ll stick to “still” art for this post. Which for me is mostly comic books/manga/bande dessinnées or illustrations (and even if most contemporary illustration is photoshopped, there are still great painters out there who still use brushes).

Poison Elves #17 included in Guild Wars (my highlighting of passages)

Starting with those stories told through balloons, the obvious beginning were the Peanuts and Mickey Mouse (bleah) and Donald Duck (yeah) adventures, along with the Smurfs and Asterix (I was living in French-speaking countries after all! 😉 And no, I never liked Tintin). But, unlike most children, I didn’t stop reading them when I grew up. Italian versions of Grendizer and some issues of Spiderman and Fantastic four took me to the 80s. Then lack of money forced me to break my habit until the early 90s, when I discovered Thorgal and the comicons, independent Americans, more BDs (French/Belgian Bandes Dessinnées) and manga. Artists such as Drew Hayes (R.I.P., but he made me love an elf who chain-smokes and uses a gun – and I’m a non-smoker who prefers swords to guns!), Colleen Doran (A distant Soil is just great), Terry Moore (gotta love Strangers in Paradise, next on the list is his new story Echo) and Jeff Smith (Bone is unusual, and quite different from the previous ones). The manga invasion introduced me to Ikegami, Hojo and Katsura. I still buy those stories, especially when I go to France (or at the French bookshop in Rome) – and I make them, of course. And now you know all my influences! Some are now called “graphic novels”, others are still comic books or serials, and I still have to make it to the SanDiego Comicon (but I’ve been to the major French and Italian ones).

David from SiP by Terry Moore

I can tell you that some Thorgal covers (and I’ve seen two Rosinski exhibitions, in Angoulème and in Lucca) are real, big paintings I wouldn’t have room to hang on any of my walls (not to mention I could never afford to buy them anyway). His pages are works of art, he still paints or draw everything by hand – other, younger artists, such as Colleen Doran, are trying to become proficient at digital painting as well.

Another great painter is Larry Elmore, whom I discovered through the old TSR/D&D novels by Weiss&Hickman (he was the official cover artist). I met him twice at Lucca Comics (the Wikipedia pic is very similar to the ones I took myself… yep, the second time was in 2008! ;-)) and own a pencil original, but hope  one day I’ll be able to afford one of his paintings as book cover.

In the meantime I might ask Maurizio Manzieri – although he is quite expensive too, so maybe later… My official cover artist for the novels, starting with the Books of the Immortals, is Cristina Fabris. DON’T go to her site if you’re under 18, as she normally draws erotic comics. But she loves fantasy, so she’s doing my covers for a change. And she has to work without being able to read the novels because she can’t speak English… ain’t she a great friend? 😉 We tried to do comics together, but that collaboration ended soon without problems (unlike with another artist who is very talented, but I will not mention her), so I’m glad we managed to work together some other way…

Love-story with… the 4 seasons

Let’s start from my favorite: winter! 😉 I love the cold, I still miss the snow and I love those chilly sunny days. Although we don’t get snow in Rome (3 times in 33 years…) and I was a child when we lived in snowy places (hence I didn’t have to drive on snow or ice), I still love winter because it still has my favorite weather. And I miss those skiing weeks (which inspired my only published Italian novel) in the Alps – the last one was in 2005, therefore in my previous life (did I mention my life started at 40? 😉 My birthday being in August, in February I was still 39! :-D). In winter I can eat tomatoes without being sick – unless I have one of those stomach flu. Yeah, there can be a cold, a cough or a flu, it’s bothersome, but I don’t care too much.

Roma, Jan.6, 1985

Then spring comes (as I don’t have pics of spring, I’ll post another of winter, haha! I know what I should do when spring comes, though! ;-)). Flowers everywhere, blah blah blah. With April we have a saying: “April, sweet sleep” (which almost rhymes in Italian: “Aprile, dolce dormire”) and in spring the weather is still good for me. I don’t care if it rains, and it’s warmer but not too much.

Versilian beach (Tuscany) - September 2010

I hate summer. I’m not a beach person, and the heat makes me want to hibernate – which I do, thanks to the fact that everybody else is on vacation. I’m free to be sick with low blood pressure and unable to eat, whenever my friends get back to me, summer is over and I recover. Phew. I should move to a northern country only to avoid  the summer heat in this damn town.

English Autumn - October 2010

I like the colors of the fall, and don’t mind its weather either. Then winter will come again soon and I’m back on “active mode” anyway. I have good experiences of the European seasons, but none of more tropical places, such as the monsoon (which means I had to make up a lot of stuff in Air, haha) and I dread warm places in general.

Maybe one day I’ll feel healthy enough to have a tea in the Sahara, but it will be easier to see me in Alaska or Siberia first! 😀

%d bloggers like this: