Italy

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Random Friday

Published 01/07/2016 by Barb

I got the link when I got home, so I’m posting it here – my success story @ David Farland Story Doctor!

Now I’m going to fill this with the 3 (yes, three) pictures I took on my weekend off – okay, there are more, but not for public consumption, LOL! So, there you go:

The (invisible) aviator at the Museo del Bozzetto - Pietrasanta

The (invisible) aviator at the Museo del Bozzetto – Pietrasanta

me framed in the streets of Pietrasanta

me framed in the streets of Pietrasanta

strange wood sculptures over a shop in Pietrasanta

strange wood sculptures over a shop in Pietrasanta

And here’s #4 – a little extra for you foodies out there! 🙂

my lunch in Genova

my lunch in Genova

Have a great weekend! 😀

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Random Friday

Published 25/05/2012 by Barb

So, you might have heard of Italy’s latest earthquake. No, I didn’t feel anything this time, but I have a friend in Bologna who keeps posting on Facebook he’s scared. Another in Modena sent me an SMS on Sunday, saying her house shook really hard on the 6th floor (that’s when the first, stronger hit happened).

That particular region was less struck by the recession – before the earthquake. And as we’re not Japan, we had 4  people dead in the earthquake when a factory collapsed. Now the local industry has been hit hard, and I don’t know how they will recover.  Our politicians are still to busy to gather the last scraps of money to care. Sigh.

The weather has been crazy – cold in the morning, warm at lunch time (when it didn’t rain). Or at least that’s what it was like in Roma. Hope it didn’t rain on the earthquake region too. All this while planning my trip to Chicon7 at the end of August – still have to buy plane tickets, but I feel I’m already there.

But first June in Certaldo, not really participating to the medieval dinner, but watching again – and no, I don’t plan to dress up this time! 😉 I’m going by train, and the costume is too heavy and bothersome to drag on a train! 😀

Besides, I might attend the New York Ren Faire again 10 years later – in 2002 I was blown away by the live tournament and look forward to seeing it again. Hey, I have a video camera now, yay! Pity for the cardboard castle in the background, but one day I’ll be in England at the right time to see Warwick Castle’s tournament! 😀

Anyway, I’m not sure I want to drag my costume on the plane either, so I might rent one like I did 10 years ago, LOL. And in June I also hope to make it to Arezzo on a day-trip to see the Flag Weavers (it’s the only Italian tradition I’m so very fond of, LOL!) – but again, I’ll be in plain clothes as I don’t want to get on that intercity train with my costume.

I very much enjoyed Michelle’s post on blogging and where it’s headed. Like her, I consider it a weblog, not a marketing tool. Since I went “public” with WordPress (I had a few posts on my private Yahoo blog, that I copy/pasted here at the beginning of this adventure at the end of 2009), I enjoyed the interaction with other bloggers. I like discovering new blogs on the most different topics (my blogroll has changed a lot since the beginning) and feel sad when I see bloggers stop blogging because they feel they failed.

It’s like those writers who give up because nobody buys their book after 6 months to one year. And they have ONE book out. And they spam everybody with their release and then bemoan the lack of sales. It’s not a “get rich quick by jumping on the self-pub wagon”, babe! Same with blogging.  Whoever started blogging thinking he/she could make money from it, fell flat on his/her face.

So I’ll keep blogging, with a less grueling schedule because in spite of loving it, I need time to write more books. So less-but-longer posts on the blog and more titles out there. And it’s OK to be scared shitless by this brand new world of publishing. It’s OK not to have a Twitter account, not to be on Google+, not to have an agent or a publisher or to try to do things on your own.

It’s not OK to get stuck in the 20th century. Trust me, I loved that century, especially the 1980s (my long lost teens, LOL), but they’re gone, and there’s no going back. It’s a scary new  future changing too fast for most, but then – that’s life.  Don’t be afraid of success. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen! 🙂 I will write a non-fiction title about my experience later this year, in case you’re interested.

In the meantime have a great weekend!

Random Friday

Published 23/03/2012 by Barb

OK, I don’t know where this should actually go, so I’m randomly putting it here. I read on one of my regular monthly Italian mags about World Bank, Doing Business project. As I’ve been thinking of starting a publishing business, but got stuck in the process, I was very curious to see where Italy is on the list. If the US are steady at #4 and the UK dropped from 6 to 7 (the lower the number, the easier it is to start a business), Italy dropped from #83 to #87 (out of 138 countries). There is no such thing as D.B.A., which sounded so simple when I heard it from Dean last October.

Why oh why do I live in a country with such complicated business laws?! (Not to mention everything else, but I will spare you the rest) Should I look for a partner and emigrate to a more civil country to start my business?!  😦 Gee, I’m stuck for now – paid house, steady job, either I ask that unpaid leave and try to move away for six months to a year, or I don’t know what to do. Why does it have to be so complicated? Can we all go back to barter, please? I’ll probably starve if the baker doesn’t like my short stories, but still… looking forward to get rid of the Money God! 🙂

Other random topic: I read In My ShoesI won this book in a giveaway, which means I might have not put it on my TBR list, but I enjoyed it nevertheless – in spite of not being the target audience. It’s a fun read, the only critique I have is the use of first person but from two characters point of view, which sometimes makes it hard to understand who’s talking until a few paragraphs in the chapter as both characters sound the same. It’s a great body swap story, though, and I’m glad I had the chance to read it! That was the official review, but the following ramble is not really a review although the thought came out of reading that book.

Like I said, I normally don’t identify myself with the characters in books or movies and in this case it was impossible, BUT it made me reminisce MY (long lost) teens, when only 2 girls wore make-up in my class. And I myself have worn make-up maybe five times in my life. I have never ever needed two hours to get ready to go anywhere (like Nicole in the book) – because I’m lazy, mostly, haha! Or I have a very strong male part or a very efficient female part, who knows. I’ve been the warrior woman for many years, wearing mostly jeans because I also had a scooter – then I sold it, started using buses again and skirts came back. Long, wide, comfy skirts. Warm jumpers because I’m always cold. Comfy shoes with low heels (flats hurt my back and I’m already 5’8 or 179cm, so no high heels needed). That’s why I don’t recognize myself in most women’s behaviors. I’m one of a kind and proud of it, LOL! 😉

Anyway, back to the book, if you’d like to read a body swap story, go check it. Now Happy Fan Girl Barb got her latest Colleen Doran and is very happy. Especially for the Kovar print because, hey, he’s from my favorite graphic novel all-Colleen A Distant Soil. Now I enjoyed this other story (and Colleen’s art, arf!), especially issue #3 that deals with artists/writers.

I’m beginning to thing it’s Blog Award Year as the wonderful Jo Naylor passed me the Lovely Blog award – which I already had, so I’m not passing it on, haha. Well, if you really really want it, please go grab it on my behalf from Joleene’s blog! 🙂 Who, by the way, has the best vampire stories since Ann Rice, so if you want vampires, go check her Amarantine series!

Now, as I prepare for a Bollywood night with a friend, let me rephrase Luck by Chance (through hastily copied subtitles, hence might not be the exact quote): It’s easy to be an actor in Hollywood. The Hindi film hero not only acts, but he also sings, dances, does comedy and excels at action. My brothers, it takes a lot of talent to be a hero in Bollywood. And it does indeed! So, as I introduce my friend to Kites (because Kabir Bedi is in it, and us Italians will always remember him as Sandokan, LOL), I wish you all a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Barb's diary 1977-1978

Random Friday

Published 17/02/2012 by Barb

I might have already mentioned that, but it’s a “special” (not in a good way) Friday in Italy. Americans have Friday 13, Italians Friday 17. So 17 is the most unlucky number in this country – I’ve heard that some hotels don’t even have a room #17 for that reason. #13, on the contrary, used to be the winning number for Totocalcio (some sort of lottery based on soccer games – you should be aware that soccer is the only sport loved in Italy, and that Italians put out the Italian flag only when the Italian national soccer team plays the world championships – that ran from 1946 to 2003), so it’s a good luck number. Talk about different cultures and numbers! 🙂

It’s also the first Friday (after 2 weeks) with no snow-alert in Roma. I’m a winter person, I love snow – but NOT in Roma, where we’re not used to it and nobody knows how to handle it. Last Friday was a nightmare for me – my colleague didn’t come to work because she has a child and schools were closed, so I went on my own. But then I read on the ATAC site that the “snow-plan” would become effective at 1pm, when half the buses would disappear, so I asked the manager to close at 12.30 and go home earlier. Pity there was a technician for the broken printers of the office and I got out at 12.45 – and saw the bus go by!

I panicked, as that bus is every 20 minutes or more, and I was afraid there wouldn’t be another and I’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere because of the snow-plan. It was drizzling/raining, not snowing, and I waited 30 minutes until another bus showed up. But that would mean that the second bus I needed to go home wouldn’t be there, so I consulted my printed sheet from the ATAC site to see which buses would still be running. I took the Metro to Laurentina and then waited 15minutes for the last bus of the series to leave and take me home – took me one hour and a half of anxiety. And then it didn’t snow as much as the previous weekend.

Hopefully we’ve had enough for another 27 years, but it didn’t really help my nervous breakdown! I stopped waking up in anguish at dawn, and now the alarm clock kills me (it has killed me for two mornings in a row, at least!) and I look forward to Saturday when I’ll be able to sleep all morning if I feel like it (not Sunday, but Saturday should be enough to recover).

You might come to Roma as a tourist and visit only the touristic places and find many buses and the Metro and everything, but if you live here, especially in the outskirts, you’re really doomed. My bus was totally absent for both the past weekends (luckily I don’t work on weekends) and sometimes I wait for it 20 to 50 minutes (and it has a 20minutes trip, so it means there’s only one doing the round trip…). On the timetable it’s supposed to show up every 10 minutes during school times/months, 20 minutes rest of the day/summer.

Now I have to take two busses to get to work and the second bus is every 20minutes as well. So Wednesday I lost the usual 7.45 one (and it takes 50minutes to get to the end of the trip), so I arrived at work at 9.10. Yesterday the 7.45 left at 7.50 but did the whole journey in 40 minutes. Traffic is always a surprise, especially in the outskirts where more people take their cars to go to work.  So in Roma you know when you leave, but you have no idea of when you’ll arrive wherever you need to go. Sigh.

Mr Writing should really start earn some money so we can move to a better environment, LOL! 🙂 Although unless I make it really big, I don’t think I can afford another mortgage – owning a house is what keeps me in Roma. Where sometimes you find world DVDs at 3 euros, decide to watch them subtitled and discover some subtitles are missing. Not too many, so you’re still able to understand the story, but it’s kind of funny to watch the character speak (Mandarin, no less) and nothing is written underneath. Doh.

Anyway, I bought The Promise because it was 3euros and had Hiroyuki Sanada in it (although it’s a Chinese movie, not Japanese). In spite of the missing subtitles, I enjoyed this fantasy story. Sometimes the computer graphics were a little excessive, but most of the visuals are very good – in an oriental way. There are martial arts, goddesses, men with super powers, love, revenge… it’s a good ride. It’s not Bollywood, but if you enjoyed Hero or House of Flying Daggers, it’s in the same vein. And the villain is really young and cute (just like my bad boys, LOL)! 😀

UPDATE: on Friday 17 (thanks, Jai, for asking) – OK, I’m sort of translating from Italian Wikipedia (because, h0nestly, I had no idea, I’m not superstitious anyway): Friday 17 is unlucky in Greco-Latin countries apparently. Friday from Jesus’s passion and 17 because apparently it’s an unlucky number, so the combination makes the most unlucky day. Number 17 was hated in Ancient Greece and  in the Bible the deluge started on a 17th. For the Cabala it’s a lucky number instead.
Illiterate medieval people turned the Latin “VIXI” (I lived) into the number 17 (which is actually written XVII, but they were illiterate and moving away from classic Latin, LOL).
But Friday 17 is only Italian, although we took it from many sources! 🙂 The English have Friday 13, Spain, Greece and South America Tuesday 13…

Maiden name, married name

Published 04/10/2011 by Barb

I had a quick email discussion with a friend who will soon be interviewed on this very blog, because I met her in the 1990s, when we were pen-pals and she was single – if you don’t know what a pen-pal is, I’m old, just consider that there was something before email! 😉

She was a writer with her own zine back then, so when I sent her my questions I asked her “How should I introduce you?”. Since I met, her she sort of stopped writing and got married and started her own family – but I’m still poking her to get back to writing. Which, hopefully she will do one day. Except she hadn’t considered the name question.

Fellow Creative Reviewer Patricia also wondered if using her maiden name, her married name or both as a writer, and my first editor used both names – but she had to drop her husband’s name this year when her marriage ended. That’s a little like actresses, who add their husband’s name (Jada Pinkett Smith, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Robin Wright Penn, Joanna Walley Kilmer – the last two having dropped their husband’s name after divorce). Or you can pick up a pen-name from the start, like I did.

But I did it because the law in this country is that women never really lose their maiden name. In Italy, if you’re a woman you’ll always be known as Maiden Name on official documents, unless you add “married Married Name” (or, at the time of my mum, it was Maiden Name in Married Name). So, as I don’t like my maiden name (unlike Patricia! ;-)), I immediately picked up a pen name. Even if I manage to find a foreign husband, change nationality and lose the maiden name, I guess I can stick to my pen name now! 🙂

I had a funny exchange with a female colleague because she opened an account for a foreigner and she said “it’s him and his sister” and I told her “no, it’s his wife” and she objected “but they have the same family name!” and I said “Exactly. In the UK you lose your maiden name when you get married.” It’s obviously not only in the UK, but in all English speaking countries and some more (I think it’s the same in France), but it’s a totally foreign concept in Italy.

Which baffles us when we travel: US tour with my mum in 1994. In one hotel we had that huge king bed because we had the same family name (OK, she dropped her maiden name in that case, haha!) while newlyweds always had two beds because they had given both names at the time of reservation, so the people at the hotel thought they were not a couple… 😉 Travel agencies who book honeymoons should tell their customers they better book under one name only, if they don’t want to sleep in separate beds for the whole vacation…

So this is a question for women writers: if you’re young and unmarried, what will happen when you get married? Will you add your husband’s name? If you’re already married, which name are you using? Just curious… 😀

Medieval dinner and Facebook

Published 07/06/2011 by Barb

So, how was your weekend? I went to the programmed medieval dinner and was lucky enough NOT to get any rain during the event (although it poured the morning after on our way back to Roma). It was held at Certaldo and we stayed at the Hotel Il Castello (which means “castle” in case you were wondering). The dinner was organized by Elitropia, and I had already attended in 2006 (no pics, grrr…) and 2009 (where I took the pics I used in the Happiness is… vignette).

I put a best of of the pictures I took (close to 100… I’m a compulsive photographer! ;-)) on my personal profile on Facebook (where there’s already a best of 2009, so I didn’t want to duplicate pics) and it took me ages because Facebook kept asking me to tag whoever was in the picture. I’m against tagging on FB and struggled to put up the damn album, but eventually I made it. Swearing to close the damn account ASAP, but whatever… 😉

Anyway, I thought I’d give you, my faithful blog reader, a glimpse of that medieval dinner…

my friend at our room window

the hotel in 2009

yours truly in the hotel's garden

the souvenir... yeah, you take that home!

One last thing that has nothing to do with the above. See the frog in the sidebar? A joined a new webring by wonderful Shaina Richmond… feel free to join us and hop from indie author to indie author! 🙂 Have a great week!

Improvising… again

Published 02/06/2011 by Barb

I’m not sure when last improvised post was, probably on some Saturday months ago. It’s Thursday, but as I mentioned, we have a national holiday too, so I’m at home pretending it’s Saturday. I wanted to make a post on Italy because a friend on Facebook pointed me to this article on Mr.B, but I decided against it. Because a) I’m not into politics, even if I do go to vote (not for him, in case you haven’t noticed) and b) I still don’t know what women find in that creepy dwarf. The article is very long but very good, but – like watching Videocracy (the fat man in white surrounded by boys is Lele Mora)- made me feel an alien in this country again.

Europe according to Mr.B (found on Facebook)

OK, I’m an alien on this whole planet some days, but still…I don’t understand men nor women most of the time! 😉 If you compliment me, I might react just like Kushan in my story The Slave – I don’t believe in compliments for looks. Even if, like everybody else, I’m attracted to external beauty in the first place, it’s not that that will ultimately seduce me – I think. Probably the person who will actually seduce me isn’t born yet, haha. And it’s certainly not that disgusting dwarf mentioned above.

Anyway, I guess I’ll just use this post because it’s June (already?!) and I’m changing some programming on this blog (damn, I sound like a TV owner now! :-(). Love Story with… will come back in September or maybe October – you can read all 20 by going to the category or clicking the link. Saturdays will be Writers on Writing/Words of Wisdom again, which means the links are anticipated to Fridays, starting tomorrow. Sundays will still be Six Sentence, even if the official blog doesn’t run (like next Sunday, haha), and Mondays you’ll still have your dose of Happiness is… I’ve reached the 100th vignette, but I’m always on the look for more happinesses, so feel free to share yours! 😉

Now I better go back to work. I have to edit and check years 1186 and 1187 on The Fern and The Cross + draw 5 pages of SKYBAND (should have been 4, but last night I was sick and couldn’t do it, sigh!). The cover of Fire looks great, on Saturday I should have the map and be able to complete the book trailer. It has been a struggle to put the music, this time, some mp3 didn’t work on Windows Movie Maker (no matter how many time I downloaded or imported them), but luckily I still have a couple to choose from (that’s what friends are for, on Saturday the first to arrive will have to help me choose, haha!)

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