Random Friday


soooo late, huh? Yep, just got off the plane. But it’s total randomness, so why not. I’m not scheduling this, so it might have a few typos here and there.

Please Akishmet stop marking Nafees as spammer – he’s not! 😦 And he’s discovering my muse’s movies, so stop treating him like that! 😦 Ahem, sorry Nafees, sometimes these thingies don’t work properly.

So, spent 3 days in London – well, 2 mostly. Met up with Alice (of Wednesday’s post “fame”) in spite of misunderstanding,s and got to talk to Laxmi after reading her book – The Destiny of Shaitan. I’m a little too tired to review it today, but you can check my review during the weekend. You might remember she was a guest on this blog last JULY! Yikes! Took me that long to actually read her book! *shame*

Anyway, it’s always fun to meet in person other bloggers and we had a great time at Dishoom near Covent Garden! 🙂 Couldn’t find many DVDs, so I guess I’m free to spend the holidays re-watching what I already have (which is a lot anyway, LOL).

Okay, should have programmed this, as I’ve already run out of things to say… and there’s no jet-lag to justify it, so I’ll blame it on my age that makes traveling so difficult, LOL! 🙂
Have a great weekend!

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Sunday Summary


So, I’m back! Glad you enjoyed last Sunday’s guest post, I admit Verchiel is my second favorite vampire – but I’m glad he was in time out and allowed his author to reply to comments! :-)

What have I been doing? Last weekend in Certaldo, but this time I didn’t pay the Medieval Dinner fare. I went alone and by train, so I didn’t bring the dress either. I spent 2 nights at the hotel Il Castello – cooler than outside where this year it was very hot. The first night the hotel was full, the second night I feared I’d be the only guest, but luckily a couple of foreigners showed up to spend the night. So I wrote and read and Monday morning I took the train to Massa, my father’s hometown.

Now, when I arrived in Certaldo and decided to send a message to a friend, I found out I had no cell phone. Panic. How was I supposed to let Mom know I was safe? I went back to the hotel and sent a message to my brother through Facebook (she panicked once because my cell phone was off and I wasn’t home). Then I managed to find a public phone and it even worked with coins, yay!

Luckily I have most numbers written down on my PAPER organizer, but the newest acquisitions aren’t there. So I didn’t have the number of a friend I hoped to meet while in Massa. Monday night I found her e-mail through my cousin’s PC and told her I was phone-less. My phone seemed switched off, so I guessed I just left it at home. More days writing and reading (see my GR shelves for reviews), then Friday I came back. Bus strike finishing when I got to Rome, so it took me one hour and a half to get home.

No cell phone. It vanished. I don’t think it was stolen because it’s not smart enough for cell-phone addicts (it’s only a phone, no apps, no internet, no MMS), so I’m guessing I misplaced it or lost it or the town faeries took it.  I finally got a replacement SIM card, because tomorrow I’m going on the other side of town with my 16-year-old car, so for my own comfort I’d rather be able to call for help.

This cost me 1euro of phone calls from public phones + 40cents of parking + 10euro replacement SIM card. Sigh. And I have to manually put back in all the numbers – family is already there, but friends… OK, I’ll rebuild the list one at the time.

Anyway, yesterday I went with my brother to various places (he needs stuff but so do I, and the tech-stuff I’d rather buy with him – and then I went looking for that replacement SIM card) and spent the afternoon going through CVE3. Finishing today, hoping to send it out to betas tomorrow.

I’ll try to get back on track, reading blogs soon. Next week I’m still off DayJob, but I’ve got a lot of work to do! 🙂 If the heat doesn’t kill me first… I hate the summer. Have a great Sunday!

Happiness is…


Daily prompt, weekly photo challenge


And this week topic is… WATER! (Yeah, that’s also the third Book of the Immortals, but I’m not going there yet, haha!). Now, I have plenty of pictures of lakes, rivers, even seaside (including rain-covered train window from Wales…), so it was hard to choose! So I decided to pick three mostly European things hoping to show you something you don’t already know! 😉

First an Andalusian lake (sorry, can’t remember the name…), so we’re in Spain:

Andalusia (Spain) 2009

Now we move to the other side of the Atlantic for another, much bigger lake you probably heard of: Lake Michigan (picture taken in Chicago).

Chicago 2008

Why? So you can compare it with our local sea, the Mediterranean. Here you have the Mar Tirreno on the northern coast of Tuscany.

Marina di Massa (Tuscany, Italy) 2010

The difference? It’s in the smell. The picture in the middle looks like the third one but smells like the first one… And it was freezing cold (we had snow later that day) while the other two places are both hot! 😉

Now, I could also a river… or a waterfall… so I guess I’ll post 5 pictures (did I ever mention 5 is my favorite number? ;-)). So, here goes the river: not sure of the name, but it runs through Garfagnana – Tuscany again. And the bridge is called “Devil’s bridge”.

Ponte del Diavolo (Tuscany - Italy)

I haven’t taken many pictures of European waterfalls or whatnot, so the last picture is of a hot spring in the heart of Yellowstone National Park… It’s hot water, but still water, right?

Dragon's mouth - Yellowstone National Park

OK, I can’t leave without a waterfall, so here’s Running Eagle waterfall…

Running Eagle Falls - Glacier National Park

And let’s end with a northern lake, at Glacier Park!

Glacier National Park

That’s all my water for now, folks! (And if you’re wondering, yes, I’ve been traveling more often to the US than Europe lately…)

Back and still catching up


Last week I was in London to meet friends AND use libraries without having to buy books and doing some research “on the field” for the historical novel. I came back with a cold, thanks to the British weather, and Sunday afternoon/night my server (Telecom Italia) was so very slow that I had to quit reading the Six Sentence Sunday participants and continue on Monday. Considering the overwhelming number of participants and that barely a third of them actually tours all the entries, I think I’m going to do like the other two thirds from now on: sign up and just wait for the others to visit me… Lazy, I know, but time’s flying! 😦

But back to my short British vacation! I spent two mornings at Westminster Reference Library, Tuesday working on 12th century clothes (and tattoos, so I had to modify SKYBAND again, haha!), Thursday on Norman castles, Westminster Hall and other 12th century buildings in London and Lincolnshire.

Wednesday I took the DLR to the Tower of London – with SEVERE DELAYS of… 15 minutes! I’m Italian, for me a “severe delay” is one hour or two! 😉 – and then walked to Westminster (that’s when I caught the cold, the wind was quite chilly along the Tames and I had to cover my ears with… my hair!) like my characters are supposed to do. I knew in the 12th century London and Westminster were two separate cities, but I couldn’t figure out how long it would take: one hour of fast walking. Therefore I believe my characters will go by boat! They can’t show up at Westminster Hall all sweaty and stinky, it’s a court! 😀 (And for those of you still wondering, YES, they DID BATHE in the Middle Ages, especially the nobles at this time of courtly love. There are plenty of mentions of baths and washing hands and changing clothes in the chansons de geste).

I didn’t pay to get inside the Tower of London nor Westminster Abbey because I’ve already been there in the past. The white tower (built by William the Conqueror) can be seen also from the outside, and Westminster Abbey was rebuilt after Richard’s coronation (the only one featured in my story, my characters aren’t too fond of John, therefore carefully avoid HIS coronation).

Tuesday I met a friend at the British Museum and had a look at the few medieval things they have there, while Thursday I met a friend at Charing Cross and we discussed my sci-fi novella.

Now I’m back, still catching up on blogs, finishing short stories and sending out guest posts and interviews, so you might see me somewhere out there in the future. AND I have to edit and finish the damn historical, or I won’t be able to move forward with the fantasy stories. But now I have a clearer idea, so I think I can do it and nail the first draft by the end of May.

By the way, if you enjoyed last week’s short story The Sect in spite of it being very dramatic, I can put more here, pre-editing, before I upload them on Smashwords and Kindle… I have a couple more almost ready (but one is a sequel to Air, and a spoiler for the novel, so don’t read it, haha!). I might start doing Story Sunday instead of Six Sentence Sunday! 😉

Love-story with… France


That’s an old story too. I lived there (Paris) from 1970 to 1973, studied there until 1978 (living in Genève, but going to school in France) and my brother was born in Paris. I can easily blend in whenever I go back, so I’ve never noticed that uptight behavior most French have with non-French speaking people.

I love their food (childhood memory?), they comics (bandes dessinnées, they share paternity with Belgium for that), their medieval castles and gothic cathedrals, and probably a lot more I can’t think of at the moment. Maybe I don’t like the fact that they oppose English usage, although I’ve heard them using English words in contemporary slang, so things are changing. They’re still the only people who call a computer “ordinateur” and say “octanes” instead of bytes.

English comes first to my mind now, so whenever I go to France I have to constantly remind myself to “switch to French” – doesn’t always work, I revert to English without noticing, sigh. And I struggle in finding the correct French words, confused by the fact that it’s similar to Italian, so sometimes I make them up! 😉

If I had to choose another country to live in, I’d pick France (I’d starve in England… or live on junk food! :-(). I haven’t done it yet because I’m too old to move out now, when I have a house and a steady job to keep me here. Nobody would hire a 45-year-old, so unless I find other means of earning my living (a rich husband? ;-)), I can’t really move out of this crazy place at the moment.

I will have to organize a little tour of Normandy and Brittany this year… maybe in spring. I still hope to go to Paris with my brother and my nephew one day, but we’ll see…

Love-story with… medieval architecture


I’m told that when I was a child I was taken to Chartres cathedral, a masterpiece of gothic art, and refused to look around. Honestly, I don’t remember. My love for medieval castles and gothic cathedrals started probably in my late teens.

Now I try to visit as many medieval towns as I can all over Europe (guess why I can’t do it in the U.S.? ;)). Sometimes I even re-visit them – I lost count of how many times I went to the Tower of London or Notre Dame & Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Also the medieval foundations of the Louvre (built by Philip Auguste), Leeds castle in Kent and a few more.

Fougères - my knight's home castle in Little Brittany (pic taken in 2000)

My favorites are castles, from Norman stone castles to Renaissance palaces, preference on the former, though. As for gothic cathedrals… they were real temples of God, I can’t find anything like that in more recent churches.

Yes, I favor the early Middle Ages, and they weren’t as dark as they’re painted now. Hope to shine some light on the late XII century with my historical novel! 😀 Sometimes I think I had a very intense life back then – ending badly when gunpowder reached Europe. In fact I love swords and hate guns! 🙂

But I digress. I love exploring dungeons and narrow corridors, imagining knights and ladies hanging in Vincennes or Warwick castle, and I still have to see a live tournament with re-enactors in front of a real stone castle.

New York Renaissance Faire 2002 - real joust, fake castle...

Might be because I grew up on fairy tales with princesses and castles, or because of my past life, but my love for history sprang from my love for (mostly) castles. I’ve seen many in Italy, Little Brittany, Scotland and around the London area (the furthest being Warwick Castle which took its one-day trip from London). Hope to see more English castles real soon… My favorites so far are Bodiam Castle (used in Robin of Sherwood with Jason Connery) and aforementioned Warwick – and I still have to visit Bamburg Castle (also seen in Robin of Sherwood – as the castle of Simon de Belleme). And I know there are dozens more… sigh! 😦

Love-story with… India


Considering that I now have a lot of Indian readers (5, that’s a lot, and my favorite number! ;-)), I thought I’d tell my love-story with India in this brand new Friday series, also because it’s a very old story, maybe older than my love-story with Writing Fiction.

"Idian Tales"

It all started during childhood, with the works of Emilio Salgari, a 19th century writer who never went outside of Italy but could paint vivid pictures of foreign countries, such as his Wild Frontier (western) trilogy, his Corsairs and the Pirates of the Malaysia, which had a spin-off set in (of course) India. I read the abridged version of The Mystery of The Black Jungle (illustrated version for children) and just loved those drawings (even if reading as an adult I found out the illustrations didn’t really follow Salgari’s descriptions, but never mind. I’ll look for the unabridged version some day, eventually). Along with it, we had a collection of fairy tales and stories and mythologies from all over the world which included what I called “The City of the Elephants” (from the first “chapter” title) and recently discovered was an abridged, illustrated version of nonetheless than the Mahabharat! Those illustrated books of gods and Thugs and giants and beautiful maidens in saris started a dream, fueled in the 1970s by a TV series called Maya that I saw both in French and Italian (and first in B&W because we didn’t have a color TV, then discovered it was in colors when we came back to Italy and bought a new TV in1978).  I just loved Terry Bowen (Jay North), but mostly Raji (Sajid Khan – BTW is he related to any of the most famous Bollywood Khans? I doubt it, but you can tell me…) and his elephant, Maya (one of the reasons why I loved Duran Duran’s Save a prayer video with the elephant – I know, that one was shot in Sri Lanka, but still…). The first (and still the only one, I’m afraid) word of Hindi, “Namastè”, I learned it from that TV series…

Then there was Kabir Bedi as Sandokan (from Salgari’s book Pirates of the Malaysia), again late 1070s. Then I discovered Mira Nair and Kama Sutra a tale of love (1996, with Naveen Andrews long before Lost or Bride and Prejudice – and looking much better, by the way).

"Indian Tales"

Fast forward to the new Millennium. Books of the Immortals – Air is set in a fictional world inspired by India and Persia, and the elephant character is called – uhm – Maya. A homage, not a rip-off, I swear. I still have to get close enough to an elephant to be like Raji (or my character Kumar), but there’s always time. I have added India to my “to visit” countries a few years ago, but haven’t managed to get there yet. I have met a couple of Indians at Day Job and lot more among you bloggers (hello, Jai, Hema, Shafali, Keshav, Ajay and the Karela Split guys, including my favorite ghost Gorakh Nath!), so curiosity is rising. And yes, I discovered Bollywood, but that’s another post (not for this series, even if it is another love-story. But I already told it).

So hopefully 2012 will see me set foot in India, unless in 2011, on my way Down Under, to break the long journey, I stop in New Delhi for a day or two… my friend says she “isn’t ready” to see India yet, so we’ll see. I welcome suggestions for places to see and also for the best time of the year for someone who has low blood pressure and can’t stand the heat. I’ve been told December and January are the best months, but you tell me now…

"Indian Tales" (Mahabharat) - illustrator unknown

weekend trip


Last Friday I hopped on a train to get my latest treasure, original art by Terry Moore. Except that my printer broke, and not only does it refuse to print, but it even refuses to scan. Therefore I took a very bad picture of it, because today I came back after sunset, so had to take it as is. Awful, I know, when I can I’ll scan it properly and show it again. Here’s my beloved David from Strangers in Paradise by the very hand of his author:

David - Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore

I also got a lot of rain (apparently Piemonte is just like Wales, haha! ;-)), but this time I even caught a rainbow on camera, see?

rainbow over Liguria

Blog Jog Day is almost over. I’ll leave the post sticky for a few more hours. Then I’ll head to Random.org and draw a winner… you have a few more hours to comment to be entered! Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner.

Happy blog jogging!

Travel hassles


Like I said, getting to Wales wasn’t too hard. I met my roommate Daphne on the Virgin train for Birmingham at London Euston station. Getting to Birmingham was fast and easy, and as Daphne had booked luggage assistance, we were taken to the next train and seated at Birmingham International, where the longer part of the journey began. It was rainy already, but the sun came out, so we even had a glimpse of rainbow upon arrival. Daphne had booked a taxi that took us two miles from Harlech station in the middle of nowhere (see previous post.

Friday 5 we started off for Harlech again, to buy food for the trip at the local Spar and get on the 12.25 train. First surprise was the train was canceled. Canceled? A train showed up, but was indeed not in service. They mentioned a bus service, but it never showed up. So Karen taxied us up and down (bless her) and eventually we went on the 14.30 train to Birmingham.

Except it was 30 minutes late, so we missed our connection again! Poor Daphne had to call luggage assistance over and over again to adjust to our journey, and in Birmingham nobody showed up. Luckily there was another Virgin train we managed to catch, and reached London Euston at 20.35 (previous connection should have arrived at 20.15. Original trip was 18.15…). I said good-by to Daphne, rushed to the Tube, got off at London Bridge, found a train to Grove Park, was there by 21.40. I thought that would be the end of my traveling tribulations, but I was wrong.

Saturday I got up and was dropped at the train station with regular service to Charing Cross. BUT there were engineering works on the TUBE which I forgot to check! Never ever travel to or from London on week-ends, I should know this by now but well… there we go.

Went down to Embankment, 3 Tube lines were partially interrupted – the ones that I needed! So I took the District to Earl’s Court, changed for the Piccadilly through damn stairs (and a heavy-with-books Stitched Trolley), reached Hammersmith where the Piccadilly line was interrupted, walked half a block outside of the station to a bus that took us to Osterley where we went back on the Piccadilly Line to get to Heathrow. Luckily the first train was for Terminal 4, so I wasn’t too late.

That was another journey, I tell you! Luckily the flight was on time and the rest wasn’t so bad, but getting to the airport… I was really wondering if the damn Brits wanted to keep me on their rainy island (which I wouldn’t mind too much, but I’d love to be able to pack my stuff and find a place to live first! ;-)) 😀

Travel hassles never end… I thought these things with trains happened only in Italy (to go to Hotel Mum last summer it took 7 hours instead of 5 for a late train), so I’m kind of relieved to see the world is all the same…! 😉

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