You need Italian Food & Life Rules in your life!

Maybe it’s the short season of truly warm weather in season. Maybe, even though it’s possible to find good food in Stockholm, it’s not the best place for spaghetti alle vongole or bistecca alla fiorentina. That’s the reason the Swede and I try to spend time in Italy at least once a year. We’re planning our next Italian adventure as I write this.

 

If you’re going to Italy this year or even if you want to do some armchair traveling, you should pick up Italian Food Rules and Italian Life Rules by Ann Reavis. Ann lived in Florence for fifteen years and she broke every one of the “rules” before she learned to live like an Italian.

Did you know that Italians never drink cappuccino after 10 o’clock in the morning? Do you know why they never eat pizza for lunch? Why does the fruit vendor in the market yell at you when you check out the ripeness of the pears or the freshness of the green beans? Ann writes about the rules and the reasons in Italian Food Rules.

Did you know that Italians don’t like wall-to-wall carpets? Why are they only allowed to have shutters in four colors in Tuscany? What’s the danger of air conditioning to Italians? Why are they carrying a neck scarf in the middle of the summer? Why is the Italian beach scene so different from the rest of the world, but exactly the same everywhere from Rimini to Calabria to Forte dei Marmi to Portofino? Ann provides insight in Italian Life Rules.

And from May 15 to May 22, the Kindle version of Italian Food Rules will be on sale for $1.99.

Italian Life Rules will go on sale at the Amazon Kindle Store for $1.99 from May 22 to May 28.

Kim’s birthday post

Today is my birthday and the day has started off quite well! My hubby made me a lovely birthday breakfast, my friends have been sending me Chuck Norris jokes (yay!), I have today off from work and I’ve got lots of writing ideas. All that’s left is to treat myself to a few new books for my Kindle. 🙂

Before I do that, I thought I’d give you heads-up on a couple of books I read during my lovely two-weeks off for Christmas. I usually spend the Christmas holidays reading lots of  holiday chick lit and romance novels.

So what did I read this year (other than the Christmas novels I told you about a few posts ago)?

Image via theninaperez.com

Image via theninaperez.com

Thanks to the chicas in the Fans of Interracial Romance group on Goodreads, I stumbled upon writer Nina Perez and her Sharing Space series. The series is comprised of five (soon to be six) short novels following the romance between Chloe and Patrick. In Book One, we find out about how Chloe meets Patrick–she needs a new roommate after her ex-roomie Grace hightails it to LA to find fame and fortune as an actress. Chloe advertises for a new roomie on Craigslist and, after a number of disastrous roommate interviews, meets Patrick, a personal trainer and aspiring actor who needs to move to Manhattan to be closer to his job.

Through the course of the books, we follow Chloe and Patrick as they both try to ignore their mutual attraction for the sake of maintaining a good roommate balance, the inevitable moment when they can no longer ignore how they feel and the mixed reactions of their friends and families when news spreads that these two have finally become a couple. Add to it family drama, corporate hijinks and misunderstandings with friends and you’ve got a series that sucks you in like a good episode of Scandal (okay, it’s not as hot as Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn together, but they’re pretty hard to beat).

I’ve read the first five books loved them all. I really like how Perez writes about how Patrick and Chloe become friends before they become lovers. I also like her realistic portrayal of the complexities of friendship. Myra and Chloe’s friendship felt true to life, as did Perez’s description of Chloe’s relationship with her cousin, who is more like a sister to her. Patrick’s complicated friendship with Max and his attempts to help his wayward sister Charlotte also rang true.

Two thumbs up for the Sharing Space series. Looking forward to reading Book 6 later this month.

Image via hannahfielding.net

Image via hannahfielding.net

And now I just started reading The Echoes of Love by Hannah Fielding. Set in Venice, The Echoes of Love follows Venetia Aston-Montague as she finds herself falling under the spell of the very enigmatic and sexy Paolo Barone. Their chance meeting–he rescues her from masked assialants one night of the carnivale–sets Venetia off on a quest to learn to love again–even as others warn her about Paolo’s lothario reputataion–and to face the demons from her own past. I’m about 100 pages into the story and I love it so far. 🙂 It speaks to the Italophile romantic in me.

I love the lush descriptions of Venice, and how Fielding pulls you in as a reader so you feel like you are walking beside Venetia as she steps into the mysterious spell that is Venice. Going to dive back into the book again in a few minutes and get lost for a while. 🙂

That’s it for today! I need to go for a walk, get some more writing done, etc.

What are you reading today?

My writing escapes

Tomorrow I’m going on well-deserved vacation. My husband and I are going to Italy, where we’ll celebrate his 44th birthday. While there, I will do what I always do–write.  And this made me think of great places to go when you want to write. I thought I’d share my list of favorites with you.

The Museum District Bed and Breakfast in Richmond, Virginia. Whenever Tord and I head to Richmond to meet friends, we stay here. Anna, the proprietor, is a lovely woman who goes out of her way to make you feel at home. Sitting in her garden or on the front porch, reading or writing is one of my favorite things to do while in Richmond. 

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Main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia at Parkway Central

The main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. When I was in high school and college, this was where I hid from the world (and the abysmal summer heat and humidity). I studied, I wrote, I dreamed in this perfect temple of the written word. Even now, if I am on my own in Philly, I end up at the Free Library and I write in one of the reading rooms before heading off for a cup of coffee.

La Colombe Coffee near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Another place where I end up when I am in Philly. I like sitting by the window and watching people go by as I eat a solitary late lunch or afternoon snack and imbibe coffee. The baristas are friendly, and it’s a great place for people-watching. 

ImageVittorio Veneto Caffè in Matera, Italy. I usually end up here when I am in Matera for the Women’s Fiction Festival or the Brainstorming at the Spa. The guys who work here are super-friendly and they always make sure I can have a table where I can write. It’s also a great location for watching Italians on their evening stroll. Order a glass of white wine and they’ll bring out a tray of snacks and a bottle of sparkling water for you. Perfect when you aren’t hungry enough for dinner but you’re feeling a little peckish.

Caserma Carina in Mogliano, Italy. This place is so relaxing that Tord and I are heading there for the third time. I get so much writing done here and last year I read five books in 10 days. Beautiful views, lovely hosts, great food and wine. What more could we ask for? 🙂

What about you? When you’re in the mood for a lovely place to read or write, where do you go?

 

 

Another book found via Twitter: review of True Vines by Diana Strinati Baur

ImageA few months ago I saw a post on Twitter from Gemelli Press and the title of the book it mentioned–True Vinesintrigued me. Being the consummate book nerd that I am, I became completely engulfed with finding out about this book. I tried to do so on my iPhone while sitting on the subway but the WiFi connection kept disappearing (what a luxury problem!), so I decided to wait until I was in the office to continue my search.

True Vines is a beautifully written novel by Diana Strinati Baur that tells the story of Meryl, an expat American dealing with the sudden death of her Italian winemaker husband. Instead of remaining in Italy and taking care of the vineyard, Meryl returns to her hometown in Pennsylvania, where she hopes to start fresh and repair the strained relationship she has with her sister, Janie. But already from the onset, Meryl begins to doubt whether coming home was a good idea. She is unable to push aside the memories of her life in Italy and, in her hometown, she keeps bumping into the very people who led to her exodus from Pennsylvania in the first place. But even with difficulties of readjusting to life in America after having lived a much freer life in Italy, Meryl finds that sometimes life has a way of surprising her with new acquaintances and recollections of the life she had prior to meeting Francesco, the Italian who changed her life.

Each chapter in True Vines reads like a short story. And perhaps it’s the references to winemaking that make me wish I had a glass of red wine–a barbera perhaps?–and a plate of antipasti to savour while I read.

So if you’re looking for literary women’s fiction that will touch your heart and transport you to a vineyard in autumnal fog or a sleepy town in Pennsylvania nestled on the banks of the Delaware River, then you should pick up a copy of True Vines. It’s beautifully written and paints evocative images with light, deft strokes. 

My rating? A definite 5-star novel. Absolutely loved it!

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Happy reading (and writing)!

Another brainstormed book published–congrats, Beate! :D

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 7.53.27 PMJust heard from Beate Boeker, another of my Matera Brainstormers, and her latest book, Banker’s Death: Temptation in Florence #3–which we brainstormed in Matera last year–is on sale now.

Beate’s books are so much fun to read and they make you want to jump on the next flight to Florence, so if you’re an Italophile like me and you like quirky cozy mysteries, then you’ll love her Temptation in Florence series.

I am so happy for Beate and I’m on way to Amazon now to get it for my Kindle. Congrats, sweetie! Keep these Temptation in Florence novels coming! I love ’em! 😀

Happy reading (and writing)!

Matera, here I come!

Beautiful Matera

Tomorrow morning I head to the place that always helps me recharge my creative batteries: Matera, Italy. Yes, it’s that time again–time for the Women’s Fiction Festival. I know I only came home from the US a few weeks ago, but I need my biannual dose of Matera and the Matera Brainstormers. They’ve been lifesavers for me

The last time I was in Matera was in March, following my father’s death. I still felt very raw, and my writing was suffering because of it. Going to Matera and having a week to focus on my writing and reconnect with everyone in the group helped me get back on track. Now, work has knocked me off track again, so this sojourn to Matera is an absolute necessity.

For those of you who are novices to my Matera mentions, Matera is where the Women’s Fiction Festival is held every year. It’s a beautiful town with a historical centre that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year, writers, agents and editors from around the world gather at Le Monacelle Hotel for seminars, panel discussions master classes and pitch sessions. Unlike many writer’s conferences, the Women’s Fiction Festival has a very intimate feel, making it easier to get to know the other participants–and of course it helps that Matera is a true foodie city. Which reminds me, I must remember to pick up a bottle of Padre Pepe (a walnut liqueur typical for Basilicata and Puglia) for Tord.

I’ll admit it: I am a creature of habit.I always stay at the Albergo del Sedile when I am in Matera. I love the location and the view of the Piazza del Sedile. The staff there are very friendly, helpful and always make me feel welcome. I’ve always go to Bar Sedile for my first cup of Italian. In the afternoon and early evening, I usually end up at Caffé Vittorio Veneto for snacks and a glass or two of wine while I watch the Materans take their evening stroll. I always end up at IT Style to buy makeup in great colors that suit my skin tone. And I inevitably end up buying a lot of goodies at the various delicatessens so that I can keep my Matera buzz going for as long as possible.

When I return from Matera, I’ll post my Autumn-Winter 2012 reading list and a review of a cozy mystery series I’ve become addicted to.

Happy reading (and writing)!

Sorry for the silence, been a bit hectic in Stockholm

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth or gone underground due to impending zombie apocalypse. I’ve been working on a few things at the weekend and haven’t had time to post any updates. I will post this weekend, I promise. And there will probably be no posts from me 7-17 June. Why? I will be in La Bella Italia, on vacation with the hubby. Though I may post if we have chupacabra sightings again. 😉

Seriously though, I will post 2 reviews this weekend and then there will mot likely be radio silence until 18 June. 🙂 Unless someone wants to guest post.

Planning for September in Matera

Franco, the ever charming barman at the Bar Sedile in Matera.

Even though it’s only May, it’s time for me to plan for my September trip to Matera when I attend the Women’s Fiction Festival. This year’s focus is on how publishing is changing and the options we writers now have. I am looking forward to attending the lectures and master classes.

I’m also looking forward to going to Bar Sedile and hanging out with Franco, the owner of Bar Sedile in Piazza Sedile. He doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Italian (at least, not enough to have a conversation) yet we get along like a house on fire. 🙂 It will also be nice to enjoy a glass of wine at my favorite wine bar at Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Antonio, one of the barmen there, always takes good care of us WFF ladies when we swing by. It’s a great place for people-watching and schmoozing.

So as I write this post, I’m searching online for airline tickets + sending an email to my favorite hotel in Matera, the Albergo del Sedile in hopes they’ll have a room for me. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Now, here is my plan: by September I would like to publish at least three more ebooks. Possibly, one more volume of short stories and two novels. After the festival, I will then focus of getting myself ready for Nanowrimo 2012. One of the novels I want to publish takes place in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to have that one available by late September so I can use Twitter and Facebook to promote the book.

So stay tuned…I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Supporting my Brainstorming at the Spa buddies

My Kindle, living la dolce vita.On Wednesday afternoon, I’ll be heading towards Matera (via Munich). I’ve met some amazing people there and I think you should get to know them too. Please do support my writing friends in their endeavors!

  • Claude Nougat, author of the Forget the Past series and a prolific blogger.
  • Elizabeth Jennings, romantic suspense author of Darkness at Dawn and the brilliant mastermind behind the Women’s Fiction Festival and Brainstorming at the Spa in Matera, Italy.
  • Elizabeth Aston, author of The World, the Flesh and the Bishop, she also writes under the name Elizabeth Edmondson.
  • Nancy Barone Wythe, romantic suspence author of the Sicilian Lovers trilogy who lives and writes on Sicily (can you tell I am a tad bit envious?) 🙂
  • Anselm Audley, fantasy author of the Aquasilva Trilogy and publisher behind Attica Books (ask him about the evil uncle!)
  • Cassy Pickard, mystery writer and Italophile who has also been helping me whip my project into shape.
  • S.G. Redling, thriller writer whose debut novel, Flowertown, is available for pre-order now.
  • Ingrid Christensen, chef/writer/restorer of Italian villa, read her blog and follow the progress of her restoration project in Abruzzo.
  • Rosemary Laurey, romance writer and author of Chase the Cook, who knows a thing or two about dragons.
  • Ann Reavis, freelance travel writer and tour guide whose working on a YA novel that sounds amazing.
  • Christine Witthohn, literar agent and owner of Book Cents Literary Agency, who facilitates for us and tries to keep us focused.

This list is incomplete and I will add everyone else soon but it’s enough to get you started. So what are you waiting for? 🙂

 

Back from Matera…and ready to write

I am now back from the lovely city of Matera, where I spent four days brainstorming with a group of fantastic women (and one man). We stayed at the Locanda di San Martino, a lovely hotel in the Sasso Barisano district of Matera’s historical center.

The brainstorming session was led by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. She did a fantastic job of inspiring us and helping us to view our writing projects from different angles. Author Liz Jennings arranged the brainstorming session–hats off to her for managing to bring together so many people for such an inspiring time. It was exactly what I needed, and I’ve already begun working on my new project.

So what do I know so far about my new project? Well, I know it revolves around a café that played a role in another manuscript I wrote. The café is called Another Latte, which is also the name of my old blog. The main characters names are Milo Hedlund and Erin Foster. There are two little girls involved in the story–Lily and Saffron. I think I may add a foray to Italy to the storyline–perhaps a romantic trip that goes awry? Add a few assumptions and misconceptions, a cock-up or two and it should all go well in the end.

So brainstorming buddies–you know who you are–thanks for helping me think my way through a few character tangles! I will be sure to include you all on my acknowledgements page. 🙂

That’s it for now. I’m in the mood to watch “Young Victoria”… I may have another author interview for us next week. I am still working on a new set of questions. If you’ve got some questions you always wanted to ask a writer, feel free to send them to me.