I recently returned from a trip to Italy where I spent time in Rome. One of the areas I visited while there was Trastevere where part of my novel, Not By Design, was set.
We cross the River Tiber and approach the archeological remains of rooms that were once baths made of black and white mosaics. My guidebook tells me that these were made in the first century AD. It’s hard for me to grasp that over two thousand years ago there was an entire civilization living on the ground I am standing on.
We are walking along the delightful district of Trastevere. In Trastevere one will get glimpses of the “real” Rome. Marco and I have been here many times. To eat in their famous restaurant area, go to the theatre, the cinema or just mingle with the Romans in clubs and bars. Today our mission is different. We are visiting the church Bridget reserved for our wedding.
Marco and I are holding hands as we pass by boutiques offering handcrafted wares and clothing stores with magnificent styles.
As we approach Piazza Santa Maria with its spectacular fountain I stop to take in the church in front of us. It is a stunning Medieval church. Its façade glows with its series of faded mosaics honoring the Virgin Mary. I can’t think of a more romantic setting for our wedding. Even before entering the church I know that it is perfect. Except for one thing. “I can’t believe that my father won’t be here to walk me down the aisle,” I say.
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In a recent interview with Natalie Portman and CBC’s Tom Power at the Toronto International Film Festival, Portman talked about the inspiration behind her critically-acclaimed performance in Vox Lux.
One of the reasons she so easily accepted the role was because the writing was so strong. Brady Cobert is both the director and writer of Vox Lux.
Attribution: Georges Biard
That got me thinking.
What makes writing so strong?
EM Castellan, a writer of YA Historical Fantasy novels and winner of several Wattpad awards, provides pointers on what you need to make your writing stronger.
One of the most common reasons for agents and publishers to reject a manuscript is « weak writing ». Rather than listing here what makes your writing weak, I’d like to offer a few pointers to help you make your writing strong – or stronger.
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In my early twenties, fresh out of university with a B.A. in English literature, I was lured to London where I spent the summer in the Bloomsbury District doing research at the British Museum Library in the mornings and in the afternoons I explored the city.
A favorite thing to do was to visit the homes of the great poets and writers who had lived in London. One such home was that of the poet John Keats, a great figure of the British romantic poets.
Fast-forward – almost fifty years – and I am in Rome where I stumble upon the Keats – Shelly Memorial House right next to the Piazza di Spagna.
Keats had travelled to Rome hoping that the warmer climate would cure his tuberculosis and that the view of the Piazza di Spagna from his room would uplift him.
But, at only 25, the uplifting view and the warmer climate were not enough and he died in this bed
and left behind a legacy of great poetry which two hundred years later is still being honored and read. One of my favorite lines comes from his Ode on a Grecian Urn.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty
I love my outside environment but inside – not counting the food available there – it’s rather depressing. I’m still missing that long hallway of my old house.
“Hey, Lazy Bones, I found you a job,” Mistress says, her tone of voice all enthusiastic and joyful as she looks down at me.
Of course, I have no idea what a job entails but still I wag my tail because of her enthusiasm and that I’m happy to see her.
She then tells me that she booked an evaluation for me. “Come on let’s go.”
Now? You want me to go now. I’m really not feeling up to it I want to tell her. Can’t she read body language. Besides, I’m still feeling somewhat depressed because of the move.
dog contemplating having a job
Sometimes (too often) I am left alone. My favorite activity when this happens is to get comfortable and stare out at life outside. I can do this for hours. I am very good at focusing. Better than most humans, I would say. I just wish that she would move that basket of flowers. It blurs my vision.
Although the dog’s visual acuity is considerably less than that of a normal human, a lot of information is still getting from his eyes to his brain, even though the focus is “soft” and he won’t be able to make out many details. The overall effect is something like viewing the world through a fine mesh gauze or a piece of cellophane that has been smeared with a light coat of petroleum jelly. The overall outlines of objects are visible, but a lot of the internal details will be blurred and might even be lost. (p. 25)
In How Dogs Think by Stanley Coren.
dog contemplating life
Comments are closed because I will be away for two weeks.
Figuring out the puzzle in a mystery is always a lot of fun and has the added perk of exercising the brain.
The Body in the Snow is a modern version of a classic Agatha Christie plotline. Set in Llangurrey, a remote hamlet tucked miles away from the nearest town, is experiencing the worst snowstorm in twenty years. All roads and motorways have been closed.
I was immediately drawn into this cozy whodunit and the domestic dynamics among the characters.
The author begins by introducing the characters, a bit of their background, their family, marital status and so forth in very broad drawn strokes. You get the picture. There’s a Diva, a happy divorcee, a handyman and a host of other unlikeable characters.
Now, in present time, they find themselves neighbors, along with their past histories, secrets and personalities that clash with each other. The characters have such unique characteristics that I had no problem distinguishing them from each other, as is not always the case when there are multiple characters in a story. One of the more endearing interactions was between Bebe, a fading star and Beth, a rooky but spunky detective.
Fischer’s detective Beth is a lot of fun and brings lightness and charm to the novel. No gore or violence was a plus. It was simply a fun, light relaxing read and a pleasant way to exercise the brain muscles.
Not these hard to chew kibbles again!
Dog doing his daily crunches