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Book Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore by Barbara Connelli

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...I live vicariously through the travels, research and words of the authors setting their stories and essays in foreign countries. Countries I would like to go to, but I lack the means to go in real life. So authors like Barbara Connelli take me on their journeys and I am sated with the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of an exotic city like Milan. Her writing style in Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore brings you to the city and you want to linger and savor the mood and the imagery she creates:

“…To me, love means something completely different and much simpler. The smell of morning cappuccino and fresh pannetone at Pasticceria Marchesi. A brisk stroll through the awakening city and sensual curves of gold shadows on the wet paving of Via della Spiga. Joyful shouts of bohemian artists and their graceful muses at Fornace Curti. A crispy panzerotto savored in the company of cantankerous pigeons on the piazzetta of San Fedele. Old furniture stores in narrow streets and adorable trinkets I can never resist. The tinkling of a tram from 1929 with uncomfortable wooden seats and a hundred-year-old conductor. Sublime flamingos and peevish peacocks in an emerald-green garden that has never been owned by anyone. Remote nooks and crannies whose secrets have been revealed only to me and the few ghosts with aristocratic hearts who appear in them from time to time. Visionary dreams, inextinguishable hopes, the desire to live, the courage to create, the strength to grow. To me, love means all this and much more. This and much more is what I receive from the city that makes me fall in love a hundred times a day, breaking my heart over and over again, only to make it beat faster five minutes later. Milan. My city of love.”

There are a myriad of magical places to explore in Milan, like the hidden Flamingo Garden that no one owns yet it belongs to everyone. For a memorable sweet treat there is the venerable Pasticceria Marchesi’s , where you can also get freshly baked Panettone  which has three different legends as to its inception. A recipe for the famed bread is included.

A city tour will show you the architectural wonders that the city contains. The Rinascente store has a phoenix rising from the fire story that resonates with renaissance and rebirth. I love the story of Chandelier –where you can get the finest dinner and a sofa if you need one as they change their furniture out and sell it every year to stay fresh and evolving.

There are so many Milanese treasures described, too many to list here. Plus I think some of these locales should be a surprise to you as they were for me, making the book all the more magical.

The book is romantic and makes you want to book a flight as soon as possible to enjoy what is so elegantly written about. I can’t go right away so I will linger over the stories contained in Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore. I feel like I should root out the local beauty and stories of where I live now that I’ve read this love letter to Milan. Everyone should love where they live the way Barbara Connelli loves her city.

I say read this book and dream, or act on the dream and go. I was given a copy of the book to review and I would say it is worth more than its price and is certainly worth your time.

About the author:

Barbara Conelli is an internationally published bestselling author, seasoned travel writer specializing in Italy, and Chiquenist on the mission to bring Fantastic Fearless Feminine Fun into women’s lives. In her charming, delightful and humorous Chique Books filled with Italian passion, Barb invites women to explore Italy from the comfort of their home with elegance, grace and style, encouraging them to live their own Dolce Vita no matter where they are in the world. http://www.barbaraconelli.com

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My First…(What Are You Thinking? It’s Not What You Think…)

 

Smudge

I had always considered myself a dog person. My co-worker Angie was hell-bent on my adopting a cat. We debated for the afternoon, with no consensus. I was on the fence. Another heartbeat in my apartment would be nice, but a cat? You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know cats.

I arrived at my apartment complex after the sun had set. I made my way to the mailbox station and I heard the distinct sound of a cat’s meow. It sounded sad. It sounded nearby. I looked out into the shadows and I saw two pencil thin white lines moving. They were the front paws of the thinnest cat I had ever seen. She meowed again and stopped. We looked at each other. I instinctively reached out to her. She came to me and meowed again. She wasn’t sad as much as hungry. She was beautiful, white with black spots and a spot on her nose.

I ran up to my apartment and brought down a can of tuna. I put it in the bushes for this poor, pathetic animal. I went home. The next day, I told Angie about my encounter with the stray. “THAT’S YOUR CAT!” screamed Angie. I stopped mid-sentence. “You’ve got to be kidding. She’s a wild cat who’s starving. She’s not My Cat” I said, defensively. “No, you don’t understand, cats don’t come to people easily when they are feral. They shy away from people. This cat has picked you out as her person. We have to get her tonight.” Now Angie is a force of nature and what she says will happen, happens. So I found myself looking for this elusive cat that night with Angie who was experienced at catching strays.

There she was. Unlike the night before, she ran away, Angie and I frantically trying to keep up with her. We split apart, each going a separate way around the apartment building. Angie yelled at me, “I’ve got her!” She turned the corner with the little white cat squirming in her arms and her fur was flying in clumps. “Why is her fur flying off her?” I asked. “It’s what cats do when they are really scared” she replied, struggling to hold her.

We took her up to my apartment, I felt unsure about a wild cat running loose in the small space, who knows what diseases she could have. We put her in the bathroom and closed the door. I made plans with Angie to take her to the vet the next day and get her checked out. Angie said “It’s wonderful to be owned by a cat, you’ll see!” I sat in the living room, amazed at what we had accomplished and feeling anxious about the entire unknown wild cat in my house situation.

About an hour later, the bathroom door opened and out came the scrawny white cat who then ran onto my lap and she lay down. I was so surprised, I didn’t move. Was this the same cat I had chased downstairs? She was purring loudly as she lay quietly on my lap. How had she opened the door? The mystery would always remain. Transformed into the picture of domestic bliss; we stayed on the couch for hours. I forgot my caution regarding potential disease, she was purring, she was sleeping, she was on my lap. I knew then Angie was right, I had been chosen to be owned by this particular cat. I named her Smudge and realized at that moment that I was a cat person after all.

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Five Writing Blogs Worth Reading Part Three

After this post, I will update you as I come across blogs of note. (I’m always looking for new ones). Here are five more that have provided me with usable information and insights into the writing life.

C. Hope Clark Hope is a talented writer who writes about writing and is currently promoting her excellent book Low Country Bribe (which I will be reviewing this week). She also writes the next blog:

Funds For Writers Voted one of the ten best blogs for writers since 2001, this blog will provide you solid information and leads  that will result in a freelance job, a contest, a job, a grant, you name it. There are two versions of the blog. One is free (the one I get) and one is a subscription. I am thinking about getting the subscription in the future.

Men With Pens James Chartrand is a pen name for the owner of this blog.Shes (Yes, she) a copywriter author, business expert from Montreal. Again, an insightful and informative blog about wrining and blogging. It’s a Top Ten Blog For Writers for the past four years and a Top 15 Copywriting and Content Marketing Blog That Makes You Money.

The Well Fed Writer Peter Bowerman’s blog and website. He published the book The Well Fed Writer and has maintained the franchise for years. He specializes in copywriting and blogging. A top blog in 2010, he is well established.

Nick Thacker Writes about writing and blogging. He wrote Building a Blog For Readers (Which I will be reviewing soon). He is informative and provides a new spin on what others are talking about. He will answer your emails if you contact him. I’ve gotten a lot out of his book and blog.

I hope you get as much out of these sites as I have. Are there sites you would recommend?

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I Am Free

I am free.

Three simple words that carry such meaning and weight.

It’s Independence Day here in America, one of my favorite days, not because of the cook-outs, but because of the celebration of freedom. It’s a day that makes me stop and think about my country and all that it affords me. I am a free woman in the greatest country in the world. I can do anything I set my mind to here. I have been afforded a life free of tyranny, free of oppression, free of retaliation. I have made decisions in my life that have caused me to take the path less travelled, and it’s OK here. I am free to do that.

I love my country.

We have many faults, and we can be obnoxious, and there are many broken things in our country, but the freedom we enjoy supersedes all the negatives. On this day, the dissention we experience in Washington doesn’t matter. On this day the problems each family experiences in the wake of decisions being made in the government doesn’t matter. On this day the rivalry between presidential candidates doesn’t matter. On this day my life choices, mistakes and triumphs both don’t matter. All that matters is Freedom. As a country and as an individual, we are free and that is what this day is about.

I wish you a wonderful day and I hope your celebrations with family and friends bring you great joy.

We are free.

 

 

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Five Writing Blogs Worth Reading – Part One

Finding good blogs to follow can take a lot of time and research. I want to share some of the great blogs and writers sites that I’ve found over the last few months.  Since there are a lot of them, I’m breaking the list down to five sites per post. I know when lists are ten + sites, I never have time to go to all of  them hence the manageable number of five.

Nina Badzin’s Blog Nina is an accomplished writer and blogger. She writes about the writing life, social media, parenting, being Jewish and a host of other topics. She regularly appears on the Huffington Post blog. Her essays are excellent.

Kristen Lamb’s Blog Author of “Are You There Blog, It’s Me, Writer” and “We Are Not Alone, A Writers Guide To Social Media” (an outstanding book on social media for the beginner). She writes about writing and life. I’ll be reviewing both books in the coming weeks. But don’t wait for the review, go ahead and get them…they are excellent.

Lisa Ahn’s Blog I discovered Lisa on Nina’s blog. She was a guest. She crafts words brilliantly. I love her essays. So Talented. You will look forward to her postings.

Paltry Meanderings Of A Taller Than Average Woman (the blog for Christy Carrington Lewis) I didn’t know what to make of this blog’s title. But Christy is a brilliant and talented writer and I enjoy her posts immensely. She has been “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress several times. Not an easy accomplishment. Freshly Pressed means the blog post was chosen out of hundreds of thousands of posts to be featured as an example of excellence.

Susan Kiernan-Lewis One of my favorite authors. She’s written the Maggie Newberry series all set in Provence, France as well as other books. I love her descriptions and the way she has crafted her stories. Thoroughly enjoyable. She writes about writing and life.

Five more blogs/sites coming soon. Do you have favorite sites you’d like to share? Please do. Thanks for reading and hopefully following me.

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The Lobster Shack Drawing WIP

 

Fence post sketch

I am excited about my newest drawing which does not have a proper name, so Lobster Shack is it’s working name. It’s a pen and ink and colored pencil piece. This piece is all me, none of my teacher is in it, which I am very proud of. My drawings take a long time, so I will post the WIP pictures as I progress, but don’t expect the finished project to be done quickly. I’m just not that fast.

Fence and shack and lobster trap

Shack and lobster trap

 

 

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The Week In Review

WordPress

Since there are people reading this blog who are in the same boat, trying to get published, build a platform and establish themselves as a writer, I will post a recap of my activities from time to time to generate some discussion about what it takes to get published, what things work, what doesn’t work and what steps one took towards the goal. Please jump in and share your activities. You never know if it will help others.

This week I split my blog into two blogs. One is now Losing A Person and Finding Myself (a weight loss story), and this one is my writing blog. The results have been well received. I posted some older essays which garnered new followers to the blog. Makes me think it’s a good idea to re-post every now and then posts that you feel are strong. People miss them the first time around.

I was informed that I was on the Creative Writing page at WordPress. How I was there is a mystery to me. It must be the tags I’m using. Could be that there was a lot of activity from my blog and maybe it brought some attention? I don’t know, but I like that it happened. Now, I’d like to shoot for being “Pressed”. If you read something on this blog that you like, hit the Press button please.  I would appreciate it greatly.

I submitted an essay to Guideposts Magazine this week. I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and the essay is about a profound experience I had in my twenties. I can’t post it because that is considered to be publishing a piece and it makes it less marketable. I am waiting to see what my lawyer says about the Real Simple essay contest’s terms and conditions. I want to know if you give up the rights to your work by entering the contest. That is how it was with the Purina contest, so I didn’t enter it.

I am planning many book reviews. Some are how -to’s on writing, some are fiction, and some are general interest books. I am being approached my authors to review their books which is exciting. I am debating whether to post only favorable reviews or if I should post both favorable and negative reviews. They both serve to inform the public, but I am uncomfortable writing a negative review.  I’ll keep you posted on this subject.

Thanks for reading and following me.

 

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