Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Whirling twirling

Quite an endless twirl going on here. Though I am always thinking of the book I am being tugged this way and that. Lovely to escape the computer screen in a way, but I feel a little untrue if I am not working, and have gone and abandoned my other novel revision after finally picking up some pace.

The good news is that 'famous writer' loved the book and wrote a sparkling comment for the jacket. I won't write it here until it has been approved, but I was very very thrilled, relieved and quite emotional. Marilyn is coming to life!

So I went out and bought the latest of this famous and generous writer's novels and read it with wonder. It was in an AIRPORT BOOKSTORE. Of course this is my aim with my book. Lovely lady travellers chuckling as they await their flights. Cheeky sexy smiles as they imagine Brett in his leathers, or waif-like Estelle and Arnaud, or Fiona-from-Melbourne asking for her vibrators back. That would be the max.

As I flew about (unwell Aunty in the UK, extremely broken leg, snowed-in for three whisky days) I even thought that I could make a series of this idea: The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Ghana, The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Latvia, The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Australia.

What a laugh!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Have just done my first email interview with the lovely generous Miranda Dickinson whose first book Fairytale of New York was spotted on Authonomy and whose second Welcome to My World is about to come out. Miranda's blog Coffee and Roses has regular writer interviews and mine will be coming up soon!

Have also sent off the manuscript to a noted women's writer for a jacket comment - will see how that goes.

And am playing around with my cover images some more, I do like them and must work out how to insert photos here.

Time has stood still with the rain and flooding in town. Here the canals brimmed but haven't burst over. The water is finally seeping away in the fields and I have banished my image of my piano knee-high in water - awful that. I think I even played more thoughtfully this morning.

And what else from this divorcée? The obvious - a pair of bronze fur-lined chunky boots I can't wait to wear - a friend suggests I should be wearing them at the computer but how? what about The Occasion?? Although I suspect my bloke will grimace at them.

My fifteen year old daughter reluctantly gave her permission, but only as a trade-off for a new pair of jeans. How odd, my Mum never let me go near fashion but I suspect my offspring have absorbed one of the better things of this country.

Monday, 25 October 2010

the rush

I have been trying to use this internet for all it's worth - connections to other writers in this zone - and finding unexpected generosity. People actually write back! Thank you to the new viewers of the blog and do keep coming back, I feel the novel is about to burst forth.

I remember living in Mogadishu so many years ago, sent home from the embassy because I wrote a circular about pregnant local staff being sacked and nobody being paid for overtime, when I had my first short story published in Australia. ('Elton John's Mother', reprinted in Fabulous at Fifty by Pascoe Publishing) That year I spent ages on a novel while my first born kicked in a basket on the floor, then my first stories started to go somewhere - not that it was very tangible, receiving a copy and looking at it on your own in a huge sweaty house in such a ruptured country. I was always at a loss, and lacked the big push, final determination.

And now this immediacy. It's so thrilling really, if I recall carbon paper and my treasured (and stupid) electric typewriter, that first dot matrix printer that really hurt my eyes. How far have we come! How delicious is this form of communication!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


One of the finest things involved in the divorce procedure must surely be the celebration meal. You know, the final breaking bread together when all has past, when new loves and obligations are on the horizon and a type of freshness returns..
One realises that the spoils of divorce may be elegant and to be enjoyed.
No more plate-throwing and derision.
No more subterfuge and altercation.

How lovely to grow up.

And merci to the ex for the most heavenly meal on the planet. How an ex-anorexic such as moi can wax about food but perhaps the taste buds are heightened through sheer agony?

No one can touch la Peca, Lonigo. Glorious, glorious, still reeling..

Monday, 4 October 2010

Growing pains

I am stuck for a cover. Photoshop daunts me. I wander to rush outside with a model/friend and make meaningful photographs in broad city piazzas. Or along Venice's shoes. Something essential. Something that represents Marilyn's vast and hampered transformation in Italy. At times I see colours that jag against each other, snapping the reader's eyes. Simplicity. Other times I see a little more douleur, drama, a coercion I have been looking at book covers for months. Italian ones at Feltrinelli in Milan. English ones online and at the American Bookstore there too.

How to convey my message in the crispest visual terms? How not to fumble with the mumlit/chicklit graphics that are so prevalent?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Heels in Matera

Trying to put myself into gear again after the long summer escapade - finally I have brain time, silence, less chores. How can anything related to a house full of teenagers be called a holiday? I have written one story and a half, reviewed this novel around three times, kickstarted my cover ideas, and been interrupted about FIVE THOUSAND TIMES.

What about the beach? My tummy tanning? My freckle collection?

Not even a mountain hike, more like a hike with the watering can through my torn tomatoes.

Getting into gear means beginning to learn about book promotion and realising how hard other writers work (and are expected to work). I have just paid up for the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera and hope to catch a flight and cheap room. Can't wait to leave Veneto and set my eyes upon new sights. Quite scared by the idea of rubbing shoulders with a more published crowd, me being such a shy ting.

I wonder what heels to bring.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Harrowing! Trying to relearn photoshop to start work on the book cover but I've forgotten many basic tricks. It's coming back, but how tiresome! Plus I have misplaced my glasses and my piano-playing wrist is suffering terribly from all the mouse moves. But I mustn't give up. I have some great ideas and want to come up with three cover designs to see if they please. I do hope so!

Other than that school starts again soon and I am oh-so-glad. Free quiet mornings (apart from my university-bound son who hasn't yet left for Milan, nor even passed the entry exam yet) and slabs of concentration.

Now waiting to see when the novel will be launched. I am hoping April, when I will be free to move across to the UK and get peddling. In the meantime, I hope to get to the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera with a sheath of bookmarks to distribute and garner some interest. It will be my first literary festival and I haven't a clue what to expect. The englishwritersinitaly crowd seem very professional, slightly prim and very very published. Meanwhile this country bumpkin will just have to smile and sit tight. And will probably be crippled by shyness in any case!

Monday, 9 August 2010

the real thing

Finally finally finally I have sent it off! The polished manuscript! The last two weeks have involved endless revision - back to front, out loud, ruler and red pen, yet another ink cartridge and begging Monica to bind it on a Friday night - but it is over! Dawn seems pleased and I love the tone of her emails. I am looking forward to going to the next stage. Glad to have a slight rest, although now I feel like pulling the stories into shape and looking for publication there too.

It's cover time soon, so have been looking in Milan at Italian VS English cover jobs and what really pulls my eyes. Some lovely smallish books with good geometry, bold colour. I hope to relax a little and let the vision flow.

Here's hoping the nasty ex will go back to where he belongs and leave me to play the piano and clean the house.

Friday, 9 July 2010


Unbelievable! How many times have I read:

Sorry but I just don't love it enough
This is unsuitable for our list
We have kept your details for future reference
We wish you luck in placing your book elsewhere

But last week I checked my iPhone mail and read:
We would like to offer a contract of publication

Whaaat! I nearly fell off my iron chair into the gravel and dropped my Campari! It was written in English, too! I had to read it aloud to the mate next to me and she confirmed we were speaking the same language. Amazing Grace!

I have been bubbling for 10 days now, have posted off the contract and hope this will pan out to be a beautiful project. I can't wait to see Marilyn in her new printed life!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Well it's been quite a stretch. The revision is done and the manuscript wending its way toward a small UK publishing company, on angels' wings. Let's hope.
Plus the big summer party has come and gone, involving much garden and food preparation, and many many mojitos under the disco lights. Tremendous amount of foolish dancing until dawn, and the music cranking out the next day while the BBQ sizzled..

Now I am utterly ready for summer laziness. Hate this computer.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Still revising chapters. Tis endless. I don't even laugh anymore. I have also diverged back to short stories where there is a harder punch and a more direct conduit to publication. Every chapter I finish with thedivorcedlady'scompaniontoitaly/Marilyn I know there are 18 more, or 15, or 12. And grammar slips and typos. Just can't afford those. So I am printing up chapters - again - to step back and feel the page.

Other than that have just put my story collection on authonomy and am amazed by how racy it is and what a volume of author trafficking! It is entirely belittling when your book is ranked 2222! I don't know that I can buy into the tit for tat thing either - you back me and I'll back you. Especially as there is so little writing that is alluring.

I would hate to be a publisher.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

summer riffs

Summer out the window, already steaming hot. This divorcée needs to water her veggie plot and get into marmellata. But back to the book. Reviews are coming in on the youwriteon site but I am amazed when somebody who can't spell makes bland sweeping and idiotic criticism. I am unable to take it when somebody says I should give Marilyn more character, or refract Italy through some birds singing in the trees. Flabbergasted. But I want to reach the top of that chart. And will review and review until it sends me to sleep. So far none - dare I? should I say this? - of the excerpts have made me wild with envy or filled with the desire to plough on. Nothing shocking or overturning. And of course my silly bits are not going to shake anyone to the core, but I still stand by my woman. Marilyn is fit to be read, even though she has big Hungarian cheekbones and tits and no notion of where she will be drawn next. And her fellow characters - clairvoyant tattooed Pamela, the top model hunter Arnaud, the bi-sexual internet cruiser Brett who looks like a Hong Kong cop. Nothing unusual here. Just your usual meandering wimmin's ting, set to the swish of a Venetian canal.

Tell me you want more. The book is gooood.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

So why blog? A friend asked over the weekend. I'm not quite sure either. All I know is that I want to keep my project simmering, and that having an imagined audience makes me commit more efficiently to the awful, endless revising currently going on. I'd like to introduce Marilyn, my English protagonist (the novel is called The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy and can one imagine what it is about?) who has relocated to Milan. Give her some back-up. Give myself some fuel.

Where on earth did Marilyn come from? Especially as I have published literary short stories for an age, but never succeeded in publishing an entire book of my own. Well I wrote another book (and another and another) which was a heavy-duty West African thing, whose characters I still look back upon with untethered fondness (I haven't finished there), which I gave to a friend to read. Emily said Hey, why don't you lighten up, write something local? I'd also just had my agent's pooh-poohing of an excerpt (ok, I should have edited harder and given more context) so that summer Marilyn came about in my head on the long drive back from Treviso, and I hacked away all winter.

It's been done a while now, it's about 280pp and more than a laugh. I am just pulling it into line in spurts. It's on and so far the reviews are encouraging.

Oh dear this almost-divorcée must water the vegetable garden.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

the ark of triumph

What does the aching divorcée writer living in Italy do on a public holiday? She provides sunny weather, a good humous (What is this made of again? Did you say chick peas?), cherries from the tree, comfortable woven plastic IKEA chairs.. and feeds her ex-husband's siblings and offspring. Very extended family.

Yesterday being La giornata della Repubblica all activity (except my neighour on a tractor spraying copper sulphate on his vineyards in anticipation of further rain dammit) ground to a halt and our President Sig. Giorgio Napolitano (whose dishes I washed while a skinny unmarried au pair on the island of Stromboli and don't expect this to be the only reference to my only political experience in Italy) gave his regular speech which I listened to while out buying petrol.

But back to publishing. While my lovely book waits for further attention and my life eddies on into springtime - love and shoes, or shoes and love? - I have had a short story accepted by TheViewFromHere (seems bursting with good energy) and another to be cropped for a prestigious magazine I can't mention until it's in the bag.

I am blooming.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

heading out

June 1st 2010

I've been told I must publicise my unpublished novel online to make my effort more viable! As if pounding away at the computer is not enough.
And I've had years of it. The writing was in pencil in first, in carefully chosen exercise books preferably of the old schoolbook type, preferably printed in Africa, preferably with queer jagged patterns on the front and line that did not match up.
But now. Now it's the keyboard with a wristguard, an office chair, a view of the wind jostling the nut and willow trees by the fence, a field with green unformed things, pesticide-induced, looking out for the sun. Hours of it.

So I have a book to publish. The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy. Which is not about me. I'm not even divorced yet! And - unlike most ladies out there - my real story is far worse than what this book is about. This is calm comedy with no recipes and only a couple of shopping scenes. Some good outlooks and jolly sex. Italy is here for something.