The King of UNINI is a novella, a romance, that I published some years ago. It’s just as charming now as it was then, I must say even though it’s my own. A sophisticated romance, set in Paris, with a pink cover. What more can you ask? Well, it’s got just what it takes to make an afternoon the reason for big smiles. Read it or give it to a girlfriend as a gift. It’s wonderful.
Isn’t this nice? On November 5, Fran Lewis will have me as her guest on her blog talk radio show. For a whole hour! I think I will have to reread my book the day before that interview. Many thanks to Fran. You can listen live, or later.
Here’s the link: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/fran-lewis
Every year, Italians throw all work to the side and celebrate Ferragosto…August 15th. Many go to the beach, or to a family picnic, or head for the hills as those in the little medieval towns in Le Marche can testify. Today, Castello Piceno was packed full of happy people wandering the narrow streets, having an ice cream in front of the Brunforte Arco and waiting for the music to start.
After a very hot few weeks, today was beautiful. The moon is full, also, which made last night’s medieval music in the Piazza Alta until midnight especially delicious. Today, starting at 5 AM, the great bells of the towns towers rang, together, until noon. It was, in a word, glorious.
I think about Claire and Baldo and just what they will be doing on Ferragosto in the book that I am writing now. Seldom do I situate them in a story there in Castello PIceno in the height of summer; mystery novels seem to go better in the autumn, with a chill and some rain. But under all those heavy velvet robes that the revelers wear the week of Ferragosto, many a secret can hide. So I’m not sure…I’m thinking about that.
Claire’s house in Castello PIceno is only 400 years old. And she is doing some redecorating. Nothing major because the house is in wonderful shape, but fresh paint and some new furniture.
The house is stucco over stones on the outside which makes it one of the only houses in the centro storico that is not stone and/or brick. It’s pink, besides. So in every picture taken from that side of the beautiful hill town, it stands out. There it is, directly across the street from the little chapel of San Filippo, with its lovely garden of roses and fruit trees right beside portico. No wonder Claire loves it.
Inside the old houses of these beautiful medieval hill towns, one finds narrow hallways, wooden beans and brick ceilings, and lots of stairs. Stairs up, stairs down, cantinas for keeping food, and more. Claire’s kitchen floor is original handmade marchigiana brick which are gorgeous except when she’s mopping, but maybe even then.
Every August, the hill towns of Le Marche come alive with their inividual festivals in which they celebrate their individual histories. Castello Piceno has its own, too, the week of ferragosto which is Italy’s most sacred holiday, on August 15th. There is a procession through the medieval part of town in which people dress in the velvet robes and beautiful elements of their history. It’s wonderful to see. Nearby, San Ginesio has its pallio with real men, on real horses, and real javelins. Claire thinks that nobody knows a good local party until they have enjoyed life in a house like Claire’s in a town like hers.
This is the view out Claire’s kitchen door.
Claire Bliss, my heroine, certainly knows her stuff when it comes to finding a blissful (sorry) place to live. The hills of Le Marche are stunning and on a day like this with a gentle breeze and a temperature in the high seventies (F), who can find fault with anything?
This weather in this location, however, can lead to laziness. Claire and Baldo are anything but lazy, and they do their sleuthing in less luxurious weather. On days like this, one can lie on one’s back and allow the apricots to drop directly from the tree into the lap. The olives are showing now on the trees…green of course. Roses are putting on their second performance and the humans are packing up the car for the great August get-away.
The opera season is on in one of Italy’s great venues…here in Le Marche, at Sferisterio in Macerata. An open-air theater built in the 1820’s, it’s grand. This season, Rigoletto was amazing with one of the finest sopranos we have ever heard, Claudia Pavone. The great and the good, and the ordinary, all convene to take in the most beautiful music on summer nights when the stars are out and the heat of the sun is gone.
The medieval hill towns all have their individual celebrations of their traditions and their histories. Some have a pallio (e.g. the beautiful stage-set town San Ginesio), and then there are the parties such as the Vino Cotto Festival in Loro Piceno that happens to be one of the settings in this novel. Loro Piceno happens to know exactly how to put on a fantastic fireworks display. Thank you!
Contrary to popular believe, Italian people do actually work in August, but not if they can help it. Many take a vacation in July so as to be at the ready for the onslaught in August. The beaches are jam packed, as are the most beautiful spots in the Sibillini Mountains.
I could go on and on…have you noticed?
In early March, I mentioned that the story in A Cloud of Fraud opens in City Hall, in Philadelphia. It does. In th chambers of a judge about whom I will leave you to form your own opinion as the plot unfolds and the characters develop.
Philadelphia is a wonderful city, and it’s beautiful. I used to make my W. C. Fields joke about it, decades ago, by saying that nobody ever cared enough about it to tear it down. That was in the days of what was called “urban renewal.” In the city itself and all around the perimeter are gorgeous trees and buildings. And so much history! Wow!
There is no “Little Italy” in Philadelphia as there is in New York. Instead, there is a part of the city called South Philadelphia, famous for its Italian-American residents who built a community there in row houses with kitchens that were the scenes of all family events, as in the film “Moonstruck,” and were the locations of some of the best cooking in the United States. To say it’s colorful is an understatement.
The cultural institutions of Philadelphia are astounding, and so very numerous. Liberty Bell and Independence Hall aside, everyone should visit and spend days there. My favorite was always and may still be The Philadelphia Orchestra that now calls Verizon Hall its home.
When this book becomes a film, I trust the filmmakers to take full advantage of all that glorious scenery and character. Alas, the story does not feature the Philadelphia Eagles, but they, too, are just great!
You would think that the sale of self-published books is a simple matter….write it, edit it, put it out there. Hardly. Like everything else, the books sell one at a time. When I see another great review of the book on Amazon, or another sale of a paperback or digital copy of the book, it thrills me. I feel a relationship with the buyer and reader and hope that they know that. I’m hoping they enjoy every bit of it. And I cherish each one of them, believe it or not.
Book writing is not a sales exercise. It’s a creative endeavor that absorbs every last bit of attention and energy the author can pour into it. The process is hugely rewarding, whether or not the book is ever published. As with releasing any newly created “baby” out there into the world, naked, there is hesitation and fear. Mostly there is hope. But the author really does not know until readers actually buy a copy and dive in, and then say they enjoyed it.
So to every single reader, and blogger who directs readers to my books, thank you very much!
I took a big break from writing novels to watch the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament. What a joy! Thousands of congratulations to all those women whoi played so well. They played with dazzling talent and skill, but also with such dignity and grace. Of course, the winners were the best. How could they not be? And they richly deserved the prize. But to every one of the players from everywhere in the world, keep it going, girls!!! Very well done, you!!!!!!
So many thanks to the bloggers who have taken the time to read this book, and then even more time to write genuinely helpful reviews…and I mean helpful to the reader. When they help me, well that’s just the cherry on the sundae, isn’t it?
Here are the latest two. I love them both.
Today, here in Italy, I received some copies of the paperback version of A Cloud of Fraud from Amazon. I don’t know exactly where they were printed, but here they are and I am thrilled to lay my hands upon them. I call them my golden nuggets because the cover is gold.
A word now about covers for on-demand printed books. I honestly cannot say that I love the quality of this one. The design is mine and of course the gorgeous artwork is Carlo Crivelli’s. The painting is a detail of the Magdalene he did that hangs in the Rijksmuseum. It’s the printing and the paper that I’m gently complaining about. I should not do that, but I’m not in love with it.
This is an area where the author with a traditional publisher that will take the time and trouble and expense to print a book beautifully is way out there ahead of everyone else. The price is quite different, too. I realize that. I, however, grew up and went to school with the idea that a book was a special object that deserved respect and treasuring.
All of that having been written, Amazon and self-publishing is a gift to many of us who don’t have the time in life, or the following, to make traditional publishing a possibility. We don’t have agents, either. But we have wonderful stories to tell, as well as we possibly can. So my paperbacks remain my golden nuggets.
This morning, I just read a review of this book that was all praise. It was not only that, but it showed that the reviewer had read the whole book, paid attention to it, and understood it and its sophistication. There are not words to express how good that felt when I read it and how good it still feels. I cannot thank the reviewer enough, but I surely did write to her. The Literary Apothecary.
Every author has his or her own style of writing and some use words, phrases, expressions, sequences of those, in ways that might be foreign to some readers. Naturally! James Joyce’s writing is uncomfortable for some readers, and so is the Bible. I think it’s part of the reading experience to learn. For me, that includes learning about the voice of the author, or the character who is thinking or speaking right there.
Having spent what seems like my whole life reading about times gone by, I am fascinated by history and sometimes just go there in every way. Old voices, old paintings, old ways of saying things. Love it!
I was asked today to talk about the actors I would want to play this role or that in the film version of A Cloud of Fraud. Nevermind to whom I assigned what. The point is that I’m back, again, to Rose. She’s a powerful character in this book and I am not going to write a spoiler here. I’m just sayin’ ….
The blog tour for A Cloud of Fraud is well under way now, and I send many thanks to the bloggers who are keen enough to publicize this novel. Self-publishing bring with it the burden of self-publicizing and that is not an easy matter. But how else will a reader find the book? If you think about that question, in this world where running a book shop is close to a labor of love, people are doing their book shopping online and depend on the resources there to find just the right read. I know; I’ve done it.
I think that the idea of one’s shelf or stack full of to-read books is a great idea and we all need some help finding things to put there. One day the mood is this and another day the mood is that. I sometimes think I need an assortment of mood-meeters on that shelf. Bloggers help very much with this because they can call attention to just what a particular book can do for a reader.
Alas, reading all the books out there and then taking the time to write thoughtfully about them is hard work. I know that some bloggers serve up what they have received, and that too is very helpful. Special thanks very much to those of you who do it with care and attention. You are concierges of a sort. There are hungry readers for every book. The job is to connect them to one another.
Tonight, on British TV (BBC4 I believe), Commissario Montalbano will make a new appearance in a new series of his much loved detectives shows. I love them. And I adored the Aurelio Zen shows, also. There is the wonderful Venetian policeman Commissario Brunetti in Donna Leon’s novels set in Venice. And now we have our own Baldo in the hill town Castello PIceno in Le Marche.
It is the Italian-ness of these detectives that we love most of all. They are brilliant in their work and so lovable in their personal characters. They are so human in all the marvelous ways that Italian people exhibit their humanity.
I’m working now on the next book as the blog tour for A Cloud of Fraud is set to open. My thoughts keep turning to the characters. They drive the story. Even in the Crown of the Andes books, the characters drive the stories. Writing these books is such a joy; it’s a ride along with Baldo.
So I’m going to YouTube to rewatch all the Montalbano shows. Yippee!!
It’s just beautiful here in Le Marche even in the rain we have been having. The rose blossoms hang down outside like gigantic pink cabbages, dripping color and rainwater. It’s inspiration time for the next book, another mystery. Claire is observing something that is a bit “off.”
This weekend, the blog tour for A Cloud of Fraud begins and that is quite exciting for us here. Many thanks to the lovely people at Partners in Crime Tours who organized it, and to all of the reviewers and bloggers who are digging in. We hope it offers readers more information about the author, she who is writing this, and about the story. It’s quite a good one.
While we are at it, many thanks to the readers who have been posting 5-star reviews online. That is tall praise.
Here in Le Marche in Italy, the weather this spring has been exceptionally cool and wet. Just today, we had major rain and hail mid-afternoon. Our rose bushes are thriving but we want to get out there in the dirt and it’s mud instead.
So, we just happened upon a discussion about summer reads. This brings up the topic of rainy day reads, also. Those curl-up-with-a-good-book days at all times of the year, especially dark ones. Mysteries are wonderful reads in those deep chair days, whether it’s a beach chair or a fuzzy one near the fireplace. Mysteries and thrillers that grab hold and wind the reader around the plot are satisfying on those days because they do (or should) sweep you away into the tale and offer a jolt of excitement along the way.
We confess to hoping that A Cloud of Fraud will bring loads of mystery readers into their chairs for an engaging read in that chair. If you don’t have a favorite reading chair, think about that please.
It’s out. The Kindle version of the book is officially for sale now…hooray…and here come the iBooks and paperback versions within hours. This is no small accomplishment for the self-publishing author who does it all while wrapped in hope.
It was said by Susan Sontag that Carlo Crivelli is “camp,” and I see that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has had its great gala now on the theme of “camp.” If all of that elaborate fluff and curl is camp, well then I am all for it. It’s fun, to say nothing of entertaining and beautiful. Certainly, the painting of Mary Magdalene by Carlo Crivelli on the cover of A Cloud of Fraud is all of those. If camp, well then splendid!
We should take a new look at “camp.” And while I’m saying that, I’ll add that it’s a perfect celebration, visually, of the publication of a new story. So, camp!!
A Cloud of Fraud will be available to buy and read on Tuesday, i.e. two days hence. It’s being released on Amazon as a Kindle book and as a paperback, and on iBooks as a digital book. If you have a mystery-lover in your life, what a nice gift this book will be. Of course, we are very excited and hope that the book will be enjoyed by all readers, and a success. Pre-ordering is possible for the Kindle version.
Many thanks, again, to all the people who have helped so much with this project. This has been an exciting book to write, and to release.
The author is in Le Marche, in Italy, now. The locations are authentic. Hope you have a fun read there.
I just rewatched the 1982 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel…a gem. But so is the older version, and for both we must thank Baroness Orczy who wrote this delicious story. It’s not necessary for a story to be overloaded with sex and vioilence to be good, engaging, memorable…all of that. People these days seem to be starved for those types of books and movies. They do exist, of course, but I pray for more of them. Romance and chivalry are not dead. Readers need them.