Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness

 May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month. As someone with this rare genetic disease, I want to do my part so more people are aware of it. I hope someone will see these photos and say, "Hey, I can do that" and won't wait decades, getting sicker and sicker, before they are diagnosed.

This is one of many EDS "party tricks."
If you cover my pants with your hand, my head looks like it's on backward.

Cute EDS Awareness t-shirt.

This is the EDS "gang sign.
Take your thumb and touch your forearm

Friday, June 9, 2023

Book Review, What She Takes Away

 What She Takes Away is a heart-wrenching, debut novel, which explores the warp and weft of the lives of Gia and her estranged family in the village of Castel Barberini, when she returns to Italy for Milan’s Fashion Week.

As I read the novel, I was impressed with the novel’s pacing, character development, and artistry. I was transported by the Italian setting, which is so integral to the plot and characters that this story could not exist in any other time or place.

Ms. Annesi adds another dimension to her novel. An artisan fabric that weaves itself into all aspects of the plot, becomes not only a metaphor for the characters’ growth, but a character itself. It is only as the shuttle interlaces people in its web that we see the beautiful couture silk of Gia’s dress and life.

Highly recommended!  Click here to see the novel on Amazon.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

The What, Why, and Wherefore of Autofiction

Over the past decade, Connie and I have shared our lives and stories, often through our Wellspring Writers fellowship. Not surprisingly, life-based stories also make their way into writing. When more than half of a story and/or the critical plot points and characters in a work of fiction are not only based on real life but are actually part of real life, that’s autofiction. In this post, we’ll consider these oft-asked questions on the genre:

  •  What is autofiction

  • Why do writers choose the genre?

  • How can writers select and transform important life events, turning points, and discoveries into stories?

Autofiction usually is described as a combination of autobiography and fiction. Although this makes the term easy to remember, it’s more accurate to equate the nonfiction aspect with memoir. The main reason is that where autobiography usually covers a person’s entire life, memoir typically focuses on critical aspects of the person’s life, or a segment of it or a running theme that ties selected events together. Regardless of how autofiction is defined, there are practical reasons why writers work in the genre.

 Most people go through a number of seminal events and turning points throughout their lives, with epiphanies along the way—moments where a sudden flash of insight illuminates the writer’s understanding of herself, her world and the people around her. These elements often become part of stories in a natural way. For example, if we’re writing a scene where the main character moves from one part of the world to another and we’ve done the same, we’ll instinctually draw on our experience to write this section of the story. What makes the segment autofiction is when what happened to the character leading up to the move, the realities of the move itself, and what results afterward (including flashes of insight into what it means to undergo a major shift in geography, externally and internally) forms the bulk of that section of the story. We’ve seen that poor (or fortunate) soul who’s moving halfway around the world, and she is us.

 Writers also write autofiction because they want to revisit certain life events, changes and discoveries in order to better understand their lives and the people in them, and convey what they’ve learned in the form of story. This is especially true when there’s a particular theme involved, such as what it means to have a dual heritage. The underlying principal is what Vivian Gornick refers to in The Situation and the Story, on the art of personal narrative. “Every work of literature has both a situation and a story. The situation is the context or circumstance … the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say [about the circumstance].” Here, the writer has gone through something he wants to recall, explore and reveal, and has come to the written page to speak of it in a way worth remembering.

 So how does a writer transform life into stories? In reality, most writers, especially those who have been writing for a while, have an innate longing to explore some key event in their lives. It could be a move, career change, or life change. It could be something they’ve always wanted to do but haven’t been able to. Taking time to look back is an important step in deciding which aspects of life to cover. Even more important is “why”. What is it that makes the event, turning point or discovery worth writing about, worth spinning out an entire story for? The answer usually has to do with how much of an impact the event had on the writer. If it made a lasting impression on her, it could have the same effect on readers.

 My new novel, What She Takes Away (Bordighera Press, May 2023), is a work of autofiction. Set largely in Italy, the story is based mostly on events in my life and my mother’s, and the lives of her family. The actualities, especially the discoveries, were worth writing about because they shaped our lives. And if they shaped our lives, they’ll likely have impact the reader’s life. Isn’t that what the best stories aim to do?

The weaver’s shuttle of story turns in What She Takes Away when aspiring fabric designer Gia Falcini receives a gift from her estranged father in Italy that sparks a journey to his hillside village and new stepfamily, the country’s style capital and a rare local textile mill that could shred Gia's aspirations or offer a legacy worth taking away.

Adele Annesi is the author of
What She Takes Away (Bordighera Press, May 2023) and co-author of Now What? The Creative Writer's Guide to Success After the MFA. Also a former development editor for Scholastic Publishing, Adele has published works with 34th Parallel, Midway Journal, Miranda Literary Magazine, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, the Washington Independent Review of Books and Southern Literary Review, where she was managing editor. Her work has been anthologized for Chatter House Press and Fairfield University, where she received an MFA in creative writing. Her essay on Italian citizenship is among the Clarion Award-winning Essays About Life Transitions by Women Writers, and she received the Editor's Choice award from the National Library of Poetry. Adele’s sudden fiction has been adapted for the stage, and she has served as a screener for the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival. She is currently a columnist for The Authority and Book Marketing Matters, and a writing instructor for Westport Writers’ Workshop. Adele’s long-running blog for writers is Word for Words, and her website is Adele Annesi.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

A Garden is My Happy Place

Recently, my husband and I visited the Getty Villa in Malibu. It's a copy of a Roman villa, and it's filled with beautiful Etruscan, Greek, and Roman art. The villa also has four separate gardens. Since gardens are my happy place, I want to share these photos with you. The gardens were immaculate as if weeds had been refused entrance to the villa. Speaking of an entrance, the Getty Villa is free! The only cost is parking, which is $20. (I will post photos of the incredible art another day.) Enjoy the gardens today.


I wanted to take my shoes off and run through the water. 
But I behaved myself.

Our ideal dates are museum visits.

Yes, my eyes are closed, but the pond was too pretty to skip.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Exploring Duality in Identity, Experience and Tradition for Writers

Thursday, March 3 from 4:45-6:00 pm Eastern, I'd encourage you to attend "Exploring Duality in Identity, Experience, and Tradition for Writers and Writing." (It is free.) Adele Annesi, one of the writers involved, is a gifted novelist and this is sure to be excellent.

Here's more information: Critical and creative works often reflect two sides of identity: experience and tradition. Experience explores what it means to be between two cultures, lifestyles, habits, languages, genders, heritages, realities, and selves. Tradition reflects on customs, touchstones, and figures.

Authors of fiction, memoir, and poetry Adele Annesi, Nicholas A. DiChario, Marc DiPaolo, Annie Rachele Lanzillotto, and Janet Sylvester will read excerpts from their work and discuss the role of duality in their creative efforts, followed by a Q&A.
This virtual event is sponsored by Bordighera Press. 
You can attend on Facebook via this link:  https://fb.me/e/5Q56iAaij

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

San Jose del Cabo Vacation, Part One

 For vacation, we traveled to San Jose del Cabo, Baja California, Mexico. Here's what it was like.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A Wedding and a Novel

It's been a busy summer! I've been working on a new novel, which allows me to stay inside and out of the heat and humidity. But my husband and I ventured out for a wedding. It was wonderful.