P. I. Penguin and the case of the missing bottle-Review

Click on the image to reach the website!

Today I’m going to introduce one fellow writer from the 10 minutes novelist group on Facebook, Rebecca Laffar- Smith and her most recent production, P. I. Penguin and the case of the missing bottle.

She is the ingenious woman behind the creation of this book and also behind the foundation of a small Australian publishing house, Aulexic.
Let me first tell you something about the book.
P. I. Penguin and the case of the missing bottle is a picture book written keeping in mind 4 years old as target readers. It tells us the adventures of a cute Australian Little Penguin playing the detective.
P.I. Penguin misses his parents, but despite not having any clue on their whereabouts, he decides to help his friend Bella Bottlenose to find her lost bottle, following the clues like a real detective.
I think the main character is just perfect as penguins are cheeky, cute and fluffy creatures apt to be used for any cunning and funny kind of adventure.
Also, I’m proud to say that this book, not only teaches children to read, but, in my opinion, sends also a simple message, that little kids can easily pick: friendship. It doesn’t matter how busy and worried you are, you can always help your friends, because you know they’ll be there for you one day. It’s a very easy message but unfortunately very underestimated nowadays. I’m glad someone thought of introducing it in a book for small kids. It’s never too early to learn. 
The book is very easy read, so even my 3 years old toddler managed to follow the story, she was charmed by the bright pictures the talented Adit Galih created for the pages. I’m not exaggerating at all when I tell you my daughter stared at those images with wide eyes and asked to read it again once we finished it. 
Despite the fact I’m trying to rise her bilingual (Italian and English) and the difficulty linked to that, she managed to follow the rhymed narrated story.
And now a few words about the writer.
Rebecca created this small publishing house out of need but I think is the best thing a mother can do for her son. On the website you can read: “Aulexic is a small press publishing house specializing in books for early readers and children with language and literacy acquisition difficulties such as those associated with dyslexia, specific language impairment and autism”. 
To be more precise, I think she should be praised not only as a writer but also as a mother and a teacher.
The name on the cover is Bec J. Smith because Rebecca not only had the brilliant idea of writing for his son, but engaged him, along with his sister, in the writing of the book itself. 
I think we should just bow to the imagination and good heart of this writing mum. 
Congratulations Rebecca! You’ve done a terrific job!
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Franny and the critique!

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As an aspiring writer, I know that critiques are important and I also agree on the fact that every kind of critique should be accepted in order to learn from it.

I’m aware that I don’t handle very well negative critiques, as you could read from last year’s posts, but still that woman was very mean to me. So, I might not like negative feedback, but I’m intelligent enough to accept them as long as they’re constructive.

What I really mean to say in this post is that I just have a problem with critics!

I hate those endless critique books you’re forced to study when you’re in school, because I don’t understand them. As simple as that!

Maybe it’s just my fault, but the common traits I see in all of them (and with them I mean history of art and literature criticism books) are: they have to talk difficult, they talk too much to say one thing and most of the times they force/imagine things.

I’ve always thought this way but lately I received as a present a book preceded by a critique introduction and my hatred was triggered again. I’m talking about The Three Musketeers by Dumas in the specific but I want to go for a general overview.

I agree that a critic, as his or her job requires, wants to analyse the book or the work of art as they are and maybe insert them in a period and particular current of art. Also it seems they want to fill some blanks not very clear and left unexplained by the artist. But this is where their job should end. And I’m allowing them more than they should have. Even explaining some blank spaces or unclear scenes should be classified as an opinion rather than as a certain given truth.

A silly example: say that Madame Bovary wasn’t about her, but about Mr. Bovary. Her suicide at the end would be less clear, right? Now, that would be a very big question mark. And of course the critics would feel entitled to fill that gap saying that probably she was feeling mistreated or sad or depressed or she had a vision of the God Anubis saying “either you kill yourself or I’ll get you sooner or later” and decided to kill herself to put the word end to her misery.

Maybe they can even get to the point of saying that Gustave Flaubert was one of the pioneers of the sci-fi literature and we could have an explanation as the following. When in her daydreams Mrs Bovary seemed detached from the reality, the truth was she was actually leaving  behind her everyday life and she was instead travelling on board of a TARDIS – like spaceship and once back in the sad life of the countryside for good she couldn’t bear it.

Ok, all right, I’m exaggerating…maybe!

But that’s exactly what I see and what I get from these introductions or books. Whenever I manage to decipher the difficult language, that actually I think it’s there to narrow the readers’ numbers, I think that they really are making an effort to fit all they say in the book or the picture they’re reviewing and more often than not, they exaggerate things.

As an artist myself, or if you’re really picky, as an aspiring writer myself, I know perfectly well that when the inspiration hits, you have to put words on paper. And of course it’s also normal to do a minimum of marketing research to see if my book about yellow pirate monkeys will sell or the market is sick and tired of hear stories about them.

But a part from this kind of marketing research, the inspiration is the thing that just counts in creating something. That is something I strongly believe. Nobody else is in your head but you! So how could someone else interpret your thoughts if you don’t clearly state something?

For example: while on tills in work comes a family of four, the mother is full of bruises and the children are very silent. In my head this can be translated in a story about a violent father or about what the surviving part of a whole family would do to distract them after a tragedy.

I can write a mystery story, I can write a fantasy, whatever. But that’s what triggered the next bestseller.

To be honest with you, I’d be very annoyed if, travelling to the future, I’d find my name in a critic book where someone decided to speculate on what happened in my childhood that brought me to that piece of writing!

Ok I said that! And I hope I’ve been clear enough!

What do you think about critics? Or professional critique, excluding personal feedback on books?

Am I the only one finding that difficult to accept and understand?

Writing Log – January 2015

I’m writing this post almost at the end of the month but in time to be classified as January update!

As I promised in a previous post, I’m trying to give you more news about my reading and writing doings! Writing and reading are of course very important as they should be the main worries I have as an aspiring writer, so all this make just perfect sense!

I believe that last news you had about my writing was me complaining about the amount of plotting I was doing! Despite the plotting hasn’t finished yet and despite I’m way far from completing it, I decided to put it on hold!

There is a couple of reasons why I decided to do that.

First of all, I discovered an awesome writer community, 10 minutes novelist, great idea of this nice lady here. She managed to write a book in only ten minutes a day. I thought then to try and embrace the option of writing for 15 minutes every day and see what could happen. Actually it turned out to be a nice idea as I discovered that I can be productive doing that.

Second, I was getting bored of Sonrisa so much I was on the edge of a complete rejection, and after I’ve spent on the world building over 8 years I think it would be very sad get rid of the whole thing. Thus, I decided to set it aside for a while, putting on hold and relax a bit about that!

I love Sonrisa, and the story I was creating, but I think I just concentrated on that too much, so much that I wanted to fix so many things that I didn’t write anything for months. The result was me feeling very rusty and awkward when I hit the keyboard again.

I’m sure that whenever I’ll manage to go back to the project I’ll be more relaxed and willing to fight with the past details and the hundreds I still have to fix. I’m trying just to let the 15 minutes writing habit to sink in the daily routine before I do that.

What am I writing then?

I started my 15 minutes spells writing something about Sonrisa but then I felt I had to detach myself completely. So, I started writing about the urban fantasy I was thinking about. The one set in Ireland and Italy.

It talks about two Italian hunters who are twins and, because they share the Kelpie grandfather, have some supernatural powers.

You can imagine where the seed of inspiration come from. Being basically obsessed with Supernatural TV show I really wanted to write a fanfiction but then again my detail obsessed mind and fantasy brought me much forward and of the TV shows only the subjects remains.

The story I think will be an event story, according to Orson Scott Card’s classification.

I’m enjoying handwriting it, as I want to avoid as many distractions as I can, and this way the notebook can follow me in work as well in case I have a sudden inspiration. I know I’ll curse myself whenever I’ll have to type it in a file but I’ll worry about that later!

The funny part is I’m writing it in first person and I’m using three different inks for the two twins, and I’ll leave you here with the curiosity to know why I use three different colours.

The less funny part is that I have constantly to fight my will to research and planning.  But I keep repeating myself that this is a matter of writing and then maybe, whenever I’ll get to the second manuscript stage, I’ll do all the research in the world!

And that’s it for January; I’ll talk to you next month!

What do you think?

Curious?

This is a Kelpie image found on Google!

 

Damn flu!

image

Of course I don’t own this image! I just like their faces! Particularly Dean’s! And I think he’s more complex character as well…hey what did you think!?

 

Exposed as I had been to the harsh Irish weather, and due to the inhuman condition I had been forced to work in during the past three weeks, my body yielded to the virus!
I’m stuck in bed and forced to rest!
Despite my desire to use this time as a good aspiring writer would, i.e. reading and writing, my cravings brought me to bear only the re watching of Supernatural series!
Yes I feel guilty…a lot!
But if I really have to get positive aspects from the whole situation I’d say:
1. Staying outside, exposed to the weather, inspired me for my current WIP!
2. Supernatural can give me some nice tips, considering my WIP being urban fantasy with supernatural kind of hint.
3. I’m doing some exercise in the attempt to improve my English as it’s the first time I’m watching the original version!!!

OK, now I should keep repeating these points to me until I get better!!!

And now we need just some music! 

 

 

Coming soon.

I don’t own this! Maya liked it, so I picked it!

 

As you might have noticed I try to blog twice a week. To be honest with you I stopped attempting to do more than that, as it will cause too much stress on me and consequently the posts will be worse in style and content.

I had to admit to myself and convince the most stubborn part of my brain that I have only two hands, only 24 hours a day, only a spare hour maximum a day and many things to do, projects included…other than a part time job, a toddler and a partner! But you know that already.

I also thought that I might give this blog some fixed appointments so I can tidy up the whole thing.

I don’t want to fix too many points, however, because I know myself well enough to be sure to mess the whole thing up.

So what you’ll going to see on my blog every month will be two summaries, one will be My Reading Pile, which will be a summary of what my reading in progress would be each month and then the second will be Writing Log, which will be the update about my writing situation. I’m an aspiring writer so I think I have to write more about the topic, although I think that it’s not totally wrong what I’m doing now.

I firmly believe that people should know more the writers behind the books or stories they read.

Strictly connected to writing for me is research, so another monthly appointment will be Research Progress. Did I learn something in the past month? Did I find out something useful? Do I want to share a nice fact? I’ll do that in that post!

Plus, because my curiosity was tickled by something I find more and more interesting every week, I think I’ll hop on the train! This blog gives every Tuesday some inspiration quotes and some prompts you could transform in some short story or something else!

I decided that I want to embrace the challenge, maybe not for the same day, maybe for the following one but the reason is clear, I believe.

For the same purpose I also want to bring back the Monster Flash episodes! I also have to motivate myself in work, sorry! So instead of trying to connect all the weird elements I’ll notice, like I used to do, I’m going to choose only one of them and transform it into some sort of short or flash fiction. After all we’re writers and that’s what we do, right? Pick what attracts our attention and transform it into stories!

 

And leaving aside what I want to turn into fixed appointment on my blog, I want to let you know that in a few days or months, I’m not sure how long it will take, I’ll write several “Oh my darling” letters. I have to vent many things, included something I brought with me from last few years.

2015 hadn’t been good so far but at least I want to make my burden lighter and clear my head! I want a new fresh start…or I hope so!

Also I’m going to introduce on these pages a few of my own characters (from books or short stories), but it’ll have to wait, because in the attempt of finding the right character building chart, I turned the fun creation into a torture! Maybe I’ll decide to do it as soon as I’ve finished this post or maybe not, but you’ll see them, no worries!

 

And I think that’s that for the moment! The rest of the blog will juggle with reviews, personal opinions and random facts as usual.

 

What do you think?

Do you have any scheme for your blog?

How long did you spend on finding a good balance?

Sick world, I want to think!

This is a piece of art from the author Don Alemanno. Click on the image to go his Facebook page.

This is a piece of art from the author Don Alemanno. Click on the image to go his Facebook page.

Today I was in doubt on what to write. So I decided to put together two posts I drafted, hence the title!

I feel very frustrated lately and a bit sad as well. The reason for this feeling and this mood swing isn’t only one!

Have ever happened to you that someone older would say “When I was a kid there was more respect!” or “This wouldn’t happen when I was younger!” or “I can’t believe you new generation being obsessed with this film/music/etc. They don’t communicate anything!”

Well, it happened to me a lot…at least until my dad was around but I realize now he was right.

Sometimes I feel older than I am for my way of thinking, but you cannot disagree on this point: this world we live in sucks and it’s nobody’s fault but ours.

I followed the news about France and I was shocked by what happened at the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

Nobody had the right to do what was done. Nobody has the right to take another man’s life. And I’m not saying that because I believe in god and I’m catholic observer (just to make it clear since my mum uses this religion shield all the times) but because my conscience wants to scream after this absurdity.

Who are this people who decide to deprive others of their life, just because they don’t agree with their faith? Faith originated in even another country and melted in another culture and tradition.

If someone believes in a different god or doesn’t believe in any god at all, or if someone comes from a different culture or from a melting pot culture, that’s ok! Why is it so difficult accepting everybody for what they are?

It’s not like I want just to speak politically correct, the problem is I really don’t understand. And I understand even less when people belonging to their religion try to make us understand that their gods talk about love, compassion and forgiveness. So what? If we don’t believe their word then we can die? It seems a bit weak love and forgiveness concept, doesn’t it?

However, I don’t want to talk about religion, because people go on defence mood and don’t want to see what I mean, so let’s talk about food!

What would happen if everybody attending weight watchers group and be very fanatic about dieting as a matter of lose weight or living healthy decide that everybody else is wrong in wanting to kill themselves eating junk food?

It seems funny, but the comparison fits.

What if these groups start bombing pastry shops and hang Ronald Mac Donald puppets everywhere and burn all the fast food premises?

In their head they accomplished their mission; they’re moving people to a healthy life style.

I know you’re laughing reading this, but try to figure what I mean.

These people would kill and be violent to prove they’re right.

But what if I think differently? What if I want to eat badly tons of fat every day?

Who gives them the right to burn all my crappy food?

And do you see where I want to go with this mental speech of mine?

Who gives people right to hurt, or worse, kill other people? With what authority they decide they’re right and I’m wrong? And why they’re incapable to let people live their lives?

Mind you that all this reasoning was formed in my head already, for other reasons other than this.

You don’t have to go to an international level of cruelty; you can stay in your nation, in your city, in your hometown, even in your neighbourhood, in your school.

How many times we read on the newspaper shocking news: mum kills her kids, children killing their parents, children bullied in school commits suicide, people die in the street because of the indifference of the passers-by, people kidnapped for money, money driven company behaving in a unhuman way to their employees in order to gain more.

Why is our world so sick?

They ask me why I don’t follow the news. Why I don’t read the newspapers…

How could a person with a bit of sensibility cope with that every day?

I feel so overwhelmed by the dark side of this world that I cannot think it will survive much longer.

I want to have the freedom to think with my own head without someone telling me what to think and how to behave. I want to have my opinion without the fear to be persecuted by someone else.

I want to feel safe to walk in the street without being afraid of being kidnapped, or raped or driven on by a car.

Is that much asking for these simple things?

I don’t think so.

I was talking right before with my brother Panda about this.

Why people behave how they behave? Why are they so cruel and mean?

I have no answer to be honest with you, I have just hypothesis, the same I gave him: people feel frustrated, for lack of power, for lack of self-confidence. People want to attack before being gobbled up by the society. Kill or be killed, right?

But why is that?

And for this question I have again just personal opinion. People don’t think, people don’t read, don’t look for information, they don’t want to put themselves in the condition to think of the elements they have in front of them and put them together. People usually follow someone who seems knowing what he or she’s doing. In many cases it’s a political leader (doesn’t matter the party or what they promise, because they usually care only about their power and how to be even stronger and stronger) or a religious one. They are dangerous on the same level as they promise something they don’t have, speak of something they don’t know (and use the same old sentence they learned and they pass on from the Roman empire age- yes I mean both the categories), ask to follow rules they are the first to break.

What do you think?

 Am I too pessimist?

Am I extremist?

Tell me your opinion in the comment.

Just a warning, if it’s a civil and constructive comment the one you leave, it’s fine to me. But if you mean to start a fight or be rude, your comment will be removed.

 

 

 

Let’s dance with cliché

You thought I wouldn’t write this post, right?

But just because I began the New Year with a normal post doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do it later!

In other words, I’ll let you know what my resolutions for 2015 are! Yes, I’m sorry for you!

I’m perfectly aware that I’ll never manage to keep my resolutions as it happened last year, and the year before that, and the one before that and…you got it, right?! I usually tend to aim too high considering what I have to do on daily basis!

I have worked on this issue, promise! I’ve actually been working on it for years and I have to admit that I’ve improved.

I mean, from those days in which I had lists that could include studying, writing, and blogging and so on due to do in the same day, I’m working now on more reasonable kind of lists. Still, it seems difficult for me to achieve the goals.

I guess that, first of all, I have to learn how to cope with the defeat when I don’t manage to tick all the boxes of one list. At the moment I’m not doing a great job. I usually get very frustrated and very angry when for stupid setback I don’t manage to finish. I have loads of things to do after all. And, despite that, I want to add to those many more, so maybe I should be a little bit less mean to myself.

Anyway, by the time I’ll manage to do that, I’ll probably stop creating lists and just try to value more what I’ve managed to achieve.

But I’m a diehard!

But as to show you I’m trying to keep my promise I decided to list here only tiny, tiny goals I should be able to follow:

 

I want to lose some weight…it starts to be a health problem, so I actually have to.

I want to find a way to relax and, when particularly stressed, at least remember to breathe.

I want to make time for at least 15 minute of writing every day. I discovered with my displeasure I’ve become very rusty, so I hope that from 3-400 words per 15 minutes I’ll manage to write more.

I want to read more than 15 books, maybe I could realistically aim to 20?

I want to write more blog posts about writing and reading. I’m an aspiring writer after all. (Thinking about that, I should tidy up my blog a bit as well!)

I want to manage my time better.

 

In order to do that I know already that I have to cut with social network and Internet, but still I got distracted very easily.

Actually what usually happen is a traffic jam in my brain, because each and every though thinks to have the priority and also every priority thinks to be the top priority. So the most of the times I stop doing anything at all because my brain goes clogged and I don’t even know where to start. Then I usually gets distracted or I pick the wrong choice.

Another issue with my brain is that it starts wondering towards the hundred things I have/I want to do after thing number one -usually still in progress- or else decides to take a break and go wondering on Internet. This is why I decided that I need focus. I need to learn, first of all, not to get distracted while accomplishing every single task.

And this is why the following video will become my personal 2015 mantra: You need to focus. Your focus needs more focus!

What about you?

Something planned for this year?

Do you need a mantra too?

Let me know in the comments below!