Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

who’s afraid of the NaNoWriMo wolf?

Not I!

Date of death: 11/29/2008

Time of death: 4:32 pm

Official word count: 50,017

Amount of editing required: Let’s not talk about that now.

A celebratory evening with P, 1408, a warm fire, and cioccolata calda:

Thank you all for your support this month and always!


Be sure to come back tomorrow for a *fabulous* book giveaway and guest post by Diana Spechler, author of Who by Fire!

1st of the month featured blogger: november

Yes I know it’s already November 3, but it’s never too late for the 1st of the Month Featured Blogger, is it? Besides, I’ve been busily working on my NaNoWriMo novel–you can keep up with my word count in the sidebar (and if you’re wondering, I decided to go with something brand new and left last year’s novel for another month…but that’s all I’m saying for now!).

This month I’d like you to introduce you (or re-introduce you as the case may be) to Diana Strinati Baur of the blog Creative Structures and of the Baur B & B in Piemonte, northern Italy.

Diane is a wonderful potter and writer who I’ve gotten to know better through an online friend of mine and a real life friend of hers–Gina DePalma, who you’ve already heard a great deal about here through the Dolce Italiano and O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Contests.

Diana’s attitude toward life is so inspiring and refreshing, but if you’ve caught any of her comments here, you probably already know that. She recently wrote a great post about life after 40 entitled “Sister Girl Tales,” inspired by another of my favorite bloggers, NYC/Caribbean Ragazza.

Here is a snippet of Diana’s post:

I look at myself now and realized it took all of that to become the kind of person who can be content sitting on a hill and creating. I am content with the person I am today. I also wish for myself less work and more joy.

Over the years, [my sister] and I both have started untying the knots of our complicated selves. We both do truly see that getting the most out of these days we have now is of utmost importance. This knowledge forges us together in the strongest of ways.

Staying healthy and happy in mid life is easier with a sister to lean on. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Here are some of Diana’s gorgeous creations, Japanese drinking bowls:

And a glimpse of her life in Piemonte:

Now go visit Diana and tell her I sent you!

NaNoWriMo is back! are you in?

But first, I want to thank everyone *immensely* for the birthday wishes! It was a lovely weekend made even lovelier by all the fabulous, happy thoughts coming my way. Grazie mille!

And now, the winner of a free, signed copy of Justin Catanoso‘s My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles from the commenters on my blog is:

Leanne of From Australia to Italy

Congratulations Leanne! I’ll be in touch!

Now, on to the NaNo stuff.

I’ve gotten several emails asking whether I’m going to be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. So I’m making it official here and now:

Yes, yes I am NaNo-ing, and you can find me here:


For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s more international than national, but it *is* all about writing a novel–or at least 50,000 words throughout the month of November.

Last year, I got up close to half that mark, but sadly, haven’t worked much on those 21,000 words since. So here’s my question to you: should I bend the rules of NaNo and continue that story, or should I start anew with a whole new idea (yet to be thought of)?

In some respects, I’m excited to get going on something new and interested to see where it takes me, but then, well, last year’s characters have been running around in my head lately too, and I’m wondering whether they don’t have more to say.

But on the other hand, they could also say things in, say, January and make room for new faces, no?

Can you tell I’m a Libra? Balancing, weighing, difficulty deciding….

So what do you think? How about an excerpt of last year’s unfinished novel, so you know what, and who, we’re talking about? Here are the first 450 words or so:


“All I want is a coffee…strong, bitter, small!” yelled Saliha Abu Al-Fadl, her deep brown eyes glaring at the only man who could give her what she wanted.

It felt good to shout. She couldn’t remember the last time she had done it.

Nearby Salvatore Amato’s head was pulled from an article on military spending. He sought out the raised voice. Behind him to his left, was, as he expected, a damsel in distress. Always a sucker for such a thing, he folded the Philadelphia Inquirer under his arm and rushed, as much as an 83-year-old man can rush, over to the coffee counter.

“Excuse me, can I help?” he said as much to the woman as to the barista.

The woman wearing a burkha turned around and looked straight into a pair of coal black eyes framed by bushy white eyebrows and a rather pronounced nose. She glanced down and took quick note of his dark grey suit, white shirt, and black tie with small white crosses on it.

He topped off the look with a black derby, white band of course, that made her think of the old American gangster films. Her son, an increasingly famous movie producer, had sent her hundreds of his own favorite movies so that she could share his passion while learning English.

And now this animated gangster was waving a wooden cane back and forth at the young man behind the counter.

“She’ll have an espresso doppio,” said Salvatore. A smirk sneaked out from underneath a wild white mustache as he turned to Saliha. “My kind of woman,” he said as he looked into the woman’s pools of espresso for eyes and added a wink for good measure.

Saliha looked to the man behind the counter, hoping that the stranger had spoken the correct words. The coffee on the plane from Iraq had been watered down and weak, and she needed something much stronger to get through the day ahead.

“Well that’s all she had to say,” said the barista and turned away. He slammed the metal container holding the last brew hard against the end of the drawer that holds the old grounds.

“They have a strange language at these shops,” Salvatore said. “You may speak perfect English, and complimenti, it seems like you do, but it certainly doesn’t help you get a coffee here.” He took a black handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and wiped his forehead clean of the sweat that had formed on his walk over.

“Thank you sir,” Saliha said and turned back toward the counter to await her first coffee on American soil. As the machine hissed and gurgled, she could no longer contain her anticipation. Her lips curled into a broad smile that only she knew was there.


So what do I do? Start anew? Continue? Help!

NaBloPoMo & NaNoWriMo–ciaooooooo!

And now, the end is here. And so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew [NaNo too?!]
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out [Take that Telecom!]
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it myyyyyyyy way!
Go ahead, give Old Blue Eyes a listen while you read the rest of this post.

So here we are at the end of a great, exciting month in the blogosphere. I survived NaBloPoMo, but came up a bit short on NaNoWriMo.

Thems the breaks.

The most important thing is that I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished, and I *really* am.

Thirty blog posts in thirty days is nothing to shake a stick at, as my grandmother would’ve said. And I’m proud of the content in each and every one of those posts to boot. I thank all of you for keeping up and commenting so fully and frequently; your continued support is appreciated more than you could ever know.

Now regarding NaNo, the novel that I’m working on requires a lot of research for one of the characters that I hadn’t done prior to November. Sure I could’ve cheated and continued working on a book that I already have nearly 50,000 words written for already (remember my manuscript counter in the sidebar?). But that wouldn’t have been very NaNo of me.

Instead, I wrote the half of the book that I was prepared to write going in, and I’m pretty happy with it. Indeed, I’m more inspired than ever to get into researching my other main character and get going on that part because I now see a wonderful novel coming out of these quickly thrown down words and ideas. There’s so much potential for growth there, and I wasn’t so sure of that before I began. So that’s been a nice surprise.

Even better? I’m also inspired to pick up that old manuscript and get working on it again. I may even join NaNoFiMo, National Novel Finishing Month to get working on those last 30,000 words or so on that book. Who knows? It’s all up to me, isn’t it?

But back to the blog. I do have some unfinished November business right now–my November Monthly Musing:

With each leaf that falls
We offer thanks for present,
past, and future life.

30 days of thanks
Today I’m thankful for:

Eden Marriott Kennedy, founder and organizer of NaBloPoMo. She started with a fabulous idea last year and has built an impressive community around it. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of (mostly thankless) work that is involved in keeping up with all of this, but I would like to give this special woman and blogger extraordinaire a pat on the back from southern Italy for all those hours of keeping us in line.

You’re a true blog heroine, Eden! Thank yeeeeew!

I’d also like to give a special thanks to BoogieMum who came up with the idea for 30 days of thanks. It’s been an amazing exercise in stopping and appreciating what’s important every day, and I will continue to do so in my own private journal.

P.S. Don’t forget that the Dolce Italiano Contest is over at Jenn’s The Leftover Queen today, where she’s made a decadent Chocolate Salami.


Past posts include:

Mosaic Biscotti, Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy
Chocolate Kisses, Ilva’s Lucullian Delights
Ricotta Pound Cake, Here!
Chestnut Brownies, Shelley’s At Home in Rome

Remember, all you need to do is comment on any and all of the Dolce Italiano recipe posts to be entered into the drawing to win a personalized, signed copy of Gina DePalma’s fabulous new cookbook full of Italian sweets and treats, Dolce Italiano.

And, finally, buon weekend!

Phew. Breath.

for writers who need inspiration (and who among us doesn’t?)

Fellow writer and friend Fango of Bici Vecchia: An Errant in Italy recently sent me a link to an excerpt of award-winning author Wendell Berry’s The Art of the Commonplace.

In a word? Wow.

There is so much good stuff in this piece, I’d love to parse it out and offer my thoughts for discussion here periodically.

Unfortunately, right now all I can manage is the aforementioned “wow,” but I’m working on a more intelligent response, I promise.

I did want to share one particular section, though, as I and thousands of others are trying our darnedest to write 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo. Watch my progress in the sidebar, by the way.

So, to my fellow writers whether NaNo-ing or not, I offer the words of Berry:

At first glance, writing may seem not nearly so much an art of the body as, say, dancing or gardening or carpentry. And yet language is the most intimately physical of all the artistic means. We have it palpably in our mouths; it is our langue, our tongue. Writing it, we shape it with our hands. Reading aloud what we have written–as we must do, if we are writing carefully–our language passes in at the eyes, out at the mouth, in at the ears; the words are immersed and steeped in the senses of the body before they make sense in the mind. They cannot make sense in the mind until they have made sense in the body. Does shaping one’s words with one’s own hand impart character and quality to them, as does speaking them with one’s own tongue to the satisfaction of one’s own ear? There is no way to prove that it does. On the other hand, there is no way to prove that it does not, and I believe that it does.

I told you. Wow.

Write on writers!


30 days of thanks


Today I’m thankful for:

Inspiration. Whether it’s an article or book recommended by a friend, another blogger’s gorgeous writing, wagging puppy tails, or just plain old glorious sunshine, inspiration abounds, and I find myself typing, typing, typing away on my NaNo novel. I’m actually up to 11, 313 words (and I’m not finished yet tonight!), but I can’t get onto my template to update.


Who knows what I’ll have when I’m done, but at least it’s more than I had on October 31.

P.S. Sadly, my internet connection is even worse than it was before. Hanging on by a thread here, thus the lack of a “30 Days of Thanks” graphic and link [edited: they’ve now been added!] *and* the post just after midnight–I’m playing it safe just in case I lose the whole connection overnight.

Telecom Italia tells me it’ll be back to normal Monday or Tuesday. Wish us luck!


[tags] inspiration, wendell berry, the art of the commonplace, nanowrimo, nablopomo, 30 days of thanks[/tags]

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake