Thursday, 25 March 2010

13 Main Characters I Have Written

I'm a little pressed for time this week, so I thought I'd just do a quick Thirteen for y'all... So, please, allow me to present:

Thirteen Main Characters I Have Written

1) Emily Miller (Ask Me if I'm Happy) - An American woman who traveled to Italy when she was in her mid-twenties, Emily married a handsome and rather mysterious Venetian on impulse and then stayed in the country for ten years. When things fell apart, she only wanted to go home - until a transportation strike left her in the care of a Bolognese professor with whom she has a lot in common. Is it possible to fall in love in a matter of hours? And does she really want to, for a second time?

2) Davide Magnani (Ask Me if I'm Happy) - Born in Riccione, Italy, Davide grew up to become a professor at the University of Bologna. His previous romantic misfortunes did little to prepare him for his sudden fall for Emily, and now he must find his way through an emotional minefield of desire and self-doubt. Worst of all, he might well find that the truth doesn't just hurt - sometimes, it's devastating.

3) Abigail McGann-White (27 Stages [WIP]) - Abigail is a woman just discovering her "true calling" and her true self. Abigail finds herself tempted to stray from her stagnating marriage when her attraction to a younger man is reciprocated by the object her affections - a cyclist riding in the race she is covering for a small sports magazine. Her desires for him run deeper than she ever could have imagined, but can she really leave a comfortable existence behind for what might only be a brief affair?

4) Federico Renard (27 Stages [WIP]) - Federico is a professional road cyclist, struggling to maintain his place within the team hierarchy. He is also trying to understand why his fiancee has cut off all communication. Stunned by his attraction to a married woman he's only just met, his career hangs in the balance as he defies the team's rules in order to be with her. Should he sacrifice his chosen career to prove his love for a woman who belongs to another man? Will she even stay if he does?

5) Chiara Belletti (Grand Emilia [WIP]) - A single mother of two daughters, Chiara is a cashier at a supermarket in Modena, Italy who is drawn to two very different men she has met in her checkout lane: Marco, a socially awkward aspiring dog breeder, and Angelo, a well-to-do man about town who finds her irresistible. When her attempts to draw Angelo into her family circle seem successful, Chiara dares to dream that she's found the perfect man to be a father to her children, and a lover for herself. But she discovers some unsavory truths about her "perfect" man, and must decide what she's willing to accept to make herself and her family happy.

6) Angelo (Grand Emilia [WIP]) - Handsome and well-off, Angelo courts the beautiful cashier, Chiara, exploiting their sexual chemistry to the hilt. He doesn't run when she suggests they could make a happy family, but does he have some unpleasant secrets hidden away? Will Chiara be able to forgive, or will she choose to forget him instead?

7) Marco (Grand Emilia [WIP]) - Socially inept but filled with good intentions, Marco seems to be interested in Chiara, but is unable to declare his intentions. When Angelo swoops in and sweeps her off her feet, will Marco be left on the sidelines, or will his knowledge of Angelo's past force him to reveal the truth and risk losing Chiara anyway?

8) Burke Wilson (A Marginal Life [WIP]) - Abandoned, orphaned, unwanted. Burke Wilson's life is full of rejections, coming one after another. When he meets Raechel, he is convinced he's met his soulmate, his one true source of unconditional love. Frustratingly, however, friendship comes first - always. When tragedy befalls Burke one more time, he must leave his best friend behind; yet life seems to have other plans in mind for him. But will the end result of years of adoration mean he has to let her go, to see her happy too?

9) Raechel Gary (A Marginal Life [WIP] - Raechel adores her best friend Burke, but can't make him understand that her love for him isn't the kind he seeks. As they evolve into "friends with benefits" the subtleties of their relationship are clear to her, but don't seem to resonate as clearly for him. When she falls in love with someone else, Burke is devastated but seems to want her real happiness. How can she convince him to search elsewhere for his own one true love?

10) Catherine Skye Piper (The Night Flight [WIP]) - Catherine works in the offices of a municipal airport in a small seaside California town. When an old friend of the airport manager arrives, seeking to board his plane for an undetermined amount of time, she finds herself attracted to the dashing, older man. Their illicit affair stays under wraps for a while, but the longer they're together, the less she seems to know about him. What, exactly, is he hiding from her?

11) Daniel Curtiss (The Night Flight [WIP]) - Daniel "DJ" Curtiss is irresistibly drawn to the young receptionist in the small airport, and quickly seduces her as a matter of course. Over time, however, he finds himself falling hard for her, and soon he must make a choice: should he convince her to leave the only home she's ever known and take on his traveling lifestyle, or should he leave her behind in the protection of her makeshift family? Worse still, he senses they share a tenuous connection they never imagined possible.

12) Eros (Il Bagnino - The Lifeguard [WIP]) - Eros works as a lifeguard for a resort on a Rimini beach. It's the perfect life - sun and fun, with his beautiful girlfriend Ariana by his side. He'd like to save money and buy her a nice ring to cement their engagement, but lacks the funds. One night, outside one of the trendiest clubs in Rimini, an older man makes him an offer for his sexual services. Eros refuses, but the idea keeps returning to him over and over again - if it's only for the money, is it really so bad? When he caves in and accepts the offer, he's pulled into an emotional maelstrom as he struggles to understand just what it is he really wants.

13) Willem (Il Bagnino - The Lifeguard [WIP]) - One sight of Eros was enough to convince Willem that the boy was perfection itself: young, handsome, fit - and open to persuasion. Trouble is, the boy doesn't quite realize it yet. The more they get to know each other, the stronger his desire for the young man grows, but the ambiguous way Eros returns his affections is dismaying. How can Willem convince Eros to be true to himself, and live the life he needs to live, instead of the one proscribed by his family and tradition? And if he convinces him, can Eros be persuaded to stay?

There ya go! Just a handful of the voices in my head, jotted down on the page.

And I don't know about you, but...

All of that creatin' and writin' and what not...?

Makes me all tuckered out.

I don't know about you, but...

I'm ready for a nap.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Thirteen Jobs I Wanted to Do

Hello, everyone! Welcome to this week's Thursday Thirteen. This week, I thought I'd depart from cycling-related posts (for the most part) and share a little more about myself.

Wait! Come back!

What I meant to say is, most of you know me as an Internet denizen, a rather silly individual, or as a writer. I didn't become any of these things overnight, though. There were a lot of potential career paths I considered on my way to this glamorous position!

So today, I'd like to share

Thirteen Jobs I Wanted to Do

1) Teacher.

This was the first job I can really recall considering. Funnily enough, it's what I'm doing now, as my day job here in Italy (while I write in ever spare minute I can find). I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it was all about reading and sharing what I'd read. In a way, I guess it kind of is like that. But not really. The paperwork is a pain in the bottom, let me tell ya.

2) Artist.

Yeah, I had my head in the clouds for much of my young life. I wanted to teach, then I wanted to be an artist. I thought it would be great to draw and paint all day long - but I never got the hang of painting, though I still enjoy drawing, even now. But I never had the chops to make it as an honest-to-goodness artist.

3) Archaeologist.

Long before "Indiana Jones" made it look exciting (and it is, in its own way), I wanted to become an archaeologist. I loved dinosaurs (what kid doesn't?) and wanted to spend my time finding them and trying to understand what they were, what they did, and what happened to them. I'm still interested in that stuff, but I can't be out in the sun and heat (skin allergies - long story), so that pretty well nixes that whole idea. :(

4) Cartoonist.

This goes hand-in-hand with the artist thing, I guess. But, like my one-time idol Charles Schultz, seen above, I thought it would be great fun to draw the same characters every day and breathe life into their stories. Ultimately, I realized I didn't have the strength to draw the same thing over and over, nor to give them compelling storylines over the length of a few panels. I still admire cartoonists for what they do, though.

5) Fact Checker.
What is this, you may ask? Basically, it's a job where you hunt down the facts and information about a million random things to be sure that the information in a writer's article/story in a newspaper or magazine is correct.
I know, that sounds strange, but I had a head full of trivia and a desire to share it. In some ways, I'd still like to do this one, but it would take me away from writing. I can't have that!

6) Photographer.

I love photography. I did well in my classes in high school, and my photography teacher thought I showed real promise. Now it's just a hobby, but my first real job, ever, was as a photographer's assistant. My job was to haul the equipment and hold the lights, stuff like that. I saw more than my fair share of overblown weddings for marriages doomed to failure, too. I still love the idea of doing this for a living, though. I know it's beyond me, but at least I can live vicariously through my photographer acquaintances. Heh.

7)Web Designer/Consultant.
I actually did this for a short while, for a company which went under because they weren't quite sure how to go about the whole "business" part of Web Design Business. Of course, this was back in ye olden days, circa 1996-98, when not a whole lot of folks really understood what the Internet was about and it was hard work to explain it to them. I didn't retain many of those skills, either. I'm fine with that.

8) Soigneur.

I've mentioned this one before, I know. Before my cousin got sidetracked, his goal was to be a pro cyclist. My dream was to accompany him and be a soigneur, supplying him with his food, water and gear as necessary. In later years, I still fancied the idea of working with cyclists, but for *ahem* slightly different reasons. I mean, come on - a job where you're paid to (occasionally) rub the legs of fit, healthy men? Sign me up!

9) Bike Messenger/Courier

I just thought it'd be cool. I wanted to live life on a bike. My bad back and lack of ability on a bike cut that idea short, quick. I still think it's kinda cool, though a lot of couriers can be jerks. (No, I don't need the horror stories, y'all...) I actually applied for jobs as a courier in various points in my early twenties - but that was by car, not bike. It could have been interesting...

10) Guitarist.

Seriously, who hasn't dreamed of this one? I even had an electric guitar which I practiced diligently on for a few years before realizing I wasn't any good at it. I had fun, though.

11) Proofreader.

I thought, since I read so much and had a pretty good grasp of the English language, this job would be just the thing for me. When I actually applied for a job doing this, I found out it was a lot more complicated than I'd ever dreamed. Oh, well. Now, someone else has to proof my stuff for me. I just hope they enjoy what they see on some level.

12) Psychologist.

When I went back to school, this is what I wanted to study. Then they told me I'd have to get through an Algebra course to do it. That seemed a tad unfair. I reckoned I'd have to settle for armchair psychology, instead. I still read articles about psychology and I am still fascinated by the workings of the human mind. I always will be. Humans are such fascinating creatures, after all...

13) Graphic Artist.
This was a career suggested to me by the following entities:
a) My high school guidance counselor.
b) That funky job aptitude test they made us take in high school.
c) Just about everyone who knew me in my time in school.
I liked the idea of it, but it just never panned out. Mostly because I needed to go to college, first. I was so sick of school - and so fed up with "the system" - by the time I finished high school, I wanted nothing more to do with education. It's just as well, I suppose, but this might have been a good career for me. I guess we'll never know...

Of course, now I have different jobs in mind.

The soigneur position still fascinates me.

Photographer's Assistant? I could return to that one, too...

Oh! I know!

Make up artist. Yeahhhhh...

Ciao for now! :)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thirteen Photos Currently Inspiring Me

Hello, all! Thanks for coming by this week.

Once again, cycling is the theme of this Thursday Thirteen. Next week I hope to have a different subject for you, but this week, I'm sticking with the tried-and-true. I hope you'll bear with me, 'cause I've got my WIP, 27 Stages, on the brain. That's a good thing, right?

And so, I present to you:

Thirteen Photos Currently Inspiring Me

Fabian Cancellara, waiting as an official counts down at the start of a time trial. This was actually a key source of inspiration for the first Stage of the story.

Inside the SaxoBank team bus. Very inspiring, particularly when writing scenes showing the team traveling in-between stages.

Fabian Cancellara's leg. Umm...yeah. I think the pic says it all, really. Quite inspiring.

Cyclists on holiday, sporting their "Cyclists' tan lines." I find this shot incredibly endearing. And inspiring.

God bless Tim de Waele. He got this shot of Fabian Cancellara during the Tour of Oman. (Did you know there was a Tour of Oman? Now you do. It started this year.) Very, very inspiring. ...sigh...

Fabian Cancellara, again. (Have you spotted a trend, yet?) Here he's toting his stuff around. Ah, yes... He's a down-to-earth kinda guy. And that's inspiring, no?

Fabian Cancellara (center) during a rainy stage. (I believe it might have been a Tour of California a couple of years ago, but I'm not entirely sure.) Nevertheless, I find the smiles here very inspiring.

Fabian after winning the maillot jaune in a stage of the Tour de France last year. Endearing, and exceptionally inspiring.

Jimmy Engoulvent (in green) takes a fall during le Tour in 2008. He got up to finish the stage on a new bike. I find that inspiring.

Daniele Bennati, sprinter. Darned inspiring. heh.

Now that's a tuck, y'all! Maximum aerodynamics at work, here. When I see cyclists riding this way, it always makes me nervous. And yes, it inspires me to write scenes in hopes of making them just as nerve-wracking to read. (I hope I can do it.)

This shot brings to mind the scenes in Reus, Spain, where there are several accidents in the final kilometers of the stage. The original inspiration was provided by using GoogleMaps and their 360-degree views of the city. Very useful. Very inspirational.

Cancellara, yet again. Look at his leg!!! Very, very inspirational. Heh.

and a bonus:
Fabian Cancellara, post-World Championships road race in 2009. By the time he finished, he basically had nothing left to give. He made his goal of winning the Time Trials competition a couple of days before, but missed out in placing in the Road Race. It was a bad call on his part - he "went for it" too soon - and Cadel Evans took the title instead. But the photos of Fabian post-event are exceptionally inspirational for me. (And the photos of him with his family after this are heartbreaking, in my opinion.)

And now, a change of pace, of theme, of location.

Because, ya know, variety is the spice of life, they say.

And who am I to say they're wrong?

Sorry, ladies. No name for this pic. My bestest-best friend Anthony took this one while on vacation in Puerto Rico last week. Anthony has a talent for finding the hotties, I must say... WRAWR!!!

Ciao for now! :)