Italian Quote of the Week

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

~ Christopher Columbus

Y’all are reading this on Friday, which means I’ve been in Rome for 24 hours. This quote is my mantra on this trip.

~ Stef


September in Review

This month was a blur. I’m about halfway done with final edits on “There With You” and the rest of the time was spent prepping for my dream trip. As you read this, I am on my way to Rome! I won’t tell you about the near panic attacks I had (I hate flying). Let’s all just imagine me sleeping peacefully and comfortably on the 9-ish hour flights, shall we?

Aside from that stuff, here’s what else went on:


A friend loaned me “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty, and I’m so glad she did. The story is about a woman named Cora Carlisle, who escorts a teenage Louise Brooks from their hometown of Wichita, Kansas to New York City. In real life, Louise became a silent movie star in the ’20s and is the woman credited with popularizing the bob haircut at that time. That happens in the book, too, but the story is really Cora’s — she agrees to be the chaperone because she wants to investigate her past, which she doesn’t remember much of other than that she was brought up in an orphanage in NYC. Poor Cora lives a false life, so it’s very rewarding (and sometimes heartbreaking) to learn the truth with her. The story really makes you think about how people can change, and why, and the truth that we never really know what’s happening behind closed doors.

BBCE’s selection this month was “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach. It sounds like a story about baseball (and the main characters do play the game), but it’s really a larger metaphor for just figuring out how to handle the crap that life sends your way. The action takes place at Westish College in Minnesota, and all the major characters — three guys on the baseball team, the college’s president and his daughter — go through big crises. Most make it to the other side, but they are very different people when they do. It’s a coming-of-age story about and for people who, in theory, should have already come of age. And that, I think, is the whole point: You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s okay to stop and try to figure it out all over again.


The first time I saw the trailer for “The Words,” I knew I wanted to see it because the story reminded me so much of “The History of Love,” a book which I loved. The premise is that a struggling writer finds an unpublished manuscript and claims it as his own work, which makes him the next big literary thing. And then the true author comes forward and confronts him about it. So there’s the story within the story… but wait! All of THAT is within a story, too. The movie’s thesis is “You have to choose between life and fiction.” Maybe because I’m a writer and understand how easy it would be to get lost in fiction, but that concept really resonated with me. Y’all might want to wait to Netflix this (in fact, it might not even be in theaters anymore) but I think it’s worth a watch.

I’m pretty sure the reason I wanted to see “Trouble With the Curve” was because it uses that Phillip Phillips song that I love in the trailer. But if I’m being honest, it’s also because I really like movies that involve sports, I like Amy Adams and I think Justin Timberlake can do no wrong. And John Goodman is in it! Shout out to Dan Connor. Anyway, the idea behind this movie isn’t bad: a crusty old baseball scout is aging out of the sport as well as losing his eyesight, and his estranged daughter shows up to help him out/work on their relationship. Unfortunately this idea was forced down the audience’s throat in a variety of ways. We get it, they’re different. They have issues. We get it, the flashy, high-tech sports agent doesn’t have the soul that the veteran has. Same goes for the recruit who is in the game for superficial reasons, not for the love of playing. We get it. The movie would have been a million times better if it had given the audience credit for being able to understand it in its simplicity.

Internet Highlights

This conversation between Rainn Wilson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes me very happy.

All of these bookshelves are cool, but I really want the “Has been read; Will be read” one. The USA map one is kind of awesome, too.

Loquacious really is a fun word. Here are 14 more than writers like a lot.

Just in time for election season: 200 years of presidential campaign poster art.

Closer to home, McAllen, Texas, turned a vacant Wal-Mart into a library. More of this, please!

Why authors need exercise. Yay for me being consistent about going to the Y.

The cut-paper illustrations in this edition of “Romeo and Juliet” are gorgeous. I want!

If J.K. Rowling says it, it’s basically gospel. Her and others’ thoughts on why failure is a key to success.

Fact: Rainn Wilson continues to be awesome. (See what I did there?)

How to flirt in a bookstore, you say? Worth a shot.

Coming up in October

I’m going to post quotes while I’m out of town, so the next big post will be on Oct. 6. It will be full of Italian goodness. My self-imposed Halloween deadline is still in place, which means I’m going to have to hustle to finish editing, putting the edits in and composing a kick ass query letter to send to lit agents. Plenty of time. As always, thanks for reading. Ciao!

After 20 years of dreaming, I’m finally going to Italy

I must have been about 12 years old the first time I saw “Roman Holiday.” At the time I thought it was kind of boring. Minus how lovely I thought Audrey Hepburn was, it was in black and white, and there was so much dialogue, and for 12-year-old me… zzzzzzzzzzzz…

Of course now I know the error of my ways. And regardless of how dull I thought it upon first viewing, “Roman Holiday” left an impression on me. I’ve wanted to go to Italy ever since.

Gelato at the Spanish Steps? Yes, please.

Guess what? I’m going in TWO DAYS!

I’m like a kid at Christmas, you guys. For the past two weeks I’ve been all emotional: excitement, anxiety, impatience, crazy dreams, some weeping, a near-tantrum. It’s ridiculous. I figure I’m going to eventually wear myself out and go to sleep.

Maybe this is how people act when something they’ve wanted for ages is finally happening.

After “Roman Holiday,” I remember latching on to a very bad movie called “Only You” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei. It’s quite terrible, but it was set in the most beautiful places I’d seen on screen.

Hey Robert and Marisa, you’re blocking the view.

When I was in middle school, my friends and I played a game where we’d go to the teacher’s desk before class started, spin the globe, close our eyes and stop the spin with our finger. Wherever we were pointing was where we would go one day; I ended up in Italy more than once. (If you’re thinking I was definitely not cool in middle school, you are right.)

My sister, for whatever reason, was obsessed for a while with those Gidget movies from the ’60s. Gidget went to Rome, and I thought much more about wishing I was on that trip than I did about whether or not Gidget and Moondoggie would get back together to surf off into the sunset.

More recently there was “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a so-so movie that had about 14 endings, but it made me want to work on an olive farm in Tuscany. Then there was “Letters to Juliet,” which I actually liked and if I had time to get to Verona on this trip, I would be there in a heartbeat, leaving my letter on the wall and waiting for “Juliet” to reply.

Y’all are looking the wrong way.

“Dear Juliet, …”

Movies kicked off my Italian fantasy, but there’s also this idea:

“Everyone who travels knows that one of the biggest emotions one experiences is an intoxication: eating new foods, seeing signs in a new language, seeing different styles of architecture, and new people. That kind of intoxication has a lot to do with the intoxication a person feels when he or she is writing poetry. For me, travel and writing have always gone together.” ~ Richard Tillinghast

Who knows what kind of cool stuff I’m going to write during and after my trip? I cannot wait to find out!