cake, new book, party, tea, writing

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Last Monday I celebrated the launch of my new series: The Broken Heart Refuge, with its first book, Betrayal.

As mentioned in my last blog, we did an online party on Facebook, so that we could all join in at different times of the day and contribute with comments, sharing, etc. Some of you, however, are not on Facebook, so I’ve decided to post a summary here, with some photos, of what went on during our celebrations.

The topic of my series deals with the subject of Broken Hearts, so I ran a competition with three questions relating to this subject. I asked my readers to answer the questions. The answers that got more ‘likes’ would receive a prize.

So here we are with the questions and the winning answers.

Q1a

Trude won this one with her answer: I had my heart broken a few times too many, each time the door to my heart closed a little harder. It slowly turned into a cold, hard rock in my chest, and I was not sure anyone would ever show me love that was warm enough to melt the ice I carried inside.

The prize for this was (cappuccino optional)

The Broken Heart Refuge Mug

The second question in the competition was:

The Broken Heart Refuge 1 - Betrayal, Martina Munzittu

Siv was the winner for this one, her answer was: My husband, asked me to marry him only 4 days after we met. That was the 11th of march 2007. We got married on the 7th of June 2008 and we are still married AND as my morning gift I got this: (photo of Siv showing great emotion as she opens car door) – I think I have all possible emotions in that moment = LOVE  and finally – he lets me be who I am.

The prize for this question was:

20131216_113445_LLS

The last question was:

The Broken Heart Refuge 1 - Betrayal - Martina Munzittu

Massimo won this one with his answer: A broken heart is sent to heaven to be mended. Judge a garden by the number of its flowers, and not by the leaves that fall. Measure your good days with the smiles that shone and not the tears that rolled.

The prize for this answer was a signed copy of my book.

We had a lot of fun at the party, it was lively and there were many interesting comments and so many touching stories. You can still read them here.

And, let’s not forget that in Nonna Pina’s house, there is always cake and tea. Since I am really considerate and you’re so far away, I had a slice on your behalf as well. I hope the success of this series will outlive the cake.

Cake for the Broken Heart Refuge Party - Martina Munzittu

new book, writing

2 comments

I have been a little quiet lately because I was really busy getting ready to publish my latest book.The Broken Heart Refuge 1 – Betrayal. I had actually hoped to publish it by the 1st December, but things always take longer than you think. I am glad anyway that I was able to get it out there before Christmas.

What do you think of my book cover? Do you like it? I love it, but maybe I am a little biased.

If you’re on Facebook, please come and join us there. The event will go on throughout the day today, and you can pop in anytime, when you have a break. There will be a few giveaways, including a signed paperback copy of my book. Hope to see you there, so we can have some fun together.

false friends, languages

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No. I’m not talking about real people, here. Although, I’ve had some friends who didn’t turn out to be real ones, but perhaps I can talk about them in another blog post. Here I want to talk about those words which look or sound similar in two different languages, but they mean different things. They are called ‘false friends’.

Imagine you’re in a foreign Country. You are learning the language of that Country, and clearly you don’t know everything. What can help in any situation when you don’t know the relevant words is: context and similarities between the new language and your own mother tongue.

These similarities are life-savers. There are many between Spanish and Italian, or French and Italian. But when it comes to English and Italian, sometimes they’re a bit tricky and you have to be a little careful, as you could end up getting the wrong end of the stick.

The first time I came to Britain, I was only 17 years old. It was summer and the weather in London wasn’t particularly good. I didn’t carry a dictionary with me as I made a conscious decision to try and understand new words by their context. So, while walking about London with my friend (who spoke no English), I would often see the words “Estate Agents” in shop windows. The word agents was fine as it’s similar to Italian, but the word estate kind of puzzled me. In Italian estate means summer. So I used to think “these guys are probably selling something to do with the summer, and it looks like it’s houses. Some of them have gardens, some haven’t . Are they properties abroad in sunny places?”

So I kind of guessed they were selling houses, but not the right ones.

My very first boss in London, Giancarlo, was always grumpy and stressed out. I shared an office with Tony, a lovely Irish guy, who often spoke to me and taught me a lot of new words in English. One morning he told me that Giancarlo was miserable. In Italian the word miserabile means extremely poor.   I disagreed with him, I told him that someone who drove a Mercedes and wore Armani suits could not be miserable. So we debated for half an hour on the subject until I realized that something wasn’t quite right.

The most confusing of all, for me, was the use of sensitive and sensible in English. They are a double-whammy. Sensible sounds like the word sensibile and in Italian it means sensitive. On the other hand, the word sensitive, which could be mistaken for sensitivo, in Italian means someone with a sixth sense.

You can only imagine the conversation I was once having with my boss, where he told me: “Dr X is very sensitive about these documents. We need to be sensible about them. They must be kept under lock and key.” I got the gist that the stuff was confidential and I wasn’t supposed to photocopy and spread the papers through the whole department, but the whole sensitive/sensibility thing went over my head at the time.

Perhaps the saddest misunderstanding of all was the black bins in London, with the wording “Litter” which sounded so much like “Letter”. I just assumed that is where you posted your cards and letters. I have sent a few post-cards from there, from lovely London all the way to Sardinia, and my cards never reached their destination. I blamed the Italian postal service at the time, but I later realized that I was the slow one.

Have you ever misunderstood words, either in your own language or in another language? I’d like to hear your stories.

 

image courtesy of esi.info

What is talent?

Oct
2013
16

doing what you're good at, gift, talent

9 comments

When children go to the nursery they do a lot of artwork, colouring, drawing, painting; this carries on during the first years of elementary school. Well, I have to admit it; I was terrible with my artwork. Whenever I did a picture of a house, no one understood it was a house: everybody thought it was an arrow. Why couldn’t people see what was obvious to me? But then, when I looked at the other children’s pictures of houses, I noticed they did look different from mine.

The same applied to my trees, flowers, clouds, suns. I soon realized that I just wasn’t good at drawing; no matter how hard I tried, I could not express with pictures what I had in my head. This was very upsetting for me.

My older brother Mariano, on the other hand, had a natural gift. He could draw perfect pictures of anything, animals, still life, landscapes, even abstract stuff. The picture in the cover of my book A Deal with a Stranger is taken from a painting he did for me as a wedding present. Mariano, however, had difficulty as a child with his Italian homework; he sometimes struggled with his grammar, spelling, writing compositions, etc. So we made a deal: during homework time, we would swap notebooks, he would do my artwork and I would do his Italian homework.

Many years have passed since elementary school, and I have tried several hobbies. I always believed that it’s important in life to identify one’s talents and use them at their best. Sometimes life it tricky though, because often the things we like, we may discover we’re not that good at. Take my drawing example. I also mentioned in my old blog that I loved playing electric guitar, in particular hard rock. I played for several years, been to lessons, been part of a band which met regularly, and yet, I never felt I was becoming a better musician with time. Why is that? Maybe I just didn’t have that natural gift. Every time I learnt to play a new song, I had to actually rehearse it many times before I got it, and then do it again, so I wouldn’t forget it. Practice, practice, practice, were the words of my guitar teacher. In comparison, if we decided to have a go at a new song with the band, my friends would have a little play with their instruments, and pick up the riff or rhythm straight away. Also, they were able to improvise any tune; and I really had a problem with that. Can I say that they had talent and I didn’t? Probably.

What is interesting is that when it comes to writing books, I don’t ‘struggle’ like I used to struggle to learn a piece of music. I just sit down at my keyboard and type. Words flow freely and, of course, I have to go back and cut, rewrite, adjust, etc, but it doesn’t feel like hard work, it feels like a pleasure. It’s easy and natural.

We often associate the word ‘talent’ with art, making music, films, sculpture, etc, but when I looked it up in the Cambridge Online Dictionary the definition was “a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught”.

I think that the above definition is quite accurate. And moreover, I think that everyone, and I do believe, everyone, is talented. Each one of us has been gifted with one or more talents, it’s that sometimes we may not think as our qualities as talents. As an example, among my friends I have: two who can make fantastic cakes, one who can organize international meetings and conferences without a glitch, one who writes comedies in Sardinian language, one who trains disabled children to play rugby, one who can clean a house and make it really sparkle, one who volunteers for a children’s hotline, a mum that makes the best lasagne ever.

These are only a few examples of our gifts. What are your talents?

 

image courtesy of: www.flower-images.net

Cake, anyone?

Oct
2013
02

cake, tea, treat

6 comments

I like to have a cup of tea in the afternoons, but I don’t always have cake with it. Yesterday, however, I fancied a little treat, so I had a slice of lemon cake to go along with my drink. As I had my first sip of tea, I observed my sweet temptation and wondered: if the heroines of my books were to face this lemon cake now, what would they think?

Clara, from A Deal with a Stranger, has an obsession with food, in particular desserts. She would be right in her element. She would probably pick up the small plate and bring it closer to her face, in order to smell the cake first. Because it’s lemon cake, she would expect to detect the hint of the fruit, and possibly spot some lemon zest in the sponge. Then she would dive into it. Her thoughts would be something like: “Not bad. The sugar on top is lemony too. I would probably have put a layer of lemony cream or crème patissière in the middle, to make it even more palatable, but that’s fine too. I now need a second slice to get a better idea of what it really tasted like.”

Lucy, the more traditional one of my Incompatible Twins, likes to eat good food and is keen on puddings; she wouldn’t say no to a slice of lemon cake. Her thoughts would be along the lines of: “Tea and cake during working hours? Why not? It’s nice to have a treat every now and then, especially after working on the computer all day. Just make sure you don’t make a habit of it. Otherwise, who’s going to fit into that Kenneth Cole dress again?”

Poppy, the more unconventional one of my Incompatible Twins, likes good food too, but is a vegetarian and always very careful about how food is made and what it contains. She would be quizzing the person who brings her the cake, her line of questioning would be something like this: “Thank you for this, but I need to know a little more. Is it made with free range eggs? Is that sugar on top, instead of honey? Were the lemons organic?” Before you’ve even had the chance to reply, she’s already decided that not only she’s not going to eat your cake, but she’s not even going to touch it.

Nonna Pina, who runs the Broken Heart Refuge, will be looking at this slice of cake with a smile. She knows that if you’re feeling a little sad, but you’re in the company of friends, and you’re having a cup of tea all together and are sharing a cake, you are bound to feel a little bit better. It may not be the cake in itself, but the combination of the three things above. What is better than a cup of tea? A cup of tea with cake.

And now, I am curious: what do you think when you look at my slice of cake?