Behind-the-Scenes (5)


It took a bunch of research, and it wasn't an easy choice. 

I knew I wanted to include a trip to the opera in this story because opera is one of the first things people associate with Italy. I didn't actually write the scene--though it takes place relatively early in the book--until I had written 3/4 of the novel. That's because I had to choose an opera that could parallel many of the components in the story. So part of my research was listening to arias on YouTube and researching their lyrics. This is what I chose, and in my mind, it is a perfect choice!

Here is the Italian-English translation I found on a website:

O Mio Babbino Caro Italian Lyrics
O mio babbino caro,
mi piace, è bello bello,
vo’andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l’anello!
Si, si, ci voglio andare!
E se l’amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento,
O Dio! Vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!

O Mio Bambino Caro English Translation
Oh my dear father,
I like him, he is very handsome.
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring!
Yes, yes, I want to go there!
And if my love were in vain,
I would go to Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno!
I am pining and I am tormented,
Oh God! I would want to die!
Daddy, have mercy, have mercy!
Daddy, have mercy, have mercy

If you've read all five chapters of WiSG?, you've probably noticed that I mention the "Ponte Vecchio" often, which is one of the oldest bridges in Italy. As I said in another behind-the-scenes post, the Ponte Vecchio is also illustrated on the front cover, which is taken from one of the scenes later in the book. The book cover depicts Emily leaping--or at least looking like she is jumping--off the Ponte Vecchio (I don't want to give anything away here, so I decided to be tricky with my wording). That whole scene was inspired by O Mio Bambino Caro.

As I went through several rewrites, Emily's "jumping" (or not jumping) into the Arno river becomes a major theme. And it just shows-----although readers read from front to back-----writers write the book inside out, from which way and that way and all ways. (If that makes sense! Ha!)

Gianni Schicchi was written by Puccini in 1912. It's actually one of three "mini" operas that are included in Il trittico. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed chapter five! :)

I'd also love for you to "like" my author facebook fanpage :) :)

Until next time,


Behind-the-Scenes (3)

Mood Music

I generally have a really hard time focusing on any type of work while listening to music. It's probably because I can't filter out the lyrics. (I'm always drawn to the story a song is telling.) And I hardly ever write while listening to music. But I take breaks between writing (probably too often). Most of my breaks are in a quite popular lounge. Maybe you've heard of it. YouTube? Yeah. That's the one.

My mood music doesn't need lyrics that fit the scene I'm writing. The music's tone needs to get me into the right frame of mind, though. Loreena McKennitt's The Highwayman geared me up for high-tension and emotional scenes. This one, I am particularly fond of because Loreena McKennitt set music to Alfred Noyes poem of the same name, The Highwayman, which is a tragic love story. (hint hint...maybe)

Although I didn't listen to this song while writing chapter three (honestly, I don't think I listened to any music for that one), I listened to this at least once every day for about 3 months while writing Who is Saint Giovanni? No joke. For that reason, I think it deserves an important mention!!

To read the poem by Alfred Noyes, click here.

I'd also love for you to "like" my author facebook fanpage :) :)

Until next time,


Behind-the-Scenes (2)'re back again for round two, huh? That makes me O-SO-HAPPY. I hope you enjoyed reading the second installment of Who is Saint Giovanni?

I've had some interesting experiences this time around. I had to resolve the crackly microphone problem while making the YouTube "audio book." That was no fun. And the result was a slightly too-quite recording that took only about 4 takes to get it right. *Sigh* I think it's time to invest in a semi-professional microphone and editing software. Any suggestions or tips on that?

(While still on the topic of the YouTube video)
In which I discuss the pronunciation (or attempt at it) of Italian words...
I practiced the words in advance: Mio dio, mia cara, mama mia, Signore De Luca, Rossi, Paolo, Ponte Vecchio, Boboli, Gelato, and...I think that's it. BUT I'm sure I still sounded like an American narrator pretending she can speak with an Italian accent. Ha! I am really...really...shy about speaking foreign languages.

The ins and out of chapter two
Here's a little quiz. When Carla is listing all the places she plans to take Emily, does one of the places stand out from the others, one that seems a little less "Italian" than the others? Quick...rush back to the electronic page...take a peek...ah...there it is.

The corn maze in the countryside. Whenever I read that line, I kinda laugh a little. I added the corn maze into that sentence to foreshadow an important event, but among the gelato...opera...Boboli...Ponte Vecchio..."corn maze in the countryside" sticks out like the only orange in a bowl of apples. What do YOU think? Have you ever pictured or wondered about Italian corn mazes? I doubt it. But....BUT...something exciting may happen there a little later in the story:) Personally, I love corn mazes. When I decided to add a corn maze into the story, it's because I had never been to one...but was really ITCHING try it out. (As of last October, I have completed two corn mazes. One on Halloween night, too! Spooky!)

Pictures of real places.

Ponte Vecchio
It's depicted on the front cover of WiSG? and also below:

I have stood on that bridge, looking out at the river Arno from under the middle arch. Nice view? Yes. Crowded? Always. That's about ALL I remember about it. It's been about 5 years since I went to Italy. I had to do tons of research to jog my memory a little. One leg of that research was hopping onto Google Earth (3D). Do it right now. I dare you. Search for "Ponte Vecchio" and it will whisk you away to a 3D model of the bridge! It's almost as good as being there. :) Almost. 

I'd also love for you to "like" my author facebook fanpage :) :)

Until next time,


Behind-the-Scenes (1)

Welcome to the first WiSG? behind-the-scenes post! I’m planning on writing one every week, so make sure to check this spot after reading the latest installment.

Now as you may or may not know, I want this reading experience to be totally different from all others. In the age of the social media boom, why shouldn’t reading be interactive, as well?

When you’re reading a book do you ever wish the author was RIGHT THERE so you could as him/her a question? Feel free to do just that! Email me at thelitexpress(at)yahoo(dot)com with any questions. Ask me about the writing process. Ask me about the characters in WiSG? Ask me anything, and I’ll be happy to either email back or feature your question in a behind-the-scenes post!:)

Now for the behind-the-scenes stuff!

There were only two things I knew for certain when I started writing Who is Saint Giovanni? I wanted the story to be about a teenage American girl living in Italy. Why, you ask? When I was a teenager, oh so many years ago, I was obsessed with Italy. The food. Opera. The language. The country’s history. OK, so I thought Italian men were pretty good looking, too. Yeah, and I got an A+ in my Italian classes, by the way!! (Though, when I finally got to Italy, I was too shy to use it. Yeah. Silly. Me silly.)

I didn’t actually visit Italy until I was 22 (or 23?). Almost every single place mentioned in Who is Saint Giovanni? was a stop on my itinerary.

Let me tell you! Italy is a place where things happen. I’m saying that because my bff, Jessica, and I experienced the craziest adventures on our 3 week backpacking romp. Suffice it to say, we had a wicked time.

Over the next several months, I hope to share some those crazy Italy stories with you, as well as other behind-the-scenes stuff! For now…..I’ll leave you with a a photo and a video.

"Terracotta rooftops blushing in the midday sun"
This is a nice shot of the Duomo, too.

James Franco in THIS Gucci ad is what inspired Giovanni's character.

I'd also love for you to "like" my author facebook fanpage :) :)

Until next time,


Cover Release: Who is Saint Giovanni?

Everyone's heard that saying: "Don't judge a book by its cover." TOTALLY judge this book by its cover, please. WHY? Because I love it! Ashley Stewart is the amazing artist behind the cover that I'm so proud to share with you today. The cover has traveled a long journey, my friends. Click here to see each leg of its journey. To read more about Who is Saint Giovanni? click here and here.

I can't thank you guys enough for your support, encouragement, and suggestions! About a month or so ago, I published the Book Cover HELP post, and so many of you offered great suggestions. Thank you for that. And a special thanks to Carol Riggs and Kay Holmen who took the initiative to show me their ideas for the cover via email. Although you may not see your ideas in this final cover, I really appreciated and liked your suggestions!!

Starting this coming Monday, the epic blogging adventure will begin. Who Is Saint Giovanni? will appear in weekly installments on the The Lit Express, YouTube, and in a podcast form. All three mediums can be accessed from The Lit Express. In addition, Ashley will be illustrating a new scene from the book every week to accompany each post. If you're curious about my writing style, click here for a sample from another novel I've written. And if you'd like to see more of Ashley's artwork, please check out her website!

Interview with Ashley Stewart

Can you tell us about yourself, Ashley?  I’m just a girl from a small town in Virginia, with a passion for art, and a dream of one day being able to work full time in the field. Right now it’s my hobby (and my freelance side job), but one day I would like to be able to make my living working in book illustration, comics, or anything else I could get involved with!

What’s your background?  I started  by teaching myself how to draw anime, and from there started to take art classes in high school. When it came time to go to college and choose a major I went for a Bachelors Degree in Studio Art.

Why art?
  I love art! It’s my passion- I constantly feel driven to keep improving, to get better and to keep creating art. I’ve always loved being creative and making things- jewelry, crafts, paintings, etc. I can’t imagine not creating art. I also love being able to create stories and share them through my art- I enjoy writing as well, but for me it feels more comfortable to communicate through pictures.

What do you dislike about your work?
  I feel like at times I dislike everything about my work. As an artist, I think it’s common to never quite be satisfied- you’re always thinking “I could do this better next time” or “I need to improve in these areas.” Once I get some distance on a piece and I haven’t looked at it for a while I can go back and see the things I do like about it- but usually all the flaws are the first things I see. They motivate me to keep trying to improve.

What research do you do?  I usually research every little detail I can. I gather together reference for all the things that will be in a picture- for example if it’s a picture of someone on a horse I’ll research horses, horse anatomy, saddles, riding clothes, people riding horses, different horse breeds, etc. The more you research all the parts that go into the picture, the more authenticity you give the final product.

Thanks Ashley! If you guys have any questions for Ashely, feel free to leave them in the comment section. If are in love with her artwork (like I am) and want to hire her for a special project, you can reach her at stormfire1221(at)aol(dot)com.
For those of you who have hopped over from Tawni's Cover Crazy post @ The Book Worms, WELCOME! (Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by The Book Worms where bloggers share what they love about YA book covers.) SO, what am I loving about this cover??? (Uh, everything, duh!)

  • The color scheme reminds me of Florence, Italy, where Who Is Saint Giovanni? takes place. 
  • The detail in the stone wall is amazing!
  • The swirls behind the text really unifies the top half with the bottom half, and I love how the bottom half looks smooth and clear and leads into a rougher texture.
  • The cracks across Giovanni's face make him look mysterious. What do the cracks represent? Why does he look like an old painting?
  • I want to know why the girl is jumping off the bridge.
  • I want to know why Giovanni has a saint's halo around his head.
  • And, I can really go on and on and on!! hehe

That about sums up everything I have to say about the book cover. I'm really excited for next Monday, and I hope you are, too! OH YEAH! One last thing:

It's not too late to sign-up for the first round of giveaways. On Tuesday, April 12th, I will be selecting 3 winners from the pool of people who signed up to:

1. Host a Who is Saint Giovanni? button on their blog or website
2. Post about the Who is Saint Giovanni? blogging event
3. Win an advanced reader copy (ARC) 

Each winner will receive a $15 gift card to or Book Depository (your choice). The more you sign up for, the more chances you'll have to win the grand prize: a Kindle Graphite. (One grand prize winner will be selected after the entire novel appears on this blog.)

To sign up, click here.

I've recently set up an author fanpage on facebook. To support me in my quest to become a successful author, you can click like button below!! :) Thanks guys.

Book Trailer: Who Is Saint Giovanni?

So I stayed up all night to make this book trailer for my novel, Who Is Saint Giovanni? joke, folks. Once an idea wiggles into my mind, I have a hard time not seeing it through to the end. That's me (take it or leave it lol).


To read more about how I will be releasing my novel in weekly installments on my blog, click here.

Book Summary Update


After going her whole life without making a single enemy, someone wants Emily Edwards dead. And it's all Giovanni's fault. How does she know? Terrifying things happen whenever he's around. Since meeting him on her first day in Italy, Emily swears he follows her everywhere. First at the opera, then at her new high school in Florence.

The morning after Giovanni rescues her from muggers, Emily wakes with an X that looks like it has been carved between her eyes. No one else can see the mark besides Giovanni. Since then, her senses are sharper, as though she had been living her life until that moment a little deaf, a little blind, and with no taste buds.

Emily needs answers, but Giovanni won't give anything away. He says he's protecting her, but how can she believe him? So she risks her life by confronting the very man Giovanni has warned her about. Although some call Giovanni a saint, others call him a devil. Emily discovers she's only a pawn in a dangerous game that has existed for centuries. Her only chance of surviving it is to find the answer to a single question. Who is Saint Giovanni?

Questions? love Comments? hate Comments? Feedback is welcome!

How "deep" should a YA paranormal romance be?

Hi there new friends and bloggers!!

I am so happy to see that people are taking an interest in this event, and I just want to give a huge THANKS to the overwhelming number of people who have signed up to win advanced copies of the book. An EXTRA special thanks to those of you who are hosting buttons and posted about this event. It's a special time for characters!!

This blog is primarily going to discuss topics covering urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Here is my SUPER QUICK question of the day (I SWEAR there is a person with a whip standing behind me telling me to get back to my "day job" lol):

1st VLOG about "Who Is Saint Giovanni?" !!

What is this "Who Is Saint Giovanni?" thing all about?

(This book will be available for everyone in the online community to read!)

The following is an excerpt taken from this newsletter. So for the full picture, please click on the previous link.

So you may be wondering—okay,  what’s this chick selling? I’m not selling anything. In fact, I want to give away something I have that is very precious to me. It’s not my kidney. It’s not my blood. And you may think I’m crazy for saying this, but it’s something just as important (to me) as both of those things. And this important “thing” happens to be the YA paranormal romance novel I’ve written: Who Is Saint Giovanni? It’s the whole purpose of this announcement. Now, remember, I mentioned that I’m not selling anything. And I’m not. But what I am looking for is some community involvement. You know, that old-fashioned “togetherness” people feel at 
church, temple, summer camp, and in the line-up at the Harry Potter movie premieres.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself.· I’m the author of 2 middle grade chapter books debuting at the end of 2011!
· The Lit Express is my blogging home.
· I have this CRAZY idea about posting one of my novels on my blog, Dickens style.
· Beginning April 11th, 2011 Who Is Saint Giovanni? will be posted in weekly installments on my blog.
· After a year, the whole book will be available online.
· A fabulous artist will be illustrating a new scene from the book for every single post!
· Each installment will also be available in podcast and Vlog format.
· I cordially invite you to join me on my epic blogging adventure.