Category Archives: Blogging

One step forward…

…and two steps back. Sigh.

Or maybe it’s just the pendulum effect and with time, mores and attitudes move from one end of the spectrum to the other, from conservative to liberal then back again. Or from women fighting for equality to women accepting — no, touting– that men are superior and must be catered to.

While surfing blogs this morning I happened on one post that made me shudder: Why my Marriage Works. It made me shudder not only because of what it says but because it links to other blogs that say the same thing or things in the same tone.

I think my job as a wife to take care of the house, stay home and raise the children, and make sure my family has what they need-when they need it. I wrote a post a loooooong time ago about how to keep your man happy. It was NOT well received by the women and I completely understand why but it works for us. I’m not some slave that bows down to her man but I make him FEEL like he’s DA MAN!

Whether as a woman you see your role as staying home for your children, there are several things wrong, in my opinion, with the previous paragraph. First, raising children is not a one-parent activity. I’ve met too many women who married to have kids but didn’t take into consideration that their husbands may not understand how a child disturbs a household. Because he’s not prepared, either mentally, emotionally or physically, he abdicates. How many time have I heard “you’re the one who wanted kids”? Parenting, just as making the kids, takes two people, two involved people. How kids are raised should be as much a shared activity as budgeting or making love.

Coming back to the paragraph above, “I make him FEEL like he’s DA MAN!” Huh? You mean a man doesn’t know he’s a man without a woman using her wiles to convince him he’s the boss? Why should there be a boss in a relationship anyway, especially one with children, where a couple presumably should make decisions together about the future? Why would a man even need to have someone to make him feel like a man? I say if he does, he’s not a man, he’s a boy playing at being a man. If I had to cater to my man to make him feel like he’s in control of this relationship (even though, according to the blogger quoted above, he isn’t) then not only do I not respect him, but I don’t respect myself.

Which doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t take into account how men and women approach and solve problems differently. That’s just smart, and that’s understanding human nature.

Our blogger above also proudly quotes another who tells us how to keep your man happy and where a woman’s place is. This woman talks to us, independent women (her italics) as if we had a terminal disease or a moral flaw. She argues that “a woman works, most likely she is going to give it her all at work..she has to in order to get respect and keep her job.” Which means that when she gets home, she has no energy left for her kids or her husband. And that won’t do, especially if you want to keep your man, because “…making love to your husband and making him feel like a man…that is also part of a wife’s job. Meeting his physical and mental needs are essential to a marriage. ”

Huh. Again.

If it weren’t so illogical, it would be funny. This woman is actually saying that:

  1. raising kids is not work;
  2. raising kids is less tiring than outside work;
  3. she doesn’t have to “give it her all” when raising her kids because she can’t lose her job and doesn’t need to get respect;
  4. that her husband needs sex to feel like a man;
  5. that, despite working outside the home, and giving it his all, he’ll have as much energy as if she stayed home and therefore is always ready to have sex, whereas a woman working outside the home can’t and isn’t.

I won’t go into the fact that she takes for granted that if both work outside the home, it falls to the woman only to take care of the children and the household chores.

And of course, keeping your man happy has nothing to do with treating him as an equal, as an adult (and not the extra child in the family), as a partner, and expecting the same thing from him. It has all to do with wearing attractive clothes, not nagging, asking permission (to make him feel in control, and therefore, a man) and taking the initiative in bed (only once in a while, mind).

Huh.

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Happy New Year!

For all those people who are reading this blog, I’d like to thank you first for dropping by occasionally or often, as would be the case. I wish every one of you a wonderful 2008, full of joy, discoveries, and adventures. If life doesn’t feel like it’s taking you on a ride, you’re not living. You’re existing.

It’s been a spotty 2007 for me, blogging-wise. I’ve had an incredibly hard time trying to figure out why gigabytes were leaching out of my server, most of it coming from my blog. I eventually figured out it was a combination of the theme I was using, the number of categories I had, and the size of the pictures in my posts. I can now understand why a lot of people use a blog service such as wordpress.com to blog. Although I have more flexibility with having my blog on my own server, it can be a pain to update the software and it can use up a lot of resources.

Nevertheless, I plan to continue on with this blog. I’ll be picking up the Techno-guide and talk about how you can improve your experience with your computer or your internet use. I’ll continue to find weird and/or wonderful things that, if I inserted them in my books, no one would believe. And I’ll also continue to talk about whatever takes my fancy.

So, hop on for the year, and we’ll see where it leads us.

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Rome — Sights and Sounds

Day 2

Since on our arrival we had gone north-east to the Colosseum, we decided to walk this time to the north-west, in a great big circle that would take us through several piazzas and, of course, fountains.

tn_borghese_fountain02.JPGOne of the things I remember about Rome, and which charmed me the most, is its fountains. Water, water everywhere. Rome’s water system was one of the wonders of the world, and it still is. From the magnificent Fontana di Trevi to the nasoni (meaning big nose because of the shape of their spout), water flows constantly, pure, fresh, and drinkable. The fountain basins are clean and free of debris and the water sparkles through to the bottom. It comes from deep springs and is as pure as mineral water. It amazed me that I could find, all of a sudden, a nasone with continuously running water where I could fill my bottle with cold water and drink my fill.

Romans are great drinkers of water. In any restaurant, to ask for a liter of acqua minerale for two is normal. You have a choice of naturale or frizzante. That last word always made me want to giggle because it resembles the French word “friser”, meaning “to curl”. And indeed, the sparkling water makes your tongue curl up.

We took the tram (number “8”) to Torre Argentina. Taking public transport in Rome is an experience. It’s not only necessary to buy a ticket, but you also need to validate it once you’re on the bus or tram or train. In truth, very few seem to do it, and during the time we were there, we saw inspectors only once. The fines are steep if you get caught without a ticket, though, so it’s not a good idea to hop a but without a ticket. Tickets are also valid for 75 minutes, regardless of how many transports you take, from the time of validation. We were very impressed with the public transportation system; many buses, passing by often, were the norm, although we were in the center of town, which may be different than the suburbs.

nettuno_pa_navona.JPGWe started with Piazza Navona, which I found somewhat disappointing, maybe because it was empty of people. (We went back another day in the afternoon and it was packed. The atmosphere was quite different). The oval piazza is dotted with three huge fountains, the middle one, being restored while we were there, topped with an obelisk. It is the Fontana dei Fiumi, designed by Bernini which, of course, we couldn’t see. At each end, the Fontana del Moro and the Fontana del Nettuno, impressive in their own right.

We then went by the church of Sant’Angostino to have a look at Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto, a beautiful painting that created a furore because he had depicted Jesus’s mother with bare feet, resembling any woman. The painting is indeed beautiful and moving, modestly set in a side apse, as it not to detract from the sanctity of the church itself, which was very quiet and dignified. We sat in the pew for a few moments, absorbing the quiet of the place.

( Day 2 continues in the next post. Aren’t you glad we were there for a month?)

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On writing Horror AND Children’s tales

Author Mayra Calvani is launching two very different books this Fall: Dark Lullaby, a Horror story about merging reality and illusion and an unborn child, and The Magic Violin, a children’s story about self-esteem and magic.

Huh, you’ll say. Horror and children’s stories. How can they be compatible? In this guest spot, a new feature of this blog I’ve decided to start, Mayra Calvani gives us her take on writing both… and not confusing them together. Here’s what Mayra had to say:

A lot of people ask me how I can write chilling horror and sweet children’s picture books at the same time. Somehow they cannot imagine a writer doing that, switching from two absolutely different modes and wandering in such dissimilar imaginary worlds at the touch of a mouse. That question flatters me to some extend, but it also makes me wonder… am I weird? Is there something wrong with me? Do I have split personalities? I hope not!

Nah, I’m just a multi-genre, multi-faceted person who is inspired by many things and who feels the need to bring those ideas to life. I don’t think I could ever write in only one genre, as many authors are able to. For me, it would feel claustrophobic! I simply write what I love and I love paranormal, suspense, satire, mystery, modern fantasy, literary, romantic comedy, picture books, tween and young adult fiction, and even nonfiction. Each genre transports me into a marvelous, different dreamland where everything is possible and where I set the rules—except, of course, when my characters take over, as sometimes they seem to think they have control over me.

darklullaby.jpgI can write a scary story in the morning, have lunch, then work on a sweet picture book in the afternoon. It’s like switching modes and happens pretty much automatically, though my mood changes as well. Of course, although the actual writing process is the same for all fiction (after all, it doesn’t matter what you write, it all must contain a good plot and flow, compelling characters, sparkling dialogue, etc.), the actual ‘atmospheric’ aids I use for writing change. For instance, I like to listen to haunting, mysterious music when I write horror and paranormal suspense. tmvcvr-3×100.jpgDuring the writing of latest horror novel, Dark Lullaby, I spent months listening to the music score of the movie The Village. On occasions I even lit candelabra on my desk. It goes without saying that I would never do this while writing a picture book! During the writing and editing of The Doll Violinist and The Magic Violin, both children’s picture books, I selected soul-filling, sublime violin music.

In the end, there is that absolute need to put those thoughts to paper, to convert those ideas to the ‘reality’ of my fictional world, yes, to bring those dreams to life until they become so real, I find myself thinking about the story and conversing with the characters day and night—no matter the genre. This is the way creativity works.

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. For her horror and paranormal suspense novels, visit www.MayraCalvani.com. For her children’s books, visit www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.

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Rome — First Impressions Part 2

Rome, Day One

Exhausted as we were, we couldn’t wait to go out and explore a bit. From our trusty map, we knew that most of the sights weren’t that far as the crow flies, so we decided to head towards the Colosseum.

We crossed the Ponte Testaccio (one of the seven main bridges that link one side of the Tiber to the other) and walked for a while along the Lungotevere Testaccio to Via Marmorata. This is a broad avenue that hugs the Tiber delimited from the river by a chest-high wall, and tall trees. On the other side, housing complexes (I hesitate to call them apartment buildings as we know them here in Canada) side-by-side, with tall windows, some closed with rolling outside blinds. It’s very quiet, with little traffic, but on each side of the street, every inch is lined with cars. The cars are small, and brands we don’t see often in our country: Lancia, Fiat, Peugeot, Opel, and, of course, dozens upon dozens of SmartCars.

The water of the Tiber is a cloudy jade green, with lots of current. It’s not really a pretty river here, caged at it is between high walls. We walk to the Ponte Sublicio turn onto Via Marmorata. Surprisingly, because I never thought of Rome as tropical, palm trees and bamboo grow along pine and a tree that resembles maple. But it’s the pines, here, that take our breath away. They are majestic and incredibly beautiful against blue sky. Throughout our trip, we saw them everywhere, and could not tire of them.
tn_pa_sanpaolo.JPG
We walked down Marmorata to Piazza San Paolo which, we learned later from experience, is one of the traffic hubs in Rome. It’s a major metro stop, a train station, an important stop for buses, and somewhat of a roundabout for cars. Even on Sunday, it was pretty busy. We promptly got lost, a fact that would happen more times than we cared to count during our month there. “Lost” when you’re on holiday and exploring isn’t a big thing. We sort of roamed for a while, then I went to a newspaper stand and asked directions to the Colosseum. I nearly burst out laughing: for a moment, the man had to orient himself before he could point us in the right direction. We walked along the Viale della Piramide Cestia, leaving behind most of the traffic (especially in the direction of the airport) then Viale Aventino, its name taken from the smallest of Rome’s seven hills, the Aventino (40 meter high), which led us to the Circo Massimo, built around 600BC. The Circo, where Romans use to race their chariots in daredevil races (remember Ben Hur?) is HUGE, certainly half a kilometer long (1,875 roman feet). The length of a race was seven circuits. With seats all around, it could accommodate from 150,000 to 385,000 spectators. That’s more than some of our stadia here!

tn_colosseum.JPGThe Via di San Gregorio led us to the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, as we walked along the Forii Imperiali and part of the Foro Romano. Seeing the Colosseum rise as we approached it, and rise, and rise, until it is truly colossal, was an awe-inspiring experience. In spite of the hundreds of tourist roaming around the Piazza del Colosseo, or maybe because of it, its size is imposing; you feel the weight of the years here, but also the sheer genius of those architects and builders who raised a monument that lasted over a thousand years. It is 50 meters (164 feet) high and its total circumference is 545 meters (1,790 feet).

We gaped for an hour, then decided to stop for a bite to eat then return to the apartment, by then having walked several kilometers. Later, I sat on the balcony, and listened to the sounds that were to become familiar after a month: car traffic, honks, people’s voices echoing up, and the clanking sound of pans as supper was prepared. The sky was clear, the air redolent of cooking smells and the particular scent that is Rome, indescribable but oh so recognizable.

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