Back in March, I opened up a fresh blank book that I’d gotten for Christmas last year and started scribbling away on what I’d been calling the Italian chase novel. The black and white cloth cover was attractive enough. I would have been happy to scritch-scratch away on all of my outlines and extremely rough scenes on the pages inside of it until I saw a blank book on display at the grocery store earlier this week. Its front and back covers were illustrated with places that my main character either had visited or would visit on her trip to Europe: London, Paris, Rome. What can I say? I gave into temptation. Instead of being jinxed, I managed to produce ten pages of very bad prose today. But there were a few bits that sparkled like iron pyrite on polished lapis lazuli.