Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Italy vs. German: Euro Cup 2016

July 1, 2016

My name and heritage might be German, but I’ll be cheering for the Azzurri this Saturday, July 2, at 3:00 Eastern time and noon Pacific time on ESPN 2 when the Italians take on Germany in the Euro quarterfinal match. After all, once upon a time, my American son dreamed of playing for the Italian World Cup team.  He’d lived in Italy from pre-school through second grade and attended the local schools.  The whole idea of citizenship thing wasn’t quite clicking for him, and he’d once mistaken a dollar bill for a Deutchmark.

While we lived in Italy, I had the opportunity to watch a local Italian-speaking team play against a local German-speaking team while doing the research for my soccer novel, Defending Irene. So I know some of what will be shouted from both sidelines.

“Schnell! Schnell! Schnell!” from the Germans.  (Fast, fast, fast.)

Dai!, Dai! Dai!” from the Italians. It sounds like “Die! Die! Die!” which might have been a bit unsettling to English players even though they undoubtedly expected it. I don’t have a really good translation for dai, but it’s similar to “Come on!”  I’ve heard “Ma dai!” used as a protest.

If you’re curious about just how passionate Italians are about soccer, consider checking Defending Irene out of your local library. It’s also available in hardcover at Amazon.  The Kindle edition, while available for pre-order now, will be released on August 9th. I’ll include an excerpt from the first chapter in the coming days.


34343 Words

November 4, 2012

While I’m not participating in the NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, I am tapping into some of its energy.  Instead of polishing words and phrases, I’m only taking them to a certain level before moving on.  I have dreams of wrapping up a draft for my high school and college-age beta testers by Christmas.  It’s been so helpful to have pictures from our trip to Italy.  I’d been able to work off of old photos from when we used to live there as well as images from the net, but some of the shots I needed were rather specialized: gates, train tracks and bus stops. 

Gaps provide opportunities

It is forbidden to cross the train tracks.

Escape from Venice!

September 17, 2012

I am pleased and proud to announce that my main character managed to escape from Venice! My character and I spent a lot of time there–far more time that I’d planned–due to my midcourse correction in plotting.

Now I have to say that I really enjoyed researching and writing about Venice. I planned the first and second chase scenes with some help from Google Maps.  For the set design, I spent a lot of time poking through the corners of the Pensione Accademia and the Ristorante San Trovaso.   I also did a lot of photo research on vaporettos and water taxis as I planned for an escape.

The Courtyard from the Pensione Accademia. Several important scenes are set here. What a stunning place with tons of character. I’m hoping to visit.

Does working from websites and photos help? Oh, yes. I’ve been getting a good response on my description from my normal critique groups and from my assigned group at one of Darcy Pattison’s revision retreats. This technique of studying photos ensured that I could insert plenty of detail in order to design my description.  Now I can’t say that my readers saw the picture above, but they might have generated something similar.

Cut to the Chase

May 20, 2012

I’ve finished one chase scene in my Italian chase novel, and I’m in the middle of working on another one.  I’m finding that one of the challenges is deciding when it’s time to cut to the chase.  How much space should I dedicate to a description of the Scrovegni Chapel, the Basilica Palladiana or the Grand Canal?  Establishing a sense of place is important; establishing characters is even more important.  But how much is enough? How much is too much?  I always rely on feedback to help me figure out things like this.  But this time around, I have a number of friends who are enjoying the scenery, but they’re not sure whether I’m advancing the action quickly enough for readers who might not have the same level of interest.

Back to Blogging

April 1, 2012

Believe it or not, I’ve missed my little soapbox.  Every once in a while I would find myself thinking that it would be nice to pull together a nice little rant on some topic or other.  But then I’d think about my stack of undone student assignments.  I know how hard it can be to wait for feedback, so I try to avoid making them wait any longer than I have to.  And then there was the siren call of Venice for my Italian chase novel.  I was really struggling with my first chase scene along the canals of Venice. Not that I was suffering. After all, I was busy checking out bird’s eye and ground level views of Venice courtesy of Google Maps.  This is such a great tool and time-waster all rolled into one. 

I’m also keeping copies of Rick Steves’ Italy and Art for Dummies  within an armslength of my computer. These books were invaluable when it came to deciding on what to visit when my family lived in Europe. 

I remember wrinkling my nose when my husband picked up the Dummies book until I saw it was by Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He definitely made art interesting and accessible.   And now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be writing this novel in this way without the  perspective he offered on one of his favorite artists, an artist who should be better known….

Taking a Break

January 5, 2012

I do intend to get back to blogging.  If nothing else, it’s served as a great project diary.  But my husband and I are going to be moving soon.  I’m going to have to dedicate almost all my time to packing, sorting and cleaning and unpacking for the next month or so.  But I’m hoping to steal a few minutes here and there for my novel.

The Google Map of Venice has been particularly useful as I plan various incidents for my Italian Chase Novel.

Meditating on Scenes and Characters

December 20, 2011

There’s something to be said for prolonged meditation on a scene.  As my husband and I have been hunting for houses and preparing our house to go on the market, I haven’t had a lot of time for my own writing.  So today I sat down for forty-five minutes and popped out about 400 words.  I still need to add in description in order to make the scene three-dimensional, but that will mean studying Palladian architercture in Vicenza from my photo albums, Flicker and Google images.  That’s fun research when your plot demands it!


Over 11,000

July 22, 2011

I’m finally digging in again on PORTRAIT.  This week I managed to pull together over a thousand words.  It really shouldn’t be that difficult.  I try not to get jealous when my Facebook friends manage to pull together three or four thousand words a day.  But one of the problems with this chapter is that my characters are moving through the Seiser Alm, the Alpe di Siusi.  It’s a high alpine meadow surrounded by some of the most amazing rock formations in the world.  So my job is to evoke the the stunning views without completely slowing things down. Not easy!   I’ve spent a lot of time going through family pictures of our trips to the Dolomites as well as checking out various videos on YouTube.  It’s extremely convenient to have tourists film the very lifts that my characters are taking.


When It All Goes Down

June 11, 2011

Once again I can’t help thinking about how this is the weekend in June where the mystery weekend in SUSPECT would take place. Weather did really play a role in the plot.

Weather, seasons and climate do play or at least should play an important role in establishing the setting in novels. In every book that I’ve had published I’ve done a study of what’s blooming. If an author gets it wrong in an area that I’m familiar with, I’ll notice. With SUSPECT, I could rely on the Missouri Botantical Gardens website. And that reminds me that I’m going to have to start checking the weather in various parts of Italy for PORTRAIT during the first and second week of July. The internet makes this incredibly easy. In fact, I’ll be able to go to webcams for certain locations and check for haze and visibility. I’m planning on spoiling my characters, though. It rained the day before the action opens, so they’ll have blue skies and incredible visibility.

This brings to mind another little review popped up for SUSPECT this week in The Crimson Review of Children’s Literature, a blog put out by the graduate students taking a course in young adult materials at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies.

“Nitz has created a strong female character, a distinctive setting, and well-laid clues that will have the reader frantically turning the pages to figure out whodunit.”

I’m betting that the reviewer was thinking more about my bed and breakfast, weather and climate would have definitely contributed to my setting.

Over 7000 Words

May 5, 2011

It felt like I was back to my old plodding ways.  On April 19th, I was at 5600 words. Yesterday, I was hardly 1000 words further along as I struggled  to get my character from Merano to the Alpe di Siusi–or as she’d say from Meran to the Seiser Alm.  (Elise has a connection to the German population instead of the Italian one.) 

I have a difficult enough time getting my characters down a hallway.  This translocation included a walking, a bus, a train and the Seiser Alm Bahn cable car.  And I didn’t feel like just dropping her on the alpine meadow because she really did have to think through her decision to go there.  The other thing slowing me down as been the research as I figure out how to get my character around.  For example, they didn’t have the cable car system in place when we lived there.  So I had to figure out where the base station was and so on.  While I was clicking around the general area, I decided that I may as well pick out a nice place for Elise and her classmates to stay.  The place I found in Kastelruth is just a bit too gorgeous, but I think that I can tone down the decore to fit the budget and make it work.

But today I boosted up and over 7100 words thanks to a writing session devoted almost exclusively to dialogue.  In fact, I didn’t get the whole thing transcribed, so I could be even higher in another 10 hours.  But then of course, I’m going to have to move my characters around the Seiser Alm.  More pictures?  Poor me!   (Click a few of my links and you’ll see what I mean.)