Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Defending Irene was Released as an E-book Today

August 9, 2016

My soccer novel about an American girl playing on an Italian boys’ team in Italy was released as an e-book today. Since DEFENDING IRENE originally came out in 2004, a few sections will undoubtedly read more like historical fiction. But so many things hold up. Italian women and girls are making slow but serious headway against the perception that they shouldn’t be involved in such a violent, brutal sport. In fact, they just missed qualifying for the Euro Cup this year. Barnes and Noble has an excerpt of the first few chapters of DEFENDING IRENE on its site at the bottom of this page.  Amazon customers can go here, but there’s no excerpt so far.



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.

A Few International Reads

December 11, 2015

On my bookshelf, I have all sorts of outdated Rick Steves guidebooks from the days my husband I roamed around Europe with our kids. Product Details In one of his books, he recommended that parents have their kids watch movies to help get them excited about different locations before they arrived.  I remember picking up the Italian-dubbed version of Anastasia at the library in Merano where we lived.  My Saving the Griffin could be a good choice for kids visiting Tuscany. While most of the book is set at a villa there, several chapters take place in Siena.


Here are a few titles that really brought me back to France and Italy after I returned to the U.S.:




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A Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet (Paris)
A Box of Gargoyles by Anne Nesbet  (Paris) Previous book’s sequel


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Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer (Opens in Paris)





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The Thief Lord (Venice)

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Bloomability by Sharon Creech (Much takes place just north of Italy, but there’s a trip to the Dolomites)


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….

Soccer in any Language

July 5, 2010

I’m sure that it’s difficult for World Cup soccer players to hear each other over the vuvuzelas.  When the words do make it through that drone, they probably have a difficult time understanding their own teammates.  In many matches, they can only guess at what their opponents are saying.  Goal appears to be universal even if the O-sound has a slightly different shading from country to country. 

When we lived in Merano, Italy, I had a taste of this as I watched a team from my son’s club take on a local German speaking team.  The Italian coach would yell things like “Forza!” and “Dai!” (Loosely translated as “Strong!” and “Come on!”)   “Dai” sounds a lot like “Die!” so it took awhile for my American ears to get used to that. About the only word that I recognized from the German coach was “Schnell!” (Fast)   I used this experience for one scene in my girls’ soccer novel, DEFENDING IRENE. 

But if you’d like a taste of what it would feel to be coached by someone in a different language, you can click on this link for a story that appeared in Highlights back in 2006.

Contemporary Fiction

June 25, 2010

Editors warn authors against putting things in their contemporary novels that will “date” the books unless a project is already anchored somehow in time.  As I watched the Italians lose their final game of group playof th 2010 World Cup, I wondered whether DEFENDING IRENE had made the jump from contemporary sports fiction to historical sports fiction.  Soccer isn’t just the national pasttime for Italians; it’s the national passion.  I was pretty sure that Matteo had dissed American soccer at some point.  And naturally, he couldn’t have done that if the Americans had gone on to the group of 16 while the Italians had gone home.  But as I flipped through the pages to some of the key scenes, I saw to my very great relief that he hadn’t. 

Of course, a lot of things have changed since my girls’ soccer novel was published back in 2004.  There’s one section where my main character emails a friend.  These days, Irene would probably be updating her status on Facebook.  But overall, I think that the email still works in the context of the book.

Best of the Best

June 1, 2010

Every year the Bank Street College of Education Book Committee reviews over 6000 titles.  They put 600 of those books into their Best Children’s Books of the Year publication.    The Bank Street College of Education recently put out a list of their  Outstanding Books for the years 1997 to 2008 on their website.  Each  of the books on this list received a star for outstanding merit when it first appeared in the collection of the Best Children’s Books for the Year.   

When I scrolled through the list, I recognized an extremely high number of titles.  The short descriptions of the book would definitely give readers an idea of whether it could make a good title to recommend to a reader. Naturally, I was extremely pleased to find my soccer novel, DEFENDING IRENE, listed in the 9 and up category down in the sports category with the following description: 

Irene, a visitor from the United States, tries to single-handedly integrate an all-boys Italian soccer team.

World Cup Fever!

May 18, 2010

ILBNH, otherwise known as InsertLiteraryBlogNameHere, included DEFENDING IRENE in their list of soccer books to read in preparation for the World Cup.   My book certainly shows why Italians are so passionate for the Azurri.  Soccer isn’t just the national game of Italy; it’s the national passion.  But the bias against girls playing the game runs pretty deep.  The disapproval that Irene faces from her grandmother was actually inspired by the comments of a woman in her thirties!   

“It is rough. It is dangerous,” my friend said.
“Well, I played basketball,” I said.
“I did, too,” she answered.  “They’re different.” 

That was the first day that I ever heard “maschiaccio.”  It’s the Italian equivalent for tomboy with none of the comparatively positive connotations that tomboy currently has in the U.S.

Reading the Griffin…Out Loud

October 1, 2009

Perhaps one of my favorite writing tricks of all time is to read every single word out loud. I do this for short stories and articles, cover letters and query letters, nonfiction books and novels.  Any novelist out there might be thinking that this would take a lot of time. Too much time in fact.  But I honestly can’t think of a better way for any writer to smooth out prose and catch mistakes.  While your eyes can skim right over your all too familiar words, but your lips and tongue will slow you down and really see things.  Your ears will catch stilted, unnatural prose.  

I probably read various versions of SAVING THE GRIFFIN out loud to myself six or seven times.  I did it when I finished the first draft as well as right before sending it to an editor who was looking for it.  (There’s something both delightful and terrifying to know for a fact that your entire book will be read by an editor after years of submitting to the anonymous piles of manuscripts known as slush.)  I read the project before sending this editor two more drafts.  Finally, I read each chapter out loud one last time as the final copy edits came whirling in. 

All of this reading out loud seems to be making for a good read-aloud. The BookLady of the Provo City library feels like it could make a good family read-aloud. (I’m guessing that one reason for that is that younger kids will identify with Michael.)   Another blogger at Reading Treasure Chest feels that it’s definitely a good read-aloud with fantasy, adventure and a hint of danger.  Click on this site!  If your scroll down, you’ll find a great video featuring Siena’s Piazza del Campo and the Torre del Mangia. A key scene from SAVING THE GRIFFIN takes place here.  I felt a rush of nostalgia–as that word is used and pronounced by Italians. (no-stall-GEE-ah)  In fact, I could just see Grifo, Kate and Michael sitting on the piazza during one section.