Sarah and I getting ready to present about apps at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

Sarah and I getting ready to present about apps at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

If you have been following my blog for any period of time, you know I am passionate about all of the following:

  • Writing stories for children
  • Sharing stories with children
  • Using ALL avenues of publishing great books for children (including apps, ebooks, transmedia, etc.)
  • Italy (especially Florence!)
  • Historical fiction (especially books written by Mary Hoffman)
  • Entrepreneurial authors paving their own paths to success
  • Supporting fellow authors

For all of these reasons, it gives me great pleasure to share an outstanding project from my friend Sarah Towle that will not only bring fabulous historical tales to children in multiple formats, but will also create brand new opportunities for authors writing narrative historical nonfiction and historical fiction. Talk about a win-win!

Introducing … Time Traveler Tours & Tales (TTT&T) – a brand new way of imagining and delivering stories to children that will bring history to life for them.

I first met Sarah at the Bologna Book Fair in 2011, when she was launching the first-ever StoryApp Tour and Tale – the critically acclaimed Beware Madame la Guillotine. I was so impressed with what she was doing, I glommed onto her continued to follow her progress and learn from her as I went on to publish my own two storybook apps. Along the way, we became great friends.

TTT&T aims to be the first publishing imprint of its kind–publishing their story-based tours and tales of history in all available formats.

  • Mobile StoryApp Tours narrated by the very people who walked the streets in that place in that time of history.
  • Interactive ebooks that bring the historical period to life.
  • Print and audio versions of each tale.
  • Free curriculum guides for each tour and tale to bring history to life inside the classroom.
Authors Mary Hoffman and Sarah Towle cooking up plans for TTT&T at Writer's Renaissance 2014

Authors Mary Hoffman and Sarah Towle cooking up plans for TTT&T at Writer’s Renaissance 2014

For their official debut, TTT&T have chosen to bring to life one of the world’s greatest artistic and genius giants – Michelangelo and his David. In the Footsteps of Giants is a story woven by one of the best historical fiction writers for children of our time, Mary Hoffman. In it, we get to walk the streets of Renaissance Florence alongside the fictional model for the statue of David (P.S. We all know what that guy looks like – wouldn’t you like to meet him??).

I know first-hand that nobody knows more about Michelangelo than Mary Hoffman. She was on faculty for both of my Writer’s Renaissance retreats, and I’ve had the amazing good fortune of standing before the David in her company. Life will never be the same for me, and now you can have the same treat by reading her book.

Many of you also know I ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of one of my picture books. So I do have a special place in my heart for the power of crowdfunding. It’s the layperson’s way to support the arts and opportunities they want to see in the world. Here is your chance to do the same.

  • If you are a reader, you will enjoy a gripping story of Renaissance Florence with In the Footsteps of Giants and a whole series of historical stories that bring the locations and the events of that time period to life right before your eyes (and feet).
  • If you are a writer, TTT&T will provide opportunities for you to publish your own historical adventures for children.
  • If you are a teacher, you will have brand new ways to bring history alive for your students, using the stories themselves and the comprehensive curriculum guides.

I urge you to consider supporting TTT&T’s campaign to become one of the most exciting publishing imprints of our time. The number of backers is just as important as the total amount raised, so TRULY, no amount donated is too small. Rewards begin at $1.

If you are unable to donate, you can still help by sharing the project in your social media circles. In fact, here’s an easy tweet you can use.

New publisher plans to #turnhistoryon for kids. #writers, #teachers, check it out here: http://kck.st/1PyGzKO #kidlit (Click to Tweet this)

Me being one to put my money where my mouth is, I not only backed this project, I’m also offering a reward for others to do. Look for one of the CREATIVE COLLABORATOR rewards and you’ll see a one-hour strategy session with me on any aspect of your career as a writer, plus the first three Modules of my course, How to Make Money as a Writer. There’s only one of those, though, so if you want it, snag it soon.

There are fabulous rewards at all levels, however. Check out their campaign page to see for yourself.

As writers in the 21st Century, we have to create opportunities for ourselves whenever and however we can. What I love about what Sarah is doing with TTT&T is that she’s not only creating opportunity for herself, but extending that to children’s authors across the globe. I don’t know about you, but that turns me on. 🙂

Footsteps of Giants

Stone Giant Illustration copyright © 2014 by John Shelley Used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc. 85 Main Street Watertown, MA 02472 (617) 926-0329 www.charlesbridge.com All rights reserved.

Categories: Apps, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Creativity, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Friendship, Italy, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Travel, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Florence Panorama WRI am beyond excited to share the brand new website for Writer’s Renaissance. Now going into its third year, I decided the retreat deserved a home as beautiful and inspiring as Florence itself. I think the new site achieves this goal, and I hope you think so too.

People often ask me how I got the idea for Writer’s Renaissance and why, when I am quite obviously busy with many other projects, I continue to run the retreat. I’ve found that the obvious answer – “Uh, have you ever BEEN to Florence?” – doesn’t quite satisfy. My biography page on the new website provides some explanation, but I’m not sure I had the full answer until after I returned from the 2014 retreat.

To say the start to the 2014 Writer’s Renaissance retreat proved a challenge would be a huge understatement. The hardship really began at the end of January when one of my neighbors shot my dog in cold blood (bear with me – the story gets better). Luckily, and miraculously he survived, but the ordeal took its toll physically, emotionally, and financially. I spent almost a month lost in a fog just trying to make up for lost time and $.

Then, less than 24 hours before I departed for Florence, Lufthansa went on strike, failed to rebook me, and was not responding to any calls. I had no choice but to purchase a brand new ticket for about 8 times the price of my original. I still have received no refund or compensation (or even a response for that matter) from Lufthansa to this day. But that’s another story…

So I arrived in Florence exhausted, stressed, and worried about how I would manage to create the outstanding experience the 2014 women participants were expecting, and knowing I had to. I have a deep sense of responsibility to everything I undertake, but when women put their time, money, and hearts into my hands, well, letting them down is not an option.

But the city began to work its magic on me immediately. On my first evening, the soft sunshine slipped into a sorbet

La Bella Notte a Firenze.

La Bella Notte a Firenza.

sunset as I enjoyed my first gelato of the trip on the Santa Trinita bridge, gazing at the Ponte Vecchio. I visited my favorite paper shop, reconnected with friends over dinner, and fell into bed at my “home away from home” hotel. After two full days of basking in the beauty of Florence, the vice grip around my heart began to loosen. I was both ready and eager to meet the renaissance women of 2014.

Traveling, especially by oneself, is both rewarding and challenging in myriad ways. First, it is an assault to our senses. The people, the food, the atmosphere, the culture – all might be vastly different from our home. Some of these changes are welcome and exciting, and others can be frustrating and frightening. Often it is difficult to predict which reaction you are going to have to what triggers, making it difficult to find equilibrium.

Yet, this kind of travel holds the power and possibility of transformation more than any other. When we jolt ourselves out of our comfort zones, we suddenly become more aware of our surroundings and more present in our experiences.

For example, each time I go to Florence, the very first gelato I eat is always the best, regardless of the flavor I choose. Why? Because of the distance between the last gelato I ate on my previous trip and the first bite on this one. I haven’t yet acclimated to the flavor, and the reunion is delicious indeed. The first time I hear cathedral bells ringing can move me to tears. And don’t even get me started on the smell of garlic wafting from whatever plate of pasta I’ve ordered.

gromSince so much of writing is noticing, sensory stimulation is great fodder for the page. But even more transformative is the fact that our emotions are also on high alert during travel. Whatever we might have lurking under the surface of our consciousness tends to come forth HUGE when traveling. Getting out of our daily routines forces us to confront our lives in a way we cannot when we’re on the treadmill of life. This confrontation leads to introspection, self-discovery and sometimes even epiphany.

During Writer’s Renaissance 2014, I learned that I had been letting fear take center stage in my life. I was holding on to emotions and ideas that were not serving me, my loved ones, or my work. Every day since my return from Florence, I have recited a mantra in the morning reminding myself not to act in fear, but in love and trust instead.

I can also tie other trips to life-changing (and life-affirming) decisions. The one where I learned my anxiety was taking over my life and needed to be treated. The one where I decided I HAD to leave my job and pursue my dream of writing. The one where I rediscovered the intensity, beauty, and brevity of life and realized I needed to leave my marriage. Then there was Writer’s Renaissance 2013, my first post-divorce trip, that made me realize how fully ME I was, and how ready I was to let go of the past and begin anew. Time and again, travel brings me back to myself, re-roots me to the earth and to my life, and gives me inspiration that sustains me long after the trip has ended. The outward journey always leads to inward journey. Rebirth, renewal, renaissance.

To end with the beginning, I started Writer’s Renaissance because I wanted to share the transformative power of travel with other women. Because once your senses have been stimulated, your emotions heightened, your self examined, you simply cannot remain the same person, and I believe the insights gained always lead to positive (or necessary) change.

Some even ask – “Why Florence?” I think what they mean is, it’s so far from where I live. Why not run a similar retreat here in the States?

david-1024x739That answer is easy. Traveling to Florence will cure anyone of the idea that dreams are not achievable. Look into the eyes of Michelangelo’s David and tell me if you still believe anything you might want to do or create is impossible.

Go on. I dare you.

Categories: Creativity, Florence, Italy, Spirituality, Travel, Travel Writing, Uncategorized, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Uovo di Pasqua - beautifully decorated Easter eggs all over Florence

Uovo di Pasqua – beautifully decorated Easter eggs all over Florence

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

It is hard to believe just one week ago I was writing this post from my hotel room in Florence, having wrapped up the second Writer’s Renaissance, while watching the sun sink into the Arno. I’ve spent all week being grateful for the simple existence of Florence. I “retreat” there in my mind and heart when I seek inspiration and it never, ever disappoints.

Nonetheless, my week at home was also full of riches!

Quotes on Gratitude

“An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities.” — one of my Yogi tea tags this week!

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” — Kak Sri

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins

Gratitude list for the week ending April 19

  1. Seeing, hugging, kissing and talking with my kids. Missed them so much!
  2. For Nancy, who stayed here until Thursday, helping me with the kids while I recovered from jet lag.

    Oh The Thinks You Can Think!

    Oh The Thinks You Can Think!

  3. Finding out, very much by surprise, that I’d been upgraded to FIRST CLASS on my Paris-JFK leg on the flight home.
  4. Watching Jay sing with so much enthusiasm at his second grade Seussical show
  5. Reading Jennifer Reid’s story in this week’s Tuesday 12 x 12 post
  6. Coloring eggs with the kids
  7. Watching the 5th Harry Potter movie with Em
  8. Spring has sprung in Colorado! Green grass, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths!
  9. The chocolate eggs I brought home for my kids (ha!) from Scudieri in Florence.
  10. I wrote a poem in my head last night and REMEMBERED it when I woke up this morning so I could write it down.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Creativity, Family, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Holidays, Italy, Poetry, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

I am watching a sorbet sun sink into the Arno directly from the bed of my hotel room in Florence, having successfully completed the the second annual Writer’s Renaissance. Made new lifelong friends and connected with old ones (as in time, not age :-)), so it is impossible to feel anything but deep gratitude, albeit with just a touch of sadness that it has to come to an end. But every ending is also a beginning, and I look forward to greeting spring back in Boulder.

I have only one gratitude quote for you today, which sums up the week perfectly.

“The world is made up of five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and the Florentines.” — Pope Alexander VI

“A vero,” as the Italians say. “It’s true.”

Gratitude list for the week ending April 12

  1. Enzo and Maria Ferrara, for bringing me once again into the Porcellino family and feeding me so exquisitely (and so often)!
  2. Jackie, Suzanne, Teri, Mary, and Jane – my Renaissance writers of 2014. Buona fortuna mi amici e ci vediamo a presto

    "Last Supper" in Florence. Ciao Bellas!

    “Last Supper” in Florence. Ciao Bellas!. It was a great pleasure to share “my” Florence with you, and I was honored to write with you and to hear your stories. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep living. KEEP IN TOUCH!!

  3. Mary Hoffman, for returning once again to share her intimate knowledge of Florence and its history and her writerly wisdom. AND for putting up with a bit of tardiness from yours truly.
  4. Sarah Towle, for bringing us nose to nose with the Florence of the Medicis and “turning history on” for us.
  5. To Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Brunelleschi, and Fra Filippo Lippi for sending your ghosts to the gazebo in the form of a very
    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    unique play.

  6. Gelato, gelato, gelato! Nocciola, Pistachio, Bacio, Noce, Mandorla, etc. etc.
  7. To Riccardo for making me my own piece of Florentine paper and for always making such gorgeous notebooks
  8. Andrea Gagnesi for once again teaching a cooking course that was unforgettable in every way
  9. To my family, for tolerating my absence and supporting me while I run this event, which I’m sure most people think is crazy at best.
  10. SO MUCH MORE! TOO MUCH TO INCLUDE IN ONE POST! Grazie Mille Firenze!

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Authors, Cooking, Creativity, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I’m grateful life calmed down a bit this week. I’m writing this post looking out my window at the mountains and trees all dressed in snow with a blue-sky background. To say this has been a cold winter all across the U.S. would be a gross understatement, and there is much grumbling about it on Facebook, etc. So I decided a few gratitude quotes focusing on winter might be in order. 🙂

Quotes on Gratitude

“If we had no winter, spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” — Anne Bradstreet

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” — John Steinbeck

“Winter is the time for stories, staying fast by the glow of fire. And outside, in the darkness, the stars are brighter than you can possibly imagine.” — Isabel Greenberg

Gratitude list for the week ending February 1

  1. I revised a picture book manuscript I only first drafted a month ago. It seems I’ve got my writing mojo back.
  2. Homemade chicken noodle soup on cold winter nights
  3. A crackling fire to work and read by
  4. Reading Harry Potter #1 to Jay. Starting the story anew with fresh eyes, ears and heart.
  5. The generosity of support from folks after I posted ideas about how they could help in the aftermath of Rocky’s shooting.
  6. January came to an end! I’m always glad to see the back side of January, but this year in particular? Whew!
  7. Loving all of the activity and support happening through 12 x 12 already. The Forum and the Facebook group are both on fire!
  8. I leave for Florence, and Writer’s Renaissance, TWO MONTHS from today!
  9. Rocky is recovering so well, he’s practically 100% back to himself.
  10. Going outside to trudge in the snow several times a day. I have to, to take Rocky out. But it’s a great reminder of how beautiful and silent the world is in winter.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Creativity, Dogs, Family, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Picture Books, Winter, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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First completed illustration for My Love for You is the Sun

First completed illustration for My Love for You is the Sun

The highlight of this week was doing an all-day visit at my kids’ elementary school. I shared the print version of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and both apps. I’ve never had so much concentrated interaction with readers before, nor so much feedback on the books from their actual audience. What a blast! Plus, after spending a full day in the library, my appreciation for and awe of librarians and teachers has increased exponentially. So this week’s gratitude quotes are dedicated to them.

Quotes on Gratitude

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” — Carl Jung

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” — Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”  — Thurgood Marshall

Gratitude list for the week ending November 9

  1. Receiving Susan Eaddy’s first completed illustration for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. So beautiful it took my breath away!
  2. Doing an all-day school visit on Wednesday. There is nothing quite like watching children enjoy your books!
  3. Running into a little girl two days later who ran up to me and said, “You’re an author. You came to my school this week! I loved your books!”
  4. My Kickstarter campaign to fund MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN was approved! We launch (UPDATE: NOW LAUNCHED!) on Tuesday at 2:00 EDT!
  5. My “Crowdfunding Crew,” who put lots of time in this week to give me feedback on the campaign page and video. Plus for keeping me sane!
  6. My whole extended family – for providing the “source” for MLFY is the SUN.
  7. Plumbers, Heating & Cooling Techs, Cable Guys and all the other hard-working people who help keep my home running smoothly. 🙂
  8. My in-person critique partners, who talked me out of my terror during our meeting on Friday 🙂

    Writer's Renaissance alumni Esther Hershenhorn, Margit Liesche & Carolyn Crimi meet in Chicago to help launch Triptych

    Writer’s Renaissance alumni Esther Hershenhorn, Margit Liesche & Carolyn Crimi meet in Chicago

  9. Three of my Writer’s Renaissance 2013 alumni met up in Chicago for as part of a book tour for one of their books — TRIPTYCH by Margit Liesche. They celebrated book publications (TXTNG MAMA, TXTNG BABY for Esther Hershenhorn) and a book sale for children’s author Carolyn Crimi. They sent me a photo and a lovely note. It makes me so happy to know that the friendships forged in Florence last April are not only alive and well, but thriving.
  10. Chicken noodle soup

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Books, Crowdfunding, Family, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Now available everywhere books are sold!

Now available everywhere books are sold!

Well, despite being down with a cold and an eye infection, this has been a banner week! I celebrated the official print release of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, for starters. Read on for more!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude opens the door to… the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. Gratitude opens the door.” — Deepak Chopra

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” — Tony Robbins

“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” — Maya Angelou

Gratitude list for the week ending October 19

  1. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is now available at Amazon and all bookstores!
  2. I am an “official” author at Amazon! Check out my new author page.
  3. I have been making videos for various purposes all week and am once again grateful to Katie Davis for her Video Idiot
    I'm an Amazon Author!

    I’m an Amazon Author!

    Boot Camp class. Taught me everything I know!

  4. My housekeeper/life manager Laurie Mekelberg returned after a month of surgery recovery. She was SO missed and any illusion I might have had that I can get by without her is completely gone.
  5. Gorgeous fall weather and colors, plus the first snowfall!
  6. Cold enough for bubble bath season to begin
  7. Getting some legal issues taken care of. Not sexy, but necessary, and it’s a relief to be done.
  8. Visiting some of the cutest dogs and puppies known to humanity at the Humane Society. I wanted to take them ALL home!
  9. Writer’s Renaissance 2014 met its minimum number of participants, so I’ll be going to Florence again in April!
  10. Everything is in place for me to make a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about my next publishing project tomorrow!!! Stay tuned. All the details will be right here tomorrow. 🙂

What are you grateful for this week?

Puppies

How can your spirits not be lifted when there are puppies in the world this cute?

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Dogs, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Katie and I enjoy Vin Santo

Katie and I enjoy Vin Santo

Wow, it’s been WAY too long since I’ve written a Gratitude Sunday post, but as many of you know I’ve been on a whirlwind European trip that included hosting the first annual Writer’s Renaissance retreat.

I am still marinating in the memories of the trip, and there will be more to come about the retreat and the experience as a whole. In the meantime, there are so many people who made the trip extraordinary that I wanted to dedicate one post just to thanking them.

The quotes this week are not about gratitude exclusively, but they embody the spirit of Writer’s Renaissance. They come from icons of Florentine history — da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto and Dante. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Quotes on Gratitude

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

“Take pleasure in your dreams; relish your principles and drape your purest feelings on the heart of a precious lover.” — Giotto di Bondone

“As flowerlets drooped and puckered in the night turn up to the returning sun and spread their petals wide on his new warmth and light — just so my wilted spirits rose again and such a heat of zeal surged through my veins that I was born anew.” — Dante Alighieri

Gratitude list for the weeks ending April 20

  1. First and foremost, the blue ribbon gratitude award goes to friend-extraordinaire Katie Davis, who not only led two
    Keep Calm and Make Friends with an Italian! Thanks Tommaso!

    Keep Calm and Make Friends with an Italian! Thanks Tommaso!

    outstanding sessions at Writer’s Renaissance, but also kept me sane and happy throughout. Thank you for enduring emotional outbursts, late nights, afternoon naps and a constant obsession over the schedule. I could not imagine having more fun than we did. “Bye, bye wine!” 🙂

  2. Thanks to Tommaso at the Hotel Davanzati for riding in on his Italian horse and helping me find two more restaurants for WR after I was treated abysmally by two others – both on the same night. I’m sure it’s not often he has to contend with a grown American woman bursting into tears in his lobby, but he handled it with much patience and grace and, truth be told, some tough love (paraphrasing – “get over it and get back out there”). Thanks also to you and your father Fabrizio for allowing Katie and I, in the words of one of your other guests, to “objectify you” for purposes of our promotional video. 😉
  3. Speaking of restaurants, Grazie Mille to Enzo at Osteria del Porcellino for hosting WR so beautifully and enthusiastically for our first dinner, but even more so for your friendship, for the dancing :-), and for bringing me into the Porcellino family for the duration of my stay in Florence.

    2013-04-06 21.06.38Enzo

    With Enzo at Osteria del Porcellino

  4. Authors Lisa Clifford and Mary Hoffman christened the WR retreat with fabulous sessions in the gorgeous Boboli gardens and Brancacci Chapel. Your books have also kept me wonderful company these past months, so thank you for writing them! And Mary, as promised, I still chuckle at random times over the dirty joke you told in the chapel cloister. Only at a women’s writing retreat would that happen, right?!?
  5. Andrea, the chef at Badia a Coltibuono and our cooking teacher, was
    NO Canned Beans!!

    NO Canned Beans!!

    responsible for capping WR with a grand finale that couldn’t have been improved even with canned beans. 😉 The food “we” made was otherworldly, but even better was the sound of the constant laughter echoing off those ancient walls. Wow!

  6. To Esther, Carolyn, Laura, Cory, Margit and Mary Alice: I meant what I said when I called us the WR family. You ladies will always have an honored place in my heart as the first of those who went on this adventure with me. We packed enough laughter into one week to last me a year, and I will be forever grateful for your trust and friendship. Alla prossima volta! (til next time)
  7. To Cristina, Daniel, Maria, Martina and yes, our dear Lorenzo, plus all of the other wonderful staff at Antica Torre
    Saluti!

    Saluti!

    Tornabuoni. During our stay with you we felt, not like guests, but like treasured friends.

  8. My dear, dear friend Diana and her husband Renato hosted me again for a couple of days in Milan after the retreat. Diana and I are soul sisters separated by an ocean, and while no amount of time is ever enough, we always seem to be able to make the most of what we get. Thank you for the heart-to-heart, the wonderful food and simply for being you!!
  9. Thanks again to Mary Hoffman and also Lucy Coats for adopting me in London and helping me find my way out of the book fair. I might still be clanging around in there if it weren’t for you guys!! You two, plus new friends Michelle, Anne and Diane were so wonderful to include me in your festivities.
  10. Thanks to my long-lost friend Pietro for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to reconnect in London. It never ceases to amaze me how, with old friends, you can pick up where you left off as if no time had passed. In our case 20 years had gone by, and yet it could have been yesterday. As you get older, those touchstones into the past become all the more precious, and there is nothing quite like spending time with someone who knew you in your youth – for better or worse. 😉
  11. Last, but most definitely not least, I must add a bonus item to this week’s list to thank Nancy, Phil, my mother and Laurie for making it possible for me to do the trip in the first place. Knowing the kids, the house and the dog were in good hands made all the difference!!

Forgive me if this post is overly effusive. I’m simply overcome with emotion by all of the blessings that were bestowed upon me during this trip, and this list barely scratches the surface on the total.

Writer’s Renaissance is all about helping women fill their lives with creativity, passion and purpose. As the title suggests, it’s about rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal. Regular readers of this blog know that this past year has been an exceptionally difficult one for me. How amazing to find that in the pursuit of my goal to help other women transform their lives, so too was my own transformed.

The past year has indeed been full of many dark days. But now I see the light at the end of the Ponte Vecchio!

What are you grateful for this week?

True Renaissance Women!!

True Renaissance Women!!

Categories: Authors, Books, Children's Books, Cooking, Creativity, Family, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, I Need Wine Pronto!, Italy, Picture Books, Poetry, Travel, Travel Writing, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Here's my gorgeous daughter as a flower girl in my brother's wedding this past October

Here’s my gorgeous daughter as a flower girl in my brother’s wedding this past October

I attended a webinar this week where I was reminded of this quote by Marianne Williamson, which I love so much and which I think everyone should adopt as a mantra. It is certainly what I want to pass on to my beautiful daughter, who reached double digits on Tuesday.

For that reason, it will be our only quote this week.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson

Gratitude list for the week ending January 19

  1. Em turned 10 years old. I am so proud of and amazed by her. I love her more with each passing day.
  2. Lemon curd birthday cake from Huckleberry’s. The ONLY kind of cake that can go head to head with chocolate.
  3. Membership in 12 x 12 topped 300 this week!
  4. My friends Emma, Jon and Katie for helping spread the word about 12 x 12 and bringing in many memberships.
  5. Another registration came in for Writer’s Renaissance – only 2 spaces left!
  6. Seeing Les Mis and being convinced that the movie could be as powerful as the musical. I wonder if I will ever see it, in any form, where I don’t end up an emotional basket case at the end… Probably not.
  7. A nice long chat with an old friend
  8. The fleece sheets I got for Christmas
  9. A champagne toast with my mom to celebrate achievements and new beginnings
  10. My treadmill desk, which enabled me to get at least SOME exercise during one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in three years.

What are you grateful for this week?

 

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Childhood, Children's Books, Family, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Movies, Parenting, Picture Books, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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