Another kind of tweeting…

You’d think I’d be strolling down the beach that is three minutes away, or in a park or pool- whatever kind or respite you had in mind for the summer- wrong. Well, partly wrong.

I’m in my home in the countryside, listening to the birds and banging away on my old clunker of a computer, when- thump- husband brings in a baby chick of some sort fallen from a tree. Its siblings are dead and this little guy (I’m assuming it’s a he) is the strongest of the bunch, although still covered in soft grey fuzz.

So I surf the internet looking for info and call up an old friend who is a Science teacher/ nature lover. Until he can fly, it’s a shoe box filled with toilet paper and baby food through a syringe every thirty minutes.

I  go back to the new story I’m writing. I’ve got a deadline and the whole story is in my head, but how can you resist the gentle (and insistent) tweet of a baby chick?

He’s got his head stuck under a layer of feathers for now but he’ll let me know when he’s good and ready for his next meal.

This morning I find him out of the box. He’s jumped! Soon, I hope, he’ll be able to fly…

So I take him out and put him on my dwarf pine trees, no taller than myself so I can get to him no matter what. And I watch as he adapts to his new environment, liking it, too. He cocks an eye at me as if to say, “How come you didn’t bring me out here sooner?”

Because he was weak, starved and needed a bit of mothering. I’m supposed to let him go when he starts flying around the room. I sure hope he doesn’t start pooping all over the place. I would not be impressed.

I also hope I don’t get the empty nest syndrome when he flies away…

Could the Gandyman be Julian Foxham?

David Gandy and Julian Foxham

Hi again and thank you to all the readers who’ve purchased and commented on The Husband Diet!

It’s great to see such warm and enthusiastic feedback on the book, especially your appreciation of the mixture of humor and poignant moments.

Many of you have mentioned you love the spider scene. I was in stitches myself while writing it! But I also like the scene where she’s waiting for him at his house. And many many more, but I’m not spoiling!

Others have mentioned the hairdryer scene. Please don’t follow Erica’s example!

But all of you have mentioned how much you want my hunky hero, Julian Foxham, all for yourselves- who the heck wouldn’t? Okay, time for a confession from a happily-married, law-abiding woman: I thought about David Gandy as Julian for a film version of the Husband Diet! I decided that when I saw him in Away We Stay, a short film that you can find here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVX2nEEBQrM). Check the man out!

But Julian isn’t only a gorgeous, breath-stealing guy. He’s also incredibly sensitive, smart and sexy. He’s the breath of fresh air she (and many other women!) is dying for.

And for our gal, Erica Cantelli, who would you picture? I have a couple of images up on my Italian Food, Mothers and Dieting board on Pinterest:

http://pinterest.com/nancybwythe/italian-food-mothers-and-dieting/

but it’s really hard to choose because Erica has a bit of all of us in her- yes, even you thin ladies! She has your strength, your resolution and your confidence (albeit not in bed yet- but with a man like Julian Foxham? All she needs is time).

So once again, thank you for loving Erica (and Julian!) as much as I do and please keep the comments coming!

Nancy Barone

Bikini Blunders?

All that’s missing is the best thing- you!
All that’s missing is the best thing- you!

 

Summer is almost here and I’m more than ready to ditch all the winter blues and soak up the sun, sea and lazy days. So I pull out my beach bag from the bottom of my closet for a recon: flip flops? Check. Sun hat? Check. Sunscreen? Got it. Wip? Oh, yeah, plus lots of colored pens to highlight the various phases of my new story, Book Two of The Amazing Erica series. Kindle? You need to even ask? Plus look at my gorgeous beach towel. But there is one, horrible thing missing…

***

A primal fear grips my throat all of a sudden, and I can’t understand why. All is well. School is almost over and soon I’ll have plenty of time to write. So what the heck is up?

And then I remember. I have to buy a swimsuit. Not because I’m one of those bikini (ha!) buffs who not only have a swimsuit for every day of the week, but also for every moment of the day, but because the one I bought three years ago at Tesco’s has had it. The elastic (which at the best of times are put to hard work) has now given up and collapsed- can you blame the poor thing?

I look in the mirror and sigh as I catch sight of my thighs. Too many chocolate chip cookies and too much pasta al pesto. And not enough walking, even if the beach is a one-minute drive away and I can see the waves from all my windows.

So here we are- yet again, with the roly-poly body of a writer that was never meant to be an athlete and who would rather spend time pounding out stories than, say,  the grounds of a tennis court.

In the privacy of my bedroom my thighs are, yes, big, but it doesn’t matter. I love me, my husband loves me and my friends don’t judge me by my jeans size.

But out there, in the cruel changing rooms of any place that’ll have my size (usually a UK store)  I have to face the facts- or rather, the mirror which I always tell myself comes from a circus, and I really don’t look like that.

After I fight my way into a swimsuit, naturally a one-piece,  (the bust area has strong support, so that’s a plus) I inspect my reflection to check for damages. I can see last winter’s Nutella sandwiches in the not-so-cute dimples on my thighs. But I can also thank a year of eating fruit (among other things such as chocolate cereal) for the quality of my skin.

But… the year before I had lost sixteen kilos by eating mixed salads of all kinds and proteins every day for six months. No desserts, no fried stuff, no sauces. And I felt great! I had never looked better. I’d wake up in the morning thinking, ‘Hey, not only do I not feel lethargic- I actually feel great!’

Never mind that it didn’t last more than six months- until I got my first whiff of fresh summer ice cream- but at least I proved to myself that it could be done. And for the sake of feeling great, I’ll probably do it again- maybe a little less harsh and restrictive (you try to live through a Sicilian summer without gelato, lemon slush or Saturday evening pizzas at a seaside restaurant), but keeping an eye on my health.

As soon as this school year is over and I’m relaxed, I’ll do it. And even if I don’t fare very well, I’ll always have the sea to swim in and lose some of that flab and tone my muscles. Plus don’t underestimate the positive effects of breathing sea air with nothing on your mind for two months!

All in all, we should feel good about ourselves no matter how many commercials show big girls frowning, trying to squeeze into tiny bikinis. No matter how many narrow-waisted, skinny-legged women traipse across our TV screens. Those girls aren’t real, anyway.

Only you are, with your lovely curves and round shoulders. No one is like you. So walk down that beach to your favorite spot and plunk down your stuff with utter confidence. You have a whole holiday ahead of you. And you sure as hell deserve it. So celebrate yourself, celebrate the summer with the joy of being you. Because, unfortunately for them, no one else will ever be quite like you.

 

The Husband Diet cover reveal


And here it is! The perfect cover for my debut Women’s Fiction novel, The Husband Diet!

From page one of Erica Cantelli’s roller coaster story I’ve been wondering what kind of cover would best portray my big, beautiful heroine (besides which actress would best portray her and Julian on the screen, I must admit!).

And here it is- fantabulous, colourful, feminine… but most of all it tells it like it is! Erica is like most women who think their body could do with some improvement. But her love of life and everything that is good (including lasagna!) puts everything else on the back-burner. And then when she meets Julian, she learns what is most important.

I love everything about this cover because even the title looks like a big beautiful women- curvy, feminine and soft. On the outside. On the inside she’s got one helluva life!

And to my husband’s question, Did you send Oliver a picture of your feet? the answer is no- but they sure look like mine! And the SOS on the scale are what I think every five years or so when I pluck the courage to step onto one of these dreaded contraptions (she exclaims while chomping on potato chips).

I am immensely grateful to Oliver Rhodes of Bookouture who not only believed in this series, but went as far as designing the cover himself! Thank you so much, Oliver!

I hope you enjoy The Husband Diet as much as I enjoyed living, drinking and breathing it. Because still, after having read it and edited it a gazillion times, it always leaves me with a good feeling inside. I hope it does the same for you!
Nancy Barone

Italian Mothers, Food and Dieting… my Pinterest board

 

Hello again and welcome to my brand, spanking-new website! I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to share my stories with you.

Although my Pinterest board is called Italian Mothers, Food and Dieting, this board is actually my heroine Erica Cantelli’s life in pictures.

Now, we know she’s plump. And even if she doesn’t, we know she’s also very pretty with a smile to die for. But what does she look like? I’ve posted a couple of faces that could represent her, but please feel free to suggest any others. Who could be Erica, Julian (yum-yum!) and even Paul? Don’t bother with Ira.

And yes, I admit I couldn’t wait to post images of some of the characters and places in book two as the plot thickens (and she thin-ens)! These are images of Tuscany, a farmhouse and things to do (and eat) in Tuscany.

But this is just a work in progress as Erica matures every day, so more on my snarky, sassy heroine very soon.

Editing The Husband Diet

For some time I had in mind to write about a BBW- big, beautiful woman  with a messed-up life but it wasn’t until I was at the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy, that I realized exactly what the story would be about. After three days I went home and pounded out 120 k in three months. It was September 2010.

When you’re trying to depict the helter-y-skelter-y life of a woman such as Erica Cantelli and the words come faster than you can type them, it’s no wonder you begin to sound like her after a few chapters. Talk about empathy.

Just like she pours out her feelings, I wrote and wrote, trying to do her justice and vindicate her. Only I ended up burying my beloved heroine under tons of secondary clauses, redundant after-thoughts, leaving her to waddle in self-misery and loathing, not to mention needless bouts of cruelty from her absent mother. It was like she couldn’t find a way out as it seemed I’d simply made a long list of the worst things that can happen to a woman in love.

Luckily, my editor Emily Ruston had us both figured out. She knew exactly where Erica was going and gave her (and me) a gentle nudge in the right direction. And that’s when Erica became almost real, steering the story where she wanted it go. The second book practically wrote itself, while The Husband Diet was definitely the most difficult to write as Erica had many issues to solve and get her life into gear. Emily Ruston weeded out the nonsense and put Erica on the right path.

And then Julian – the breath of fresh air she desperately needed.

When I was on my laptop writing away, my husband could easily tell whether I was working on a romance or my Erica series because I’d be snickering to myself. Erica feels like the good friend who knows you inside out.

I am presently doing last-minute edits on The Husband Diet while finishing up the third book of the series. I have plenty more Erica stories and I hope you’ll follow her along her journey and laugh and cry along with us.
Nancy Barone.