R. J. Nello

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ-born, πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§-based, novelist.πŸ“– Writing, travel, culture and more. Always holding "auditions" – so be careful or you may end up a character in β€œ1797”…and perhaps an evil one.🎭 (And why do I suspect some of you might like that latter in particular?)πŸ˜‚

Not A Kids’ Game

July 23, 2018
R. J. Nello

Most who write fiction were at some point in their lives probably struck by lightning. There was no overarching plan: they merely found they were hit with some (what they consider a great) idea, and eventually they just ran with it. As I’ve previously discussed here (somewhat humorously), I was one of those:

Okay, you really wanna know? One morning, I was listening to that β€œ1973” song of Blunt’s on my iPhone for about the 247th time and I thought, β€˜He’s too young to remember that year. Hell, even I don’t!’ Ah, but how about circa β€œ1993?” Bingo! My brain shifted forward into a fictionalized historical memoir type thing….

I was also one of those who had toiled in academia. For over a decade, I tore apart others’ works. They were mostly research books, history/non-fiction, but, still, they were others’ works.

However, some were also fiction.

Since I starting writing novels in 2012-2013, I have discovered it is decidedly another experience to be the one who is actually doing the creating. The one aspect of my writing about which I am now uncompromising is this one: NOBODY lectures me as to what characters to write and how they should be presented. I am the writer. I DECIDE.

[Photos by me, 2018.]

On the other hand, I do believe that children’s books – what are given to impressionable pre-teens – are somewhat different. They do require standards and critiques beyond what an adult book might reasonably warrant. That youthful, still innocent, audience is not capable yet of understanding wider life contexts.

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When “The Future” Is Over

July 20, 2018
R. J. Nello

The troubled current relationship between the US and Russia resonates its in own way with many Americans of my generation, known as “Generation X.” We are the ones born from 1964 until about 1980. Our grandparents fought in World War II; and our parents were raised with the Cold War.

It saddens us. We had experienced for a few years something that was radically different: what we had thought was “reconciliation”:

Many Russians in our age group experienced much the same – but from of course their own perspectives. If you are interested, you should read Anastasia Edel’s February 2018, New York Review of Books article. It’s a fascinating recounting of where we were then and how we are here now.

In the 1990s, back in New York, I knew several “Anastasias.” For a time, post-1991, it was an almost surreal US-Russia relationship. Russians (and other former Soviets), America’s former Cold War adversaries/ enemy, people most of us had never met in person and had been “demons” for our entire lives, were now newly free to travel post-communism, and even free to attend university in the US.

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July 17, 2018
R. J. Nello

British and European schools are starting their summer holidays this week or next. Most American schools finished several weeks ago, to resume in late August or in early September. So with (northern hemisphere) summertime now fully upon us, are you looking for backyard, poolside, or beach reading?

Well, of course I have, uh, suggestions…

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Tuned Balloon

July 13, 2018
R. J. Nello

Yesterday, I wished you a happy weekend, I know, but as we know new developments… sometimes develop. I’d felt there were a couple of slightly irritating issues with my previous blog template – particularly the lack of a date stamp on the individual posts themselves (which I had not realized when I had changed it from the previous one) that could be confusing to visitors.

[Screen capture of WordPress.]

I gave up trying to fix it and decided yesterday just to change the template. As you see ironically that previous one was named “Rosalie” – a bit of an unanticipated “inside” joke you may understand, too. This one, though, doesn’t have that date problem, and I think it’s easier to read. So this is the new template:

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“While I like to hope I have changed your world…”

July 11, 2018
R. J. Nello

I noticed on Instagram yesterday another writer yet again announcing a new book release as if it is an upcoming Apollo moon launch. We’re all getting a daily countdown. It was ten days to go… then eight days… six, five, four, yesterday three, and I presume today will be two…

[Apollo Saturn V rocket on display. Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Photo by me, 2014.]

And that’s not the end of it.

It all makes me want to bash my head down on my desk repeatedly.

I do like that author most of the time. I’m mentioning that purely as an example. It is all too common behavior.

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That Handwritten Past

July 7, 2018
R. J. Nello

I hope you’re having a good weekend. Yesterday, I paused at one point to have a look through my first (and only) printer-generated copy of my Conventions manuscript. As I turned pages, I also asked myself: “Why the heck am I keeping this?”

As with my earlier books (I’ve got similar copies of those someplace), I never really considered it β€œreal” until I had used up seemingly half of my printer’s ink supply to print the entire book out on that paper. It also required quite a bit of paper: about 260 pages, fronts and backs. Once it was on that paper, though, I felt, I was almost there.

[The first printed version of Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Photo by me, 2018.]

It is essential, I believe, in finishing a book, to review a printed version, page by page. Most people still do not use e-readers, and I feel a reading experience of a printed book is different from that of an e-book. It’s vital to put yourself in the paper reader’s place as well.

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And A Century From Now?

June 27, 2018
R. J. Nello

Books are what we as writers leave behind. So it is human to wonder about the longer-term reactions to what we write. We may ask ourselves occasionally: “What might I be thought of a century or so from now?”

Case in point. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of her childhood memories. Some of those recollections are framed in ways we would not usually in our present:

[Screen capture of Outside The Beltway.]

I feel as decades pass a fiction writer gradually shifts from being a writer worth reading for purely reading sake to becoming increasingly a useful historical voice and source for his or her time. I’ve noted previously that’s how I read Ernest Hemingway: not as a toxic male man of our time, but as a man of his time. Similarly the likes of an early-1800s writing Fenimore Cooper – employing memories of his own childhood and with access to older people who remembered those times – fictionalizing the pre-United States in New York and New England in The Last of the Mohicans: that is almost, to us in 2018, another galaxy.

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A Secret Location No More

June 25, 2018
R. J. Nello

Saturday, we went to historic Bletchley Park, about an hour away, just outside of Milton Keynes:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Its enduring fame rests on what happened there during World War II:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

The intelligence complex was built around, and prominently includes, a small former stately home – Bletchley Park – that the British government bought in the 1930s:

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School Daze

June 18, 2018
R. J. Nello

At my-laws’ house in London on Saturday, we saw my youngest nephew. Now sixteen, he has just finished his last GCSE exams and awaits the results which are due in August. He turned up with his parents after the Mrs. and I had been dog-walking…

[Trent Park, London. Photo by me, 2018.]

Pre-brunch, standing in the kitchen, we fell into talking about how he felt his English literature results worried him the most. He had told us a few weeks ago when we were at his house that he’d had to read two works and be able to answer essays questions on them: 1) Romeo And Juliet, and 2) modern fiction which now escapes me, but which I think was either To Kill A Mockingbird or Fahrenheit 451, or something like those that are common in school English lit. I say that here because at the time when he told me I had shaken my head to him that we’d read the exact same book in my school in New York nearly four decades ago.

In other words, the more things supposedly change in education, the more at times they actually do stay much the same. I’m sure he did fine on his exam, but he insisted again he isn’t particularly good at literature, especially because he didn’t really like what he’d had to read. I replied by laughing that it’s the kiss of death for fiction when it becomes “school work.”

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“If truth be told…”

June 13, 2018
R. J. Nello

The reason I gave up on Google+, Goodreads, and other social media, is because I believed I was spread all over the place. I felt I was on too much social media. I kept my Facebook and my Tumblr, but they are usually just reposts of what is on here – in the hopes of “catching” people there(s) and gently directing them to… come on over here.

For of course I have my blog here. And I have my Instagram, and to a lesser degree my Twitter. Those three are my main focus.

Yet still I feel I have followers mostly in one place, but not in the others. So sometimes, for instance, I try to “direct” Instagram followers to here. There are also times I want to take you over to my Instagram beyond merely linking to a photo.

[Arc de Triomphe. Photo by me, Paris, France, 1995.]

On Sunday, a writer on Instagram “tagged” me asking me to explain myself: “If truth be told.” Hmm. I don’t normally do tags. However, she’s a good Instagrammer and writer, so I decided I would this time. Here’s the gist of my reply:

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“What the heck has he been writing? Am I in here?”

June 6, 2018
R. J. Nello

A couple of miles’ ramble from our house…

[Country walk. Hertfordshire, England. Photo by me, 2018.]

…is the tiny village of Ayot Saint Lawrence. It is most famous for being the home of writer George Bernard Shaw. Less well known is it’s where historian/novelist Carola Oman (pronounced, her niece noted, “…not Oman like an oil-rich sultan. It’s pure Viking with the stress on the first syllable.”) also lived for a time, and died in 1978; and over in the US on a Catskills bookshelf, I have a first edition of her 1953 Sir John Moore biography, which I’d bought in a second-hand bookshop in St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly (pronounced, uh, “silly”) thirteen years ago…

…and obviously, uh, I’m digressing there. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, back at the weekend, I was sitting in the beer garden in Ayot’s only pub: the Brocket Arms, which is far older than either George or Carola…

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Ahead To Tomorrow

June 2, 2018
R. J. Nello

We were out last night in Welwyn village center with a visiting friend:

A girlfriend from Dublin is spending the weekend with us. (“I hear we’ve been in the news? We’ve decided we’re gonna do everything by a referendum now. I’m votin’ in favour of this dinner.”) She left her two young teens and husband over in Ireland to fly over here for two nights. (“Miss me? Are ya kiddin’? They luv it. You know him, he’ll have them takin’ a 20 km walk somewhere, or kayaking…”)

Earlier in the day she and my wife had been out for several hours doing their thing together without me either. I used the time alone to take to the office for a while.

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Of The Times

May 29, 2018
R. J. Nello

I hope you had a good long weekend. Over that weekend at the in-laws’ down in London, I found something one of them had been reading. It was on the guestroom bookshelf:

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen my hint late yesterday at this post. πŸ™‚

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Buried In A Letter

May 25, 2018
R. J. Nello

What was I saying just the other day? That I couldn’t come up with a title for the new novel? Well, that was then.

It hit me yesterday. We never know from where our ideas come. The bulk of it is buried in this part of this letter from “Robert” to his father:

It took composing that top paragraph to get my mind moving…and that was that. But I’m not revealing the title just yet. Then I finished with the highlighted second part for an Instagram laugher.

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For My Fiction

April 30, 2018
R. J. Nello

Another Monday. I hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend. Let’s start the week with a (somewhat) lighthearted post.

[Country walk on Saturday. Hertfordshire, England. Photo by me, 2018.]

We had a good weekend…

[After-dinner drinks. Photo by me, 2018.]

…even though we also had relatives staying over!

With those visitors in the house, I was in my office only briefly. While I was, this issue hit me after remembering seeing it raised yet again somewhere recently. It led me to create this silly meme and post it to Instagram for a laugh:

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