Old San Juan

We decided earlier this year that we would take a holiday somewhere we’ve never been: Puerto Rico:

We flew down here from New York on Thursday. A major impetus to doing this were cousins of mine, whose family roots are in Puerto Rico. Years ago they had suggested we give it a visit.

When I wrote her asking for some suggestions a couple of months back, one cousin practically overloaded my Messenger:

Continue reading

Little Big Annoyances

Yesterday, we watched the first two episodes of Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman:

Screen capture of IMDB home page.

Within moments as the first episode opened, this program felt gratingly familiar. If you are new here, you might have missed where I explained (wow, almost 2 years ago now) how The Affair that was not exactly my favorite program – and why. I got through about 3 or 4 episodes of it before I gave up.

And The Affair has apparently been a success on Showtime in the U.S.

Continue reading

Springtime

Sunday’s postย on loss and grief was quite serious, I know. I appreciate you having read it. As I have had some time to reflect on my feelings since posting it, interestingly I have found a bit of relief in my own words.

And spring is upon us:

Where would writers be without their families and friends to provide them with material? When I fictionalized my mother and my uncle, they were still living. Both died just after I’d essentially finished writing Distances in September 2015.

Continue reading

When You Experience Grief…

I lost an aunt a couple of weeks ago in New York. I’ve never mentioned her here. She was the widow of my other uncle – my mother’s and my novelist uncle’s younger brother. He died at 48 in early 1994.

My aunt had been ill for a long time. I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years. I last spoke to her just after my mother died in 2015.

Yes, the beard is off. The major reason it is? She who is dearest to me, revealing: "It's as I imagine kissing a brush might feel."๐Ÿ˜œ . Okay, it's Friday and given previously I've put up paintings of lovely eighteenth century ladies, why not a handsome bloke of that era?๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธIt's only fair.๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ–Œ . And how about an *unbearded* man? This is American diplomat William Short, painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1806, when Short was age 47.๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ . #humor #humour #painting #USA #France #diplomacy #Europe #travel #expats #classical #history #art #writing #authors #photo #photography #beards #Hertfordshire #England #novels #fiction #romance #writing #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #fun #Friday #weekend

A post shared by R. J. Nello (@rjnello) on

My writing is a form of release. (As is social media.) It’s a means to try to get away. It has proven especially important to me in the last couple of years.

Continue reading

Viewed From This England

We’ve been watching the political-melodrama U.S. TV series Madam Secretary. But you don’t need to know the details of the program to get this post. I thought I’d use it as a basis for some “fun” today – it’s Friday – mostly due to the episode we just saw and because, as you probably know, my wife is English (and we have been married for, uh, quite a few years).

In that episode from its 3rd season, the U.S. Secretary of State’s twenty-something spoiled, mouthy, annoying pain in the neck for the previous two seasons and now continuing to be so apparently daughter has returned to Washington recently after a summer in Oxford with her English fiancรฉ.

In the kitchen, unexpectedly she gets all emotional and reveals to Mom (the Secretary of State, I repeat) that she was like wow really unhappy with her English husband-to-be when they were in England. Suddenly, she announces she doesn’t want to live there. She says she hated the place.

Continue reading

The Widower

Yesterday, I was having what I had thought was an innocuous FaceTime with my father. There was our usual current discussion of the weather in his northeast Pennsylvania, and any snow – including what is up at our house in the Catskills. There was also the required exchange about what the new U.S. president is up to. And there was other chitchat.

As I thought we were about to sign off, abruptly he veered without warning into again reviewing my mother’s cancer and death in October 2015. Through hard personal experience, I’ve learned a lot about widowers since then. “The widower” is a particularly difficult area in our culture.

Continue reading

“He doesn’t love me as I love him…”

For today’s topic – the obvious one. I’ve found that writing romance is one of the most difficult things to get right as an author. It is too dangerously easy to produce sappy, or unrealistic, or simply unbelievable relationships.

It is also easy to poke fun at romance writing. However, if you try to write even a few romantic paragraphs yourself you will quickly develop a respect for those who craft romantic tales. Since 2013, I have.

Continue reading

Day Of Rest

I read none of my Conventions manuscript yesterday beyond glimpsing its cover on Instagram and here in my post about it. I’m taking a few days away from the late 1700s to clear my head before I delve into correcting it from the beginning. I think this is probably the first time in months I have gone a 24 hour period (and counting) not writing or reading any of it.

Stock Photo: An Indo-Chinese tiger sleeping on a rock.
Stock Photo: An Indo-Chinese tiger sleeping on a rock.

As part of my “day of rest,” I found myself in a sudden Messenger chat with a friend. She lives in Bristol and was my wife’s friend before she became mine as well. (I have deleted names used.) She is the opening message…

Continue reading

My “Gone With The Wind” (I Laughed)

When you have finished the rough draft of your latest book one day earlier than you had targeted it for completion, what do you do? Well, I sat there stunned and shattered. Later, I watched an old film and decompressed:

And I went for a quick walk:

I did not go inside. I resisted. I had thought, though, maybe…

Earlier, I had also “freed” my book at last from the confines of a PC file and printed the ENTIRE manuscript for the first time. In its three dimensional form it’s now 516 pages (double-sided printed, of course) and it took the printer about three hours to work through it all. At last I could point to it and say, 13 months of work (so far):

Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]

I was so pleased, as you see I took a photo of it. As I looked at it, I thought as well that I still couldn’t believe it. All of that had once been merely an “idea” bouncing around vaguely in my head.

Soon the “editor” – she may well be reading this post – will receive a copy. Now the truly scary part commences. I hope she has a spare month or so of reading time!

I have just Facetimed my wife in Portugal and waved it at her: “My Gone With The Wind,” I laughed.

She came back, “Let’s hope it sells like that!”

Indeed, and as I look again now at that huge pile of paper, my uncle comes to mind. If you are a regular visitor, you know he died in October 2015. He had been a crime novelist published starting in the early 1980s by “big name” companies.

Continue reading