M is for Making More Memories

I wish I was better about taking pictures.

Seriously, I have a phone that never leaves my person. It has a great camera that I don’t use.

Masks Ren Fest 2014I’ve just discovered that the first pics that are on this phone are from the exact period when I began my writing adventure — November 2014. That Thanksgiving, we went to Texas Renaissance Festival, not garbed (shamefully), and I took a picture of a mask that my son, Joshua, liked. I took a few other pics that weren’t terribly notable. I should have taken more, but we didn’t dress up. Such a silly reason to not take pics.

But yeah, that’s when all this started, inauspiciously, when I decided I could write stuff, sure, what the heck? And I already had Giovanni, so I gave him a love. Sarah, whose name means princess, a medieval scholar with messy hair and a stutter (I had to make her imperfect somehow).

Bologna 1604 Fontana BookBy January, I had taken this picture of Bologna from the period when my book is set. It’s from a book called Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna by Caroline P. Murphy. I’m pretty stoked to find this picture on my phone. It means that between Thanksgiving and January, I had already decided that I wanted to make my novel a historical romance rather than a modern one. Alas, though, my characters struck me as terribly modern. How do I reconcile this?

It just so happened that season one of Outlander was being shown. I refused to watch it until I read the book. So, that was on my bed stand when the lightning bolt that my contemporary characters could time travel to the Renaissance hit me. I think I spent that Christmas break in a state of extreme manic creativity.

It was Bologna because of the University. It was 1578 because I had found that book about Lavinia, and that was when her painting career took off, and there had been a plague a couple years before that I thought I’d build a story around. I developed a character named Emilia, given the same name as Lavinia’s first child. Caroline Murphy’s book was a veritable goldmine. Still is.

By January 25th, I had Niccolo, Emilia’s beloved. I know this because I shot this picture of a resource I found in the library at the University of Texas.

Notary Source Jan 2015

I’m not sure why he ended up as a notary, and I’m still looking for the resource that told me notaries wore black, but those things stuck. He became my dark, mysterious man, as much as a Pollyanna like me can write a dark character. Especially since I absolutely adore him.

20161222_162318.jpgWell. This wasn’t what I was going to do my M-is-for post on at all! But perhaps it’s appropriate that I record these spontaneous decisions I had made that didn’t seem important at the time.

I suppose a great way to frame this blog post is to show a picture of my son, Joshua, standing outside a mask shop in Venice. We were in Italy researching the book series. Who would have ever thought my silly ideas for some scribbling would turn into this?

Yeah, and I guess I had forgotten how old (and fabulous) my phone is. (Samsung Galaxy 6, people…)

What did we learn today, kids? TAKE MORE PICTURES! Make More Memories. They may turn out to be more important than you can ever imagine.

Oh, before you go. I have a postscript to yesterday’s blog about the actor who’s my Giovanni muse. I woke up to this on my Twitter feed this morning. Can I just say how much I love being a writer?

Alberto Tweet



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Filed under #AtoZChallenge, Chatting with the Readers, Historical Fiction, Trip To Italy 2016

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