Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thoughts for December

Jesus was born in a humble place, a stall, with a manger as his first bed. The lowly circumstances of his birth tell us that he came for everyone: the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the hopeless. No one is beneath him. But he also came for the rich and affluent, the famous, the diligent workers and the people who can get by. No one is well off enough to do without him.

His mother, Mary, was found to be pregnant before she was formally married. Therefore, we should remember that God uses all kinds of situations for His divine purpose, and so guard against judgement of "imperfect" circumstances.

His father, Joseph, looked after his family - including the son that technically wasn't his. He didn't make decisions based on outward appearances - but maybe we wouldn't either if we were in on God's plan. We must listen if we are to hear God's direction for our lives, which means always leaving time for silence during our prayers.

Angels announced his birth. A fitting welcome for the King of the Universe, isn't it? This tells me that I should announce his birth too. Christmas carols, poetry, blog posts, greeting cards, my Facebook status and Tweets and all forms of communication can bring to mind "the reason for the season".

Shepherds came to see him, which tells me that they believed and acted on that belief. The multitude of angels suddenly singing in the sky got their attention, and down to the stall they went to greet the new king. If it happened today, would we go or would we wait for the media coverage and watch it from home?

Wise men brought gifts, and very valuable ones at that. Rethinking gift giving would be in order. No more consumerism, as people often complain, but gifts of value to mark the birth of our King. This could be something needed or wanted, but it could also be a phone call or a helping hand. We are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and to take care of the less fortunate, and our gifts can show our loved ones how much we care about them.

Jesus gave us our mission: go and make disciples. Let us announce him to all people, accept our imperfect circumstances, and hear God's voice and believe. Let us act on our beliefs and give the gift of eternal life this Christmas, and for all the Christmases to come.

For as Jesus said, Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent. (John 17:3 CEV)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Coming soon.... the Giallo Milanese 2014 anthology!


For the record, I came in second. I had a great time.

The anthology containing the 16 stories selected by the contest commission will be out around mid-December. The book is in Italian, of course, but I'm finishing the translation soon so that I can post the story right here on my blog.
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The finals!

I have worked my way through the selection process in the Giallo Milanese literary contest. On Saturday, November 15th, I'll be reading for the last time so that the audience can vote for the story they like best.

There are only two to choose from, so I've got a fifty-fifty chance actually winning!

Obviously I'm excited, and really happy that the story was appreciated - especially since it isn't written in my native language. I'm still translating it, and I plan to post it somewhere (probably here) for my English speaking readers (all 5 of you be patient now). I'm sorry it's taking me so long.

Now I'm on Twitter and Facebook inviting people to come and vote.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

My first reading

Strangely enough, I wasn't nervous.

I got my turn reading my story at the Giallo Milanese literary contest on October 16th. (The link goes to a short video with Italian audio in which I read a few lines.)

The last person reading in the video is an actor, not the author of the story, and it shows. We writers tend to be a little shy in front of a microphone. In the past, I've attended readings where the authors obviously were used to speaking in front of a group, but they're exceptions.

The ExCogita publisher, who sponsors the Giallo Milanese contest, says that publishers choose what to publish, but the public decides what is worth reading. Therefore, the people who come to listen get to vote for the stories they like best.

I passed this selection so I'm scheduled to read again on November 6th.
I'm so excited!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Giallo Milanese - An Italian Literary Contest

I'm in! I'm having a story published!

Giallo Milanese is a contest run by Ex Cogita publisher. They pick sixteen stories to publish in a small book, and then organise a tournament to pick the favorite story as the "absolute winner".

Winners invite friends, family, acquaintences, and everyone else that they happen to run into to the reading so that they will all vote. I read on October 16th, and YOU are invited.

As a footnote, I wrote this story in Italian. I'll be doing the translation soon (as soon as I get time because I'm up to my ears in work). But in the meantime - if you happen to read Italian - check out the contest website and read all of the stories.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blog news

I changed the URL for my Italian language blog A Spasso sul Mare so that it would be easier to find. I'll be giving up the old URL at the end of the month.

There's also a new post up on Walking on Water - finally!
Let me know what you think.

Book reviews: The Temple of Light

I finished the book Il Tempio della Luce by Daniela Piazza, written in Italian and published in 2012. It's a historical novel set in 15th century Milan about a group of priests overseeing a period of the cathedral's construction and raising a young boy who was the secret heir of the late Duke of Milan. The author weaves fictional characters and real people into a semi-fictional account of an assassination that actually took place.

I really enjoyed the historical descriptions because I know a lot about Milan. I found the plot to contain a lot of cruelty and violence, which unfortunately is not wrong for the time period. In the 15th century, women and children were not seen as people. Orphans were left in the middle of the streets to become beggars, and young girls were married off or sent to convents or brothels. Rulers really were ruthless (if you don't believe me, click here) and the Inquisition is a blight on the history of the church.

In this book, the priests are devout followers of a Celtic goddess and they recognize the Virgin Mary as an incarnation of her. They are trying to see the cathedral through to completion in order to bring Man back into contact with God, but what they've got in mind is not merely spiritual.

Look for the English translation.