book, Culture, Heritage, Italian American Author, relatable

Celebrate Your Heritage

celebrate-your-heritage-c-dangelo-behind-the-scenes-blog

Happy Italian Heritage Month! Since my novels are relatable stories of my Italian American culture, I want to bring attention to my culture this month as well as yours. The relatable aspect in my writing brings me joy because there are so many universal values and behaviors of humans and it bonds us. We all need (not just want) to feel heard, so finding validation and even inspiration in my quirky yet serious stories is extremely meaningful to me (that’s part of why I love those reviews you leave! Readers commented so much on the relatability that I took notice and now pride myself on it.). So put on your party hat and let’s get down to celebrating.

First things first. Here’s a clarification on culture and heritage:

“Culture is based on what the people create whereas the heritage is what the people inherit by nature, by history, by culture.” – PEDIAA.com

Now, when I think of what it means to be Italian by heritage, so many images come to mind, with food (obviously first!), music, and family time at the top. These elements are part of me, thanks to my family members and not just to genetics of course (it’s culture, as we’ve learned above). They were the ones who cooked the delicious Italian cuisine and blasted the classic Italian musicians’ tunes while we spent time together. Spaghetti and meatballs wouldn’t be nearly as tasty without Frank Sinatra serenading us. I mean, come on!

But seriously, the stories of their immigrant journeys and instilling their tough work ethic and value of education in me as a young child formed me and set me on a path of appreciating my roots as well as wanting to bring a good name to the family. Part of the reason for writing my novels is to honor them—as you may know each book so far as been dedicated to my grandparents (The Difference to my grandpa and The Visitor to my grandma). Recognizing my heritage as part of me has made my life richer, my identity clearer, and has allowed me to carry on traditions from long ago. My books will live beyond my lifetime, meaning the D’Angelo legacy can be eternal! (I know that’s a little exaggerated, but hey, you never know.)

Alright, let’s talk about you. What does your culture mean to you? Have you thought about it? Some people may not be as influenced by their past, so you may not be and that’s A-OK. But if you want to think about it more, I’m here to help. I have some starter questions for you to ponder, as well as examples/suggestions to start the journey into yourself.

Brainstorming:

  • What does culture or heritage mean to you in general?
  • (Again) What does your culture mean to you?
  • Think of your childhood. What were some family traditions, experiences (holidays, weekly rituals etc…). For example, Sunday dinner is huge in my Italian culture.
  • Did your family talk about their upbringing? What do you remember from their stories?
  • What values and/or beliefs define you?
  • How do you integrate your culture into your life? Would you like to expand on it?
  • Look in your closet and bathroom. Does your fashion sense or hair style originate from your culture?
  • When you are sick, what action do you take? Do you go to a traditional Western medical doctor, a holistic expert, or maybe handle it yourself, if possible?

Exploration ideas:

  • No idea where to start with the brainstormed info?
    • Make an identity graph, manually or digitally. See the example below, though your name may go in the middle where “identity” is placed.
    • Another way to become more familiar with your cultural identity is to make a Pinterest board. You may know I have one for my bookish life and of course there are oodles of Italian culture in there.  
  • Talk to family members, including extended family. They are a wealth of knowledge for history and may be engaging in activities you didn’t know about until now.
  • Google your culture and heritage for ideas. This may spark a memory.
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Further action steps:

  • What’s one tangible step you can take today to celebrate your culture, therefore you? Examples could include listening to traditional music, cooking a special food from a country of origin, or signing up for a dance or language class.
  • If you don’t have traditions or rituals from childhood, make your own! There’s no time like the present to start celebrating you. Maybe it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen since a family value rooted in your culture is to give back.

Well, thanks for going with me on this meaningful ride today. You can tell how much importance I place on my culture so maybe you are inspired to do some of the above steps and even share stories with me. I’d love your thoughts on what this post may have inspired within you. Now, I’m off to continue working on my third novel. See you next month…a post you won’t want to miss.

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, Behind the scenes, inspirational, relatable

Interview with Author Heather E. F. Carter

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Remember in last month’s post how I said I had a blog announcement? Well, here it is! I will be interviewing authors from all genres in this monthly blog but also will sometimes still write my posts that you know and love. I will keep you on your toes month-to-month because there won’t be a set pattern. Are you as excited as me?

I am continuing to offer behind the scenes inspirational and relatable topics for both writers and non-writers via these interviews. A goal of my blog is always to include gifts to you as my reader, such as a new task to try or words that touch your heart and help you to heal, grow, or change in a positive way. The interviewees are broadening my insights already as I know they will do for you as well.

In my first author interview below, you will have the pleasure of reading debut author Heather E. F. Carter’s thoughts on lessons learned, self-care, and upcoming projects. I can’t wait for more from her because The Black Unicorn is a beautifully written, emotion evoking historical romance novel that sticks with you far after you finish the last words on the page. Enjoy!

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

If I were able to send a message to myself five years ago regarding the challenge of publishing, I’d first of all tell myself that the book is good. I wrote The Black Unicorn ten years ago while I was in graduate school, and then I let it sit on a shelf. I honestly didn’t think I had anything in it. I forgot about it; or, if I did happen to think about it, I’d tell people that it was no good. I’ve been, on occasion, very insulting to my story of Ashby and Elina.  So if I had words for Heather of five years ago, it would be first of all that the story is good. Secondly, I’d tell myself not to waste any time looking for an agent. I spent about three years in the query trenches, and alas traditional publishing wasn’t meant to be my path. If I hadn’t wasted so much time looking for an agent, I’d probably be on my third book by now. And as for the challenge of publishing? I’d tell myself exactly what I tell myself when tackling any big problem: Bird by bird. This is, of course, in reference to Anne Lamott’s wonderful book. Just take each new challenge or problem one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.

What motivated you to keep going on the major project of writing your book(s)?

Once I had committed to Ashby and Elina’s story about three years ago, the one thing, or person I should say, that kept me going was my husband, Terry. He’s always been my #1 fan, and he’s always pushed me to publish my stories. He’s currently pushing me to publish my vampire story, and I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ignore him on that one, lol. But he’s always been very determined to see me in print.

What gives you energy and joy?

One thing, non-writing-related, that gives me energy and joy is music. I am a flautist; once upon a time, a very serious one.  And I do write to music, so I suppose that perhaps it’s writing-related after all. But it’s music for me. I married a professional musician, so music is a daily, sometimes hourly, part of my life. When I need inspiration for a scene, I’ll often choose a song and play it on a loop until I find what I need for that scene. All of my love scenes were written to music. That is significant, if you’ve read my story, because I’ve been known to write pretty decent love scenes.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

There are a few meaningful aspects of me that have found their way in my work. For one, Elina is essentially me. Well, she is as far as personality goes. I am most certainly not a tall British redhead. But as far as her motivations go, that’s all me. Elina is also a flautist. That particular scene was cut in the final version, but Elina plays the flute very well. And the scenes involving dancing all come from my understanding of eighteenth-century music.

How do you reach your goals?

In the past, I have reached my goals by doing nothing else until that goal has been reached. I like to joke that I’m a terrible multi-tasker, which is totally true! I’m very good at focusing all my attention on one thing at a time, and then excelling at that one thing. That is how I wrote The Black Unicorn a decade ago. I took a year’s leave of absence from my doctoral program, and I wrote a book. Sadly, I cannot do that anymore. Adulting. And children. This isn’t really such a bad thing. So for my next project, The Golden Phoenix, I’ll write it by doing about two hours a day. But first I must research, because I honestly have no idea what happened in 1796! So I’ll research for about six to eight months, again by devoting about two hours a day to it. I go very deep with my research. It’s a holdover from my doctorial days when all my research would be subject to a peer review. I research like I’m writing a history book. Then it’s a question of finding the right balance, and not writing a history book. So I’m probably about two years out from the publication of The Black Unicorn’s sequel. But such is life when you write romantic historical fiction.  Diana Gabaldon takes four years to write her Outlander books, so I’ll take my two-year timeline and be happy about it. And The Golden Phoenix will be in many ways a very different story from The Black Unicorn. For one thing, Ashby and Elina are not in it. Many will find that disappointing, but never fear! Book three will be the continuation of their story. In The Golden Phoenix, I am rather continuing Tristan’s story line. Tristan deserves his happily ever after. Poor guy got a raw deal in The Black Unicorn. So you can expect to see that story come out in 2023… perhaps earlier, if I really get to work. In the meantime, I’ll be posting snippets of it, along with short stories from Ashby and Elina’s timeline, on Kindle Vella.

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Click on the picture to purchase

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.