I hope you are doing well, staying out of trouble (easier said than done these days), and most importantly of all, figuring out how you’re going to VOTE!
Voting has been a fraught process for me for several years. For some elections, I did an absentee ballot. Others, I dragged myself to my local polling place and shuffled through the line, praying I wouldn’t pass out. I never did, but it always felt like a near thing, and it was a very draining process.
This past spring I did early voting in person for the primaries. I started walking into the building–and started getting the “I can’t walk” issue. So I carefully crept back out to the parking lot and asked for assisted voting for people with disabilities.
The people at the polling place were extremely kind and helpful, but assisted voting is A) slow, and B) not secret. It’s a far sight better than not voting at all, but multiple people, all total strangers, saw my completed ballot. Just one of the weird and unexpected ways that not being able-bodied is a pain–and a painful blow to the dignity.
Okay, that was a HUGE tangent, if an important one. Back to the actual topic of this post…
After many months of breathless anticipation, we audiobook authors were thrilled to hear that BookFunnel has started rolling out beta testing of distributing full-length audiobooks! Yes! It’s here! I managed to get into a very early round of beta testing. So I have posted the audiobook of The Shadowy Man on BookFunnel and am doing a limited-time free giveaway of it, only for members of my mailing list (if you’re not a member yet, you can sign up here). The link is here and you should be able to download it and listen to it on the BookFunnel free app.
BookFunnel has asked that I share the following message along with the link:
This is a brand new app and brand new audio player, and we appreciate any and all feedback. All questions and concerns can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org ATTN: Julie
I listened through the book myself (it’s only 2 hours 20 minutes) and it all seemed to work fine, although the sound was maybe a little crackly and clip-y. I think BookFunnel is still using lower-quality MP3 files than places like Apple and Kobo. But overall it worked great.
And if that’s not enough audio for you, check out the Free Audiobook Samples giveaway on BookFunnel!
Okay, that was a very long preamble to what was supposed to be the main topic of this post, which is happy memories of Italy. If you haven’t read/listened to The Shadowy Man yet, it’s set in a kind of alternative, fantasy version of Renaissance Florence.
I actually spent most of my year in Italy in Milan, not Florence, with frequent trips to the medieval hilltop town of Bergamo. But when I went back for a brief visit to Italy a year later, I spent a couple of days touring Firenze, AKA Florence. It was, just like you’d expect, magical. Overflowing with tourists, of course, but still magical.
I read the autobiography of the Florentine Renaissance artist Benvenuto Cellini on my way to Florence, which gave me a vivid picture of this vibrant time in this vibrant city. Seeing Cellini’s bronze statue of Perseus with the Head of Medusa in the Piazza della Signoria was a real thrill after reading about the process of casting it.
There were a lot of other thrills in visiting Florence, including seeing the Duomo di Firenze and its magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi, Michelangelo’s statue of David, and a whole host of other great works of art and architecture by some of the biggest luminaries of the Italian Renaissance.
I also loved the city of Firenze itself, particularly the Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge) over the River Arno. All this melded in my mind with books I’d read and movies I’d seen about the Renaissance, until it all came out as a very vivid dream of what would become the first chapter of The Shadowy Man, with its scene of a Renaissance Man bodyguard teaching his charge how to paint–until things go dramatically wrong.
All this is making me miss Italy very much! Hopefully one day we will all be able to travel freely and visit it. Until then, we’ll have to settle for traveling vicariously through books, movies, and other works of the imagination.
Here are those links again:
Free audiobook of The Shadowy Man