Becoming a tourist attraction in Italy

You get endless warnings about pickpocketing in Europe (two kids on my trip have already had this happen to them), but no one warns you about the canals.

This past weekend I went to Venice, and it was absolutely gorgeous. We went on a gondola ride, saw the Doge’s palace, ate way too much gelato and even took the vaporetto (a boat used for public transport) to two islands nearby. During our visit to Burano, an island known for its colorful houses and handmade lace, we sat down on the edge of one of the canals to rest for a moment. When I stood up to continue walking, my phone tumbled from my lap, down the steps, and into the water. Shannon (my travel companion for the weekend) and I just stared in shock as my phone sunk with alarming speed into the murky water. If I hadn’t taken all my photos from that trip with my phone, this would be the end of the story. But I did and I wanted them back. Continue reading

Beautiful people in beautiful places

To start off my second blog post while abroad, I’m going to confess something that has been stewing in my mind since I’ve arrived in Brussels. As a whole, Belgians are more attractive than Americans. The fact that everyone here speaks French and dresses nicely are definitely contributing factors, but the people are just prettier here. I had originally thought that I was just a bit starstruck the first week I got here, but the effect has not worn off yet and I am surrounded — for the most part — by attractive Europeans. And what’s more is I seem to have found an intersection where extremely good-looking people tend to cross the street. Without fail, I have found at least one or two men or women that look like they walked straight off the page of a Calvin Klein ad around 5:30 each day on my walk home from work. I’ve been trying to photograph them sneakily and send pics of them to my sister because she too appreciates beautiful, well-dressed Europeans, but they are too fast when they walk by, and I have only been quick enough to snap a couple of pics (keep in mind, these aren’t even my best examples) :

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Creepy or brilliant? I’m gonna go with the latter.

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Barefoot in Belgium

Note: For those of you who are following my blog purely because it is a blog about books and the world of publishing, I’m warning you now that for the next two months it will temporarily be turned into a travel blog detailing my adventures in Brussels, Belgium. 


There are many things that I had hoped to learn during my time spent abroad, and breaking in a new pair of shoes before going to work was not one of them. Before I get into all the cool stuff I’ve seen thus far, let me tell ya a little bit about my day. First off, I thought that breaking in a new pair of shoes only applied to heels — not flats. Well, I learned the hard way, and the skin on the heels of my feet started rubbing off about halfway through my walk to work.

This summer I am interning at the U.S.-European Media Hub and after having my first day at work, I couldn’t be more excited! But due to the shoe situation, my morning was unbearable. An employee in the office was so nice to me and walked me over to the U.S. embassy to get my security badge, but at this point I had started to limp. I seriously considered taking my shoes off while in the embassy, but I didn’t until we sat down for a few minutes. My employee friend spoke English, but not extremely well, so I don’t think he really understood me when I tried to explain how badly my feet hurt and then he proceeded to take me on what felt like the world’s longest tour of the embassy, introducing me to every employee in the damn building as I walked at a snails pace behind him (he probably thinks I’m extremely slow all the time).

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Developing a thicker skin

The other day a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join his writing group. The idea is, a few people get together and share a copy of some sort of story they have been working on with the writing group, and then once someone has read your work, they provide some insight and critiques so that you can improve it. He also said that his writing group likes to meet at a bar, which pretty much sold me on the idea. (Reading, writing and beer? You don’t have to ask me twice!) But the invitation got me thinking — just how helpful can a writing group actually be?

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Image via Couldhavetakenitsolo

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Please don’t give up on your writing

For all of you aspiring authors out there who have been rejected from multiple literary agencies or publishing houses, whatever you do, don’t give up! During the past year I have been interning at a literary magazine, and one of my main responsibilities is to read through the submissions and either pass the story along to another intern for a second opinion if I liked it, or reject it. You wouldn’t believe how many manuscripts we reject — I sure didn’t before I started my internship. No worries, we often send encouraging notes to the authors if their writing is good, but just not quite publishable yet. Which begs the question of what is good? That’s the problem with the publishing industry — it’s all so subjective!

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How to build a following for your blog

What is the secret to blogging? Most people who blog do it to share their thoughts and express themselves, but we all know the real reason you turn to the internet and write down your feelings. It may not have started out as your number one reason — or it may have — but the driving force behind this desire is to gain more followers, likes, comments, etc. Or maybe I’m totally off the mark here and you really couldn’t care more (yes, more is correct) about how many followers you have. But if you are trying to build a following for your blog, what is the best way to go about it?

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Flickr Image via |vv@ldzen|

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Are men better writers than women?

According to the 2013 Vida count, which determines the number of book reviews written by men vs. women, men still dominate the field by and large. I must admit, this did take me somewhat by surprise when I first heard about Vida. I’ve always thought that reading was something that was more often associated with women than men, and according to a 2008 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, I was right. Fifty-eight percent of women read books defined as literature compared to 41.9 percent of men. So what’s going on in the world of publishing? Is there a literary glass ceiling? As a woman interested in pursuing a career in the book publishing industry, and as a lover of books in general, this concerns me a bit.

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Image via Murdo Macleod 

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The Most Magical Place on Earth may soon cease to exist

Just a few years ago I walked through aisle upon aisle of books in Borders and the book Divergent caught my eye. A line on the cover said that if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, then you will most definitely enjoy Divergent. What can I say, I’m a sucker for good marketing (well, I’m not sure if good is the right word to use there), but I picked it up and started reading the first chapter. I immediately liked it, but not enough to take it up to the register and purchase it. So, I put it back on the shelf and came back the next day to read a few more chapters. This went on for about three days until I finished the book. Fast forward a few years and my parents joke that it’s because of me and my refusal to buy Divergent that Borders went out of business. If they had just had that one additional sale, then I could still be scanning the spines of books while inhaling the sweet smell and of coffee beans mixed with the smell of freshly printed pages inside my beloved Borders. Yes, I did love Borders, and I did shed a tear when I heard that they were closing, and I bring this up because another tear is starting to well up for Barnes & Noble.

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What do you read for entertainment?

Is there such thing as a seasonal book? As I lounged about on the beach this past week in the Gulf Shores I noticed somewhat of a trend: light reading. And what exactly do I mean by light reading? I’m talking about magazines and (what I consider to be) happy books. Not once did I catch someone stretched out on their towel with a Stephen King thriller in their hands, or any other such book like that. Instead I saw the glossy pages of Cosmo and Seventeen Magazine and books like Veronica Roth’s Divergent or John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Now I’m not saying that people don’t ever read books with darker and more sinister plots or even books that perhaps require a bit more intellectual thought on the beach, but it just so happened that no one on my beach did. So I guess to answer my first question (about seasonal books) I should first ask why do people read on the beach in the first place? I don’t have a definitive answer for that because everyone is different, but I would have to say that it’s most likely because they want to relax and escape from everyday life. And what better way to do that than with a light and entertaining book?  

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Flickr Image via Maldita La Hora 

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Reading every book in the world

Can you ever read too many books? That is the question. Well, it’s the question I used to ask myself when I would hear my sister complaining about how terrible the book was that she was reading, but still refused to stop reading it. Let me back up a bit. My sister used to have this grand idea that she would read all the books in the world when she was younger and my parents supported it (why wouldn’t they—their child wanted to read instead of watch endless cartoons), while I scoffed in her face. (If you can’t already tell, I’m the older sibling.) And reading all the books in the world meant that she had to read every book she laid her eyes on from cover to cover. I used to always think that she was ridiculous for continuing to read books she found boring or just plain bad, but it’s been several years since she’s grown out of that grand idea and now I’m not so sure I was right to scoff at her. 

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Flickr image via Grzegorz Łobiński

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