Monthly Archives: March 2014

A is for About Romania

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To start the story of Romania, my native country, allow me to first take you back in time.

One of the oldest civilization of Western Eurasia was the Romanian-Bulgarian Danube Valley (5000-3500BC),  remarkable in terms of ability to live in communities and artistic expression. 

Fast forward a few thousand years, and we have Dacia (the Dacian Kingdom) in the Balkans of today, near Slovakia, part of former Yugoslavia.

Here, Indo-European tribes intermingled with the natives, and came to be known as the Thracians, and later the Dacians.  

The Kingdom of Dacia came into existence in 86 BC, with its capital Sarmizegetuza, a city in modern-day Romania. Dacia’s ruler, King Burebista (82 BC to 44 BC), conquered and annexed the land from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.

The growth of Dacia was viewed as a threat to the might of Rome. Hence, Julius Caesar acknowledged the land of the Dacians, but kept a wary eye until the expansion of the kingdom became too much. King Burebista was murdered, and with his death Dacia seems to have fragmented.

Decebalus emerged as a strong king and united the Dacian provinces. The kingdom flourished. This again threatened Rome and Emperor Trajan launched an offensive against Dacia in 101 AD then in 106 AD. Dacia was conquered and incorporated into the Roman Empire.

A century later, Roman Emperor Aurelian withdrew from Dacia, but most Romans stayed behind. They named the province they occupied Romania.

In modern times, the nation consisted of three principalities — Transylvania (North and West), Moldavia (East), and Wallachia or Romania (South), briefly united as one country in 1599-1600 under Mihai Viteazu (Mihai, the Brave).

The principalities were disintegrated again under Ottoman and other occupations, until the end of WWI, when they united into one country.

The next century is a tumultuous one for Romania: WWII, the Communist period of 1947-1989, the 1989 Revolution, the ousting of a dictator, the transition to free market, and integration into the European Union.

It’s hard to do justice to such rich history in one blog post. So, I hope you’ll join me on this journey into the heart of Romania and meet the Romanian people, descendants of Dacians and Romans, occupants of an old-new country.  

Tomorrow’s post is Bucharest/Bucuresti (the capital of Romania). Hope to see you then.

Photo courtesy: Flag on the Poienari Fort, by andreistroe, Wikimedia, CC

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My Writing Process Blog Hop

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“In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better.” ~ Doris Lessing.

The amazing Guilie Castillo Oriard invited me to join in My Writing Process tour, which introduces you to writers and gives a little insight into their writing process. Please, hop over to Guilie’s blog, Quiet Laughter. She’s working on a year-long project for Pure Slush — great stories from all around the world.

By the way, I’m early with this post (due Monday). Considering the A-Z Challenge is almost here, things move a little faster.

What am I working on?

Too many things.

Actively, I’m working on a mystery titled Old Wounds, but I’m also putting the finishing touches (yet again) on my novel, Stranger or Friend. This one refuses to leave me alone. Too much internal thought slows the pace, and we can’t have that. Not enough, and I no longer recognize the characters, so striking the perfect balance … well, life is complicated and I like it that way. The end, however, is in sight. I can almost see it.

After having a second story published by Red Fez, I became greedy. Carved out more time for a couple of shorts. It seems I can’t work on a single project. There is comfort to be had in studies that link a wandering mind to the creative process. I think.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I really don’t know. Others suggests something similar, and works are different within any genre. A writer friend concluded my novel is not your regular mystery or suspense, but perhaps more on the women/literary/mystery side.

I like that. Must be the internal monologue — the characters’ emotions. Because emotion (done well, not the sappy kind) lies at the heart of a good story. Without it, I might as well populate my story with robots — nothing wrong with robots, just a personal preference.

Why do I write what I do?

Why, oh, why? For my novels, mystery is what I find engaging on story and character level — presenting the reader with a series of problems and questions, which arouse feelings that are often beyond imagination, yet seem real.

Short fiction is, in some ways, like a photograph — a captured moment of time, sometimes mysterious, fascinating, though perhaps delicate. It encapsulates the sense of wonder that feels our hearts, our fears and secrets. This complexity needs unmasking, and that’s what short stories are for.

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How does my writing process work?  

I write beautiful characters and fall desperately in love. :)

I sit down and write, write, write. Usually when the house is quiet, so I can focus. I stare out the window for long durations. Maybe I’m crazy. But if I were crazy, I’d consider that normal, right? See where this is going?

I put together a few general ideas, even try to imagine the ending, but I don’t do an elaborate outline or advanced plotting. Sure, I have a sense of direction, the main details. But that’s about it. And the non-plotting has nothing to do with killing creativity. It’s been my modus operandi for so long, switching gears now would drive the whole thing into a tree.

Here is the beauty of the process: there isn’t — nor should there ever be — a one-fits-all formula. This is writing, after all, not math.

And that, my friends, is how I do it. Again, many thanks to Guilie for inviting me to play. As is tradition, I’m tagging two writers to share their stories next Monday or any other Monday: my dear friend Debi O’Neille, and my friend and former writing partner Linda Covella (who recently signed a publishing contract with Astraea Press).

Take it away, ladies.

_____

Images: Norman Rockwell’s Jo, bloggingthemoments.com; Paul Cubitt, Pinterest.

Video

How to Start a Movement

When blogging first entered my mind, I considered asking friends to start a group blog.

Let’s Do This: Pre-Challenge Announcement

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I’m excited. Do you want to know why?

April is Blogging from A to Z month. Tell everyone, if you haven’t already. Really, this is what blogging is all about. Spread the word. Make new friends. Build your community. Share ideas.

And this year I have a theme for the A-Z Challenge, which is … drumroll please …

Romania (seen on the map in orange).

That’s right. For the next twenty-six days, I will tell you the story of my native country, a story based on a life lived there (on and off) for twenty-two years, and a little research.

I moved the U.S. in 1992, three years after the Revolution, the overthrow of a dictator and his despotic government, when our hopes did spring eternal. Didn’t take long to see change wasn’t coming, at least not fast enough.

So. I went away to study abroad and gain international experience, eventually got a job, later got married, and here I am twenty-two years later. A Romanian-American, living in Los Angeles.

As the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie, said: tell your stories or someone else will tell them, and they’ll be wrong

I will tell you the story of Romania, a country located in Eastern Europe. I’ll take you to the land of poet Mihai Eminescu, the misunderstood Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia, the land of a people from Dacian and Roman descent, the largest Gypsy population in Europe, a land formerly ruled by a dictator, a place with beautiful mountains and valleys, the Danube Delta, the Black Sea, rich traditions and delicious frigarui (Romanian kebab).  

Want to know another cool thing? There are blog hops within the A-Z Challenge. One of them is the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal BlogFest. Add your name to the list, and reveal your theme on March 21st. No theme? Come chat, and maybe you’ll get some ideas, or choose to remain spontaneous. It’s all good.

Excited yet? Perfect. I’m delighted you’ve stopped by, and hope you’ll join me on this month-long journey to Romania, a land both old and new.

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Photo courtesy: Wikimedia, Creative Commons.