Books: Conversational Italian for Travelers series: Textbook and…pocket book “Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)…reference books, “Just the Verbs” and “Just the Grammar”
Bio: Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years.
Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books, designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. These books have a unique approach, as they tell a story; we follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time learning the fundamentals of the Italian language.
Favorite thing about being a writer: Writing has opened up a whole new world for me, as I’ve been able to meet many people who love the same things that I do (outside of medicine) – my Italian heritage, the Italian culture, travel, and of course language.
Biggest challenge as an indie author: Getting my message out that people will really find these books enjoyable as well as helpful: my books are friendly and combine travel tips and humorous anecdotes that truly make learning the Italian language come alive! My Conversational Italian for Travelers “textbook” is truly different from other Italian language books because the focus is on Conversational Italian – all the Italian you really need to know to feel comfortable in Italy. This textbook includes my unique travel and culture insights gained from real-life experiences visiting Italy. Also, I developed my materials while teaching, so they are very practical and include material not found in other books.
(Most importantly)Favorite book: Italian mystery novels by Andrea Camilleri, mystery writer: “Il campo del Vasaio” The Potter’s Field is one of his best. These books were made into the “Detective Montalbano” series by the BBC, which I watch almost every day. The writer lived in and the series was filmed in the Occhipinti home town of Ragusa and surrounding area. Amazing insights into human nature and the culture of Sicily through a lead detective who bridges the worlds of common people and those in power – in politics, the media and mafia in order to solve very “true to life” cases.
Contact Information: The website associated with the books is: learntravelitalian.com: FREE interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive.
I am very excited to share the cover to a special project I have been working on for the past year.
A Fortunate Life is written by my father, Fred H. Rohn.
Author Fred H. Rohn grew up on Hurden Street in Hillside, New Jersey, a place that played a pivotal role in his upbringing.
From bike rides and street games in Hillside, to marriage and children in the town of Madison, Rohn shares his experiences of growing up during the Depression, attending college, serving in the Navy, embarking on a business career, and marrying his best friend and high school sweetheart.
Offering an important historical perspective on growing up in the twentieth century, this memoir shares what Rohn considers to be the factors of a fortunate life. Interspersed with photographs from past and present, he shows how one small life fits, as a microcosm, into the fabric of family, friends, and an ever-changing world environment.
A Fortunate Life, published by Archway Publishing, will be available soon on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in print and eBook formats.
The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler: Life changes in an instant when a man’s wife dies. Will he get a chance to fix unreconciled conflicts in his marriage?
The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor: great 1950s historical fiction about the lives of accused spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians.
Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith
It isn’t easy to categorize this memoir about personal growth and faith. I had not read anything by Lamott before my book club friend chose Traveling Mercies, which was published in 1999. Lamott is an Amercian novelist and nonfiction writer. Her first nonfiction book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, was published in 1993. Lamott’s most recent novel, Imperfect Birds was published in 2010 and her most recent nonfiction, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace was published in 2013.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Lamott grew up in an unhappy home as a middle child in the 1960s and by thirteen, she and her friends were drinking and using drugs regularly. Her parents were both free spirited, non-religious intellectuals and, as a girl, she felt the comfort of community in many of her friends’ religions. She found her anchor in the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, but she battled depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and bulimia for many years, returning to St. Andrew’s to make sense of her struggles.
The subject is heavy, but Lamott writes with honest humor. She openly shares her weaknesses, failures, fears and bad judgement, not to preach or convert, but to tell the story of her journey as a single mother with a lot of issues. Her faith is highly personalized, tweaked to help her through difficult decisions and feelings of inadequacy.
Lamott adored her father, Kenneth Lamott, who was a writer and literary figure and a central figure in her life. His diagnosis of brain cancer and death at age fifty-six was a major blow to Lamott. She wrote Hard Laughter, her first published novel, as a tribute to him.
Traveling Mercies is an excellent read. The book’s appeal lies in its accepting and non-judgemental delivery. Lamott isn’t sending a message. She is telling us what works for her. I recommend Traveling Mercies to anyone who is interested in personal growth and in understanding relationships.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed that there are a lot of books out there about that girl. She’s on a train, she’s in Boston, and then she’s gone. She’s good, she has a tattoo and wears a pearl earring. She’s playing with fire and kicking a hornet’s nest. First she’s in pieces and then she’s interrupted. You get the idea!
I’ve read and enjoyed many of these and now I’ve added more to my list. And there are even more “girl” books out there. Just do a search on Amazon and you will see what I mean.
If you grew up in the United States, you very likely learned about Helen Keller in school. She was an American girl from Alabama who lost her sight and hearing as a baby and determinedly overcame these obstacles to become a writer, a social activist and an advocate for the blind and deaf.
With the help of her devoted teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to write and speak. She attended special schools for the blind and deaf and graduated from Radcliffe College as the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree. Keller wrote The Story of My Life in 1902. By then she was a young woman and was a student at Radcliffe.
Keller’s early life is also depicted on the stage and in film. William Gibson wrote The Miracle Worker, a three-act biographical play about Anne Sullivan which premiered on Broadway in 1959. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke starred in the 1962 movie adaptation of the same name. Both actresses won Academy Awards for their performances. Many of you will remember the famous water pump scene from the movie in which Sullivan teaches Keller about water by showing her how it feels on her hand.
I knew all that before I read The Story of My Life. But I didn’t know about Helen’s many famous friends, including innovator and scientist Alexander Graham Bell, to whom her memoir is dedicated, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, First Lady Mrs. Grover Cleveland, and authors Mark Twain and Edward Everett Hale.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section is Keller’s personal story of how she learned to break free from the dark and silent world she inhabited. She had an intense desire to experience everything around her and was fortunate to have many opportunities to do so. She learned how to communicate, first through Sullivan’s system of spelling out words in Keller’s hand, and later by reading braille and writing letters first by hand and later with a braille typewriter. Being able to read and write made all things possible.
The second section of the book is a collection of letters Keller wrote to friends, family and dignitaries dating from 1887-1901. While I enjoyed reading her personal story, I think the letters show the real Helen Keller, a wonderful and loving little girl who was able to find joy in the smallest of things and who was interested in everything she came in contact with. I was amazed at how quickly she learned and how extensive her vocabulary was. The letters begin when she was seven years old and in just a short period, they show an explosion of knowledge and ability.
Keller’s early years had ups and downs like any normal childhood. She refers to one particular event in which she was accused of plagiarizing a story she wrote as a birthday present for Michael Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind where she was a student. When it was discovered that her story very closely resembled a previously published story, Keller could not imagine how she could have written one so similar. It was later believed that the original story had been read to her years before and Keller had simply absorbed it as she had many other stories, only to emerge later. Sadly, this marked the end of her friendship with Anagnos.
I also enjoyed reading about the rigorous preparation and enormous effort it took for Keller to be admitted into college. She had to pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a wide variety of subjects. Keller struggled with math, especially algebra and geometry. Imagine having to learn these subjects without seeing! She had to take her math exams in a different version of braille, and the symbols were different from the ones she knew. In college, acquiring textbooks in braille, attending lectures and having Sullivan spell them out in Keller’s hand were just a few of the things she had to do. When a textbook was unavailable in braille, Sullivan would read and spell out the texts to Keller. Talk about perseverance and dedication!
Keller spent much of her adult life writing, traveling and campaigning for various social causes including women’s suffrage. She was a member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. She died in 1968 at age eighty-seven and has since received many posthumous awards and commendations.
I highly recommend this memoir. I love reading about people who make things happen. It’s a great example of someone who never felt sorry for herself and expanded her world despite her limitations.
Are you wondering how Helen Keller learned to write letters like this?
Helen Keller wrote many letters to her friends and family members and she used a grooved writing board to learn how write them. The board helped her form each letter and keep the lines straight, a painstaking process which she learned with determination and cheer. She explains how it works in this letter to the children’s monthly, St. Nicholas:
It gives me very great pleasure to send you my autograph because I want the boys and girls who read St. Nicholas to know how blind children write. I suppose some of them wonder how we keep the lines so straight so I will try to tell them how it is done. We have a grooved board which we put between the pages when we wish to write. The parallel grooves correspond to lines and when we have pressed the paper into them by means of the blunt end of the pencil it is very easy to keep the words even. The small letters are all made in the grooves, while the long ones extend above and below them. We guide the pencil with the right hand, and feel carefully with the forefinger of the left hand to see that we shape and space the letters correctly. It is very difficult at first to form them plainly, but if we keep on trying it gradually becomes easier, and after a great deal of practice we can write legible letters to our friends. Then we are very, very happy.
Here are two additional Helen Keller books
Helen in Love: A Novel by Rosie Sultan Helen Keller reportedly fell in love with a man named Peter Fagan, who had been hired as a private secretary during Anne Sullivan’s absence. Published in 2013, Sultan tells the story of this relationship.
Bio: Gerhard was born in Transylvania (part of Romania) during WWII. He and his family miraculously survived the war and the deprivation thereafter. After the war they fled communist countries, eventually immigrating to the USA. Gerhard worked as an engineer for 34 years after serving in Vietnam. Following his retirement he began a second career as a high school German teacher. While immersed in teaching, he wrote and published German short stories for learners of German. After his second retirement he wrote his memoir.
Favorite thing about being a writer: Giving author talks where I get to tell my story, feedback from readers, and meeting interesting people
Biggest challenge as an indie author: Using technology and social media to market my books effectively