It’s #RIAuthor Month – Meet Pat Mitchell

Thanks to Martha Reynolds once again for featuring me on her blog. A Girl from the Hill is one of the hundreds of books that will be available at the Association of Rhode Island Auhors (ARIA) annual expo at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet this coming Saturday, December 2nd, 10am to 5 pm. Come visit- books make great gifts!

Martha Reynolds Writes

Pat Mitchell photoThe Girl, with her fiance, in 1946

A Girl from the Hill is a tribute to my mother, who grew up on Federal Hill during the Great Depression. The collection of essays depicts her life of as one of laughter and love, as well as its share of suffering and sorrow.

Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood was, and still is, Rhode Island’s “Little Italy.” Thousands of Italian immigrants, including my grandparents, came to Rhode Island at the turn of the 20th century to begin new, better lives. They struggled to assimilate into American culture, and my mother’s parents, Giovanni and Maria, tried their best to become John and Mary. My mom, their youngest of eight children, was full of joy, and enjoyed much of her childhood despite her mother’s struggle with diabetes.

I began the book merely as a simple exercise, to see if I could actually write a book…

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A Blonde and a Brunette

Julia’s parents have told her she may ask a friend along on their annual August getaway to Prudence Island. Emma’s face immediately pops into the nine-year old’s mind, and she blurts her name out not as a question but a joyful exclamation. Julia’s parents expected this response, and are both pleased and relieved. They adore little Emma and find her and her family exceptionally kind and reasonable.
“Can I call her?” Julia almost squeaks, not yet of age to digitally contact anyone.
“Sure, in a little while,” her father says calmly, trying not to squelch his little girl’s spirit, but also trying to get her to listen. But Julia’s excitement drowns out all the sounds surrounding her. She wants vacation to start immediately. Her mind races, thinking of all the fun they will have, all the special places that her father and her grandparents have shown her, places where her family has spent countless summers, where her grandmother, her father and now she has grown to know and love. She will now get to share this with her favorite friend. Her father sees the wheels turning in his little girl’s mind and decides that the talk about sharing and having a guest stay in the same house with you for a week can wait. He and his wife grin at each other as she goes into the living room to contact Emma’s parents. He stays to listen while Julia chatters about what she thinks Emma should bring and the places they will go.
“…water shoes for Sandy Beach definitely, and change for candy at Marci’s, lots of sunscreen but of course she can use ours, not too many clothes because we can always do laundry at Nana and Papa’s, and Dad you can teach Emma how to fish for skipjacks…”
Although it’s not really far away in miles, maybe 50 or so from their home in Smithfield, counting the ferry ride, the magic of Prudence lies decades away in time. A little island situated between Bristol and Portsmouth Rhode Island settled by Indians and then colonists, and free of the touristy spots that attract summer vacationers to places like Martha’s Vineyard or Block Island. Though all these New England islands are beautiful, they provide completely different experiences. All three have breathtaking ocean views, sandy beaches and untouched woodlands, but that’s about where the comparison really ends. Prudence has a general store, a post office and little honor system fruit and vegetable stand, a tiny box of a library, and not much more. No bars, hotels, supermarkets. It’s BYOB, and while you’re at it, bring your own everything else too. Even with the arrival of wi-fi about 5 years ago it’s still a pretty much a throwback to the 70’s, or even the 50’s with lots of safe places for children to play without constant supervision and worry. Doors are never locked, and residents can leave their keys in their car ignitions without a second thought.
After weeks of waiting that seem like centuries to the girls, departure date arrives. Julia and her family drive to Emma’s house to pick her up. She is standing in the driveway with her bags next to her and a wide toothy grin that beams happiness and excitement over her first big girl journey. While the 4 parents chat, the girls hug and Julia pulls Emma and her bags into the car. Two girls so different, but it’s apparent that there is already a bond between them that can never be broken.
Julia is tall for her age, outspoken, fearless and displays a perfect balance of kindness and humor. Emma, petite, polite and soft-spoken around most people, lets inhibitions fall away with those she trusts, like Julia. The two are a silly, goofy, stand-up comedy team, playing off each other’s goof ups and missteps with the timing of Grace and Allen, and act more like two old souls who’ve known each other forever instead of two almost ten-year olds. Their differences in appearance only add to the comedy, and one wonders what the two possibly have in common. Julia with her fair skin, blonde hair, high cheekbones and almond-shaped blue eyes looks more Nordic than half Italian half Irish; Emma, with lightly freckled skin, brown wavy hair, green doe-shaped eyes and her mother’s delicate heart shaped face looks like a young princess that will grow more gorgeous with each passing year.
Emma’s little sister and brother come running out to say goodbye for what will seem like forever to their big sister. Maddie hugs her sister and cries, “I love you, don’t forget about us!” Her baby brother Joshua, only five attached himself to the two girls and squeezes them until they both say “Josh, stop!” in unison.
Emma stoically bids her parents and siblings goodbye, leaving them each with a tender kiss on the cheek and an “I love you.” She climbs into the back seat with Julia who has already picked out Hannah Montana songs for the ride to the Ferry and is waving frantically to Emma to hurry. “We don’t want to miss the boat Emma, come on!”
So begins the start of a many beautiful summers together on Prudence Island. Days of lying in the sun, jumping off of the dock at Sandy Point into the clear salt water, eating lunch outside on sunny days, reading, watching movies, playing board games on not so sunny days. Of taking long walks, and bike rides and getting lost and then eventually finding their way back, laughing all the way. Of finding sea glass and learning each other’s secrets, and forming a bond that cannot be broken. And as they grow up and away from each other over time by miles, they will always be close in each other’s hearts. They will always have Prudence.

Nov 20 – Meet Rhode Island Author Rachael I McIntosh

Rachael McIntosh is one of over 100 Rhode Island authors appearing at the 3rd Annual ARIA Author’s Expo on December 5th.  Her Security through Absurdity trilogy will be available, and just reading her bio on Martha Reynolds Writes tells me that her style is crisp, clear and a wild ride.  Take a look:

Martha Reynolds Writes

Nov 11- Meet Rhode Island Author Paul Caranci

If you are interested in Rhode Island history, you may have already come across the work of Paul Caranci.  If not, this post by Paul may inspire you to learn more about the author and the topic. He will be at the ARIA 3rd Annual ARIA Book Expo on December 5th.  Stop by and meet him to learn even more about this beautiful, strange state that many of us live in.

Nov. 11 – Meet RI Author Paul F. Caranci

More Great ARIA Authors to Meet – Martha Reynolds, Hannah Goodman and Adam Wasserman!

Those of you who regularly tune in know that yesterday I had the pleasure of spending time with many ARIA authors.  In all honesty I have to tell you all how impressive both the work and the character of the people has been so far.  As a writer it’s comforting to have such a supportive network; as I reader I am learning so much about what our local authors have to offer.

So, for your reading pleasure, here are three more authors to learn about.  Show them your support, especially you Rhode Islanders out there!  Many thanks – and feel free to comment here about the any of the authors I’ve posted this past week.

Social Anxiety Be Gone!

anxietyWhen I first took the plunge and decided to publish A Girl from the Hill, I never considered the next logical step – selling A Girl from the Hill. I was clueless about the feelings that come from creating something, sweating and crying and laughing and agonizing over this baby of mine, only to then try to convince the rest of the world that it’s worth their time – and money.  Holy crap, I said to myself then and still say now. This marketing stuff is not easy.

I am not sure what I expected, for though I’m expressive, I’m just pathetic at networking, small talk, and walking up to people and asking them if they’d like to read my book. No, I’m the person who will sit with a million boxes of books printed and ready to sell in her living room, calmly waiting for the crowds to arrive. My ninety-year-old mother is a better salesperson than I am. “Didja know there’s a book about me?” she crows to anyone who will listen. And they listen.

So I’ve been trying to sell my book, and having all kinds of interesting adventures in the process. The best part of the selling process, besides making money, is, and I never thought I’d say this, meeting people. Not only meeting people, but talking to people. About me. And my book. And a whole bunch of other things that are important to us. Yes us. I am learning to become engaged, and hopefully, engaging.

You see, I often dread the thought of new places with new people. Even familiar places with familiar people. Call it social anxiety because that’s exactly what it is.  It isn’t apparent to people I work with, and I enjoy leading teams and projects successfully

Tonight, though, I wanted to take a moment to mention how incredibly fun it has been so far to talk to new people about writing and books, especially my book, these past eighteen months. Really, it’s been great therapy to share part of my life with others and not feel responsible for their happiness at the same time. Maybe they like me and my work, maybe they don’t. But I will not pass out and die if they don’t approve of me. Who knew?

The other aspect of this whole marketing thing that I’m grateful for is the writer friends I have made along the way. Whether it’s my blog buddies who write great stuff and urge me on when I blog, or the writers from ARIA or  ASTAL who share their work and their advice with me, and whose work provides me with the inspiration I need to keep writing even if it’s for 5 minutes a day.

So thank you all, who I’ve met so far on this journey, who write, read, share, and who have helped me grow as a person and a writer. Looking forward to next weekend at the Scituate Art Festival, when I’ll get another opportunity to reach out and find some more reasons to feel grateful and inspired.

The Resident Reviews A Girl from the Hill- A Parent’s Hardship and Recovery

English: Dahlia 'Graceland'

English: Dahlia ‘Graceland’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Resident, is a local Mystic, CT paper, and the first publication that reached out to me for an interview once A Girl From the Hill became available.

What follows is the interview, which is not electronically available yet.  You can check out there site, as I’m hoping it will be out there soon.

The gentleman who interviewed m, Roger Zotti, did send me a hardcopy in the mail, which I received yesterday.  To say I was touched by his effort is an understatement.

A Parent’s Hardship and Recovery – by Roger Zotti

The best way to understand the power of Patricia L. Mitchell’s “A Girl from the Hill:  My Mother’s Journey from Italian Girl to American Woman” (Balboa Press) is to give you a taste.  Consider “The Old Crow,” perhaps the book’s most telling chapter, which is about the ‘very severe depression’ Patricia’s mother, Dahlia Lydia Fiore Testa, suffered.  It’s about Dahlia’s numerous fears, especially “the fear of anyone seeing how frightened she was.”

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