Requesting Reader Reviews and Input

I’m thinking about writing a(nother) book, based on or at least related to (at least some of) what I already write about on my site. However, that covers a lot of ground, from Italy to India to the Internet, and I’m trying to figure out where to focus.

And, in order to persuade a publisher that my work is worth printing on paper, it would be useful for me to be able to show them some reader reviews. So here’s your chance to tell me (please!):

  1. What do you like and dislike about the site?
  2. Is this your first visit? If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?
  3. What’s your favorite article on the site?
  4. What else would you like to see more of, less of?
  5. If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?
  6. Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)

Thanks! Deirdré

26 thoughts on “Requesting Reader Reviews and Input

  1. Miguel Serradas Duarte

    – What do you like and dislike about the site?
    Some headers and some text parts seem to use a font a litlle bit too big for my taste. Navigation and search by categories is always easy and intuitive.

    – Is this your first visit? If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?
    Not first time, I used to stop by irregularly because of videos about food and India, and regularly after having met Deirdré in Vlogeurope Milan because she is a wonderfull person. Doesn´t mean you have to know her to like what she writes, but you do get hooked a bit.

    – What’s your favorite article on the site?
    I like everything India related. Because is interesting, and also because I´m easy when it comes to India.

    – What else would you like to see more of, less of?
    Considering her background (travel, work experience…) I would like to hear more about the troubles and fun bits of being a women. Since she is not a feminist (I think), I value her oppinion.

    – If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?
    Woman traveller mom that likes to eat and drink good stuff. Can that be considered a central theme?

    – Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)
    Yes, and then mail it to Milan to have her sign it, and only after read it.

  2. Faisal Khan

    Hi Deeds,
    I love reading your emails/site postings. I like the fact that you are down to earth, have a nice family, are interested in technology, but not overly nerdy. Basically, I like the normalcy and I share a lot of your interests and viewpoints, probably because we both went to the same school and had a unique upbringing.

    I don’t really like the logo art or colours that you use for the site, but I don’t *hate* them. Personally, I would just use a different colour scheme. No big deal. And some of the details you share about your life seem a bit on the banal side, but I realise that not everything can be a discussion of earth-shattering politics and global issues.

    I keep coming back to this site because it has a lot of interesting information and I find your writing style easy to read and insightful.

    My favourite article is the one about your attendance of the high school reunion, where you have embedded video. I absolutely love those videos. I also enjoy your little tidbits about Italian culture and its funny nuances.

    I would probably enjoy more pictures, as they convey so much so quickly. I think your site could do with more pics.

    As for the book, I think it should be an entertaining story, first and foremost. You can wrap it up in Indo/Italian details as you are such a good observer, but if the central story is not intriguing and captivating enough, it won’t be very appealing, in my opinion. It needs drama, a good pace, and humour. 🙂

    I love to read books, and I would definitely buy it if I liked what I read on the jacket.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Dan Maslowski

    I like the vivid description and phraseology you employ.
    The site is a bit busy. I prefer simple and clean, but there is a ton of content here.

    This is not my first visit. I keep coming back because you write exceptionally well.

    My favorite category of articles is your description of your experiences, in particular your dining and food experiences. Some of your photos are phenomenal.

    I envision you writing a book along the lines of A Year in Provance by Peter Mayle.

    Yes, I would buy the book.

  4. Diane Vigilante

    I’m brand new to Deidre’s site which I found by researching Como, Italy. But I already am hooked on anything about Italy; I would buy her book any day and have loved everything I’ve read so far. I have traveling friends who would also read the site and buy her book.

    I have to think about a book’s central theme, but anything about Italy is fine with me.

  5. Charlie Blank

    Deirdre,

    I was fascitnated with your trip to India. I would like to see you write a novel (not just a travelog) with India as the setting and moving around with some of the great pictures you got there.

    I’m thinking like Michener’s Iberia, not so pervasive as that , but with pictures and stories about the people. I know that’s not about your web site, but the idea struck me when I read your questions.

    Love you…..Beedle

  6. Sean

    1. What do you like and dislike about the site?

    I’m really glad you decided to add comment sections to most of your pages.

    I do think that some of the longer entries (for example, the one on your recent trip to Bormio–http://www.beginningwithi.com/italy/travel/bormio3.html) could be split up into smaller sections, as the pages are a little bit too long at present.

    2. Is this your first visit? If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?

    I’ve been visiting this website multiple times a week since March 2005. I keep coming back because you’re a great writer, and you can make almost any subject interesting. At this point, I also visit the site because I’m genuinely interested in how you and your family are doing.

    3. What’s your favorite article on the site?

    I regularly check on the slang page. I also really like the article on coming out, and the one on your birthday trip to Bormio.

    4. What else would you like to see more of, less of?

    Well, I first came to the site for your articles on living in Italy, especially the difficult/unromantic parts that one doesn’t hear about elsewhere. There’s nothing that I would really prefer to see less of.

    5. If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?

    That’s hard to say. I’d really like see your experience as a Third-Culture Kid/Adult fleshed out in book form.

    6. Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)

    Absolutely.

  7. David Streb

    I don’t read your site – just your periodic emails. Sorry! But I’d definitely buy your book, if only out of curiosity. I’ve forwarded your emails to others, as well, as your comments about Italian life are interesting.

  8. Ken Cox aka pbyk

    As you know i visit your site daily as i have it on rss feeds and quite often comment.

    Have been a follower since adaptec days.

    I must enjoy it or i would not come back.

    Quite i often i quote your views and refer your site

    Have no thoughts on a book tho:)

    ken

  9. Christina

    I found your site before travelling to India, like the pictures and videos. I like the personal stuff and tips and opinions. I like the (non) religious stuff, because that’s close to my wave length….
    Not sure about a book. How about fiction, or a funny/entertaining guide to traveling in Italy or India with some personal stories mixed in.

    I like skimming the news letters, haven’t been back much to the site because there is a lot of stuff I’m not that interested in (Italian politics, work related stuff).

  10. Rana

    Unwittingly ahead of the times, I think that I already answered these questions in an email response to one of your newsletters a few months ago. But I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, so I’ll try to answer the specifics below:

    What do you like and dislike about the site?
    Firstly, I read every word of the newsletters, but rarely find time to open the website. The Woodstock stuff is the most relevant, and by association the whole shared phenomenon of growing up as a peripatetic kid torn between continents, cultures and religions. However even the Italy stuff and technical stuff are fascinating because what you write is so eloquent, educational and amusing!

    Is this your first visit? If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?
    As stated above, I rarely visit here, but read your text religiously.

    What’s your favorite article on the site?
    No particular one. Woodstock, Atheism, Technology, etc are more relevant than the Italy stuff.

    What else would you like to see more of, less of?
    As noted above.

    If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?
    That’s difficult. The general “American growing up abroad” themes have been covered before, it’s just my personal view that you write better. I think a saleable book would have to be something more focused on current research, possibly on the post YouTube status of video on the internet.

    Would you buy the book?
    Undoubtedly!

  11. Adam Marchese

    Well…

    Seems the overwhelming majority of comments are steering you in a direction toward travel!

    I agree! I found your site while searching for Italian Slang. I travel to Italy a few times a year on business and simply love it. My job takes me all over the world and I never believed such a beautiful place existed. Although I have several friends and acquaintances in Italy at present, there is still a cultural ‘gap’ between Italy and America (us) that can be a little confusing to new comers as I have realized. After searching your site, I discovered that you ‘hit the nail right on the head’ with the most common anomalies between the two cultures. You had me hooked!

    I think a travel book would definitely be your forte! I think you probably have enough content for 10 books, already! But my thoughts would be something that would reflect ‘a’ title (I know you are not supposed to Judge a book by its cover, but…). Maybe something like: Italy: An American’s Perspective of what to expect (and what not to expect!). There are not a lot of good travel books in my opinion. That is the problem! Most of these books are chocked full of destinations, cultural diversities and facts. No opinion, no suggestions, no individual taste, no reality. Just a colorfully bounded set of pages that scream, “BUY ME! I HAVE THE MOST INFORMATION FOR YOUR MONEY, AND I LOOK GREAT ON YOUR SHELF!”

    So… My opinion. A travel book with some opinion is in order. Some examples (Your stories) and especially SARCASM reflecting both cultures (if you are targeting Americans vs. Italians).

    My humor is definitely based on SARCASM. A humor that either people cherish or hate. But if done correctly can appeal to all. Your writing style seems to incorporate that balance perfectly. You give the real ‘deal’ but you do not look like a cynic.

    Bravo Deirdre! I think whatever you write you will be successful!

    Keep up the good work! I truly enjoy your stories. You are like a relative that I actual enjoy welcoming into my house (Sorry… More Sarcasm…)

    Salutes

    AM

  12. Julia Priest

    I like the variety and thoroughness of this site. I love photos of Italy and India, and all information about the Italian language. I keep coming back to keep up with what’s going on in Deirdre’s family’s life. Possibly my favorite article the humorous Italian surnames. I recommend reading Cleveland Amory’s book “The Cat who Came for Christmas” as an example of autobiography through a distancing device. Delightful and clever. I would absolutely buy any book Deirdre’ writes, whether based on this site or not. I am craving the completion of Deirdre’s fantasy book “Ivaldi.” D: when will you get back to work on that?
    Julia

  13. Rita

    I read all your newsletters, in fact I sometimes don’t open them right away but save them for a relaxing moment.

    I particularly enjoy your insight into politics and your wonderful, healthy sense of the absurd. If you had asked me five years ago, I would have suggested a weekly column for a newspaper. With both newspaper and magazine circulations down, why not a book.

    And I don’t subscribe to the idea: “Oh, no, another book on Italy.” Italy is the most popular travel destination in Europe. Ten years ago there was only a handful of villa rental agencies. Have a look now and I can’t imagine how they all stay in business. People love Italy and can’t get enough of it. Write affectionately about it, your travels here, the cultural differences, your family. You could even do it in the form of “old-fashioned” letters home.

    Many years ago,1978 comes to mind, I picked up an airport book, something to take my mind off the cross-atlantic flight. It caught my eye because the cover was an air-mail letter, that soft blue grey with the red and white border, hand written address, stamp. It was a series of innocent correspondence between an American woman and a store in England where she had purchased some items and back and forth the letters went for a few years. They became friends. The formal business language changed, they decided to meet.

    It’s the cover of the book that has given me this idea for you. Fiction of course. A letter home, telling of your arrival in Italy, how things are different. A return letter from America (the reader, your market) with questions about your new life in Italy. You can write about politics in Italy and America. You can take a trip to India and write home about it. Back and forth the letters go, over the years we get to know the characters in the book, what’s happening in your life, what’s happening in the land you left behind. You have a third of it already written.

    I totally support you, go for it.

    Rita
    http://www.tartarugatours.com

  14. Julia Apodaca

    1. What do you like and dislike about the site?
    Great photos, stories, insights, tips.

    2. Is this your first visit?
    No.

    If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?
    For new great photos, stories, insights, tips.

    3. What’s your favorite article on the site?
    Oh, that’s hard. I tend to gravitate to the “my life” and “opinions” sections, but I also love
    the Italy sections (including the restaurant reviews, even though I’ll probably never eat at any of them—vicarious pleasure) and the “other travel” section—so many colorful images and videos.

    4. What else would you like to see more of, less of?

    5. If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?

    The way the world looks from your unique perspective. It’s an American-dominated world, and you’re American—but also a third-culture kid married to a non-American and you live (and are raising a kid) outside America. (Plus you’re an atheist in an increasingly aggressively religious world and you’re more ethical than self-righteous religious folks. And you’re a female techie whiz while that world is still male-dominated.) All that intrigues me, I suppose because I have a degree in anthropology … and while I’m not a third-culture kid, I might as well be: my parents are as different from most folks where they live that people consider their farm to be a far-flung outpost of the U.N.)

    6. Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)
    Of course!

  15. Sally Kibblewhite

    I enjoy your letters because you give fresh angles on many topics,usually spiced with personal experience.

    I think my favourite topics of India and Italy have a very wide appeal so any book should major on these countries . The perspective of an intelligent, widely read American who has lived most of her life out of her homeland also adds savour. You have a unique viewpoint.

    Your content is always interesting, your commentary insightful and best of all you write with ease and grace.

    I would definitely buy any book you wrote and probably give away many copies as well. Please get on with it!

  16. maccagnobymoonlight (Joe)

    Requesting reader reviews and input:

    This is not my first visit to the site. In fact, I was made aware of this site a while back on another group (Italian) I belong to and was immediately drawn back by Deidre’s writing style.

    The first person narrative, especially when employed in writing of one’s experiences and impressions as an expat, is either subjective or objective. Deidre’s style of making that narrative more objective helps to convey information in a manner which moves the piece along in a less cumbersome manner and more interesting format than would a subjective approach.

    By far my most favorite article recently was hers which spoke to her growing up and the formulative experiences and impressions she remembers from that time. The insight into her experiences shed a bit more light on some of her recent recountings of her experiences in Italy.

    I find the site itself to be rather easy to navigate and especially appreciate the inclusion of pictures to illustrate the topic of the moment.

    I am, due to my own life experiences, most a fan of articles and information relative to Italy. I admit giving short thrift to articles about India as I have no interest nor desire to cultivate such an interest in India.

    As I find a particular lack of expat books written in an experiential, narrative style about the day-to-day ins and outs of living in Italy as one who would be a resident and not a tourist, I would find such a book to be of value, both as entertainment or recreational reading, and as information. Not only would I buy such a book, I feel such a book would appeal to a broader audience than a narrowly focused, additional entrant into the over=crowded “how to visit/live in Italy and not change a thing about your lifestyle” field of books which already exist.

  17. Lena Lindgren

    Deirdré,

    You don’t know me, but I found your site as I was searching for information on the Milan metro (of all things) when I was getting ready to go to Italy last year. I kept on reading and got hooked for many of the same reasons that other reviewers have already mentioned. I’ll echo what Sean said up above because he said it so well:

    “I keep coming back because you’re a great writer, and you can make almost any subject interesting. At this point, I also visit the site because I’m genuinely interested in how you and your family are doing…I first came to the site for your articles on living in Italy, especially the difficult/unromantic parts that one doesn’t hear about elsewhere.”

    1. What do you like and dislike about the site?

    I enjoy the majority of it very much. Someone else commented that the site design itself is very “busy”, but then, just to go solely by what you say in your writing, it seems like your life is just as busy. So the media content only adds to the overall effect, I think. I’ve got to admit, though–a few times when I clicked on a page and a video has started automatically without warning, I’ve almost jumped out of my skin when singing or animal noises or something else starts blasting out of my speakers. *amused*

    I don’t usually read the cooking bits or some of the more focused technological articles about vlogging/the future of digital media, but those definitely have their place here as well.

    – If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?

    Just going by what you’ve already written here on this website, I don’t really think that a straight travel book is the way to go if you’re going to present this material to a publisher. There’s so many of those already. It seems as if a major charm of your writing is that it’s so freewheeling and spontaneous, yet somehow purposeful at the same time. There’s a sense of organized chaos that’s all very alive.

    While I have no doubt that you’re more than knowledgeable enough to write a travel book, I do think that limiting yourself to a form like “travel guide” or “TCK kid book” might kill that peculiar charm. It would be very easy to get bogged down by the chosen form, and that has the potential to get dull very quickly.

    Another reason that I think it’d be a mistake to write a travel novel out of what you’ve got here is that—so far you haven’t got a travel book at all! You’re just writing about life as you’ve experienced it, and in your life you happen to have traveled a lot. It’s all presented as being very matter-of-fact.

    I cannot begin to describe how refreshing this is. There’s nothing that makes me want to beat my head against the wall faster than another romanticized “I lived in rustic Italy, where problems just cease to exist!” or “My experiences traveling India, which is exotic and different!” autobiography/travel guide. Real life with all of its complications is always much more interesting than that, and your writing demonstrates this quite well.

    To me, it seems as if you’ve already got a theme for all of your writings, and you’ve actually stated it somewhere on this site.

    “You who are on the road
    Must have a code that you can live by
    And so become yourself
    Because the past is just a good bye.”

    I think that as a TCK kid, you might have meant the focus to be on the “on the road” part of that song, but if you focus on the “become yourself,” then everything hangs together very nicely. The whole website is about the journey of your life–how you became yourself and continue to become yourself a little bit more every day. True, that’s a familiar theme because everyone does that in his or her own life. It’s an old theme, but I think you could make it work. You do have to admit that your life’s twists and turns make much more fascinating reading than the average person’s. *smiles*

    – Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)

    Absolutely, and what’s more, I would buy it even if the content were ONLY what was already on the site. I’ve often thought that this website would make a great book. I believe that you have a rare natural gift for writing. Your experiences and opinions jump right off the paper and spring to life not only because they are different or because they’re yours and they matter to you, but also because you have a talent for making them interesting and relevant to others.

    Regards and best of luck,
    Lena

  18. webmaster

    Wow, everybody – thank you! I am overwhelmed with the warmth and thought you have all put into this. Detailed responses soon.

  19. Fr. Bob Popichak

    1. What do you like and dislike about the site?
    It’s fresh and real–no hype, no “made for reality TV” garbage
    2. Is this your first visit? If it isn’t, why do you keep coming back?
    No. I’ve been a follower since your pre-Roxio days, and you still haven’t managed to get boring!
    3. What’s your favorite article on the site?
    As a resident of the Pittsburgh area, I love the “flashback” views and the food of the world bits.
    4. What else would you like to see more of, less of?
    More of your life travels. Anything else is fine as well.
    5. If I were to write a book based (more or less) on what’s on the site, what do you think the book’s central theme should be?
    Living in the world but not of the world–focus on surviving but NOT losing sight of who and what you are. This is a very Eastern Orthodox concept that you fulfil–I’m sure unknowingly!
    6. Would you buy the book? (assuming that at least 50% of the material in it is NOT already available for free on the site)
    I think it would be a great read–in paperback or hardcover. I’m not sure if I would be as interested if it were an e-book only!

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  20. webmaster

    “Some headers and some text parts seem to use a font a litlle bit too big”

    My vision was never good and now, as well as being desperately nearsighted, I’m also losing my close-up vision. So I find the tiny fonts on many sites very difficult to read. Many of my readers are at least as old as I am, so I deliberately set the page fonts a little larger than current web norms.

    Now I just need to figure out how to do that for this comments blog!

    “she is a wonderfull person.”

    Thanks. So are you, as I now know having had you in my house for several days! (Along with a bunch of other videobloggers, in case anyone’s wondering.)

    “I like everything India related. Because is interesting, and also because I´m easy when it comes to India.”

    I didn’t know that! Why the interest in India?

    “Since she is not a feminist (I think), I value her oppinion.”

    I am most definitely a feminist, but evidently the word has some connotation for you that I don’t fit.

    “mail it to Milan to have her sign it, and only after read it. ”

    Better yet, I’ll bring it to you in person!

  21. Judith in Umbria

    About the portrait!
    You look fabulous! I’d pick either of you for a model.
    Can you not even go for some eye liner pencil and some lip gloss in the AM? Cuz you clean up gorgeous. That twig didn’t fall very far from the tree.

  22. sara dominis

    I wanted to say thanks first of all for the information. I was so happy to find your site as I am trying to navigate getting my daugther to Milan for a semester abroad (11th grade). I have having a hard time just getting basic information about a day in a life of a high school student and even how to find info on what high schools are out there. I am not sending my daughter through an exchange program, I am trying to send her to my friend but I need to find a school and get going on trying to get her accepted.
    I found your blogs about your daughter’s school experience really interesting and found that I was feeling tense for her and ,I guess, for what my own daughter is going through in high school. It is overwhelming sometimes the amount of pressure and course load these kids deal with. I think education is sacred and can be rigorous without overwhelming the child.
    Anyway, I was wondering if you had some insight into a better high school in Milan. My daughter is very interested in going to an art school. The challenge is that she will only be able to go for the fall semester. I am thinking it might be hard to work this out but I am hoping to try.
    It would be great to hear back from you though I can see that you are a busy woman. Either way, I am glad to have found your site and will continue to visit. I haven’t seen the info on India but will look for it as I would love to visit there some day.

  23. Julie

    I just stumbled upon your site while doing a Google image search for mendhi. I spent last fall in India and had a wonderful, scary, enlightening, exciting adventure that I still can’t stop thinking about. I haven’t fully explored this blog yet, but loved reading about your time in Benares. I’ll be back –

  24. JoeArdolino

    i really like this site, im an italian that has lived most of my life in england 🙁 thus my italian language isnt that good when it comes to reading and writing it…i love this site because i can use it to catch up with Italy.I miss Italy, its a great site and keep it coming.Is there a sports section i havnt found one yet, if there isnt one maybe making one would be good, and like me say that again not necesarily sports but calcio 😀 great site 😀

  25. David Forrest

    Deirdre:

    I’ve recently come across your 2007 postings and am wondering whether your site is still operational.

    I appreciate your nice comments about “Aggiungi un posto a tavola” and am interested in your statements that DVDs of the show were/are available. As the author of the original novel on which the show is based I have never been aware that such DVDs were available, as I would like one myself! Were they sold, or issued free with newspapers? What was the means of their distribution?

    For your further information, an English-language version of the show HAS been staged — at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1978/9.
    It’s title then was ‘Beyond the Rainbow’, and that production, too, starred Johnny Dorelli.
    It was financed by Universal Pictures.

    Best wishes,

    David Forrest

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