I'm so pleased to have author Barbara Conelli as a guest on my blog today! Barbara has written a very lovely book titled Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita.
KD: Congratulations on the publication of your book, Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita. What inspired you to write about chiqueness?
BC: Thank you very much! To me, Italy and Italian women are Chique. That's the word that describes the whole country, its culture, its everyday life. I knew the book would have the word "Chique" in the title, I knew it would express the spirit of Chique Dolce Vita and bring it closer to readers all around the world.
KD: I agree with your unique view of what it means to be chique and how it relates to the spirit of Dolce Vita. What is special about the area around Milan that you would like to share with readers?
BC: In the book, I describe my personal, intimate encounters with Milan and its surroundings. It's the city where my grandma was born and where I spent many years of my life. I have many friends and relatives in Milan, and many wonderful memories of the city. To me, it's a magical place. It's not just about the outer beauty, it's about the inner zest and vibe that only Milan has.
KD: Magical is a good word to describe the area around Milan. There is such a variety in its many personalities. As a world-traveler do you believe that the Dolce Vita is unique to Italy?
BC: Thank you for this question! The purpose of this book is to show women that they can live their Dolce Vita no matter where they are in the world. Of course, being able to experience the real Italian Dolce Vita in Italy is wonderful, but not every woman can travel to Italy every year. My book is also a little life guide that makes women think about how they live and what aspects of Italian lifestyle they can use in their own life. Just look around yourself and find joy in the little everyday things, find magic in them. This is your Dolce Vita.
KD: What an empowering phrase "find magic in them". In your book you highlight those little everyday things that we so often take for granted. Where in your life have the experiences of the secrets of Dolce Vita helped you live the life you want?
BC: You know, the Italian spirit has been very strong in my family. My family has endured lots of heartbreak and loss, and they've gone through all the difficulties with their heads held high and with a smile on their face. I admire their strength, and I'm proud to say there's lots of inner strength in my heart and soul too. What helps us survive is what I call "the Dolce Vita instinct": The past is gone, we don't know what happens tomorrow, and the only thing we have is the present moment. So let's make it a good day.
Personally, as a real Italian, I'm a big flirt - which is fun - and I'm well aware of my self-worth and self-love. Although there have been guys who have broken my heart, I never allowed it to last for more than a few hours. Every Italian woman knows that there are plenty more fish in the sea :)
And last but not least, the biggest Italian lesson I've ever learned was the one of joy. I used to obsess about money, about career, about being and having enough. Today I go with the flow, trusting that all is well, always. Every day I wake up and remind myself to look for joy in everything I do. My life is now, and I'm not wasting a second of it.
KD: Strength of spirit, self-love and joy: three essentials to living the lives we want. Are you listening, ladies? Barbara, what one chique secret would be your wish for all women of the world to have?
BC: Love yourself. Really. You are perfect just the way you are. You are a goddess, so act like one. Don't undervalue yourself. Don't let anyone convince you you're not worthy. Italian women are incredibly self-confident, they know what they want and they refuse to settle for less.
Also, enjoy your femininity. Act like a woman, dress like a woman, flirt, have fun, enjoy your feminine power. Every Italian woman is a Bond girl at heart - and I love the sexy zest they radiate.
Laugh, love and live. And travel. And cook. And eat. A lot! :)
KD: I like your advice to "act" like it. So often we think about how we would like things to be in our lives, but we seldom take the steps and the actions to make them happen. Thank you for encouraging women to value themselves as they are and to value their femininity. Do you have plans for additional chique books?
BC: Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is the first book of the Chique Series. I have another book about Milan coming up in the fall, and then books about Rome, Florence, and Venice. And then? It's my Chique secret! :)
KD: Excellent! More about Milan would be wonderful, but you have me salivating: Rome, Florence, Venice...yummy! Tell us about your writing process. Do you write every day?
BC: I wish I could! I'm a very impulsive writer. Sometimes I don't write for two months and then I sit at home for three months just writing. But when I don't physically write, I write in my head. I carry a notepad everywhere to make sure I put down all my ideas because my head is constantly full of them.
KD: Writers are always thinking up new ideas. Thank goodness for notepads! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
BC: I love being in the inspired flow. You know the feeling. You shut out the world, and it's just you, your words and your pages. It's the closest thing to deep meditation I know. It's very exhausting but at the same time incredibly exciting and rewarding. Seeing my readers' reactions and reading encouraging reviews is a terrific bonus. But the writing process is what I adore. Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita has recently become an Amazon.com bestseller, which is lovely, but I would continue writing even if my only reader was my mum.
KD: Hm...I never thought of writing as a form of meditation, but I think you have a point there! Where can readers purchase copies of your book?
BC: Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is available on Amazon (both paperback and Kindle), B&N, other online retailers, bookstores. If you love Italy, I encourage you to get a copy and Chique Yourself Up!
KD: Where can readers find you on the web?
BC: My website is http://www.barbaraconelli.com I have a new, completely free virtual book tour on my website. "The 10-Day Chique Dolce Vita Virtual Tour: The Secret Gems of Italy". If you dream of Italy, you will really love it.
I'd also love to connect with you on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/barbaraconelli, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/barbaraconelli, and Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraConelli.
I have a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, where I talk about Italy and interview amazing women authors http://www.blogtalkradio.com/barbaraconelli.
And I'm also on YouTube, LinkedIn, and many other places all around the web. I look forward to "seeing" you there!
KD: Thanks so much for joining us today, Barbara, and for sharing your unique view of Milan and your zest for the good life! One lucky commenter today will win a free copy of Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita. Just comment today to win. We'll announce the winner tomorrow.