Robbi Perna - Analyst, Author, and Artist
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A Pony for Christmas
Animal Companions
Ballroom decorations for the Royal Wedding
Last preview installment for "Where the Lion Dwells"
We continue the preview of "Where the Lion Dwells"

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The stories behind the stories

A Pony for Christmas

On this Sunday afternoon before Christmas, I'd like to continue with my series on the animal characters in my stories and the real life animal companions who inspired them. A recent post by my niece on Facebook states, "No matter how old I am, I'm always going to want a pony for Christmas." I can attest to the truth of this. However, my ponies these days are the ones in my stories.
 
In my latest release, "Where the Lion Dwells" my heroine rescues an abused Arabian stallion which she names "Tuscan." Is there a real life Arabian named "Tuscan?" Oh yes, I am blessed to have been his owner back in the day. He wasn't a stallion nor had he ever been abused, but his personality was much the same as the character in the book and writing about him brought back many happy memories of the big lug.
 
Arabians are a very special breed. They are beautiful to behold, extremely gentle with children, and smarter than the average human being. I never figured out whether my two thought they were people in horse's clothes or I was a very funny looking horse. In any case, both horses went on to a new owner about twenty years ago due to circumstances beyond my control, but I cherish the memories I have of them and both are characters in my stories. The picture shows Tuscan on the right, Rikin on the left, and both in flight as I shook a bottle of rocks to play tag with them and make them run. You can read about Tuscan in my current release, and his stable buddy, Rikin, is a character in my new story "Triumph without Glory," which is currently in production.
 
Yep, I'd like a pony for Christmas. I just don't know what I would do with one.

Animal Companions

            Happy Sunday—a bright sunny, warm one here in central Florida. Hard to believe it’s the holiday season and the end of 2015 is looming. I’d like to take the remaining Sunday afternoons of this year and talk about a few of my supporting characters.
            Many of us share our lives with animal companions. For an author to write a story in which the main characters do likewise, it’s important to devote as much time and effort to the character development of the animal as it is to a human one. If the author has a pet or has lived around animals, this type of character development is easy. However, if an author doesn’t have the “animal” experience, developing the character traits and personality is more of a challenge.
            In my case, I have had animals all of my life so it is easy for me to draw on those experiences when I write. In my latest release, “Where the Lion Dwells,” my heroine Joanna Sansone has two animal companions—both rescues—a parti-poodle she names Santino, and an Arabian stallion to which she gives the stable name “Tuscan.” As you might guess, I used my own companions for the characters. Today I’ll introduce you to the real life “Santino.”
            He came to me as a very scared, underfed four-year old abandoned puppy. The first time I visited him in the foster home, he cuddled against me—snuggled as close in my arms as he could get, and I lost my heart to him. Eight years later, he is a happy, well adjusted, and (need I say) well-fed companion. While I don’t suffer from ODD (that’s obsessive dog disorder), I do think of him first. He’s asleep in one of his many pet beds here in my office keeping me company while I post this. His quirky personality and loving manner are constant delights in my life and I used those traits as well as his name when I crafted the fictional character for my heroine’s animal companion. Unlike my book where my words have to paint the picture, I’m including a photo with this post that I took several months ago. As you can see, he has become the prince and the world revolves around him!

            If you’re interested in reading about his exploits, “Where the Lion Dwells” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. Next week, we’ll talk about Tuscan, who sadly the real-life Santino never knew, but through the magic of fiction has become his best friend—next to me of course!    

What Inspired "A World Made New?"

"Do you ever wonder where the nice women are?"  Alessandro's question to his good friend Jason drove the story.  Alessandro is a world famous soundtrack composer with the reputation of a gazetta rake.  We seldom think of men in those terms in these days of a more relaxed social setting.  The fact remains, Sandro is a playboy...but is he...or is it a mask he wears?  Well, he wears it very well, but deep down he yearns for a woman who isn't drawn to his reputation or success.

Natural talent has always held an appeal for me and that appeal forms the basis for Sandro's career as a successful, internationally-acclaimed composer of movie soundtracks.  The catch?  Sandro's musical talents are instinctive not learned.  His teachers at the conservatory in Florence had to trick him to confirm he could not read music.  Yet, his work is brilliant and  his reputation outrageous.  Along comes a nice woman...one who wears a mask of her own...who is the direct opposite.

Masquerade is part of our society and the dating ritual.  We seldom wear our true faces when we first meet someone new.  So, the third book in The Venetian Masquerades works on the premise of two people with opposite backgrounds, secrets to hide, and a strong physical attraction who meet under unusual circumstances.  What happens?  Read the book and find out where the nice women are!
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Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

The masks we all wear-the story behind "A Sign from Heaven Sent."

On this July 4th weekend, flags, fireworks, and outdoor activities are all signs of celebration—all visual symbols that demonstrate our independence as a free people. From ancient times, signs have held a significant place in the way people communicate. Belief in symbols as a sign or direction one should take in life finds expression in the many superstitions that remain part of our social consciousness. For Italians, the belief in a sign from God is an enduring tradition. 
 
The second book in the Venetian Masquerades, “A Sign from Heaven Sent,” grew out of this tradition. The story’s heroine, Diane Carrero, appeared briefly in “What Hides Behind the Mask,” but her strong personality demanded a story of her own. The mask she wears is one with which many of us are familiar. We choose a path in life and work toward its attainment. But what happens when we find that goal once attained isn’t what we want after all? What do we do? Well, many of us grit our teeth and drive on. We clap on  masks that tell the world and ourselves we’re happy as the proverbial clams with our choices. Others re-evaluate their chosen paths, and for those of us with superstitious or religious beliefs, we place our faith in asking for signs that our way forward has the benediction from some higher power.
 
In Diane’s case, her sign from Heaven comes from the appearance of an unusual visitor...one rooted in Roman antiquity with ties to a twenty-first century man. What role do the two play in Diane’s future? “A Sign from Heaven Sent” is an enjoyable read with enough mystery to give a surprising twist to its ending.
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Available in electronic download format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers

   

The Story Behind the Story: What Hides Behind the Mask

This week I continue with my blog posts about the stories behind the stories.  The whole mystic surrounding masquerade has always fascinated me.  No where is it more evident than in Venice, the ancient Italian city famous for love and intrigue.  In writing the first book in my Venetian Masquerades series, WHAT HIDES BEHIND THE MASK, I wanted to combine my love of Venice, the fascination of masquerade, and a character inspired by my godmother, Dee.
 
Dee is my late mother’s first cousin and an active, vibrant, and very beautiful senior lady.  Even at this stage of her life, she still travels alone, and while she might not consider a solo trip to Italy, her personality provided the inspiration for my heroine’s grandmother, Francesca.  Doctor Chiara Mackenzie Davis and her stepbrother Chas Weston must travel to Italy and discover the reason why Francesca, Chiara's 84 year-old grandmother, travels to Venice—a place she has no reason to visit—without telling anyone.
 
The plot allowed me to combine my love of masquerade, a mysterious trip, and a spunky older woman in a story that explores the concept we all wear masks.  Until we know why we wear one, we never know ourselves or have the opportunity to know others, but  is left behind when a person discards the last mask?  Probably another mask...or perhaps, nothing.  Masks allow us to cope with our own insecurities while providing a way for us to understand others and the society in which we all live.
 
WHAT HIDES BEHIND THE MASK is an entertaining tale, however, not a social treatise. So, that said, go don your favorite Carnivale Mask and enjoy the read. Next week we’ll talk about the second book in the series, A Sign from Heaven Sent.

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

The inspiration behind My Heart Still Surrenders

I’d like to continue my series on the inspirations behind my stories today and in honor of Fathers’ Day, talk a little about my motivation in writing “My Heart Still Surrenders.” Three incidents in the life of my great-great grandmother, the Contessina Carolina Antimori, provided the major plot line. Those three incidents included her father’s actions in disinheriting and disowning her after she acted contrary to his dictates. Family mythology has always branded the Count as a first rate SOB. He may well have been, but since I’m talking about a very distant grandfather here, I’d like to take a broader view. Admittedly, his actions are not those of a loving caring father, but it’s important to remember nineteenth century Italy was not kind to women and the Count was a man of his times. 
 
Italian women born into upper class Italian society had no value as anything but chattel. They had no say over their lives. Women of that time possessed very little education beyond the basics and their expectations for their adult lives didn’t go beyond marriage to a man chosen by their fathers and the production of children. When Carolina took matters into her own hands, her father’s actions matched those of any man of his times. His character provided the perfect inspiration for my fictional heroine’s father and a foil for the hero who comes to her rescue. Navarre is my favorite character. He is a Basque who is a hired mercenary of questionable parentage, but he is the true gentleman while Carolina’s father, Count Aurelio who is born a nobleman, is the true bastard.
 
Emily-Jane hills Orford of Readers’ Favorite reviews awarded five stars to the story saying, "This is a thrilling historical romance set in late nineteenth-century Italy. Author Robbi Perna has taken aspects of her great-great grandmother's life, another Carolina, the Contessina Antimori. The historical facts that surround the story are very well researched. With a flair for artistry and the dramatic, the author has provided the reader with a very fast-paced plot that is also very informative. A great read. Well done!"
 
My Heart Still Surrenders is available in print and download from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

The U.S. Army's 240th Birthday

This weekend marks the 240th birthday of the United States Army.  As many of those who follow me know, I love soldiers. I’ve worked alongside them in a civilian capacity for almost twenty years and I admire, respect, and celebrate their selfless service.  Soldiers will do anything we ask of them—including sacrifice their lives—to ensure we remain a free nation.  The hope and change catchpenny beloved by the politicians needs a solid foundation of peace in which to grow.  Sometimes, that peace only comes on the other side of war.
 
Today, I’d like to talk about the story behind the plot of my novel, “Once a Soldier.”  All my royalties from this book benefit the Wounded Warrior Project making it a story near and dear to my heart.  When I wrote the first story in The Domenico Family Case Files series, I wanted a strong protective “big brother” prototype for my heroine.  However, this character needed to appear, make his “older-brother-knows-best” pitch, and then disappear.  Delta Force operative, Marco Domenico, did an admirable job at fulfilling the role, so admirable that I couldn’t get him out of my mind.  A tall, strong, handsome, protective man...we all know at least one...but who protects him when things go wrong?
 
All stories start with the question, “what if” and Marco’s story is no different.  When a mission goes wrong and Marco suffers severe injuries that may prevent him from walking again, he needs a little help from someone besides the Army, his family, and the woman who is his secret love.  An unusual therapist with a love of the Old West comes to his aid and with his help, Marco heals and begins a new life.
 
Not all our wounded warriors are as fortunate, but Marco’s story gave me the opportunity to talk about what they face psychologically while describing their personal challenges, courage, and the determination to heal and live full lives. I am a romance author, however, and “Once a Soldier” is no exception. In this short novel, I attempted to bring my readers into today’s environment, give them the sense of the impact of war on a relationship, and allow them to experience the complex emotions of two people attracted by fate.
 
I don’t often ask people to go out and buy my books.  Certainly they are for sale, but I leave the decision up to them.  “Once a Soldier” is the exception.  Go to your favorite online retailer and download the book.  You won’t be sorry.  Your purchase will give you an enjoyable short read and benefit the Wounded Warrior Project at the same time.
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Watch the YouTube Video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akZ2tDbzCRg

 
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