Is Nick a “bad boy”?

Time to dig a little deeper into Stefanie’s future paramour. Is Nick Fotos just the playboy everyone thinks? Or does he have a deeper side?


Remember that this is performance art.  You’re seeing raw first draft material… as it’s written, typos and all… with images from my handwritten notebook to prove it.  When the whole rough draft is done… I’ll walk you (and my story) right through the same editing steps I use and teach with authors in my publishing house and online classes at Year of the Book. The goals?  To inspire us both to a daily writing habit, and demonstrate how incremental progress adds up to exponential change!

Missed the beginning? Find it here:


His mother Fi Fi (Sofia) put him in charge of driving duties from the moment Nick got is license. The family car is a bit larger than average on the il island – the VW bus serves many villagers’ pack-mule needs to transport supplies from the ferry, to go on day trips across the island in a group, and to carry summer camp students and their instruments to and from port.

One of Nick’s favorite memories was the night he and Theio Yanni took the seats out of the back, pitched the bouzouki and clarinet, and a couple of blankets, sandwiches and a some beer in the back and camped and serenaded the stars on a desolate path at the island shore.


Well, perhaps that version of the memory was ade improved as he later took a lady friend on the same journey, with packing wine instead of beer. Maybe over the years he’d made the trip more than just a couple times. But then each experience was freshened by new company.

Nick loves the color white. His favorite apparel choice is a perfectly fitting pair of blue jeans topped with a white buttoned down shirt, open at the neck and with the sleeves rolled up. Untucked unless protocol demanded otherwise.

He always felt white reflected the island sun best. And a healthy dose of vanity also believed it looked good against his tan olive skin.

Nick had ready access to food at wherever he went. At the restaurant he could pick up fresh-baked spinach- or cheese-pie (spanokopita or tyropita) as his in between serving customers at the tables overlooking the sea.

If one of his mother’s friends needed a ride or something from town, he would always be thanked with homemade lunch and something sweet, in addition to a few coins for gas.

In the car, Niko had a selection of traditional and modern, classical & popular music, to suit the tastes of his passengers. He liked it all, and often tried to weave styles together in performance to his listeners’ amusement.

Nick Reading holds no interest for him Nick. The only books in the house belong to his mom, and those are predominantly music collections of Italian arias and biographies of famous singers around the world.

In his spare time, Nick composes and arranges music to play at the taverna. He doesn’t really have other hobbies, but then his days are already full of activity. He loves being in the company of people and finds plenty of entertainment in their everyday antics. Perhaps he’s even a source of others’ amusement, because he’s always invited to join in whatever’s brewing.

Nick was born mid-May on and often got to celebrate with the entire village around him. as The hotel and taverna opened fully for tourist season at that time an of year, and it was not uncommon to have a party after all the rooms had been cleaned and freshened in anticipation.

Greek Festival

The village had a couple stray dogs and some roaming cats, but Nick neither loved nor hated them. He’d greet them wi and move on. Household pets were not yet a common occurence in Batsi.

His most important possessions are his instruments, a bouzouki he made by hand in Athens, and his father’s classical guitar. He also had an old weathered bouzouki he took on rips to the shore and a 12-string guitar Theio Pete Yanni had brought him from America years before.

Niko was of course baptized in the Orthodox faith and attended church with his mother whenever she wanted. Holidays, and the celebrations of friends’ births and deaths were assumed. But sometimes she’d just wake up with a need to inhale that incense and soak in the incantations of the priest, as if it were oxygen that awoke revived her soul.

At these times they drove across the island to the church where mother’s friend Father George led services. His voice was clear and angelic. Nick would listen from the courtyard for the first hour, enjoying the fresh air and view of homes not perched for on hillsides as in Batsi. In this village, houses had an olive tree in the yard and the land was basically flat. At home, houses sat close together on valuable ocean-view real estate, with tiers of homes above and below, and annually white-washed staircases running between them and the shops down below. Weathered stone so old no one remembered when they were put in.

Since Nick left school, the family came to live in Batsi year-round, but before that they spent time in a working-class suburb of Athens where the schools were larger and offered more class variety. On summer vacations and various weekends throughout the year they’d take the short ferry trip from Rafina to Andros Island and enjoy the freedom of being out of the city.

Other weekends, he accompanied his parents to concerts featuring his famous mother. the stages of Barcelona, Rome, and Vienna were customary venues, but she also loved more intimate audiences and would sing upon the slightest coaxing in the restaurant, airport, or even the open-air atop a ferry boat. His dad, Spyro, always ready to accompany her every whimsical choice of tune.

Nick’s an only child, but he grew up among the other village kids. His best friend Harry’s parents ran the hotel and taverna where he helps out each morning and evening during tourist season.

As part of village life, there are Nick’s observed many births and deaths, but only one held any profound meaning to him: Spyro Fotos, his father.

In the grips of late-stage cancer, undetected until it was too late, Fi Fi spent every moment of every day at his side caring for him. Just six weeks, but indelibly etched in both their hearts. As his mother drew closer in those days and hours, Nick drew away. Longer trips to sit aside the sea with his 12-string. Later nights at the taverna in Harry’s company, and the company of that of any young and single female passing through.

Something about the sight of his dad, helpless to fight, and his mom changing roles from doted-upon to caregiver… the dramatic change was too much.

A warning of mortality?

But not Nick’s. He still embraced every crazy idea. But a foreshadowing of a future he’d never imagined. He always believed he’d be the one to leave home first. Hopeless romantic. Someday the right woman would see beyond his playboy front and understand the quietly kept depth of his soul – that soul he only revealed in the company of a stringed instrument and the wild Mediterranean Sea.

Alas, most of his relationships spawned only the length of a tourist’s stay. Some a single night, some a week. when he was younger, he dated a village girl named Betina for a few months one summer before his final year of school.

After graduation exams though, he discovered she and Harry had coupled during his absence. The following spring he danced at their wedding. Gambros (best man), he passed the crowns over the back of their heads, reci as the priest chanted words of ceremonial words binding them together and blessing the marriage.

With humor and good grace to Nick toasted prosperity and a posse of children to his best friend and the only girl he’d ever kissed.

And then he promptly set out to woo a series of girls [musically] that summer and learn practice the lessons Theio Yanna whispered, as well as the lessons of love young men most craved. He never looked back, but occassionally his gaze would linger on Tina just a few seconds longer than other women. He thought she was particularly beautiful when she was pregnant with Harry’s first child. But then all pregnant women looked beautiful stunning to him.



By Jove, there’s a side of Nick I never saw until it fell out of my pen!

There truly is something magical about performing a character profile BEFORE starting to write the book.

I’ll be back next week with more adventures of Stefanie. Until then, I hope you read and write with JOY!

P.S. I’d love to hear how YOUR stories are shaping up, so drop me a comment below!  Or if you’d like to download the Character Profile worksheets I created for my students, you can get them HERE for FREE!

Click HERE to read the next installment


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