Wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro onze (11)

Before September comes to a close (is it fall, already?)…

Wendy and I had lunch together at an Atlanta French restaurant recently and had a glass of wine. 😎 🍷 🇫🇷

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She told me all about her trip to Ireland, where she played golf and watched two (American) football games. In both, her team won, and in one of them (a high school game), her son played! She also visited San Francisco this month to visit one of her three daughters. I told her about my trip earlier this month to New Orleans, where I attended the mystery writers conference, Bouchercon.

Bistro Niko is one of our favorite lunch spots, with a great menu, and it’s conveniently located. Next month, who knows where we’ll meet? But since our birthdays fall within 2 1/2 weeks of each other (mine in late October, hers in early November) I think it will be fun to celebrate them together! 🍰

Bon weekend! 

 

 

Pizza and… the SUPER BOWL!

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Ham

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That’s right – no movie this weekend! 😦

We planned to go see The Revenant, and we still do. But since the showtime at our favorite theater was a bit early, we decided to relax and enjoy our “meat-lovers” pizza instead.*  We won’t be eating pizza this evening while watching the Panthers and the Broncos (Carolina vs. Denver, in Super Bowl L – “50”). But since tomorrow is my husband’s birthday, we’ll have sandwiches, chips, and cake.

I can’t wait to watch the game (and the commercials!), and no matter who wins, I hope it’s a good one. In honor of it, here’s an (amusing) short excerpt of an article about it that we discussed in my French conversation class this week. I’ll quote this (simple) explanation of the game in French, and then give you the English translation, even though you can probably figure it out, with so many vrais amis (similar words). Words in parentheses are included for extra clarification:

“Sur un terrain de près de 91 mètres sur 49, deux équipes de 11 joueurs se disputent et galopent derrière un ballon ovale. Celui-ci est flanqué d’un lacet de fermeture, qui permet aux joueurs de lui donner un mouvement rotatif indispensable pour stabiliser sa trajectoire…”

“On a field of about 91 by 49 meters [100 by 53 yards], 2 teams of 11 players battle (contend, argue, dispute) and gallop (dash) behind an oval ball. The ball is locked/held together by a (shoe)lace, which permits the players to give it an indispensable rotating (rotary) movement, to stabilize its flight path (trajectory)…”

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*Meat-lover’s, since Lent begins on Wednesday. So, for the next 6 weeks, we’ll be eating vegetarian pizzas on Fridays.

 

 

List Post: Nouvelle Année – janvier 2016

  • Read my author interview by fellow Sister in Crime author Linda Sands on Wednesday, January 13 on her blog. I’ll be answering Linda’s funky questions about my book ALL THE ABOVE.
  • Then on Thursday and Friday, January 14 and 15, fellow Atlanta Writers Club member and author Rona Simmons will host me on the Virtual Village Book Festival on Facebook. From 10 am on 1/14 to 5 pm on 1/15, you can ask me questions on this interactive event!
  • Book 4 is ready! (See word count details below.) I’ll be revealing the TITLE soon. Estimated release date: late February or early March 2016.

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AND — 

Since this is my second “Nouvelle Année” Post, I thought I would look back to a year ago and add comments and updates. Here is what I wrote in January 2015. Comments are in blue.

  • Almost finished UN-decorating the house for the holiday season (This year, I got it done on the last day of 2015. Because I spent Christmas in France, there was less to take down.)
  • Writing back on schedule, after more than two weeks when I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was (Hmm..getting back on track TODAY!)
  • Several signed copies of UNDERWATER are available for purchase at Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays (Alas, the bakery closed last year. If you would like a signed copy of UNDERWATER or ALL THE ABOVE, contact me, or order via PayPal on my Home page). 
  • Looking forward to my “Member Minute” talk at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm, at Georgia Perimeter College (This year, I’ll be doing two virtual events in January – see above.)
  • On the horizon: My appearance at the Augusta Literary Festival on March 6-7. Looking forward to attending, meeting readers and signing books (No festivals coming up as of yet in 2016, but I’ll keep you posted.)
  • Planning the release of my work of creative nonfiction, titled ALL THE ABOVE this spring (It came out on March 24, 2015!)
  • Resolving to step up my exercise routine this year (Ditto.)
  • Cheering for the Cowboys and the Seahawks during the NFL playoffs (Not sure about this yet – Still celebrating Falcons victory over the Panthers!)
  • Happy that I’m traveling to Chapel Hill, NC in April and in May (I’ll be in the area this year in May again, and may be before.)
  • Glad to share family news with close friends and family. (Last year began with that good news.)

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Finally – a postscript for all you “Pizza and a Movie” post followers:

My Top 5 Movies of 2015:

  1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. The Gift
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Inside Out

And – here are 5 Movies I missed seeing, and want to see:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Creed
  4. Steve Jobs
  5. The Big Short *

*Actually, I saw this just after Christmas in France, but it was dubbed in French. I understood it 😀  – but still want to see the English language version soon.

 

List Post: octobre 2015

It’s only October 2nd, but I’m going to be so busy this month that if I don’t get this done now, it won’t happen.

  • It’s Promotion month for UNDERWATER: Yesterday through October 31st, you can download my Suspense novel set in my home town of Atlanta for only $1.99! UNDERWATER is an Amazon HALLOWEEN KINDLE BOOK DEAL. Look for it under Mysteries/Suspense — Suspense — Psychological!

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  • My trip to Raleigh is fast approaching! I’ll be a “Dark Romance and Dark Smiles” Panelist at Bouchercon next Friday at 10:00 a.m, and the next day I’ll be at the New Author Breakfast bright and early at 7:00 a.m.!
  • Note: even though I’m a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, I once worked in Durham, have visited Duke, and have flown in and out of RDU several times, this will be my very first trip to the state capital of Raleigh. I hear it’s nice. And I feel pretty comfortable in that neck of the woods, anyway.
  • My other appearances this month include the Book and Art Fair in Griffin GA Oct 16-18; book signing with fellow Sister in Crime Hank Phillippi Ryan at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock GA Oct 21; and book signing at the Marietta Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors Oct 24 with authors Valerie Connors & Mike Buchanan. (See News and Events for times and details.)
  • At the end of the month, I’ll be at the Killer Nashville International Writers Conference with some Atlanta Sisters in Crime! My first time at this conference, and my third time ever (I think) in Nashville!
  • November Preview: in between 2 quick trips to Florida (I hope) I’ll appear yet again with some Sisters at the Ansley Book Club Meeting in Atlanta! Details to come.
  • Quoi d’autre? What else? Watching football, of course!

Ceci et cela (This and That): List Post

  • Recently received: 2 handwritten thank-you notes in the mail. One from France, one from Dunwoody, GA
  • The one from France written en anglais, avec une photo; the other, from une amie de longue date (old friend)
  • Writing research: Found (long) paragraph in THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES describing how Sherman McCoy is “going broke on a million dollars a year!” (Chapter 6, p 137)
  • Missed her: mom’s neighbor, “Z” (with whom I practice français de temps en temps) home from France where she was for the summer, but already on her way back there for a week
  • Stacking up: Books to read, on my nightstand (see my Goodreads “to read” list)
  • Falling: Temperatures…and time to enjoy the patio le soir
  • Tried it: Zumba! Toning. A break from spinning class…Fun! but hard on knees.
  • Writing: between now and Thanksgiving: 50K words in WIP? (that’s just 5K a week)
  • Planning: My (solo) 20 minute Author Focus panel at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach, CA, le 15 novembre à midi
  • sprechen Sie Deutsch? Amazon Crossing of Amazon Publishing is translating UNDERWATER into German! Release date sometime next spring.
  • Organisez! My notes for Book 4 (WIP) and my French notes!
  • Traveling: Not me (until November), but those I know, to the Bahamas, Rosemary Beach (FL), Folly Beach (SC), Turks & Caicos, Martinique, Las Vegas, Australia, Fiji, Prague, The Dordogne (France), Paris…Of those, I’ve only been to Vegas and Paris
  • Preparing: Book 3, ALL THE ABOVE, a true story, for publication in early 2015 (probably February). It’s been edited, but needs a cover. Can keep some quotes of song titles in it, but not song lyrics 😦
  • Finally….watching: Football! UGA Bulldogs, UNC Tar Heels and Atlanta Falcons!

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New publishing contract for UNDERWATER!

A lot has happened since April 7, 2014.

One evening, about a week after my blog post titled Playing to Win – quoting Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who led his team to win Super Bowl XLVIII (“Why not you, Russ?”) – I received a Facebook message from Anh Schluep, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Amazon Publishing in Seattle. She had read UNDERWATER and enjoyed it: “What a thrill ride!”

She wanted to talk about acquiring it for the Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer (which publishes Mystery, Thriller and Suspense) and putting their forces to work to give it “the chance to reach more readers.”

This happened right before my husband and I were scheduled to fly to Austin, Texas to attend a nephew’s wedding, then to Napa Valley for the week. I love getting Facebook messages, and this was a very intriguing one. So, I spent half the night awake doing research, responded to Anh (pronounced “On”) the next morning, and we scheduled a conference call for the day before my travels began.

Then, in football terms, it was time for me to revisit the Playbook.

Three weeks later, after a lot of discussion with Amazon, my lawyer’s counsel, and some great California wine, the contract has been signed. Tentative release date for the new edition of UNDERWATER with Thomas & Mercer is November 2014!

Now, I don’t know if Anh (or anyone at Amazon Publishing) is a fan of Russell Wilson, or if they read my April 7 post, but serendipity comes to mind.

“Why not you, Russ Julie?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing to win

“I remember my dad asking me one time, and it’s something that has always stuck with me: ‘Why not you, Russ?’ You know, why not me? Why not me in the Super Bowl? So in speaking to our football team earlier in the year, I said, ‘Why not us? Why can’t we be there?'”
 
– 2014 Super Bowl Champion QB Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks
 

Football has been over for weeks, and college basketball – March Madness – ends tonight. The Tar Heels didn’t make it past the Third Round, but after a phenomenal regular season victory against rival Duke in UNC’s Dean Dome, it almost didn’t matter…especially since Duke was eliminated in the Second Round.

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UNC students in downtown Chapel Hill, celebrating the victory over Duke on February 20, 2014

[Other than wanting UNC to beat them in basketball, I’m fine with Duke; the book I’ve been writing for almost a year now is partially set in Durham.]

Over the last several months (the coldest October through March in over a century, I read), I’ve been busy writing it, and I hope to finish it soon. The hardest part was the middle, which I was working on during the NFL playoffs (and while Atlanta got zapped with at least three bouts of freezing temperatures and/or snow and ice).

Lately though, I’ve been on kind of a writing roll, and I’m nearing the end. But it won’t be done then; working with my editor (and doing revisions) is next. There’s a lot more to do, too, the most fun of which will be to select a cover. Meanwhile, I’ve got the conflicts and characters identified for Book 4 (a suspense novel) and I can’t wait to get started on it.

So – what does any of that have to do with football, or with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson?

In a word: inspiration.

Autrefois, I didn’t like or even understand football. Now, I miss it a ton, and I can’t wait to watch the Falcons play this fall. I watched this year’s Super Bowl, enjoyed the game – and was inspired by the story (and words) of the Seattle quarterback.

Here’s someone who’s worked hard, who might have been considered an underdog, but who didn’t take No for an answer. I’m taking a cue from his words. Why not me?

Why not write fiction (and creative non-fiction)? Why not work full time on my books? Why not be committed to learn, and keep trying to improve my writing? Why not produce the best stories I can, and tell others about them?

Why not go for it?

“Why not you, Russ?”

 

Rendez-vous in the Big Apple

My husband and I spent a few days in New York City earlier this month, in between two bouts of record low temperatures up there, and (fortunately) days before snow fell in Manhattan.

As we walked from our hotel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the “Met”) one day, I tried to picture Candace Morgan’s apartment. Candace is the main character in my Suspense novel UNDERWATER, and she lives in Atlanta and New York. Undoubtedly, her place in the Upper East Side is tiny compared to the luxury penthouse condominium she owns down south. But it works, because she’s a minimalist – sort of.

In UNDERWATER, Candace spends most of her time in the city I know better, Atlanta (though she jets off to two exotic locations, only one of which I’ve visited).  Relatively few of the story’s scenes take place up north, none during the winter; however, unlike me, Candace knows her way around “the City.”

So, why did my husband and I schedule a trip there, with no thought to the January weather possibilities? Parce que we recently reconnected with an old friend from our college days in Chapel Hill, whom we hadn’t seen in decades. That friend and we decided to rendez-vous in New York (she lives in Boston), and she and we contacted three other UNC friends who live in and around New York and asked them to join us.

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The Old Well on the campus of UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina:

We’d seen one of these friends a few times in recent years (although she, the Boston woman, hadn’t seen him since college), but we hadn’t seen or talked to the rest in over thirty years. Pourquoi? Because we had moved to Texas right after graduation and had simply lost contact. We hadn’t known their parents’ addresses or phone numbers  – pretty much the only way, back then, to find each other.

But now, thanks to technology, social networks and just plain serendipity – well, I’m going to credit serendipity too, because it just felt like it was a factor – all but one of us met on a Saturday at a Greek restaurant on 7th Avenue. We caught up over lunch at a round table, then continued to share memories and news at a nearby Irish Pub. That night, it was a smaller group at dinner at an Italian restaurant on 51st Street.

The one who couldn’t attend that Saturday had previously scheduled a weekend trip. But – serendipitously – we had arrived on Thursday, and she happened to be free for dinner that night, so we met at a fabulous midtown restaurant. It was a wonderful kickoff to a great weekend.

It was a  little weird to see each other again after so long and compare memories. On the other hand, it was somehow comfortable. We had all become friends without the benefit of instant and easy communication, and with the aid of serendipity. (Perhaps because we never did anything like it in college, exchanging emails and texts before and after our “reunion” in NYC felt a little odd – but only a little.)

I was glad the weather cooperated while we were there, and I’m thankful we dodged the snow and freezing temperatures (though ours down south have been pareil, lately). Next weekend, as I watch the Super Bowl, if it’s extremely cold (or worse) up there, I’ll be thinking of my northern friends.

With warm thoughts.

Le football américain, and good calls

“Je sais que tu adores ce sport…”

        — mon prof de français

Football. Fundamentally, I don’t think it’s changed all that much. But many of the rules have changed over time, adapting to better technology, increased risks and just smarter ways to play the game. Two other ingredients of what makes up the NFL have also changed, in my girl-opinion: uniforms, and the players’ personal styles. I’m not sure they’re better, but let’s just say I’ve noticed.

But what makes up a good call (and a bad one)  by the referees —  les arbitreshasn’t changed, no matter how much experience they lack have.

The Falcons are my team, and they’re undefeated right now. They’ve got a great quarterback, a talented offense and a strong defense. There are other good teams in the league, including the Green Bay Packers. I’m not really a Packers fan, and I was asleep last Monday night when the controversial touchdown call was made that resulted in a win for the opposing team. But like many other people, I watched the replay and I couldn’t believe the call. So on Thursday, I was ecstatic when the real experienced refs were back.

Yesterday, in an incredible match de foot between Atlanta and the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons won by two points after a final minute of terrific plays. Another close game followed: Green Bay against New Orleans. That game wasn’t without controversial calls, but despite that, the Packers won by a point.

Phew.

I just don’t think I could have handled them not winning again. I should probably like the Saints, I guess, with their French heritage and fleur de lis, but I just don’t — with their issues.

But hey, that could change.

I’ve changed about football. Mistakenly, I used to think (and I’m embarrassed to admit) that it was just a bunch of guys knocking each other down. But because:

1. a son of mine played it in high school

2. being a reader, I read How Football Explains America by Sal Paolantonio, The Blind Side by Michael Lewis and saw the movie (and because of Michael Oher, I love the Ravens)

3. and, we got a high-definition big-screen TV

my football conversion was born. I learned the rules and started to understand the game: Runners dodge, carry, break tackles and get yards. Passes are thrown and caught, sometimes by the opposing team. Kickers kick — and they have to do it well. Players protect the quarterback, who fakes, hands off or passes to a receiver. I’ve learned (most of) the penalty calls, though I still don’t always get what “holding” is, why “illegal motion” is bad and why we can’t have “forward laterals,” at least, occasionally.

Just kidding. I don’t really like any lateral passes.

Anything can happen in football, as the last sixty seconds of the Falcons-Panthers game demonstrated yesterday. In my view, each play is an un-choreographed dance (though I’m sure the coaches and players would say each one is quite well choreographed). But the truth is, it’s unpredictable.

Unfortunately, there’s no football in my novel (coming soon), but there is a very important hockey game. The French don’t have le foot, and I think they’re missing out.

Since I think they just might adore it. That would be a good call, n’est-ce pas?

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