Wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro six

For our March rendez vous, Wendy and I met at a French bistro in Buckhead (in Atlanta).

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Some Atlantans may guess which one from the mural above (inside the restaurant). We had a lovely table near the front, lunch was very tasty, and it was wonderful catching up.

Here are a few things that I either learned, or that we talked about:

  • Wendy has never been to Paris (!) But she’s been to Europe many times – much more than I have.
  • We’d like to go to France together someday – at least, I’d love to go with her.
  • Current events (how could we not); football and other sports; travel destinations, domestic and international; our kids’ college news; and what our kids (of any age) choose (and choose not) to tell us
  • Wendy’s art projects, her approach to them, and her course(s)
  • The fact that she can create a painting (she calls it a “before” – it’s the model, sort of) in an hour! (Seen on her facebook page)
  • My inability to multitask on book projects right now, as I wait to view images to consider for my next novel (soon to be published), and try to craft the storyline and characters for my next one, which I’ve begun writing (I’m on Chapter 3)

It’s so much fun to talk about our creative endeavors, and Wendy continues to amaze me with hers. We agreed that it takes discipline for each of us to do what we do: If we don’t sit (or stand) in front of the canvas (or other surface, I’m guessing) or in my case, the computer, and work at it, it simply won’t get done.

No matter what else is going on!

 

List Post, mars 2016 (March)

  • If you haven’t already, please SIGN UP for my bimonthly Newsletter! (See “Newsletter” under “For Readers”). This month’s edition out very soon!
  • Announcing a TITLE CHANGE for Book 4, a women’s fiction/psychological suspense novel! It’s no longer called A ZERO-SUM GAME. New title is better and shorter. As you might guess from the below, two characters’ names are Valerie and June. I don’t know how I came up with those names – but they worked.
  • No travels this month – so I hope to get lots of writing done. Then, I’ve got long weekends away in April, May, and June. Destinations: Texas – bro-in-law’s wedding; North Carolina – a “Sisters in Crime” (writers organization) presentation I’m doing with another Georgia author; Las Vegas – a sis-in-law’s (big) birthday celebration!
  • Book 5 (work in progress) update: I’m not even ten thousand words in (yet), but it’s taking shape…
  • Glad to serve as Publicity Chair for the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime. If you live in the area and receive a “Neighbor Newspaper,” check it for details on our monthly meetings!
  • Looking forward to connecting with a local reporter about a piece on my book ALL THE ABOVE: MY SON’S BATTLE WITH BRAIN CANCER and its nomination for the Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Memoir/Autobiography category!

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Page and Word count (and other things) about my next novel, out soon. It’s finished!

 

 

Wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro cinq

This month, Wendy and I met for lunch at another Atlanta French restaurant.

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We ordered our wine immediately, but we took a few minutes to order our food. The restaurant is a favorite – I’ve been to parties there – and the salmon salad I had was delicious.

We talked about travels (past and upcoming), schedules (she has a busy one!), movies we’ve seen, and books we’ve read. And, movies we’ve seen based on books – some that we’ve read – and whether we felt they were well adapted to the big screen. I described what’s going on with my books, and revealed the (new) title for my next novel, which is coming out soon.

It’s NOT A Zero-Sum Game, after all. I’ve chosen a shorter, catchier title that fits the story much better. Wendy said she thought it was awesome!

Which made me feel even more convinced that I’ve made the right decision.

Here’s a hint: It’s two words, and describes the main character. I can’t wait to see how it looks on the cover. Who knows, I may have the book in my hands the next time Wendy and I meet (in March) for déjeuner!

 

(No) wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro quatre

This month, Wendy and I braved the nasty winter weather to meet for lunch at Anis Cafe and Bistro, a French restaurant right here in Atlanta.. We passed on the wine, though (it’s January, after all).

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We had skipped the month of December – it was just too busy to get together – and started up again for 2016, after my recent trip to France (for more info, see my post “My trip to France – the REAL story”), and before her upcoming one to London.

Before that, she’s off on a college visit up north with one of her five enfants (kids), that is, if it doesn’t get snowed out. But she recently went skiing, just before Christmas, with her large family. And, as soon as she gets back from London, where she is going this spring with her daughter and daughter’s friend, she’s getting on a plane the very next day (!), and going to the Florida Keys.

“I just have to have two different suitcases packed,” she assured me, as I gave her a look of disbelief. Not that she was going to the Keys, a place I’ve always wanted to go, but that she’s going the next day.

Oh la la.

But she’s young and energetic – and very organized, it seems. For my part, I’ve got three trips “out west” planned this year, and one weekend getaway in North Carolina later this spring.

We chatted about more than travels: our interests and creative passions, our impressions on current events, and even our daughters (see that post on my trip to France).

All in all, it was très amusant: a lot of fun.

My trip to France – the REAL story

[If you follow my blog, or any of my social media, you know that] I went to the South of France over the holidays. About a month ago, I was just recovering from jet lag, and about to begin a week of adventure over there, with my husband and our youngest, aka Mademoiselle.*

Once back in the U.S. (but being in love with France, and all things French), I was ecstatic to tell anyone who asked (and would listen) where we went (Montpellier, Avignon, and Lyon), what we did, where we stayed, etc. etc.

I could talk for hours a long, long time about our vacation, but, not wanting me to go on and on elaborate/tell stories about it, what most people were satisfied to hear was: “We had a great time!”

And we did.

But before the trip completely in any way fades from my memory, I’ve decided to describe some of our special memorable moments and events.

  • when, the first evening, we three walked down streets decorated with Christmas lights, and had dinner at a lovely restaurant, Le Petit Jardin, that was closing for the holidays the following day;
  • when, the next evening, the three of us dined at Les Jardins des Sens, in the hotel of the same name, and it was fantastic;
  • when we wandered through the town that weekend and had coffee and tea at Mademoiselle’s favorite cafés, where she had gone to study and hang out during the semester;
  • when I marveled at how Montpellier had changed (and how it hadn’t) since I was there a long time ago on my year abroad, and, when I had moments of déjà vu (except that I HAD already vu‘d), as we explored the city, and wandered around;
  • when Mademoiselle didn’t mind  minded  began not to mind again, that I was speaking French to whoever I could, and I did decently  fine  pretty darn well, practicing my French and communicating with tout le monde, in their native language;
  • when we wandered around, window-shopping, and going to museums and movies when almost everything was closed on Sundays;
  • when, after staying at good-to-great hotels in Montpellier and Avignon, my husband and I checked into a fabulous 5-star hotel near our friends’ home in Lyon (Mademoiselle stayed with them) for a few days, near the end of our trip (and we want to stay there again, someday);
  • when our French friends welcomed us into their home for the holidays, took us to church with them, gave us (very French) gifts, and included us in their family festivities;
  • when Mademoiselle suggested visiting Palavas-les-flots (the beach town, 20 minutes away from Montpellier, and where I lived as a student) on a Sunday – but, unable to find transportation, we gave up (although we could have taken a taxi, but didn ‘t think of it). But just knowing that Mademoiselle wanted to go there with me was almost enough;
  • when we ate French cheeses, crêpes, patè, and so much other good food, and drank wine.

So, if you were curious about our trip, but haven’t had time  were too shy  forgot to ask, but woudn’t mind knowing, there you have it.

*See my “Postcards from Europe” posts, in which I share the postcards I received from all over Europe from Mademoiselle last fall during her semester abroad.

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Above: a card we received from our friends after our return home. It’s an image of the Berges du Rhône et Hôtel-Dieu (the banks, or quays and paths, and the hotel on the west bank of the Rhône and the Presque-Isle – peninsula – between the Rhône and the Saône Rivers, which run through Lyon). The Hôtel-Dieu was a hospital for centuries, but is now being converted into a luxury hotel.

Julie AND Julia

This isn’t a “List Post,” but here’s a few new things, for 2016:

  • I now have a personal/profile Facebook page (“Julie McDermott“), AND an author/fan page, created some time ago (“Julia McDermott, Author“)!
  • If you’re my FB friend on the former, please “Like” me on the latter (I’ll probably invite you to, if I haven’t already).
  • So, should  do you call me Julie, or Julia? My legal name (and the one I sign, and write under) is Julia, but call me either one. (See my post, https://juliamcdermottbooks.com/2013/10/29/julie-or-julia/)
  • Stay tuned for future announcements on publicity about me in the news!
  • It’s on my personal FB page, but ALL THE ABOVE is a nominee for the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Memoir/Autobiography category!
  • Three trips are on the horizon, so far, and they’re all “out west” – one in April, one in June, and one in September!

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
– W. C. Fields

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Postcards from Europe, #18

We did not get this postcard before we left for our trip to France. Must have gotten delayed up north (see the “New York” stamp on the front).

I’ve never been to Strasbourg, and I’m glad that Mademoiselle got to go at Christmastime. Looks like the restaurant where she and her pals ate was picturesque. Perhaps because she was about to return to the USA, she reverted to our way of listing the date (as opposed to the French way) – that is, month/day/year.

Which also happened to be her birthday.

Mademoiselle was in Europe for 18 weeks, and she sent me 18 postcards. She’s safely back in her home country now, and I think she spent her time abroad – and recorded it – very well.

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Bonjour!

Currently experiencing Christmas in Strasbourg! There are markets everywhere, the Cathedral is beautiful, and we’ve had plenty of vin chaud and bretzel! If you leave for Mtp before you get this, safe travels! If you don’t, see you soon! I’ve taken it upon myself to get some ornaments, and there is a laughable number of people here wearing stork hats (the bird of the region). Now, on to Alsace, white wine, and Christmas concerts!

Love,

Mademoiselle

12-06-2015

LAST WEEKEND TRIP!

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Dinner and a Movie: The Big Short

Last weekend, instead of a pizza, we opted to split a salad and a sandwich at Corner Pizza

Afterward, we went to see The Big Short.

It had been out a few weeks, but the theater was packed. We were lucky to get two seats together on the 4th row. I had seen this film in France the week before (dubbed in French), and I understood most what the characters said, when they didn’t speak way too fast OR use (curse) words and idioms that I don’t know (yet). Seeing the English language version cleared up my confusion (and, to be fair, it’s a rather complicated story, especially in French). I enjoyed the film just as much the second time.

Here are my reactions to The Big Short:

  1. I want to read the book by Michael Lewis now.
  2. I thought the film was well cast.
  3. I thought it was well done. Some people may not like the way it was filmed and edited, but I did.
  4. I liked the movie very much overall, but I was dismayed (and even felt cheated) that one important thing was left out (and I wonder if the book does the same thing): the fact that the federal Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) [as updated in the 1990s] effectively forced banks to make subprime mortgage loans to non-credit worthy customers (“ninjas,” or no income, no job, no assets), so as not to discriminate against them.

I’ve worked in banking, and I know that bankers must should evaluate measurable criteria (like income, assets, credit scores, etc.) before making any kind of loan. And, like it or not, just like any other company, banks have to make a profit in order to stay in business. The federal government was responsible for the crisis depicted in the movie in that it forced banks to make loans to people who couldn’t afford them, betting on the erroneous assumption that housing would always appreciate.

See my novel UNDERWATER for more information.

On a positive note, I liked the film’s epilogue – the updates on what happened to all the central characters, and the macro effects. However, it would have been nice to learn that the government had either repealed or revised the laws, to prevent what happened from happening all over again.

But maybe that’s too big of a thing to hope for.

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No Pizza photo this time – just a collection of cards and souvenirs from my trip to the south of France, where I saw The Big Short in French!

 

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.

 

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