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?”







Relationships: être ensemble – “to be together”

An article published today in the Wall Street JournalFind a Man Today, Graduate Tomorrow by Emily Esfahani Smith is sure to spark some discussion.

The author (a member of Generation iY, or maybe just Y – and married) quotes her mother as telling her a few years ago: “You’re in college…There will never be a better time to meet someone…so start looking.”

Like Jenny, the main character in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, I tend to like people who are direct – as long as they aren’t unkind or insensitive. I also happen to agree with that mom, who’s a member of my generation.


The Wedding Cake of a bride and groom
who met in college and got married last year

I know – declaring that I agree with her may not be wise. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who disagree – or, at least, who find that mom’s instruction advice distasteful  offensive somewhat objectionable. I’m not fond of confrontation…but I think there’s more to college life than academics, and more to life afterward than career, for women – and for men.

In a word, relationships.

I suppose I’m biased, because I met my husband when we were in college. Many of my friends met their husbands years later, either at work or through friends. Some married after going to graduate school, after beginning their careers, or both. I wonder sometimes how difficult it was for them to find the right man.

A few of my friends met their husbands (and got married) younger than I did; I found “The One” – my One – in college. It was (and I’m sure still is) a great place to meet guys, and to get to know them. When your biggest stress is writing a paper or studying for an exam (or both), well, it’s not like having the responsibilities of adult life, even single adult life. Normally, when you’re in college, you have a lot more time available for friendships, fun and dating.

I didn’t set out “looking” for someone when I arrived at college, but I did look for relationships with friends – male and female – and I can’t imagine why young people today would not. You can have your cake and eat it, too relationships and achieve your academic and career goals, too. And sometimes, male friends can develop into something more…one of mine did.

I don’t apologize for finding the love of my life – or for him finding me – in college. Yes, we were both immature, but we matured together. I wanted company, and so did he. Turns out, initially, you’re going to be a rookie at adulthood. You can either do it alone, or do it with someone you love.

Perhaps because I did it with him, ça me fait en colère (it makes me mad) when I sometimes hear others say (self-righteously?) that it isn’t smart to do so… or that (since they did not?) no one should. Jenny in MAKE THAT DEUX (and her friends, and basically, her whole generation) believes that it’s just fine to find that special someone in college.

Pourquoi pas?

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Les amis de longue date: old friends, and 5 reasons why I love them

Like many people, I enjoy making new friends. But I love keeping (and seeing) those that I’ve known for a long, long time.*


Nurturing friendships takes time and effort on both sides. Sometimes, despite our intentions, it’s just not possible à continuer. For different reasons, we move on….and not always because we want to.

We relocate to a different community, city or state. We develop new interests that some of our (old) friends don’t share – so we necessarily spend less time with them. We start new jobs, have more (or different) commitments. And maybe sometimes we move on because we realize that we weren’t that close to begin with.

In my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, three young girls become friends. When their experience as roommates in France is over, they’re sad about it – they don’t want to move on. (A sequel is planned…)

In earlier times, it was difficult to stay connected with friends when I moved somewhere new and started a new chapter in life. Phone calls were expensive, and letters took more time and effort than the short messages we send now. Traveling to visit each other wasn’t easy, even for weddings; on the other hand, they were cheaper easier to attend then than most “destination” mariages of today. But everyone (or at least, I) seemed to have a lot less money back then. So we did what we could.

Happily, I never lost touch with certain old friends. I did with some others, but in recent years, it’s been wonderful to reconnect. Sometimes we’ve discovered that we have more in common now than we did before: we share new (or old) interests, or we just have more time to spend with each other.

Which leads me to the reasons why j’aime les amis de longue date:

1. They “knew me when” – back before either of us had much experience with life and love, and were filled with hopes about the future. We went through some thing(s) together, or at the same time. Somehow that “me” and that “them” haven’t changed all that much, despite our separate joys, trials and sorrows.

2. They’re constant. They’re still around, whether we were always in touch or not. The reasons why we became friends in the first place (usually NOT because our kids are the same age, or that we worked in the same office) are still the reasons why we like to get together.

3. They’re flexible, forgiving, encouraging, accepting and empathetic – all things I try to be, too. No matter what we do separately and no matter what our different interests are (or become), we understand each other. We learn from each other, laugh together and are there for each other when times are tough.

4. They don’t have an “agenda” – we’re friends because we like spending time together. We may have some shared interests (we often do) but we’re friends for more reasons than that. We’re in each other’s network of friends, but we aren’t networking.

5. They care. We’re supportive of each other, and we don’t have to know the details. We want the best for each other, and we’re troubled when the other is sad, unhappy or unwell.

One of my (old) friends often says, “Friends are the family that we choose.” Some of my dearest friends aren’t the oldest ones; I met them sometime more recently along life’s journey. But for inexplicable reasons, we may feel as if we’ve known each other for a long time. We hit it off – we just connect.

I think they’re going to become some of mes amis de longue date.

* Especially my best friend, mon mari – the family that I chose, and who chose me.

Make that…my book cover! — et son histoire

As promised…

Because the French are very good at mathématiques, here’s the story of the creation of my book cover, in an equation (une équation):

La serendipité L’artiste  *  [l’inspiration + le talent + la technologie]

MY BOOK COVER (La couverture de mon livre!):

Les détails:

Serendipity: Last spring — at long last — I finished the final edit of MAKE THAT DEUX, and began planning its publication. A top item on my to-d0 list was to find a cover artist. Then, just before Easter, my daughter and I visited beautiful Sarasota, Florida for several days during her spring break. “Kim” lives in Sarasota and she invited us to spend one afternoon with her and her husband at their beach cabana.

I told “Kim” about my plans for publication, and she mentioned a friend and cabana-neighbor, writer Peter McKenzie, author of THE PARAGON GANG. “Kim” suggested I look up Peter’s book on Amazon and give him a call. I found the book, downloaded it on my iPad, and called Peter. When I  complimented him on his book cover, he recommended the artist, Michael Faron of Sarasota. Back in Atlanta, I read through Michael’s website and sent him an email…

Et voilà! I had found my cover artist.

The Artist: First, Michael read MAKE THAT DEUX. Then we began discussing ideas and sketches that he sent me. We narrowed them down to one… and, aided by inspiration, talent and technology, Michael did the rest!*

As an added bonus, here’s the book description for MAKE THAT DEUX  that you will soon see on Amazon:

Three American college girls living in an apartment on the Mediterranean. Two boyfriends back home. “The One” (and only), if it’s “meant to be” — whatever that means! 
Jenny Miles has three goals: to speak French like a native, to travel all over Europe, and to have a blast. Meanwhile, two men compete for her attention and amour, ici et là. C’est compliqué! 
Take 10 months. Add 2 (surprise) transatlantic flights, 2 Greek isles, 1 moped (une mobylette) and beaucoup de lettres! Subtract 1 phone, 1 promise to be faithful, and 1 bikini top. La solution?  
Make that…a year that Jenny will never forget.

In the cover art that Michael created (and in the book description above), somehow I’m reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same…

* Including the back cover, which I may reveal in the future…


Bonne Chance

As I searched for inspiration for today’s post, out of the blue, my husband (who believes in serendipity) forwarded WSJ article You Call That Lucky? Actually, Yes by author Anne Kreamer.

Kreamer writes that, although she’s been reluctant in the past to attribute successes to luck  (“circumstances beyond my control”), she recently reexamined the idea: perhaps luck played a part. Looking back at her professional journey, she describes “lucky moments” that presented themselves, and when opportunity knocked, she was prepared: she had worked hard. Her conclusion: Reasonable success = [good] luck + preparedness.

But we all know that luck isn’t always good. Kreamer provides an example of a situation that “looked like” bad luck, but wasn’t: it led to a better position and good fortune.

I believe in fate, in serendipity — in luck, whether good or bad — but I prefer the French word, chance. Why is it that, when circumstances beyond our control lend themselves to aid us in achieving our goals, we don’t want to call it (good) luck, but choose instead to claim all the credit? And why, when different, uncontrollable circumstances lead to the opposite, we’re so inclined to blame bad luck rather than ourselves?

I’ve had some professional and personal good luck, but I’ve also had my share of the opposite. But as I dealt with those unfavorable, unfortunate events in the past, I did the best I could. I survived. I worked, as Kreamer says one must, believing that my luck would change. When my husband and I faced a financial crisis in our twenties, we felt alone and snake-bitten. Blaming bad luck (at least, partially) then, rather than ourselves, or worse, each other, helped us get through it. But we also took responsibility for our situation and came together as a couple, learning from our mistakes.

Since then, we’ve faced many other challenges and trials professionally and personally. Just in the last few years, we’ve lost both our fathers and have watched our youngest son survive brain cancer. But my husband and I have also had a lot of (good) luck, and sometimes the difficulties we have faced together have turned into blessings. We’ve stayed together long enough — thirty years, today — to see a lot of things change. Luck can change, fortunately.

If you just give it a chance, and work hard.

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