List Post, décembre 2016 + HOLIDAY POEM!

  1. Write my next novel
  2. Get ready for Christmas (at home, this year)
  3. Celebrate the holidays with family and friends
  4. And on Tuesday, December 13 – the Killer Nashville Facebook Page will host my guest blog.

I met KN blog coordinator Tom Wood back in September at the Decatur Book Festival, and he asked me to submit a post for later on…which I did, and Voilà!

I’d love for you to read it and Like it.

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Now, for this year’s verse:

My holiday poem, I’ll try to make short.

The year’s highlights, to you, I’ll describe and report.

Two thousand sixteen will be history soon,

and I’ve time to consider that, this afternoon.

I began the year busy with two new endeavors:

got on Facebook, and found it both easy and clever.

I started my newsletter also, and found

it a way to update you all – all the year ’round.

In the spring, my last book, Daddy’s Girl, was released

and my number of novels out, by one, increased.

In the summer, just after it won an award

My nonfiction book, All the Above, struck a chord

With the public, when I penned an article in

the Atlanta newspaper (called the AJC). Then,

in the fall, I attended three festivals where

I met readers and authors and others who share

in the interest of stories, both made-up and true.

I had fun, and ’twas hard, to them all, bid adieu.

I will close with my wishes of love and good cheer.

Joyeuses fêtes de Noel and a Happy New Year!

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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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Postcards from Europe, #17

This card didn’t get to us before we left for our trip to France, but it was terrific to get it with our mail upon our return. We spent lots of time wandering through the rues of Montpellier, in the Centre Ville and the Quartier de l’Ancien Courrier. (If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram at juliemcdermott1 to see photos.)

Being in Montpellier with our daughter was wonderful, and it brought back many memories of my time there, when it was a smaller, quieter town. Back then, I motored around on a mobylette (moped) to and from the apartment I shared with two other students in Palavas-les-flots, the closest beach village on the Mediterranean Sea. Mademoiselle lived with a family in Montpellier, and she got around à pied (on foot) and on the (new to me) tram system.

Mademoiselle and I have a lot in common, and now we each have our time as a student in Montpellier, too. Something I never imagined, when I first wandered around there and began to love the French.

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Bonjour!

If this gets to you before you leave, consider this your first welcome to Montpellier! I can’t wait to show you and dad around, introduce you to my host mom and our director, and show you all the fantastic cafés we’ve catalogued during our semester here. I spent last weekend with the Williamsons* and they were absolutely wonderful – just like you said. I also have a parting gift of confiture du lait which is delicious. See you soon!

A bientôt, 

Mademoiselle

8-12-2015

P.S. They just turned the Christmas lights on and it’s GORGEOUS!

*The Williamsons are a French family (despite the anglicized last name) who live in Lyon and have been our friends since their son Charles was a summer exchange student chez nous several years ago. Unlike most other French families, Luc and Juliette have 8 (!) children, who are all teens or adults: Marie, Charles, Doriane, Aline, Lucie, Arthur, Blandine, and Astrid. We spent les fêtes de Noel with them this year, and they made us feel very welcome, and a part of the family! We hope they come visit us sometime soon!

List Post, nouvelle année (2015)

  • Almost finished UN-decorating the house for the holiday season
  • Writing back on schedule, after more than two weeks when I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was
  • Several signed copies of UNDERWATER are available for purchase at Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays
  • 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
  • On the horizon: My appearance at the Augusta Literary Festival on March 6-7. Looking forward to attending, meeting readers and signing books
  • Planning the release of my work of creative nonfiction, titled ALL THE ABOVE this spring
  • Resolving to step up my exercise routine this year
  • Cheering for the Cowboys and the Seahawks during the NFL playoffs
  • Happy that I’m traveling to Chapel Hill, NC in April and in May
  • Glad to share family news with close friends and family

ee605e7f-224b-44f4-a1a5-f0184e945720Photo courtesy of Alliance Française d’Atlanta

Book Talk for Noel

Fun “Book Talk” moments at a recent holiday gathering:

  • Telling a writer friend and his wife about my experience at my first Bouchercon in Long Beach, CA last month (the glow is still with me).
  • Selling an audio version (CD set) of UNDERWATER to a member of my Writers Group I hadn’t seen in months, who said he spends a lot of time driving. He was a regular attendee when I brought scenes of the manuscript to the group for feedback.
  • Finding out that a friend loves LONESOME DOVE as much as I do, talking about the book, and lending it to someone else who wants to read it (despite its length).
  • Asking another friend if I can interview him to help me do research for my work-in-progress. He agreed, and suggested I speak to someone else we know who might help, too.
  • Talking about the German translation of UNDERWATER (“UNTER WASSER”) to be released on February 24, 2015.
  • Describing how I use social media to engage with readers and market my books.
  • Mentioning that my next book (Book 3) is a work of creative nonfiction called ALL THE ABOVE, which will be out in the spring.
  • Hearing a (lawyer) friend recite poetry by Ezra Pound.
  • Listening to a writer friend talk about his mystery series.
  • Explaining that after Book 3, I’m sticking with the psychological thriller genre and writing fiction.

Happy Holidays, and Bonne Année 2015!

List Post, Numéro Quatre (de décembre)

  • Finished decorating the house for the holiday season (but trimming the tree next weekend)
  • Starting my Christmas shopping next week
  • Writing in between everything, including on the weekends; hope to meet my WIP word count goal for 2014
  • Nostalgic about past Christmases, when my kids found bikes and toys under the tree
  • Delivered 10 signed copies of UNDERWATER to Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays…If you live in the Atlanta area, pick up your copy there!
  • Looking forward to a writerly holiday gathering next Saturday, where I’ll sign more copies and will have audio versions, too
  • Thinking about what I’ll talk about for 15 minutes for the “Member Minute” at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17, 2015
  • Happy that lots of UK readers have downloaded UNDERWATER during the last week! (and even more USA readers)
  • Excited (and thrilled) that the Falcons won last Sunday!
  • Recently tried “Abs” class, and going again tomorrow
  • Favorite Christmas candy (but must avoid): peppermint bark

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The end, the beginning, and the half-way point

The first day of summer – with the longest period of daylight – was the (northern hemisphere’s) summer solstice, just the other day, and the end of June – halfway through the calendar year – is just around the corner. But today is June 25, exactly 6 months before (and after) Christmas! What?!?

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No, I’m not in a panic – I don’t shop early for the holidays anymore, and I never used to, this early. I do (and already have, for this year) order a family Christmas ornament, and write design get a great idea for come up with a “custom” invitation to our annual holiday bash very early, say, in January (but this year, it wasn’t until April…) for the following year’s party.

But I do marvel at how time has gone by, so fast, since December 25. Remember that ice and snow, Atlanta? (and all of you, up north?)

Luckily, that’s long gone. It’s warm, it’s humid, and often downright hot; it’s thunderstorm weather here in Georgia. And I know it isn’t really, but to me, today is kind of the half-way point of the year.

So it’s kind of fitting that yesterday, I finished one big project, and today, I’m starting another one. Wait – I’ve already started the new one – at least, I got some words down on a page  (about 3500 words, that is). For now, it’s called Book 4. But [I’ll say] I’m really starting it today, because it’s now number one on my agenda: if I don’t do it, it won’t happen. I’m on the beginning right now: Chapter One is done (though it needs revisiting) and Chapter Two is underway. (I’ve also got the end of the story mapped out.)

The project I just finished is the revision of ALL THE ABOVE, the book I’ve been working on for more than a year, after my editor Laura Ownbey’s overview edit*. The book won’t be 100% ready for release until after the line edit** (and my subsequent changes), but it still feels like the end – even if it isn’t, exactly.

As the days get shorter, I’ll get the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed on ALL THE ABOVE (and fix the transitions, flow, dialogue, and all that other stuff – see below) – the fine-tuning. During the next 6 months, I’ll also be working with my (other) editor, Anh Schluep, at Thomas & Mercer to prepare UNDERWATER for rerelease this fall.

So, I’ve got a lot to do before December 25, which, I’m guessing, will be here before I know it…

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Above: The poinsettia tree at the Atlanta Botanical Garden Christmas Exhibit a few years ago

* an analysis of plot points, characterization, pacing, overall flow, and similar broad issues
** grammar and punctuation issues, problems with flow, stiff dialogue, formatting problems, rough transitions, and anything else that sticks out… from the layout of furniture in a room changing to a misplaced apostrophe
 

L’anniversaire de my (French) “Charlie Brown” Christmas Tree

I(t) made it.

Since last Christmas, I’ve kept my  Charlie Brown Christmas tree out (in my bedroom) all year. When shopping for gifts at Sur La Table earlier this month, I found the rest of the ornaments it needed, including a Buche de Noel.

This year’s tree:

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To borrow a question from my husband, How many pair of black pants  pair of boots  purses  Eiffel Towers does a person need?

Answer: Beaucoup. For this tree: five, to be exact – though one was a gift from a friend.

Our (real) tree is still up, and it will be for a few more days. It’s nine feet tall and loaded down with ornaments that we’ve collected over the years. Perhaps next year, the ornaments pictured above will go on it – but it’s too early to know that now.

When it comes time to pack up the Christmas decorations, I’m not going to want to store this little tree away in the storage room. So it just might have to stay out for an encore (but not on the dining room table).

Since I like to keep a little bit of Christmas out all year.

Last year’s Tree:

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My Christmas Poem, y’all

“I want to know everything about you, so I tell you everything about myself.”

– Amy Hempel

Until I realized that almost no one read it (see recent WSJ article Bring on the Holiday Letters), I used to write and send out a Christmas poem every year, and I (rather) miss* doing it.

So, inspired by the Journal author’s words that holiday letters (for me, poems) have a of “seasonal warmth,” and her reminders that they

“…bring us together in a way that our relentless digital connections cannot…represent tradition in a world that discards traditions too quickly…and they require real effort and thought: Somebody took the time to write them.” (emphasis mine)

…here’s my latest:

The kids are all grown; the house, empty, almost –
No more lunches to make, no more bagels to toast.
They’re all doing their thing; my job raising them’s done –
And for me and my husband, the fun’s just begun.
 
Around les enfants, my world used to revolve.
When ma fille was twelve, I found a nouvelle resolve:
I sat down to write books, and I ceased to write verse
For my “holiday letter” – of it, I would disperse.
 
“Who would miss it?” I thought. Just a relative**  few.
All the others would not; from them, I took my cue.
So I focused my brain on a lofty ambition:
“Why not write a whole novel?” That was my admonition.
 
“You can do it!” I said to myself. “You have time;
For a break, you can always come up with a rhyme.
When you hear and see things, you are constantly thinking:
‘That would be a good scene! Or way, with them, for linking.’
 
“Yes, I know it takes months – sometimes YEARS – but, once finished,
You can start a new project, no right-brain cells diminished.
And then, hopefully, readers will love what you’ve written.
Those at home, and in places like France and Great Britain!”
 
So, not knowing if I would succeed or would fail,
I began to create, it became my travail. 
It’s ‘ton boulot,’ a French friend expressed, when I asked.
(That means ‘job.’) And with that, it’s what I am self-tasked.
 
Au même temps, I chose, fluency, to re-attain
in French, la langue stored somewhere inside of my brain.
I commenced with a course that I’m still taking now
And I’ve risen in level, and at times, I know how
 
To think en français; it occurs more and more
When I don’t think about it – then, my “puzzler” gets sore.
I have much more to learn, and to write. But I’m glad
That two books, I have published, and that they can be had
 
On your tablet or, if you’re old-fashioned, in hand.
You can give them as gifts, put them on your nightstand.
I am writing “Book Three” – it will be out next year;
And to you, I wish holidays full of good cheer! 
 
* I just like to smile write. Smiling’s Writing’s my favorite.
** One relative in particular did…
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