Where I’ve worked on my books, and when…

Where I was (and what the season was), when I began writing each of my books:

  • Book 4 (title to be revealed soon): My home office, in the winter ❄️
  • Book 3 (ALL THE ABOVE): My room at the One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach, Florida during spring break👙
  • Book 2 (UNDERWATER): The Library Coffee Company in Atlanta (now closed), in the summer ☕️
  • Book 1 (MAKE THAT DEUX): My kitchen, in the fall 🍁

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Where I was, when I found my editor: My writers group meeting in Atlanta, in the spring 🌷

Where I was, when I found my cover artist: The Resort at Longboat Key Club near Sarasota, Florida, in the spring 🌴

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Where I went to do research:

  • Book 4: McKinney, Texas 🌵
  • Book 3: Winston-Salem, North Carolina 🌳
  • Book 2: New York City, and Nice, France 🚖
  • Book 1: Montpellier, France 🇫🇷

Where I was (and the season), when I finished the edits for each:

  • Book 4: My home office, in the summer 🍉
  • Book 3: My home office, in the winter ⛄️
  • Book 2: Winter Park, Colorado, during a big family reunion vacation week and golf tournament, in the summer ⛳️
  • Book 1: My kitchen, in the fall 🏈

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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!

 

(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.

Pizza and a Movie: Star Wars, Episode VII – the Force Awakens, in FRANCE!

Our Pizza Toppings at La Piazza Papa in Montpellier, France!

  • Black Olives
  • Ham
  • Mushrooms
  • Red Onions

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Movie:

Star Wars: Le Reveil de la Force

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Our final “Pizza and a Movie” for 2015 occurred during our vacation in the south of France for the Christmas holidays. Our first (and last) stop in France was in Montpellier, and on a rainy Sunday afternoon (and evening), we decided to go see Star Wars (in English, but with French subtitles, or the “Version Originale ST”). There were long queues for the Version Française (French dubbed version), but not for the Originale, so we were able to get tickets just before showtime.

What a great movie! I absolutely loved it, and if you saw the first and second movies (episodes IV and V) when they came out in theaters like I did in the 1970s, I believe you will, too. If not, I still think you’ll enjoy it. They seemed to take everything that worked really well in those two movies and do them again in this film.

Le résultat? My favorite movie of 2015.

In my French conversation class, we often talk about movies, and also about how an American film title is sometimes completely changed instead of just translated. This time, I like the translation better than the English title. “Le Reveil de la Force” does mean “The Force Awakens,” but, more literally, it means “The Awakening of the Force.”

That may seem like a small thing, but it’s significant to me, as an author who often agonizes over the exact wording of titles.

Another note: one scene in particular reminded me of the famous line in Episode IV: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” which has become a family saying chez nous. When you see this movie, you’ll know which scene I’m talking about.

The Pizza:

We had a drink first at a café on Place de la Comédie, then walked over to La Piazza Papa and asked to share (partager) this pizza. When the serveur brought it, the pizza had already been divided in two. It seemed fitting for a country that values l’égalité!

Vive la France! et Bonne Année 2016!

 

 

Postcards from Europe, #8

You may notice that I’m posting the “Postcards from Europe” series frequently….That’s because, so far, I’ve received 14 cartes postales, and I don’t know how many more are on the way. I want to make sure I get them all published before I leave for France myself, soon…

Mademoiselle had planned 3 more trips to Paris (in November) when she wrote this postcard (two days before my birthday in October, haha).

This past weekend, November 20-22, she took her third trip to Paris to celebrate Thanksgiving with two American friends.* She posted a photo of their table on instagram and commented, “Frenchgiving (noun): when three Americans meet in Paris in late November.”

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Bonjour!

This is from my first trip to Paris, haha. We went to the Sacre Coeur, saw the sights, explored small neighborhoods, and had Moroccan food! I hope you have a fantastic birthday week!

Love you lots!

Mademoiselle

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*Mademoiselle in front of La Tour Eiffel:

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Wine with Wendy on Wednesday: numéro trois

This week, Wendy and I met for lunch at Le Bilboquet, a French restaurant in the heart of Buckhead, located  in the “Shops of Buckhead.” Just off Peachtree Road (and, for those of you who don’t live here, there is only 1 real Peachtree), the restaurant is on a corner, with the Spanx building just behind it and à côté. We sat by the window on a rainy Wednesday and caught up over a glass of wine about our recent and upcoming travels, current events, and this and that.

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Les fleurs sur la table–l’une commerciale, l’autre, littéraire

Wendy had lots of fun on her recent trip to a Caribbean island, where she celebrated her birthday. She has a few European trips planned for next year, and I’m off to France in a few weeks. We are both passionné about what’s happening across the pond. And Wendy knows that Mademoiselle (my daughter) is in France right now, and was in Paris last weekend.

We also talked about my books, and I updated Wendy on where things stand with “Book 4.” (She knows the title, whose initials are AZSG.) The “full manuscript” (the entire book) is in the hands of two people in the publishing industry, and I’m waiting to hear back.

I met one of them in Nashville, and I told Wendy she said that UNDERWATER and AZSG (title to be revealed later) are upmarket fiction, rather than straight suspense, and cross over from suspense into women’s fiction.

Wendy smiled. “Isn’t that last part what I said, after I read it [AZSG]?” * (Wendy was my beta-reader this fall, and her feedback was invaluable.)  “And most readers–and people who buy books–are women,” she added.

“Right!” I said. “You did say that, and they are.”

“What is ‘upmarket’ fiction, though?”

“Basically, it’s a merger–or an intersection–of commercial and literary fiction,” I said. “It appeals primarily to women, especially book clubs, and its readers are usually well-read and educated. The stories have strong characters and plot, but are a little more thoughtful and discussion-provoking than commercial fiction.”

“Books like Gone Girl,” she said, and I nodded.

We chatted on, and I told Wendy I would let her know when I had any news about AZSG. When we said au revoir, I glanced up at the Spanx building, and was struck by the fact that the protagonist of UNDERWATER is the CEO of “SlimZ,” a fictional version of the Atlanta-based company.

Who knows? Maybe, some of my readers work there…

*I don’t know if these were our exact words, but this was the gist of it.

 

 

 

 

Postcards from Europe, #2

With the exception of Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Carcassonne, France, all of Mademoiselle’s many travel destinations so far have been different from mine when I spent a year abroad in France. Her first excursion was to Collioure.

Mademoiselle and I have similar tastes in art, and she is much more knowledgeable than me about history. And we both adore the beach!

Quelle jolie carte postale, n’est-ce pas?

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Bonjour!

This is from our excursion to Collioure, a medieval port town that’s known for its art scene. Apparently painters like Picasso and Matisse lived there at one point and painted the scenery. Also visited the castle that was once controlled by the Visigoths, the Spanish, and the Huguenots at some point or other, and then laid on the beach (far right).

Love you,

Mademoiselle

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Postcards from Europe, #1

My daughter (I’ll call her Mademoiselle, but if you’ve read ALL THE ABOVE, you know her name), is a junior in college, and is spending this semester studying in the south of France. She’s living in the same city I did (Montpellier), when I did the same (as a student at the same university*) for a year. Like me, she’s somewhat of a chronicler, and since August, she’s been sending me postcards (cartes postales) via la poste (snail mail).

Just as I’ve been doing with “Pizza and a Movie” posts, and as I’m starting to do with “Wine with Wendy on Wednesdays,” I’m going to do a series of posts sharing her postcards sent from Europe. Notice that she uses the French way for dates (day/month/year):

Voici la première carte postale:

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Bonjour à tous!

Today I visited the Château de Flaugergues, a small summer home built in 1696 by a member of the French Royal Court! Today it has sprawling gardens and the family that lives there makes wine (the rosé is the best) and it’s only 15 minutes away by train! I hope everything is good at home and I love you all!

Love,

Mademoiselle

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Of course, she’s been in touch with me and her father by telephone, text, email, and even the odd photo on snapchat or instagram. But her postcards seem more special, and they kind of link her time in France with mine.

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*The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

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