Wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro sept

Hours before my new suspense novel DADDY’S GIRL was published, Wendy and I met for lunch at one of the (new) French restaurants we had been to once before. But this time, we sat outside.


Our table was to the left of the side window

Le restaurant? Le Bilboquet.

It’s always so much fun to catch up with Wendy, hear about her kids (side note: four out of the five have a “y” in their name), her travels, her adventures, and talk about art, books, and movies.

It was delightful sitting outside in this new Buckhead shops and restaurant enclave, unimaginatively dubbed The Shops of Buckhead Atlanta, on Peachtree Road. I had rosé, she had chardonnay, and we each ordered something très bon et très français. 

(I just love how Wendy and I are both interested in French – although she is taking a needed break right now from French classes.)

De toute façon – anyway – our lunch lasted well over an hour  an hour and a half, and we both felt at the end that time had flown. A talented artist, Wendy gave me some great feedback recently about the details on the cover of DADDY’S GIRL. I have learned so much about art from her (my all-time favorite course I ever took was Art History). We also talked books: the great, the good, the fair, and the I-don’t-recommend-you-read-this-but-somehow-I-finished it. And we discussed the publishing industry and talked a little about films.

Wendy has never been to Paris (!) and I told her that when she does, she must visit the Musée d’Orsay to see all the Impressionists’ works there. (I would love to go with her.)

Afterward, I’m sure we would find a lovely French restaurant or café for lunch. 🇫🇷


Wine with Wendy on Wednesday, numéro six

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


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!


Postcards from Europe, #15

Mademoiselle is studying in the south of France, but she happened to be in Paris on November 13, 2015. She returned safely to the city where she lives that weekend, and the following week, her father and I hoped that she would cancel her final trip back to Paris, scheduled for the following weekend. She had planned to celebrate Thanksgiving with two American friends in Paris. But she didn’t cancel the trip, and she decided to go.

We were worried about her, but also glad – especially because she stayed safe and all went well. She did get to see quite a lot, and without crowds of tourists making things difficult.

I am thankful for the French army and the gendarmes.




I made it back to Paris one final time! I’m so glad I came back, there was a notable increase in the number of gendarmes and army, but we saw all of the big sites, went to the catacombs, saw the Eiffel Tower lit up in tricouleur, and the Christmas markets of the Champs-Élysées! Also we had a fantastic Thanksgiving of rotiserie chicken, bread and cheese, green beans, stuffing, and mashed potatoes! And an apple tart, and champagne. This was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to see you soon!




Postcards from Europe, #14

Mademoiselle went to Paris for 3 consecutive weekends in November: the 6th-8th, the 13th-15th, and the 20th-22nd. This carte postale is from her 1st trip, when she stayed with family friends.

Their daughter Petronille stayed with us as a teenage summer exchange student for 3 weeks one year, and Mademoiselle stayed with them on the same program a year later. That was Mademoiselle’s very first trip to Paris (they live in a suburb, Montrouge), and it was before she had taken any French classes! But ever since, we have always credited Mademoiselle’s fabulous French accent to Petronille and her family.

Merci beaucoup!


I visited Petronille and her famille this weekend and it was charmant! We walked around the 6th arrondissement, went shopping, went to the Monet museum, and got sushi for dinner in Montparnasse with her friends! It was so cool to see them all and be able to speak French with them. Plus I forgot how good their cooking was! Both lunches were the most French things I’ve ever done!



In case this arrives very late, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Love you all and miss you! CONGRATS JACK!!! YOU ROCK! *


*Mademoiselle’s brother Jack (whose journey with cancer is told in ALL THE ABOVE) had just been offered and had accepted a job in NYC, to start next year!

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.”



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 in front of La Tour Eiffel:


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.


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, #5

NOTE: Mademoiselle was in Paris on Friday night, November 13, 2015, but was unharmed and is safe. She had planned to visit Versailles the next day with her friends, but instead the group traveled back to the south of France, and they are safe.

Up until Friday, I had received 12 postcards from her, and I will continue posting the series as planned. Vive la France!


This painting is L’attente (Margot) by Picasso, and is at the Musée Picasso in Barcelona.

Shortly after I received this one, I asked Mademoiselle about her trip to Barcelona, and whether she’d go back, since it’s so close–just a short train ride away. She shrugged (I imagine) and said, probably not; she has more places to see before she comes home in December. When I spent a year in Montpellier, I went to Barcelona three times. I found it fascinating and lovely. Read what she says below; it’s exactly what I and my friends did, too. I felt the same way when I got back “home” to France.


“Barcelona, Spain


Just got back from our trip to Barcelona! It was beyond fun. We ate tapas, paella, and drank so much sangria. The Museo Picasso was fantastic, we walked along La Rambla, drank coffee, saw the cathedral and the Sagrada Familia, figured out how to navigate the metro, and probably walked close to 20 miles for the entire weekend. Yet, I was enormously happy to be back in France, where at least I can speak the language!

Stay tuned,




“How is that romantic?” – 4 ways, and a comment

During a recent family vacances au Colorado, I was asked this question about Paris.

Imaginez! (Imagine!)

To be fair, I think the person who asked me has never been there. I joined in his conversation with another (male) family member about Italy and France, and I was probably the person who brought up the idea of romance. But when he asked the question, I was speechless at first. What was the answer, and how could he not know it?

I started to say something about the history, museums and art, and then he they quickly seemed to believe that it was that simple, and didn’t let me explique.* Non, messieurs! C’est pas vrai!

Because I’m an esprit de l’escalier**  kind of woman, and a list-maker, I thought about it later, and here is the réponse I might have given:

1. It’s not just the art and history; it’s their relationship – their connection – to the people, and to the city. It’s something tout à fait français  – absolutely French – and something you just feel. New York City and Washington D.C. have a lot of museums and history, but I don’t find either place particularly romantic. For other reasons, I really, really like them, though.

2. It’s the streets, the restaurants, the gardens and the neighborhoods of Paris…and it’s les français (the French) themselves. What (American) woman doesn’t know that Frenchmen are (normalement) très romantique?

3. It’s La Seine, the river that runs through Paris! A body of water*** (whether sea or river) at sunset or later, makes everything more intimate. How? Je ne sais pas.

riverLa Seine

4. It’s l’amour – love. It’s in the air in Paris, whether you’ve just discovered one another, or are rediscovering…Trust me.

Enfin, the “comment:” Another (short) conversation came up about becoming fluent in French, and someone (who doesn’t speak a foreign language) asserted that “you have to live there.”

Hmm. I diligently studied the language, il y a longtemps et récemment, lived in France for a year as a student, and now I practice and speak it autant que possible. I’d love to live there again un jour, but in the meantime, I’m going to continue speaking it and improving my fluency. C’est possible, madame!

photo copy 5

Sunrise at a beach on the Atlantic in Florida earlier this year

* With over thirty members of the famille converging in two cabins in the Rockies for a week, it was hard to finish your sentences without being interrupted (and I’m just a belle-fille et belle-soeur – much nicer sounding than  “outlaw”  daughter- and sister-in-law)

** See my post L’esprit de l’escalier, spiral staircases and faux-amis

*** While there’s romance in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, there’s more water than romance in my upcoming Suspense novel…. More later!

How I’m like my protagonist(s)

Remember that scene in the movie ELF when Buddy the Elf gets on an escalator for the first time? When he puts one foot on the moving staircase, holds onto both handrails and drags the other foot behind, doing a semi-split?

I’ve never done that on an escalator, but I’ve been known to get freaked out on them. If it’s impossible to hold the handrail – if I’m lugging large suitcases or carrying a heavy desktop computer – I almost can’t even get on. Elevators bother me, too, especially if I have to ride them alone; I always fear the thing will break down, and then I’ll panic so much, I won’t be able to call for help – or that if I can, it won’t come.

I’m able to dispel such elevator-fears if other people are riding with me. But then I always think of the fact that we’re suspended by cables, riding through space. Which arouses a whole new set of fears.

Jenny, the main character in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, doesn’t have these phobias, but like me, she’s afraid of heights. Whether she’s in the Swiss Alps, the Medieval fortress of Carcassonne, France, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, she’s afraid she’ll never make it down, or that one false move could be the end.

photo copy 4I’ve always been afraid of heights – that hasn’t changed – so it was natural to let Jenny have the same phobia since MAKE THAT DEUX is drawn from my own experience as an exchange student in France. Facing my phobia hasn’t cured it, malheureusement.

But here’s a list of places I have climbed or visited, in spite of my fear:

1. – 3. Those first three I mentioned above, where Jenny also went: the Alps, Carcassonne and the Leaning Tower;

4. The Colosseum in Rome (not a tower, I know, but it’s high)

5. (the top of) the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

6. Sacré-Coeur Basilica at Montmartre

7. (the top of) the Bell Tower at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (I know, not that high, but still)

8. The “nosebleed” seats in the Georgia Dome and Turner Field in Atlanta, and in Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia

9. The top of Stone Mountain, Georgia (I’ve hiked it several times, once while carrying a toddler all the way)

10. Numerous (steep) hiking trails in Arizona

11. The East Maui Volcano in Hawaii

12. Chateau Eza in Eze, France

13. The Empire State Building in New York

You may ask: What about the Eiffel Tower, pictured above next to the Leaning Tower and the Colosseum?I’ve walked over to it, but I’ve never ascended it. Last summer, in Paris with my husband, we decided it was too crowded to go up in the Tower (a good excuse).

However, I wanted to have a drink with him one evening, nearby or in it (if that can be done), to see it lit up at night. But we didn’t look into the possibility. Next time, perhaps.

I’m like Jenny in many other ways, but not all. Not even most, despite what those who know me might believe. The protagonist in my new novel (to be released later this year) is also like me in some ways. For example, “C” and I are of the exact same mind when it comes to jewelry: what we like and don’t like. And neither of us are fond of flying, though we do it.

But she’s her own person, with her own (deep) fears…

Stay tuned.

Par avion, with a kiss

“So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me copy 4
I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
I don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go.”
– John Denver

Every couple has certain songs they know by heart.*

Like Jenny, the protagonist in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, I didn’t mind almost enjoyed flying when I was younger…unless I was leaving behind someone I loved.

What once was an event – for which you dressed up – has changed. It’s now just a method of transportation that’s full of hassles and short of comfort, with bags, meals, and even legroom charged à la carte.

But some changes have been positive. No more smoking (if you don’t remember that, watch Mad Men). Better security, if sometimes aggravating. Presumably, better made airplanes. Cheaper flights? I suppose so, in “real dollars.”

The estimated cost of my round trip ticket from New York to Paris in 1979 and 1980 (with UNC’s Study Abroad group) was $385. Sounds affordable, but according to a Consumer Price Index calculator, that’s equal to $1233 today. I recently booked a round trip ticket from Rome to Atlanta for a family member for $1268.

[I know it was $385 because I saved the Estimated Costs information for my Year-in-Montpellier Program (based on 15 students in the group). Academic fees were estimated at $1,646 for the year. Lodging was $450, and ten months of meals totaled $820.]

In MAKE THAT DEUX, Jenny travels en avion, en train, en voiture (by car) and en mobylette (moped). She doesn’t hate to go to France, but she does hate to leave someone behind. She does it though, with a kiss…

In my upcoming novel, to be released later this summer, the main character (“C”) travels here and there by plane with the man she loves. She’s older than Jenny, and, like me, she’s not fond of flying. But she gets to travel the way I wish I could: first class, and sometimes by private jet – with a kiss kisses.

I won’t say where she and her boyfriend (“R”) go, or what happens while they travel together. But in an instant, everything changes…

*What are some of “your” songs? Here’s a few more of ours: “Danny’s Song” by Loggins and Messina; “Chuck E.’s in Love” by Rickie Lee Jones; “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers; and “Rescue Me” by Linda Rondstadt

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