“Reunion” now available on Kindle!

“Reunion” is now available on Kindle, and it took a little longer than expected, but I’ve also learned something about Kindle and how it works. As many of you know, I self-publish my books on Createspace.com, which is a great website and service through Amazon. It’s pretty user-friendly and if you have a wonderful husband who is willing to do the “cut and pasting” required to put your esteemed prose into the Createspace format, creating a paperback version is REALLY easy (thank you, Peter).

We knew that we did not know how to convert the document to a Kindle version ourselves so we hired Createspace to do that. For $79, it’s a bargain. With the first novel, it went very smoothly. We got notification that the “proof” was ready and we reviewed it, and then hit “approve” and “publish” and Ta Da! We were done.

With “Reunion,” it was not quite as easy. We did the first steps and when the proof came, we assumed it would be another quick approval process, but “Reunion” has an added complication. There are journal entries by one of the characters, which are shown in the hard copy in the font “Lucida Handwriting” to mimic her physical writing. It turns out Kindle doesn’t support Lucida Handwriting, so when they did the conversion, the system randomly chose a very light colored, large typeface that did not give a good reading experience AT ALL.

One possible solution presented by the tech staff at Createspace was to take a picture of the journal entries and do a “cut and paste” into the document. Unfortunately, upon further reflection, we realized that this solution has two major issues. First, it would probably put the “cut and paste” section on a different page, which would create a weird reading experience if there were only a couple of sentences on a page and then it moved you to a new page for the journal entry. The other problem is related to the fact that Kindle allows its readers to change the font size. If there were a “cut and pasted” picture of a journal entry, you would not be able to make that adjustment so again, it would create a disruptive reading experience for the user.

So what was left? After more discussion with the Createspace technical team, we decided to make the journal entries italicized.

It then makes it obvious that there is something different going on, and hopefully still gives the reader the emotional experience that I am striving for; the experience of getting to know that character better through her own writing. Do you think it will work? How did that just feel??

I would love to hear from any of you that do get the Kindle version and what you think of the italics as a solution.

And please, if you do enjoy the story, I would love you to “pass it along” to someone you know (and hopefully someone who doesn’t know me) who might also enjoy it. We are headed into beach season and I like to think this would pair well with a cold Stella Artois or a chilled French Chardonnay. Enjoy!!

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“Reunion” is now at Amazon!

I am proud to say that my second novel, Reunion, is now available on Amazon in paperback! The Kindle version should be available in about a week.

I really enjoyed working on this story, and applying the lessons I learned the first time around. I hope that those who read it will give me good, honest, feedback. Selfishly, I hope you enjoy it because I had so much fun writing it and want to get started on the next one.

Maybe we will return to the story of Carol from the first book. She’s now divorced, and headed to Paris for a little time on her own to figure out what’s next in her life….

If you’d like to order Reunion from Amazon, click here! ENJOY!

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Books I LOVE about all things Parisian

I am always being asked for recommendations of books on Paris– various reference books, cookbooks and recipes, and just fun books to read that are set in Paris. So I decided to set up a page on my Blog where you can go to see the books that I enjoy and a link directly to Amazon so they are easy to buy!

So if you look just  below the main picture at the top of my posts, you will see the titles of the different pages– the “home” where I type most  of my blog posts, the “books” tab for this list, and a “recipes” tab. The “Books” tab and “Recipes” will both continue to be works in progress and I would love any ideas and suggestions you have.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. Please let me know of any suggestions of other books to add to the list. Thanks!

Fish Soup

IMG_3322IMG_3323One of my favorite things about Paris is how good the food is EVERYWHERE (or almost everywhere). You don’t have to visit one of the “fancy” restaurants, or go to the newest hole-in-the-wall tiny place opened by the latest avant-garde chef (though that is always a fun outing too!).

You can do what we did on a recent trip, and just go down to the corner café. Le Baromètre is our local hangout, owned and run by several young men who are incredibly nice, welcoming, and who also happen to serve really good food.

Upon arrival, I always first check the specials of the day, and this particular night, the special was fish soup “avec rouille.” (Okay, what in the heck did that mean?) Well, it turns out that a “rouille” is a sauce, made with olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. It is commonly served as a garnish for fish soup (I have to admit that I had never been served it before). If you look at the picture above, it’s the low bowl at the left, next to the swiss cheese and behind the homemade croutons. So…. the process is this– you crumble some of the cheese and the croutons into the soup, you then take a spoonful of soup, and before you bring it to your mouth, you dip the end of your spoon in the rouille and THEN take a blissful mouthful. Pause, enjoy the various flavors combining in your mouth– fish, cream, cheese, crouton, and finally the rouille which adds a little garlic and “je ne sais quoi” that makes it PERFECT. Absolutely delicious! Of course, to drink with my fish soup, I took their suggestion of a medium dry, white wine from their home region (I meant to take picture of the bottle, but unfortunately didn’t so I can’t tell you where it was from.) But I can tell you it was one I had not tried before, and it was the exact right accompaniment. What a wonderful benefit to going to a familiar place. I knew that I would not be steered wrong on my choices. Of course, I had to finish the meal with his mother’s homemade clafoutis, which is a dessert made up of black cherries, covered by a buttery flan-like batter.

When is the last time you had a meal like that at your local restaurant??

Edits are complete!

I am very happy to report that my edits are now finished for Book #2, “Reunion.” It’s set in Paris and Burgundy and is the story of a 25-year college reunion.

Melanie Russell wants to get her group of girlfriends from their grad school days back together, and she wants it to be a “girls only” trip. She and Gary, her husband, aren’t getting along and she needs some time away to figure out why. Julie is living in London and though she loves her life, she’s lonely for some male companionship. Could she find romance in Paris? Gigi now lives in Italy. She misses the camaraderie the women shared back in Boston. Can she persuade Paolo, her Italian husband, to let her go without him? Angie longs to visit Europe again, and her daughters are now off to college. Can she get over her own insecurities and go on her own? Emily has just retired from teaching and would love a fun trip to start the Fall off right, but she had a big falling out with the rest of the women and they haven’t spoken for twenty years. Can they all be friends again?

And of course, there’s the rest of the group: Sam, and Greg, and Todd, and John, who’ve all come on the trip without their spouses; Roger and Dawn; and Nellie and Bob. And Joelle and Michel, the two professors who are the “hosts.” Twenty-five people in total. An interesting group who will all spend a week together in Paris, with a day and night in Burgundy to learn more about wine-making and wine-tasting.

Who wouldn’t want to go?

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Véronique Sanson

When I was a student in Paris, one of my favorite singers was Véronique Sanson. I listened endlessly to my vinyl copy of Amoureuse, still my favorite album by her. She has a throaty style and vibrato that are all her own. I didn’t realize that she is such a music icon, but I certainly know it now.

Imagine my surprise when I found out she was going to be performing in Paris at the Olympia Theater in late January/early February this year! (www.olympiahall.com) The Olympia is a fun place to go hear music because it only holds about 1,200 people, so you are never too far from the stage. IMG_3385_2IMG_3410IMG_3415 As you can see from the marquee, the opening act was Chris Stills, who is her son. It turns out she was married to Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills and Nash, for about ten years, and lived in California. This tour, in fact, is called “Les Années Américanes”, the American Years, so the music is from that time in her life. She is a prolific song writer as well as singer. Apparently, she had some rough years in mid-life, with alcohol and drug problems (which our waiter at the restaurant before the performance told me. I thought it was hilarious that he was such an ‘expert’ on the subject, even though he admitted that his parents had been the ones who really listened to her music). The show we went to was sold out, and she was scheduled to perform there for NINE nights! That says something about her popularity (And I just got a notice from the Olympia that they just added a couple of additional show dates in April).

She was wonderful. She was obviously very excited to be performing, and regaled the audience with stories between songs. She had tons of energy, as did her entire band, and she was so THANKFUL throughout the performance, for her band members, and for the audience’s obvious affection for her. She introduced all the band members, and some of them had played with her at the beginning of her career, but not recently. The trumpet player, Steve Madaio,for instance, had played with her in her early years, but she said that it had been thirty years since they had played together!

By the time she had played her 90 minutes of regular show, the whole audience was on its feet, and she came back for three encores. IMG_3434 I will admit that her voice was not quite as strong as in her youth, but there were only two songs that I noticed it. She really was amazing, and we left at 11:15 totally energized! Here’s a youtube link to a couple songs to give you some idea of her style.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH6wjjw9qP0. A fun evening and a fun return to my youth!!

David Lebovitz

Happy New Year! I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas presents: “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz. I have been a fan of David’s blog for a couple of years, but did not, until now, own any of his cookbooks. This cookbook is a wonderful combination of story-telling (like his blog) and recipes which do not seem full of outrageous ingredients that normal people would never be able to find. I am already inserting little bookmarks to mark the recipes that I want to try first and will post the results when that happens, but in the meantime, check out his blog at www.davidlebovitz.com and see if you find his writing style as disarming and charming as I do.

Let’s hope his recipes themselves turn out to be as much to my taste as his writing style!

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Sainte Chapelle

If you haven’t been to Sainte Chapelle, on the Ile de la Cite, you need to go. It’s as simple as that. It was built in the 13th century as the Royal Chapel for the king at the time, Louis IX. It has an upper and a lower chapel, and has the most incredible stained glass that I have ever seen, if only in terms of sheer magnitude! If you go during its regular business hours, you will get to tour the whole thing, but it is one of the most popular tourist spots so be prepared for a long line, especially in summer. So, you might ask yourself, how do I get in to see it without that long line?

You buy a ticket for one of the many concerts held there. We went in October to hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and it was truly magical. The concert itself was at 7:00, so we got there at 6:30, in case there was a line. There was a slight line and delay, but it turned out it was just as people passed through the security area. Once through that, it was a short walk to the chapel itself and we arrived when it was still light outside (luckily) so the lighting on the windows was amazing!

IMG_2897IMG_2903 I had ordered our tickets online before we traveled, on the FNAC website www.fnac.com and you can then go to any FNAC store to pick up the tickets (FNAC is a large store that sells CD’s, DVD’s, and electronic equipment of various kinds and has several locations around Paris.)

It turned out that I had bought the most expensive tickets (it’s all that came up when I went online so I assume it was what was still available– 40 euros each), but I’m NOT complaining, because it meant we were very close to the front and this is a once in a lifetime experience, in my opinion.

IMG_2905 It was a beautiful setting for a classical concert!

It was just over an hour so we came out onto the street about 8:15. Afterward we walked back to the cafe close to home for a veggie pizza with an egg on top (true French style!). What a great evening!

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A couple of very cool language tools

A good friend, Chris, told me about a very interesting language app/website called Duolingo (www.duolingo.com). It’s free, and the idea of it is that you work your way through various practice drills to increase your vocabulary in a particular language. They have French, Spanish, Italian, German, Danish, Irish, Portuguese, and Dutch. As you get through the various levels, you can “win” lingots to use in their store for things (I haven’t gotten far enough yet to see what you can “buy”). Chris said it was created by someone who wanted to get documents and articles translated and found that if they created a “game” out of it, people would go online and do the translations to improve their own skills, and in doing so, would provide free translation as well! I have opened an account and am going to try both Spanish and French to see how I do! It is a fun combination of you translating their sentences, you listening to them speak a sentence and translating, or them giving you a sentence in English to translate back to the language.

Chris told me that she improved her vocabular enormously by using it, and my quick look at it has convinced me that it’s a fun way to learn. I’ve now downloaded the app onto my phone as well so I can play when I’m on the subway, or have a spare 30 minutes somewhere.On the phone app version, it also has you listen to a sentence and repeat it back.

You can also “share” your results with friends through Facebook and compete against them. I think I will wait to see how I do in both languages before I “invite” anyone, but it’s a very fun idea!

The other, very useful, app for your phone when you travel is Google Translate. Again, it’s an app you can download on your phone and is a great quick reference for single words or phrases. You can type the word or phrase  or you can use the microphone feature and speak into the phone. We tested it a variety of ways, with different languages, and it seems very good at figuring out what you have said. It is easy to choose the two languages you are translating from and to, and it’s easy to switch back and forth between them. This app was enormously helpful at a restaurant, and in a taxi for giving the address, for instance, because the app has great pronunciation!

Enjoy!!

A Writing Update

I haven’t given any updates here recently on my writing so here goes! I finished the first draft of my second novel (working title is “Reunion”) and sent it off to Nellie, my wonderful editor. She, of course, sent it back with LOTS of changes so I have spent the last month making revisions and am now going to send her Draft #2 to see if she likes the changes. It’s a story about a 25-year college reunion trip set in Paris and Burgundy and centers around five women friends and four men friends who are all on the trip, getting to know each other again, as well as sharing stories of their lives. I hope to have a published version before the end of the year. That will, in part, depend upon whether Nellie and I decide that I should self-publish again, or find an agent this time. Time will tell, but I will write updates more often on that.

This one flowed much more quickly for me (I started it last July), and I think it’s a good story. We’ll see if Nellie agrees!