Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Teaser -- The Pretend Wife

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This week I picked up The Pretend Wife by Bridget Asher. I can't remember why I was drawn to this book, but the book jacket says it's about imagining life with the one who got away. What if you had married someone else? How different would your life be? Here's the intro:
That summer when I first became Elliot Hull's pretend wife, I understood only vaguely that complicated things often prefer to masquerade as simple things at first. This is why they're so hard to avoid, or at least brace for. I should have know this -- it was built into my childhood. But I didn't see the complications of Elliot Hull coming, perhaps because I didn't want to. So I didn't avoid them or even brace for them, and as a result, I eventually found myself in winter watching two grown men -- my pretend husband and my real husband -- wrestle on a front lawn amid a spray of golf clubs in the snow -- such a blur of motion in the dim porch light that I couldn't distinguish one man from the other. This would become one of the most vaudevillian and poignant moments of my life, when things took the sharpest turn in a long and twisted line of smaller, seemingly simple turns.

 
This intro doesn't thrill me. I think I'm not drawn to introductions that summarize the story. I like to be pulled into the story instead.
 
 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 59:
But then Helen spoke up kind of slyly. "You need a pretend wife," she said, "for your mother's sake. It would be very gallant." She turned to me. "Gwen, you should be Elliot's pretend wife."

 
Hope you all have some books that I'm interested in.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Dreaming of France -- Spectacular Landscape

Here's a new weekly France meme. Please join in. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to my blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
I haven't been to France for two years, since celebrating my 20th anniversary there in 2010.
But my 19-year-old daughter went last fall and stayed with a family who had a vacation house in the Alps. This is a photo she took while staying there near Briancon. I love the light and the clouds.
I can't wait to see what the rest of you are featuring to make me even more "homesick" for France.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

19th Birthday

Today, my son turns 19 and is spending his first birthday away from home, away from me.
Of course, it's bound to happen unless someone has a summer birthday -- school and jobs will interfere with traveling across the country to visit on birthdays.
This year, Spencer headed off to college in Florida, leaving me here in cold Ohio. I haven't seen him since we dropped him off on August 10. But Earl drove down to Florida to help my parents with a move and he scooped up Spencer for the weekend. Earl sent me a picture of Spencer sitting in a recliner, watching footall and eating nachos. He seems to be doing okay.
But this birthday away from home made me remember that night, 19 years ago, when I gave birth to Spencer in Michigan. I don't let Earl forget that he talked football with one of the many medical interns crowded into the room while I labored.
After Spencer was born, I called my family and friends. My brother Kevin answered the phone and I told him Spencer arrived at 9:20 p.m. on this Thursday night.
"So you missed Seinfeld then?" he asked.
And that's how I'll always remember what day Spencer was born. The early 90s were prime Seinfeld years, and Spencer later came to love the series as well.
Spencer was born curious and caring, and he still is.
He used to run to our bed every morning, his thick feet pounding across the wooden floor before he dived between us.
Once in our bed, one of his favorite games to play was pressing Earl's nose. Earl would honk or beep.
One morning, Earl was too tired to respond. Spencer gave Earl's nose a few more pushes without any results. He  puzzled over it for a minute.
"Huh, must need new batteries," he said before sliding off the bed and onto his next adventure.
I miss my little guy, and my big guy.

Happy Birthday, Spencer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Baptism

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Earl's niece had a baby girl, Regan. Regan was baptized a few weeks ago and the parents asked Earl to be the godfather. After a little squirming at the beginning of the ceremony, Regan slept through the whole thing.
 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reputations

I'm not inspired to write a clever or funny blog post. I've kind of just ignored it the past few days.
I've had a long week.
I know I can't complain compared to real trials in other people's lives.
The biggest stress was at work. Last Friday, I had a disagreement with a student. He raised his voice, I told him he could not be rude to me, and he filed a complaint with Human Resources claiming that I was culturally intolerant.
So, even though I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, I got called in to HR to explain myself. That's intimdating and nerve wracking.
Now, I know some of you are imagining what this student must have looked like. He's a tiny white guy whose culture is some sort of new age philosophy that is antiauthoritarian, which is why he refused to apologize for being rude. Last year, he told me it was against his religion to use personal pronouns -- you know: I, me, my, we. Whatever, we just roll with it.
After he was rude, I asked him to apologize; he said it was against his culture, and we continued to work together for half an hour -- even though I wasn't happy about it.
But the complaint he sent to HR talked about his German Jewish heritage. What? I was anti-Jewish or anti German when I told him not to be rude?
He talked about his perception that I didn't agree with his Pantheism. I didn't know he was a pantheist, but some of my friends are Wiccan and I definitely don't have a problem working with students of any religion.
In the end, the raised voices were only about treating people rudely. And asking someone not to treat me rudely doesn't connect with a specific culture.
The HR person agreed with me, but nearly a week has gone by with me wondering if it's possible for a student to make up things about me and endanger my job.
I think the answer is yes.
If other people hadn't been around, he could have claimed that I said anything, and I would only have my word and reputation as my defense.
I returned to some parenting advice that I gave my kids when they were younger, early teens, and had  done or said something they regretted. I'd tell them that their friends don't judge them on one event. Friends take it into context of all the other things we've said and done.
And hopefully, my entire teaching career would be considered when wondering whether I'd been intolerant of someone else's culture.
Hopefully, this incident is behind me, but I've seen the lies that students can weave and know I'm not safe from them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- The Age of Desire

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I'm not sure why I picked up this book. Maybe I was thinking of Grace who loves historical fiction. The novel is The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields. And, looking at the description, I remember that the name Edith Wharton captured me. The book focuses on the relationship between Wharton and her friend who came from a very different background. Here's the intro:
He stands at the edge of the salon, and Edith has the uncomfortable feeling he's staring. A dark-haired man. Formal. Self-certain. There are ten roues like him in every cafe in Paris. But his sapphire eyes glimmer with a discernible intelligence. His coal black lashes are as long as a giraffe's. Men should not be allowed to have lashes so seductive. He leans on one leg, observing the room, calculating. How hard he seems to work at doing nothing!
 Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 62:
He takes a sip of brandy and laughs. "Imagine that! Our little Anna having the nerve to live a life of her own. Serves us all right for taking her for granted." 
"Since when is she our little Anna?" Edith says with a huff. "She's my little Anna and I want her back."
 
What do you think? Your kind of book?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dreaming of France -- New Meme

I've been looking for a weekly France meme and haven't found a regular one, so I'm going to try it myself on Mondays. Please join in. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to my blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
I started a book called The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand. What could be better than a book about France and chocolate? I don't usually read romance, and I didn't even realize that it was. I just saw the photo of the Eiffel Tower and the word chocolate and snapped it up. The beginning was a little off putting, but the descriptions of Paris and of chocolate are making me hungry and giving me wanderlust to visit France again.
Here's a snippet:
In the shop, an elegant blonde whose every movement spoke of wealth and privilege was buying a box of his chocolates, unable to resist biting into one before she left the shop. He could see her through the glass window that allowed visitors a glimpse of the way artisan chocolate was made. He saw her perfect teeth sink into the thumbnail-sized chocolate and knew exactly the way the shell yielded with a delicate resistance, the way the ganache inside melted on her tongue, the pleasure that ran through her body.

Hope you'll join in so I can dream of France with you. Put your name and Url in Mister Linky below. Then leave a comment.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Near Nature Mishap

I thought I'd come up with the perfect plan to run safely in the dark, early morning, but I didn't make a good escape plan.
After I fell and broke my nose running in the dark along the street, I had to take about three weeks off from running. My husband, my doctor, my parents, my non-running friends all urged me to stop running in the dark. My running friends, of course, understood the lunacy of running. It was only a matter of time before I started again --  like when the swelling went down in my knee and the bandages came off my nose.
So I made a plan to walk or ride my bike to the high school track. It's about a mile away. The track has no potholes and a rubberized surface. I've gone a couple of times this week, easing my body back into the routine of running.
This morning, with the thermometer hovering at 39 degrees, I pulled on running pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a fleece, gloves and a headband to warm my ears. The one-mile walk was the coldest part at 5:30 a.m.
I pushed the turnstile and walked into the high school football stadium. Lights lit up the entrance, and the home side of stands, but the rest of the track was in darkness. Since I live in town, it's not pitch-black like it would be out in the country.
I stood for a minute scanning the track for any movement. Many times, other people are running on the track or doing sit ups in the middle of the football field or running up and down the steps of the stadium. I didn't see any movement, so I started around the track, taking some time to enjoy the brightness of the stars above me.
I hoped to run three miles, working my way back up to the five miles a day I was running before my fall.
I started in the outside lane -- number 6 -- and each time I rounded the quarter-mile track, I moved in a lane. After a mile, I started moving back out to the next lane.
I'd completed two and a half miles and was passing near the entrance to the track when I saw something moving along the concrete. The whiteness shown in the darkness and I immediately thought it must be an opossum with its pinkish-white chubby body meandering along. I decided to stamp my foot to scare it and send it away from the track, back toward the exit.
Then, as I got closer, I realized the bright white was bushy fur along the back of a pointy-nosed skunk.
Yikes!
I picked up my speed away from the entrance to the track. I tried to glance back to see if the skunk turned away from the track. I figured it was interested in the trash cans or maybe food that people had dropped under the stands, but if it followed the trajectory I'd seen, it would come onto the track.
As I rounded the corner headed back toward the entrance to the track, I pulled my phone out of its holster and turned on the flashlight app. I swept the light back and forth across the track, watching for a flash of glassy eyes or a stripe of white. I ran past the entrance for the final time, not spotting the skunk anywhere.
I thought about the fleece and the head band I'd taken off and hung on the fence near where I'd seen the skunk. If the skunk got scared, my fleece and headband would be so pungent, I'd have to throw them away.
I pictured tomato juice baths and needing to restraighten my hair over and over.
Even if I didn't need to return to the entrance to get my clothes, there was only one way in or out of the track. If the skunk stayed around the entrance, I was captured. I was a prisoner to the skunk.
I looked at the fence as I ran around the track. The fence was high all the way around. I could climb on something to get to the top of the fence, but the drop on the other side would probably give me knee or ankle injuries.
I slowed to a walk before the entrance. Still scanning with my phone flashlight, I saw no sign of the skunk. I peeked around the trash can by the fence, certain the crafy skunk could be hiding there. I grabbed my fleece and headband and cautiously walked forward -- my light swept back and forth across the blacktop and the turnstile. With no sign of the skunk, I raced out the gate and into the open parking lot.
I had escaped my near-brush with nature and another running mishap. I imagined for a minute that I'd disturbed the skunk and it had sprayed me. Upon hearing that story, I'm sure people would just shake their head and suggest I take up swimming at the YMCA instead.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- The Autumn Leaves

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
I bet I'm not the only one in the northern hemisphere who decided it's time for an autumn leaves photo. Some of these I took early in the week, before wind and rain swept many away.
This little red-leafed tree stood guard over a pumpkin.

This little yellow-leafed tree nestled in the corner of a church wall, right under the steeple.

It may be hard to tell how brilliant the colors of this tree were.
But other people stopped to take pictures too.
 
Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Book as a Movie

Sim at Chapter 1 - Take 1 loves to write about books that are turned into movies. She read my book, The Summer of France, recently and asked me to write a guest blog post casting the characters in my book.
I hope you'll take a look and tell me what you think.
Here's my guest blog post on Chapter 1 - Take 1.
I told Sim that I thought she should do this every week. She could talk to an author, or even people who aren't authors could imagine which actors would play characters in the books they are reading.

I Want a France Meme

Last week, on Thursday, I tried the "I Love France" meme. Unfortunately, it looks like the blog that used to do that is no longer doing it. Sigh...
I want a weekly France meme, but I don't have any bright ideas. Do you?
What could bloggers write about every week if they love France?
I'd like to include books, movies, photos, stories, food, fashion -- all from France.
I could even make a cool logo for it (or ask a more-talented friend to do it).
I'm waiting for your brilliant suggestions. Meanwhile, here's a photo that Grace took of Mont St. Michel with some sort of special effect. Lovely.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review -- They Eat Puppies, Don't They?

Christopher Buckley has been hit or miss with his novels of satire about government and society. I loved Thank You For Smoking, but didn't finish No Way to Treat a First Lady. Still, I was willing to give his latest They Eat Puppies Don't They? a try, and I'm glad I did.
He sucked me in right away with the main character Bird, a lobbyist for a weapons company. Suddenly Bird's job is to drum up hatred toward China so the weapons company can sell a new communication blocking system. When Bird tries to find something connected to China that Americans will be passionate about, all he comes up with is the Dalai Lama and pandas. Luckily for him, the Dalai Lama becomes ill right around that time, and the outrage with China begins to grow
Buckley's characters are not limited to the lobbyist and a militant woman named Angel who makes the news show rounds. He also takes the reader inside the Chinese cabinet as it struggles with a noble president who doesn't want to escalate and war mongering generals who don't fear conflict with the U.S.
The description makes it sound wonky, but Buckley tells the story to make all of look ridiculous as we go about our consumption, ignoring the direction our government is headed.
One exception I'll take with the book is that the end didn't seem to have much use for the main character. He was kind of allowed to drift off. And I'm not sure whatever happened with the weapon system that set off the entire situation.
By the way, for people put off by the title, there's only one brief mention of whether the Chinese eat puppies, so it definitely was not something dealt with in the book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- Wallflower in Bloom


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Claire Cook writes fun books, so I didn't hesitate to pick up her new novel Wallflower in Bloom. Even the cover is invigorating.
My brother was dazzling, as usual. "Do. You. Have. Passion?" he roared. His white teeth gleamed. His elegant hands beckoned. His bedroom eyes twinkled. The sold-out mostly female audience drooled.
 

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 62:
I loved denial -- it was warm and cuddly like a favorite childhood blankie -- but standing here now, sweats rolled down over my hips, I forced myself to push it away and look at the facts. I'd spent the last decade in and out of a dead-end relationship as I worked seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day at a job that made me disappear bit by bit on the inside, as I bulked up inch by inch on the outside.
Somehow, the main character gets to go on Dancing with the Stars as a way to redeem her life. Maybe that'll happen to me too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Book

Well, my book is still chugging along. Probably not keeping J.K. Rowling awake at night worried about the competition, but it is a totally different kind of book. There's not a single mention of a town council in my book.
This is a photo we didn't use for the
book cover. It's the front door to
 Cezanne'sstudio in Aix en Provence.
But there is an Ohio family that travels to southern France to run a bed and breakfast. Some of the chapters are told from the viewpoint of Uncle Martin. He grew up in Kentucky and traveled to Europe to fight in World War II when he was 17. When he got injured, he woke up to find a lovely French woman who would become his wife Lucie. He never moved home to Kentucky again, but he does have a secret from World War II that is catching up with him.
Hope you'll give my book a try.
I have two reviews on Kindle with four out of five stars.
RS says,  "An absorbing story, great characters and writing that sings to you. I couldn't put it down. I only wish I had discovered it on a summer vacation to read at the beach." You can read the whole review here. And sorry, RS, I know it should have been available for the summer since it's called The Summer of France. Why did it come out at the end of September? Okay, one mistake so far.
Another review by HG says, "...if you like realistic dialogue spoken by realistic characters, you will be drawn into the story without realizing it. The pace and tone feel like a "summer in France"; the twists and turns of the plot appear and then recede in a very natural way." You can read that whole review here.
Does this convince you to give my book a try? Only $4.99 to download on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Or order the paperback version for $14, plus shipping here. It'll be available in paperback at Amazon eventually, but isn't yet.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Homecoming 2012

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Tucker went to the homecoming dance last Saturday with a big group from his class. But he and his friend Josh were the only two guys who showed up for photos on time.
They all decided to wear black and I love to see the girls' colorful shoes, although I couldn't walk in most of them.
Tucker is in the red tie kneeling in front. The next day he said his hips hurt -- probably from shaking his booty, although those weren't his words.

Some of the other guys showed up later so they got another shot with more even numbers.
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Love France Meme -- Rooftops

This week, I'm starting the I Love France meme that is sponsored by Words and Peace. I know this won't shock many of you who read my blog regularly.
So what to share about France? It's so hard to choose.
I thought I'd go with a simple photo that definitely says France to me.

This photo was taken from our friend's apartment in Nantes. They have a top floor apartment that overlooks both the chateau de Nantes and the cathedral. Everything is perfect, except that 5-floor walk up, but that's probably what keeps them healthy.
Obviously, the other view is of rooftops. Why do these roofs look so French?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homeland High School

I couldn't figure it out. I know that around this age, junior in high school, students start getting a lot of letters from colleges and sometimes from organizations that have camps and forums and strategizing sessions. The students are "specially chosen" and "invited" to attend and they can receive college credit. Of course, with a little further reading, a clever parent will see that most of these invitations come with a $3000 price tag or more.
So I didn't think much when Tucker started getting these invitations. Then came one last week that was obviously hand typed on a typewriter rather than a computer with the return address of a Major General. The Major General had signed the letter with his own blue pen rather than computer- generated signature.
Yesterday came a thick packet with instructions to the mail carrier to return this letter within 5 days if it wasn't delivered. Again, the letter was hand signed.                   Both packets invited, and seemed to be trying to win him Tucker to their side. He had been "nominated" to attend a youth leadership program on National Security.  
"I don't get it, Tucker," I told him as I looked through the information. He gets decent grades and did okay on his PSAT his sophomore year, but as he points out, not as good as most of the honors students who took it last year.
"Maybe it's because of my major I marked on my PSAT," he said.
"What?" 
When he took the PSAT last year, he had to choose an area of study for college. Since he wasn't sure, he thought Homeland Security would be a good idea.
Well, that explained a lot.
Of course, he's moved on now. He thinks he might like to be an announcer on the radio or television, which is quite a step from homeland security.
"So you're sure you're not interested in going to these forums?" I asked as I bundled up all the information.
"Not at all," he said, his mind full of music instead of terrorism.
He takes the PSAT next week -- the time that counts. I'm not sure what he'll put down for his intended study area, but I guess the competition for broadcast journalism or music majors isn't quite as great as Homeland Security


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- Imperfect Bliss


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This week I'm starting a perfectly pink book called Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill. It wasn't the pink cover that caught me though. It was the blurb on the front from author Adriana Trigiani. She called it "A poignant and piquant comedy of manners..." I'm always up for a comedy of manners. Here's the intro.
Bliss Harcourt stared down at her daughter who stood with cherubically plump arms tightly crossed to prevent her mother from removing her powder-blue ersatz satin princess dress. How do you tell a four-year-old you can have the right outfit and the right attitude but it doesn't mean your prince will come? And even if he does show up, he might just ride away, permanently, mused Bliss as Bella scowled at her through baby bifocals worn beneath a spangled pastic tiara. "Bella, please take off the costume," Bliss pleaded, not wanting to use bodily force, but aware that her stores of patience diminished with every passing minute.
 

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 63:
"Can't you see we all exceed his age limit, and his IQ threshold. As Madame de Stael said about one of her brawny but brainless lovers, 'Speech is not his language,' " Bliss quipped.

Can't wait to see what great books everyone else is reading this week.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Caffeine

An unintended side effect of this broken nose and surgery is that I have given up caffeine.
I know, it's as hard to make the leap between runnning and broken nose as it is between broken nose and caffeine.
Here I am getting an espresso hit in Paris.
Well, I did indeed fall while running and land on my nose breaking it. And now, I've given up caffeine due to the broken nose.
On Friday, the doctor scheduled surgery at 1:30 to put the bones back in place. That meant I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight. Since I'm not a little kid, I thought this wouldn't be a big deal. I mean, I do have some self control.
I was up at my usual 5, getting things done on the computer. Around the time Tucker woke up for school, my head had started to ache a bit. I'd planned on running a few errands that morning to keep my mind off everything. By 9 a.m. I was lying on the couch with a pounding headache. At 11:30, half an hour before I was to appear for surgery, I was throwing up from the lack of caffeine. Not that I had anything in my stomach...

The morning after surgery, as I stood in front of the espresso maker, remembering how miserable I had felt without caffeine, and knowing that it was currently out of my system, I reached for the decaf.
If you'd asked me, I would have said my favorite thing about coffee in the morning is the flavor. I mix it with steamed milk and add a little sugar. Mmmm.
But, for some reason, the decaf coffee has not tasted as good.
For now, I'll stick with decaf, until the memories of withdrawal fade away. Then I'll probably be back to regular again.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Books to Movies

When I blogged about my book being published, Sim from Chapter 1- Take 1 immediately asked if I'd picked out who would play the characters in the movie. Of course, her blog is all about books that are made into movies, so that's the way her mind works.
I would love to see my book made into a movie. It has scenic landscapes in Provence, flashbacks to World War II, and a motorcycle chase from Provence to Krakow.
I haven't really pegged any certain actors into roles though -- except one. The handsome Frenchman Christophe should be played by Gilles Marini.

Photo from Google Images
I think I first saw him as Samantha's neighbor in Sex in the City, can't remember if it was the movie or the television show, but it was when Samantha lived in California with her boyfriend. Gilles was the next door neighbor who peeled off his wetsuit on the balcony.
Yummm.
I'll wait til the rest of you have read my book to throw out some ideas about who should play the other characters.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- My Nose in a Book

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
 
This week, I'm combining two old things: following  up on the picture from last week where I broke my nose 24 years ago and again last week, I had to have surgery to straighten it yesterday. The doctor convinced me it would be quick to fix while the bones were still broken.
So broken nose, plus -- my book published.
 
Yes, I'm hoping for some sympathy purchases... But it's also a fun book. Hope you'll give it a try.
Here's the premise:
 When Fia loses her job, she jumps at the chance to travel to France to run her great uncle's bed and breakfast, dragging along her husband and teenage twins. She figures the whole family can bond before the twins grow up too fast. But her dreams of family bonding time fade as Kasie joins a local swim team, riding off to practice on the back of a scooter each morning, hips tucked next to the 18-year-old French boy who teaches her to smoke brown cigarettes and drink red wine. West accompanies a pouty French teenager around the city, playing his guitar in the town squares to earn spending money.  And Fia's husband Grayson tours the countryside with a pretty French woman. Why the whirlwind of French welcome, Fia wonders after she comes hom froma day at the beach in Nice with the handsome Frenchman Christophe, only to find someone has ransacked the B&B.
Fia doesn't know that the house hides her uncle's World War II secret, which might just tear her family apart.
So, are you intrigued?
You can find the book on  Amazon for the Kindle, on Barnes and Noble for the Nook or in paperback. The eBook versions are $4.99 each. And if you don't have an eBook reader, you can download the Kindle reader for free on Amazon and read it on your computer. But if you prefer to have the book in your hand, the paperback is $14.
I can't wait to hear what you all think about it.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

My Book is Now Available

That sounds kind of low-key, doesn't it?
Oh, anyone interested in buying my book?
Maybe if I used all caps: MY NOVEL, THE SUMMER OF FRANCE, CAN NOW BE PURCHASED.
I am so excited.
Here's me when the first copy came in the mail:
 
The Fed Ex guy didn't even get to the door. I met him on the front porch.
Lots of you know that I've been working on this novel, revising, refining. But for anyone who doesn't, here's the blurb:
 
Could a crackly phone call from France to Ohio save Fia Randolph’s jobless complications and family troubles? That’s what she hopes when her Uncle Martin asks Fia, her husband, and teenage twins to move to Provence and take over his bed and breakfast. She envisions long picturesque walks carrying crusty baguettes and bonding with the kids as they all learn French. But Fia didn’t bargain on the way Provence would tempt her teens and husband away from the family. Then Uncle Martin’s World War II secret wrenches her family further apart. Can Fia pull her family back together and help clear her uncle’s guilty conscience?
And where can you snatch up a copy of my book?
The paperback will be available on Amazon, but it isn't there yet. Right now, you can find it here. And if you type in the Code PLUMA by Oct. 5, you can get a 20 percent discount.
 
You can find it in ebook form for only $4.99 on Amazon for the Kindle here and on Barnes and Noble for the Nook here.
I'm so happy about my novel, that I can almost forget about my impending nose surgery tomorrow. But I'll fill you in on that later. Let me bask in the glory for a few more hours.
 


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Book Review -- Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch

I think I'm getting crotchety about books. I find more things in them that bother me than things that I like.
A few weeks ago, I admitted that I'm having problems sticking with a book. I pick one up because I think I'll like it then simply stop reading it. Sometimes I even avoid reading because I don't have a book that enthralls me.
I was determined to stick with Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch by Haywood Smith.
I love the cover, those multi-colored toe nails in front of a fan.
The premise is that Lin, a 50-year-old woman, must return to live at her family home after her husband has an affair with a 20-something stripper and spends them into debt. Her mother is a typical southern matriarch, her father is "the general" who is losing his mental faculties, her adult brother is living at home and going to AA. Her uncle and aunt have moved in after the uncle needed round-the- clock care for his dementia.
A lot of the situations are funny. Some of them are predictable, like the handsome pharmacist who moved home to straighten out his father's affairs and tempts Lin with his maleness. The book deals with fighting stereotypes, like continuing a friendship with a high school pal who has come out as a lesbian. But some of the stereotypes remain, like the corrupt mayor whose campaign is challenged by the former Harley Davidson-rider, alcoholic who has become a pastor.
Some things I liked about this book, Lin took the time to get to know the real people in her family rather than the roles they had played throughout her life.
Some things that bugged me about this book: Lin was supposed to be a 50 year old but she went to high school in the 60s. The numbers just didn't add up. Perhaps the book was written a decade or two ago and is just now getting published. The author should have updated her numbers.
The handsome pharmacist turned on a dime and became a jerk, totally against character with no explanation. That relationship was never resolved.
If I gave starred book reviews, I'd probably say 3 stars for this book with some good Southern situations.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

First Chapter, Tuesday Teaser -- They Eat Puppies Don't They


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I'm going to try Christoher Buckley's latest They Eat Puppies Don't They. My favorite of his so far was Thank You For Smoking about a cigarette lobbyist. This one deals with government types too. Here's the opening:
The senator from the great state of New York had been droning on for over five minutes; droning about drones. 
Bird McIntyre sat in the first row behind his boss, the recipient of the senatorial cataract of words. He scribbled a note on a piece of paper and passed it forward.  
Chick Devlin glanced at the note. He let the senator continue for several more mind-numbing minutes so as not to appear prompted by Bird's note. Finally, seizing on an ellipsis, he leaned forward into the microphone across the green-baize-covered table and said, "Senator, pardon my French, but isn't the whole point to scare the shit out of them?"
 

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here's mine from page 63:
Lo hesitated, to show he was being courteous in vouchsafing such confidential information. "Do you want to know everything, Comrade, or just enough?"


 I'm looking forward to a fun read.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Parents and Kids

When the kids were little, they were my territory. I staked them out.
I nursed them. I took care of them when they were sick, when they were scared, when they were tired.
Earl worked a lot of hours and I stayed home with the kids, setting the rules and the expectations. Of course, I also bore the brunt of that -- the exhaustion, the feeling that I never wanted to be touched by anyone because I was so tired of clingy hands grasping onto me.
When he was home, Earl helped -- giving me a break but I wasn't really good at letting him take control. I felt everything was carefully balanced and one misstep could send everything sliding.
Now that that the kids are young adults venturing off into the world, I'm working a lot of hours, so when the kids need something Earl is the one to step in.
What does that mean?
Well, so far, that means that he travels to New York and Paris and Florida to help them.
I know. I'm sitting here thinking that I kind of grabbed the wrong end of this.
Earl is the one who traveled with Grace to visit the college in the Adirondack Mountains that she eventually chose. 
Earl has made close friends at a bed and breakfast in Grace's college town. He stays there for free now, playing with the grandkids and chopping wood before heading to campus to relax in adirondack chairs. Just last weekend he went there again to visit her for family weekend.
Then the two of them drove across the bridge to Canada and stayed for the night.
Last year at this time, he traveled to France with Grace to deposit her with some friends. I tease him about what sacrifices he has to make for the kids each time he gets his passport stamped. Sometimes I think he helped them choose their colleges based on places he wants to visit.
Last spring, Earl and Spencer ventured down to St. Petersburg, Florida to look at a college. Guess where Spencer ended up going?
Both of us took off work in August to get Spencer settled into college, leaving him there in the humidity and the sandy soil with crazy Dr. Seuss trees growing all around him.
And I didn't think either of us would be making the trip back to Florida any time soon. It is a 16-hour drive. I just thought Spencer would fly home for holidays or go to my parents' house a few hours away if he couldn't fly home.
But Earl has 8 vacation days left and my parents are buying a new house. They've offered to give us some furniture if Earl wants to drive down and get it. (I figured we were stuck with our old furniture for the next 6 years until all the kids finished college.) Earl is lured not just by the offer of a better mattress for our rickety bed, but he could be in Florida for Spencer's 19th birthday at the end of the month.
So once again, he is willing to make the sacrifice, to set off in the car alone, leaving behind the crisp autumn air to drive through the love bugs that hover over the heated highways in Florida during the fall. He'll stop in St. Petersburg to pick up Spencer and spend a long weekend with him at my parents' new house -- screen-enclosed pool along the golf course.
That's just the kind of guy he is -- willing to sacrifice for the kids, whether it's France, Canada or Florida, he'll go the distance for them.
I tease Earl about "the sacrifices" he makes for the kids, but I do feel fortunate that he's in a job where he can take time off and go to the kids. That's part of the price I pay for staying home with them when they were little. I'm now working two jobs that don't pay me if I don't show up. So I stay and work while he travels.
But there's more to it than that. I know when Grace is homesick and talks of missing her bed, her cats, her parents, that if I went, it would be hard for me to leave her and hard for her to let me leave. Earl takes a more no-nonsense approach. He's there to comfort her, to make sure she gets some sleep and eats healthy for a few days. Then he leaves her to the business of studying hard and finishing college.
With one kid up north and the other far south, who knows where Tucker will end up when he graduates in two years. He just asked me to RSVP for a college reception for the University of Alabama that's being held here in Columbus. I know one thing though, he and Earl are not going on a road trip to California or Hawaii to look at colleges next year.

 

A Blog Post

I pondered whether to write a funny or emotional post today. I'm still not sure which I'm writing yet. But I will tell you that whe...