Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The kitchen early in the morning.

Mornings around here have always been kind of strange. We never got that 'the whole family sitting around the breakfast table' thing. At first, my husband got up at 5 a.m. and went to work. My sons were next, getting up at 6 and leaving the house by 7 for their bus. At 7 I got up and took care of the baby.

Now the baby is in junior high school, my sons are in college, and my husband doesn't have to get up early any more. So now my son gets up first, then I get up and drive him to the train station for his train to Paris, then I go home and wake up my daughter. By 8 a.m. the housework is done, and I can sit down with a cup of coffee and blog. But at 8:50 I jump up and rush out the door to get to the gym. (Class at 9!) And that's what mornings are like here!

More morning stuff:

My daughter likes to eat a Finnish breakfast. That is: cucumbers, a slice of cheese, and a slice of ham on toast with a mug of hot chocolate. My breakfast is a handful of dates, a slice of cheese, and an orange. My husband likes a yogurt and toast, and my son loves cereal and an apple.

The French are not big breakfast eaters. Mostly they eat leftover baguette, (toasted, with jam) and hot chocolate or coffee. All French tables have a bowl of apples and small oranges called 'clementine's'.

Here's the Finnish breakfast, with the bowl of apples and clementines.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday, Sunday

It's Sunday morning and dawn is nowhere in sight. I got up early to take my son to the fire department where he's on duty today.
I'm dropping my daughter at the pony club in a couple hours. She has to get her horse ready for the show. I'll go and see her this afternoon. Horse shows are completely different beasts than polo games. A polo game lasts an hour, for one thing. A horse show lasts all day too - but when your daughter goes into the ring, you better not blink or you'll miss something. It lasts less than two minutes. Gallop, gallop, jump, jump, jump...and that's it! (Well, there are 12 jumps or so, and maybe I'm exagerating, but I'm used to watching polo, lol.

Well, the weather has gone back to mild here. It must be in the sixties this morning. The air is so mild it felt like spring when I stepped out of the house. And here I was afraid I'd have to scrape my windshield. I've only done it once this year.

I promised I'd finish my mystery book this weekend, so I better stop blogging and get to work. I will be writing and driving around today - but not both at the same time.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is the third International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Please spare a thought for the millions of people who were persecuted and killed in the name of their race and religion.
May it never happen again - for anyone.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Afterburn by S.L. VIEL

S.L. Viel, better known as Paperback Writer for blog hoppers, very kindly offered one of her books to me from one of her many contests. I was thrilled - I'm an avid reader, but books are rarely on my budget. I used to review for Midwest Book Reviews and for A Romance Review, which was where I got most of my reading material. But I stopped when I started writing, mostly because I was starting to review friend's books and I realized I'd always be a bit biased.
I don't know S.L. Viel personally, and this is the first book of hers I've read. (And my reviewing skills are more than rusty.) But I'll try to do the book (and author) credit.
But before I write the review, I'd just like to say that 'Afterburn' is not like anything I've read before, so I can't compare it to another book. It's science fiction, set in the far future, and most of the characters are not even humanoid. I love science fiction, but I read mostly techno fiction or space operas, and I can't recall ever reading any book where the main characters were not humans. (Except in books where animals were talking, of course.)
I'm going to be brutally honest - I could not identify with the porpoise-like characters. I enjoyed their story, but I could never get the image of a sleek tuna out of my mind as I read about them. They were fascinating, and I LIKED reading about them. But they were always fish. However, Ms. Viel, perhaps with readers like me in mind, added several human characters who were all very captivating.
Anyway, here is the review:
S.L. Viel's 'Afterburn' is not like anything I've read before. On a world where anything is biologically and scientifically possible, different species meet, interact, and fall in love. Set against the backdrop of peace talks, the story focuses on several interwoven storylines, mostly concentrating on a race of ocean-living, space-faring aquatic creatures, and several earthlings. The conflict comes from political and scientific intrigue, with one of the most interesting monster creations I've ever read about - the mogshrike. Action abounds, with outer space fights, rescue missions, and exploration. The characters are all vivid and fascinating. I took the book everywhere with me once I'd started reading it. I read it mostly in short bursts, because it's written in a series of short, intense chapters. This worked for me - my attention span is not the greatest, and these past few days have been hectic, so it was the perfect book to carry with me (to the hospital, to the pony club, to the theater group conference that usually puts me to sleep - this time I read!) What I didn't like was probably what other readers love - cliff-hanging chapter endings. My son's 'Goose-Bumps' books had them. each chapter ended in a cliff hanger that made you turn the pages. 'Afterburn' has that sort of page-turning appeal. But as there were many different threads, the chapters didn't actually follow the action, so I admit to skimming backwards and frontwards to read in the order I wanted. This is because I'm very linear, and has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the story. I simply picked one thread I wanted to follow, and read it to the end, then grabbed another one. To Ms. Viel's credit, all the threads got wrapped up nicely in the end!
I loved the world building - I love descriptions, so more descriptions would have been welcome. Again, I'm not every reader, so I can see where some readers prefer to get on with the action. (Loads of that here!) I was fascinated by all the different species in the book. In short, I was sorry to see the story end, and will definitely be picking up more of Ms. Viel's work.

Thanks Erin!

The Lumberjack Song is now stuck in my head, and I'm apt to start singing whenever I catch sight of my hat. LOL. Quite funny though. And not as bad as some songs that have been stuck in my head. It's bitter cold here - the ground is covered in a pale sprinkle of frost and the ground is like stone.

I think my geraniums are finally dead. I left them out because of the warm weather, but the temperature dropped suddenly.

(You can tell my life is insanely exciting, lol)

Yesterday I was at the hospital all morning (my daughter had a mole removed - nothing serious - everything is perfect now) and today I am planning on finishing my mystery novel. That is, if I can get some peace and quiet. My husband and son are here today, and it's hard to work with them in the house.

My husband has lots of work to do on the computer for his blurb work for 'Seasons'. Yes, one of his jobs is writing the blurbs about the shows that are on television. He's good with blurbs. How lucky is that? I'm pretty good with blurbs too, actually. When he first started his job, I was the one who taught him how to take the synopsis of the show and make it into an announcer's blurb. I do the same thing with my books, since I usually have to write the blurbs for them. I think I've written blurbs for all but two of my books - My Medallion books.

Sunday my daughter has her last horse show of the winter - she's excited because she's already qualified to be in the finals. She's had two clear rounds out of three. I much prefer a polo game. You can sit and chat and watch it (it lasts almost an hour). With the jumping, if you blink, you miss it!

I think this is a funny picture - it looks like the pony is sort of hanging in the air!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Well, no snow today. I would have looked perfectly ridiculous with my lumberjack hat so I kept it in the closet.
There was a tiny sprinkle of white on the ground, like powdered sugar on a donut - but not enough to get excited about, and as soon as the sun rose it melted like...snow.
So I didn't go for a huge walk, I did lots of housework instead and wrote 2 chapters on my new book.
I'm stalled on my suspense book. I'll tell you why (maybe you've gone through the same thing?) I just don't know if it's any good! I wrote it all the way up to the last chapter or two - and stopped. I was going to hand it in to my agent, (she asked for it after looking at the proposal I drew up) but when she terminated our contract, I just lost interest in it. Is that normal? I suppose the best thing will be to put it away and not think about it, but the characters are all FURIOUS with me.
Chris's mother is lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen - is she dead? Is she just injured? Who hit her on the head? And Chris is drugged and helpless, lying in a narrow bed with a psycopath staring at him...
Rachel just found out who her father really is, and she's torn between elation and grief. She just discovered Chris's mother, and now she's terrified something has happened to Chris. (She's right...)
Stan is in a meeting with his boss. He doesn't know yet that Rachel has decided not to quit - he thinks he's lost her. And he knows now that the three missing girls will never, ever be found...and it's destroying him. How can he bring closure to their parents?

And I'm just sitting here ignoring my characters' enraged screams and teeth gnashing, writing in my blog, starting a new book, and thinking I must be crazy. Are all authors nuts?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Snow at last!

Okay, I admit, I'm like a little kid when it snows. I wait for it every single winter with foot-tapping impatience and then when it gets here I shiver in front of the radiator and wait until spring comes. LOL
But tomorrow they ('they' you know - 'the ones who know') anyway, THEY say is will snow.
So I've gotten my boots out of the attic, and found my scarf and my Canadian lumberjack hat. I am ready for the snow now. Tomorrow, when it comes, I will put on my boots, my hat, and my scarf and go outside. (And I promise I'll even put on pants, a sweater, and a coat...)
I will go for a walk in the woods with my dogs, and I'll take some pictures to show you all Montchauvet in the snow - which is so much more charming than Montchauvet in the pouring rain and mud, which is what we've had so far this year.
What's really nice is that a lot of the neighbors have left their Christmas decorations up in a vain atempt to add some seasonal cheer to the rotten weather, so with the snow, it will Finally look like Christmas. (On Christmas day we were all walking around in shorts...well, just about.)
Viva la Snow!
(Looking out the window. Nope, no snow yet!!)

Happy Birthday Twins!

I can't believe it was 21 years ago already that you both decided to come into this world three months ahead of schedule!! I think they have learned to be patient now...

Monday, January 22, 2007

I was scanning the web today, looking for things to put in my press kit, when I came across an interveiw I did ages ago for Literary Potpourri, when my Alexander book first came out. The magazine editor, Beverly Jackson, asked me about finding a publisher. This is what I replied.

Jackson: Do you think you've created a new genre? This doesn't really fit sci-fi or magical realism or mainstream novels, does it? Did you have any trouble finding a publisher? Did the publishing world understand what you were up to? I notice the book is published in Australia.

Macaire: I can imagine Homer trying to sell his Iliad to a modern publisher, and it's more or less what happened with me and the agents and publishers I approached.

Homer: "Describe my book's genre? Well, it speaks of war, so it could be an adventure, but it has a love story between Hector and his wife…oh yes, and it has paranormal elements, there's Cassandra, she sees the future. There are religious factors, the gods and goddesses are always appearing and there is a definite historical slant, after all, it's about the siege of Troy, but there is quite a bit of humor. What do you think?"

Publisher: "I'm sorry, it doesn't fit our publishing needs right now. It's well written, but doesn't match any category. We wish you the best of luck with another publisher."

Homer: "I have another one too, this one is called 'The Odyssey' and I think it could be classified as a travelogue." He hesitates. "Adventure travel with elements of romance and the paranormal."

Publisher: "Send in the first three chapters and a synopsis. We'll get back to you in about a year. But don't get your hopes up. History books are not selling, series are out of the question for an unknown, cross-genre is not acceptable for traditional publishers and you haven't been published before."

I waited four years before finding a publisher. Most editors loved the story, but no one wanted to take a chance on something so radically different than what is 'out there'. I had a problem with the fact that Alexander had more than one wife, that he was bisexual, and that Ashley is not faithful to Alexander. She falls in love with Plexis, and Plexis is in love with Alexander, and the whole story sort of overwhelmed some people. One person sent back my manuscript with 'I can't handle this!' in big red letters. That was a low point, but I never got upset about it. I love this series, and to tell the absolute truth, even if it hadn't been published, I still would have been content. I truly love to read these books, and that, to me, is why I wrote them. Because they are fun to read and to entertain. Even if it's only myself."

Well, I'm glad I found that, because it's true that I am glad I wrote these books, I love re-reading them, and I definitely feel like I've accomplished something wonderful whenever I do read them.

I have queried one agent about the series, and I also sent a query to one publisher. I contacted an editor who loved my work, but she says her publishing company only accepts unpublished books. (I was crushed - it wasn't published all the way. Just the first three books in the series. Does that count?)

Anyhow...(that's my word for the day: Anyhow) I am finishing up my suspense novel (I keep saying that but it's getting to the end, I promise!) and I'm starting a new sci-fi novel. I also started a contemporary romantic comedy (and I know, I'm mispelling everything, but I have to go make dinner!) so I have lots of projects.

Oh, and we're calling the publishing company Triptych, I think.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lazy Sunday

It's very quiet around here. The dogs are sleeping. My son is on duty at the fire department. My daughter is at a horse show in Normandy with her friend. My husband is at the polo club. And I finished cleaning the house, finished formating a book, and am looking over some contracts and trying to decide what to do with my projects.
Everyone says (to an author) "Keep writing!" What they don't tell you is the amount of time you spend promoting: updating your website, writing blurbs, keeping abreast of publishing news, and blogs. They don't tell you what to do when a publisher folds and you get your rights back - how do you market a book that's already been published? Most publishers won't touch it. *sigh* They don't tell you what to do with a project that's been to a couple editors and that's come back to you. They don't tell you what to do when you know your book is a good fit for a publisher, but you can't contact anyone there because they won't accept unagented queries.
What you are supposed to do is this:
Write your query letter. Give it your best shot. Send it out following the agent/publisher/editor's guidelines. Wait for a month, 2 months, 3 months...Once I waited almost a year before hearing back from a submission.
In the meantime, in between time...Ain't we got fun?
In the meantime, we're supposed to keep writing.
So, I write.
But I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be better to do something more constructive with my time. If I spent as much time ironing as I did writing, we'd have the neatest clothes in town. If I spent as much time cleaning my house, we'de be in House Beautiful. If I spent as much time in the garden, we'd be in House and Garden, lol.
I suppose my children would love to have my undivided attention.
Or my husband? He'd go nuts.
My dogs? They mostly sleep. If I kept waking them up they would be cross.
I could draw. (I already do that.) I could learn to knit, take up jogging, take up chicken farming, double my tutoring load, get a job as a translator?
Actually, I think I'm going to go into the publishing end of the business with a friend and see where that goes. She's an editor and a reviewer, she wants a reader, cover artist, and a website designer. I love designing covers and websites, and reading is lots of fun.
Well, it's an idea.
And in the meantime, in between time, I'm still writing.

Friday, January 19, 2007


One of the boys I'm tutoring has to learn a new poem every month. He has to learn it by heart and recite it in front of the class. The children have a choice between 4 poems every month - I have to admit that this boy always chooses the shortest one, lol.
This month he chose a poem about winter. It's quite lovely, and goes like this (translated of course)

First Frost

Winter is coming, killer of the poor people.
Like a cruel baron sending his sergeants ahead as a warning, frost, white fingers of ice and a harsh wind.
We hear the children's loud breath as they run with their hands on their faces, their feet hitting the hard ground.
Even the dogs, unable to scent, flee like arrows...
But how lovely the first frost!
The window whipped by the cold outside,
sparkles beneath delicate crystals
and shimmers beneath the mother of pearl-like micas,
Whose design blooms like arced acanthus leaves on the panes.
The trees wear crackling silk.
The sky has the thin look of pale old silver.

I have a hard time translating poetry, and I'm trying to give the general idea of the peice. It really is quite lovely.
Well, the boys have arrived so I better go see what homework they have to do!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Master of the Universe!

I spent four days struggling to master the formating for the Siren's newsletter, and I finally did it. It was such a thrill to see it finally uploaded online and looking decent. For so many days I'd stared at missing text, huge blank spots, uneven lines, and different sized fonts that I thought I'd go mad. I wanted to throw my computer out the window. I wanted to jump out the window. I literally sat at the computer and and screamed out of sheer frustration. (Well, yelled very loudly.) (Actually I swore in a rather louder than usual voice after making sure my kids were nowhere in hearing and the window was closed.)
But now it is done, the newsletter formatted and it looks GOOD. Ha! I did it.
Here is the link:
It works.
And I have to thank my friend Katherine Kingston who has been formating this newsletter for the past two years, and whose task I have now taken over. Kathrine, you deserve a medal.

On the bright side - my daughters lice seem to have been irradicated. No more nits. And the English lesson with the preschoolers went fine - one of the little boys showed up in full pirate regalia including plastic sword. I managed to get it away from him and we sang 'Ten little Indians" and he wanted to sing ten little pirates, so we did that too.
My son was on duty today and I went to the fire department and hung around waiting for him to get back from a 'mission'.

It's January, which means that it's 'the galette du roi' time. That's a sort of flaky pastry with sweet almond filling, and in the cake is a little china figurine. They used to use a big dried beans, or 'feve', which is why the French call it a 'feve' but it's really a little glass figure (can be just about anything - animal, person, cartoon character...) and the person that gets it in his peice of cake is king or queen, and gets to wear a flashy cardboard crown. It's a cute tradition, and it lasts all month, although the real reason for the cake is the Epiphany.
What happens is you cut the cake while the youngest person at the table hides beneath the table, and you put each slice on a plate and ask 'who's this for?' and the child beneath the table calls out names, and that's how you divide up the cake. If there are no children, then you cut up the cake. But you're expected to wear the crown no matter how old you are.
The other day my husband got the 'feve', and he put the crown on. He got up and went outside to take the dogs out right after dinner, and forgot the take the crown off. He was walking around with the camoflage jacket I got in the states for him to go hunting, his red flannel pyjama bottoms my sister gave him for Christmas, and his gold crown.
The neighbors have taken to giving me sympathetic looks.
I wonder why?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Flied Lice

There is one thing about France that will probably surprise you - it is rife with lice. They are everywhere, and cross every social, racial, and economic boundry. As the French as fond of saying, "Lice are not snobs."
The first time my twins caught lice was when we lived in Bordeaux. We lived in Margaux, actually, right in the center of the wine-making region. Our house was the west wing of a chateau - we were the west wing, the cellars were in the right wing, and the chateau was in the middle. I used to say we had the best view - we had a view of the chateau. There were two charming girls in the chateau who, every morning, went to with a chauffeur to a private school in Bordeaux while I drove my twins to the local public school. The girls, after school, came to my house and played with the twins. One day, I noticed that one of them had lice. I checked my sons. They had lice too. In fact, everyone did. The nice thing about lice is that they share easily. The bad thing about them is that they are tough critters and it takes a dedicated treatment to get rid of them.
Who had them first? The private school or the public school? Actually, as both the Directors said in apologetic tones, "Zee lice are every year in zee school." All schools.
I was aghast. When I was a child in rural NY state, a strange nurse would come twice a year and walk with her heavy shoes up the rows as we sat, heads bowed, hands folded, waiting while she stopped and peered at our scalps, tilting our heads so she could see behind our ears and necks where the lice like to lay their nits. And if, by chance, a child had lice, it was a momentous event. The child was sent home, and all the other kids laughed and called him/or her 'Booger head' or worse. Having lice in the US was worse than having your father in prison. You were ostrasized.
The French were horrified when I told them this. Lice treatments are sold in every grocery store with the shampoo section. The bottles are pink and purple, and called pretty names like 'Marie Rose'. There are 'natural' sprays to help keep the lice away made from lavender oil, and there are a plethoria of shampoos and creams destined to wipe out the infestation. Because that's what it is. You never have a louse. You have lice.
And that's what my daughter has.
It (They) came from her school. Her friend Justine's mother called me and told me she was treating Justine. Or maybe it came from my friend's daughter - she went to the south of France and stayed with a woman in a manor house, and the woman's daughter had lice that she'd caught from school, most likely, and this woman's daughter spent the night at our house. Or it could be from the pony club. My daughter tried on a helmet the other day. At any rate, we have bought a pretty pink bottle of 'Marie Rose', and I'm borrowing a nit comb from my neighbor (most everyone has at least one nit comb, but I admit to losing mine. We haven't had lice in the house for years. This is the first time, actually, since we lived in London. Oh, yes, there were lice in England too. I bought lice shampoo in Harrods one day. My sister in law bet me they wouldn't have any, but I told her "They have Everything in Harrods." I was right.
There is a protocol to lice, as there is a protocol to everything in France. One calls the people who are frequent visiters and tells them, and one calls the school and tells the Director. One warns ones child not to share bonnets and scarves in the wintertime. Then you do your best to iradicate the creatures. You wash the sheets, the pillowcases (every day during the treatment) and you wash the sweaters, hats, and since my daughter has a parka with a hood - that gets washed too. I tell the people whose children come for English lessons. They just shrug, and we chat about lice and how hard it is to get rid of them.
Everyone is fatalistic when it comes to lice in France.
As they French love to say, "C'est la vie."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mr. King

Happy Birthday, Mr. King.
I wonder what you would think if you woke up from your eternal sleep and came to the country you fought so hard to improve. Would you be glad at the progress it has made? There has been some. Equality is now a matter of law, and it's slowly becoming fact as well. Although if you look at what happened in New Orleans, you would doubt any progress had been made. Black people still make up the largest proportion of the poor and incarcerated population. More black children are struggling in school and struggling to get a college education. High paying jobs still go to white men. Some black people have made inroads, like you did, into prejudice and poverty. I'm thinking you might like to sit down with a certain Oprah Winfrey and talk about what has been done, and what can be done. You'd get a kick out of seeing people like Spike Lee and reading books by Toni Morrison. Your heart would rejoice because the lines are being blurred, and more and more black people are attaining what you strove so hard to offer them: equality. Respect. Justice. But the road must look uphill, rocky, and long to you still.And what about your views on the war? You were passionately against Vietnam, calling it an act of aggression, and stating that the United States was the most dangerous, destructive country in the world. You would feel that time stood still if you came back today. The US is still attacking other countries. They attack, while claiming to defend themselves. You would see through the lies, because you always did see through the lies. And you would be devastated for each of the soldiers that died. I can feel your pain. And you would speak against it. You would make fiery speeches and unite thousands behind you. You would raise your fists to the sky and cry out, "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence."And you would be right.Even now, the president of the united states is throwing more men and weapons into a war that he started, a war that is filling his coffers and those of his cronies with billions of dollars in profits, while more sons of America die in a faraway country whose only crime was to be sitting on immense oil reserves. (Canada, you're next...after Iran I mean.)So I hesitate to invite you back for a look at the world on this day - your birthday. Perhaps it will be better to wait a few years, wait until the black people of America have truly found equality - in the way they are paid, housed, educated, doctored, and judged. Wait until this quagmire of a war is finished - though it may end in ashes. If the US decides to attack other countries, then I cannot blame them for fighting back. I can't blame the Iraqis for fighting back. They never asked for an invasion. They never asked for help. They never asked to be carpet bombed, to have their schools and hospitals destroyed, to have over half a million people killed. So, you would be too sad to see this mess. You would rant, and hardly anyone would raise their eyes from their television screens to listen. You would shudder, and think that maybe it's a good thing, after all, that this is all happening over your dead body.But I miss you. I miss your passion and your goodness, and your belief in nonviolent protesting. So I'm adding mine. I promise to protest inequality when I see it, to protest the war - any war - All wars, because they are an abomination. I promise to protest against hatred and against discrimination.Happy Birthday Mr. King. I wish I could offer you a better one.

--Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)

Nobel Peace prize - 1964

Books by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Stride toward freedom; the Montgomery story (1958)
The Measure of a Man (1959)
Strength to Love (1963)
Why We Can't Wait (1964)
Where do we go from here: Chaos or community? (1967)
The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)
A Testament of Hope : The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986)
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr. and Clayborne Carson (1998)

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Door Closes, A Window Opens...

A door closes and a window opens...and I feel like jumping out of it.

No, not at all.
I'm discovering how resiliant I am and I'm enjoying the feeling of bouncing back. My agent is cutting back her work load and only working part time, so she's letting me out of our contract. She doesn't feel she has the time to devote to my project. She submitted it to 4 publishers and she very kindly sent their comments along with her letter - and it did raise my spirits to see that the book was well recieved. One editor wants more of my work, "Please, please, please send more of her work!" she wrote. Well, that's a perk. It's also frustrating because I wouldn't dream of contacting her myself, which means I have to find a new agent now. I have four projects for sale. One is my "Time for Alexander" series. One is "The Promise". One is "Jack's Back". And one is "A Charm for A Unicorn", a YA fantasy. They are all different genres, so I'm not even sure that one agent would take them all. I've decided I might query several different agents with one project - so start with 4 agents and go from there. I liked my agent, she was a very nice person and fun to work with - always enthusiastic and helpful, so I'll miss her. And I wish her well with her own projects. I'm guessing she's working part time now to pursue some other interest.
People do change professions. I was a salesgirl, a model, then I was a mother (the hardest job so far!) a journalist, and an author. I've been a freelance artist since I left school, and I've done odd jobs like selling pizza on a corner, making jewelry, working in a toy fair, translating, grooming horses, website design, and tutor. I've taken a course on how to teach English to preschool children, and I do that once a week. I write, but I don't have to write. I just love to write. I've done so many things in my life that writing just seemed a natual extension of the experiences I've had.
I could be a groom, a translator, a cartoonist, or teach French etiquette. I've met kings, rajahs, princes and princesses. I've played polo and sailed on a sailboat that won the Rolex Cup. I've raised three children, and that's what counts the most for me. I have good friends, and that counts too. And a wonderful family - and for that I feel absolutely blessed.
So when this door closed and I got my project back and some of my hopes vanished like smoke, I squared my shoulders and, (like the Pollyanna I admit I am), I thought of all the good things I have, all the fun things I've done, my friends and family...and I looked out the window that just opened and I saw a huge, vast world just waiting for me.
And I started writing my query letters, because I'm sort of an impatient, stubborn person too, lol.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More on the roof.

The workers took ten tons off the building by taking out the whole first floor. The foreman was astounded - he'd predicted six tons, not ten. I went in and looked at the beams. They were bowed and some had huge cracks in them. All had been shifted from their original placement. I guess I'm lucky the whole thing never collapsed on my head!

They've put a metal beam in place of the old wooden main beam. A pity - it's not as picturesque as the wooden ones. But it won't break, lol.

Yesterday was full of surprises. The workers set fire to something in the building, the electricity shorted out, there was a while when I didn't know if I should call the fire department or my electrician. Neither were necessary - the workers put out the fire and fixed the electricity. But I didn't get much done. I had been working on my WIP, but put it aside out of fear of another black-out.

Auguste, my dachshund, loves going and getting in the workers' way. I have shut him in the house today, because they are tiling the roof and both the front and back gates are wide open. Auguste is heartbroken. His new friends won't play with him anymore. The workers keep asking me if he's a hunting dog. They much admire dogs that are useful, and think that pets are a flamboyant waste of space. I explain that Auguste and Rusty are part of the family. They sleep in the house, they get spoiled, and they sometimes hunt with my husband. I wouldn't call them hunting dogs. I'd call Auguste a lap dog, and Rusty aspires to win the world record for sleeping and snoring.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's Wednesday...

...Which happens every seven days, so it's not all that exciting.
I fiddled with my Jennifer Site yesterday, put up a new header that my son Alex fixed up for me, and changed it to a more sci-fi looking site.
Tara Marie posted a review of Angels on Crusade and I wanted to say Thank You! It's really a nice review - she's not a sci-fi fan, but she gave it a very balanced and fair reading and I really appreciate it. You know how people are always saying that they want other people to start taking such and such a genre seriously? Well, it's nice when someone admits that a genre is not their 'thing', but they read it anyway and have something good to say about it. That's what I call an open mind. (and it's funny because I loved how she called one character's death gruesome - Yes! It's gruesome - it's someone's death, and I think that if you find it horrid, then I did it right, lol).
Kate Rothwell has kindly linked to my blog so I'm linking back. She had a contest and I didn't win it, but I had fun trying. Scroll down a few posts and check it out, and make sure you are not drinking anything as you read the responses. I will not be responsible for any ruined keyboards.
Well, my students will be here any minute (for their English lesson - I teach pre-schoolers English, which is a lot of fun.) We sing songs, play with puppets, and learn the colors, counting, the alphabet, and 'head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes...' LOL. That is their favorite song. Today's lesson is family members and so I've printed up papers with a blank frame, with 'This is my Mother', (Father, Sister, Brother) on them. The kids will draw their Mother (father, sister, brother) in the frame.
The weather here is still abnormally warm. It's rainy, but I've got the windows open to air out the rooms. The workers have come and are breaking down the roof in the buildings contigent to our house, (where I usually keep my freezer and my dryer, bikes and garbage bins) So there is dust everywhere. I keep sneezing. (The workers are not here yet this morning. Maybe I'll go and take some photos so I can show you what's going on.) Here is my house (on the right) and the outbuilding (front and center) with the new roof tiles waiting in neat piles.

And here we are looking up at the roof. The workers took out the first floor and left the beams. The floor (with the dirt, tiles, and such) weighed over five tons.
Now the workers will shore up the beams, redo the roof - and leave the building as it is. It's not going to be a liveable space, I'm afraid.

Have Great Wednesday!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Vacation is Over

It's SOOOooooo over, lol.
So today I went to the gym and my muscles are Not thanking me. We worked out with weights for an hour and believe me - I am going to be SORE tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm going to another gym class - I did, after all, make a small New Year's resolution - keep working out. And drop the bread from my diet. Oy, it will be Hard - I live in France - country of Zee Vonderful Baguette.
At least there is still coffee. And chocolate. Within reason. LOL.
So this is now my breakfast: (no bread or cereal) a slice of mild cheese, a handful of dates, a plain yogurt & some honey, and COFFEE.
Today my son lost my extra car key, so now we only have one key. This is a pain, because we juggle between the two keys - he takes the car early in the morning and leaves it at the train station, and I go pick it up later. Now that we only have one key, I have to get up and drive him to the station at the ungodly hour of 6:15. I don't wake up officially until 7:00, so this should be interesting. Note to self - make sure coffee is all set to go for the morning.
Someone just reviewed one of my books -actually I got three reviews this week, but this one (and I haven't even seen it yet) is from a romance reading woman who blogs and posts reviews on her blog, so it's not an 'official' review. She wrote to me and said she liked the book, found it refreshing and gritty - but warned me that the review wasn't glowing - did I still want her to post it? I thought it was incredibly sweet of her to ask. And I replied that I didn't write books to get glowing reviews (although it's nice to get them) and I was fine with her posting any sort of review she liked - it was her opinion, after all. I'm really thick skinned.
But it got me thinking. A lot of reviewers are afraid to speak their mind for fear of being castigated by A) the author, or B) the author's fan club. I've seen it happen and it isn't pretty. I've been a reviewer so I know how much work goes into a review, and I don't take kindly to authors complaints in public. In private, I figure you can say what you want. But a reviewer's opinion is simply an opinion, and you can't expect everyone to love the same thing. I sent this person the book as a gift, and she read my book and offered to post a review on her blog, and even if it's not glowing, I'm happy she cared enough to A) read the book and B) blog about it. Even if she is going to blog about what she didn't like about it - that's fine with me. Everyone is entitled to their opinions! Right? I might even learn something I didn't know about my own writing.
Other news:
And I'm waiting for my second round of edits for 'Merlin's Song' - my editor told me they would be arriving on the 12th.
Today's my mom's birthday and she has a terrible cold. Happy Birthday Mom, and lots of aspirin, hot soup, and lemon tea for you!
My son has decided to leave Ohio and move to NY, and he's trying to transfer his credits and enroll in another college. Paperwork and legwork. Good luck Alex!
My other son is taking his 'partials' which are the French equivalent of mid-term exams for university students. I wish him luck too - he has a long week ahead of him!

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's raining Again

It's raining...Again!
I can't believe it's January. The weather is so mild my forsythia is still popping out flowers - the idiot. I keep telling it that it's mid winter, and any little blossom will get frozen, but yellow flowers still appear on the branches. I wonder if it will be flowering in the spring. My daughter and he friend went outside to walk the dogs, and her friend fell and sprained her ankle. It's always worse when it's somone else's child. Mine don't seem to get into scrapes, but I've had to drive several of their pals to the emergency room for stitches or plasters. One girl fell and snapped her front tooth right off, which was probably the worst thing that happened. Another time we took the kids and their friends to a miniature golf course - and of course it's the friend who gets whacked on the head with the club (not even by anyone we knew - the kid went to another hole to see what was going on.) And each time I was frantic with worry and wishing it had been my kid instead! If it was my kid, I wouldn't feel so awful - like I was supposed to watch them every second, because my kids know that I'm a very 'hands off' mom, who has always let them go on hikes, ride bikes, climb trees - alone. I usually wave as they set off, (with the dogs in tow) and wait for them to come home. So I tend to do the same for their friends. "Sure, go out and walk the dogs - see you in a while." And then here they come five minutes later, the friend with scraped hands and a swollen ankle. (off to check - I made her sit and put ice on it - yes, still swollen but not turning blue or anything.)
I'm such a bad mother that I forget to have my son's stitches out last week. Yesterday he asked me when he should have them out and I'd Completely Forgotten he'd had 3 stitches! (he had a mole removed) No big deal - so I forgot. If there's no huge cast, you can be sure I'll forget. So I took him to see my friend Catherine this morning (a nurse) and she snipped them out and laughed at me for worrying. But I can't help it - as a bad mother I must always worry that my neglect is going to make my kids A) Hate me or B)Become Independant. In the best of worlds it would be B, but I'm always worried about A.
I'm a bad mother because I am sitting here blogging instead of hovering over the poor girl's ankle, but as she's laughing with my daughter, I can be forgiven for thinking she's all right. She keeps breaking off to cry out dramatically "Ow, My Ankle!" but I think that is just theatrics, and since she's been enrolled for three years in a row in drama class, I tend not to take her very seriously. (Just an aside here - why do most poeple take actors so seriously? They are Actors! They dramatize, they excel in theatrics, they are HAMS. Just as I don't take my children very seriously - "Mom, he killed me!" - so I don't take actors seriously either.)
I am not, however, as bad as my husband's aunt, who didn't pay attention to her daughters cries that her arm hurt. TEN days later she finally took her to the doctor who diagnosed a broken collar bone. The child was about twelve. Her Husband was a Surgeon. This is the mother who had a spaniel who growled when her daughter approached her. She would snap at her daughter - "Can't you see you're upsetting the dog?" Now there was a woman with motherly instincts.
I like my husband's aunt, but if I'd been her daughter, I think the dog would have mysteriously died of poison...But then again, maybe not. Maybe the mother would have...Oh, I am getting seriously off subject here.
I was saying that the weather is incredibly warm for the season, and that I was a terrible mother, which isn't totally unrelated. If we turn it into a metaphor for the earth and humans (as being caretakers for the earth) you can agree that we've done a pretty awful job of taking care of the earth, and if things start heating up, you can be sure it's out own fault. What happens when kids rebel? What happens when the earth rebels?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

5 Reasons to Love living in Montchauvet

5 reasons to love where I live:

There are two egg farms. I can trot down the street and get fresh eggs whenever I want.

The restaurant across the street makes gourmet food to die for...And it's very reasonably priced.

There are hiking trails all around, and they are all very different and very beautiful.

There is a really great 36 hole golf course a quarter mile away.

There is a wonderful mix of people in the village - Parisians who only come for vacation, farmers who have been here for generations, people of all trades, lots of artistic people, and a villege fĂȘte comitee that really knows how to throw great parties!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Years traditions in France

There aren't really many New Year traditions in France except one: on the stroke of midnight, everyone gets on the phone and calls friends and family. (Before cell phones there was always a log jam in front of the phone as people jostled for position.) Now, as soon as everyone is done kissing every other person in the house (another French tradition - the smoochie on the cheekie) they grab their cell phones and start dialling.
The phone calling spree lasts for several days afterwards. This is why: the French do not send Christmas cards. They prefer to call.
It's nice, but odd to be calling people at midnight. No one is ever sleeping (or admits to be sleeping!) Everyone expects the call. Nowadays, there are the instant messages too - and "Happy New Year!" was flying around the phone screens. My husband made a list of everyone he wanted to call and spent three days on the phone.
I sent my traditional Christmas cards out, including e-cards that I really think are terrific. Just think: No trees were killed to make an e-card. No jet plane fuel was burned sending it over the ocean. No cars and trucks were started in order to deliver it. E-cards are instant, disposable, and non-polluting. The spirit of Christmas and the New Year lives on in virtual pixels.
(and in disembodied voices over the phone...)

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Resolutions

Everyone seems to be posting New Year resolutions, but I haven't made any - except to exercise more and I do that every year.
Maybe I should look for more resolutions to make my life better, but to tell the truth, there's not much else I want. I have a wonderful family, terrific friends, good health, and a roof that doesn't leak. I have a computer that only crashes a little, a washing machine that only leaks a bit, and a car that makes strange noises but gets me where I need to go. I have two dogs that are fun to take on walks, and a beautiful area to walk around in.
So, this year I decided that I'd spend more time outside walking around with my dogs getting more exercise, but other than that, I'm quite content.

Nothing much is going on here today. The village is quiet after a raucous New Year's Eve party over at the restaurant across the street. We came home from our (small but nice) party at 2 a.m. and heard the music blaring as we drove up the hill. As we parked and opened the door, the music deafened us. They were really rockn' in the resto! My daughter was tickled to hear a very silly song last night at our party. It was Quite rude, and had us all laughing hysterically. It was a song you sang and it had gestures, and was all about the Bedouin's daughter, a banana, and a donkey...and no, you do not want to know! LOL. We were woken up early by the church bells (as usual) and my hubby brought me a cup of coffee in bed (I could hardly open my eyes, lol) and he's napping now, my son is studying for his exams, and my daughter is writing a book about a horse named 'Pitou'. The weather is getting colder - which is good because yesterday it was balmy and rainy. At least the cold means dryer weather here. Well, we're off to take a walk now with the dogs!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, prosperous, and healthy New Year 2007!
Best wishes and lots of hugs,