If you speak French, (or if you don't but are in the mood to get eye blisters staring at foreign words strung together in an unknown language) there is an interview of me on the website Expat Forever today. I was asked about my writing process, why I chose to write Hidden in Paris in English, why a novel set in Paris, but mostly what it was like for me to leave France behind and start my life anew in the United States at age 23. Expat Forever is an excellent site, which, among other things, collects testimonies of French speaking people who now live abroad. I think, how pertinent to my novel where the characters do just that. Expat Forever tries to facilitate this thorny transition and recommends books on the expatriate life for example, as well as other websites expatriate can turn to for guidance. When I was 23, there was no internet. NO INTERNET people! I wish I had had that kind of help, especially the testimonies of people who had gone through this, because it was hard (If you want to know how hard you can read the article.)
I'm actually very proud of the double entendre of my post title today.
Stealing just a few minutes to post these pix from the new Rice Denmark catalogue.
It's a triathlon kind of feel here, i cannot even begin to explain.... Okay, fine I'll explain. Last week my mom was in town so I put all work aside to spend time with her (Sears, Khols, Mervins and Kmart here we came! Apparently this is where very chic French women of a certain age and girth prefer to shop.)
The day she arrived I unsuspectingly and naively, (before picking her up at the airport) scheduled a small procedure involving precancerous cells and cryotherapy of a part of my anatomy I rather not discuss in polite company (too late, heh). They told me it would not be painful (sorry but it was) and they certainly did not warn me about the ensuing sloughing that would last for weeks afterwards. If you haven't heard of the treat that is sloughing, girlfriends, trust me when I say some google searches are better left postponed indefinitely.
Only had one little bit of an escape running to Belette Rouge's totally fab housewarming party. I got no work done whatsoever, although I found the time to peek maniacally at reviews of Hidden in Paris on Amazon which are lovely enough to make me want to do summersaults if I only knew how, with one very grumpy one that came out of left field, as though the woman had read an entirely different book or something. Please check it out and tell me what you think if you have a minute.
My son is graduating from High school this week, we're both going to an orientation to USC next week, then he's off backpacking through europe for a month, something like ten cities (i'm not super comfortable about that as you can imagine. Have I mentioned i still make his bed, by choice) and then we're off to the East Coast, Boston, Vermont, New York for a while.
You overachievers out there listening please tell me how successful multitasking is done? All i seem to do is run around crazed (and go to the bathroom to... slough.) I need to promote my book. That's priority number 1, 2 and 3 and I'm not doing it at all.
I think it's kinda surreal that the winners of my novel could all be a characters in the novel: Like my main character, Ashley is devoted to food and gardening , like my main character, Aiden is an American mom bravely making a life in France, and like my main character, Giulia is a passionate, smart woman with a wry sense of humor.
Okay, so they won and others didn't but no matter because another giveaway has just started this morning (I was waiting for the polls to close over at Chez Loulou to announce it)
The giveaway is taking place at My Love Affair with Books. and is going on until June 17th. But you have to be in the U.S. or Canada. Just leave your email address. You don't have to be a member. Okay, go win this!
There is something about Vermont I think. It's a State that seems to attract talented women. Tamar of Nest Decorating is one of them. I'm crazy about her style, her blog and all the pretties she creates. To refresh your memory this is the lady who does this:
And yesterday I became the owner of this: !!!!
I love this necklace so much! It turns out to be very comfortable to wear, light as air and smooth (I can't stand scratchy things around my neck. I had figured that if it wasn't comfortable that would be okay as long as I could look at it day and night, it would be enough) I bought it on Etsy (where else?) A small indulgence, after all I did publish A BOOK! (Feeling proud of my bravery rather than scared today.)
Quick reminder: You can still put your name down on the blog Chez Loulou for a chance to win a free copy of Hidden in Paris. Only 70 entries so far, so the odds are much better than entering to win on goodreads which has 700 requests and is going on until June 6.
It doesn't matter if you're 7 or 77, it doesn't matter if you're in love or not, in a relationship or not, you root for romance, don't you? And it doesn't even matter if it is your own love story.
I'm curious to know if this happens to any of you, but to read about romance, listen to love songs, watch movies about love actually does something to my physical heart. I can personally feel a flutter in my chest. I think it releases some kind of good-feeling hormone (note the highly scientific explanation.)
It was when I was writing Hidden in Paris that I began to pay attention to this physical phenomenon. I cried when I wrote something sad, and laughed when( I thought) it was funny (seriously you'd be glad not to be in that room as I type, I'm a one woman show, I even talk to myself and call myself names) and when love came on, there it was, that tightening of the chest. Is it weird? Is it unique of me?
It's interesting how the puzzle of life is constructed and how wonderful it is when two pieces of that puzzle land in your hand and you're able to recognize that they belong together. Which is exactly what happened when I played matchmaker between a friend of my husband and Katy Allgeyer, who was a friend of a friend at time. I'm proud to say I saw love there before either of them even knew the other one existed. Love in fiction is good but love in real life is even better.
Katy has a really fun interview (--of me AGAIN?! :(( --No, but really read it it's great...) posted on her blog today, and some links to her 'matchmade' love story. Check it out. In the next few days I will write a new post about that Kathy does in life, which is very inspiring, you'll see.
Here is what I've been missing for the last twenty days as I sat at my desk trying to spread the word about my book: Lo and behold, I practically missed the month of May!
Today I emerged, puffy-eyed, groggy, and my rear-end molded to an unappealing desk chair-like shape, to see this:
The flowers in front are "Echium fastuosum" or Pride of Madeira, but I call them Proud of my Derièra. (a private joke between me and myself, you really don't have to laugh.)
3 waterlilies blooming at once is my record.
My idea in Provence since I can't have the real thing.
Oh, and if you've read this far then you might still have the patience to read some really great reviews for Hidden in Paris.
It's a bit of a whirlwind around here as i'm only one girl, two hands and ten fingers (or more like 8 fingers in my case because my pinkies and ring fingers are typing impaired somehow, and basically useless to my writing carreer) to respond to all my emails, write interviews and articles, mail books, and keep up with all the amazing, generous, overwhelming love I'm getting around the blogosphere for my novel.
To think that Hidden in Paris came out less than two weeks ago! It seems like a lifetime ago, really. I remember the old days (two weeks ago) when I was terrified that people might actually read my book. What if they didn't like it? What if I sucked? What if I was the worst author in the universe? (oh great, this is going to look very good on google searches.)
Now my self esteem has reached unprecedented heights and I think I only suck a little, and that I was mostly the most insecure writer in the Universe. Although I hear i'm in good company.
The reviews have been wonderful and people are buying my book. No, really. They are spending money. Actual, hard-earned moulah to buy my book. I still cannot believe it.
Right now I want to take a break and be thankful and bellow my undying appreciation to the following bloggers:
Thank you all!. I'm really happy right now!!!!
(this too shall pass...) do you have any idea how long it took to color that thingy above. Never doing that again.
Because of an interview on Passage Paradis where I get to talk about myself a lot. I also talk about a hypothetical unlimited decorating budget, and what I'd do with it. Fun, fun , fun!
If you're not familiar with Passage Paradis you might want to read this post. It's the website of a woman I'm secretely jealous of (okay, now it's out) because she travels everywhere in the world. And she comes back with the most jaw dropping images. Soon she will sell her original prints in a shop and lately she has been doing gorgeous print giveaways such as this one:
I want this print. And I want it BAD.
Hidden in Paris is a a novel set in Paris but filled with American characters. I'm often asked why I write in English instead of French, and if living in the U.S. made a difference in my choices. Here is a bit of our discussion:
Please click here to read the whole interview.
I hope you were not holding your breath. I totally forgot about this -- ahem. Is this an 'acte manqué' or what?
I asked my 12 year old (as he was running to play his new L.A. Noire video game and had not a minute to spare) to give me 3 numbers from 1 to 48 (that's all the requests I received.) and here are the winners of the Hidden in Paris giveaway:
Shannon!!!! (not a blogger)
Congratulations girlfriends! I'm sending the book over as soon as I get your addresses.
Something tells me Hidden in Paris is a great novel to curl-up with.
Often after visiting decor8 I wonder why I blog at all. Everything that I find beautiful and irresistible in decor and design is already there. Here is an example:
My neurons go 'smack, crackle and pop' when I see this room.
This is what I love about those spaces: the imperfections, the mismatching, the noble surfaces and the eclectic and colorful objects. I'm trying to track down where the photos are from. Maybe I could move there? Apparently it was found on this website in Swedish I'm unable to navigate, via this other site.
I'm starting to like this thing of talking about myself! Tomorrow I will be speaking about Hidden in Paris 'live' on Displaced Nation, a website that focuses on issues of expatriates in a global world.
But today, please hop on over to Happy Simple for an interview about my novel and the writing process. Barb is passionate about solutions to braving fears. She's also a Reiki practicionner with a long history of helping people heal. In the interview I speak about not paying attention to roadblocks as you go on your creative journey. Everything will conspire to make you stop and doubt yourself. Barb and I try hard not to pay attention. And by the way, I am a huge believer in those written reminders not to get discouraged. You need a lot of those to balance out the negativity and self negativity of every day life, and here is a fabulous one you can post near your creative space, working space or on your refrigerator door. You can get it here.
The interview is here
I am spinning and loving it. Of course I do not mean spinning on those torture devices called stationary bikes. In fact the only exercise I'm getting lately is to my fingers as I type and to my jaw as I munch on snacks. I mean my mind is spinning, I'm fully engaged intellectually and emotionally promoting my novel Hidden in Paris (in case you were hiding under a rock, on planet Mars.) I've received tons of emails and comments of encouragement, and I'm starting to get reviews and they are all GOOD! (thank you mom). Many bloggers have accepted to trade advertisement buttons with me, which is also GOOD and you'll start seeing them in the margin.
I was particularly touched by a certain blogger, who who went out of her way for me, so let me tell you what she does. The blog is called Une Petite Folie and the author of the blog, Linda Carswell lives in Tasmania but travels A LOT and I'm astounded at the beauty of her photography. But forget telling you. Let me show you.
There other thing that she is passionate about are miniatures, so if you're into the mini lifestyle you really should bookmark her site because it's shock full of the most delicate miniature house she is creating, as well as mini rooms, mini furnitures, mini objects and even mini food.
On an embarrassing note: The first edition of the novel has typos in it. I knew it but I did not know where to find them. Now I do... ahem. Sorry guys, I'm fixing this. If you get a copy of Hidden in Paris riddled with as many as twenty typos you can feel special because you know you are in possession of a first edition, (in case i become famous or something--doubtful, but hey, looking for a silver lining to this.) I know some will crucify me for this but what can they do to my sense of shame that I haven't done to myself already :(
You know me by now. You know that for me to post the following images have nothing to do with the fact that Ljiljana of Colorful Senses promoted my new novel Hidden in Paris on her blog. (note the repeating of the title just in case the googlebots are watching) No, it has everything to do with this CHAIR. When I saw it I just about fell off mine. When others would have simply used paint, Ljiljana (how to pronounce please?) crochet every inch of her chair.
Her crochet pillows and other goodies are available on Big Cartel, and if the day is grey where you live just hop on over to her Flikr and of course on her blog where you can hear all about this amazing crochet chair.
All right girlfriends, this is IT! The moment you have (not) been waiting for and where this blog turns to shameless self promotion... but it's just that... my novel Hidden in Paris is OUT!!!!!!!
Notice: the novel is Hidden in Paris. the blog is Hidden in France. Yeah I know. I only mean to confuse everyone.
Hidden in Paris is a really fun read where three American women running away from their lives move in together in the hope of starting over in a beautiful house in the heart of Paris.
Of course their pasts and old selves aren’t so easy to overlook, and all three are so different that life together, even in Paris, ends up presenting many unforeseen challenges. French men not being the least of them.
Hidden in Paris is a contemporary women’s novel with drama, laughter, strolls through Paris, French food, romance and, you now me I could not help it, a house in shamble to decorate :)
YeeeeHahhh! Doesn' it look scrumptuous? The book cover was designed by good friend Robin Pickens
If you send an email or leave a comment below you can win one of three authographed Hidden in Paris paperbacks. I will draw the name next week.
There is also a book giveway going on until May 5th on Goodreads
I wish I could offer each and one of you a copy because I sure could use your support, and I especially could use your reviews on Amazon (the book has no review yet) if this novel will stand a chance to ever be read by anyone. So what I’m doing is a promotion on the kindle for $2.99, and although the paperback is $13.99 If you email me I will give you a discount code for $5 off.
In the next few days I will tell you all about Hidden in Paris, how it came about, how it is getting published, my fears, my hopes, and how you blogettes had a whole lot to do with it.
If you are interested in trading advertising buttons, in creating a free book giveaway on your blog, interviews, Q&As or anything your readers might like I'm totally up for it. I need to promote this baby with no budget. If you have any ideas about this please email me.
Oh, and i even have an author's website now, where you can find among other things a first chapter to read and a not so flattering picture of meself.
I hope this wasn't too much self promotion not because ha-hem... it is only the beginning of it, what other choice do i have. Oh, and don't forget to comment or email to win a free book and/or to enter the Goodreads giveway here.
We're just back from a 3 day visit (my first) to New Orleans. The main purpose of the trip was to check out Tulane University for our son, although halfway through the visit he decided he didn't want to miss the big U.S.C. admitted student reception after all and he took an earlier plane back to Los Angeles, leaving us in New Orleans with the realization he most likely was not going to attend Tulane despite the very generous scholarship that had made it a winner in my wallet heart.
New Orleans was so different from L.A. Our hotel was charming and old world, the food surprising in content and aspect and not all that bad (crawfish, andouille sausage, collar green and jambalaya are all words I learned on the trip.) I was fascinated by all these white tourists letting loose, dancing terribly off beat in the streets and walking around nursing alcohol rather than the usual starbuck. I guess people will travel great distances to Vegas and New Orleans for the privilege of becoming ambulatory drunk.
I don't really drink and walk, but I should have considering my extremely poor choice of shoes. Closed-toe danskin clogs are a terrible, terrible choice in 87 degree, humid Louisiana.
After my son ditched us, we decided it was time to explore the bayou, what else did we have to lose? I loved it. It was at once spooky and stunning, Big Fish and O Brother Where art Thou suffused into one. We pet baby alligators and took a boat driven by a massive 14 year old named ZZ. The fact that he carried a knife the size of a baguette was supposed to reassure me but somehow failed to. I though it was funny that he spent the whole trip enquiring about what life in the Los Angeles jungle was like. To him, that was exotic.
On the way back, our plane was delayed because of the weather (note to self: never, ever fly into or out of Dallas airport in April EVER again) and once we did take off, eventually, five hours later, the turbulence were so awful that one member of the family saw a week-long constipation abruptly turn to its violent opposite, and had absolutely no choice but to climb over the flight attendants's joined hands (in prayer, I kid you not) and spend the most vicious minutes of the turbulence hanging on for dear life in a bathroom that no doubt had to be condemned after that.
Voila, this was my trip. Now I'm safely back home ready to let les bon temps rouler at last.
My home in Los Angeles is an oasis of nature. There is an immense 300 year old oak right across my window as I write. My front and back yards are lush gardens, birds are making nests as i speak, squirrels scurry about, the dog roams freely and the cat rolls in the dirt to his heart's content. Right outside my window there is a bed of carrots and very soon there will be tomatoes. I love nature! I'm a nature enthusiast. Only I have to make sure I don't smell or listen too closely. When I do listen, what I hear is the hum of thousands of cars zooming by, and when i do smell there is that familiar smog and exhaust pipe scent I am now resigned to. Some nature I live in! I can drive five minutes and have the embarrassing choice of 3 targets, 2 trader Joe', 2 giant malls, at least 6 vons and ralphs, 1 best buys, 1 kmart, and a plethora of streets and freeways on red alert.
But this is all right with me. The truth is nature, real nature, Nature with the capital N is a little bit scary to me.
Now imagine a remote spot in the middle of Vermont. Imagine one hundred acres of pastures and forests. Imagine a pond. Imagine a view as wide and far as the eye can see. On that property, a simple but charming house. Imagine that the only sound for miles is the sound of leaves rustled by the wind, and in the summer, the noise of crickets. Heavely, no?
Now imagine that same remote spot in the snow of winter. Imagine the solitude. The immense silence. For months. Now I'm scared!
Well Nadia of la Porte Rouge isn't. I have mentioned to you before the strange, strange way she and I have been,in a way connected. Through a post I wrote about her years ago she discovered my blog and we became friends. Meanwhile she had a Big dream. She dreamt of moving to Vermont and live in precisely the spot i just described.
images via la porte rouge.
Look at this intriguing and beautiful video of French singer Émilie Simon that my friend the artist Isabelle Bryer just shared with me.
Isn't she cute?
The month of March was an absolute whirlwind of changes. I had to take action, make decisions. There were reasons to be sad, reasons to be afraid and reasons to celebrate. I had to think fast, lay low, plan ahead, put a pillow over my head. I had to follow my gut, stay calm, do with little sleep. I had to be pushy, be patient, be reasonable and unreasonable. I had to take a few blows and return some. I still had to write, clean, cook, shop, and on occasion make an ass of myself and accidentally fall into the pool but my mind really wasn't into it.
Among the wonderful things that happened: my kid was accepted at 10 out of 15 universities he applied to. Pride and Joy in the mail box all month long. This was much needed recognition of his ambition and intellect, because it doesn't matter how wonderful we think he is, until a university throws money at him to lure him into going there, how could he be sure? Among the not so good things that happened, he did not get accepted at his first choice school. Although, silver lining at least for me, he might now go to a California school where I can stop by his dorm and make his bed on occasion,hehe. But I'm trying my best not to push him in one direction or another. It's not about me. Or shouldn't be. Okay it does feel A LOT about me. I'm so not ready to let go.
Good thing: Nadia and I are now an item. Haha, that's a hell of a teaser isn't it? That's all I'll say for now. I'll tell you the details of the story later. I'm hugely excited about this little secret of ours. Sometimes when I think about it I have to shake my head in disbelief. You'll see, you'll see.
Really disheartening thing: I thought my novel would come out this month: it won't. It's still riddled with typos something awful. Typos are like slugs in my vegetable garden, they keep coming and coming and there seems to be no end to them. I'm tempted to use a flame thrower over the whole thing (the book and the garden.)
Great thing: I lost four pounds! Yeahhhh! Anxiety and stress really suit me.
Yesterday, at precisely 8 p.m. Eastern Standard time, in pitch darkness and 50 degree temperature, dressed in head to toe rain suit, boots, plastic pants and all, I fell, headfirst, into my pool.
According to visual witnesses I didn't fall, as much as ran towards it and lept.
It's been raining hard in L.A. So hard that our drains could not keep up . The pool was overflowing and the water was creeping steadily toward the house and I had to (felt I had to) do something. So my big idea was to put garden hoses into the pool to syphon out some of the water. I was rushing, pulling, pushing, freaking out about the wood floor, my vision isn't good, my raincoat hood obscured what was left of it and someone had moved the pool to the left by a couple of feet.
Tsuna-mini averted. Flooding damages avoided. Humiliation quotient: High.
I know I'm not around much. You'll see why very soon, I promise. And no it's not only because I'm glued to the Huffington Post watching every development in Japan, like that's going to help anyone... And it's not only because I found all past seasons of Sex in the City for free on YouTube. And it's not because I'm lazy although this is all so, so true. It's because I'm working on something.. you'll see, you'll see...
So as a form of apology, here is a very bohemian house in South Africa. The article describes this decor as "explosive colors" what? where? I found it quite subdued.
More explosive images and text on Marie Claire Maison.
Speaking of colors, here is a little gift from France: a video via Côté Maison revealing the secrets of the making of LaDurée Macaron. You can't still be mad now that you can prepare your macarons in industrial quantities thanks to me.
Do you spend much of your time imagining worst case scenarios? I know I do, and i'm not saying that's healthy or that I recommend it.
Living in Southern California I often imagine what would happen to my family should the 'Big One" take place. What I'm referring to here is the earthquake that will level everything, like it happened in Haiti, the one that is long past due. Should we stock up on water? Should we own a generator? Should I retrofit my house? Should we move away from the fault line?
And since the Indonesian Tsunami every time I step on a beach I have vivid premonitions of a receding ocean followed by a giant wave surge engulfing us all. Would we understand what is going on? Would there be sirens? Should we have time to run or climb?
And I've of course imagined a nuclear meltdown more time than I dared to admit. How would we flee? Where would we go? How would we survive. How would I keep my family safe?
And now the people of Japan are going through all three at once. That, I have never imagined. And even as it's taking place and I see the images, I still can't imagine.
Here is a video that never fails to make me smile. How mysterious the Japanese are to me. But their pain, and anguish? That i understand very well.
*** PS: sorry if this happy video seems inappropriate to some. It probably is considering the situation, but it is my attempt to celebrate the Japanese spirit.
I feel like a racer on the starting block, waiting for that gunshot and that gunshot ain't coming and i'm so PUMPED for it! So much needs to move forward but is stalling.
Snow getting in the way in Vermont (Nadia you know what I mean.)
Waiting to hear from colleges so that we can plan Spring break visits.
Burning with impatience for my book cover, so that I can send my novel out.
Waiting to hear from the people whose life I just adapted into a screenplay hoping that they loved it (but what if they... gasp... hated it?)
And my nose is clogged shut by a monster cold i cand breede!
Rhahh this is torture!
In an attempt to remove blockage from my life, I decided to clear feng shui, beginning with the unbelievable amount of crap accumulated under my bed.
The junk I found there was mind-boggling. There was the extended family of dust bunnies, no wonder my nose refuses to unclog, then the scrunched-up content of four boxes of kleenexes, heavy with dried-up snot, fruit of a winter's worth of colds and a spring's worth of allergies. And then, and I had to marvel at the symbolism, there, under our marital bed were enough sharp/cutting objects to shred a 20 year marriage to pieces: three kids plastic swords, an exacto knife, a board filled with dozens of pins (I use those to map out storylines), and this was not symbolically bad enough for my relationship, a huge guillotine-looking paper trimmer I did not even remember owning.
I guess in the process of making sharp and dangerous things inaccessible to small children I crafted the mother of all toxic relationship feng shui.
So now you could have a picnic under the bed it's that clean. The bunnies have found a new home in the belly of my vacuum cleaner, the kleenexes were recycled (is it morally reprehensible to put kleenexes in the recycling bin?) and the sharp things are to be moved under Brad and Angelina's bed because all that passion they are displaying is making me feel insecure. Now good Feng shui can freely flow in and out of the room. I'll let you know if things become unblocked and make a Feng Shui believer out of me.
Has this ever happened to you? You have discovered all kinds of lovely blogs. You have all those windows open so that you can give credit where credit is due as you post pretty images. You think you should clear your history because it is too full and the computer is acting sluggish. You click erase and WAHMO! Safari quits, all the windows close and you are left with pretty images and no source to credit.
Her name is Evangeline and her expression reflects exactly my outlook on life at the moment, minus the man cold affecting me. Look she's even holding a kleenex, a cup of tea and a cookie, just like I am.
Humans are silly. They actually came up with a Set Yourself Up For disappointment Day, which is all Valentines Day really is when you think about it.
Here is how it will play itself out at my house:
The only thing I REALLY want for Valentines day I can't have, namely chocolate.
And the reason I can't have chocolate is that it's fattening.
And the reason I can't get fat is that when I look like a tub it kills my libido (not his mind you.)
So the very act of giving me what I want for Valentines Day would ruin his chances of him getting what he wants.
What we should do then, is take turn getting what we want, every other year.
... so Valentines day 2011? I say, pass the Toblerone!