Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Evidence of Harry Potter in My Neighborhood

As I run in the mornings, up and down the streets of my neighborhood, I sometimes come across strange items. This morning, for instance, I found a quarter and put it in the tip jar at the Starbucks.
But sometimes, like a detective,  I begin to see a pattern. And I've decided the pattern is that Harry Potter and his wizarding friends live among us.
Today, I saw this shard of mirror on the sidewalk.

Everyone who has read Harry Potter remembers that his godfather Sirius gave him a two-way mirror so they could communicate. In the final book, Harry has only a shard of the mirror left, but he uses that shard to ask for help when he is held captive in the Malfoy's dungeon.
I didn't stop to use it, since running with a shard of mirror might be a bad idea.

Another sure sign of wizards in my neighborhood was this broom beside a tree.

From the discarded newspaper, it's obvious that a distracted wizard was reading the paper while riding his broom before he crashed.
I hope he was okay and eventually came back for the broom.

And another sign is this adorable cat trying to hide on top of my kitchen cabinets.

Actually, it's my cat, and he isn't wearing glasses like Professor McGonagall does when she transforms into a cat, but I figured I needed a third sign.
I'll be on the hopeful lookout for other clues that Harry Potter and his wizarding friends have come to Grandview Heights, Ohio.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Dreaming On a Summer's Day


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental 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.

So much of my life is spent dreaming these days, anticipating when my husband and I will move to France. I enjoy beautiful days like this one here in Ohio, but I can't wait to stand underneath the clear blue skies in southern France.

We debate if we will buy an apartment in a small city with a peaceful plaza, like this one in Beaucaire. There's a 2-bedroom apartment on this square here that gets glorious sunshine.
Or maybe we'll get a house on a river, like this one in Aude, not far from Carcasonne, France.

Or will we choose a house outside of a village with room for a pool, like this one near Castelnaudary on the Canal du Midi?

So, as you can see, I'm spending a lot of time dreaming about France. 
How bout you? What are you dreaming of these days?

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Please leave your name and blog address in Mr. Linky below, and leave a comment letting me know what  you think about my love affair with France, or your own love affair. And consider visiting the blogs of others who play along so we can all share the love.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Three Things to Know Before Traveling Abroad

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental 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.

This is a blog post I wrote as a guest post for my blog tour.

No doubt, the easiest way to travel to Europe is in a book.
In my novel, Paris Runaway, single mom Sadie chases after her 17-year-old daughter, who has run off to France. Sadie has never traveled out of the country before but feels compelled to follow Scarlett, who might be in danger.
Sadie has no time to think about the things that might make her travel abroad easier, but you do. Go ahead and grab your passport, but take a little time to smooth the way once you get off the plane.
Transportation: Figure out how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel without breaking the bank. In Paris, you can walk between the airport and the train station, just pulling your suitcase behind you. And when you arrive at the train station, you’ll see a huge electronic sign that announces departures for places like Budapest and Milan. It all feels so cosmopolitan. For about 10 Euros, you can buy a ticket to take you into the center of Paris.
Hotel: When you are travelling to a big city like Paris, or during a busy tourist season, like summer, arrange your hotel ahead of time. Sadie didn’t arrange a hotel. She pictures showing up in France, finding her daughter and returning home. But it doesn’t work out that way. After being awake for about 36 hours, she’s forced to beg for a hotel room.
Here’s an excerpt from Paris Runaway:
Then I wandered along the street until I spotted a little hotel just two windows wide in between the packed-tight Paris buildings. Exhaustion led me to stumble in, and I tried to remember some French words from my long ago high school French classes to ask about a room. “Une chambre?” I said, and the proprietor shook his head. I didn’t know if he couldn’t understand me or didn’t have any rooms available.
So I tried again, “S’il vous plaît,” I pleaded. I knew my brown eyes were ringed with circles that shone a pale blue amidst the crinkled lines that had formed over 50 years. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d slept.
I looked at the man behind the counter at the hotel again. “Please. Any room will do. I’m so tired. Maybe if I sleep, I’ll be able to figure it out.” I’d spoken in English.
I didn’t know if the man understood anything I said, but he pulled out a ring full of keys that clanked heavily. He turned down a hallway behind the counter and motioned for me to follow as he walked toward the interior of the hotel, away from the street. 

Sadie got lucky. Hotel rooms are difficult to come by in Paris during the summer. In the rest of France though, I’ve traveled from town to town without hotel reservations. Each town has a tourism office. Stop in the tourism office and ask if they can help you find a room. Tell them how many rooms you need and what you want to spend, and they’ll do their best to book a room for you. We always had luck with that, even as we rode our bicycles to French towns.


Language: Most places in Europe, people speak English, but they do appreciate it if you try to speak their language. Some of the basics you should learn are hello, goodbye, please and thank you. A recent Facebook sign shows French restaurateurs informing patrons that a cup of coffee is cheaper if they begin their order by saying hello, “bonjour” and please “s’il vous plaît.” It’s important to know that French shopkeepers expect everyone to say hello when they walk into a store.
Don’t follow Sadie’s lead and show up in France without some basics, like in this excerpt from Paris Runaway:
“I’m in Paris searching for my daughter who ran away.”  The words stuck in my throat and melted away in the empty hotel room.
I wished I’d had time to practice those lines in French.
I hope you’ll take a trip to Paris in my novel, Paris Runaway. Then afterward, maybe you’ll be inspired to try some actual travel too.

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Please leave your name and blog address in Mr. Linky below, and leave a comment letting me know what  you think about my love affair with France, or your own love affair. And consider visiting the blogs of others who play along so we can all share the love.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Readers Workouts -- Long-Distance Running

Readers’ Workouts is the weekly event by Joy's Book Blog where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges
Fourteen years ago, I joined a marathon training group.
I was running six miles about three times a week, so I was ready to jump into a group and train to run the Columbus Marathon. That was a very active time for me with the kids ages 6, 8 and 10.
Then that September, I tore my ACL while rollerblading with my boys. I heard it snap, but didn't know what it was other than that I was in a lot of pain.
My husband was gone on a business trip, so what choice did I have but to get up and rollerblade home. The boys suggested that they could get the wagon and pull me up, but I know getting in and out of the wagon would be more difficult than relying on the one good leg to skate home. I had surgery and weeks of physical therapy.
I didn't run the marathon that year, but the following year, I joined the group again and made it through the 26.2-mile race.

Since then, I've met with running friends most weekends to run -- our long runs, we used to call them. We've seen each other through a lot -- marriage issues, cancer, rebellious teenagers, depression. Sometimes our runs are more like therapy sessions.
One friend, and the main motivator of our group, moved away. Our runs have gotten shorter and less often.
This weekend, after a 5-mile run, we decided to commit to long runs again.
I miss the feeling of the salt tightening on my face after I've run for miles and then I stand in the shower washing it all away and feeling my muscles relax in the hot water.
So our goal is to run 10 miles on the weekends again. We're starting with a marathon training schedule, even though we don't plan to run a marathon. In about 7 weeks, we should be running 10 miles and enjoying our time together on the running trail.
Is there an exercise you miss?

Tuesday Intros -- Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes


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 took a photo of the book cover
because the cover on Amazon is
very different, but this one has a shiny
cover on it, which doesn't photograph well.
I picked up this book because I heard the author on the radio. I don't think she was even talking about her fiction, but I'm starting the novel Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulin.

In the end it was Harry's fault.
Harry Goodman  had promised to help Professor Hughes around the house that Friday. He'd also promised the Friday before and the Friday before that, too.
But it was New England and baseball season and 2004. The Sox were moving toward a ninety-eight, sixty-four record that spring and five months later, that October, they'd sweep the Cardinals to win their first Series in eighty-six years. 
I'm curious about what was Harry's fault, but I'm put off by all the numbers in the baseball paragraph. Hope I like it.