Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Playtime in France

Please join 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.
Labor Day weekend, when many of us have an extra day off work, is a perfect time to think about playing, but in France, they play very differently than we do. I'm talking about boules, of course, known as petanque in the south of France. I can't think of a sport in the United States that happens in the center of town and that people can join when they show up. Maybe the tradition of playing boules is similar to joining a game of pool  or darts in a bar or finding a game chess at one of those big New York City parks. Still, it's intriguing to think of people coming together, whether friends or strangers, each day to play a minimally athletic game.
My husband snapped some pictures of a game last time he was in Paris.
Do they have to stand in the circle when they throw?
Here's a close up of one of the balls in the dusty court. 
And here's a shot of the whole field or court, or whatever they call it. Lots of action going on here.
Have you ever played boules? I don't see many women playing it.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France today. I hope you'll visit each others blogs to see other moments in France.
I'll try to be more active on my blog this week. I have so many posts I think about writing but just haven't sat down to do it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Publishing Snafus

Update: If you read this post on Friday or after, you can see the tizzy that I had worked myself into. I had very little sleep that day, waking up at 2:30 a.m. and staying up until midnight to try to make the necessary changes. At 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was finally able to update my novel Trail Mix. It isn't perfect yet because the proofreader hasn't finished, so I'll be making more changes. I hate to have a release without a polished product, but soon it should be where I need it.
Thanks to everyone for your support. Where would I be without you?

So it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm awake in the dark staring at a blinding computer screen.
I've made a publishing mistake and I can feel it gnawing at my stomach. Rookie mistake, I know, but with my third novel coming out, can I really consider myself a rookie. From all the evidence, yes.
I fell for Amazon's pre-order pitch and I put my unformatted novel in place of the one that I was correcting. I knew I could go back and add the perfectly edited, perfectly formatted novel to Amazon, so that the readers who pre-ordered, would get the book I wanted them to have.
That's when trouble began.
My editor, who I love, is dealing with health issues. The date she would have changes to me kept getting pushed back. Yesterday was  my final edit day, and  my proofread novel did not arrive.
So when my eyes popped open at 2:30 a.m. and I tried to go back to sleep, I knew I'd have to get up to see what I could salvage.
I went to Amazon to change the release date for my new novel, and saw, to my horror, that no more changes could be made to the book until it was released.
I've paced the floor back and forth, the wood boards squeaking underneath my bare feet. I've pulled my tangled hair back into a pony tail, holding it with my fist before I release it -- that's as close as I come to pulling my hair out -- I've sat in front of the bright screen and wondered how to make this better.
The only place I publicized my pre-order novel was on my blog, so maybe some of you ordered it. If you did, don't open whatever is delivered to you on Saturday at 12:01 a.m.
I promise a much improved, slicker product will arrive by Monday.
I just feel like I'm letting people down, people who enjoy my novels, and, yes, there are some!
I have a long day ahead of me, teaching at 8 a.m, driving one of my college boys back to school after his doctor appointment and getting him there in time for his 3 p.m. Italian class. Then the 90-minute drive back home alone, where I beat myself up about my mistakes.
And tomorrow night at 12:01 a.m., I'll be in front of the computer again, ready to pull the book off Amazon so that I can replace it with the polished novel that readers deserve
Thanks for listening to my middle of the night rant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Paragraph -- The Church of Tango

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 am reading The Church of Tango by Cherie Magnus for France Book Tours. I'll post a review of this memoir in October. Here's the intro:
It was February, 1992, when I stood in my raincoat with my two suitcases in front of a locked courtyard gate in the 9th arrondissement. The airport taxi vanished, leaving me alone on the deserted street. The digicode I had brought from Los Angeles didn't unlock the big double doors of the eighteenth-century apartment building. What am I doing here? I wondered in a moment of panic. Am I completely crazy after a year of widowhood.
 What do you think?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Magic in the Moonlight

Please join 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.
I knew that Woody Allen had a new movie coming out, but I had no idea that it was set in the south of France until my friend Greg texted and told me that I should see Magic in the Moonlight.
I'm not a big Woody Allen fan, but I loved Midnight in Paris. I figured that, like me, Allen might have fallen in love with France. Maybe the culture helped him to relax a little and make his movies less neurotic.
Magic in the Moonlight is a far cry from some of Allen's insular New York movies with hysterical characters that obsess about small details. So maybe living in France has mellowed Allen.
The movie stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone -- two actors whose work I really enjoy. Firth plays Stanley Crawford, a famous magician. He travels to the south of France with a magician friend who requests his help unmasking a spiritualist. I think this part of the movie must have been based on Harry Houdini, who was a magician and who fought with spiritualists; spiritualists are people who claim to be able to speak to the dead.
Emma Stone plays the spiritualist character, Sophie Baker, a young woman from Kalamazoo, Michigan, traveling Europe with her mother, reading people's vibrations and talking to the dead. She is staying with a wealthy family from Pittsburgh, and the heir has fallen in love with her. Stanley's job is to unmask Sophie and break the spell.
As you can imagine, Stanley is a man committed to logic who doesn't believe in a spiritual life at all, and he becomes intrigued with Sophie's ability.
This film moved a little slowly. It didn't sweep me away the way Midnight in Paris did. I never forgot that I saw in the cinema with greasy buttered popcorn on the tips of my fingers.
The scenes set along the Cote d'Azur were lovely; the water sparkled more than Sophie's engagement ring.  Stanley's aunt lived in Provence, so the movie ventured there a few times. Although not much of Provence was visible, the feeling of Provence permeated. The light in the film helps remind you why artists like Van Gogh travel there to paint.
I don't regret seeing the movie, although it dragged a bit. I love France enough that I'll take any little gulps of it I can get.
But if you can only see one movie set in France this fall, I'd go with The Hundred Foot Journey.