Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dreaming of France - The Loire

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.
First, let me redirect you to Sim's blog Chapter1 Take 1 where she is featuring my novel I See London I See France if it were a movie. She let me pick the actors who would play the characters. That was such fun. I hope you'll visit and comment.
Sunday was a beautiful sunny day in Ohio, but it still wasn't France.
When Earl and Grace visited our friends in Nantes, they spent a sunny day on a cruise along the Loire River, near where it empties into the Atlantic.
Here are a few shots from that gorgeous outing.


These pictures just make me dream of France even more.

Dinner Party

This weekend ended up being busier than I expected because I spent a lot of time trying to help Spencer with his communication problems from faraway Florida.
Plus I drove around with Grace for two hours in the pouring rain, and we got no where since the rehearsal she thought she had was canceled.
And yesterday, I hosted a little dinner party. Once a month we've been trying to get the old homeschooling group together.
Many of us don't homeschool any more and some of us don't even have kids at home any more, but we still enjoy each other's company.  So we've been scheduling dinners each month. Usually they include husbands and occasionally even kids.
The drink in the foreground was the sorbet
and prosecco. The drink in the back looks
like Hawaiian punch, but is much stronger.
The party was at my house for March and we settled on the last Saturday of the month. I knew my husband had to work, so I made it a Moms only night.  I declared it a "Sex and the City" type night with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. I was inspired by listening each week to a radio program called "The Dinner Party Download."
Since the weather turned cold and the rain turned to freezing rain then snow, I also made a big pot of tomato soup.
I tried three appetizers and two cocktails.
One appetizer was definitely a bust. It was crab mixed with lime and mint then served on toasted bread rounds. Ick. I threw away most of those.
My favorite that I made was dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.
I also made mini quiches with asparagus tops and cherry tomatoes in them.
I searched for Sex and the City cocktails and ended up going for fruity drinks.
Both the drinks were yummy. I started with a raspberry sorbet mixed with pepper then scooped into a glass. I poured Prosecco over that.
The other one, which looked like Hawaiian punch, was orange vodka, plus pink grapefruit juice, plus ginger liqueur and strawberry syrup.
The best part of the night, of course, was sitting with my friends while we ate and drank. We caught up on everyone's life.
There might've been some complaints about children, but none of us were as desperate as the characters in Sex and the City get.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Communicating with Young Adult Children

I thought the hardest time communicating with my kids would be when they were little. Maybe they didn't know all the words yet. Maybe they could understand but not speak.
Communication has been hindered even as they grow up.
This morning, Grace texted me asking if we could talk today -- "face to face."
And luckily, we could. I teach in the evenings on Thursday, so I put aside my plans for the day. My writing, my grading, and drove the half hour to her college, picking her up between classes.
She climbed in the car and gave me a big hug.
We drove to Starbucks and I pulled out a legal tablet. I made three columns and put a heading for each one -- her choices for the summer -- an internship in Scotland that would be behind the scenes theater work; a full-time job at the college as front of the house manager of the theater; or a couple of part-time jobs that would allow her to act in a few musicals this summer.
She filled out her list of pros and cons for each possibility. In the end, it didn't matter which column had more pros and fewer cons; it came down to her heart.
Sensibly, she should take the theater job with a chance to make a lot of money and have a solid management credential on her resume. But her heart is in acting. She couldn't bear to give it up.
"Look, you have one more semester at school. There's no reason you have to make a lot of money this summer. That might not be true next summer. Next summer you'll have to be more responsible. Go with what you love." I told her.
I get to see these two more often and communicate in
person with them. But talking with an 18-year-old boy
is never easy. 
Hopefully, she'll make enough to cover her living expenses this summer and her books in the fall. Come December, she'll graduate and be in the real world. This summer she can act. She's starting with The Graduate in April, then has pretty solid promises of roles in Into The Woods and Legally Blonde. It's probably not the most responsible choice, but for most of our lives we have to make the responsible choice rather than doing what we love.
I'm so thankful that Grace is close enough that when she texted and asked me to meet her, I could. That hasn't always been the case since she started at a college 10 hours away.
The distance is one thing I'm negotiating with my youngest as he decides where to go to college. He liked Mizzou (University of Missouri) which is more than an 8-hour drive from home. But he has other choices 1 1/2 hours away and 3 hours away. I have to try to convince him that being within a short driving distance has its advantages. At 18, the far away colleges seem  to be full of promise and intrigue.
On our drive home from the college visit the other night, in the dark as we both stared straight ahead at the highway, I tapped Tucker on the leg and asked him to take off his headphones. Headphones are like armor to teenage boys -- they keep everyone away.
We started talking in the dark, battling at first until finally the walls came down and we told each other how we honestly felt about the colleges, about these last few days of high school. It felt like a reprieve and I could breathe a sigh of relief for a little while.
Which brings me to my other son, age 20, and attending college in Florida. That's a 16-hour drive away. Only a couple of hours on a plane, but the cost adds up for that. He's on spring break in Miami and called yesterday to say that he dropped his cell phone in the hot tub. It's not working now.
This is the hot tub Spencer dropped
his phone into. 
This is not a new phenomenon for my children. Grace dropped her phone in the Mediterranean Sea when she visited Europe.
Luckily, we have an upgrade available, so I can send him a new phone. He was due for one this summer anyway. Without a cell phone, I truly have no way to reach him. I'm hoping for no emergencies until I can get him another phone.
For now, he's perusing the phone choices on our cell phone carrier. I'm already dreading the time when he gets the phone and I have to walk him through activating it. He's my least technically inclined. He'd much rather clear trails in a forest than navigate a computer or cell phone.
So communicating with kids doesn't get that much easier as they grow up, and we try to figure out new ways to keep in touch.
I'm not complaining though. At least we're all still trying to relate to each other.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Terrific Review of My Novel

I can't help tooting my own horn and directing you all to take a look at Sim's review of my novel I See London I See France. She reviewed it on her blog Chapter 1 Take 1.
Here's an excerpt:
Perhaps because the main character, Caroline is so richly drawn, flaws and all, and because her story is so relatable, I See London, I See France really resonated with me, frequently bringing me to tears.
Tears? It's like an author's dream -- not that I want to make people cry, but I love the idea that people are moved by the characters I write.
The travel caught her imagination too:
Deftly preventing the tone from becoming too melancholy, the author packs the book with all the charms of travel, making me feel like I was on the trip too, my suitcase squeezed into a corner of the hotel room, ready to see the sights
Sim has asked me to write a post about who I envision starring in the movie of my book.
That is so much fun.
I'll let you all know when that post is up.

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Collector of Dying Breaths

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This week I'm starting a new book for France Book Tours. It's The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ
Rose. I've read another novel by her that I enjoyed. The attention to scent detail is amazing. This book is about the man who became the perfumer for Catherine de Medici and somehow becomes obsessed with bringing two people back to life. Hope it doesn't go too sci fi on me. The book comes out on April 8, but I received a preview copy from the publisher.
Here's the intro:
March 1, 1573, Barbizon, France.
Written for my son to read upon my death, from his father, René le Florentin, perfumer to Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother.
It is with irony now, forty years later, to think that if I had not been called a murderer on the most frightening night of my life, there might not be any perfume in Paris today. And that scent -- to which I gave my all and which gave me all the power and riches I could have hoped for -- is at the heart of why now it is I who call myself a murderer.
Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's a teaser from 45% on my Kindle:
"His time at court must come to an end," Henry said. "You are right. If the Protestants were to hear that my wife was engaged in black magic and spread rumors to that effect, it could be ruinous for her and for me." 
It looks like this book has a modern-day character from one of her previous books, Seduction, which I reviewed in May 2013. Check back on April 9 for my review of The Collector of Dying Breaths.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Le Weekend

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.
No, I haven't seen Le Weekend yet, but I want to. It won't be in Columbus until April. The description says a married couple return to Paris to add some pizzazz to their marriage. From the trailers I've seen, they're surprised that things feel very different because they have aged. They're a little more persnickety; the stairs seem much steeper (plus they're out of shape).
Then they run into an old friend, Jeff Goldblum, and he acts as a catalyst to changes.
Here's the trailer:
Have you seen it?
Are you going to? I'll be on the road much of Monday, but I hope to visit your blogs soon. I hope you'll visit each others blogs so you can get more of your France fix.

Spring Breaks

I am on the cusp of spring breaks for my kids. Grace's spring break is wrapping up while Spencer and Tucker are both beginning their spring breaks.
Grace's spring break has been fairly laid back. She went to a local Irish bar to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
She tried out for a spring production, The Graduate, and got the part of Elaine -- that's Mrs. Robinson's daughter for anyone who doesn't remember. And Benjamin falls in love with Elaine after having the affair with Mrs. Robinson. I think she'll do a great job.
We ate lots of yummy meals, like breakfasts of chocolate croissants or croissants, and goat cheese pasta, and we cracked open a bottle of dessert wine to go with some chocolate lava cakes. Yum.
We also did some babysitting for Grant, Earl's niece's son.
Look at the belly on that little guy! He's 14 months old and almost always in a good mood.
I love spending time with Grace and hate to see her going back to school, but I know that's what happens with kids grow up.
Spencer goes to college in Florida, so I could hardly hope for him to come back to cold Ohio. Instead, he went to Miami. He is staying at a friend's parents' condo on Miami Beach.
I texted him yesterday asking, "How is Miami?"
Here's the picture he responded with:
I haven't seen Spencer since January. I miss see him.
This morning, Tucker and I are leaving on a road trip. One more college visit before he has to decide.
Maybe -- but doubtful -- I'll get a picture of me and Tucker on our road trip. That boy avoids the camera. I tell him he'll regret it someday.
So we're driving 9 hours to Missouri. Hope he likes the campus. I'd love for him to fall in love with a college and be passionate about going there.
Here's a photo from his birthday.
Hope you all get a chance to relax and enjoy some decent weather this spring. At our destination, they're predicting snow.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- Baby Mitten

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online
I think this photo is a harbinger of spring.
A pink baby mitten hanging in a tree with the snow melting in the background. 
The trees are all still bare, but the sun is offering hope.
I hope spring is coming where you are, unless, of course, you're in the southern hemisphere!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Novel For a Bargain Price

Thursday through Saturday, my first novel, The Summer of France, is available for only 99 cents on Kindle.
If you haven't read it yet, I hope you'll buy it.
If you have, why haven't  you written a review for it on Amazon? Well, a lot of you have, so thank you.
Here's a description to tempt you:
Could a crackly phone call from France to Ohio save Fia Randolph’s jobless complications and family troubles? That’s what she hopes when her Uncle Martin asks Fia, her husband, and teenage twins to move to Provence and take over his bed and breakfast. She envisions long picturesque walks carrying crusty baguettes and bonding with the kids as they all learn French. But Fia didn’t bargain on the way Provence would tempt her teens and husband away from the family. Then Uncle Martin’s World War II secret wrenches her family further apart. Can Fia pull her family back together and help clear her uncle’s guilty conscience?
Thanks for your support. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FranceBookTours -- My Wish List

 This book combines two of my favorite dreams, France and winning the lottery.
Of course, the main character in  this book is not one of those people who always imagines what she would do if she won the lottery. She only plays because the women who work for her, in her little fabric notion shop, egg her on to play.
She buys the ticket and doesn't think about it again. The main character, Jocelyne, is 47 and lives in a small town in France. She knows her husband wants more out of life, more things, like a flat-screen TV and a Porsche, but Jocelyne is fairly content, even though her husband doesn't pay her a lot of attention. Overall, she judges her life to be just fine. She has grown children, a son and a daughter. Her relationship with her daughter is close; her son is more distant.
Jocelyne also writes a blog about sewing notions that is slowly growing in popularity, so popular that a local reporter interviews her for a story.
So what did I think about this book? It had lovely writing and real characters.
Here's Jocelyne's description of the twins who work in her sewing shop:
The twins are pretty. Of course, I know they exploit me to set off their small waists, long legs and clear, doelike, deliciously startled eyes. They smile at men lunching on their own or with their partners, they simper, they sometimes coo. Their bodies cast out messages, their sighs are bottles thrown into the sea and sometimes a man picks up one of those bottles and there's just time for a cup of coffee, a whispered promise, disillusionment -- men have so little imagination.
The situations seem real. The insight into the characters and what each of them would do is genuine. When Jocelyne wins the lottery, she has to go to Paris to collect her winnings and she tells no one. I wonder if it's true that in France a winner has to go through some counseling about how her life will change. I don't think that happens in the U.S. I wonder if it really does in France?
Jocelyne's life changes, of course. In some ways better, some ways worse, but I think she partially brings it on herself by hiding the fact that she wins.
With her lottery check in hand, Jocelyne visits Chanel in Paris and has an encounter with a saleswoman:
My gray coat is old, but incredibly comfortable, my flat shoes -- I chose them early this morning because my feet swell in the train -- my shapeless, well-worn bag... she smiles at me. Don't hesitate to ask me anything  you'd like to know. She moves away, discreetly elegant. 
I don't think workers at an expensive shop in the United States would be so kind to someone who appears out of their element. Think Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts' character had to bring back the rich man to get any service.
One thing about this book -- it's called a novel, but it is very short. I think novella might be a better description of it. I mention it only because I wouldn't want readers to be disappointed. A French woman told me that novels are shorter in France, but this seems much shorter than other French novels I've read. When I look at it on my Kindle, it tells me the reading time is one hour and 33 minutes. The file is about one-sixth the size of my first novel, which was 227 pages long.
Another thing that some readers seem sensitive to is Delacourt writing in first person as a woman and focusing a lot on how she looks. That's she written by a man, so it can seem sexist. That didn't really bother me.
The book is still well worth reading. I just feel cautions about the length are necessary. And I would have liked the book to continue.
I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did, because even for a short time, it whisked me away to a French lifestyle.
Synopsis provided by the publisher:
A cathartic, charmingly tender, assuredly irresistible novel, MY WISH LIST (Penguin; ISBN: 9780143124658; On-sale: March 25, 2014: $15.00) imagines one answer to the question: If you won the lottery, would you trade your life for the life of your dreams? With sales of more than half a million copies in France alone, rights sold in twenty-five countries, and a major motion picture in development, this slim yet spirited tale has sewn up the interest of the literary world.
Jocelyne Guerbette is a forty-seven year old who runs a modest fabric shop in a nondescript provincial French town. Her husband—instead of dreaming of her—wants nothing more in life than a flat-screen TV and the complete James Bond DVD box set. And to Jocelyne’s two grown-up children, who live far from home, she’s become nothing but an obligatory phone call. Perpetually wondering what has happened to all the dreams she had when she was younger, Jocelyne finally comes to terms with the series of ordinary defeats and small lies that seem to make up her life.
But then Jocelyne wins the lottery: $25,500,000! And suddenly she finds the world at her fingertips. But before cashing the check, before telling a soul, she starts making a list of all the things she could do with the money. While evaluating the small pleasures in life—her friendship with  the twins who manage the hairdresser next door, her holidays away, her sewing blog that’s gaining popularity—she begins to think that the everyday ordinary may not be so bad. Does she really want her life to change?
MY WISH LIST is an essential reminder of the often-overlooked joys of everyday life and a celebration of the daily rituals, serendipities, and small acts of love that make life quietly wonderful [provided by the publisher

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Little White Lies and Butterflies

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 started reading author Suzie Tullett's latest novel Little White Lies and Butterflies. It's on sale on Amazon
Kindle for 99 cents for two more days. The synopsis explains that Lydia, almost 30 and still single, realizes that women can't really have it all so she focused on finding the right guy rather than building a career. She decides her life needs a major shake up so she takes refuge on a Greek island and reinvents herself. She gets herself into trouble with a white lie about being a chef and finds herself catering a wedding in Greece.
"Well that's it!" I announced, having just landed at Mum and Dad's house for our customary Sunday lunch gathering. "My life as I know it is officially over!"
I paused, waiting for that all important condoling response. Daft enough to expect at least a modicum of sympathy from within the bosom of my family, I quickly realised I should've known better. The Linvingstons didn't do compassion. 
Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's a teaser from 21% on my Kindle:
I could tell by their excitable tone that they were, no doubt, all exchanging the latest in gossip and it wouldn't have surprised me if this included a conversation about the made, English woman.
"Have you heard about the basket case who's tried to pass herself off as a chef?" one of them was probably asking.
 I'm not too far into this one yet. What do you think?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Cats and Postcards

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.

Inspired by a couple of blogs that I read today, I'm posting pictures of postcards from France with cats. It's kind of a tradition for us, since about 1998 to send home postcards with pictures of cats that look like our cats.
I was reminded of that tradition today when Corey from Tongue in Cheek first talked about pictures on her refrigerator. Then I visited Virginia at Paris Through My Lens and she had a picture of cat lounging on the walk in front of a building with gorgeous green shutters. At Paris and Beyond, Genie had an fluffy orange cat sauntering along the sidewalk.  And then Anne in Oxfordshire writes frequently about her postcard collection. They all came together and I decided to write about some postcards from France with cats, and those postcards are currently stuck on my refrigerator.

Our last cat, the one we got when Grace was a 1-year-old, was totally black like this cat. When traveling in Paris with my friend Michelle, I sent this postcard home to Earl and the kids. I joked that they had left the door open so Buddy had escaped and traveled to Paris.
The next time Earl and I traveled to France, we went to Provence and sent this postcard home to the kids. Again, a black cat that was anxious to get from Ohio to France. 
We never seem to have any trouble finding postcards of cats in different French locations.
 
When Grace traveled to France, she sent home a postcard with cats too.
Does your family have a France tradition?

Spring Break

My spring break from one job is coming to an end, but Grace's spring break begins today.
I picked her up at 8:30 a.m., after a run with my friend Noreen, and we drove through Starbucks for coffee. Then I baked the kouign amann that I had set out last night to rise. We settled on the couch to drink coffee, eat kouign amann and watch House Hunters International in France and Switzerland. We  yelled at the Americans who complained about not having American-sized refrigerators.
I love having Grace home.

I've stocked up on supplies of chocolate and wine, plus asparagus and goat cheese. I hope to really enjoy the week with her.
May all of you experience something as delightful as a daughter returning home for the week.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Winner of Amazon Gift Card

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the $50 Amazon gift card.
The winner was Pam, who isn't on Facebook, but who emailed me with her book receipt.

Congrats, Pam.
Hope you buy lots of good books to read.
In a few weeks, I'll have an Amazon giveaway for everyone who has written a 4- or 5-star review about my novel I See London I See France on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Wait, you may say. What about Goodreads? Just copy and paste your review from Goodreads onto Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Thanks to everyone for their support.

Friday, March 14, 2014

$50 Amazon Giveaway -- One Day Only

Buy my novel I See London I See France on Amazon ($4.99) by noon on Saturday and share it on Facebook, tagging me, Paulita Kincer,(Writer) and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card. The contest runs from now until noon on Saturday, March 15 (Eastern Standard Time). Enter now!


Contest details: Buy my novel in Kindle or paperback form from Amazon (or Barnes & Noble). After you check out, Amazon offers the opportunity to share your purchase on Facebook or Twitter. Share, tagging my author page, Paulita Kincer(writer). 
If you don’t/can’t post on Facebook, take a screenshot of your receipt and send me an email at paulita at paulitakincer dot com. The odds of winning depend on how many people participate. If you’re the only one who plays, you’re the winner of the Amazon gift card. If two people play, your odds are 50/50. If 100 people play, your odds are 1/100.  I’ll enter all the names in a random name selector and select the winner at random on Saturday, March 15.


In a few weeks, I’ll do another giveaway for everyone who posts a 4- or 5-star review on my novel on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so if you don’t win this time, you’ll have another chance. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lenten Promises

A lot of people give up things for Lent.
It used to be that people gave up a lot during Lent. They ate no meat during all of Lent -- now we narrow it down to not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. They ate pancakes on Fat Tuesday -- Mardi Gras -- to use up the sugar, eggs and milk that they were supposed to not indulge in during Lent.
A lot of times now, people give up chocolate or alcohol. People use it as a time to diet before summer rather than a time to do without so they can think of Jesus when they are tempted to indulge.
When my kids were younger, I started encouraging them to do something extra rather than to give up something. Maybe they would decide to be nicer to their siblings or to do a good deed every day. Tucker made this promise one year and whenever we went places, he would run ahead and hold the door open. Then he'd proclaim his good deed was finished for the day.
I'm not very good at giving things up. Whatever I give up, I obsess about. It's all I can think about.
So I was contemplating what I could do during Lent. I could give up TV, with exceptions, like March Madness basketball and The Amazing Race.
Finally, it hit me.
One of the most spiritual things I do is run. When I go out in the early morning, I look up for the moon and the stars. I'm so happy that I've started to hear the birds sing in the spring.
I decided I would try to run 40 days during Lent. Lent is 47 days long and I didn't run on Ash Wednesday, so that gives me only six days to skip runs.
So Wednesday morning, even as the rain fell and the thermometer dipped, I slogged through some puddles to finish my run number six.
I'm not sure that I'll make it to 40 runs, but I try to add spirituality to each outing. I spend some time contemplating what I'm grateful for -- good shoes, strong legs, smooth roads, safe neighborhoods. I try to stretch my thankfulness out to the world.
And I'm always grateful when I return home to put my run away, to check that off my list.
Maybe my run wouldn't seem spiritual to everyone, but for this year, it's as close as I'm going to get.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bachelor Irony

I've watched The Bachelor, a show on ABC, for four or five seasons now, and I was excited when Juan Pablo was chosen as the latest bachelor. Why? Cause he was hot. He had an animal magnetism that became apparent even when he was shown speaking on camera less than any other guy on the Bachelorette. His accent -- he was raised in Venzuela -- limited his on-camera time.
So, like millions of women around the country, I was sold on Juan Pablo simply because of his looks, his smile, the light in his eyes.

At the beginning of the season, with 27 girls and one bachelor, the activities and the interactions were interesting, wondering who would stand out, who would get cut. None of the women were especially onerous this season -- no one to hate. Sometimes the women got a little snarky, but overall they were well behaved.
And Juan Pablo seemed pretty straightforward. When one of the girls got drunk and made a fool of herself, he sent her home the next morning, explaining that as a father, he couldn't bring someone unstable into his household.
I thought Juan Pablo was fairly honest with the women. In the beginning, I may not have noticed that he didn't have a lot of intelligent conversation because he was busy listening to the women's stories. He definitely had chemistry with some of them.
For the first time since I've been watching, it became obvious fairly early in that he slept with one of the women during a romp in the ocean. He later regretted that and told the woman he regretted it. That was pretty selfish on his part. Nothing either of them could do about it afterward.
During the season finale Monday evening, I read a book while Juan Pablo had his final dates with two beautiful blonde women. The words, the women, the families...it just didn't catch my attention.
Juan Pablo, a Latin man with expected sexist tendencies, had shown himself to be fairly shallow. The conversation shown between him and the women consisted of him telling the women how pretty or sexy they were. Things didn't seem to go much deeper.
And now, there's an outcry that Juan Pablo was in it for the fame, for the sex. Stories abound on the web. Here's one from CNN. Juan Pable didn't tell the woman he picked that he loved her, only "liked her a lot." Truthfully, how many people, dating only one other person, can know in 10 weeks whether they love someone.
Here's a picture from Conde Nast showing Juan Pablo with his top choice Nikki.
The irony to me is that people are angry that Juan Pablo was superficial, when they picked Juan Pablo for superficial reasons -- simply because he was handsome.
We rooted for him to become the bachelor because he was beautiful then we're disappointed that he picked women who were beautiful.
We kinda got what we asked for.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First Paragraph, Teaser Tuesday -- Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This week I started a book for France Book Tours called Confessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki
Lesage. It's a story about Lesage's trip to France as a young 20-something and so far, it looks like partying was an important part of the trip. Here's the intro from Chapter 1:
I would like to say that when I first stepped off the plane and embarked on my new life in France, something memorable happened. Or something funny or amazing or romantic or at least worth writing about. Truth is, I don't remember. I take that to be a good thing. Considering all the mishaps I've had since moving here, "uneventful" nearly equals "good" in my book.
Looking back all these years later, I see myself as a hopeful, naive girl full of energy stepping off that plane. Tired of running into my ex-boyfriend seemingly everywhere around my midwestern American hometown, and having been unceremoniously freed from my IT job, this fearless 25-year-old was ready for a change. 
Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's a teaser from 19% on my Kindle as she explains a popular fondue restaurant in Paris:
I lied when I said I didn't know what I liked most about the place. Their gimmick is that you drink wine out of baby bottles and this is what stole my heart. It's a guaranteed hit with out-of-town guests, who wear out their camera batteries in various poses with the baby bottles. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Mont St. Michel

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 would love to be here today, enjoying a clear spring day.

Do you recognize it?
This is Mont St. Michel.
Have you visited? Have you done the walk across the sand when the tide is low? I think I'd like to try that someday.
I'm looking forward to see what you are dreaming of today.


The Theater

This morning, I feel slightly drugged from an overload of overscheduling and overemotion as I watched the end of my children's high school theater career.
I shouldn't be sad about the end. I should be thrilled that we got more high school theater time after Grace left. I never pictured Tucker throwing himself into theater productions.
He started off his sophomore year in the chorus of Oklahoma!
Combining theater with swim season is difficult.They practice three hours after school in the theater, then get to come home for about an hour before heading off to swim until 9.
But, Tucker's junior year, he accepted a role as the UPS guy in Legally Blonde. I thought that might give him the theater bug because he got so many accolades. He brought down the house every time he walked out in those UPS shorts and nodded toward the audience in his cool, nonchalant way.  Of course, he also had to wear a blonde wig in that production since he was bald from swim season. They usually shave their heads at the end of the season.
They announced the musical this year as Kiss Me Kate. Tucker didn't really have much interest in that. He'd never heard of it. He had to drop his vocal group class because it conflicted with his AP Stats class, so he wasn't singing regularly.
When auditions came around, he didn't go.
That's when the choir director started to pester him about trying out.
Tucker has never sung solo songs. Too self conscious? Too unsure of his voice?
He didn't think he wanted a big acting or singing part.
On the day of callbacks, that's when they bring in the students for specific parts, Tucker agreed to audition.
He sang "Hallelujah" and I like to think of him sitting on a stool with his hands strumming the chords of his guitar as his soft baritone voice sang the words.
Two days later, he told me he had the male lead -- Fred Graham.
The story of Kiss Me Kate is set in the late 1940s. Fred and Lily, an actress, are divorced and acting in the Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew. So it's a play within a play.
Tucker made it to States in swimming this year so his rehearsal time became sporadic. He caught the flu and missed a week of rehearsals.
He claimed he'd never be able to memorize all the lines, especially the Shakespeare lines.
And then the show opened and he amazed us. 
By last night, his voice cracked a couple of times, worn out by the fourth show, but he pulled off his role with aplomb.

At one point, one of the boys in the show told the woman in charge of wardrobe. "Tucker was really mad at me." She explained to him that Tucker was only acting because he was supposed to be mad in the scene.
Maybe he could pull it off.
Tucker wouldn't stand still for pictures, except this one of him and his swim friends.
I'm back at the high school today to strike the set and put away costumes. My last hurrah with the high school theater. 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Saturday Snapshots -- Babysitting

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
My week got very busy.
I started teaching three new classes in the evening; Tucker's high school musical opened and I've been helping with costumes for a couple of weeks; Suddenly, I had to babysit two days this week because my sister-in-law was struck down with the flu and ended up in the hospital.
My sister-in-law usually watches her three grandkids on Thursday and Friday. So I took a shift watching the three kids both days. Exhausting but exhilarating.
Caroline is 4. She's not allowed to eat wheat, so I introduced her to chocolate-covered raisins. We decided this was a healthy snack. You can see she is delighted.
Regan is 20 months old. She was supposed to be napping but had a dirty diaper and unfortunately decided to explore. She needed a bath before I could put her down for a nap again.
\
Grant is 14 months old. He stacked these cans up by himself very meticulously. When I looked up childhood milestones, I saw that babies should be able to stack 2 to 3 blocks at the age of 18 months. He has six cans stacked up here. I guess he'll be an engineer or an architect.
Hope you all had a good week.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Reviews

As a writer, I've kind of girded myself for tough reviews. I peer at them with my eyes squinted shut as if it can save me from the pain of hurtful words.
And nice reviews make me feel happy, but the reviews for I See London I See France, my latest novel,
thrill me because I feel like my writing might actually be making a difference. People are connecting with my character and the feelings of the character.
This review on Suko's Notebook almost brought me to tears.
The main character shares her private thoughts about sex and ruminations about romance in a way that's bound to resonate with many women, and I appreciated her candor....Caroline realizes that she must tend to her own needs as well as those of her children, and that it's up to her to discover a passion, her passion, outside of her children, which will bring her personal fulfillment and happiness.  I read this book quickly--not because I was on a deadline to post my review, but because I was eager to know how things turned out for Caroline.  I cared about this character.  Although she's not perfect, she loves her children, fiercely, and she does think about what's best for them.  Caroline seemed like someone I'd want to be friends with in real life.  Paulita Kincer's writing brought Caroline and her story to life.
Here I am with my three kids in France.
And, I thought, yes. That's exactly what I want people to understand, not just about the character, but about mothers raising children.

I also really enjoyed the review on I Am Indeed.
I think I enjoyed this story mainly because I wanted to have the courage that Caroline showed: chucking it all in and heading to Europe to just travel  and escape the reality of a situation at home that feels untenable. ...While I often wondered at just how she managed to pack kids and head off to Europe with a loosely defined itinerary, I also was able to see that perhaps Caroline was much more passive in her life, waiting for decisions to be made for her, instead of making those choices. During her trek, she had the opportunity, and took the chance to confront that more passive approach to life, allowing herself to be subjugated and last in the equation.  While not always comfortable, her growth and willingness to take accountability for the situation she is in, as well as the steps needed to make a change that will decide the next decade of her life was the perfect climax point for her story, and made the ending all that more satisfying. 

I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing nice things about my characters or my writing.
How can you top a line like this from the review on Mommasez?
Kincer writes Caroline’s tale of mid-life crisis with a light-handed realism that will make many women think that Kincer has read their diaries. 
I mean, does it get any better than that? I can definitely see that on a book jacket.

And on the blog Making My Mark, the author writes:

As the story progressed so did Caroline. She started off beaten and slowly but surely she came into her own. The evolution of Caroline as a woman is fascinating and inspiring. But can she discover what she was looking for? I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say, read the book to find out. Who knows, you may learn something about yourself.
Maybe this second  novel is better than my first was. Maybe it has simply found a more fitting niche of readers. Either way, I'm finding reviews much more enjoyable this time around.
Most of these reviews have ebook or paperback giveaways if you want to click on them and get a chance to win a copy of my new novel. Hope you all love it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- My Wish List


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'll be reviewing this book for FranceBookTours on March 19. I've already finished My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt, but wanted to share the intro with you.
We're always telling ourselves lies.
For instance, I know I'm not pretty. I don't have blue eyes, the kind in which men gaze at their own reflection, eyes in which they want to drown so that I'll dive in to rescue them. I don't have the figure of a model,  I'm more the cuddly sort -- well...plump. The sort who takes up a seat and a half. A man of medium height won't be able to get his arms all the way around me. I don't move with the grace of a woman to whom men whisper sweet nothings, punctuated by sights...no, not me. I get brief forthright comments. The bare bones of desire, nothing to embellish them, no comfortable padding. 
Delacourt, of course, wrote this little novel in French and it was translated into English by Anthea Bell. I love the cover too. The tag line at the bottom asks: "If you won the lottery would you trade your life for the life of your dreams?" Jocelyne runs a shop full of sewing notions. She has a husband and two grown children until one day she plays the lottery.

Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's a teaser from 16%:
I haven't gone dancing since that thirteenth birthday of mine, when I danced to "Indian Summer" with my budding breasts.
 Hope your reading something you love.

Monday, March 03, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

My author friend Suzie Tullett invited me to take part in the "My Writing Process Blog Tour." It's a way to help others learn about authors' blogs.
So thanks to Suzie for inviting me. Go to Suzie's website to learn more about her women's fiction novel Little White Lies and Butterflies and Going Underground
Here are the questions I need to answer for the blog tour:
Question 1: What am I working on?
I'm working on two things, revising my novel Trail Mix, about two women who decide hiking the Appalachian Trail is the ultimate diet plan. They're really grappling with where they fit in their lives now that their children have gone off to college and are finding new trouble. They have to figure out if their marriages still work and who they are when they aren't mothers.
I'm also writing a new novel Paris Runaway. This book is about Sadie, a divorced mother, who learns that her daughter, a 17-year-old high school junior, has run away to Paris after the French exchange student. Sadie travels to Paris to bring her daughter home, but she has a lot of lessons to learn about trust and love before she can safely corral her daughter. 

Question 2: How does my work differ from other of its genre? 
I like to think every author has a unique voice that differentiates it from others in the same genre. I definitely write like a woman, worried about feelings and family first, and I've lived many of the fears that the women in my novels face. I hope the my novels include strings of gems, words that the reader can connect to and relate to. That's what makes a good novel to me. 

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
I write about things that are important to me, things that make me catch my breath. The idea of a 17-year-old running away, taking a flight across the ocean, getting mixed up with a questionable crowd all the way across the ocean... that makes my heart start pumping. But the idea that this unhappy mother can go in search of her daughter and find all the beauty that France has to offer, that makes me smile. 

Question 4: How does my writing process work?
Usually, I just write by the seat of my pants. I get an idea for a plot and I just wander around with my words until it comes together in a novel. Then I edit, edit, edit.
This time though, I have an outline that reminds me where my characters are supposed to be going, so I'm hoping it's a smoother process. 
Thanks again, Suzie for asking me to participate.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Tucker in France

In honor of Tucker's birthday, here are a couple of pictures of him in France when he was just a tike.
We visited France when Tucker was two years old. Here he is on a hippo statue that was, I think, in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.
Tucker was adorable at two, but, like most two year olds, a little volatile.
On our  next trip to France, Tucker was 10. He was funny and curious. Nearly every picture that we took, he was trying to give someone rabbit ears -- usually Earl. Here they are in front of the pyramid at The Louvre.
Tucker went back to France last year for his school trip. That time, he was only with his friends. My favorite picture of him is the one taken by his teacher. They took a French cooking class and wore chef's hats. Funny that he is cutting up mushrooms; he does not eat mushrooms. I'm so glad Tucker had this opportunity.  I hope he goes back to France many more times. 
I  look forward to what you are sharing today.

Tucker turns 18

My youngest child, Tucker, turns 18 today. 
Even though he is a third child, he has always loved me most ferociously. When I took him to have his  1-year-old portrait, he refused to pose alone. Instead, he his behind me and peaked out from behind. That became the portrait that we chose. 
Throughout his childhood, he has been a Mama's boy. He always wanted me. And I was fine with that.
Here we are by the pool in St. Petersburg. 
 And this one was a group photo, but Tucker needed to hang on to his mom. I was so used to those little hands around my neck. 
Of course, in the past few years, his adoration of me has faded. He's fighting hard to be an independent adult. That means, sometimes, he isn't so fond of me. He definitely pushes me away. 
There are ongoing skirmishes behind the scenes here, and sometimes he breaks my heart, but I know we're both going to get through it. Someday soon, maybe he'll do more than give me the top of his dark hair to kiss when he comes through the door by his midnight curfew. 
For today, the most I can do is hope he has a happy birthday. The future will take care of itself. 

France BookTours -- That Spring in Paris

I can't imagine running to Paris for an emergency instead of for sheer pleasure, but that's what happens in That Spring in Paris b...