Monday, October 29, 2012


I loved this shot of a couple waiting for the bus in Paris. 
And while much of the Eastern United States is awaiting Hurricane Sandy,
I wanted to wish a safe and smooth passage through her wake
to all those who are, and will be affected. 
Thinking of you and sending good wishes your way.
We're watching and hoping for the best.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daydream of Paris~

paris paris paris

Sometimes when I can't be there, I picture myself rolling out of bed in Paris, throwing on something do-able and walking down to the open-air market under the metro for a tiny quiche Lorraine, some fresh lettuce and scallion for a salad, a small column of chevre to slice and dot my green salad and a freshly-creamed, golden stick of salted butter to spread on chunks of pain complet. I know, I know, the French never put butter on their bread when there is so much cheese to be had... but I do. Then I search out the perfect little fruit tart to follow my delightful afternoon lunch. I imagine leaving the dishes in the sink while I curl up on the blue couch with a cup of herbal tisane and a book on the history and back streets of Paris or a riveting historical fiction by a must-read author that I've been waiting to delve into. I fall asleep staring at the Blue Mosaic print on the wall behind me and dream of piecing together artworks in Pompeii. And when I wake up, it's off to the Marmottan for the world's largest collection of Monets, followed by a walk along the Seine to a cafe within viewing distance of Notre Dame for a spell of writing, pen in one hand, and coffee, then kir, in the other and arriving just in time at the American Library in Paris to hear an author of French novels talk about their writing process. Where to go for dinner is an entirely different daydream meant for another day, dream and post. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your First Novel~Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

I am on the Oregon Coast this week at my twice yearly writing retreat (Colonyhouse) and ecstatic to tell you that I have finally finished the last chapter of the first draft of my novel. So my pick this Teaser Tuesday is a book I brought with me called Your First Novel: a published author and a top agent share the keys to achieving your dream by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb (and I'm sorry to say I cannot seem to copy the book to share the cover with you.)  Ann Rittenberg is president of her literary agency by the same name and Laura Whitcomb is the author of  another writing book, Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques That Ensure a Great First Draft and the novels A Certain Slant of Light and Fetch.

I loved this section (p. 69) partly because it includes an excerpt from Toni Morrison's Beloved:

     "Try to include exposition and back story in the most natural way you can. Sometimes you can sneak it into dialogue if your character is meeting someone new, but be careful you aren't forcing characters to say things they wouldn't say naturally..."
     "...Here's an example of back story revealed through dialogue from Toni Morrison's Beloved: Both the fact that Sethe, the second speaker in the example below, was scarred in a near fatal beating, and the fact that she is now able to talk about her life as a slave with such calm, show the reader a great deal about her past and who she has become. 

     'What tree on your back? Is something growing on your back? I don't see nothing growing on your back.'
     'It's there all the same.'
     'Who told you that?'
     'Whitegirl. That's what she called it. I've never seen it and never will. But that's what she said it looked like. A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know.'"

I'm off to read more from the book since I will spend the rest of my week delving into ways to work my 2nd draft. What an adventure this book-writing process.  Hope you're all having a spectacular week ! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Medieval Marais~ Missing Paris Day

Some of you know that I have a deep love and draw to all things Medieval.
These are some of my favorites in Paris. 

For years we had been walking a particular path to nearby metro stops
missing these gems along our way.

And then one day we decided to try one of the packs of 
Paris City Walks cards
someone left for us 
and found these just around the corner from our usual route. 

Oh the joys of straying from the usual path! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Les Huitres de France

While fall and winter are not my favorite times of the year,
the cooler weather does bring out certain booths of interest.

In our neighborhood in Paris, we frequently find oyster stands
complete with wave (noise) machines. 
Some even include the sound of seagulls in the background
for the full effect of transporting you to a Normandy beach from your spot
on the Paris sidewalk. 

I'm also not a fan of raw oysters 
(I like them one way--on the grill in the half shell smothered with garlic butter, 
a dash of horseradish and hot pepper seasoning)
but I do love how an officianado of oysters can taste the difference in regions. 
They are all named for their different locations of origin
and some can actually describe the precise differences between them. 
A friend said to me recently,
"But with all that stuff on it, you can't taste the oyster."
"Exactly!" was my response. 

Hope you are finding, and enjoying, the best things 
you love about the change in seasons! 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)