August 11, 2019
an author’s life
Since my last post my life has been busy participating in my first Sizzle Party sponsored by my publisher Blushing Books where authors take over one of their Facebook pages for half hour slots and talk about their book, play games that provide prizes and have fun. My first time out went well, giving away a free copy of Awakening, and giving a reader the ability to name a character in one of my WIP books to be done after my trilogy is completed. The reader named a secondary character in Four Lovers & A Funeral which I will enjoy writing while I am in France next year. I am about to send the second book in the Choices trilogy to my publisher, and feel good about how Damon and Elizabeth begin to evolve from their extremes and come closer to meeting in the middle. Be sure to subscribe to receive updates in real time as their journey and the book evolves.
The title of this post is a clue in my musings about how I believe my website should evolve. I would like to collapse The Gathering Place and my Travelogue into one chronological feed called An Author’s Life as I believe that is what this blog is all about. Your comments are always appreciated.
My weekend began with breakfast in my hood with one of my best friends. Love the retro diner that has both inside and an outdoor space which is always busy in the summer. The owners have been there forever and when I went on our holiday on August 1st, the son and some long time employees were there with smiles and the usual fantastic service and food. They have wifi and never chase me out when I come to write. My only wish is that Toronto would, like France, allow Nanou to be with me.
Toronto Fashion Week is just around the corner. I will have to be more aware of my and Nanou’s wardrobe as the streets, cafes and restaurants in the village are filled with designers, celebrities, media, and tourists. A couple of years ago I was captured, unintentionally, by tourists and media wearing a large white hat, top and pants, huge round sun glasses, and a white scarf that the wind had wrapped across my lower face.
Live your best life, and believe that the best is yet to come.
Thank you for stopping by.
August 6, 2019
hot hands for hire
“One evening Tammy was studying while Clay was busy fixing her oven, one of the things on his promised Christmas list. She remembered the first time she’d seen him when her friend called Hot Hands for Hire when she tried unsuccessfully to fix her faucet. Tonight he’d stripped off his sweater and was leaning over the oven he’d pulled out from the wall cabinet. His muscles glistened with sweat, and Tammy thought he was the sexiest guy around, and couldn’t believe he was with her. She tried to concentrate on her class notes, but gave up and walked behind Clay, putting her arms around his waist and hugging him.
He dropped his tools and turned around. “Hey, Sugar. If you distract me, I’ll never get this old oven workin’.”
“I’ve lived without the oven forever. I’d rather have you, Cowboy.” He laughed and picked her up in his arms, headed for the bedroom.”
August 4, 2019
hump day on the long weekend
The streets were empty yesterday morning when I walked Nanou before driving through downtown and west on the freeway. One doesn’t usually sail along the downtown routes, but I imagine 6:30 am was early for those who did not leave after work Friday on their way to cottage country or other destinations. The Carabana Festival was beginning as I wound my way home a few hours later.
My days are filled with editing and rewriting book two For Pleasure & Pain in my Choices trilogy. Expect more on Damon as he struggles with his emotions; what Elizabeth feels each time her limit is pushed; more of Simone’s backstory; Melody’s character and how she brings humour into the book; and Reflections of one’s Choices at the book’s end. Join me for their journeys, The Best Is Yet to Come.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time,
Hold Close Those Close To You In These Challenging Times.
And Remember – Happily Ever After is for Everyone.
July 25, 2019
excerpts from an interview with my publisher, blushing books
awakening, now available on amazon!
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I took my first creative writing class. I learned that I enjoyed telling stories as much as I did reading them.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Observation, articles, news and research. Historical and present day people. How they overcome adversity, make choices, and find their way to what is right for them.
If you could travel to any time, what time period would you like to explore?
18th century, France, pre-revolution. The lives of women; how they managed to find their voice, their love, and their happiness.
Tell us about your most adventurous experience.
Being accepted into the BDSM community. Gaining an understanding of what it meant to be a Dom, a sub, and a Switch. To understand the arrangements and relationships, the Pleasure/Pain principle, and be able to convey the emotions and feelings to my readers.
What was the hardest part about writing Awakening?
Pushing myself to, as Hemingway says, write until it hurts.
How much research do you typically do on a novel?
I’m a stickler for detail; so probably more than I need to do. I write on my iPad, but have notebooks filled with details about the time period, the place, the characters, their back stories and professions. For instance, I interviewed x-Mossads to understand the nature of being a body guard with that background.
How do you want your readers to feel while reading your novel?
To develop an understanding of aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, and how/why the lead character, Elizabeth, is drawn to it. To feel desire, lust, craving more. Curious to explore beyond vanilla sex. Comfortable with the reality that there are a myriad lifestyles.
Where to from here; what’s next on writing adventures?
I am continuing with the Choices trilogy with books two and three coming out in August and September. Once that series is completed, I will be concentrating on romance stories that take place in France.
Thanks for stopping by. The best is yet to come! 🙂
July 22, 2019
the waiting is almost over
And The Suspense Begins.
July 25th it will happen. This writer will become a published author. Kind of exciting and really scary! Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound?
This week I have tried with limited success to get my mind around the technical aspects (my to do’s) in the traditional publishing world, and forging ahead on editing and writing ‘til it hurts in book two. I sometimes feel like the newbie in my novel, competent in what she knows, but unsure and anxious in this new world. She wants so much to be part of the hero’s life, and I want so much to be part of this industry. Will each of us have to be satisfied with only an arrangement, or will we gain a greater commitment over time? Readers, rightly so, remain the final judge. So fingers crossed and candles lit, the launch will go well.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m anxious, I feel the urge to purge, or clean, or tidy. This week, I have reduced my binders containing all you would want to know but were afraid to ask about interior decoration and design. Those courses and certificates earned when I wanted to do something creative, but hadn’t found the nerve to jump off the cliff and write. I have gained almost three feet in my bookshelf (perhaps for my books) and recycled at least one tree of paper, I will never look at again. And it’s all online, right! If I want to know how many feet there needs to be around my infrequently used dining room table—google has the answer!
Yesterday and last night I managed to edit and rewrite several chapters, my eyes giving up at 2:00 a.m. Blackout drapes are wonderful, and after dreaming about sorting through books that I could not bear to part with, I woke up with a start to see the clock on my phone say 9:30!! Nanou had cooperated (read no mess), and we hurried out to the park for her morning break, and back for coffee to begin what was left of the day.
Nanou and I are burning the midnight oil writing until there is nothing left to say.
Have a wonderful week, and happy reading.
July 13, 2019
The home stretch
It’s the beginning of a perfect weekend, my weekly breakfast with a friend and later attending a book club member’s 92nd birthday. Both are joyous occasions to be held close and remembered.
This week saw me finalizing my to do’s on my publisher’s list before my book’s release date. Lots of late nights with everyone being supportive of my newbie questions. The promos are done, and I will ask on Monday when I can share the Cover and Coming Soon promos and the final when the book is released. Stay tuned for more in the coming week.
I haven’t solved my small brain digital challenges for my book’s Sizzle Party on August 7th at 11:00 am ET where I will have a half hour to interact with those who join the Blushing Book Sizzle Party. I’ve written the questions, the game, the excerpts from the book that will be posted; now I just have to figure out how to link those things according to the instructions. In my next life, I will be technically competent.
This week also saw me returning to book two in my series, making the easy changes found by my beta readers. It does take a village to raise an author and a book. Now I must dig deeper and “write until it hurts,” said Hemingway, to produce a sizzling second book.
My French continues with less of a struggle, and I look forward to practicing next year in southern France.
I hope the sun is shining on your weekend.
Until next time – A bientot
July 3, 2019
it’s hump day and i still feel like i’m climbing uphill
Remember the saying, Never ask for what you want, you may get it! I was reminded of that since I last posted.
My first French class came to an end, with me no doubt at the bottom of the class struggling to keep up and finish. The instructor and I spoke and she feels it would be good for me to move ahead (wonders never cease) to the next level, but take only one class a week so I have time to practice (still looking for the handsome Frenchman, who wants to learn English). So I have girded my loins and signed up for the next class which meets for three hours every Friday morning. I can now honestly say that sometimes French words come to me when I am trying to describe something in English! Does that mean that an English brain cell is being replaced by a French one? At my stage in life one hopes to conserve what one has.
You will notice that I have rewritten my Christmas story, What I Want For Christmas (perhaps wishing some of the coolness of winter would lighten the heat and the humidity?). My purpose was to have the romance take place in Nice, France and to offer my understanding of a French Christmas. Please click on my books, and let me know how you like the new version. I hope someday to be part of a French Christmas in Nice and share the traditions and celebrations with you.
My part of an Anthology is done except for the story blurb and tag line (two sentence sum up of the book), and to vote on the cover and the marketing plans. The book will be published on Amazon in August if all goes as planned, and has been an amazing collaboration among a group of authors, editors, marketers, cover designers all laughing on a thread in our closed Facebook group, and volunteering to bring the idea to fruition. As the newbie, I have never belonged to such a supportive group, and can’t wait to announce the release date. Hint: Do you know a sexy firefighter, or have ever drooled at a firefighters’ calendar? If so, this will be high on your wish list to read. If not, take this as an opportunity to expand your horizons.
I remember working long hours, doing things I was good at, but didn’t necessarily excite me. Now I work even more hours, and couldn’t be more excited! And those hours may be mornings (only with coffee), afternoons, evenings, or the middle of the night. My first traditionally published book passed the editorial board’s staff meeting and is set to be launched before the end of July. Stay tuned for an announcement, blurb, excerpt, and links to where it will be available. It truly does take a village to raise an author and a book: the team at the publisher, my beta readers, the selfless and brilliant individual who keeps my website going and turns my musings into life, my friends, and those who have been their to guide and share their experiences with me. My Bio is done for the book’s back cover and I am working on my Media/Press Kit to do’s. I never thought I would need one, and my first experience will be an online book release for authors of my publisher on their Facebook page. I’m scared to death, but will jump off that cliff as I have jumped off others, believing that I will fly. There will be an spot soon for Announcements and Press Releases on my website. Please sign up to get notifications. I promise I will never share your email or data.
I have the beginnings of nine story outlines, and am anxious once the three books n my trilogy are published to dive into them and bring them to life. All at once, there are not enough hours in the day, but there is always time for good friends. Send me a comment. I love to hearing from you and promise to respond.
June 14, 2019
bon weekend from me to you
Nanou is pawing at my leg, begging for attention. She had her first play date this morning with a well behaved puppy in my building. I was worried that being an only child and the only one in the litter two years ago, she would not do well (my bad for not socializing her when she was much younger). But all went well, and I promise a photo of the next play date.
French lessons are three steps forward and two steps back, as I inch forward in my goal. Oddly, I now find that when I am thinking, some French words and phrases come to mind before the English ones. Maybe the English brain cells are being replaced by the French? I find it hard to hear the French sounds accurately when the teacher speaks, so this week I ordered a portable CD player to play the class CDs as well as to cheque out children’s and adult books and French language CDs from my library. The head librarian laughed when I asked to be directed to the appropriate areas, asking in the children’s book section for the French equivalent of “See Spot Run.”
While I was at the library I picked up two books I had ordered: Eleanor of Acquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Kelly, and A History of Women by Genevieve Fraisse and Michelle Perrot. You may ask, “Where is this heading?” The simple answer is research into a modern day book on Eleanor and Henri (older woman and younger man), and the changes in the lives of women in France after the French Revolution.
The week has been a busy one with editing my anthology piece (potential release date in August) and book 2 of my trilogy. In addition, I have been working with my brilliant behind-the-scenes web designer and all around close friend to update my website and evolve it and my social media into what is truly Zoe. I am not allowed at this time to share, but I can tell you it brings together my writing and the things I love and am passionate about. So much so, in fact, that I now have outlines for ten more books to write within the theme. The best is just beginning.
Bon Week.End from Me to You.
A bientot (my next to do is to get a bilingual English and French keypad for my iPad 😊)
June 4, 2019
Some good news and some challenges: the first awkward steps in my french journey
Today I open my mind, energize my brain cells, focus my eyes and listen carefully to the words and phrases I repeat verbally and write over and over again.
Becoming afraid (but not discouraged), I decided to arrive at my last class early in order to learn how far we were expected to go in our instruction booklet (there are 9 dossiers ((neuf from my recent lesson)) and we are only on 0 !!). I knew it would be impossible to finish the booklet, unless we became much more intense, moving ahead at a faster clip — leaving me behind in the dust, struggling to find the words to say Wait, Slow Down. And how would we be judged to move on to the next class; a test (written—I will do better, or oral, not so good for me)?
With some relief I learned that we were only supposed to master dossiers 0 and the beginning of dossier 1. Our instructor would let us know at the end of the classes, whether we had achieved enough knowledge to move ahead, or we must repeat the class again. My current standing, I am certain, would have me attempting the class again.
However, there is always hope, and I draw my arms firmly around it. There is, at least, not as much as I thought we might be required to learn. I understand learning the alphabet and the numbers (there is a very funny UTube video of a NYC cab driver listening on the way to JFK to his French passenger, who is trying unsuccessfully to teach the cabbie how to count in French—I laughed until I had tears in my eyes, and couldn’t agree more). How to say and spell ones name and introduce oneself and make introductions is certainly useful. And asking where one is from (country) (town) and what one speaks or understands is also a very useful leaning or exercise. However, the time spent learning the names of many, many countries in French and the l’, la, le, les of it seem a bit much. Wouldn’t I just introduce myself, and say where I was from, then ask the other person their name etc, and if I didn’t recognize the country, I would learn it then. Thankfully, thus far we have only two verbs to learn: Etre and S’Appeler.
Walking home from my class, I saw art work drawn on a contractor’s boarded up renovation that expressed the local hope of our home town basketball team. There is always hope when combined with hard work and collaboration. I will remind myself as I work hard at achieving the language of French.
May 27, 2019
I’ll never be french - but i’ll have fun trying!!
Gather round and join me in my linguistic journey through the ups and downs of learning French.
This is not my first attempt, oh no, my first instructor was Mr. Knudsen when I was fulfilling my high school requirement to take one year of a foreign language (yes, that was many years ago). I still remember understanding very few words the man said, and was one day caught looking out the window, was dressed down (I knew from the tone of his voice) and swept outside, hearing something like, “If I wanted to be with the birds, I should go roost with them!”
Many years went by, and with my children learning French in school, I decided once more to give it a try. I enrolled in what was to have been a beginner’s class at the French department of the local college. My luck; there were not enough beginners, so the administration said, “no probleme” you will join the next class up. Well, if I wasn’t intimidated before, after four weeks, threw up my hands and said, obviously someone was trying to tell me that learning French was not to be.
The years rolled by, I visited France and explored its many districts, at first with my teenage children, and this past year as a solo traveler, setting out for my first adventure in Nice. My Travelogue recounts some of my experiences. I learned a few words and phrases and tried never to do the “Surely if I speak louder and more slowly, they will understand me” refrain. Returning to Toronto this Spring, I was determined to try again to learn French as the third time might be the charm? Alliance Francaise has a downtown location within walking distance of where I live and classes that run all year round.
After talking with their registrar, I signed up for their beginning class and attend two evenings a week. I also became a member and can enjoy their online library anywhere I go. I am confident that I will find the French equivalent of “See Spot Run” to begin my literary challenges and someday go on to read French magazines and newspapers that are available. AF also has events in its auditorium and after becoming a student was sent an email that they were giving away tickets to a concert. I replied and won a ticket to hear Georgian Bay. Unbelievably gifted women. I took winning the ticket to mean that yes, the third time would be the charm to learn the language, and also to enjoy the events and perhaps meet new friends.
My first lesson began with our instructor and five people of the eight that were supposed to show up. I am hoping that at least one more will attend which will make it more convenient for practicing with partners in the classroom. I was surprised that the first thing we did was to learn our alphabet, the names in French for many countries, and then how to introduce ourselves, and ask that someone spell their first name. I will not intrude on the privacy of my classmates, but to say that we managed, although one woman is so soft spoken that I am still not certain I have caught her name correctly. Perhaps we will have a review tonight, and go over our homework, and I will have another chance to know her name.
I look forward to my journey and hope you join me along the way. It is easy to subscribe and you will get an alert when I post, which I am planning to do once a week after my two lessons are complete. Your comments, as always are welcome.
April 11, 2019
The French have an excellent word for describing going back to one’s everyday life, Rentree.
The challenges for me began when I stepped outside the airport to very cold weather, with bitterly cold wind. Time zones and sleep patterns are a given, and for me take longer to readjust, but adding the complete change in temperature had me burrowed under the duvet hoping the cold would go away. The reason I left Toronto for Nice hit me square in the face and in my bones. I will plan to stay away longer next year.
I have concluded that my body craves the sun, and withdraws into a shell like a crab in the cold.
It is wonderful beginning to catch up with friends, whom I have not seen in three months, although it is easier now with Face Time to stay in touch.
Nanou had her second birthday, complete with her yearly vet checkup. She has settled in much better than I have, but still looks at me when I put her fleece on.to go outside.
Lists, lists and more lists: doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, refill prescriptions, grocery shopping without the open air markets, croissants and baguettes that are not the same, Nanou’s food and a new carryon for her that is not so large; continue the purge of things that no one wants, and should have been dealt with years ago; like clearing the cobwebs from your mind.
Now there are writing deadlines, and a need to pull myself together and focus. So much easier in a warmer place where the sun shines on your face.
Wherever you are, I hope the sun is shining on you.
March 29, 2019
au revoir nice
My time in Nice has been an amazingly wonderful adventure. While I plan and wish for better language skills, I no longer feel like a tourist.
As I get ready to leave and begin packing, Nanou stays close, refusing to stray far from my side. She knows that things going into the big suitcase mean that I am going somewhere and she doesn’t want to be left behind.
I’m leaving the tourist areas next year in favour of a more residential area with a balcony and three blocks to the beach and the Promenade des Anglais. I will go weekly to the Cours Selyea market, and Sunday morning coffee with one of my favourite meetup groups. My new landlady showed me the best boulangerie and patisserie and supposedly the best cheese shop in Nice. And I already know one of the best coffee shops with wifi, Cafe Frei, in the neighbourhood.
My plans are to again attend the Carnavale de Nice night time show—now knowing where the best viewing seats are, and to attend the Lemon Festival in Menton. Day trips to Antibes (which was cancelled this year when the lights went out) and to Cannes are a must. Now that I know more, I will not miss the Opera in Old Town next year, nor the movies and theatre that I could not figure out when I first arrived. 2020 Nice will be different from 2019 when I learned my way around. The grocery store’s contents will no longer be the mystery they were this year; I will even buy the right lait (1/2 creme) the first time for my coffee.
After three months in Nice, I hope to relax in Italy for a few weeks, and am already scoping out Florence and Rome, so stay tuned for updates as my plans develop.
I will remember Nice for giving me its sun ☀️, its laughter and good times and letting me into the culture and joys of its people.
Thank you for following me on my journey.
March 22, 2019
nesting has its ups and downs
This week’s Travelogue was to have been a wonderful day trip to Antibes with eat-your-heart out photos but circumstances were such that was not to be.
Wednesday evening I switched on a light in my apartment to do the dishes resulting in spit, pop and darkness. Fumbling my way along the kitchen wall, calling to Nanou and adjusting my eyes to total darkness, I put her leash on and ventured down the hall to knock on a neighbor’s door. I had met the man, his wife and their daughter in passing and they agreed to come with a flashlight to see what they could do. They found one switch and voila, light in the bathroom, hallway and bedroom—darkness otherwise and no internet. I thanked them and set out with Nanou in search of internet and help.
I will stop here to say that all who say the French are unhelpful and unwelcoming, must be in a different France. A Cave’s internet was not strong enough, but will certainly visit it next year and enjoy tapas and a glass of wine. Further down the street I came to SushiShop on rue Pasotrelli that welcomed me, listened to my tail of woe and logged me into a very good internet and said to make myself comfortable to see if I would get a response back. No response, but I will go back to thank them and have one of their lunch plates. The fish was so fresh, I thought I was back in California. The Chef and assistants were cleaning the stainless steel workspace, and everything was spotless.
So the next morning I took myself to a newly renovated cafe a block from my place that has internet. Unbelievably good coffee. No response from landlady, but sent two other messages and the owner said to leave their number. I said I would be back for lunch. When I came back there were no messages, but the owner came with his phone that there was a call for me. It was from my landlady’s son, who would come within the hour to solve everything—which he did.
So my plan is to see Antibes next week with another friend, catch up on my writing, walk the Promenade des “Anglais before it is shut for a few days for the President and a Chinese delegation going through, and visit my two favorite Meetup groups one more time.
March 15, 2019
living and writing in nice
At first I thought I would do a post about the wonderful restaurants I have dined at in Nice, and promise a list to anyone who is visiting and would like to know my opinion.
The only thing I can say for certain is enjoy Greek food on your trip to Greece or if you are in Toronto, on the Danforth, also known as Greek Town. The same is true for Mexican food; better to leave that for your trip to California. I had a craving for “food from home” and tried two restaurants that will never appear on my list. I told a friend I was thinking of trying an Indian restaurant as there seem to be seveal in Nice, and he said they would be nothing like I expected—he is probably right and I will take his advice and forego the pleasure!
Nice, being French, but also having its history in Italy, has a cuisine that is a mixture of Italian and French. There are many Italian restaurants, some good, some less, and one a friend and I tried that was hopeless. I ended up throwing away the portion I took home for next day’s lunch.
There is one restaurant I cannot omit from this post, La Merenda. It is located at 4 Rue Raoul Bosio in Vieux Nice. It seats only 24 people and you can watch the chef as he cooks. It has no phone and you must go to the restaurant to make a reservation. And guess what, the chef was the two star Michilin Chef at Le Negresco!
I eat a lot at home, and a friend introduced me to Picard’s—frozen food that is really, really good and healthy too. Vegetables and fruit fast frozen, and entrees for one or two that don’t have you wondering why you ever thought getting it was a good idea. A step up from frozen pizza—although they have those too!
After two months of agonizing in the chairs (think steel folding bistro chairs with small seat pads) trying to seriously write, and finding no good cafe alternative, I found a reasonably priced “outdoor” chair with good back and bum support and arms (no, it does not fold.) There should have been a video of Nanou and me hauling it up five flights of marble stairs in my apartment building when, of course, the small French elevator was just a smidge too small for it to fit in. I hope I will be able to take it to my next year’s apartment—that is, if I can find an apartment before I leave. So now I have no excuse not to make some good coffee, put my bum down and Write Until There’s Nothing Left To Say.
March 8, 2019
museums in nice, france
There are over twenty municipal museums and galleries in Nice, and a large number of private art galleries and studios. Following are three that I enjoyed, and look forward to visiting more next year.
Not to be missed and my favorite so far is the National Marc Chagall Museum.
The museum was created by the artist to bring together his most important biblical works. Organized around the painter’s works on the Old Testament theme, the permanent collection is the largest public collection of works by Marc Chagall. The painter’s tome is in Saint-Paul-De-Vince and I look forward to visiting the uplifting chapel and the cemetery next year.
The Matisse Museum stands in an olive grove in the Chimiez Gardens and is housed in a renovated Genoese villa. Matisse lived in Nice fom 1917 to his death in 1954. The works follow the artist’s development and also houses some of the artists’s personal objects. I have always loved the brilliant colors used by the atist, and toward the end of his life, the simiple contemporary cutouts.
The last museum I visited this year was the Massena Villa. Listed in the Historic Monuments inventory, the Villa Massena presents the history of Nice in the 18th Century. A bit of a look into how the other half lived; beautiful large rooms, gilt in abundnce and perhaps not the most comfotable of seating by today’s standards.
When I am in Paris I always go to the Louvre, through the apartments of the King and then pick one other area to see. Villa Massena is an example of the life lived by the upper classes in the 18th Century.
March 1, 2019
carnaval de nice
This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Carnaval de Nice. 2019’s theme is Roi du Cinema. Held in the Place Massena, the day and nighttime programs holld one spellbound.
The night-time parade, Corso carnavalesque illumine, featured caricatures of politicians, and cinema greats. Amazing dancers performed throughout the parade, and the lighting effects were spectacular.
During the day there is the Bataille de Fleurs; beautiful floats and dancers going round and round the parade route. Why, you might ask? Because the flowers off the floats are thrown into the stands, to be grabbed and taken home as a remembrance.
Each parade lasts just over two hours. I can’t wait to find out next year’s theme; and I definitely plan to attend. I ❤️ Nice, and loved the Carnaval.
February 22, 2019
making new friends in nice
This week was a reminder of how grateful I am to be in sunny Nice. The wonderful weather, excellent food, fresh veggies and fruits, local olives and cheese, and baguettes that cannot be replicated outside of France. Today I want to recognize the warmth and generosity of the people.
When I arrived, I knew no one, and if I am generous, spoke un petit peu French. I will always be thankful I wore my Converse shoes on market day that introduced me to my first French friend. Three other friends and I celebrated her birthday, complete with the candle that shoots sparks that the French love to put on a cake. In this case it was on a a wonderful chocolate dessert (to be featured in an upcoming Favourite Restaurants, Cafes, Boulangeries, Patisseries Travelogue). One of the friends attending the celebration is from Cuba, a sculptor, who years ago lived in a cottage on what was Hemingway’s property. It’s true; I saw the photos!
There are Meetup groups of every sort imaginable. Yes, those groups exist elsewhere, but here there are so many expats from so many countries, and locals, that join in to make going an experience you want to repeat. Right now I belong to three groups and I hear several languages being spoken, and everyone sharing their knowledge and wanting to help and get to know each other.
My boulangerie chef now knows me, reaches for my usual order, and takes time to let me practice my French, if no customers are waiting.
The young men and women at my grocery store, help me as I work out what items mean, and ask if I really need an item if they are getting it fresh the next day. The one time I went without Nanou, they were concerned that something had happened to her.
And, yes, I have been screamed at in French by a woman walking her two dogs on a leash telling me I was not allowed in our small parc, pointing at a sign—not realizing that dogs were not allowed in the children’s play area, but were fine in the parc otherwise.
And once a woman at Monoprix refused to tell me what I had done wrong with the fruit I was buying, but a nice man in line explained that my bag was not tied and labeled and asked the woman to ring it up, and begrudgingly she did.
I follow my core value of respect and treat others as I would wish to be treated. I am polite, and people have been polite to me. I expect an even better time next year after completing my first classes at Alliance Francaise back home. I still dream about the Frenchman who will sweep me off my feet and be my tutor, but so far that is only a dream, or has the makings of a good fictional novel.
Wishing you a Bon Week-End.
February 15, 2019
the antique market - vieux nice
Monday, and the antique market is in full swing in Old Town. Even in winter, the market is bustling with tourists and expats who have come to enjoy the sun and escape the winter of their homes.
The stalls are filled with everything from trinkets out of someone’s attic to collections of old linens, clothing, jewelry, records and more. The bistros on the sunny side do a brisk business as people enjoy their coffee, gather in groups to people watch and take in the scene.
One vendor and I remarked on our le petite chiens – he also had chihuahuas that he insisted to retrieve from his van and introduce to Nanou.
I was tempted to try on an old chapeau and wished I had a home for a beautiful mirror; perhaps someday?
Nanou and I enjoy our Monday walks, looking at all the interesting things on offer, and chatting with a few vendors, who now recognize us as we approach. One vendor assures me that if I ever move here, he will be able to supply me with all the furniture I would wish. I smile, thank him, lift my face to the sun, and imagine what living here would be like. Then reality sets in, and Nanou and I walk to our temporary home; her to have her afternoon nap, and me to write until there’s nothing left to say.
Have a wonderful weekend.
February 7, 2019
it’s the little things
Since arriving in Nice, without the benefit of the language (why did I not concentrate on this!?*#!!), I have found that patience, a willingness to try to communicate, however, incorrect you are, is the beginning of feeling at home.
Politeness, and done correctly, goes a long way. The difference between beginning with Bonjour M. or Mdm. and Merci when you leave or just starting with excuse me and what you want, is night and day. And truly, shouldn’t we do this everywhere, and acknowledge the person who is serving us.
I am very lucky to find a wonderful patisserie and boulangerie, a wine shop, and a grocery within a block of my apartment.
My exchanges at the patisserie in the morning for my croissant or baguette or an afternoon tarte or sweet were relatively easy. I learned the difference in the baguettes from the owner (my favorite is the Nicoise), and am greeted warmly in the mornings by him or one of the ladies.
The wine, or vins, shop is easy in that I a) drink very little and b) the proprietor speaks some English. There are varieties from the region and France, and prices to fit all budget.
The grocery store is memorable. Nanou is able to go there and has become a fixure in the minds of the manager and staff. While a bit more expensive than the larger Monoprix some blocks away—and not welcoming to Nanou—I do most of my shopping there or at the Farmers Market in Vieux (Old Town) Nice. My first confusion was when I attempted to buy cream for my coffee. While I understood and could see the cartons marked “lait” with a cow’s face, my first purchases was skim milk – there was a -0- on the carton that was the clue. Thinking, I could resolve this myself, I next bought a small plastic bottle of “creme” which turned out to be what one uses in soups—and it promptly did not mix in the coffee. However, the third try is the charm and my lait 1/2 ecreme was perfect! The skim milk was used in my muesli with a banana, and the creme still waits my motivation to make fresh celery soup.
I finally broke down and visited La Grand Bazaar (think Dollar store expanded to more items and some larger $$, although I believe almost everything must come from China). While my apartment is well located, has wonderful sunlight, it lacks a few necessities in the kitchen. Small things, but how does one ladle soup without a ladle, or measure ingredients (particlarly not in pounds and ounces) without a measuring cup, and how about a spatula for swipping out the last of a particularly tasty confiture (jam), and of course more clothes pins to hang out sheets, and a tin for coffee—all less than 15E.
While exploring the shops close by I found a bricolage or a city center Home Depot, and they carry Nanou’s kibble at less than the beautiful, but expensive pet shop at my corner. We have also found a vet clinic on the street to the parc and Old Town, and all three vets and the assistant speak English.
And my English speaking banque account manager treats me as though I were one of the baque’s privee or private clients.
So I learn and enjoy every day, and wish this could last forever.
February 4, 2019
the promenade des anglais
First called the Camin deis Angles (The English Way) and funded by the Anglican Church after a particularly harsh winter, the promenade was later enhanced by the city of Nice and renamed the Promenade des Anglais. “The Prom,” as the locals call it, stretches some 7k from the Port of Nice west past the hotels and winter residences of those escaping cold climates for the sun of the Riviera. The inhabitants have changed over the years from English royalty coming on the Blue Train with their servants and baggage, to artists and writers enamoured with the light, then Russian princes, and American celeberities. After WWII, the promenade and Nice saw not only the rich and famous, but the middle class and immigrants looking for a better life.
The beaches are for the most private with sun loungers and restaurants offering the opportunity to sit under unbrellas, stretch out in the sun, be waited on, and pretend to be one of the elite, here for the Winter Season.
Nanou and I enjoy our walks, her wishing to chase the pigeons, and me closing my eyes with my face to the sun, or enjoying the the beautiful sunsets.
We spotted an older couple on a bench facing the sea, enjoying their outing. A reminder that for some, the last chapters of life are shared and enjoyed. It is comforting to know that for the fortunate, this is still a reality.
January 22, 2019
Journey to the south of france
The engines rev up on the Air Canada flight. Nanou is stored beneath the seat in front of me, a blanket over my legs and her carrier, masking the fact that although her carrier is within the airline specs, the new plane has a fixed object at the front of the seat, not allowing me to push her completely under. We are at the window and our companions are two young women; one hoping to make her connection at CDG, and the other flying home to SW France. The plane has been de-iced and we are speeding down the runway. Much later a flight attendant comes to me, knowing I have a pet in the cabin, and asks if I know the rules. I say, of course, she will remain in her carrier throughout the flight. The flight attendant smiles and moves on.
I have downloaded a post that shows photos of how to navigate through CDG, and to ticketing and the RER. Nanou and I wait patiently for my one bag, and just as we were about to give up, another young man and I shout “Yes!” as the last two bags roll out. The checkpoints are then relatively easy. I let Nanou out of her carrier and the officer I expected to thoroughly check her papers, smiled, remarked how cute she was and waved us through without even looking at the paperwork. We got our tickets and boarded the RER to Paris with one change at St. Michel to a line going to the Musee D’Orsay. The stations now have more escalators, making it much easier to travel.
Coming out of the Musee D’Orsay, the light was beautiful and bright across the Seine. We strolled along familiar streets to our friends’ home where we would spend the night. By now Nanou realizes that things are different and stays close to me for comfort. It was wonderful seeing my friends and sat up late catching up before an early morning rise to take a train from Gar de Lyon to our final destination—Nice.
The five and one-half hour train ride sped through fields and on the edges of towns along the way. Our companion across the table, was a handsome Frenchman, with a laptop, phone, and wearing a wedding band. We exchanged pleasantries, and he sent me some information (albeit in French) for a book I will be researching while I am here.
Our landlady meets us at the front door to Place Wilson and shows us to what will be our home for the next three months. We stow our bags and head out to see if we can find a store and a boulangerie, and to acquaint Nanou with the small park facing our building.
We rise early in the morning and head for the market in Old Town picking up vegetables and fruits, and stopping when a lady exclaims in French—Where did you buy your shoes? Paris? Galleries Lafayette? I thanked her and said, “No, Canada.” We were invited to have a coffee with a few of her friends, at a café on the Cours Salyea, which began our introduction to the ex-pat community of Nice.
May 17, 2018
spring is here & it’s time to relaunch my blog
Spring has finally come to Toronto. Trees are green, flowers are blooming, sidewalk cafes are open, my neighbourhood is alive with people shopping, eating, people watching in the park and basking in the months before winter will arrive again.
I’ve taken the winter to reflect on publishing a blog; where to publish, what service to use and how to provide meaningful content to my #Readers. I decided to scratch my free WordPress blog—trust me nothing in life is free, keep my domain, zoeasherblog.com and transfer that domain to my favourite people at Godaddy.com where all my domains reside. Doing so began an interesting challenge and without Godaddy’s help, I might still be trying to get this done. So in May, I will have a zoeasherblog.com WordPress site hosted and registered with Godaddy, the awaesome people who provie a real live expert to help you 24/7. Now “at home“ the question is how to utilize this blog and the new one for the best experience my Readers can have.
Since my last post, I have made progress on my second book, “For Pleasure & Pain” in the “Choices” trilogy, dialogued with publishers and considered self-publishing, pitched articles, joined a couple of FB groups, and rented a house next winter in the south of France.
And now I am figuring out the categories I will use for my posts and whether they better belong here or on my new WordPress site. So far I am considering: Books, mine, reviews of other authors’ books, and what I am currently working on. My Journey to the South of France, and all its excitement and challenges—and maybe some useful ideas for my readers. Life with Nanou, my beloved chihuahua and our adventures. Life in the Village of Yorkville; my hood, what’s happening, interviews with people who live and work in the area, news and events. I would love to hear from you with your ideas and comments on how I can make these site ones you would find useful. And since you can’t comment here and the new site is getting set up, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Until then, A bientot,
February 24, 2018
here comes the sun
Today it’s snowing and if I believe the groundhog, many more weeks of a Canadian winter—cold, snow ❄️ and ice. My best friend snuggles around my neck—all four pounds of her—and together we continue to focus on bringing stories to women that allow them to escape their lives and encourage them to be strong and achieve their desires.
2018 is The Year Of The Dog, a year of new beginnings and also endings. The first book in my trilogy will publish this year, the beginning of many stories that promise will touch a myriad of dimensions in the lives of women. Endings I hope will be to let go of the unimportant; those things that one won’t remember a year from now, giving me time to concentrate on what fulfills me, makes me smile and brings me happiness. To collect the adventures in life and not the stuff! I hope you join me in this journey.
The manuscript s done as well as the synopsis and query letter to agents and publishers. Writing is only part of the process! The list is being compiled. You can help. If you are a reader of romantic erotic fiction, let me know your favourite authors and their publishers. You are whom I hope to reach and whom I hope to satisfy.
February 1, 2018
Sex, drama, dilemmas and emotions
CHOICES, Book 1 gives you an escape into the world of art and a wealthy alpha male. Through Liz and Damon you will discover that an Arrangement can be better than you imagined and that BDSM is not a four-letter word. After all, what makes you happy, satisfied and fulfilled is what is right for you.
Which Publisher will bring this to you? Stay tuned
January 24, 2018
Reflections on 2017
Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Resolutions and Reflections. I’ve never been good at new year’s resolutions, although I’m good at reflecting—perhaps too much lol. I try not to overthink, but believe it is a trait of a writer, who is an observer, and spinner of tales.
2017 was a good year as I obtained an editor and became focused on finishing my manuscript. My perseverance has paid off and on Dec 31 at 11:15pm I finished the last proofreading and edits—in time to welcome 2018.