Friday, May 31, 2013

2CELLOS playing "Human Nature"

Gods I love these guys.

If you're puzzled as to why such gentle music should shred their bow hair, listen to pretty much any of their other covers. :)

(BTW, Snowblink's cover of "Human Nature" is also gorgeous. Scroll down to "Eulogy Series.")

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Épinal: Scenes Around Town

Épinal is in eastern France

on the Moselle River.

An old broken-down castle looms over the town.

If you climb ALL



you can get a closer view.

(The city is pretty cute from up there, too.)


from Épinal's


Apropos of nothing...
people bring their dogs to the restaurants.

On a cloudy day,

a pretty town.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Épinal: Scenes While Signing at the Festival Imaginales

My French name collection is growing.  I need people to write their
names for me when I'm abroad, because even when the names are familiar, the
pronunciations never are. Someone will say an incomprehensible name
 to me, I'll be like, "WOAH!" and ask them to write it down, then I'll look at
what they've written and feel rather silly, because I have
 three friends and a sister with that name (for example).

 Strange creatures…

on stilts. And yes, that guy on the right

 is a member of Napoleon's army.

Monday, May 27, 2013

These Photos Speak for Themselves

An alternative title to this post is "France is Yummy: Miscellany."

These are not all my meals. My companions -- fellow authors, publishing folk and interpreters -- became accustomed to me leaning over their shoulders with my iPhone.

Please forgive me for the fact that in some cases, I can't remember what these dishes were, and also for the fact that I don't have time tonight to identify the ones I do remember!  In some cases, it should be obvious what they are – tea, pizza, salad, souffle, fish and chips, cheese. I discovered one day that my belly has a cheese limit; beyond this limit, cheesebellyachus sets in. This is a nonfatal condition that leaves one with the genuine quandary of whether it is worth it to continue eating cheese. There are things you might never discover about yourself unless you visit France.

Click on them to make them big and beautiful. A few notes: No, the raw stuff was not mine – it was Gail Carriger's — she's a much more adventurous eater than I am. The gorgeous nail polish wasn't mine, either — that belonged to Annaïg Houesnard, lovely translator and interpreter.

The marketing and communications director at
Le Livre de Poche, Manuel Soufflard, was very
excited about his dessert.

FAQ: Why don't you allow comments on your blog or involve yourself in most social media?

A couple of years back, I closed comments on my blog and removed email access. When I started using Twitter as an amalgamation feed for my blog, I decided to make it clear in my profile that I don't read @-replies. And I'm not on Facebook. All of these were rather soul-wrenching decisions, I'm afraid -- firstly because I was aware that it would come across as unfriendly and unwelcoming to some readers, and secondly, because it meant I would stop receiving such wonderful notes and messages from fans of my books, stop having so many opportunities to connect with my readers. I asked for a lot of advice from friends and colleagues each time I made one of these decisions. Everyone I asked, even the people I expected to lean the other way, told me I should do it, because the people who knew me best could see how much social media was interfering with my writing.

The problem is that I couldn't do it halfway. If people were writing to me, I wanted to be there, reading and responding -- but the volume began to grow to the point where I was doing social media instead of writing. I suppose I could've stopped reading comments and emails and simply pretended I was reading them -- except that I really couldn't, because it wouldn't have been respectful to my readers. (This is why I'm so straightforward in my Twitter profile: I don't want readers to think I'm reading things I'm actually not reading! It would feel insincere.) I thought about getting an assistant, but that would have been quite a lifestyle change for me, and I suspected that my writing would suffer; in order to write, I need a more simple life than that.

I admire writers who can balance the writing and the social media aspects of their lives so well. Regretfully, what I've learned about myself as a writer is that I don't have that skill for balance that many writers have. I can't create the bubble I need to write my books if I'm also completely connected to social media. And I have to write my books. It's my job, and also a huge part of my identity.

(I'll also mention one other not-insignificant reason why I made this decision: as a female writer who creates female characters who sometimes (sometimes!) choose to have sex outside of wedlock, not to get married, not to have children, to self-sterilize, generally to make their own decisions rather than do what society tells them they're supposed to do, a disturbing number of the emails I received, back when I was receiving emails, were from haters. And seriously, who needs that? The flip side of this coin is that unfortunately, now I don't receive those wonderful emails from women thanking me for presenting these types of female characters, either. But I know you're out there, readers -- I meet you at festivals and receive snail mail from you -- and you sustain me.)

Festivals and events are extra-special to me now, because they're my opportunity to connect with readers. I'll also point out, for anyone who hasn't noticed, that you can write me a snail mail letter -- the address is behind this link. I get the most WONDERFUL snail mail letters!

And that's that. Thank you, readers, for embracing the work of eccentric and introverted writers. :o) Now, off I go to write...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saint-Malo: Walled City by the Sea

You know, Épinal is becoming one of my favorite festivals. This festival – dedicated to fantasy/sci-fi literature and art – has such a wonderful personality, and I just love spending time with the people here. Maybe I'll have a few pictures and some things to say, when I have more time.

This is my last post of pictures from Saint-Malo – walled fort city on the coast of Brittany. The danger with my sea pictures is of showing you different versions of the same scene over and over, but lucky for all of you, I don't have much time this evening. So I'll stick to highlights.

Here's how the city looks from the beach

and here's how the beach looks from the city.
 A view of the sea from a little lookout station in the wall.

(Here's what that same lookout station looks like from the beach.)
Peeking into the harbor from the wall…

 and standing at the harbor's edge.

 Fort National in the sun at low tide.

 Fort National and a tall ship!

 Fort National in the rain at higher tide :)