Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paris in July: Looking Ahead to August

It's been a blast being part of "Paris in July" this month. I've talked about ice cream, flip flops, the Marais, Bastille Day, and writing in Paris. And bloggers around the world have joined in to celebrate all that is Paris. Now as July ends and August begins, what is Paris like?

August is like the Sunday of Summer

Paris in August is a unique phenomenon. It's both empty and crowded. Loud and quiet. Parisian and not Parisian. It passes slowly but is over with before you know it, and then it's back to the hustle and bustle of work. You have to enjoy it while it lasts!

Empty

A good percentage of the workforce is on vacation in August. If you're stuck at work, it will be really quiet. If you're traveling around town, it will seem like nearly everything is closed. Even the local bounlangerie will take a few weeks off, forcing you to walk a few steps further to discover a new boulangerie in your neighborhood. That could be a good or bad thing. I love my boulangerie and don't like any other ones nearby (I'm picky) so when mine is closed, I'm lost.

Crowded

In contrast to the emptiness left by fleeing, vacationing Parisians, all the tourist spots are jam-packed. While I do enjoy certain Parisian tourist attractions, you'll never catch me there in August. You're just asking to get hot, sweaty, and pissed-off as you try to work your way through the crowds.

Beautiful

The long days lead to intense sunsets, best enjoyed during a picnic along the Seine or over a bottle of rosé anywhere with a view. Soak it in while you can - it'll be cold again soon!

Have you been to Paris in August? What was your impression?

Another View

Fellow American writer in Paris, Adria J. Cimino, is co-hosting the "Paris in July" event this year and has invited me along. She and I are writing about similar themes throughout the month, sharing our different perspectives. Here's her take on August in Paris:

Author Adria J. Cimino
The last day of July and the scent of vacation is in the air for many Parisians. With a minimum of 25 vacation days a year, Parisians traditionally take at least two weeks off in the summer – and the most popular time is August...

Read the full post here
Paris in July: Musings on the City of Light

This post is part of "Paris in July," an annual Paris-themed blogging event created by Karen at A Wondering Life and Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Join in the fun and check out their sites for awesome posts about the City of Light, contributed from bloggers around the world!

More "Paris in July" Posts

7/1: Paris in July: Kickin' It Off
7/5: Taking on the Marais with Vicki and Lily
7/9: Paris A to Z
7/11: Life is Better in Flip Flops
7/12: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Berthillon
7/14: Bastille Day
7/15: Les Arches d'Or
7/21: French Optimism
7/22: This One Time In Paris
7/24: Collect Moments, Not Things
7/26: Writing in Paris
7/31: Paris in July: Looking Ahead to August

Escape to Paris

Vicki Lesage, Author

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Venturing Past the Quartier

Vicki Lesage: I'm published by Mamalode
Mamalode, an awesome site for moms, is featuring another article of mine, this time for their July theme: "Adventuring"

Have you heard? I live in Paris. I like to talk about it. A lot. It's kind of my thing. Because if I didn't talk about it, I'd probably talk about math or zombies, which aren't everyone's cup of tea. Paris has a bit more universal appeal. (Though if you want to talk math, check out my nerdy awesome college project about Poncelet Polygons. Wasn't the 2001 internet a beautiful place?)

Anyway, living in Paris when you're from the good ol' Midwest naturally lends itself to adventure. So this article practically wrote itself. (It didn't. If writing were that easy, I'd be a millionaire by now).

Check it out and then show your support! You can leave a comment on the Mamalode article, share it, give it a bear hug - however you choose to spread the love. MWAH!

Want more? Subscribe to receive an email when I post a new article, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Escape to Paris

Vicki Lesage, Author

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action-Adventure!

You might have noticed a theme this month on my blog: Paris in July. It's been a great way to share my babblings with other francophiles and to read all the cool stuff they're writing. And hopefully all of our readers are enjoying the posts too!

But now for something not related to Paris: my mom's action-adventure mystery, Chronicle of the Mound Builders, is on sale for only $0.99. What a steal! I highly recommend this book, and not just because she's my mom. It's an exciting, interesting read where you might learn something and you'll definitely have fun.

About Chronicle of the Mound Builders

Mysteries from the Past

Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site. Since the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is eager to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved artifact.

Clash of Cultures

In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his son. They journey thousands of miles and establish a new life in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds.

Evil Unleashed

Angela races to translate the Aztec pictograms but other forces want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she uncover the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?

Buy Now on Amazon.com: Paperback | Kindle

Read Reviews: Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Elle Marie's books are diverse but all have one thing in common--they reflect her passions. From maintaining a healthy lifestyle (Living The Thin Life) to unearthing mysteries (Chronicle of the Mound Builders) to visiting her daughter in Paris (upcoming anthology That's Paris), she writes what she knows and loves.

She's never far from her computer; by day she works in the IT field, by night she writes her latest inspiration. When she does step away from the screen, she enjoys spending time with her husband in their hometown of St. Louis.

Disclosure: As I said above, the author is my mom. Which means I'm lucky to be related to someone who creates cool stuff like this. I also edited the book but receive no profits from the sales, other than hugs and eternal adoration from my mom. But I'd probably get that anyway.


Vicki Lesage, Author

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Far Cry From Hemingway: Writing in Paris

As a relatively new author, with my first two books published in January and May of this year, I'm still getting used to the label "American writer in Paris." That's partly due to the fact that I still have a day job. But I make sure to write in whatever spare pockets of time I have. From blogging to guest posts to starting the next book in my series, there's always something to write!

It might sound glamorous - an American writer in Paris. Ambling into a cafe, perhaps an old Hemingway haunt, tugging a notepad (likely the digital kind) from a designer bag, and churning out prose while downing cup after tiny cup of espresso.

In reality, most of my writing happens during nighttime nursing sessions, hunched over my laptop in the dark. Not so glamorous, huh? Well, I had to keep your jealousy at bay somehow!

I wrote most of my first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, after my son had gone to bed. If ideas came to me on the Métro or while I was strolling around town, I'd make a note in my phone. I'd often work through lunch and write a chapter or edit previous sections.

For my sequel, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, I wrote 95% of it from my couch since I was stuck on bed rest with Baby #2, Stella. I knew I wanted my final chapter to be about her, so it had to wait until she was born. Not one to waste a minute, I penned the final chapter during my four-day hospital stay after Stella was born.

Trousseau, the hospital where both of my children were born and where
I wrote the final chapter of Confessions of Paris Potty Trainer

But I can't end this post with such an anticlimactic view of the writing life in Paris! For me, the glamour and excitement come from the actual stories I write, and since my books are memoirs, the stories are all true. While the writing itself may take place in my tiny Parisian apartment, the inspiration comes from living in this vibrant, crazy, amazing, fascinating city. A trip to the boulangerie can turn into an entire chapter in my book (literally, chapter 9 in Confessions of a Paris Party Girl). Meeting my French husband in a bar. Getting married across from the Louvre. Enjoying a picnic. Buying flowers.

The streets of Paris, where I find inspiration for my stories

Nine years in this city has inspired countless stories and wonderful memories. And I love writing about it, sharing with my readers, and saving a slice of my personal history for my kids (and grandkids, one day) to read about!

Another View

Fellow American writer in Paris, Adria J. Cimino, is co-hosting the "Paris in July" event this year and has invited me along. She and I are writing about similar themes throughout the month, sharing our different perspectives. Here's her take on writing in Paris:

Author Adria J. Cimino
When you walk by such historical places as Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots you're more likely to see a tourist or tired shopper than a writer. You won't see many solitary individuals scribbling in notebooks for hours or writers regularly running into each other and having drinks.

Read the full post here


Paris in July: Musings on the City of Light

This post is part of "Paris in July," an annual Paris-themed blogging event created by Karen at A Wondering Life and Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Join in the fun and check out their sites for awesome posts about the City of Light, contributed from bloggers around the world!

More "Paris in July" Posts

7/1: Paris in July: Kickin' It Off
7/5: Taking on the Marais with Vicki and Lily
7/9: Paris A to Z
7/11: Life is Better in Flip Flops
7/12: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Berthillon
7/14: Bastille Day
7/15: Les Arches d'Or
7/21: French Optimism
7/22: This One Time In Paris
7/24: Collect Moments, Not Things
7/26: Writing in Paris
7/31: Paris in July: Looking Ahead to August

Escape to Paris

Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Collect Moments Not Things

As a kid, I had one money-making scheme after another. I roped my brother into fashioning crap out of tissues (ghosts were the best option; I don't even want to remember what other "artsy" things we came up with), then we knocked on our neighbors' doors and presented our shoebox full of tissue treasures, along with a price list.

You could walk away the proud owner of a ball of tissue with another tissue wrapped around it and ghost eyes drawn on the face for the low price of 25 cents plus 15 cents tax. And this was back in the 80's so considering inflation, that ghost would cost about $5 today (don't check my math).

Collect Moments, Not Things
Collect moments, not things. Particularly if you live in a tiny Parisian apartment like mine.

I was a budding entrepreneur with a horrible idea. I don't think I sold a single tissue. I sure hope I didn't.

What's funny is I never wanted to spend my money, so I don't know why I worked so hard to get it. I'm still that way to this day. I've never been big on having things around my house, partly because I'm a neat freak and partly because I move every five minutes and constantly have to whittle my stuff down. In my tiny apartment, I just don't have room for much.

The one exception where I like to spend my money is travel. (OK, if I'm honest two - drinks). Over the years I've visited 35 countries on 4 continents. Things have slowed down since I had kids (though stay tuned for our trip to Belgium!) but I still focus on the same thing - collecting moments, not things.

Walking through a spice market. Listening to the morning call to prayer. Eating churros and chocolate minus the churros (so, just drinking a big cup of melted chocolate). Getting splashed in the face as I give my rambunctious son a bath. Gazing into my daughter's eyes as she smiles her big, goofy smile for the first time. These are some pretty good moments to remember.

Want more? Subscribe to receive an email when I post a new article, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at Amazon.com.

Vicki Lesage, Author

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This One Time in Paris

Last week, the hilarious Sarah from est. 1975 generously let me run my mouth about McDonald's on her blog. Who knew I had so much to say about it? I did. That's why I wrote the post. Duh.

Anyhoo, Sarah is here to return the favor and run her mouth share an anecdote about this one guy who came to France this one time. It's good.

And... go!

Sarah Says

So I thought I'd start this guest post off with a multiple-choice quiz. (Don't stress. It's only one question.)

1. Who is the best choice to write a guest post for a blog about living in Paris? Choose one of the following options:

A) Someone who actually lives in Paris
B) Someone who has traveled extensively in Paris
C) Someone who has visited Paris even just the one time
D) Someone who has at least read a book about Paris
E) Any/all of the above people will do, just NOT someone who has *never* been to Paris and knows absolutely *nothing* about it

I don't think I need to tell you the answer is E. Pretty obvious, right?

And yet Vicki totally failed this test when she agreed to let me guest post.

That's right. Not only have I *never* been to Paris, I have never been to France at all. Nope. Not even once. I've been to other places in Europe, sure – I even married a European. Just not a European from France (or "France-man," as some call them).

I haven't even *read* anything about Paris, except for the captions on some pictures my husband has in his office:

Statue of Liberty, France
It's hard to see, but it says: "Statue of Liberty in Paris 1886" at the bottom of this picture. Because apparently the people of France were so jealous of ours they had to build their own. *snort* Copycats.


Eiffel Tower, Paris
Apparently there's some sort of famous tower in Paris. Did you guys know about this? I've got to say though – it's not exactly an original design. I see a lot of knick-knacks on clearance at Home Goods that look AWFULLY SIMILAR.
I guess what I'm saying is this: F MINUS, Vicki. F MINUS.

Still, despite my appalling lack of Parisian knowledge and experience, I do have a short tale to tell about La Ville-Lumière. (Yes, I did just look that up on Wikipedia. Wanna fight about it?) Because I actually do know someone who traveled there once.

It was about fifteen years ago, and my friend Tony was a young gay man full of hopes and dreams and four years of high school French and a yearning desire to visit the grave of Édith Piaf. Fortunately for him, one of his friends was suddenly relocated to Vichy, and a once-impossible dream of visiting France turned into a Much More Affordable Opportunity.

Almost as soon as his travel plans were set in motion, I was summoned to Tony's apartment and assigned the tedious job of helping him fill his suitcase with what I'll generously call "le Costume d' Eurotrash." I also helped him to catch up on his French, which was rusty from not speaking a word of it since high school. Though in retrospect this may have been kind of a stupid idea since my own French is limited to the following expressions:

• Bonjour
• Bon voyage
• Merci beaucoup
• Hors d'oeuvres
• Au Bon Pain

Oh well. I did the best I could.

Anyway. The time came for Tony to wing his way to France, whereupon he spent a few marvelous weeks in Vichy with a group of warm, welcoming young people who taught him as much about the culture and language as he wanted to know. Within a very short period of time, and with a lot of patience and encouragement from his new French amis, he became more competent with the French language than he had ever been. By the end of his stay in Vichy, Tony was essentially speaking French full-time, even with the American friend who had invited him there in the first place.

He might not have been fluent, exactly, but he had CONFIDENCE.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Tony's stay in the cordial French countryside did as well. He packed his bags and caught a train to Paris, where he was scheduled to fly back to the United States the next day.

Upon his arrival in Paris, Tony found that he had some time to kill, so he found a local place in which to sit quietly, drink a few glasses of wine, and enjoy his last delicious meal in France. With his new-found cultural confidence, he lifted his hand to attract a nearby waiter's attention.

"Excusez-moi," he politely said to the waiter. "Un vin blanc, s'il vous plaît."

To which the waiter looked down his nose at Tony and replied in cold, perfect English: "Don't even try."

And that's everything I know about Paris.

Vicki Says

Having lived here for 9 years, I can attest to the fact that stuff like that really does happen. What's annoying, though, is that while they may say "Don't even try," they DO want you to try.

If you would have started out saying "White wine, please," they would have replied snootily "But we are in France, you must to speak French." Well, your sentence has an extra "to" in it so you must "to learn" English if you want to chastise me.

You can't win. But it's still worth visiting to see for yourself. With enough wine, everyone seems nice. Or at least nice enough.

About Sarah (Est. 1975)

est. 1975
A corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah (est. 1975) somehow manages to find occasional work as a freelance copy writer and copy editor. In addition to her regular contributions to BLUNTmoms, Sarah also writes comedy blog est. 1975, which won Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks 2014 Badass Blog Awards.


Vicki Lesage, Author

Monday, July 21, 2014

French Optimism: Are They Really As Negative As Their Reputation?

A common stereotype about the French (aside from rude waiters) is that they're pessimistic. This article from FT Magazine provides some interesting insights into why, one having to do with French schools. As a former teacher's pet, I would have had a tough time in France's strict school system where no one ever gets a perfect score and students rarely receive praise. Yowza.

French Optimism: White baby clothes prove they're not 100% pessimistic


On a lighter note, you have to admit the French are optimistic in one area: children's clothing. Seriously, have you ever seen so much white? Every one of these items is a gift from a Frenchie. Don't they know how much babies spit up, poop, and drool? With my son, I'm constantly changing his clothes and doing laundry.

French Optimism: Stella hasn't ruined her white clothes yet!


Interestingly, though, my dainty French daughter has respected the white clothes and hasn't ruined anything yet. Maybe the French were right?

Want more? Subscribe to receive an email when I post a new article, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at Amazon.com.

Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Great Reads from St. Louis Authors

"Books Are For People Who Wish They Were Somewhere Else" - Mark Twain

Though I've lived in Paris for 9 years, I'm proud of my Midwest roots. A St. Louis native, there will always be a special place in my heart (right next to my clogged arteries) for provel cheese, toasted ravioli, and frozen custard.

I'm also proud to share my home state with none other than Mark Twain. One of my favorite quotes of his is "Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else." As a writer I'm also an avid reader and totally agree with him! I love cracking open a book (or the cover of my Kindle) and being sucked into a good story.

"Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else." - Mark Twain

I've stumbled across quite a few fellow authors from St. Louis recently and thought it would be fun to do a round-up of our books. One thing all these books have in common is that their authors are from or currently live in St. Louis. Apart from that, they're quite diverse. How to decide (other than just whipping out the credit card and buying them all right now)?

Each author picked two of the following questions to answer:

1. What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
2. Which scene in your book might a fellow St. Louisan recognize?
3. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the part of your hero/heroine?
4. What Missouri activity would your main character enjoy most: a float trip, a Cardinals game, or a winery visit?
5. What's Missouri's best season?
6. If your book was on death row, what would it choose for its last meal?

Read the authors' responses and check out their books!

The Waiting Room, by Piper Punches

The Waiting Room
by Piper Punches

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
Although The Waiting Room takes place in the fictional farming community of Marion, Missouri, I wrote my debut novel with the intention of highlighting the various flavors of people that make up the rural communities that surround the St. Louis Metro area, which give it its one-of-a-kind hometown atmosphere. Readers that grew up outside of the city limits, even outside of the major suburbs of St. Louis County, will find that they can relate to the pull of the big city, while still finding equal amounts of comfort and aggravation living in a small town that refuses to accept anonymity.

If your book was on death row, what would it choose for its last meal?
Oh, that's easy! My book would choose a home-cooked meal of mashed potatoes, smothered steak, and green beans drenched in bacon fat and butter. For dessert? Oh, yes! There would be dessert. My book is not a diet book. It would enjoy every last morsel of a cherry pie topped with whipped cream and a heaping side of vanilla ice cream.

Genre: Women's Fiction

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $11.95 | Kindle: $0.99

Connect with Piper:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+


On The Buckle, by Candace Carrabus

On The Buckle
by Candace Carrabus

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
On the Buckle, Dreamhorse Mystery #1 is set on a horse farm in Missouri about an hour and half from St. Louis. The main character, Vi, and the hero, Malcolm, go the art museum in an early scene, and later, Vi meets a friend at the symphony. Guess what? We live on a farm outside St. Louis, and we enjoy our beautiful art museum and our fantastic symphony, too!

If your book was made into a movie, who would play the part of your hero/heroine?
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who plays Penny on The Big Bang Theory, would be perfect as Vi Parker. She's the right age, smart as a whip, funny as heck, and--the icing on the cake--she's an accomplished equestrienne.

Genre: Humorous romantic mystery

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $12.99 | Kindle: $3.99 | B&N $12.99/$3.99Kobo: $3.99 | Smashwords: $3.99

Connect with Candace:
Website | FacebookTwitter | Goodreads


Looks That Deceive, by Braxton DeGarmo

Looks That Deceive
by Braxton DeGarmo

What Missouri activity would your main character enjoy most: a float trip, a Cardinals game, or a winery visit?
Lynch Cully would certainly be the typical St. Louis sports fanatic, supporting the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues. He's likely to go to as many games as he could fit into the consuming, unbalanced schedule of a police detective working with the Major Case Squad. Amy Gibbs, on the other hand, is definitely the winery aficionado. With a variety of friends, she's managed to visit every winery in Missouri -- no small feat -- and she has her favorites. Yet, like Lynch, her schedule as a flight nurse doesn't allow much time for this pleasure anymore.

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
Looks that Deceive is a thriller based in the St. Louis area. From scenes in Ladue, at Mercy Hospital, in Creve Coeur Park, and involving the region from Troy, MO, in the north, to the Big River, west of Hillsboro, MO, in the south, how much more connected could it get? I frequently get comments from St. Louis area readers about how much they enjoy the local flavor. Yet, readers outside of St. Louis won't find that flavor off-putting, as the pace keeps them moving and the characters pull them into the story.

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $16.95 | Kindle: $4.99 | Nook: $4.99

Connect with Braxton:
Website | FacebookTwitter | Goodreads


Catskinner's Book, by Misha Burnett

Catskinner's Book
by Misha Burnett

What's Missouri's best season?
October. The continental United States has five distinct weather patterns, and four of them collide in the air above the central Mississippi flood plain. In practical terms, this means that we usually get the worst weather that this country has to offer. We get Gulf Coast summers and Great Plains winters and springs that are downright schizophrenic - rain and scorching heat and snow, sometimes all in the same week.

However, for one brief shining moment, usually from about the middle of October to Halloween, St. Louis - like Mars - is Heaven. Clear, dry days, nights just cool enough that you can sleep with the windows open if you have a comforter or a lover of a dog to keep you warm. Don't blink - you'll miss it.

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
I am from a lot of different places, but I call St. Louis home. It's where I decided to settle down and raise a family. My books are almost set here. I say "almost" because I never come out and say that St. Louis is where James & Catskinner and all the other characters live. If you know the town, though, you'll recognize the neighborhoods, South City and West County and the Riverfront.

Genre: New Wave Science Fiction

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $8.99 | Kindle: $2.99

Connect with Misha:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Chronicle of the Mound Builders, by Elle Marie


Which scene in your book might a fellow Missourian recognize?
Most people from Missouri or eastern Illinois will recognize the mysterious Cahokia Mounds. A lot of action and excitement in Chronicle of the Mound Builders takes place there, in both the ancient and the modern timelines.

What Missouri activity would your main character enjoy most: a float trip, a Cardinals game, or a winery visit?
Definitely a float trip! Angela Hunter is a very outdoorsy girl, which is one reason she chose a career in archaeology. She loves hiking and exploring when she's not solving mysteries.

Genre: Mystery/Action-Adventure

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Elle:
Blog | Twitter | Goodreads


Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, by Vicki Lesage


What Missouri activity would your main character enjoy most: a float trip, a Cardinals game, or a winery visit?
Well, I'm Confessions of a Paris Party Girl's main character, so on a trip back to St. Louis from Paris, I would most enjoy an afternoon at a winery. Not just because of the wine (but that's a definite plus for this party girl!) but because of the beautiful Missouri scenery. A Cardinals game is a close second, though!

If your book was on death row, what would it choose for its last meal?
A huge pot of fondue. The melted cheese deliciousness is a running theme in my book and several scenes take place in my favorite fondue restaurant in Paris. And of course a glass of red wine!

Genre: Memoir

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Vicki:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Excelsior, by George Sirois

Excelsior
by George Sirois

If your book was made into a movie, who would play the part of your hero/heroine?
Matthew Peters is an ideal spot for either a young television star making the transition to the big screen or someone brand new to the industry. The characters around Matthew, however, are perfect for bigger stars. My editor and I have ideas for his mentor, Katherine Sierra. I think Mariska Hargitay would be a great fit, and my editor wants Marg Helgenberger. (Either one would be terrific if they ever want to do it, of course.) My wife's "second husband," Jeffrey Dean Morgan, would be the older Denarian known as Radifen. And I'd love to see Adam "Edge" Copeland play the ambitious Danaak.

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
I always envisioned Excelsior as a coming-of-age story, but it never really kicked into gear until my wife and I made the decision to leave New York City (where I was born, and where I went to college and spent more than 15 years) to move to St. Louis (where my wife was born and raised). Matthew is the next in line to become a god on another planet, but that means he has to leave everything he has ever known, and leave his dreams to become a famous writer & artist behind. And even though I didn't reach the heights that Matthew does, the move to St. Louis – away from my friends and family – got me a great job, a great house, and opportunities I could never get in New York City.

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $12.95 | Kindle: $2.99

Connect with George:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Reduced, by Robin Tidwell

Reduced
by Robin Tidwell

Which scene in your book might a fellow Missourian recognize?
Reduced takes place mainly in Jefferson County, but also in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis. The Arch, of course, makes an appearance, as do Grant's Farm and St. Mary's Hospital. Several roads and highways are mentioned, and the characters are surviving at "an old, abandoned" Girl Scout camp - which is, at present, still in use.

What is your book's or your personal connection to St. Louis?
My family has been in the St. Louis area since 1847, when Friederich Kuhlmann arrived from Germany and bought a lot in what would become the city of Clayton - the Sevens Building is there now. A few years later, he purchased farm land in St. Louis County - several scenes take place there. I was born and raised here (Parkway Central), moved away for a while after college (the first attempt), and returned seven years ago. St. Louisans almost always come home...

Abby did the same - moved out West for a few years, then returned; she and her group go way back, decades even, and stick together through the collapse of their civilization. So many dystopian stories are set in LA or NYC, but STL is right in the heart of the country, and that makes all the difference.

Genre: Dystopic

Buy now or read the book's description:
Paperback: $13.95 | Kindle: $3.99

Connect with Robin:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Which of these books sounds interesting to you? And have you ever visited St. Louis? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Travel Bug

I'm normally not big on Liebster Awards but I was really excited when Amy from Créatrice Mondial nominated me for a travel-themed one. Mainly because she's awesome but also because I love to talk about myself.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Amy's Questions for Me


1. When and to where was your very first travel experience?

My parents divorced when I was young, and my brother and I would visit my dad in Florida each summer. We took a flight from St. Louis to Orlando and flew as unaccompanied minors, which was just the coolest. We got special snacks and lots of attention from the flight attendants. Once my dad picked us up, we would alternate between relaxing days around the house and fun trips to Disney, Epcot, and the beach. It was awesome.

2. When and to where was your very first international travel experience?

I first traveled abroad when I was 19. My best friend, Erin, had already been to Europe and lived in Japan, and she found cheap flights to London and convinced me to take the plunge. London was more expensive than our tiny budgets allowed so after a few days there, we took a train up to Edinburgh, where things (let's be real - drinks) were much cheaper. We also took a cheap flight over to Amsterdam and got into all sorts of trouble. It's amazing how much we did, drank, and spent in just 7 short days. And how little we slept.

3. What is your favorite aspect about the travel blogging community, or blogosphere in general?

I love reading about cool places other people have been. I used to travel a lot, particularly throughout Europe, but now with two kids under two my traveling has screeched to a halt. So it's nice to live vicariously through other bloggers, and relive past trips when I see they've been to some of the same places I have.

4. If you could only choose one more big bucket list-worthy experience, what would it be and why? Budget and time are not factors!

New Zealand! I've always wanted to go, but due to the long flight and the cost I just haven't gotten around to it yet. One of these days I will definitely go. I'm not a nature girl by any means but New Zealand might change me. Or I would at least enjoy a cocktail while taking in the views.

5. What has been your biggest takeaway from traveling and/or living overseas?

Living in Paris, I've learned to get comfortable being out of my comfort zone! Once you accept that things are different - and you remind yourself that's the whole reason you went in the first place - things like weird bathrooms or ridiculously small coffees seem quirky and charming instead of stupid and annoying.

6. What is your favorite travel memory? Feel free to include the top 3 if you simply cannot choose!

Cinque Terre is the most beautiful place on earth. I went with my dad and step-mom and we enjoyed hiking along the coastal trail and drinking wine and coffee at every break. On that same trip we went to Rome and one night we had WAY too much espresso and had an insane buzz going, then we went souvenir shopping. We nearly bought out this one store. It was embarrassing. We'd plop our trinkets on the counter, pay, and start to leave, then we'd spot something else and go back and buy it. We must have made five separate transactions, all for crap. We were in a caffeine-induced frenzy and couldn't control ourselves, giggling like schoolgirls. America, represent!

Hiking the trails of Cinque Terre, Italy
Hiking the trails of Cinque Terre, Italy

7. What advice would you give to those who are just starting to spread their wings and think about venturing out into the world?

Get a passport and go! So many people put off big travel for so many reasons - they want to save up a bunch of money first or plan every detail or learn the language. You'll always find a reason not to go, so just go! Look for cheap flights, stay in a B&B off the beaten path, do picnic lunches, go for a long weekend instead of a full week, pick up a phrase book. There are ways around whatever obstacle is getting in your way - don't let anything get in your way! And if you want to hear more about what it's really like living abroad, check out my book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl.

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Questions for Travel Bloggers


I'm gonna change the rules a bit and open this up to any travel/expat blogger. Feel free to answer the questions below on your blog and send me the link to the post and I'll include it here. Great way to get exposure for your blog while having a little fun!

1. Where's the most exotic place you've traveled?

2. What's your trick for sleeping on airplanes?

3. Preferred method of travel: planes, trains or automobiles?

4. How many passports have you had?

5. What's your favorite thing to do as a tourist in your own city?

6. What's the best food you've ever tasted while traveling?

7. What's the worst?

Want more? Subscribe to receive an email when I post a new article, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Escape to Paris

Vicki Lesage, Author

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Les Arches d'Or

Do you believe in love at first sight? What about love at first blog comment?

Sauce Deluxe: Only available at French McDonald's
The first time I visited Sarah's blog, est. 1975, I was met with a rant about McDonald's that could have been penned (well, typed) by my own hand. Except funnier. I had a lot to say in response but was apprehensive. Would my comment be as funny as she was? Would she like me? Would our love last forever, or only a summer?

Fortunately, Sarah thought I was hilarious. *whew* She even invited me to guest post on her blog. I would have been happy to just hold hands but I gladly took her up on her offer. Here's an excerpt:

McDonald's in France took it one step further, creating Sauce Deluxe. It's fancy. Don't believe me? "Deluxe" is right there in the name! I'm not sure exactly what the sauce is, but it's rich and creamy and has herbs in it. It's mayonnaise's rich, sexier cousin. I don't need to know more. I just want to dip my fries in it, smear it on my face, and swim in a pool of it if I can get my hands on enough of it.

Read on for the full story in all its rant-y glory, and for exclusive images by none other than Sarah herself. Spoiler alert: they're even better than what I wrote.

Then keep reading once you're there. Her blog is pure gold. Skip Facebook (your friends' dinners, pets, and babies will still be there when you return) and spend your free time on est. 1975. You can thank me when you pee your pants.

And stay tuned for her guest post next week!

About Sarah (Est. 1975)

est. 1975
A corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah (est. 1975) somehow manages to find occasional work as a freelance copy writer and copy editor. In addition to her regular contributions to BLUNTmoms, Sarah also writes comedy blog est. 1975, which won Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks 2014 Badass Blog Awards.


Vicki Lesage, Author

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day

Allons enfants de la patrie!

It's the 14th of July, also known as Bastille Day, the day France celebrates the revolution and becoming a republic. Citizens celebrate across the nation, in a rare moment of flag-waving national pride. That's not to say the French don't have national pride - most French people are very proud to be French - it's just that it's not in the culture to actually wave a flag, the way so many Americans do.

But on July 14th you see parties and picnics, fireworks and festivities - celebrations everywhere.

Bastille Day: The Paris Air Show
By Jastrow (Own work) [CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

My favorite is the air show in Paris, where jets and fighter planes from the French military zoom surprisingly low across the Parisian skyline. It's a fascinating glimpse into France's air fleet and it amazes me how low they fly, right through the city. Post-9/11, that just doesn't happen in the US.

I work in La Défense, the business district of Paris stacked with skyscrapers. Last year, the loud whoosh of the jets interrupted one of my meetings, as my colleagues and I ran to the windows to watch the planes do their practice runs. From our angle, the wings nearly clipped the buildings!

This year I lucked out and managed to catch a test flight on video. Enjoy:


If you're in Paris on July 14th, be sure to check out the air show to enjoy this unique aspect of French culture. Though I don't think you could miss it!

Another View

Fellow American writer in Paris, Adria J. Cimino, is co-hosting the "Paris in July" event this year and has invited me along. She and I are writing about similar themes throughout the month, sharing our different perspectives. For Bastille Day, she writes about the Bal de Pompiers:

Author Adria J. Cimino
So how do Parisians spend Bastille Day? Festivities begin with BBQs and the annual "Firefighters' Ball" on July 13 and celebrations culminate with the Paris fireworks display over the Eiffel Tower on the night of the 14th. "What's this about the firefighters hosting a party?" you might ask...

Read the full post here

Paris in July: Musings on the City of Light

This post is part of "Paris in July," an annual Paris-themed blogging event created by Karen at A Wondering Life and Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Join in the fun and check out their sites for awesome posts about the City of Light, contributed from bloggers around the world!

More "Paris in July" Posts

7/1: Paris in July: Kickin' It Off
7/5: Taking on the Marais with Vicki and Lily
7/9: Paris A to Z
7/11: Life is Better in Flip Flops
7/12: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Berthillon
7/14: Bastille Day
7/15: Les Arches d'Or
7/21: French Optimism
7/22: This One Time In Paris
7/24: Collect Moments, Not Things
7/26: Writing in Paris
7/31: Paris in July: Looking Ahead to August

Escape to Paris

Vicki Lesage, Author