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An Evening with Liam Callanan and Paris By The Book

What would you do if someone you loved disappeared? How far would you go to be reunited?

These are the questions Leah, the main character in Paris By the Book answers. She describes her efforts in the prologue.

            Once a week, I chase men who are not my husband.

            (After everything, I do this still.)

            I should not, but there are many things I do that should not—smoke, own a bookstore, pay for French lessons I always find ways to skip—and this is one. I walk my daughters to school, stare past the parents staring at me, and start my search for that day’s man.

            I’ve sometimes begun right there on the sidewalk, trailing a fellow parent, a father, as he frees himself from the clutch outside the massive school door. More frequently, I walk up to the teeming rue Saint-Antoine and sift the passing crowd. Some mornings I find someone to chase right away. Some mornings it takes all morning. Some mornings I follow someone for a while, usually someone just like my husband, or as close as I can manage, or bear—the ink-black hair, the narrow shoulders, the hands that can’t say in pockets, the head that can’t stop turning every way but mine—only to lose interest when some errant detail distracts. My husband would never wear blue glasses. My husband would never not yield a taxi to a pregnant woman. My husband would never steal a magazine from newsstand, an apple from a greengrocer, a book from a bouquiniste. My husband would never—and I say this once on one of my forays, a dad I’d trailed from the school door—kiss a woman not his wife.

Dr. Debra Brenegan and Professor Liam Callanan

I was fortunate to hear the author Liam Callanan read this passage at Mount Mary University’s Writers on Writing February 11th, 2019 Event. After he read his compelling prologue, he told us about how he’d come up with the idea. About five or six years ago, Liam and his family were looking for a place to go for Spring Break and it turned out plane tickets to Paris were on sale. Liam decided to write an article that would be a children’s guide to Paris. He and his family would visit the places where Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline had adventures. In their walk-about Liam’s family passed an English language bookstore called The Red Wheelbarrow. He has an author’s rule—anytime they go to a bookstore, his kids get a book. Liam went inside and found the place disorganized. He tried to buy a book and the owner refused to sell it to him.

Instead, she said, “The truth is the store’s too much for me. My daughter left. My husband left. This is the end unless you buy the shop.”

Liam answered, “I think we’ll lose all our money in eight months.”

“Six months,” she corrected. Liam and his family left the shop, but the idea for Paris By the Book was born. And, good news, he’s planning on having a book signing in the Red Wheelbarrow in the near future. In preparation for the Writers on Writing Event I read Paris By the Book, which I loved. You can read my review at this link.

Along with Paris By The Book we were treated to fancy desserts.

Liam Callanan’s a professor in the English department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he’s served as the department chair and the coordinator of its Ph.D. program in creative writing. And you can find out more about him, his novels, and his writing career at this link. https://www.liamcallanan.com/

Paris By the Book-A Goodreads Review

Paris by the Book

Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Like Schrödinger’s cat, Leah Eady’s husband, Robert may or may not be dead. On the surface he’s a supportive husband and all-around awesome dad, but underneath he’s a tormented writer certain a great novel is in him if only he can manage to yank it free. Apparently, he can’t write around his family, so he often goes on short, break-away trips. He usually leaves notes, and returns after a few days; however, he never comes home from his last excursion.


Leah contacts the police, but no leads come up. Robert isn’t not calling, texting or even using his credit cards. The one clue Leah has is an unfinished manuscript about a family moving to Paris to hopes of being reunited with a lost loved one. She remembers sweet dates where Robert took her to Paris, Wisconsin, her husband’s fascination with Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and the fact that he insisted his daughters attend a French-speaking school to conclude if she’s ever going to see Robert again, it will be in Paris.


Leah and her daughters, Ellie and Daphne, travel to Paris and end up staying. Leah buys into a failing English-language bookshop, which she and her daughters manage. They meet all kinds of colorful characters and we, readers, learn loads about the city of Paris, while the family searches for Robert and succeed in making a new life for themselves.


I love Leah, Ellie and Daphne and their quirky, new friends. They mix grief with adventure as they navigate their new ex-patriot lives and prove they can remain a family without Robert. Still, as readers, we aren’t sure about Robert’s being alive or dead until Leah comes to terms with his disappearance in a wonderfully satisfying scene where she throws a book-chucking tantrum. I won’t spoil the mystery by elaborating further.


Some readers might find the plot far-fetched, but I willingly bought into Liam Callanan’s well-spun yarn. If you like whimsical adventures as well as wacky yet heartfelt characters, or if you just want to learn lots about the city of Paris, this is a story for you.


4.5 Stars!

View all my reviews

Other Than is coming to Audio

I’m thrilled to announce Other Than will soon be available as an audiobook. Keira Stevens worked hard to perform the story flawlessly, and she succeeds!  Recently, she shared with me some of the out-takes to hopefully wet readers’ interest.

Avalible  at Amazon.com

2018 Prism Award

This goody came in the mail. It’s awesome to have my chaptermates validate Other Than. Thanks.

Thanks FTHRW! Happy 20th Anniversary!

From the Heart Romance Writers sent some great gifts along with this quote, “The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” ~Albert Ellis

Thanks!

It’s our 20th Anniversary! Here’s one more view of the key ring chain.

The Christmas Ballet

Constance Bretes describes her new release The Christmas Ballet as heartwarming and romantic. Check it out at

http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2018/12/constance-bretes-talks-about-her-new.html

Beverley Oakley’s New Release–Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith 
Fair Cyprians of London Series (Book 3)
By Beverley Oakley
 
About Keeping Faith:

“My beautiful Revenge.”

Four years ago, Faith’s mysterious benefactress falsely accused her of stealing and deposited her in Madame Chambon’s exclusive brothel.

There, Faith was to learn how to entrance London’s noble gentlemen with her learning in philosophy, politics and art.


Her body was to be saved for the greatest enticement of all: revenge.

Faith doesn’t care what she has to do. She lives only to fulfil a bargain that will set her free.

But when Faith is recruited as the muse of a talented, sensitive painter whose victory in a prestigious art competition turns them both into celebrities overnight, she discovers the reasons behind her mission are very different from what she’d been led to believe.

Now she is complicit in something dark and dangerous while riches, adulation and freedom are hers for the taking.


But what value are these if her heart has become a slave to the man she is required to destroy?


Genre – historical romantic suspense
Heat Level – Medium


Keep Faith Buy Links:
https://www.books2read.com/u/bP5pGY
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Dg70UP

Excerpt: 

Chapter One

“What did you learn last night?”

“A gentleman must always believe he knows best.”

Confident that her answer was pleasing, Faith reached across the table to help herself to a macaroon but a sharp slap across the back of the hand stopped her progress by the silver teapot.

Her smile of feigned contrition was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Madame Chambon. Not an invitation to partake of a macaroon, unfortunately. The table laden with eclairs and petit fours in Madame’s private sitting room was merely for show.

“Greedy girl, Faith! You can eat at the Dorchester tomorrow and I daresay you won’t even spare a thought for the other girls who are justified in being somewhat jealous of your cossetted life.” Madame sniffed as she patted one of the grizzled, orange curls of her elaborate coiffure. Faith suspected a squirrel’s pelt had made its contribution. “I’m sure they wonder every day why you never have to stir yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – to get your fine clothes or a roof over your head.” Madame Chambon piled three macaroons onto her already laden plate before making a sweeping gesture that encompassed the furnishings of her surprisingly decorous private sitting room with its gold tasseled green velvet curtains and flock wallpaper. “What have you told them, Faith? About why you are here, I mean?”

Faith’s stomach rumbled as she gazed from the prints of the famous artists that lined the walls to the fine fare in front of her, ordered from Fortnum and Mason. These monthly sessions in table manners were supposed to give Faith the practice she needed to deport herself like a lady when eating in public. However, under Madame’s guardianship, Faith never actually got to try the specialties.

“Answer me, Faith. In all the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve had to do precisely nothing to justify your existence. Surely the girls have questioned you? I have my own version of the truth for them, as you know, but I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.”

Faith didn’t answer. She already knew how lucky she was, but Madame was not ready to drop the subject, despite having just crammed an entire chocolate éclair into her mouth. Faith just managed to make out the muffled words, “Every night you lie peacefully in your bed while the other girls have to earn their livings.”

Lying peacefully in her bed was not how Faith would describe the restfulness of her slumber. She was kept awake every night by the grunts and cries of ecstasy that penetrated the thin walls of her attic chamber.

Still, she’d finally learned when it was wise to respond meekly, so she bowed her head and stared at her neat kid gloves while dreaming of the delicacies Mrs. Gedge would order for them when Faith really was dining with her at the Dorchester Hotel the following afternoon. The Sacher Torte Mrs. Gedge had ummed and aahed over before finally choosing the baked Alaska from the sweets trolley last month still haunted her. However, since part of Faith’s tutoring included how to win over reluctant gentleman ‘and make them wild with wanting’ which is how Madame phrased it, then surely Faith could persuade her American benefactress to order the Austrian chocolate specialty?

She was so busy rehearsing her words for tomorrow that she almost missed Madame’s prophetic and appalling statement.

“Well, Faith, the time has come for you to start earning your way, now.”

Faith brought her head up in shock. Was Madame teasing? When it appeared not, she gripped the table edge as she struggled for composure. For so long she’d known the reckoning would come. Yes, and with three years preparing for it, she’d believed she could meet it head-on with the necessary fortitude.

But there’d been no warning.

She began to shake, biting into her bottom lip and clasping her hands in her lap to try and keep secret the manifestations of her terror from Madame who’d only be spurred onto gloating and make her suffer even more.

“Mrs. Gedge reported last month that she wasn’t entirely happy you were ready for what she has in store for you when she took you to tea, Faith.” Madame chewed noisily, unperturbed, it seemed, by the crumbs that landed on her gaudy vermillion skirts.

Faith didn’t suggest that Mrs. Gedge’s dissatisfaction was perhaps the fault of Faith’s tutor – the one sitting in front of her – who knew nothing about deporting herself as a lady.

With a dainty gesture using only her forefingers, Madame Chambon raised her plate and licked at the crumbs that had not been dislodged before saying, “Fortunately, Lady Vernon is recovered at last from her long indisposition and has agreed to forget your rudeness to her from six months ago. In fact, she’ll be here shortly. Yes, she’ll soon have you passing the scrutiny of the most discerning duchess.” Madame gobbled down another macaroon with as much finesse as the dogs Faith’s father used to goad into fighting each other after they’d fought over the scraps from the scrubbed wooden table at the farm. Not that there’d been many scraps with ten children to feed.

“Should we not have waited for Lady Vernon?” Faith suggested, daringly. But she had to say something to stop herself from launching into a volley of querulous questions about exactly what form this ‘having to earn her own way’ might take.

Madame Chambon pushed aside an untouched plate of bread and butter to reach for another chocolate éclair and sighed. “There was just so much food on the table it seemed unnecessary to wait if her ladyship was going to be late. Ah! And here she is.” Madame’s orange painted mouth turned up at a knock on the door. “Shoulders back, Faith! And make sure you don’t talk with your mouth full.”

Since this was not a danger, Faith supposed there might be some compensation in having to face her former nemesis who surely must subscribe to the belief that learning table manners required one having to eat.

Madame threw her arms wide in a welcome as the door opened to admit the new arrival. “Good evening, Lady Vernon. We’re so glad you’ve recovered from your chest ailment,” she gushed. “A good rest has done you the world of good. Why, you look ten years younger. Just as you do every time I see you, in fact. And we’re indeed humbled that you’ve consented to return.” Madame simpered at the elderly woman, dressed all in black who looked, Faith thought, even more wraith-like than usual as she pinned up the veil of her bonnet and took the seat at the table proffered by Madame who went on, “I’m sure you’ll feel even better once you’ve heard Faith’s heartfelt apology.”

Faith blushed under the scrutiny of the two pairs of expectant, unforgiving eyes, and glanced longingly at the remaining macaroon.

Yes, there were times when it was worth being abject. She mightn’t mean what she said, but if the last three years under Madame Chambon’s roof had taught her one thing, it was how to sound heartfelt and sincere when she felt anything but.

“I’m sorry for my rude comments about…” Faith hesitated. Perhaps it was best not to stir up old memories. While it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who met Lady Vernon as to why an earl’s daughter could remain a spinster into her sixtieth year, it hadn’t been in anyone’s interest – Faith’s least of all, it turned out – for Faith to have gone into quite such specific and extensive detail regarding her thoughts on the likely reasons. “I behaved like a child, though it’s such a long time ago, now, I can barely remember what was going through my head at the time. I was only seventeen and, in those days, prone to losing my temper but now I’m eighteen and, thanks to all your efforts in teaching me how to act like a lady, Lady Vernon, I’m so far from the rude and impulsive young thing I was before, you’d not recognize me today. Thanks to your thorough tutelage, I am determined that I will never speak out of turn, to you, or anyone. Indeed, I have changed! I truly believe that, confronted by a table of delicacies like this, for example, I would certainly not embarrass you or Mrs. Gedge or any lovely young man or his mother who might take me out to tea by any show of greediness or lack of restraint.”

Lady Vernon’s eyes remained fixed firmly on Faith for the duration of this speech with no indication of how forgiving or otherwise she might prove to be.

After a long silence, she spoke. “Restraint?” She sniffed. “Restraint is the most important requirement of any young lady, Faith. I’ve told you this many times, so I’m glad it’s a lesson you claim to have finally learned.”

With her eyes fixed on Faith, she reached towards the remaining macaroon that sat lonely on its plate just in front of them both, her long-fingered hand hovering just above. “Please pass that to me, Faith. I can’t seem to reach it.”

Wordlessly, Faith complied, schooling her features into impassivity while she railed inside, I hate you! I hate you! as she watched Lady Vernon transport the coconut confection to her thin, bloodless lips.

“Delicious,” Lady Vernon murmured. “In fact, I believe it is the best macaroon I have ever tasted? You must surely agree, Faith, since the plate is now empty.”

She looked pointedly at the two remaining crumbs that clung to the edge of the fine china, as if to imply that Faith had eaten the rest. Then she indicated the plate of bread and butter near Madame Chambon. “Please eat, Faith. Madame Chambon and I have a leisurely afternoon at our disposal. She and I will partake of the remaining chocolate eclairs –” Her pointed chin wobbled slightly, whether from the suppression of mirth or the swallowing of bile, Faith could only guess, “while you make good work of the bread and butter with all the ladylike restraint you’re so anxious to prove.”

Other Books in the Series:

Saving Grace (Fair Cyprians of London Book 1) by [Oakley, Beverley]
Saving Grace Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2z7rVGx

Forsaking Hope (Fair Cyprians of London Book 2) by [Oakley, Beverley]
Forsaking Hope Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2DlzV9M

Beverley Oakley’s Bio:

Debutantes, widows and the occasional courtesan test society’s boundaries in Beverley Oakley’s wicked, passionate historical romances dripping with scandal, intrigue, and suspense.

Her Fair Cyprians of London series is about a group of determined and clever courtesans at a high-class Soho brothel who use their wit and beauty to avenge past betrayals – and who find lasting love along the way.

How can there be a happily ever after? is a question many a reviewer has asked before admitting to being delighted and satisfied by the unexpected plot twists and surprise endings – just like in Beverley’s own life. You can read more on her website.

Beverley’s Social Links:

Website: http://www.beverleyoakley.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverleyOakley/
Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/beverleyeikli/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeverleyOakley
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5989577.Beverley_Oakley

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The National Novel Writing 50K Finishline

Today, I crossed the 50K finishline.  Thank you, National Novel Writing Month, and thank you, writing buddies. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Thirteen Ideas to Inspire Creativity

Photo by Mervyn Chan on Unsplash

Hey, I’ve got some great ideas for you on the Wisconsin Romance Writers’ blog.

13 Ideas to Inspire Creativity

Want Help With Your Novel for National Novel Writing Month? Check Out These Ideas

 

It’s November, which for many of us means it’s … National Novel Writing Month.

Exactly what is National Novel Writing Month? “It’s a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing at the start of November with the goal of writing a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, Nov. 30.” That’s roughly 1, 667 words daily, about 6 to 7 pages a day.

Writing that many words is challenging, even exhilarating, but, at the same time, for people like me, daunting.

There are lots of reasons not to attempt National Novel Writing Month. I play them in my head even as I type my manuscript, but I also have solutions.

Maybe you’re of the same mind and that little voice of doubt nags in your head. With some helpful advice from Chris Baty’s book No Plot, No Problem let’s tackle those concerns.

Chris, incidentally, is the founder of National Novel Writing Month.

  1. I don’t know how to begin. I don’t have it all planned out.That’s OK. Sit down at the keyboard and type. “It’s fine just to start.” Footnote: “Making it up as you go along does NOT require you to be a gifted novelist.”

 

  1. I don’t know what I need to start.“What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline.”

 

  1. How will a deadline help?“In the artistic realms, deadlines do much more than just get projects finished. They serve as creative midwives, as enthusiastic shepherds adept at plucking the timid inspirations that lurk in the wings of our imaginations and flinging them bodily into the bright light of day.”

 

  1. Is the arduous journey worth the time and effort?“In the 30 or 31 days you spend under (the deadline’s “taskmastering”  thumb, “you’ll discover wild, wonderful parts of yourself and tap into exciting realms of aptitude and achievement you didn’t know existed.”

 

  1. How will people react?“You’ll fly and soar and laugh and sing, and [yes] the people who love you will likely worry you’ve gone crazy.”

 

  1. Oh, no!“Well, actually, that’s OK. The insanity only lasts a month, just long enough to get ‘Write a Novel’ checked off your to-do list.”

 

  1. But I’m not sure I can write all that well, especially when I’m just getting my ideas down.“There is no pressure on you to write a brilliant first draft. No one ever writes a brilliant first draft.”

 

  1. What are the special perils?“The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

 

  1. One reason NOT to try National Novel Writing Month is I’m busy and writing a novel takes a lot of time.It does, but what I’m planning is to discover what 1-2 hours a day for a month [can produce]. If I look at my daily routine, I probably can find activities I can forego for a while. And Chris Baty adds, “When I’m writing a novel, I stop Internet surfing entirely, limit my leisure reading, and spend much less weeknight time with (non-noveling) friends. Other writers use the opportunity to pare back conversations with their in-laws and stop doing yard work.” The point: These suggestions should work for you, too.

 

  1. But what about the people I live with?Will they be able to do without me while I’m off creating this masterpiece? “It’s not so much that you’ll be totally absent for one month as it is that you’ll be exceptionally present for the other 11.”

 

  1. But I like to be around others and I want to have some fun even if I’m working on a novel.Answer: If you’re feeling alone, try writing with buddies. “Writing with a partner (or three or four) helps all parties tap into the pool of competitive energy that forms when several people are working toward the same goal.”

 

  1. Does the ‘team approach’ really work?Yes, indeed. “When ‘noveling’ with someone else, you have a pacer, a motivator and a sympathetic ear for sharing the triumphs and tragedies of your novel. It’s more productive and a lot more fun.”

 

  1. But what if I don’t have a plot for my novel?“If you spend enough time with your characters, plot simply happens. This makes your novel writing, in essence, a literary trapeze act, one where you have to blindly trust that your imagination and intuition will catch you and fling you onward at each stage of your high-flying journey.”

 

Chris’ advice helps me keep turning out pages. It has me thinking about all the others who are taking the 50K challenge. How about you? What thoughts inspire you to keep writing, blogging or taking part in National Novel Writing Month? Please share with us.

 

Sources

http://nanowrimo.org/

I’ve published this post before, but I thought these idea might help readers, so I hope you’ll forgive me for reposting. Just so you know, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month this year.