Monday, December 27, 2010

Stop the Ride!

Well, Christmas was certainly a whirlwind of activity from which I have not yet recovered.  But I have to admit, I had a great holiday and I hope all of you had one too!

Unfortunately blogging time will be sparse for the next few days.  I’m home for the next week with three dahling children expecting me at their beck and call.  I’ve had to remind them on a few occasions that ‘I am not your slave.  I am your mother.’  (though often times I do wonder if there’s much of a difference.)

In the meantime, I’m definitely getting ‘the itch’ to start something new.  I find I am the happiest, most easy going and optimistic person when I’m in the middle of a writing project.  I dunno what it is- the process of creating, the magic of seeing things come to life or the renewed feeling of hope.  In any case, I’m honestly at my very best when I have a writing project going on the side so I think it’s time I sit down and do a proper outline on something I’ve had in my head for awhile.

How was everyone else’s holiday?  Did you take my advice and get fat’n happy?  Does anyone else feel like they’re only living a half life when they aren’t writing something?


Friday, December 24, 2010

More on 'Getting Fat'...

I already knew that French meals were longer and more drawn out affairs than their American counterparts.  I had spent hours beneath the sun at French barbeques, enjoying the six course afternoon lunches of patées, fresh salads, grilled meats, sausages, pastas, cheeses and fruit pies.  (Yes, in that order) 

But nothing (and I mean nothing) had ever prepared me for what the French call ‘Le Réveillon’. 

Not even Thanksgiving. (And that’s saying something)  Now, there are probably many variations in tradition depending on the region and family- (kind of like how we Yankees like the green bean casserole and the Suth’rns gotta have their macaroni and cheese or sweet potatoes.)

It all begins with a Kir Royal (champagne with a spot of cassis berry syrup mixed in) accompanied by the French version of appetizers. 

Les Appéritifs – In this case we usually have little thinly cut white breads spread with tarama (I think it’s ground up cod eggs), tapenade (ground up olives and anchovies), and tuna or salmon patées.  There’s also these miniature hard boiled eggs you dip in mayonnaise and little rounds of soft cream cheese adorned with pink or black fish eggs. 

Once we sit down at the table.  We don’t really get up again for at least three hours.  (Between the wine served and the amount of food we eat, that’s probably in everyone’s best interest.)

There are several ‘Entrées’.  –Of which, the seafood is usually served first.  

Seafood Entrée(s)--(Cue ‘seafood wine’- usually white & dry) We have thin breads or in some cases ‘blinis’ (kind of like airy, salty pancakes) spread with sour cream and pieces of smoked salmon with squeezed fresh lemon juice on the whole. 

Then there’s the oysters served with thin slices of dill bread to seep up the sauce.  Some like them with fresh lemon juice.  I prefer a shallot and wine vinegar sauce. 

Snails are served stuffed with a garlic herb butter which is very good!  But I prefer the sea snails or 'bulots' with mayonnaise to be honest.

Meat Entrée- foie gras. (cue ‘foie gras wine’-usually white and fruity)  Foie gras is a huge duck liver that’s been prepared with porto or spices and then stuffed in a terrine and cooked at high pressure then cooled so it comes out in perfect round slices.  According to my father in law, it’s against all that is holy to spread foie gras.  It must be ‘placed’ on the toasted white bread or toasted ginger bread before consumed.  I like it with fig jelly.

Main Course(cue main course wine- usually red)  Most often a cooked turkey or a game hen stuffed with a chestnut, sausage and liver stuffing and accompanied by vegetables.

Cheese plate  (cue cheese wine- still red)

Salad and clementines- to HELP DIGEST (?).  


Dessert- the ‘bûche’ is a cake made to look like a log.  It’s a symbol of the ‘yule log’ that was once burned throughout the winter holidays.  They come in every flavor, frozen, fruity, chocolate, etc… and they’re delicious.  And, of course, served with champagne.

Then… we all drive home:)

Have a very Merry Christmas people!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Woman on a Mission

Of course, all I want for Christmas is a literary agent.  But it looks like Santa isn’t ready to leave me one beneath the tree, tied and gagged with a pretty red bow.  SO I’ve decided to set my sights a little lower.  

This Christmas…I want to get fat.

Yes.  It seems I have actively decided to put on the pounds.  If its main component is butter or sugar it is in. my. mouth.  Getting fat is easy, inexpensive, and kills time like nothing else.  Really, a number one gift idea if I do say so...

Sure, it may be the source of clogged arteries, tooth decay and an expanding waistline but who really cares about the fine print at Christmas?  Who doesn't buy the toy just because it 'may contain chokable pieces'?

I just tell myself ‘life is short and simple pleasures are numbered.  Might as well enjoy the hell out of it before I die, right?’  So in comes the pastries, the white breads, the meat patées, and jellies. 

Plus I’m not doing much writing at this time of the year.  It’s a shame really.   If I’d mixed the buttered sweets with hours spent typing in front of the computer, I’m sure I could get my ‘ass’ets to expand even faster.

Speaking of food, unless Santa does really surprise me with a call back from a fairy god agent, Thursday’s post will be exploring the pleasures of the French ‘Reveillion’- a feast that rivals our own Thanksgiving.   I hope everyone has a fantastic holidayJ

Now, go get fat, people!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Yer Botherin' Me...

For anyone who’s ever taken high school French, you should know that ‘Sorry to bother you’ translates to :  ‘Désolé de vous déranger.’

Yes, you might notice ‘déranger’ holds a mighty close resemblance to the English word ‘deranged’.  I don’t know about you but when I think of the word ‘deranged’, I see a wild psychopathic look in someone’s eye, hair on end, and perhaps a bit of saliva escaping the corner of one’s mouth.--Which isn’t a far cry off from what happens when you ‘bother’ a French person enough.

Because, in my experience, the French are very easily annoyed. 

The first sign that you are annoying a French person:  The long, loud, drawn out sigh or ‘huff’.  I hear this one whenever the lines in the post office, grocery store, bank, or social security offices are moving too slow.  Which they always are.

Next there are the small actions one can commit that fall into annoyance territory:
Ex: cutting in line, talking too loud,  bumping into someone with your grocery cart, double parking, ignoring the ‘priorité’ when driving, taking too long in public bathrooms, holding up the line more than usual in the places mentioned above, banging on walls after 10pm, not recycling your trash, leaving the community garage door open, etc…

(If you are part of a home-owners association, the lists of things you’re not allowed to do because they fall into the ‘annoying’ category is never ending.)

So all of the above could very easily earn you a quick, but sometimes brutal ‘you are annoying me’ phrase from a Frenchman or woman

What’s fascinating is that the French have more ways of saying what essentially translates to ‘you’re bothering me’ than I can count, and they range from the polite to the downright vulgar.  Here are just the ones I’ve learned so far:

C’est pénible:  That’s trying
C’est fatigant:  That’s tiresome
Ça me fait chier:  That makes me shit
C’est soûlant:  It fills up to maximum capacity (Soûler is also the word for ‘drunk’) or ‘You’re making my  head spin- and not in a good way.  But in a ‘I’m so drunk I’m gonna puke’ way’.
Ça me gave :  That’s stuffing me

Ça me gonfle:  That’s inflating me or making me 'swell'
Ça me tape sur les nerfs :  It’s hitting on my nerves
Ça m’enerve :  pretty much same as above
Ça me casse les pieds :  That breaks my feet (yeah, I don’t get it either)
Ça me casse les couilles :  It breaks my balls (and yes, they do mean those balls)
Ça m’emmerde : It puts me in shit (noticing a trend here ?)
And still others:
C’est embêtant- That’s troublesome
C’est agaçant- That’s annoying
C’est chiant – That’s shitty annoying

Hope you enjoyed your Friday French Lesson:)  You may now close your notebooks and get ready for third period.  Stop snapping gum Candyland.  Matthew Rush, your desk is a disaster.  Jessica, for the thousanth time no doodling! and Vicki!  If I catch you passing notes to Stina again...:)

Go forth my fine people and be….annoyed:)
Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red in the Face

How many times have you seen someone blush?  I mean really blush out of embarrassment or uneasiness? 

The reason I ask is because in the last few years I’ve noticed a trend in most of the published works I read. 

Everyone blushes. 

‘Cheeks go pink’, ‘face grows warm’, ‘heat rises’, ‘turns crimson’,  ‘shamefaced’, ‘red ears’…blushing. 

Which, honestly, I find kind of odd.  I mean, you can sort of expect it in period books- especially regency romance where everyone is blushing at the drop of a hat.

But when a modern-day headstrong, sarcastic, confident hero/heroine blushes about something stupid, it makes you wonder doesn’t it?  Just how and when blushing is necessary or appropriate? 

I’ve seen kids blush when they’re the center of attention and don’t like it.  I’ve seen teens blush if being ridiculed in front of someone they have a crush on or admire.


I hate to admit this, but I am a total blusher.  Which in my opinion is kind of weird and totally unfair. 

I’m a pretty confident person.  I don’t mind being the center of attention…that’s never made me blush.  Crushes never made me blush.  Nor any kind of sexual innuendo (pfft)

I’m more of a ‘one on one’ blusher.   I usually blush when talking to one person, in most cases a perfect stranger. 

You see, I suffer from this thing called ‘Foot in Mouth Disease’, which I apparently inherited from my mother.   It’s like my mouth goes on auto-pilot and my brain is just one step behind - -much too late to save me from saying some of the stupidest things on the planet.  And in front of strangers, no less.

(*side note- This explains why I still haven’t mastered the feminine and masculine in French and probably never will.  My mouth simply does not have time to stop and think about the sexual connotation of an inanimate object.)

So what happens?  The stupid thing slips out.  But I could totally make a recovery- turn it into a joke, or just change the subject- making the person in front of me forget about my momentarily breech of etiquette, humor, morals, esteem or whatever else I’ve lost in their eyes in that mere second.  But alas, I get that slight twinge in my gut and I know its coming.

The tops of my cheeks go first.  Just a little warmth.  And then I think ‘Oh shit, I’m blushing.  I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. Oh no, their gonna see it.  They can tell I’m getting redder. Nooooooo!!’

It really is like a snowball effect.  I blush harder because I know I’m blushing.  It’s a vicious cycle.  And before you know it, my face isn’t just red, it’s, like throbbing.  A red glowing beacon. 

And in the meantime, here I am, just trying to hold onto the conversation while perspiration starts to form on my upper lip, my face pumps with the rhythm of my heartbeat and the person in front of me is cocking their head to the side, probably wondering how I’ve achieved the unique blood red pigment and if my ears really are turning purple.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Cause from where I’m standing, the only people it happens to live in the literary world…. How many people have you really seen blush in your life and what was the situation that brought it on? 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ranking Rejections

Rejection is never easy.  It’s not easy to give it.  It’s not easy to receive it.  (Although I’m pretty sure it’s harder to receive it.  But das jus me.)
That said, is it possible that some rejection is better than others?  Have you ever received a rejection that made you feel a little less rejected ?  

Down below I have ten rejections that encompass pretty much every style I’ve ever received.  Which one would you rather have in your inbox?  Is less more?  Or do you like when the agent apologizes and reassures you about your aptitudes?  Up to you to decide!

1. Thank you very much for your query, which we have read with interest. Unfortunately, the project does not seem right for this agency, and we are sorry that we cannot offer to serve as your literary agent.  We also apologize for the form rejection.  The sheer number of queries we receive prevents personalization in order for us to respond in a timely fashion. We wish you all the best in finding more suitable representation, encourage you to query widely, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work.

2. Thanks so much for your query.  Unfortunately, though, I don't believe I'd be the right agent for your work.  I wish you much success.

3. Thank you for your recent query letter and your interest in Redacted.  We are always eager to hear from writers who are serious about the business of writing; unfortunately, we do not feel that Redacted is the right company to represent your work.  We have to be very selective of what we choose to represent, and all of our decisions are based on a frank assessment of the current needs of the literary and film markets.  The fact that this work doesn’t fit our narrow criteria for representation does not mean it couldn’t find a home elsewhere.  We urge you to submit your work to other agencies or management companies that may be more suited to this type of material.

4. Thank you for submitting your work to Redacted. Unfortunately, your manuscript isn't a good fit for us.  Best of luck with other agencies.

5. Thank you for thinking of me in connection with your writing. I don't feel that I would be the best person to work with you on this project, but I do wish you all good luck placing it in the right hands.

6. I have received your query.  After careful evaluation, I have decided that I am not the right agent to represent your work.  I'm sure another agent will feel quite differently about your material though.  Thank you for considering our agency.  I wish you the best of luck finding representation.

7. Thank you for your submission to Redacted. Unfortunately, we are taking on very few new clients and we did not feel your manuscript was something we would be able to successfully market at this time. Agents often have very different opinions, however, and we wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.  Please be assured that every manuscript is reviewed by at least one member of our staff but due to the high volume of submissions we receive, we cannot offer individual comments on your manuscript.  I am sorry to give you this disappointing news and should stress that this is just my opinion and others may view your work very differently. I wish you every success with your writing.

8. Thank you for your submission to Redacted. We read your query and have come to the conclusion that it is not something we wish to pursue at this time.  Best of luck with your writing career.

9. Thank you for letting me see this.  I’m sorry to say that I don’t feel it is going to be one for me.   The market is very tough at the moment and I can only take on new writers whom I truly believe I can place successfully. Your work has some nice points, but sadly I don’t feel quite the level of conviction that I need.  Wishing you all the best with your writing career.

 10. I'm sorry, but I am probably not the right agent for this work.     I wish you the best of luck with the project. 

As for me, after all the rejections I’ve received, I much prefer #10.  --it’s a rejection so whether it’s a quick one sentence reject or a two paragraph reject, the outcome is the same, so just rip it off like a bandaid! The worst is probably #7 which basically refers to your work as unmarketable.  Strangle me now.
What do you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Walking Dead

Oh no, wait a second.  That’s just a picture of Parisians in their normal habitat. 

Yes, one stereotype most can agree on is that in Paris, we like to wear black.

Well, I can confidently confirm this commonly held belief as TRUE.  And it’s not just Parisians, but you can find pretty much everyone living in and around Ile de France dressed to the hills in that slimming, classic, versatile, but definitely morbid color.

I like to think that city people are kind of like chameleons- blending into their surroundings.  Between the rain, clouds, fog, and pollution- Paris is a pretty gray city.  And dirty.  Let me tell you- wearing light colors in the metro never did anyone any good.

Naturally, when I first came here, I stuck out like a sore thumb.   With my denim jackets, bright pastel sweaters, sports shoes and jeans- not to mention my natural *ahem* blonde hair and funny accent, I might as well have had the sign TOURIST written on my forehead. 

Within a few months that was taken care of though.  Not that I had a choice in the matter.  When I went shopping I had three options:  white, black, or gray.  Sometimes there’d be a few token burgundy or cobalt blue pieces thrown in, but nothing flashy. 

So I got used to draping myself in foggy grays, dark browns and blacks.  Now that I’ve been living here for a while it’s become second nature.

So I guess you could say fitting into the Parisian color scheme is pretty easy:

No bright colors
No smiles (unless you’re looking to flirt)
No socks with sandals
Try to stay away from fanny packs
No sneakers (tennis shoes, running shoes etc) or the creepy shoes with the holes in them

Take my advice and you should just melt into the dreary landscape like every other walking dead  J

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Mysterious Delivery

 Yesterday I received a spankin’ new copy of  ‘Kaspar Prince of Cats’ by Michael Morpurgo. 
I stared at the cover for awhile and thought ‘huh.  A middle grade book…About a cat.’  --My thirteen year old sister tried to get me into the ‘Warriors’ series but it didn’t take so I don’t know why I would order a book featuring a cat.  And the honest truth is,

I didn’t order it. 

At least not to my recollection.

After a moment I put the book down and studied the order form.   My name was under the ‘customer name’.   I double checked my ordering history.  Nothing there.  I looked at my bank statements.  Nothing there either.


The book cover and the description sounded vaguely familiar.  I’d swear one of the blogs I follow did a review recently.  Maybe I won a copy?

So I tried looking it up on blogger, google, googlereader, etc…nothing.

And I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I’d seen it.   I remember seeing the cover.  And I think there was a description complementing the historical aspects of the story.  And then…black hole.

‘Black hole’ is a syndrome I’ve had since I was a kid.  I’ll pick something up with the intention of putting it in a ‘better place’.  Then later on, when I go looking for it, I have no idea where I put it.  I’ll wrack my brain, trying to remember.  I’ll see myself picking up whatever it was and walking towards…boom! black hole.

It’s frustrating to say the least.

SO, what does any normal writer do when they receive a free book? 

Yeah, I finished it in about an hour.

It was a really cute story.  I’m not familiar with a lot of middle grade but it was written in very clear, concise language.  The main characters were likeable and I did love the historical aspects about the Titanic. 

SO if someone sent me the book, thanks!  And if it was only a mistake made by some distributing company…well, I’m a firm believer in destiny.  I’ve wanted to start bulking up on my middle grade for quite some time now and this was a great way to begin!

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, December 6, 2010

The World of Freelance Writing...

...Is completely foreign to me.  I would love to get into freelancing.   So many sources confirm it’s a great way to beef up your portfolio, gain experience and even a little money.

The biggest barrier between me and the world of freelance? – Well, for one,  I have NO idea what it really means or how to get into it.

 A minor issue, really.

I mean ‘Freelance’ in and of itself is kind of a confusing concept.  How does it work?  Do you write the articles before-hand and then go searching for publications who might be interested?  Or do you contact the publications, tell them your freelance and then they assign you articles to write?

What are the differences in query letters when querying an article to an editor and a manuscript to an agent?

How much do you get paid per article?

What are some other options for freelance writers, besides magazines and journals?

As you can tell from the above…I’ve got some serious God’nGoogling to do.   Eventually I hope to have found the answers and when I do- I’ll be sure to share them here on Creepy Query Girl, hopefully enlightening those who will follow in my freelancing footsteps.
In the meantime, if you guys have any answers or information, I’d love to hear it!

Happy Monday people!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Don't Drink the Water!

Don’t get me wrong.  France has perfectly safe drinking water.   That’s not why I bid you warning when visiting the magical city of Paris. 

Truth is, from the day I first arrived here as a student almost nine years ago, I have been absolutely persuaded that the French government secretly plants folic acid in the drinking water in hopes of increasing their population.  It’s the only explanation I could come up with.

Exhibit one- While walking the streets of Paris, the marketplaces, the grocery stores,--I couldn't help noticing there were pregnant women on top of pregnant women (figuratively speaking) as far as the eye could see. 

Exhibit two- Not only were French women being inseminated like flies (yes, I know flies probably don’t inseminate but it just sounded appropriate)- but the water actually got to me and I ended up flying back to the U.S. with a mini franco-american of my own in the works, so I’m speaking from experience.  (okay.  The water is probably not the only explication.  But I’m sure it didn’t help.)

Exhibit three-After some research, I found out that many of the socialized programs still in operation were founded after World War II in order to increase France's population.  With all their efforts, it's totally conceivable that they threw a little folic acid into the water for good measure.

Basically, France put into effect programs that would help women with children.  The CAF (Centre d’Allocations Familliales) still gives a monthly stipend of about 160 euros for each child under the age of three and a family allocation of around 240 euros a month if you have more than two children.   If you choose to stay home and take care of your kids, they will also pay a percentage of your rent/housing costs.  You get a bonus of almost 1000 euros for the birth of a child (I’m not lying.  I call it ‘the birthing bonus’) and a bonus of around 300 euros per child entering primary school every September for things like clothes and school supplies.

Basically, it pays to have kids. 

Almost as much as a full time job actually….

Which is probably why France has one of the highest birthing rates amongst European countries.

Well-- that and the folic acid in the water;)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Agent

A friend of mine posted a question on one of our writing group forums awhile back and with all the readers and resources that are out there, I thought maybe someone might know some information that could help her out.

Question posted by SecretSpi:

‘OK, I've had a few rejections but I'm not too disheartened because it seems that quite a few of the agencies who have rejected my submission are pointing me in one particular direction.

Some of them are quite subtle, hinting that another agent
might feel differently, but one was really to the point, saying she's sure that another agent will respond with real enthusiasm. I'm rather hoping she knows the agent in question personally.

Now, I know I'm meant to be a spy and should be good at this sort of thing but so far I've failed miserably. Has anyone out there got, by any chance, the contact details (email preferred but postal will do) and submissions procedure for Another Agent?

Thanks ever so.

I, too, would be interested in having those coordinates.  If you have any information, please let me know;)

Also, I came across the most TOUCHING, hilarious review of my blog on A Taste of Garlic today.  I can't tell you how honored I am that someone would take the time to go through so many of my old posts so if you've got the time please check it out!

Today's question for God or Google:  Why does the deoterant always crumble into chunks when you get to the end?  Such a waste of a good centimeter and a half of product...

Have a great day!


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