Monday, May 22, 2017

Paris is always a good idea

Oh my goodness. First time to Paris, and what a lovely trip we had. The weather was practically perfect. A cool, showery day after we arrived, and we got caught in a sudden downpour when we were out in the countryside one day, but it didn't last long and some trees helped keep us somewhat dry. Other than that, sunny and blue skies, including a couple of 80 degree days.

Here is a day-by-day account of this trip of a lifetime, mostly so I can look back on it when I want to. I think I'm also going to do a post for first-time visitors to Paris. Maybe it will be helpful to others? I did a lot of research before going and had pages filled in a notebook of tips and tricks to know. It really helped. I think if you just go, without a lot of thought or planning beforehand, you'll end up at all of the touristy spots and to me, that is not fun. Touristy spots are tourist traps, which means scams and pickpockets and all of those things I'd really like to avoid.

Trip Report:

Day 1 - we arrived around 2:00 pm. A rep from Insidr Paris met us at the airport to deliver the phone we'd be renting for our stay (a service I highly recommend). This phone allowed us to have a hotspot the entire time, provided restaurant recommendations and other tips from a community of Paris experts, and allowed us to easily use the Citymapper app so we could figure out how to get places using the metro, the bus, trains, or by walking. It was awesome. We didn't take a single taxi. When we went to Montmatre for the day, my husband heard a couple get out of a cab and the American man said, "How much was that?" And she said, "Fifty euros, which is like fifty seven dollars or so." For ONE ride!? Oh my gosh. We bought Navigo passes for less than that and they got us just about everywhere we wanted to go, with the exception of Giverny, which required a separate train ticket. After we checked into our hotel, it was a beautiful sunny day so we walked from our hotel to the Pantheon for a look around and a tour to the top. After that, dinner at a famous steakhouse - Le Relais de l'Entrecôte - yum!

Day 2 - In line at 9:00 for the doors opening at 10:00 to go up to the tower at Notre Dame. Wow, this was so amazing. Highly recommend doing this. So glad we got there early, the line was long by the time we got inside. After staying up top for an hour or so, we walked around inside the church for a while.

I bought a little painting from an elderly gentleman who was selling some of his art outside Notre Dame. It's now hanging in my office, a lovely reminder of our wonderful trip.

After that, we strolled over to Île Saint-Louis and walked around, and I had a scoop of the world-famous Berthillon ice cream (raspberry).

We visited the Eiffel Tower, though we didn't stay long because it's such a tourist trap and there are scammers everywhere. I knew we'd have a chance for more photos later on the trip, because I'd scheduled an evening cruise on the Seine.

After an early dinner in a bistro that we happened upon and was delightful, we went to the Musee d'Orsay, which is a museum in an old train station. I really loved this museum. When I saw Starry Night over the Rhone by Van Gogh, I got chills. It is SO beautiful in person. Like, you just can't even imagine. There's also some beautiful pieces by Monet, Renoir, and more.

Day 3 - A day trip to the French countryside to visit a chateau, Vaux le Vicomte. I was not interested in going to Versailles which I've heard is wall-to-wall people, so I researched others and decided on this one. We really enjoyed it. The man who had it built, Nicolas Fouquet, was the superintendent of finances for King Louis XIV. He hired architect Louis Le Vau and landscape architect Andre le Notre. Fouquet invited the King over one night, when it was all finished, hoping to impress him. Instead, the king became jealous and when someone led him to believe public funds had been misappropriated, the king believed it and had Fouquet arrested. The king then hired the architects who had designed Vaux le Vicomte to design what would become Versailles. So in a way, I suppose you could call this estate a little Versailles. There's a casual restaurant on site, so we ate lunch outside on the patio, before the clouds rolled in.

Day 4 - We met up with a group for a 4-hour bike tour. This was really fun. A little scary at times, because biking through Paris is not for wimps, but overall, it was good. We rode around the city, and stopped at attractions and heard fun stories about them. We visited a couple of places I wouldn't have known about. We also stopped in for hot chocolate at Paris' oldest restaurant, Le Precope. So much history in this restaurant - the guide pointed out all kinds of cool things.

That afternoon we went to the Musee L'Orangerie to see Monet's water lilies as well as some other pieces. Then we had pizza and beer while sitting outside in the St.-Germain area, watching all the people going by. It was so good. And I had cake. No surprise.

Day 5 - A day trip to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It's such a quaint little place with the cobblestone streets and charming cottages. This is where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last days before he died. In 70 days he painted close to 70 paintings, because his doctor told him it would be good for him to immerse himself in his work. We spent the entire day here, walking from one end of the town to the other. 

Day 6 - Another day trip, this time to Vernon, where we rented bikes and rode them to Giverny, to see Monet's home and gardens. The gardens are lovely, although I didn't like this trip as well as Auvers, mostly because the place was packed with people. The bike ride was fun though - along an easy path that keeps you away from traffic. And now I want a yellow dining room. 

Day 7 - We spent time at Luxembourg Garden, visited a Jean-Paul Hevin's chocolate shop to bring some chocolates home for my son who was pet-sitting, and went to the Opera House (Palais Garnier) and took a tour. Such a beautiful place. 

That evening, we took a dinner cruise on the Calife. I read lots of reviews and this was the one with the highest marks. People said it wasn't cheesy and the food was actually good. So we went for it. I have to say, we had a really lovely time. It had been 80 degrees that day, so it was neat to see how everyone flocks to the river banks with food and wine and has picnics all along the river. So fun! That is one thing I noticed again and again - Parisians know how to get out and have fun.

Day 8 - our last day! We headed to Montmartre and took a walking tour using the phone we had rented which had a bunch of walking tours programmed into it. We should have done more of this! It was great because it mostly kept us out of the tourist trap areas, and it is such a beautiful place to walk around. When our feet were tired of walking and our stomachs were grumbling, we hopped on a bus and made our way to a "must-do" on my list - to have a fallafel sandwich at the world-famous L'as du Fallafel in the Marais neighborhood. So good. After that, we visited the Memorial de la Shoah, the French holocaust museum for a little while. It's free, and they had a really interesting exhibit about comics and graphic novels that have been done about the holocaust. 

Merci beaucoup for reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quick Update

I've been busy. I know, I keep saying that.

I've been busy staring at the beautiful new books that arrived, and thinking how nice the three all look together.

I've been busy writing and editing. Here is the cat, keeping me company while I read through pages. When I'm at my desk, the dog is at my feet. I'm never alone. Fortunately, they're quiet helpers. Most of the time.

I've been busy Skyping with some students. Here's a photo one class sent to thank me for getting up at 5 AM. Sometimes that time difference is a killer. They were worth it though. Look at those faces!

I've been busy presenting. Here are a couple of photos from the fabulous Cavalcade of Authors. I love this event! I was so busy, I forgot to take many photos. If you squint really hard, you'll see M.T. Anderson in the background. I sat with Brandon Mull at this lunch table, with two students who placed in the writing contest. They were so happy to sit with him! The second photo is of Leslie, who helps run the whole event and one of her daughters, Madison. I first met them when I went to this event six years ago and I just adore them so much.

The first draft of my current project is finished, so I'm doing a read-through, revising as I go, hoping to send it to my editor SOON. Next weekend I have to give a keynote at the Oregon Writing Festival, which is very exciting, but I still need to prepare that keynote. Eep. The fun never ends!!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway

If you have a Goodreads account, there's a giveaway going on now to win an Advanced Review Copy of KEYS TO THE CITY (release date: May 30, 2017).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Keys to the City by Lisa Schroeder

Keys to the City

by Lisa Schroeder

Giveaway ends May 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Friday, March 31, 2017

I'm all about balance when it comes to work

First, some good news. I'm writing a new book that will be coming out sometime in 2018. I can't share many details yet, but when I can, I will! I'm almost as excited as this lady from my favorite soft-serve ice cream place.

The not-so-good news? I have a first draft due in a month or so. I'm about halfway done, I think? Maybe? Hopefully? And April is a really busy month for me with some sub jobs I already agreed to, a couple of appearances/events, some scheduled Skype visits, and the usual stuff life stuff.

Author R.J. Anderson shared this post on twitter yesterday, which talks about hours worked and productivity. "Decades of research demonstrate that the correlation between the number of hours worked and productivity is very weak," says Alex Soojun-Kim Pang, a Stanford University visiting scholar and founder of the Restful Company. Pang has now written a book called REST: WHY YOU GET MORE DONE WHEN YOU WORK LESS. I think I'm going to read that book.

R.J. shared that it's taken her a long time to realize that she is much happier and more productive when she takes frequent breaks throughout the day. And by breaks, she means getting up and getting away from the computer. Taking a walk. Napping. Baking cookies. I replied I've found the same to be true. I am a much happier writer when I have a balanced life that includes the things in life I love - gym time, dog walks, meal preparation and the occasional batch of cookies, a relatively clean house (which my family does help with, thankfully), social get-togethers, family time, and yes, power naps when I need them.

I know that if I write 500-1000 words a day over the next month, I'll meet that deadline. If I can focus for two hours a day, I can do those words. Here are the two things I've found to be key for me:

1) Every evening, I jot down what comes next in the story. It's usually just a paragraph, nothing fancy, but it takes the guess work out of what needs to happen when I sit down to write. I've already figured it out.

2) Then I have to decide WHEN those two hours will occur depending on what appointments or errands I have the next day. Like, today, I need to go grocery shopping and I also have a hair appointment early this afternoon. AND it's supposed to be sunny this afternoon. No way I'm spending the last hours of the afternoon in front of my computer. So I'll go grocery shopping, come back and write for two hours, and then I'm done for the day.

Everyone is different, it's true. Some authors would rather write a ton of words every day over a short period of time, doing hardly anything else. And maybe that's the key here - each writer has to experiment and find out what works best for him/her. But I also think burnout is a very real thing we need to be careful of if we want to keep writing for many years to come.

Anyway - if I'm not posting much this month, now you know why. It's a busy month, with a book to write. As Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights likes to say - let's git'er done.

Wishing you a happy spring!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

From my mail

It's time for another edition of "From my mail!" This is where I share with you lines from mail that I receive from readers. Thanks to all of you who e-mail me and send me letters - I love hearing from you!

by 3rd grader Eliana
"I love your books because they're fun and once you start reading you can't stop. The truth is I promised only to read the first page but actually read 'till chapter 6. I have two dogs, one a puppy and one an adult. The puppy is obnoxious." ~ Eliana, 3rd grade

"I love your Charmed Life books. You give really good details." ~ Reagan

"Thank you for writing such a fun set of books for girls [the Charmed Life series]. We bought the books when my daughter was 10. She's 12 now and I think we've read the books at least four times. She is dyslexic and does not enjoy reading by herself but loves for me to read to her. I've loved the books as much as she has." ~ Joan

"I just finished Sealed with a Secret and fell in love with it. It helped me with my sister difficulties just like Phoebe." ~ Rushika

"My name is Sarah and I am currently reading My Secret Guide to Paris with my best friend. We are both in sixth grade. My friend that is reading this with me is also named Nora just like the main character. We are obsessed with Paris and love everything about it. That is only one out of a million reasons why we love this book." ~ Sarah

"I believe I read your book It's Raining Cupcakes somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade. I am now a senior filling out college applications. For one of my applications I was asked why I chose my major (entrepreneurship). When thinking back I realized it was your book that made me fall in love with entrepreneurship." ~ Ramsey

"Hello. My friend and I read your book The Day Before. We absolutely loved it. We loved the way it was written and how you used lots of foreshadowing. We would like to know if there is going to be a sequel?" ~ Brenna and Elizabeth

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kirkus Review - KEYS TO THE CITY

The first professional review is in and while I can't share the whole thing yet (it will be online soon), I can share the last line, which is a nice one.

Release date: 5/30/17

"Lindy's journey comforts those in search of themselves. Sweet and familiar Lindy makes this story hard to resist." ~ Kirkus magazine

While I'm here, also want to let you know that THE GIRL IN THE TOWER will be out in paperback on March 28th. Though if you'd like a great deal on the hardcover price, Amazon currently has it for only $6.67. What a deal - not sure how long that will last!