Paris, Sept. 2017

I forgot how beautiful and inspiring this city is. The last time I was here was 1985. The train from London was smooth, fast, comfortable and quiet. Here are a few photos.

The view from the roof of my hotel. Paris. Sept. 15. 2017.

Cafe near Montmartre. Sept. 15, 2017

Soft clouds above the Seine on a September afternoon. Sept. 15, 2017

Jardin des Tuileries. Sept. 15, 2017

Strawberries at a Paris market. Sept. 15, 2017. That red is so intense.

Me, in a past life. Sept. 16, 2017. (Louvre, Paris)

Rear of the church on Montmartre. Sept. 15, 2017.

I forget the name of the artist, but these two are his sisters. Louvre, Paris. September 16, 2017.

This looks like the top to a sarcophagus, minus the actual container. The pallbearers, with their downcast faces, are carved in stone.

A stairway inside the Louvre. Note the door in the center that opens out from a private room and leads to nothing. I’ve walked through a few of those in my life. (Sept. 16, 2017)

Sept. 15, 2017

Montmartre – Sept. 15, 2017.

Statues atop the Paris Opera. Sept. 16, 2017.

My hotel is next to the Montmartre Cemetery, so I took a stroll through there after a long day of walking.

 

Statue of a woman in mourning. Montmartre Cemetery. September 16, 2017.

An angel with broken wings prays atop a moldering grave. Time has worn away the tomb’s engravings, and the occupant is unknown.

The woman in this tomb was a dancer and sculptor. This image of love among the monuments of death and remembrance is deeply moving. (Montmartre Cemetery, Sept. 16, 2017)

 

Impala Wins Gold in Reader’s Favorite Book Awards

ReadersFavorite.com announced the winners of their 2017 awards contest yesterday. Impala won the gold medal in the General Mystery category. Here’s a screenshot from the awards page, showing Impala with its alternate cover:

Impala also won first place for genre fiction in the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest competition, and received honors from Amazon.com, IndieReader, and Kirkus.

The writing life can be lonely and isolating, with discouragement at every turn. So it’s nice to get some recognition now and then.

When I finished writing Impala, I sent copies out to a number of reviewers and contests. One of those contests sent me a private review of the book, giving it F’s across the board. (That’s F like on a school report card. F as in Failure.) The reviewer gave it an F for plot, F for characterization, F for originality, and F for the overall quality of the writing. (That last F, by the way, really pissed me off. I taught high school English for a while, and I know what F writing looks like.)

Then one of the book’s first Amazon readers left a scathing two-star review. Try putting a year of work into something and then getting that response.

Having a day job is much easier than writing. At your day job, people don’t walk up to you and say, “Hey, I just took a look at that project you’ve been working on, and boy does it suck! Oh my God! I had no idea how stupid you are.”

In some ways, the reader-writer relationship is like dating. When you hit it off with someone, it feels like magic. And when there’s a gross mismatch and you just can’t connect, it’s awkward and painful.

Many of the things that those first reviewers disliked about the book were singled out for praise by later reviewers. And most readers seem to like the book. I’m thankful for that.

I’m currently waiting for my latest book to come back from the editor. I’ll do some revisions on that, and then I’ll send it out into the world and hold my breath, the way you might just before you go on a blind date. You know that feeling? Anticipation and dread, all mixed together, as you think about all the ways it could go right and all the ways it could go wrong.

The new book is tentatively titled gate 76, and you can read the first chapter here.

You can find Impala on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and in the Apple bookstore.