What others think

We spend our time thinking, so it comes as no surprise that what other people think concerns us. Often though, what I think and what others think are so different that I get destabilized (my word for the month). Case in point – I thought it would be a great idea to paint my shoes one day – I was tired of my plain, brown shoes, so I painted them red. And my teacher thought it was a terrible idea and I got sent to the corner of the room – what the teacher used to call “The Thinking Corner”, where we were supposed to stand and reflect on our mistakes. Except I really didn’t see what the problem was. The paint washed off. My shoes were still plain. I was in a corner. “Next time, think before you act!” said my teacher. Well, that was the problem – I did think about it.

My son Sebi and my husband share a trait – they don’t care what others think of them. They are so confident in themselves that they wear whatever they like, they do what they want, and others’ opinions matter not. When Sebi was little, I’d say “You can’t wear all purple, people will think–“ and he’d cut me off with “I don’t care what they think. I like it! Today, I’m a grape!” 

My husband went fishing with the most ridiculous looking outfit, and he rode his bike right through the center of town. I watched, wide-eyed in admiration, as he pedalled away, fishing pole sticking up, bare arms sticking out of his fishing vest ‘sans chemise’, his knees sticking out of holes in his jeans. How could he not care? But he really doesn’t. He’s happy with himself, and therein, I think – lies the answer. He’s happy with who he is and how he looks, and doesn’t give a hoot how others see him – he’s happy.

I, on the other hand, agonize about what others think of me, which makes it hard to get dressed some days and even puts a curb on my writing sometimes, because it’s hard to let go and let things show that you feel might make people raise their eyebrows or frown – which leads me to the question – Are the best artists those people who don’t care what others think about them, or is it the opposite – the best artists react to the way people think of them and shape their art as they try to make it into something that will please everyone?

My husband and son will be the artists that paint what they want, when they want, how they want – and the devil take the critics. I’m more attuned to criticsm and will tend to try to please the critics. I still don’t know if this is good or bad?

At any rate, it’s wonderful to know that whatever I do paint, my husband will be there cheering me on, because even if he doesn’t care what people think about him, he takes great care to let me know he thinks the word of me.

hapsteham

 

 

 

 

Anna Legat: My Guest Author: Attorney, Waitress, and Librarian – well-travelled Jill of all trades

Jane Risdon

https://www.facebook.com/AnnaLegatAuthor/ Anna Legat

Today I am really pleased to welcome Anna Legat back to my blog. We share the same publisher, Headline Accent.

She first appeared here in 2016 and she has written more books in her fab DI Gillian Marsh series since then…

Find out about Anna:

A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna Legat has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications from Wellington College of Education (Victoria University, New Zealand).

She inhabited far-flung places where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. She writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Read about the series she has written:

DI Gillian Marsh is the troubled heroine of my crime series, which include

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Past & present

So this is what happened the other day at the office: I was working when my boss came up to me and said, “An American is here, he says he knows you.” I look up, and there is a man in front of my desk. Tall, with dark hair graying around the temples, and dark eyes.  He had a wide smile, and I knew I knew him from somewhere.  My mind raced. We were in Mantes, but it was an American. He knew me. I knew him. But from Where? He looked so familiar! That smile! Those eyes!  “I know you,” I said.

“Oh, you know me all right. From St. Thomas. I’m [ — ].

And suddenly I was 16 all over again, and the handsomest boy in the school was standing there, grinning at me.

Time is a funny thing. You think you know it, but it’s like a river, like a rubberband, like amber, or like a movie. In a second, memories submerged me. And friends’, school, escapades, adventures,  teenage hormones run wild (I will Always blame my teenage years on my hormones, your Honor, and no one will make me say different!), drugs, sex and rock n’ roll – or actually pot, heavy petting, and Led Zepplin – came rushing back.  Here was my teen crush and he was my age now. We were  adults. This is the first thing that popped into my head – “maybe we’ll be able to have a sane discussion now“. I think in my teens, I was insane, but that is another story.

Where was he staying? Here in Mantes! My little city is gaining a reputation of being the perfect place for tourists. Close to Paris (just half an hour away), an hour from the Normandy coast, cheaper than Paris (by far), and full of good restaurants, beautiful river walks, and kind people. He had already been strolling around, and thought it was a nice place. But I was completely distabilized. My past had walked into my office, and I had thought I’d put my past behind me, but obviously my past would follow me wherever I went, even to Mantes. (I was secretly thrilled, folks) 

I told my husband we’d be having a guest for dinner, and told him it was a friend from highschool. My husband has “husband radar” so he said, “How good a friend?” and I said “Very good friend”, and husband radar pinged but he was cool and said, “I’ll be happy to meet him.” 

First tourist guide day was Mantes, the market, the river, the collegial. Second tour guide day was Normandy and Deauville. Third tour was to the city of Rouen, where we looked for traces of Joan of Arc, but there were hardly any left. Only a huge, black witches hat of a building in the old market place where they burned her at the stake. They say it represents a boat, but don’t let it fool you – it’s a witch’s hat and despite all the care that’s gone into the city’s historical center, I can tell you, Joan cursed that place well. It has the most creepy atmosphere of any town I’ve ever set foot in. (But we had a lovely day, and Auguste was a big hit with everyone).

So what have I learned from my past coming back to the present? I’m not sure. When I’m with him, I feel younger again, because all my memories with him are when I was a teen. Most of our conversations have been about what we did since then – our lives, our children and our hopes for them. Because we’re older now, we can compare arthritis (knee, foot), blood pressure (up and down, – what do you know?), and laugh that we never thought we’d be so old. More than half a century. How did we get this far? But I also realize, looking back, that we see each other more clearly now. That when we were teens, our egos, our fears, and our raging insecurities make us fragile. I had to put on a front. I didn’t trust anyone. I was unstable. I was desperate to leave school, leave the island, leave myself behind because I don’t think I liked myself very much. It’s easier to recreate a new person when no one knows you. The trouble with that is, you can’t leave yourself behind – ever. The past will always be there. (Dropping in with a wide grin).

But something else. This man, who I always admired, admitted he too felt like a fraud. He was shy, didn’t like to put himself forward, but because of his looks and easy manner, was often shoved forward, or pushed, or tugged. Looking at the yearbooks he brought with him, you see him on nearly every page. Everyone seemed to want part of him, like a lucky charm or a trophy. He must have felt pulled to pieces by us. Maybe flattered at first, but it must have been hard trying to live up to an image that other people thought of you. Since no one expected much of me, it was, I realized, so much easier to leave and to grow. What I have learned though – I think – is that it is never too late to recreate yourself. My boss is looking forward to it. After years of work and raising a family on her own, she is looking forward to retirement and to finding herself. She wants to try painting, to travel, to learn a new language, and I think that my friend from the past is doing that now. Finally shedding the person everyone thought he should be and finding himself. That he came to Mantes to visit his past before setting off on his adventure makes me happy. I’m glad my past came to visit.

Gomez

 

 

 

 

 

More French tales, this one about electricity and my being a genius (not)!

Well, not really. And I’m not an electrician. Anyone else would have had electricity. I called my electrician. (this is France, remember, and I am WAY out in the countryside.)
Me: Hi Sophie, I need Laurent to come right away – half my house is in the dark.
Sophie: Bonjour Jennifer – the problem is Laurent is away for the weekend – he went hunting.
Me: That’s all right, I’ll make do with candles. Will you ask him to stop by on Monday?

On Monday night I get a call from Sophie – she tells me her husband will be in very late, if I don’t mind, he could stop by around nine or ten. I tell her I’ll be glad to wait. (in the dark – candles burning.)

Then I get inspired. I look at the electric box. The little cartridge thingies that go in the slots. I don’t know what they are called, but I have a box of them in different sizes. I start replacing them, one by one. Suddenly there is a ‘pop’ and the lights in the house go on! I have repaired the electricity using little cartridge thingies. I am a genius. Except I have no idea what I actually did, or what the thingies are called. Feeling half triumphant, half retarded, I call the electrician and tell him not to bother coming – I have fixed my problem. Voila.
The next night I see him and his wife in yoga class, and he told me that what I had was a fuse box and what I’d changed was a fuse.
Voila.

In France, be polite

In France, politeness is an art form. When you walk into the post office, or into the bakery, everyone in line turns around and either smiles or says ‘Bonjour Madame’ (Madame because I am a Madame. If it were a guy, they’d be going ‘Bonjour Monsieur’. ) And you are expected to smile and say ‘Bonjour’ back.
When you pay for your baguette, the boulangère (baker) will say “Merci, et bon journée!” And you are expected to say, “Merci, et bonne journée à vous!” (to which she will reply ‘Merci’ and this can go on for a while if you’re not careful.)
When I used to live in Lyon (the capitol of Politeness in France) my neighbor would say ‘Bonjour Madame’ even if I had seen her already twice that day, had dined with her and her husband last evening at their apartment, and I’d just stepped into the elevator.
Bonjour Madame is infinitely more polite than just a simple ‘bonjour’.
When you enter a house in France, everyone, including the children, come to the door to greet you. The children hold out their cheeks for kisses after saying ‘bonjour’. When you go to a dinner party, you greet everyone with two kisses, (one on each cheek – but sometimes there are 4 kisses, and I never know when that applies, except some of my neighbors here are into 4 kisses and supposedly that is a country bumkin thing, and no Parisian would be caught dead kissing 4 times.
But you never kiss when you meet for the very first time, and you don’t kiss the baker, no matter how many times a week you see him.
You shake hands the first time you meet. Then, as you are leaving the party, you kiss, because you have already met and shaken hands. Kissing is done without fuss – two little smacking noises in the air as you lightly press your cheeks togather. Glasses must be removed if both are wearing them. Usually the man will remove his, or if it is two women, kissing is done carefully and at a slight distance.
Men rarely kiss each other. Usually men shake hands or and pat each other on the shoulder if they are good buddies.
Men hold doors for women, pull their seats out, pour the wine (never pour your own wine at the table if you are a woman) and serve the women first. Women are spoiled here. However, French women are expected to be able to cook well (my friends all cook like French chefs, which is REALLY annoying to me, lol. But I love getting invited to dinner) and they manage to look good at all times. (Another frustrating thing – they all look like they just got out of the hairdressers, and their clothes are all ironed and matched. They tend to wear skirts more than jeans, and have nice shoes. They tell me they can spot an American because of the frumpy shoes we wear. Huh. I am not giving up my sneakers – sorry.)
So living in France has its ups and downs, but at all times there is a polite smile (although the French waiter’s will certainly be slightly supercilious) and a cheeful ‘Bonjour!’ wherever you go.

What was that saying again?

There was something about tending one’s own garden, or growing one’s garden that Moliere said. I know, because my best friend had the saying on her yearbook page when she was a senior, along with a pen and ink drawing of flowers and vines and a photo of her standing on a staircase, one foot raised – as if stepping off into the vast world. The seniors got one whole page for themselves – they could choose their own photos, sayings, drawings – to me it was momentous. One day I’d have my own page – what would I write on it? What photo would I use? I used to doodle and daydream, and make notes. What I’d have on my senior yearbook page.

Life, or Fate, being the joker it is, decided that when I graduated, I would already be gone, and that my yearbook page would be done by a friend who put together something hasty – a photo he took of me in a street, and my name. Nothing else. No saying. No plans for the future (that I would look back on and think, “well, that didn’t work out like planned“). In fact, I don’t know many future plans that worked out – like an apprentice Sybylle who didn’t study her tea leaves, the prophecies mostly fell flat.

I don’t even have my yearbook – none of them, in fact. For years it was somthing to look forward to, and then it was too late, I’d left the island, bolted before my graduation, I never wore the robe, the funny hat, had my photo taken next to a proud parent. As soon as I knew I’d passed and my grades were all in – I was off. Smoke had more substance than me that last month, that hot month of June – when all I saw was the blinding white light of the future, blank, no drawings, sayings, or photos to show me the way. Just a one way plane ticket to New York City. It wasn’t a graduation – it was an escape.

 

 

 

Summer Tales

It’s been a long summer, in that vacation was short, a few days in the Medoc region, and then back to work. We did squeeze in a long weekend in Deauville end of August – staying with friends who have renovated (over the years) a 14th century trout farm in a deep valley near Lisieux.

The Medoc first: It was my birthday and I was treated to a day at a spa and a dinner with friends in Bordeaux. It poured buckets all day, but the sun came out for the few hours my husband played golf (while I was being steamed and pressed…) and late that night we drove back to the tip of the Medoc through a thunderstorm, lightning flashing over the vineyards, while the farmers prayed there’d be no hail.

The next days we played polo and I had a wonderful time. I’d forgotten how fun the sport could be, how exhilerating to really gallop after the ball and to laugh and curse and even manage to score a lone goal. My horse was a sensible, steady mare with one fault – she shied at spectators, which I found out when I hit a ball near the sidelines and then, just as I was about to hit it again, found myself thrown to the right while the horse bolted to the left – a glimpse of a spectator and I was hanging on by a heel. A quick grab at the pommel saved me,  but I pulled a muscle in my calf – but that was better than meeting the pitch at full speed. After, we drove back to Mantes where I started work the next day. Vacation was officially over.

But not quite – a weekend in Normandy with our friends in an old house that has been standing in a deep, deep valley for over five centuries. We went to the beach, the weather was fantastic – and polo games, and met some lovely people at a dinner party (which souds horribly chic – and it was, it was!) – then back home to Mantes, where my husband has taken up fishing! Now he bikes down to the river nearly every day, or to the lake or several ponds in the town – and he catches pike and perch (and lets them go) and is happily fussing with hooks and lures. So that has been my summer so far – sorry to have been silent for so long on my blog – when the sun shines, it’s hard for me to shut myself in and write!

Other news – speaking of writing. My books’ rights have been transferred to Hachette (Headline Accent Press – a new division of the mighty giant, Hachette). My new book ‘A Crown in Time‘ will be published as planned on 16 January – I have no links yet – and the cover  will stay the same, so that’s nice. I got used to the cheerful yellow and gold. The next book has been titled “The Day of the Smilodon” – let me know what you think of that – it is not set yet, and may get changed – I have no ideas – maybe you can come up with something? Time travel to the Paleolithic!

 

Writing about the past

writing about the past (from the point of view of a modern woman)

When I decided to go back into the past, it seemed it would be a quick trip. In fact, it was supposed to be a short story I was wwriting for a sci-fi magazine. I was going to interview a legend – Alexander the Great – get his side of the story, and leave. The setting wasn’t important, nor were the people around him. He was with his army, and he was living in an opulant tent – that much I knew and could imagine. His army camped by a wide river, but near enough a town to trade for food. Feeding an army takes a lot of planning – but I wasn’t worried about that. I would leave the planning to Alexander. I was not planning on Alexander kidnapping the woman from the future and stranding her in his time…and suddenly things like feeding an army became essential.

Ashley is stranded in 333 BC – she has to eat, drink, dress, and travel. How did she do all these things? What did the people around her think of her? And in what langages? Where were they going? How would she live? What if she fell in love? All those questions had to be answered. (Cue a year of research – which wasn’t half enough!)

But one thing worked in my favor – the main character and narrator of the story is a modern woman, so I didn’t have to try to put myself in the mindset of the ancient Greeks. Another thing that worked in my favor was that the time period I was writing about had been extensively researched already, so finding information wasn’t difficult.

Looking through modern eyes is a good way to show the differences that exist and the vast chasm that separates us from the people of the past. Ancient customs that seemed everyday to the people of the time fascinated Ashley, and she was forever getting into trouble because of her modern views. Slavery, for instance, was abhorant to her, and she could never learn to accept it, as people of that time did. The notion of fate – that everything has already been decided and there was nothing you could do to change it – also frustrated her on so many levels. But she managed to survive – and she learned a great deal about love, trust, and how to bake bread Egytian style along the way!

Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates?

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

Purchase Links:

Son of the Moon

 
Son of the Moon tour –
 
We are now on book three of The Time for Alexander Series and in a way I do think you can read it as a standalone because Jennifer Macaire has managed to weave the characters back stories into this book. However to get the best understanding of the characters and what has happened so far I would suggest reading them in order.
In Son of the Moon we catch up with Ashley as she travels with Alexander and his army through India. Jennifer Macaire really did bring the story to life with all the wonderful descriptions of the setting, the food and the people. In a way I think this is probably my favourite book so far just because everything seemed to fall into place. I know the characters pretty well by now and the story had an extra bit of depth to it especially as we see Ashley find something she has been searching for since book one (I’m trying to keep it as vague as I can in case you do want to start the series from the beginning)
Then add in the drama of treacherous characters and Ashley really has to watch her back! I also started to feel Ashley’s apprehension as time begins to be marching even more quickly towards when Alexander will die. Ashley and Alexander’s romance is passionate and fiery but they work so well together! I loved all of the myths that were included I knew some but it was great to hear new ones and this is one of the things that I enjoy most about not only this book but the series.
Son of the Moon is told with historical detail showing legendary battles, snippets of mythology along with putting the author’s own spin on things. This has created a brilliant mix of fun, light and dark times with happiness, sadness and danger throughout. I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire @jennifermacaire @rararesources #BlogBlitz #Giveaway #Review

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