Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mimi and the Sacre Coeur

When I first started Mimi Lost and Found, I chose an old church on St. Germain Des Pres to be the location of the orphanage. But the name was just regular and I liked the name Sacre Coeur so much better. Sacred Heart. But as I am here, it seems wrong to change or lift the name of one cathedral to another location. Especially when the Sacre Coeur is such a famous place. So, last night while riding our bikes at dusk, my favorite thing to do, we once again passed St. SEverin and this time I looked closely. It seems to be a perfect set-up for the orphanage. I'm going back right now to scope it out thoroughly and take photos and hopefully get past the cathedral and into the courtyard and the living quarters of the seminary that would serve as the perfect orphanage.

I also read from a Paris tour guide that the Lost and Found was moved to its current location in 1939. I don't know if that's authentic information but it would ruin the story. For my purposes, the story stay on the ile next to the perfecture of police.

Friday, July 26, 2013

More Mimi Artifacts

 This is the poster Mimi spits on.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Paris Lost and Found

To Joe, Megan, Mrs. Chambers, Becca, Annie (who saw Mimi in Paris), Ellie, Summer (who did illustrations), Holly, Mandi, Tony, Deren, Tess, Elena and any one else who I may not have listed,

Thanks for reading Mimi Lost and Found, a middle grade novel that has been in the works for several years. Author and beloved friend Becca Wilhite's daughter Ellie also read the manuscript and kept asking her Mom when she could have the newest edited version, so I decided to have it printed for her for Christmas. Summer Meredith graciously did the illustrations and Mimi came to life. Mimi is about a young girl who works in the Paris Lost and Found and after finding that Paris is wired for destruction at the end of 1944 ends up saving Paris.

Since it was a self-edited, self-published book, it didn't have the final copy edits and didn't undergo the scrutiny that professionally published books undergo. So, when I read through MLF, I see its faults. I only printed 12 books (thank goodness).

One of the underlying reasons for coming to Paris was to double check on the venues of the book and one of the main venues is the real Paris Lost and Found.
I almost put off going to the Paris Lost and Found. I think I was afraid I would be disappointed, and I knew that it had moved from its original location by Notre Dame. With only three days left in Paris, we finally went. And I wasn't disappointed.

  A photo of the curator,  1939, Monsieur Rigolo. Not really, but my character is Monsieur Rigolo.
 Documents.  Parapluies are umbrellas and clefs are keys-as we stood in the L&F I noticed a bin that had at least two umbrellas going down to storage. Valuables are kept for a year and a half. Non valuables are kept between one and a half and four months time when they are trashed or clothing and useful items are given to charities. Over 185,000 items are turned in each year and less than 27% is claimed. Back in 1939 only 10% was claimed. Sometimes as much as 700 items are turned in in one day.
The best thing is that my research is in tandem with the real Lost and Found established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805. And here was the fun bonus: after talking to Monsieur Patrick, I told him that I had written a book, and he got a sheepish little smile on his face and he said that he had been told that someone was writing a book where the L&F was a setting. And he of course thought this was the book. I had originally read about the L&F in an article written by John Tagliabue for the New York Times and I had sent a thank you email to him. He responded with very kind words and I would like to imagine that Mr. Tagliabue let the L&F know and the story he'd heard about was in fact the book he is pictured with here.  I didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't a REAL published book. C'est la vie!

A remarkable after note to this story: When I printed the book and created this post, there was one woman whom I needed to thank, but our friendship was brief, and I had lost touch with her and, I couldn't remember her name. After visiting the Lost and Found, I tried to remember her name for a few days. She had lived in Paris and she had discovered that when Mimi steals a boat,  the boat floats the opposite  direction in which the Seine river flows. This lost friend saved me from an error in an important scene.

Today, I am waiting to board the flight home. I turn, and standing in the line,-- yes, there she is. Thank you, Amy Jamison.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Study of Napoleon Bonaparte

 Napoleon's outfit. All of these artifacts found at Les Invalides where Napoleon's tomb rests.
 His attache.
 The next two pieces are not Napoleon's but pieces from his time period that belonged to someone important--but I can't remember whom.

 Portrait done on the occasion of his coronation.
 Authentic piece.
 Napoleon's horse brand.
 Yes, sirree, the real horse.
 Napoleon's tent  while gathering nations for France to rule.
 The up close expression on this portrait is in my opinion, a little cranky too. The particulars I pick up while in France support the character in Mimi Lost and Found.

And in the end, the great Napoleon succumbed to death like everyone else-though his 20 year post death resting place is a little more grand than your average person.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Study of Jean d' Arc

An important character in Mimi Lost and Found is Joan of Arc. I found these gigantic frescoes on the wall of the Pantheon. They were a later addition (1874) to the original structure's completion in 1791. Every little study helps to round out and understand the character and his/her role in the story.

Monday, July 22, 2013

As Promised to Self

Writing with laptop on the quai of the Seine.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Making It Real

I knew I always had to return to Paris to walk the scenes I had created for Mimi. Well, Je suis ici! I'm in week number two of three weeks. This morning I found myself alone at Square du Vert Galant and realized a few critical moves for Mimi that need to be changed. I'm going tomorrow morning early, laptop in hand, and I'm going to re-write the critical scene on the quai of the Seine.

 The stairs Mimi would have climbed down to reach Etienne's boat.
Where Etienne's boat would have been tied to Square du Vert Galant
Loved this portrait of Napoleon: pouty, puffy and exactly how he first appears in MLF.

So, it is after my Paris re-write that I can put Mimi to rest-knowing I have given it my best effort and the best on-site research.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Podcast From Paris --Vivaldi in St. Chapelle

Saturday, July 13, 2013

While doing research for a script long ago, I interviewed Doris Hallie who retold her husband's experiences in France, both in the army and in the village of Le Chambon. She told me several times her husband's favorite explanation of the French. "Les Francais aiment les belle choses." These are my favorite belle choses.

I'm in Paris for trois semaines retracing my Mimi steps.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Trick on Chris Crowe

I am now a National Writing Project fellow. What a privilege.

One day, I had to leave early and it coincided with Deb Dean's early departure too. Chris Crowe tweeted: Where's Deb? Probably at Tangies with Pat (Tangies is an American Fork restaurant).

That was an invitation to trouble. I sent a message to Deb and asked if she was ready for a sweet revenge. Within ten minutes she was standing at my door in swimsuit, sunglasses and hat ready for our photo op-which we promptly tweeted with the caption: Hardly at Tangies.  Probably one of the few times for Deb and only times for me that we "got" Chris Crowe, the master of teasing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Photo Offers

To fully understand this post, I strongly recommend that you watch/listen to this four minute TED talk:

Steven Addis, a photographer, tells of his 15 most favorite images, mostly taken by strangers. These 15 images document his visit to New York the same time every year with his daughter since she was a one-year-old. In the four minute talk, Addis mentions that he relied on the kindness of strangers to snap the image. He gives a challenge too, to document our special moments.

While in Paris, I have had the most heartfelt moments when I have offered to take the photo of strangers. Twice now I have walked up to the photographer and offered to take the photo so he or she may be in the photo with his/her loved one. In this smallest of gestures I have felt that heart-warmth that comes from engagement with a stranger when lending a hand.

The first couple was French and the second couple was from Moscow Russia. In each instance the borders, the politics, the differences, shrunk in a matter of seconds.

The third couple I met at the Musee d'Orsay and they were from Israel. As she explained her background, she cried, for her background was that her mother escaped from Poland after the Holocaust when she was one and a half years old. She explained that she and her husband were the generation that built up Israel. Israelis don't have earthquakes, mudslides but terrorists. Her beautiful five minute story all from the offer of a photo.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Rareness of the Moment

Friday, July 5, 2013

Current WIP

I have started a new novel. It took a while to get the idea to flow, but it's flowing now and it feels so good. It's currently at 651 words!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013


 I'm currently studying the art of revision. This magnificent roof must have something to do with revision. The house isn't finished yet, but the roof is on. Yes, that's it. We build a story-foundation, walls, windows, roof, but we still have to go in and paint the walls, lay carpet, move in the furniture.
Or maybe it's ok to enjoy the artistry of this roof just because. No writing analogy needed. Beauty for beauty's sake.