This Is An Overseas Post

7+ English Language Bookstores in Paris

Brick and stone arcade with shops in Paris.
Shady arcade along the Rue de Rivoli that houses two English language bookstores in Paris. © Laurel Decher, 2017.

This post is for all you readers of English language books who are living in or visiting Paris. Maybe you need a book for the plane home or presents for your English-speaking grandchildren. Or you just need to browse English books for a while before returning to your adopted home in Europe.

Shakespeare & Company

This famous bookstore has a whole wall of shiny middle grade and young adult books and a tiny picture book nook. Upstairs there’s a bookshelf-lined library for readings. The cushioned window seat goes all the way around the room. Lots of atmosphere and the Seine’s right outside.

Métro: St. Michel

Abbey Bookshop

This tiny store near Shakespeare & Company sells used books in a maze-like store. The children’s books are in the back and fans and soft classical music helps the whole place feel a bit less claustrophobic. The shelves are so full of books and the aisles are so tiny, that it’s challenging to see the titles lower down. The staff is friendly and will help you.

Métro: Odeon

Bookstore with Canadian flag and used books stacked outside on the pavement.
The overflowing Abbey Bookshop in Paris. © Laurel Decher, 2017.

Librairie Galignani

We all enjoyed this elegant and comfortable bookstore with leather reading chairs and spacious aisles. It’s near the Tuilleries gardens on an arcade-covered avenue so getting there is comfortable, rain or shine. Their English language young adult section is almost as big as Shakespeare & Company’s. Several books on my list were priced noticeably lower here than at the WHSmith further up the Rue de Rivoli.

Métro: Tuilleries

WHSmith

This British chain bookstore has a generous children’s book section. If you’re looking for books from American publishers, you may have to order them. I found many familiar book friends on the shelves, but not, for example, Megan Whalen Turner’s newest, THICK AS THIEVES. Or any of her earlier Attolia novels.

Métro: Tuilleries

I didn’t get to ALL the English language bookstores in Paris. (What a nice problem to have!) So these are on my list for next time:

Berkeley Books of Paris

San Francisco Book Company

Used Book Café

Gilbert Jeune

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Becoming an artist at The Winged Pen

book cover in graphic novel style, boy and girl in brown medieval cloaks in a snowy dark wood with a monastery looming behind
Jackie Randall’s EMELIN is an exciting adventure story about a girl who is a book artist.

If you’re looking for me this week, I’m over at The Winged Pen interviewing author Jackie Randall about her middle grade adventure: EMELIN.

I really enjoyed this book!

The gutsy girl artist, Emelin, is appealing. Her mysterious friend Wolf is also intriguing.

The story is easy-peasy accessible and the everyday details of England in the middle ages are effortlessly accurate. Try it, you’ll like it.

You can read the interview with author, Jackie Randall, here.

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If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for my Reader’s List. Once a month, I share new middle grade fiction, story-related freebies, and/or related blog posts. If it’s not your thing, you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Does your Work-in-Progress need a Canalmaster?

Massive green sewer truck and man in orange reflective clothing.
This week was full of large machines. © Laurel Decher, 2017

Construction machines are wasted without a little child to sit in a lawn chair and appreciate the show. This last week, I kept a list of the noisy machines that distracted me *cough* from my revision work.

I didn’t get a picture of the asphalt saw that cut a square hole in the street or the thing that looks like a Narnian monopod that stamps down the dirt when the workers had to put their toys away before the upcoming holiday weekend.

Canalmaster and kanalprofi have pretty much the same meaning. © Laurel Decher, 2017.

I’m longing to work this Canalmaster into my work-in-progress somehow.

Terry Pratchett has probably done fantasy construction already. I hope someone has.

Look how far the Impressionists got with haystacks and train stations. Not sure how different a Canalmaster looks at mid-day, with frost effects, or covered with snow, but still. . .

Haystacks, (Midday), 1890-91, National Gallery of Australia

What noisy distraction in your world could go into your work?

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The Book Club for Kids talks satisfying reads and Gary D. Schmidt’s ORBITING JUPITER

Book cover showing boy walking on snowy road with arms out like an airplane.
Gary D. Schmidt’s Orbiting Jupiter is the story of a “troublish” boy with a two-month-old baby named Jupiter.

A recent The Book Club for Kids episode is about Gary D. Schmidt’s Orbiting Jupiter

I haven’t read this YA book yet but I’m very interested. The readers’ lively reactions make me want to be “there in the barn with them” and find out what happens to this “troublish” boy with a two-month-old baby named Jupiter.

Gary D. Schmidt gives some fascinating and touching backstory about Orbiting Jupiter, how he writes, and how he became a writer of fiction.

Bonus for writers: Middle grade readers reveal what writers can include to create satisfying books. (At 21:00)

  • catch our feelings
  • make us wonder what happens next
  • a lot of drama
  • surprise at the beginning
  • keep us interested

An interview with Gary D. Schmidt about the setting of Orbiting Jupiter.

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Visual Story Structure with Cows

Green meadow in a valley next to a level road.
The idyllic Naafbachtal hiking trail is gentle on your eyes and on your knees. © Laurel Decher, Germany, 2017

The Naafbachtal is a long valley full of meadows, originally slated to be a reservoir, and now a nature reserve. The lovely little Naaf brook babbles alongside the trail, wildflowers bloom in all colors, the leaves rustle in the breeze, and the birds are singing like crazy.

The resident zoologist says it’s perfect habitat for kingfishers.

Brown cows and a bull in a herd grazing in a meadow.
Ferdinand and friends holding back succession by grazing. © Laurel Decher, Germany, 2017

Herds of cows graze among the buttercups, like Ferdinand before the bullfighters came looking for him. But no ones coming to make these happy German cows fight in the ring.

Presumably, the cows’ mission is to keep the vistas intact, one mouthful of grass at a time. They’re doing it very well.

But whoever had the task of picking out livestock had fun. The next field had white cows.

White cows reclining in a grassy meadow.
White cows in the Naafbachtal. © Laurel Decher, Germany, 2017.

And the next one had. . .

Water buffaloes coated in gray mud, standing in a deep mud puddle "bathtub"
“Do you mind?” © Laurel Decher, Germany, 2017.

Water buffaloes.

Everyone stopped and took pictures because it’s a classic set-up, development, and twist. So the next time you have a boring old brown cow scene in your work-in-progress. . .

Remember the water buffaloes.

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If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for my Reader’s List. Once a month, I share new middle grade fiction, story-related freebies, and/or related blog posts. If it’s not your thing, you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

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7 Insights from the 2017 SCBWI Europolitan Conference in Brussels

Art Deco building with musical motifs under every window showing the history of written music
This beautiful building is the musical instrument museum in Brussels, Belgium.

The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators (SCBWI) “Europolitan conference” is a chance to meet people who write for kids in English and live all over Europe. Yay!

  • Lots of languages
  • 65 writers and illustrators, talking top-speed,
  • Belgian fish and chips.

Top 7 insights from the conference:

1. “Build your own community” was a huge theme. It’s easy to think “there’s no one near me who writes,” but it’s never true. Even where the official languages aren’t English, there are people writing fiction for children in English. If you haven’t found your people yet, give it another try.

If you need tips, check here and here.

In case you think isolation is a writer problem, think again.

Literary Agent Gemma Cooper organized “Agent Mixers” in Chicago for young editors and agents. Early in her career, she shadowed agent Penny Holroyde to learn the business. The author equivalent: “study the books in your genre.”

Editorial Director Penguin Random House Children’s, Natalie Doherty met with a group of editors from other publishing houses. They declared their meetings a neutral zone: “This is Switzerland.” After all, multiple editors could easily be competing for the same author.

2. Why write for middle grade (9-12 year olds)? Literary agent, Gemma Cooper’s example of middle grade “obsessions” reminded me of the way it feels to be twelve years old.

As a child, she was obsessed with Egyptian hieroglyphics and her brother was obsessed with space.

This reminds me of why children’s books are the key to a happy life. The things we explore when we are young are the things that enrich our lives. Wealth is not all about the stock market.

How else do people create a world-class collection of musical instruments? Gotta start young. 🙂

3. Writing for young readers is also about modelling creativity. Story comes first of course! Both author/illustrator Chris Mould and author Robin Stevens talked about encouraging young readers to draw, write, and look at the world differently.

Robin Stevens’ hands-on way to start a story invites listeners into the process. She’s got the most delicious pile of “clues.” So easy–a sure sign of a true expert! She does school visits the same way. Wouldn’t you love to hear those mysteries?

4. Traditional publishing is reaching out. Social media has made things more transparent for publishers too. Editors can contact book buyers from bookstores on Twitter.

Keywords and categories came up even though that’s normally a self-publishing conversation. Traditionally published authors are also expected to know more about their audiences.

5. Genre fiction still isn’t everything. According to the lovely Natalie Doherty, Books like Wonder, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Holes, and The Book Thief are referred to in-house as having a “Special Book Feel.” They address “weighty themes in accessible ways.” A hopeful sign.

6. Transparency isn’t quite everywhere. It sounds like getting accurate sales numbers for books is still challenging, even for super agents like Gemma Cooper. If anyone can fix it, she can.

7. Book Cover “Aha!” moment. It’s hard to figure out what you need to create a solid book cover. This is why:

“Cover designs bring all the publishing departments together.” —Laurent Linn, Art Director Simon & Schuster.

Creating a book is a group process. The best product comes from a team that works respectfully together.

Did you find something here to help you move forward? Or have something to add? Feel free to comment below. Thanks for dropping by!

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Love Springs up Like Birch Trees

Birch tree lashed to a street lamp in front of a house. Stormy sky.
A traditional May tree in the Rhineland. © Laurel Decher, 2017

May 1st is a sort of  Valentine’s-Day-on-Steroids in this part of Germany.

On the last night of April, birch trees pop up everywhere. Young men put them up in front of their sweetheart’s houses and write the girl’s name in a giant heart hung on a tree.

It’s a windy time of year. You can imagine the number of cable ties involved.

This is a country of engineers after all.

Fathers evidently offer traditional payment for taking the huge trees down again at the end of May.

Something about a case of beer. It’s Germany, after all.

 

 

All this spring love leads to a lot of forestry. Last year was leap year and the girls put up the trees for the boys.

At least ten young birch trees lashed to a parked trailer. Their trunks are so long, they drag on the ground.
Cut birch trees ready for delivery. © Laurel Decher, 2017.

The local paper reminded birch tree customers to get a permit before cutting their tree in the forest. The local craft store sells waterproof streamers so your oversized Valentine doesn’t leak dye on the white plaster front of the house.

Every village has it’s own huge May tree. The neighboring village “sings in the May” every year. All around, a charming holiday, don’t you think?

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If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for my Reader’s List. Once a month, I share new middle grade fiction, story-related freebies, and/or related blog posts. If it’s not your thing, you can unsubscribe at any time.

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