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Bernie's Paris: Travel Stories With Love
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Local Authors Guide > Local Author Spotlight: Linda Spalla

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Annie Lee Phillips (annieleephillips) | 464 comments Mod
Welcome to the newest addition to the HMCPL Goodreads group – the Local Authors Guide. This is your go-to spot for book lists, discussions, and interviews with talented Tennessee Valley authors.

We warmly welcome our first featured author Linda Spalla, whose newest book, Bernie’s Paris: Travel Stories with Love , was released in September. Part memoir and part insider travel guide to the Paris beyond the Eiffel Tower (but that is included too!) Bernie’s Paris encompasses eleven years’ worth of Bernard Verdier’s (Bernie) and Linda’s annual Paris sojourns. Linda and Bernie will show you the joy of leisurely strolls, daily life, hidden streets to explore, the best places to linger for brunch or an aperitif, and even how to survive “le voyage de l’enfer (the worst trip ever)!

Linda is from Huntsville and no stranger to the literary world. The former president and general manager of Huntsville’s CBS affiliate, she has also written Catch Your Breath: Tender Meditations for Caregivers , and Leading Ladies: 30 Tips for Dynamic Female Leaders.

Having visited Paris twice myself, reading Bernie’s Paris made me feel as if I was there again, and lit the fire to go back. Linda’s warm and engaging style as she tells us about her life with Bernie and their adventures along with lots of practical travel advice, what-not-to miss lists, and anecdotes of an American in Paris make this the perfect travelogue and companion.

Keep reading for an interview with Linda Spalla about writing Bernie’s Paris: Travel Stories with Love.

You can order a copy of Bernie’s Paris, as well as Linda’s two previous books at her web site.

Bernie’s Paris is also available for checkout at HMCPL.

Linda’s Upcoming Appearances:

Saturday, December 3, 2016, all day – Simply Christmas at Monte Sano United Methodist Church
December 2016 (date TBD) – Railroad Station Antiques
Saturday, January 28, 2017 3pm – The Murphy Writers Group, Eleanor E. Murphy Branch Library
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 11:30am – The Eleanor Murphy Book Club, Eleanor E. Murphy Branch Library

Interview with Linda Spalla – Bernie’s Paris: Travel Stories with Love

1. What/when was your “aha” moment to write Bernie’s Paris ?
This is a very honest answer. Bernie will be 78 in a couple of weeks. My motivation for the book was driven by the pressure to capture our story while we were both alive and healthy. I knew that I had a plethora of material from my blogs and Bernie had over 10,000 photos! It was a way of saying thanks to him for coming into my life.

2. How did you set out to write Bernie’s Paris ? Was it all in one period or has it been over a few years? Did your blog help in collecting material and memories?
10 years of blogs and 3 years to write the book. I could have never remembered all the minute details without them, and they also gave me a time reference. Bernie had saved every single one. He printed them out so I could shuffle them around! Slowly chapters began to crystalize, and the book began to take shape, though there were several versions.

3. Was it overwhelming to decide what made the cut as far as points of interest, recommendations, tips, etc?
This was indeed the hardest part. We had mounds of material and so much of it was interesting. For example, as I said in the book, I started out the chapter on strolling with 25 different strolls which was ridiculous. I culled based on the consideration that many who read the book might be first-timers. I wanted to include the “don’t miss” elements.

4. Why only two months in Paris? Why not four, five, or six?
One summer we stayed for three months, but I found that a little too long. I have four grandchildren who are more available in the summer than any other time. They live in Birmingham and Auburn, and I truly hate to miss out on their entire summer vacation. Bernie would probably live in Paris full time if I would. However, sometimes things sound better than they really turn out to be. In this case, I think less is more.

5. How important were mentors in writing this? From whom did you seek writing help and advice and how did you meet them?
Oh my. There were so many folks who gave advice, served as readers, editors, supporters. Beth Thames was an early reader and offered so much help. Lynne Berry suggested using sidebars which didn’t exactly materialize but came close with the Purely Paris Tips. Diane Strickland was an early reader and hit me gently with the fact that I was assuming too much. She wanted more explanations and definitions of what things were. My content editor was from Vermont and really helped me dig for more descriptive stories. She also insisted that I put the word “travel” in the title because of key word searches. She totally rearranged the book which was also very productive. A new but dear Paris friend volunteered to edit the book for the French! Wow, what a gesture of kindness.

6. Do you have a publicist or other marketing help for Bernie’s Paris , or is it DIY? Any advice to other local authors about how to manage this?
I do have a local publicist/social media guru who has helped me so much. She has designed graphics on everything from my web site to social media to invitations as well as sending out my major press release. Mostly she has helped me understand how social media can grow my marketing reach. It doesn’t come intuitively to me, and I’ve really had to work it! To local authors, I would say that indie publishing is very hard but can be done with lots of determination and stamina. I tried for months to find an agent for the book but that is like winning the lottery. I haven’t abandoned that idea and have several queries out to agents who will look at already published books. I’m not holding my breath. I’ve done much of the marketing myself, i.e. setting up signings, book clubs, speeches, the book launch itself (we had 95 people attend!) as well as mailing out copies of the book to various newspapers in the region. I’ve worked with several travel agencies and hope to see some of that come to fruition. Even if a local author gets an agent, much of the marketing work is still up to the author. Unless of course, you’re already famous. Then all the red carpets roll out. Once in a great while, a miracle happens, i.e. J.K. Rowling.
I think local authors have to embrace overstatement and self-promotion which can make some uncomfortable.


7. What was the most surprising/unexpected part of the writing process?
The most surprising part for me was learning to let the work “cool” (as Homer Hickam says) and then discovering the magic of repetitive editing. The book got better and better. I’m always fast and this time, I slowed it way down. Voila!

8. Will you write a part “deux?”
No, I don’t think so. But I am working on something else already. I miss writing. Hate the publishing part but love to write!

10. Are you a fan of any other travel writers?
Like everyone, I suppose, we reference Rick Steves or Fodor’s Paris sometimes or Zagat’s restaurant ratings but there is so much on the web now, that those are hardly needed. I follow multiple French/Paris blogs on Facebook and one in particular that I find very informative is Local France. Another is EYE PREFER PARIS. I always try to read at least two books about Paris while we’re there and those are listed in the References section.

11. Any other advice for our local writers?
Craft a great story and then edit, edit, edit! Be prepared for very hard work, setbacks, frustrations, disappointments and deadlines. But also be prepared for exhilaration after the labor is over and the baby is born! No feeling quite like it. Help and support other writers as much as you can. Don’t ask family and friends to read your work; find a group of more objective readers who can offer constructive criticism. Listen, listen, listen to what people offer instead of defending what you have written.

12. Besides Paris, what has been your favorite country or city to visit? And what is your favorite U.S. destination?
Other favorite cities are Bruges, Belgium and Venice, Italy. My favorite US destination is a toss-up between Vail, Colorado and San Francisco, California.

13. Final thoughts?
At this very late age, I have learned to partially speak French which hasn’t been easy. That would have never happened without Bernie’s appearance in my life. C’est tres difficil pour moi!!! Merci beaucoup.


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