Seven Questions with Janice MacLeod, author of Paris Letters

Today, I'm thrilled to feature fellow Sourcebooks author Janice MacLeod and her beautiful memoir, Paris Letters. A few months back, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of Janice's book, having requested it from my editor. (Thanks, Anna!) Although our memoirs tell very different stories, Janice and I do share a few common themes. We both left southern California for France. We both worked in advertising in the past. And we were both on the search for a better life.

As I was reading Paris Letters, I kept thinking, "Wow! Wouldn't it be a coincidence if we knew some of the same people?" 

Here's where the crazy comes in. Janice and I connected on FaceBook and I noticed we shared two mutual friends. One of Janice's friends was my dad. Yes, my dad. Holy moly. Janice used to work for my dad! I totally flipped out! Janice flipped out. 

Really, it's such a small, small world...after all.

Needless to say, Janice and I became fast friends. Her book comes out today, people! Today! And I'm so happy to be able to pimp her out and (virtually) celebrate her release. Her memoir is AMAZING, INSPIRATIONAL, and FUN!

***throws confetti***

About Paris Letters:
Finding love and freedom in a pen, a paintbrush...
and Paris

How much money does it take to quit your job?

Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this questions to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn't as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up, and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.

A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street—who doesn't speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can never return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves—words, art, and Christophe—to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever.
About Janice's Painted Letters
After 110 years of writing junk mail in advertising, Janice devised an exit strategy to finance her own sabbatical. Her Shawshank Redemption, if you will. When she met her financial goals, she skipped town and traveled with nothing more than her suitcase and a small set of watercolors. Along the way, she painted letters about her travels and mailed them to friends. Enamored with this unique medium, Janice opened an online shop. Each month she creates one painted letter, copies it, personalizes it and mails it to hundreds of subscribers who are hungry for fun mail.

Me thinks Janice is living the dream!

Without further ado, I've asked Janice seven questions about life, writing and l'amour.

1) Tell us a little about your publishing journey. How did you get from point a (the desire to tell your story) to point b (becoming a published author)?
This is my third book. For the first books two I didn’t have an agent, but this time around the story was big and I knew I’d need an agent to help me navigate where I wanted it to go. To land an agent, I wanted a killer book proposal. I worked on it in hotel rooms while traveling throughout Eastern Europe with Christophe. He would sleep in, I would write. It was marvelous. I also searched for agents who specialized in my genre: memoir. By the time I found the agent I wanted, my book proposal was complete and I had something to show her. She helped me refine my proposal further. When it was complete, she shared it with appropriate publishers. After some back and forth negotiating, we went with Sourcebooks.
A nice guide to help you in your book proposal process is Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, created by Linda Sivertsen and Danielle LaPorte). 

2) Before you met Christophe, did you believe in love at first sight?
Yes I believed in it but I was starting to think it wasn’t going to happen to me. I gave up on love when I was living in California. I figured if I wasn’t going to find love, I might as well travel so I started getting my wardrobe down to one suitcase. And, well, two days into my first city (Paris), I locked eyes with Christophe. We spent two weeks staring and smiling before our first conversation in awkward franglais.
3) What is your favorite thing about living in Paris? What are your biggest frustrations?
My favorite thing about living in Paris is the architecture. This old city has layers and layers of wonderful carvings and buildings, intricate alleys and grand ballrooms, old art and new graffiti. The whole city is eye candy.
My biggest frustration is the crime and the paperwork. Pickpockets are everywhere so you need to have your wits about you, and the administration is inefficient, so you need to have your wits about you but in a different way. It takes a lot of paperwork to be given the opportunity to live in France. 
4) You used to be a vegan. And then you married a butcher. Have you embraced the world of carnivores? Do you have any frightening food stories?
Yes, I’m back to being a carnivore and I must admit I love it. I’ve forgone veganism totally because the cheese here is so good, though half my meals are still vegetarian. I wish veganism worked for my body but I feel healthier as a carnivore.
My most frightening story was my first dinner with Christophe. He took me to restaurant and our meal came with shrimp that still had the eyes, tentacles and claws. I was horrified. I had ordered it not realizing what I was ordering. He had the same so I watched him pick his apart and I mimicked with mine. I ate it. It was okay. But that was the last time. Tentacles? Non merci.  
5) As a former copywriter from the ad world, when did you learn you had a talent for art/painting? Is there anything you miss from the corporate jungle?

Since I was inundated with the words as a copywriter, I was looking for something artistic to do that didn’t include words at all. Painting was a hobby that calmed my brain. I still don’t know if I have a talent for it. I see kids at the Sorbonne sketching on the street and I think I’ll never be able to do what they can do. But hey, practice and time. That’s the big secret to talent… and in their case, good grades.

I miss nothing from the corporate jungle, except maybe your dad. He’s a nice guy.

6) If there was one lesson or thought you’d like readers to leave Paris Letters with, what is it?

So many lessons! But most of them can be found in the book. If I had to pick one lesson, I’d have to pick three.
1.     Live beneath your means.
2.     If you don’t have it, you don’t need it.
3.     Write to learn what you know.

7) What’s next for Janice?

For now, exploring and discovering more about this beautiful Parisian life. I’m honeymooning with the city, with my painted letter mail subscription and with the lovely Christophe. But is Paris the final destination? I’m not sure, so I’ll keep my life down to one suitcase for now.  

Well said, Janice. Well said!

To celebrate the release of Paris Letters,
Janice is hosting a contest you really don't want to miss...

Seriously, how cool is that?

Go! Enter now!

But, before you go, don't forget to...




Thanks, all! Bisous from the south of France.


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