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Entries from November 2011


Leaves of Grass (c) Kristin Espinasse
Looking out towards Cairanne, a nearby village


aube (ohb) noun, feminine

    : dawn, daybreak

Le jour vient après l'aube.
Day follows dawn.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

If you were sitting here with me now, facing this blank screen, you might be tempted to do as I am doing... and let your eyes travel over to the porte-fenêtre, beyond which blackness reigns.

This is no dark metaphor. I am only looking out at the night sky, staring at the twinkle lights (are they coming from the village of Gigondas? or Sablet?) beneath the sliver of a half-moon, high in the ciel above. When I began to fill this blank page, that moon was at "noon", hanging directly over the lighted village....

The moon is now at "one o'clock"... and now "two o'clock" and I am still wavering, from this page to the window and beyond. Above the village twinkle lights, a jagged horizontal line has just come into view: I recognize part of a mountain range: Les Dentelles de Montmirail.

A light gray hue rises from the mountain as the sky above awakens in shades of blue... in muted teal, in whispers of royal, in cobalt and bird's egg hues...

Above, the moon is wandering away.... It is after all a new day.


Book Publishing Update!

For three weeks now, I have been working towards this "new day": Publication Day. As it turns out, my book, Blossoming in Provence, will not be available for purchase by midnight tonight... (so much for the bad news).

The good news is that in 21 days a book has been created! For this, I am so thankful for your support, including all the helpful edits and all the encouraging cheers that you have sent in. This book could not have come together without you!

I will be taking the next week or so off to complete this project...
...and to ease up on some of the pressure! Meantime, I wanted to share with you the final étapes or stages in this book-making process, for those of you who might like to make a book of your own.

=> Now that my stories are in manuscript form, I will be sending the Word document to a book designer-typesetter (I have chosen TLC graphics for help with my book's interior. I had thought I could do it myself... but when I began to wrestle with formatting the text and the pages, I gave up!)

=> Erin, the designer-typesetter will reformat the book. Bruce has agreed to do a final read-over, and I will be doing the same.

=> I will then upload the cover and the interior via CreateSpace—the self-publisher that I have chosen for this project. It will take CreateSpace another 5-7 days to approve the manuscript (i.e. confirm it is free of any technical glitches—I forgot to tell you about the photo-sizing fiasco I am going through at the moment...)

=> I am required to order a proof copy of the book (this will take another two or three days, express delivery to France!)

=> Once I approve the proof copy, it will take Amazon up to 48 hours to upload the product page and make the book available for sale (!!!).

The bottom line: If all goes well the paperback book will be available in a few weeks! 

For those of you who are celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving, and for everyone reading, happy rest of the month of November! I will check in with you when things are looking a little clearer around here. Meantime, wish me bonne continuation. I'm wishing you the same!




Le Coin Commentaires

 To leave a comment, click here.


French Vocabulary

la porte-fenêtre = French window
bonne continuation
= keep on truckin' (also means "all the best" or "keep up the good work!"

amicalement = best wishes 


Local birds. How I'd love to fly away with them right about now... but there are more ends to tie up with this project! Quelle idée de faire un livre dans vingt-en-un jours! What a idea to do a book in 21-days!  


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.



Part of this photo will appear in the book "Blossoming in Provence". Note: all book pictures will be in black and white (I want to keep down the purchase price of the book. To fill it with color photos would greatly increase the cost for readers).

si (see)

: if

*Note: "si" means "yes" when used to answer a negative question.
ex. Tu n'as pas encore fini?
Si, j'ai fini!


Si tu peux être fort sans cesser d'être tendre...
If you can be strong without ceasing to be tender... 
                      —Andre Maurois' (from Kipling's poem, see below) 


I wonder if my thoughts are beginning to short circuit? I've been up since the early hours, thinking about what to write today. There are things to write for the book... and things to write for this "thrice-weekly" blog...

A slight panic sets in. Just when I fear this project will come crashing down, there will be a moment of clarity, when I think "Just keep it simple...". 

And yet, I am afraid of leaving someone out of the Acknowledgments section. And I am afraid of choosing the right blurbs for the book (and leaving others out). And I am unsure of how to rewrite the book's description....

...And the dogs have fleas, the kids have adolescence, the house has cobwebs, and I have the flu (or think I do)....

Rather than let confusion set in, I will make the decision to listen to Mom (The Book Director), to include these final chapters (see today's story selections), and so wrap up this project! I would like to end the challenge on an inspirational note... and what could be more inspiring than Kipling's poem (see below)?

And now, here is what I need your help with. Apart from editing the following stories, can anyone tell me whether the Kipling's poem "If" (and André Maurois's inspired translation, "Si") are in the public domain? I would like to print them in my book and I need to be certain the I have the right to do so.

And now, enjoy with me now these inspiring words (as well as the final three story selections for my book... editors, are you still with me? :-) 

SI (Kipling's poem, as read by my son), click here.

Toc : about my friend Martine, who offered me the Kipling poem. 

Lance (one more story about my husband, Monsieur Nature



  If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
  If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
  Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
  And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

  If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
  If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two imposters just the same;

  If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
  Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

  If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
  And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;

  If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
  And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

  If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
  If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
  If all men count with you, but none too much;

  If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
  Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
  And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

                                       —Rudyard Kipling

For the French translation, and to hear this poem in French (read by our son) click here.



Always good to end things on a sweet note... French sirops at the market in Les Arcs-sur-Argens

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.


Chairs in Bonnifacio (c) Kristin

When this madcap publishing adventure is over, can we all just sit down and have a drink together? Speaking of sipping, here's a word from Chief Grape:

Invite Rouge-Bleu wines to your table for Thanksgiving. They will assure you great success, even if you burn the Turkey. Click here to locate them or Email Chief Grape if you can't find a local retailer. Thanks for your support.

fignolage (fee-nyo-lazh)

    : touching up, polishing

C'est presque fini. Le reste c'est du fignolage.
It's almost done. The rest is finishing-up work.

 Also: un fignoleur/une fignoleuse = a meticulous worker

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

It may take a miracle to meet this Wednesday's publishing deadline, meantime... please have a look at the book description that I have just written up! It will go on the book page at Amazon and it may appear, in part, on the back cover (or on the first page of the book, followed by reader blurbs, which I hope will complete the book's description).

Note: I've given the sensitive job of choosing blurbs to my Mom! I hope to include many more blurbs on the first 4 pages of the book (do you think 6 pages would be overdoing it? Talk about sending oneself flowers! By the way, thank you so much for the blurbs you have sent!)

The following text will appear on the sales page for this book:

Blossoming in Provence

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of this blook.*

Following an emotional "scrape" with skin cancer, author Kristin Espinasse (Words in a French Life) decides to refocus her creative efforts. Rather than let a colorful imagination dispirit her, she puts her mind to work in a spirited project: "Publish a book in 21 days!" 

The madcap literary adventure that follows takes on a life of its own when Kristin invites her blog readers—and her mother—along for the ride!  

Opening up the heart of her blog, Kristin asks readers to edit her stories. Soon, everyone from a high school dropout to a literary agent begins to fix the author's punctuation and cure her misplaced modifiers. Offering forth a comma or a dash or a needed splash (Lourdes holy water, bien sûr!), these accidental editors give more than grammar tips—they give their heart and soul in an effort to help Kristin choose the best stories for her forthcoming book Blossoming in Provence (heck, they even come up with the book's title!). As the project careens forward to a self-imposed deadline, a parallel adventure in healing is taking place. 

Thanks for the behind-the-scenes, but what's the book about, anyway?
The result of these combined efforts is a semi-polished collection of over two dozen episodes "in a French life". Blossoming in Provence includes stories from the archives of French Word-A-Day. Go back in time with Kristin as she encounters, among the lavender and the locals, more language and cultural snares and learns that the only way to break free is by growing inwardly.  

Over two-dozen full-page black-and-white photos of Provençal life accompany these inspiring stories of cultural and inward transition.

Editorial Reviews

"Kristin Espinasse is the American Everywoman who opens our eyes to French life from the inside out. From back-breaking vineyard work to the joys of family, food and unique village characters, we walk the lavender-scented paths of Provence with her - and we believe." —Ellen Aragon

"Using the definition of a French word as a starting point, Kristin shares - with warmth and humor - her love of her adopted language as well as the challenges of marriage and motherhood. Kristin's gorgeous photos perfectly complement her descriptions of la vie quotidienne that make France come alive wherever you live." —Maureen McCormick

"Kristin's vignettes of life in France and her discoveries of the nuances of la belle langue are refreshing to both the novice francophile and the seasoned traveler. Because she explores France and French with the eyes of an American expat, her discoveries consistently reveal the complexities of language and culture. Never pretentious, always self-revelatory, Kristin demystifies the ways of France to the American reader." —Tim Averill 

"An American living her dreams and passions in the south of France, Kristin invites us, with remarkable frankness and generosity, to share her own and her family's challenges and triumphs. She inspires, enlightens and entertains with down-to-earth vignettes of daily life that sparkle with her wry humor, zest for life, energy and bon courage." —Lana Holmes

"The human expression of her experiences in life and France are generous, candid and warm. I have never met her, and I feel I know her very well. Her writing is like hearing a friend speak. Her willingness to be vulnerable I find inspiring; her quest to publish I feel is encouraging to me as a writer." —Hilary Tayeb

 * blook: a printed book that contains stories from a blog

Note: we still haven't chosen which blurbs will go on the back cover. If you have any suggestions let us know in the comments box below. 

*     *     *                  *     *     *                 *     *    *

Le Coin Commentaires

Do you think the text, above—along with the editorial blurbs—adequately explains the book's contents? Is it good to go? Let me know here, in the comments box

 Meantime, for those who would like to help me catch any typos, here are the next three stories to edit. Merci!


 Noeud: Learning to tie shoes in French

 S'Occuper: Josephine Baker and my Josey, Baker of pizza

Ceinture de Securite : buckling up my toddler, I receive an impromtu lesson in pronunciation

 For Editors Only: for those of you who have submitted edits and helped work on the stories in this collection, don't forget to add your name to the credits section, here!



  Photo and cover work (c) Tamara Dever, TLC Graphics & Narrow Gate Books

Many thanks to Tamara Dever, of TLC Graphics, for designing this book cover. Check out some of the gorgeous covers Tami has made, here

It is still a toss-up between this one... and the No. 2 cover, but we are getting there! Now to get the back cover squared away... the clock is ticking! Also, we are thinking of using reader Betty Gleason's catchy phrase, on the cover:

"As satisfying as a seven-course French dinner with lots of good wine and laughter!" —Betty Gleason

(Betty also came up with the title. If she isn't in publishing, she should be, don't you think?) 


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

s'envoyer des fleurs & a request for blurbs!

Tip: take a break from the current "book publishing" theme by simply reading the stories that follow, below. In the stories "Foi" and "Conjoint" you will continue to build your French vocabulary, while in "Envie" you can read about longing.

Mas la MonaqueMas la Monaque - rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse! Click here for photos and availability.


s'envoyer des fleurs

    : to pat oneself on the back


Publishing Update!

Now listen in, closely: we are racing toward the imminent deadline for this 21 Day Publish A Book challenge and I need your help today big time!

I am about to do the unthinkable. I'm now going to ask you "to send me flowers"! Not because I received bad news at the doctor's yesterday (another suspicious spot will need to be removed—this time from the side of my nose. Gah! Double gah!!)...

No, I am not asking for flowers for that... I am asking you "to send flowers" in the very French sense of the phrase:

envoyer des fleurs = to send compliments
s'envoyer des fleurs = to send oneself compliments 


In fact, what I really need from you today is what we readers, editors, writers, and publishers call "BLURBS".

Normally, a publisher (or author or editor or marketing team) will seek such endorsements from other authors or from journalists. You then see these promotional statements on the book's back cover or on the inside flap or on the first few pages of the book or on the product description page at Amazon. 

Such blurbs serve many purposes. Here are just a few. Blurbs help to convey:

1)  the book's subject matter
2)  the author's writing style
3) the tone of the book  

Especially, blurbs help to sell the book!  They help potential readers decide whether to buy.

 Again, blurbs are typically written by writers... but, personally, I think they should be written by readers. This is where you come in! As readers of this "thrice-weekly" blog, you are the most qualified of all critics to comment on my stories. It is you who can best label my writing style, the subject matter and the tone of these essays.

So forgive me for being brazen or blatant ...or even a bit bumbling... in asking you to send me "flowers"! But I sure need your positive words at this time.  

And now, à vos plumes! To your pens! (or keyboards...). Please answer my call for blurbs by leaving one here, in the comments box (be sure to leave your name as it should appear... should your blurb be published).

Tip: For help writing a blurb for my book, please have a look at some of the books lying around your home or office. Notice how the blurbs effectively answer the questions: What is this book about? Who is this author? What is the author's style? The book's tone? How am I left feeling, having read a chapter? Would I recommend this book to someone?

To those of you who do not feel up to writing an endorsement, I hope that you will stick around to help choose one for the back of my book! Your job will be to read the blurbs as they come into this box, and help decide which ones will work best for my book's promotion.

Thank you very much! Meantime, here are the next set of stories that will go into the book. Click on the following links to begin editing.

FOI: My daughter and my hot-tempered mom say grace

ENVIE: Restless souls and longings...

CONJOINT: My husband courts Mother Nature


  July2005 024

(2006. Before we had any idea we were destined to move to a vineyard...) I thought I'd run this photo for you today, as most of the stories in my next book focus on this time period (so that when you read about Max or Jackie, you can picture them at this age.) The photo was taken at Uncle Jean-Claude's winery, Domaine du Banneret.

Don't forget to leave a book blurb in today's comments box. Thank you again! Your support makes all the difference!

A Note to Editors
Note, if you have helped to edit a story for this collection (that is, if you have submitted a correction to one of the stories in this "publishing challenge", then please add your name to the Acknowledgments box, here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.


Pradel (c) Kristin Espinasse
Please stick with me on this French word journey. The current theme, "publishing", will come to a close soon... and we'll be back with more colorful episodes "in a French life"!

croire (kwahr)

    : to believe

I don't even know which day of the 21 Day Publishing Challenge today is (Day 11? Day 12?)! I think the deadline is one week from Wednesday, though I'm hoping that I've miscalculated and that the cutoff is really one week from Friday (but that couldn't be, for Friday we're having a big dinner party ...and I would have never put that much pressure on things. No, not I)!

We won't talk too much about the Behind the Scenes of this farcical speed-publishing venture, one designed, in part, to take my mind off my forehead (7 weeks since the operation and my wound is still "healing". I had to stop using the super cool silicone patch when an infection broke out... then came the mad science: the daily dousing with betadine... then switching to mercurochrome (gaahh! mercury! what was I thinking?)... finally, I got desperate and broke out the LOURDES WATER! (I found a few kitchy souvenir bottles—little plastic containers in the form of the famous Saint Bernadette.)

Yesterday, as I lay back on my pillow, a soaking wet compress on my head, I felt so much frustration and desperation. I tried to relax as the "miracle" water trickled down the sides of my head, onto the pillow. I realized I had just put my faith into a 14-year-old saint!

Along with the curative water, tears flowed. For weeks, they had been bottled up, just like the souvenir "saint" water that friends had brought me from the famous grotto. 

Then came the doubt. More than the water's medicinal effect, I began to question my own ability to tenir, or to hang in there. I didn't know whether to scream or to go on softly crying about the absurdity of my situation: in effect, I was counting on a purported apparition (of the Blessed Virgin, in the grotto) to help in the disappearance (of my bleeding wound). I felt as confused as ever.

And then I had an inspiration....

"Either you believe," I challenged myself, "or you don't believe!"

A minute passed in which I waited for I knew not what....

The make-up-your-mind-moment ended when my eyes squeezed shut as I raised my hand and tilted that bottle of holy water. There I received the downpouring of faith. 


Update: tomorrow I will see a good dermatologist. I do believe she will be able to pick up where the saint left off. In the meantime, I'm going to keep my mind constructively occupied with the editing of the following stories! So please get out your red pens now and read the following stories, letting me know whether any typos need to be fixed. Thank you, mille fois merci

Comments Box
To respond to this post, click here to leave a message in the comments box

The following stories will go into the manuscript template by tomorrow (Tuesday night)! Please send any edits today, or tomorrow morning at the latest. Thanks!

PETITE AMIE: my future husband's ex shows up at our wedding!

LOUPER: I allow my son a "ditch day"

COQUILLE: When I am old...

CONDUIRE: Learning to drive in France


Meantime, here is a sneak peek at the book covers (Big thanks designer Tamara Dever at TLC Graphics & Narrow Gate Books!) . Get ready to vote on Friday (I hope...)

7 BIP covers
Click to view a larger image. Note: the subtitle you see will not appear (nor will the subtitle I made up this weekend: Blossoming in Provence: A Tumbleweed's enlightenment among the Lavender. Mom thinks the title will stand on its own. What do you think? Let me know here, in the comments box

A special note to all editors (that might be you!): If you are helping to edit my forthcoming "memoirette", Blossoming in Provence, please click over to the Acknowledgment page, now, and enter your name in the comments box there!
Blossoming cover

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

qui rechauffe le coeur

Is it really possible to publish a book in 21 days? I'm taking heart that it is. Meantime, a certain heart is taking me.... Read today's story.

qui réchauffe le coeur (kee-ray-showf-leuh-ker)

    : heartwarming

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The Original "Editorial Sweethearts" 

This story is dedicated to William C. Myers, or "Behind the Scenes Bill", who undertook the colossal task, some years ago, of editing—post publication—my "thrice-weekly" missives!, this, after I had worn out the previous volunteers (Hello Chris! Hi George!), "Les frères Christian," who I fear are still recuperating from the trauma. These three men taught me more than how to un-split my infinitives, they showed me that what I write counts, and that, no matter how grammar (grammatically?)-challenged I may be, my stories are worth sharing. 

I admit, je suis crévee! It feels as though I've been steamrollered over. My body craves a hot bath and my stiff neck—and all the muscles below it—are crying for a bottle of aspirin.

It is a marathon over here, in "lackadaisical" Provence, where a typical day in "The 21 Day Book Publishing Challenge" begins around six in the morning and finishes when I receive an ALL CAPS e-mail from my Book Director (my concerned mother), who suggests, "Why don't you call it a day?" I honor Mom's wish by turning off the computer in time to eat dinner.

Last night, while tossing the last pat of butter (supplies are dwindling...) into the frying pan, I became entranced by the melting beurre, which began to take on a new form. Could it be?... I wondered, as the butter settled into its new bubbly shape....

Yes! It was a heart! What's more, it was the second heart apparition of the day!

Earlier, that morning, while struggling to find an opening quote—the kind you see preceding a book's first chapter—I had had a similar encounter of the heart. This happened when I could not call to mind a meaningful citation, at which point I decided to take a shot at writing one myself....

My plan was to relate a snippet of conversation that I had recently had with a brokenhearted friend. Imagine my surprise when I looked down at the transcript of our talk... and saw that the text (which I had center-aligned) formed a well-defined heart! Now, I ask, what were the mathematical chances of that?

I am not sure why I have chosen to relate the above story for today's post—when I had set out to talk about the technical (and not the mystical!) side of publishing: specifically typesetting, including issues with text fonts (Garamond? or Georgia? or Times New Roman?), text size (10 pt? or 11pt? or dare I go higher?), and file-conversion errors, among other riveting topics!

So I hope you are not too disappointed with today's non-techie, non-literary subject matter. I am going with the moment and, I admit, hoping for another close encounter of the heart.

* * *

And now, for those of you who are helping me to edit the essays that will go into my next book, here are today's stories selections. Please help me edit them, sending any corrections to the comments box of the post in question!

P.S. Here's a special heart for Betty Gleason, who came up with the title of the book: Blossoming in Provence

Sécheresse: My eco-friendly neighbor's creative solution to the drought... Click here to read this story.

Pétillant: Waiting for my important guests, I fail to notice the special visitors who are right beneath my nose... read the story here.

Paresse: That perfect façade we sometimes try to create, read more here.

French Christmas CD 

 You'll love this French Christmas CD, click here!


  "Velo"city (c) Kristin Espinasse

Meantime, moving forward... while trying not to look back! It is time to begin putting the edited stories into manuscript form... extremely nerve-racking task,
all it takes to throw off the typesetting 
is a little errant dash! 

(photo taken in Suave, Italy, where my Chief Grape attended a wine fair, two years ago)? Speaking of The Chief, here is a message from him:


For the upcoming Holidays, our organic, award-winning Rouge-Bleu wines will regale your palates. Click here for store locations (or email Chief grape if you can't locate them).
And, for our Australian readers, we have a few cases of Rouge-Bleu wines arriving soon. Click here for the pre-order form


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

bonne lecture

Lorguesbuildings 005
A nice place to read or write... bonne lecture! Today we talk about publishing one's blog posts... in book form! Read on! 

bonne lecture (bohn-lek-toor) n.f.

    : happy reading!

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Why on earth would anyone pay for a book that they have read for free, on-line?

Now this is a timely question! Indeed, these days publishers resist blog-to-book projects (they are relying, in part, on the blogger's readers to figure into the targeted audience—and they are betting that such readers, no matter how faithful, will not be interested in buying what they have already read). 

The Cyberwriter's Plight Continues...
Certain readers, too, seem to have a bone to pick with bloggers who have the audacity to try to repackage and to resell their work. I often check out the reader comments at Amazon, on blogs that have been made into books (or "blooks"). It is always disheartening to read such a call to arms as: "Don't waste your money! You can read all of these stories for free, on-line!" It sometimes seems as though they (the readers) were against us: the very writers whose stories they enjoy!

Why, I wonder, shouldn't a writer (or blogger if you prefer...) collect their stories and offer them via another, or non-cyber, medium: in paperback form? Are we "bloggers" some sort of second-class "writerzens" because we have first offered our work here for free? 


Here are two or three examples of why it isn't, after all, insane, to purchase a book of stories that have already appeared before the eyes of many:

1) It is a reader-writer tradition! The writers of yesteryear saw their works serialized in newspapers or journals... before the stories were collected in book form, to go on to sell as classics! Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin comes to mind. Though I would not begin to compare my writing to that of The Masters, I know in my heart there is a place for these classic "stories of French life" to linger, beyond cyberspace...

2) And what about comparing a story to a song?! How many songs are just that, les petites histoires! And yet we listen to the stories over and over. Songwriters would have put down their pencils eons ago, had listeners refused to "revisit" their soulful ballads. Most of us listen to a heartening song dozens of times! And then we end up buying the album.

3) Or take the example of  the television series. As I stroll down the aisle at our mega supermarket, I see that French women are clamoring to buy a multi-volume set of Desperate Housewives (this, after they bought the Beverly Hills, 90210 series, when it finally came to France, years ago and Californication, after that). It didn't seem to matter that the viewers had recently seen the episodes... they wanted a copy for their video library!

Though my book "Words in a French Life," a compilation of stories that have appeared on this blog—before being published by Simon & Schuster—received modest sales (to date, it has sold nearly 50,000 copies—not the blockbuster millions-of-copies—but nothing to shake a finger at, either), the publisher was willing to bet that a "Volume Two" would not do so well. 

Perhaps. But should this stop me from publishing more books in the series? That is the question. Minus the backing of a big publishing house with a big PR team, I'm going ahead with my dream. And I am betting that a larger audience awaits, in addition to this blog. It may take time to reach these readers, but when I do, I cannot wait to wish them "bonne lecture!" and to thank them for finding me. All this jumping up and down and frantically waving my hands may just get their attention, after all.

And, psst, psst! I'm over here! 


For those of you who are just now tuning in, today marks Day 8 of a self-imposed "Publish a Book in 21 Days" challenge. Do you think I will make it? With your help I know I will! Here, now, are the next two stories that I'll need your help editing.

LE BETON: My son's mohawk... and career choices...

CROTTE: A Frenchwoman's dirty trick


Comments Corner

I didn't mean to rant today, just wanted to share some behind-the-scenes issues that pop up in one's writing life: specifically, the frustration in encountering roadblocks to publishing one's stories. The good news is that the publishing world is changing, and there are more and more opportunities for everyone: both readers and writers. And these are exciting times! To leave a comment about this post or this writing project, click here.

August 2005 004

                           The end of another writing day... sometime in 2004

Meantime, my book director (Hi, Mom!) and I are scrambling for an author photo for the back cover. Stay with me now... for I know the proposed picture may be a tad informal (is it the toads on those pajamas pants? or the "toadally cool" quotes, below the bug-eye frogs?) This aside, I hope to sell you on this photo for three reasons: One, it is in theme with the book (in which a desert rat struggles to adapt to a foreign culture—no offence to fellow desert rats... who may or may not wear frog pj's), Two, the writer's eyes are always "looking to" and imagining the next story, and Three, this photo was taken during the period in which the stories in the book were written. My son snapped the image, after he and his sister had won the most recent match of "Tickle to Death a Marathon Writer". They always knew how to keep me grounded, literally, when my sky-high writing goals began to get carried away.

 Or do you prefer a more "brushed" image (at least my hair got brushed, in this one). The good thing about a recent photo (this is from June 2011) is that it makes for less embarrassment during book readings (readers actually recognize you!). I once did a meetup in which a reader arrived... only to ask me where I was.... my answer was to offer my hand (here I am!, nice to meet you)! The woman was a little taken aback; she seemed to be looking for someone else... maybe she was, after all... we writers are so oversensitive! During yet another meetup, I had a similar mistaken-identity moment, only in the positive sense: "oh, so you're the word-a-day blogger... I thought you were much older!" Your comments are welcome here, in the comments box.

And then there's the photo from I recently posted, here. Voilà.

Correct Your French Blunders

Correct Your French Blunders: How to Avoid 99% of the Common Mistakes Made by Learners of French. Speak and write French as if it were your native tongue! Order here.


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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maison d'édition

Les arcs 018
These days you can publish a book anywhere... even in your own home! Read on, in this blog series Publish A Book in 21 Days--and see if I can do it myself! (Photo taken in the village of Tarradeau, at a goat cheese farm)

la maison d'édition (may-zon-day-dee-syon)

    : publishing house

No help with a fancy house publisher for my next book.... But that doesn't mean we are all not having a blast editing it together! I can't thank you enough for your help, all who are reading now, in looking over today's story selections and letting me know if there are any needed changes! Meantime, why not forward today's post to someone who loves to write? Or who is interested in the book-publishing process?

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The behind-the-scenes stories that are taking place as I rush, to speed-publish, would make a lively novella—or memoirella—of their own.

There are the nightly calls to Mexico, for one, in which I spend a lot of time keeping an enthusiastic Book Director in line.

"I think you should keep the SONGE story," Mom votes. "The writing may be awkward, but is a record of your growth as an écrivaine—is that the word, Honey?—anyway...the story marks the moment when you began to pay attention to the rhythm of words! Oh, by the way, did you see Nancy's website? You've got to watch the video!" and with that Mom is off on other tangent, talking about all of the people she has encountered in the comments boxes, those readers-editors who are helping with the speed publishing project (psst, dear Reader, I'm talking to you. Are you helping, too? I hope so!). 

"Mom, keep to the subject. There's no time for this! We need to talk about the book's title. And there's the back cover to think about... and what about book blurbs? We need to ask readers for those!" I try to channel my Book Director's energy. God knows there is plenty of it!

"Now I've been thinking about that...." Mom says, calmly, and I notice how she has downshifted her gears, lest I suspect for one moment that she can't center herself... in time to center me!

"I have your book Wish, Prune, Pray here, and I've been looking at it... What a cover! By the way, you have got to republish that book! The intro takes my breath away! Here let me read it to you..."

When my French husband shared with me an announcement for a vineyard in the Rhone Valley, a fluttering in his voice told me that this time would be different...

From behind the computer screen, where I fed my own passion—writing—I listened to a renewed enthusiasm coming from Jean-Marc. As he stood before the window of my office, I noticed a change coming over him. Where once darkeness gathered beneath his brows—the shadows of an unfulfilled dream—light now shined, this, from behind the window to his inner farmer's soul... 

"Mom! We don't have time for this!" I barked, interrupting her reading. There are only 16 days left! Now let's keep focused! Besides, we've already done an intro for this book, it's the ESPOIR story—remember? Moving on now to chapter order: I'll need to bring in all of the characters in the first five chapters. We've met Jean-Marc and the kids in the opening stories. I now need an anecdote about my mother-in-law... and a story about you, bien sûr!"

"OK," Mom answers, and I can actually hear her bed sheets ruffle as she straightens up, determined to do her best to keep her energy focused this time.

"Honey, she says, sliding again... "that Bruce—he sure knows his stuff! So glad we have HIM on board."
"I know. Did you see his website?"
"He has a website?" And with that, Mom has managed to pull us off topic once again, until we are talking about all of the interesting people we meet in the comments area, and wouldn't it be cool to publish the comments box?

"Mom," I say, "you are high and I am obsessed!" Neither of us gets our feelings hurt as I call our behavior for what it is ... just a little bit manic...; instead, we break out in laughter and shake off this latest burst of creation-frenzy.

Apart from the creative lapses, Mom is proving to be a savvy and efficient assistant. "You'll need to work on more than two stories per post if you want to have enough chapters to fill this book!" With that, she's given us all extra work (from now on there will be three stories per post to edit!).

"And, personally, I still don't think that's enough," Mom puffs, driving in her point.

The other day she sent a list of twenty stories for inclusion into this project. I was humbled to realize that she had taken hours and hours to scour the archives (this she downplayed: "But all of your faithful readers are doing the same. Don't you realize that?); she was busy looking for stories that fit into the 5-point criteria I had drawn up, on Day One of Le Défi

More than book director, Mom has been Doting Nurse and Spiritual Advisor—for if I threw myself into this whirlwind project, part of that was to take my mind off other worries. Bref, between chapter-editing and book design, I've spent a fair amount of time staring into the mirror, obsessing about the healing process. Each time I do, an old English idiom pops into my mind: "A watched pot never boils."

I think I much prefer a different, French, expression: Le temps guérit toutes les blessures.... 


Bon, we all have a lot of work to do now—so no more side-trekking. Here are three (are you reading, Mom?), yes three stories that need your attention. Would you kindly volunteer to read one (or more) of them, and to point out any typos in the corresponding comments boxes. Mille mercis!


EPUISER: Mom teaches us to sweep, during a lesson in "lightening up"

TRAINEAU: Our golden retriever "The Drag Queen"

NOYAU: My mother-in-law finds a job for her lonely neighbor


Coming next, THE BOOK COVER! Here's a preview. What do you think? I used a photo, taken in Grignan (when my aunt and uncle came to visit) -- and played around in Google's Picasa, until I found the typography I liked (does the lettering look amateur? Any suggestions? I think I need to color in my name with a different hue....) 

Le Coin Commentaires

Please share your thoughts about the stories, the project, the book cover or title, today's post, my mom, or anything that strikes your fancy, here, in the comments box.



I know: my name is a little large... you can blame the Book Director (my proud mom) for this detail! P.S. notice the subtitle, which I hope speaks about the life lessons that are learned... in the process of learning French....

In Roussillon
And here's my beautiful Book Director-Mom, here in Roussillon, where she participated with me at the local book fair.

This picture speaks volumes. In my usual author event cluelessness, I have thrown a bedcover over the table and scrambled to find as many books as I could, from my personal stock. The results were dismal, and I wanted to hide under the bedcover (literally...) as all of the professional authors set up their stands with lovely lace table cloths and books-à-gogo... Mom, do you have any comments to add, regarding this image? (Photo taken 2 or 3 years ago.)

French Christmas CD 

 You'll love this French Christmas CD, click here!



Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.


Mr Cat (c) Kristin Espinasse. Photo taken in the town of Villedieu. "City of God" indeed.... The lovely man allowed me to photograph him. I had never seen a cat on a leash and was intrigued with the entire scene!

One thing's sure: there will be colorful characters in my next book (check out our progress on this, Day Three!, of the Publish A Book in 21 Days Challenge... and thank you for forwarding this post to a writer—a writer being anyone whose desire it is to write, and, especially, one who follows that desire. Read on, in the following missive. :-) Tip: put your cursor over the photo for more information on the image.

rédiger (ray dih zhay)

    : to write, to compose

bien rédigé = well-written

Mas la MonaqueMas la Monaque - rent this beautifully restored 17th Century farmhouse! Click here for photos and availability.


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

An Audience of Editors

In the last 24 hours an orage has swept into our little wine-making village, and the tempête is very much in theme with the writing and the publishing going on inside: here, in a messy office, where I have not changed out of my bathrobe.

Inside the pockets of that robe, there were two pieces of stale bread (I don't even remember eating any bread), just as there were yesterday. Voilà, the glamorous, rock star life of a working writer.

A working writer! I still have to pince myself when I read those words. I am, véritablement, a working writer! I am a writer who works, and I work as a writer, and, as a writer, I have work! (Come to think of it, the previous sentence makes for an excellent self-talk exercise! I should know, as I have used one of more versions of it during this decade of self-imposed writer's boot camp....

You Are A Writer When You Believe You Are
Over the years I have visualized myself, actively or passively (at night, en rêvant), in this "writer's position". It is uncanny the degree to which belief works itself out... and into reality—down to the most minute details (the other day I realized I was wearing the plaid blazer that I had romantically imagined writers wore once upon a time.... missing were the patches at the elbows. Then again, I do not rest my elbows when I write. So, good for you, Subconscious Mind, for omitting that detail, just before materializing my real-life writer's blazer!).

And then, last week, there I was wearing the felt hat that the writer in my earlier imaginings might have worn... while stealing out onto the streets, in search of writing grist. (I would have never built up the gumption to wear such a hat; voilà for the "upside" of facial scars. (See the hat, below.)

Ask and Receive
But what I could not dream up or even imagine—what far surpassed my own hopes and aspirations—was that there would be an audience of editors there to help me, every uncertain step along the way: selfless lecteurs and lectrices willing to assist with another's dream.

I hope that in the midst of helping me, your own goals will begin or continue to crystallize.... until what was once a glimmer in your mind's eye... breaks through your brain-chamber and comes to life!


And now for an editorial update! Thank you so much for the manuscript edits that you are sending in.  The corrections and suggestions are being incorporated as I receive them—in real time—so that when you click on one of the stories to edit, you will be seeing the very latest version. (There might be a several-hour lapse at times during which I am outside screaming at the wind or hugging a tree, slaphappily. More likely, I am engaged in less dramatic stress outlets—such as making a hasty family dinner or catching up on laundry (my eyes lit up this morning, when I realized that the green shirt that I was folding was the same shirt at that in the dédommagement story that you have helped me edit over the past 36 hours! I think I'll frame that shirt and stick it in my office—or simply wear it while I speed publish these next few weeks!)

All this to say Merci bien, merci beaucoup, for the excellent feedback and suggestions and corrections that you have taken the time to send in, via the comments box. And, finally, huge thanks to MOM, aka Jules, who has accepted the position of Book Director. Her energy and enthusiasm, alone, is enough to buoy all of us during the next two weeks and four days.... Yipes, off to work against the clock, now!


Please join me, right away, anyone who is so willing: help me to find any typos or mistakes or formatting errors or stylistic concerns... in the following two three stories:

LE SAPIN: A "complicated" woman longs to become as simple as a French Christmas tree.

SONGE (DREAM!): read about when William Faulkner came to visit me, with advice about how to write with ease... 

MOQUETTE (CARPET): this story was reconsidered... after Mom and her posse showed up in the "moquette" comments box, and insisted this story be a part of the story collection.

Post note: I am beginning to see a new theme to this story collection: more than French life, there will be stories on the writing life. This has the added benefit of appealing to a larger audience (all you writers out there!) I will try to find more writing-themed stories in the archives.

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment on today's post, or to simply cheer me on—me and my editorial team (that'd be you), please click here.

French Vocabulary

un orage = thunderstorm

la tempête = storm

voilà = there you have it

pincer = to pinch

véritablement = truly, genuinely

le lecteur, la lectrice = reader

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Out searching for that "grist" I mentioned, in today's story.


The "writer's hat" looks even more stylish on our son, Max (did you read about him in today's stories to edit?); but writing is the last thing in the world he wants to do. He's content to actually live life, rather than to write about it.

And here is that beautiful husband of mine, with a message for you:

For the coming Holidays, look for our Rouge-Bleu wines here. If you can't find them, email Jean-Marc and he will help you. Thanks for your support !

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

le defi

Les Chaises Marseillaises (c) Kristin Espinasse
This image, though it might be the set for a romantic comedy, exists in reality... in a far-off fishing village at the end of Marseilles. The grandeur of the scene has little in common with fishing, but who says there has to be a logic to everything? Read on, in today's story....

le défi (day fee)

    : the challenge


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Did you ever notice how a proper break, or pause, from the train-train of work and "everyday" has a way of renewing hope and rekindling old dreams? This happened to me, sometime this week... when I decided, after a 12-day absence, to come back to work... and to begin a new project:

The Publish-A-Book in 21 Days Challenge!

Beginning today, I will be assembling a couple of handfuls of stories from this blog's archives, putting the episodes into manuscript form, and self-publishing a new book! Le défi, or challenge, will be to get the book on-line and available for purchase in 21 days!

Only, with over 1,500 stories, one wonders Where to begin? Should there be a theme? ...only stories about characters? ...only stories about cultural differences? Because there is no time to dawdle... I've decided to hone in on a period in 2005--picking up near where my house-published book (also a collection of blog posts) left off. This fly-by-seat story compilation will, therefore, include a season of stories--or a few dozen anecdotes. I'll be jumping into the December archives and working my way forward... choosing stories which meet one or more of a 5-points criterion:

  • Is the story simple and straightforward?
  • Does one learn about French life and/or culture?
  • Is there a hopeful, or heartening message?
  • Does the story stand on its own?
  • And, finally, because I also write these missives as a way of documenting family life (I do hope my grandchildren will enjoy them one day): Does this particular story include a family milestone? 

In the next three weeks I will be sharing with you this book publishing-process, as I work quickly to decide which stories to include, to create a simple book cover, to come up with text for the back cover and for the author-bio paragraph, to name the book, to write an acknowledgments page, to decide how to price the book, to think up marketing strategies, and to attend to any other considerations that pop up along the way. 

I hope that by my sharing this publishing process with you, via the next nine posts, you will be inspired to pursue your own personal challenge, whether that be bookmaking or bodybuilding! We all need to shake things up from time to time, and perhaps, by putting a little fire beneath our feet... we will succeed in a new défi... and so accomplish a longtime dream.

And now, for a very big favor! Would you please join me in the book-editing process? Be so kind as to lend me your eyes by reading one or both of the following stories? Please report any typos or misplaced commas or faulty punctuation. 

In reporting errors--or in commenting on this project--thank you for using only the comments box (corresponding to the post in which the story is found), so that I may keep track of your messages, which may otherwise be lost in my in-box. 

First two stories to edit:

L'Espoir ("Hope") : An introduction and a story about following one's dream to write... against all odds. Read this story and report any edits, here.

Le Dédommagement ("Compensation"): One French woman's sweet way of recompensing a local merchant... click here to read or to edit the story "Dédommagement".

...and one of the stories that did not make it into this compilation--because of its wordiness, lack of flow, and other stylistic catastrophes... is this one: Moquette ("Carpet"). I do like the theme (about a no-nonsense, style-unconscious traveler who always takes the road less traveled--or the back way into a 2-star hotel...) and hope to work on the story when there is more time!

Note: by clicking on the story links, you will see the most recent version of the story. I will be incorporating edits and suggestions as they arrive into the comments box. 


Finally, don't let this breezy approach fool you: I'm one big ball of nervous fatigue, as I send out this post and officially announce my goal! Thank you very much for your support, as always!



Comments on this post are welcome, here. 


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.