le defi
maison d'édition


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

Thank you for visiting our sponsors:

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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 !

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


We used to camp frequently in Cornwall and people not only brought dogs with them but also cats and birds. The birds were in cages in their caravans and the cats were on leads so that they didn't run off, but could be taken for the necessary walk a couple of times a day.


How about a new picture of your scar?

Kristin Espinasse

Sandra, love the colorful image that your story evokes -- I will keep my eyes open, for the domestic travelers, next time we camp!

Claudette, good idea... but the area has looked just awful, even 6 weeks later. I did have JM take a picture a few days ago, on his iPhone. Ill need to post that one.


I am not sure if I ever mentioned it before but so what if I did I will say it again. Not only do I love your writing style but I think you take GREAT pictures as well!
I look forward each week to seeing BOTH talents. Thank you!


I am sure the comments about your stories are helpful but.....please don't lose your own style in rewrites. I have followed your stories for years because you describe your life in such an inviting way. It is like a window opens each time I read your stories and see you and your family as I visit. Your stories are alive, personal and well written. I am afraid with too much review you will lose you.

Paul Heffron

Hi Kristin,
What was plan B if you didn't make it as a writer? That would be interesting for us to know about. (By the way, you look tres chic in your fedora.)

Kate O'Kula, Rhode Island

I will read, and I will post and I will also write! Before I send comments you must know I am a huge admirer and am starting my own blog, inspired by yours!
A deep bow of gratitude to you,
PS: Ditto re: the fedora...

Bruce T. Paddock

I've never heard the term "felt-tip" applied to anything but a pen — is it a translation of a French term? In English, what you have there is a classic trilby, and it looks really good on you. (For some reason, women always look good in men's hats.) I was going to say it looks good on Max, too, but then I was going to say that Jean-Marc looks very handsome in his picture — I guess I'm just in touch with my feminine side this morning.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Patricia! 

Anne, This certainly takes a lot of the pressure off. I will remember not to tamper with the words. Mom was saying the same thing, during last nights telephone conversation -- she told me not to worry about trying to improve the writing in the archives--it is the way I wrote then... and perhaps Ill write differently tomorrow? The words and expression should remain in their place. (Mom said this much better!)

Paul, oh dear--Plan B! I hadnt gotten that far yet. Merci pour le chapeau commentaire!

Thanks, Kate! And go for it! Let us know your blog address in your next comment here!  

Jules Greer

Hi Honey,

John just delivered my cafe-mocha-vanelia (sp?) -I was up and running this morning at 6 a.m. to put on my DIRECTOR'S HAT.

OH S#$+ - !!! I just lost half of this message. I will be back later when I calm down and have studied all of your assignment.



Kristin Espinasse

Bruce--MDR, or LOL, rather! Thanks for the laughs. Love your fem side :-)  And I am thrilled to know the name of this style of hat. I had been meaning to google it--but did not know where to begin (always difficult to google the images in our minds eye!) And thank you for felt-tip (Im very red-faced -- that was a funny mistake and Ill surely make it again!)

Mom, so glad youre up. I thought I might have worn you out on your first day of work!

Diane Scott

Perhaps you have hit on a title: "The Writing Life" Or, better than butter on bread- "A Writer's Life -- Breadcrumbs from a Bathrobe Pocket" :-)

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut Kristin,

I’ll put a link-back and some good words on my blog. Maybe other bloggers will do the same.

À bientôt

Diane Scott

I forgot to add, "Le Sapin" is perhaps the one story that touched me more than any of your others in its beautiful simplicity. So touch not a word! It radiates in a child's whispered awe the beauty of the Christmas story: behold -- in a homely manger a Savior is born!


Kristin...I so appreciate your posts & photographs. But a gentle vote of 'no' for the "a writer is anyone who desires to write."

I, & many others, have worked too hard & sacrificed way too much to share that appellation with someone who "wants" to do it. I think you were carried away by the spirit of inclusiveness. It happens to me, as well. But not this time. xoxo

Diane Scott

No no no . . . I've got it -- "French Breadcrumbs from a Writer's Pocket"! ;-) Just kidding. BTW, the fedora looks simply FAB! (and Felt) I REALLY have to attend to my work now :-(


Kristin, have you been rubbing Vitamin E oil on your scar? It's supposed to help diminish the scarring.

All of this talk about writing reminds me that I must think about what to write for my weekly posting on my own website.

Blessings, Mary

Jules Greer

Hi Diane,

I am so happy you are "on Kristi's train" this morning. I think I saw your notes the other day too.Who knows what the title will be at the end of this journey...it is changing daily.

A personal question: would you be able to help me with a legal problem after this train arrives at it's destination?

I do like "French Breadcrumbs from a Writer's Pocket". We all might as well get out two-bits into this project!!!



Jules Greer

Hi Mary,

I am going to give you a 'PASS' on winning the right to make a blurb for for Kristi's book.

You are such a precious friend to Kristi - and me too.



Kristin Espinasse

Diane, Thank you for officially opening up the What to Name the Book debate - and what a colorful entry!

Herm, I really appreciate that! I hope others will do the same!

Susan, I now see your point: want is the key word. One might want to get better grades, but it is only those who work who will get them! Re all the hard work and sacrifice, I was telling my husband (at lunch, earlier) that I never sweat so much (physically!!) as when I write. I actually need to change shirts. And the head--how it feels as if it will explode, at the end of an intensive writing session. So, yes, it is hard work and there are many sacrifices! Im glad you pointed that out. 

Mary, re vitamin E - I was discouraged after doing another google search, in which a study was done on the vitamin e and scar healing -- and the results were no difference. I really like the idea of Vitamin E! And what about Aloe Vera gel? I have that too... Im currently walking around with a fat slap of silicon on my head (the doctor prescribed it, just yesterday)....

Jessica Broughton

Kristin - you go, girl! I'm so proud of you and so glad to see all your dreams coming to fruition! Sending you a big giant hug!

Re: your scar - I found this magic compound at the pharmacy here called Bio Oil. It does have some vitamin E in it (also vitamin A) and it drastically reduced several unsightly and longterm scars I had on my legs from one too many romps through a briar patch.

Gwyn Ganjeau

Greetings Kristin!

work demands have trumped comment writing of late, but i just had to share this.... when i started reading about the fabulous title suggestions involving bread and then french crumbs, i was struck with "Pain Trouvee". (Probably spelled wrong, and i don't have the accents.) a play on 'lost bread' (french toast) and also a nod to 'bread' wearing its monetary chapeau. hmmmmmm.

Rina Rao.

Hi, kristin---have been reading all the backand forths. It is an overwhelming feeling when you get such warm feedback.
Your line 'beleif works itself out, into reality' is so true.
Belief in yourself, beleif in others, their goodness, does make you strive to be a better person. And what goes round, comes round. You have sent such good vibes to all of us who aspire to do something, be it in writing or any other field--that all the good vibes will come around to you.
Once again all the best.

Linda U

You look beautiful in the photo with the felt hat, with the fall colors surrounding you! I love your comment "You are a writer when you believe you are a writer." I love to write but, I guess I just don't yet believe it. Your comments help!
We love Jean-Marc's wines. We picked some up at French Country Wines in Houston on one of our trips from Austin.

You are living my dream!

Linda U.

Diane Scott

Dear Jules, "la directrice par excellence,"

I would be happy to help you with your legal question if it is within my legal abilities to do so. Please feel free to "direct" it my way whenever.


Sandra Vann

Love the comments on a possible title sent your way...so true that you continue to inspire us all (writers to be...adventurers...) with your warm and personal stories. Bon courage! To your happiness, heath and success all along the journey!
Photos are gorgeous comme toujours and you do look fab in that hat!
Wishing you and your family a lovely Autumn weekend. We had snow (twice already) in CO and are greatly missing the South of France.
Our trip was wonderful, too short but lovely in every way...met new friends..researched my women's tour for next Spring to the region and alors finally we were en vacance. :)
Hold tight during the proverbial mistral winds and as well to your dreams and writers cap! A bientot, Sandra

Jennifer in OR

Yes, you wear a hat very well!

What a team you have here! Amazing. Thinking of a title, too. Something about scribbles or scribes or pens or jots or whispers...in a French life. ;-)

Michael Schmit


I'm just one of your nearly 35,000 readers and do anxiously look forward to the arrival of your "missive" three times a week now. You are an inspiration for many of us and I cheer you on in pursuit of your dreams.


You have inspired me!!!! I do some writing, but I think I will finally let my artiste come out. I love to paint and take photographs. My challenge is to take one photograph each day for a month....only one, so that camera better be with me everyday, everywhere because who knows when
"that" opportunity will arise. And so I won't cheat (who me?) I will use my SLR with film and not my digital! In one month I will let you know the results....maybe I will even make a book out of them on-line!
Will I look like one thinks an "artiste" should look....doubt that very much.
So, Kristin, thank you for the inspiration!

Debbie Ambrous

I tip my hat to you, offering the hopes of brilliant sun on your writing and shady protection for your skin. Your voice is heard in all of your stories, and it is a pleasure to hear now; but I'm very sure it will be heard for a long time. We are cheering in the background. I know your ears are tuned.


I too agree that you should not loose your own voice which gives your writings such a personal feel. Commas, dashes - who cares - which ever fits you best. I personally like ---!

You look great in the fedora - not everyone can where a hat with such panache.

Marianne Rankin

I kind of like the suggested title "Pain Trouve," although it might need a word of explanation somewhere in the book.

I think the book should definitely have some photos in it, so maybe "scenes from a French life"?

I'm not sure writing about writing belongs in the book. People's time is limited, so writing about events, ideas, culture, what a photo is about, etc. would, I think, be more likely to appeal to an audience.

The picture of Jean-Marc is outstanding! Somehwere in the book, a photo of the family would be a nice addition.

Olga Brown

I like that hat!! I think the black one with a slightly twisted white scarf around your neck would be super too! This is just another variant for a change. And also with the black shaped full length coat would be very elegant! Don't you think?
Try when you are through with that writing fever. I told you before, everything will look beautiful on you, because you are a trully beautiful woman inside and out.
Good luck!
Montgomery, AL

Mary Paulson

Kristin, thank you many times over. Something in your style of writing speaks to me. I remembered that as a young girl I loved reading and writing. I have started both again! You are moving forward now at lightening speed. All the best to you.Blessings to you in your life and health.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much to every one who has sent in cheers. The support is energizing--and needed--as we attack DAY FOUR!!!

Again, to everyone who has written in, here in this comments box, I am heartened by each word. Thank you!!

Happy weekend to all of you!

Kristin Espinasse

And it is WONDERFUL to read about the défis, or challenges, that some of you have shared with us here. Cheering for you! 

Jules Greer



Thanks to some very wise words from all of your fans Kristi (I think it might have been Kip) I have thrown off the chains of shame over my lack of college-level English-writing-skills. To hear Kip's words, and several others on this painful subject for me was truly the key I needed to seriously consider writing - in a SERIOUS WAY! Of course we all want to express ourselves. Now that we are following the path Kristi is laying out for us on each post, plus all of the great advice we are receiving here in "La Coin Commentaires" (sp?) we can all profit from this train which is wildly running into the future.

I am laughing to myself as I visualize all of us on a special ORIENT EXPRESS train weaving our way through France. Each of us with the little writing kit we have developed after listening to our guide preach to us about always keeping that extra battery for the camera in our backpack. We have spent the morning in the 'BAR CAR' sipping a little wine as we wait for the train to pull into the next village.


I am now thinking of making some of you above characters (wouldn't that be interesting...

Of course KRISTI doing a writing tour and eccentric mom JULES is along.


O.K. KRISTI - I will stop all of this nonsense and remember this is a working day on the 21 day train and it's not about me.

I wish Kristi would share some of her private emails here regarding this project, I laughed my head off over one from a friend of her's.

I guess I have stirred up enough trouble this morning here in la coin of commentaires. Obviously you can all see that I have never been here for the French words and have never even attempted to learn along with you this beautiful language...I am only hear to keep up with what is going on in Kristi's beautiful thoughts and how she is surviving without me in France.

I must say - the photo of Kristi in the archway is one of her best, who took the photo? This should be in the book.

Isn't Jean-Marc the most beautiful French-man ever! ...and he calls me "Mom."




I am glad to hear that you are working on preventing scarring. I think the aloe vera gel is a great idea. I keep aloe vera plants on my window sill the whole year around but had forgotten about aloe vera regarding scarring. I don't know much about the silicon so I will have to reserve comment on it. I am a hat person and especially like cloches (like those that Agatha Christie wore when she was young) that shelter my face from the southwestern sun.



Stacy ~ Applegate, Oregon

Hi Kristi,

I enjoyed reading how even the details of your visualizations, the plaid blazer and felt hat, have come to life! It still astonishes me when our dreams become our life. You look fabulously beautiful in hats! Reminds me of the photos from our last visit when you donned that straw hat, was in twenty years ago??? Ok, a little off topic! I delight in following along on your writer’s coattails as you journey so gracefully through life and continue making new dreams a reality.


Kristin Espinasse

My dear Stacy, I remember that day, 20 years ago, at the beach in Whidbey Island. I remember the hat, too. Thank you!

vivienne mackie

What a wonderful project, and all best luck! I agree with other comments---take note of what people suggest, but don't lose your own style and voice int eh process.


I hope you don't mind -- I have adopted your words as a mantra of my own: " I am a writer who works, and I work as a writer, and, as a writer, I have work!"

I've been freelancing for about a year and am working now to expand my market. Your gentle reminder will certainly spur me on to keep at it! Thank you so much.


just a thank you for being such an inspiration, kristin...it's really wonderful to see somebody who followed her dreams on so many levels and is living them! especially in FRANCE!

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