A True NaNoWriMo Story

Just a few thoughts about November and my various NaNoWriMo experiences.

The Write Stuff

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When I lived in France, November was a special month for me.

November was the literary season with awards and prizes.

November was the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a young wine that you don’t keep in your cellar but drink in the weeks that follow.

November was also my birthday month.

When I moved to the United States I adapted and adopted new celebrations and traditions.

I was happy that Thanksgiving happened to be in November.

Many stores now carry also the French Beaujolais Nouveau.

And I could participate to the infamous NaNoWriMo.

I have mixed feelings about this crazy race.

  • Seriously, 50 000 words sound a lot.
  • Honestly, who writes every day?
  • Really, the idea of a new draft is tempting.
  • Definitely, pressure isn’t a bad thing for writers.

So, am I doing NaNoWriMo 2014?

I am and I am not.

I started a new YA story.

I…

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What Can Happen When We Feel Strange, Stupid, Different

While I am working on promoting my Middle Grade novel Chronicles From Château Moines, I re-read Wonder, which is in my opinion one of the best Middle Grade novels of the last two years.

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Wonder by R.J Palacio is the kind of book that has the power to turn any reader into a better person. I guarantee you.

The main character August Pullman, nicknamed Auggie, was born with a very rare genetic defect that affects his face. Although his parents have regular faces, they both carry a mutant gene that gave Auggie a bad number in the genetic lottery. Even after countless surgeries, ten-year-old Auggie has a face that turns heads and makes people gasp.

Few of us experience with such dramatic life challenges. However most of us have been, at least once, in a situation where we’ve felt out of place. The feeling is unsettling, and we’re relieved to return to our familiar.

In Chronicles From Château Moines Scott is the new kid in town. He’s American, wears different clothes, and speaks French with an accent, putting him under an involuntary spotlight.

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Sylvie, the French local girl, reacts to his arrival in the seventh grade class:

“Despite his smile, he looks confused, and I wonder how it feels to be the new kid in a school and to be a foreigner.”

This is how Scott, the freshly arrived American boy, feels:

“My brain feels like a big bag stuffed with names, words, and sentences, all in French. Thanks to Mom, I knew enough French to fool the kids, yet they watched me as if I were an alien that Neil Armstrong brought back from the moon. My clothes and roller skates gave me away before I opened my mouth.”

I always feel bad for anyone who is in a place where he or she feels strange, stupid, and just different.

Throughout Wonder, we follow Auggie as he goes through a quiet yet extraordinary transformation. By the end of the school year, the kids from his fifth grade class and his family will also have changed.

It is not unusual for the new kid, disliked or just misunderstood, to bring change.

In Chronicles From Château Moines this is Scott who decides to organize a peace walk to oppose the Vietnam War, ultimately changing the dynamics at school and in the small town of Château Moines.

Obstacles or challenges, even less dramatic than Auggie’s, can make us terribly anxious but can also trigger bold moves, leading to real change.

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Now your turn.

What’s your favorite Middle Grade novel based on the topic of change?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt different from the people around you?

Do you think that challenging situations can bring good things?

 

P.S. Just a friendly reminder that my novel is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and can also be ordered from your favorite independent bookstore.

Favorite Children Books: Part 4

Elizabeth, who blogs at Breaking the Circle has opened her home to a series of interviews about favorite children’s books. She kindly invited me over and I gladly accepted.

If you have a little bit of time, stop by Elizabeth’s blog to read what others have to say about their favorite children’s books.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for having me over. It was a real pleasure.

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The next installment of Favorite Children’s Books is hosted by Evelyne Holingue, a published author who grew up in France and raised her children in America.  Like Aunty Uta, Evelyne’s multicultural experience lends an interesting perspective to this topic.

Tell us about yourself, Evelyne!

I had never been to the USA when the young man I met in Paris told me that he would love to live there one day. Unlike me he had been there many times, visiting both coasts extensively. Honestly, I didn’t really think about his American dreams until one night, shortly after we got married, he told me that we should go. I remember excitement and anxiety stirring inside me, working at the making of a totally foreign stew.

Retrospectively, I’m glad I agreed. Saying no to the dreams of the man I love would have been hard.  Now that we have been living in the…

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