French Friday: Les Gilets Jaunes

Until last Saturday, most Americans didn’t know about the protests that have been shaking France since late October.

The coverage by the American national news was slow. After all, France is often experiencing protests and strikes. It runs in the DNA of the nation.

But last weekend, as violence escaladed in Paris, I started to receive some texts and emails from American friends expressing their shock.

As you all know, I was born and brought up in France. I left my native land at the age of 30. Many years later, I am no longer a ‘real’ French woman. And yet, France will always stand at the edge of my mind.

So when any significant event happens on my homeland I am naturally ‘there.’

My American friends translated the Gilets Jaunes by the Yellow Jackets. Which made me smile despite the seriousness of the situation.

A Gilet is a Vest in English and not a Jacket, which is a Veste in French. Powerful letter E!

French drivers are required to carry a yellow vest in their car and to wear it if they need to pull over, whether to change a tire or wait for road assistance. The safety protection became mandatory, due to the many accidents involving drivers hit by other drivers as they stood in the emergency lane. The French yellow vests are the American flares or triangles.

The yellow vest seemed then a perfect fit for the people who decided to oppose the increase in France’s fuel tax. If you read, watched or listened the news you likely know that the French government has first delayed the application of the planned tax and then canceled it in response to the violence in and outside of Paris.

I didn’t intend to write about the Gilets Jaunes and won’t attempt to explain a complex movement, but I felt compelled to clarify why a yellow vest and also to add that, as we say in France, the tax was la goutte d’eau qui fait déborder le verre or the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Otherwise, French citizens would already have folded their Gilets Jaunes back in the trunk of their cars and the French government would not have required the support of the French gendarmerie and their armoured vehicles to protect Paris tomorrow.

As I watched the French news and heard some of the French citizens last night I was reminded of Strangers in Their Own Land, an important book that attempted to understand the fight against big government, just before the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign. I scanned the post I wrote about this book in May 2017 and had forgotten that I also wrote about my provincial upbringing, a significant keyplayer in the current Yellow-Vest movement.

Although a vast majority of French people understand the reasons behind the movement and support the Gilets Jaunes they also condemn violence, loathe the casseurs who come from the extreme right and left, and call for peaceful marches and protests.

May they be heard.

 

 

Goodbye to NaNoWriMo and Hello To Perfect Holiday Gifts

 

November is over. NaNoWriMo too.

And I have the first draft of a new novel. Not 50 000 words but that was predictable. 30 000 is enough, though, to know that another story is on its way. A good feeling as November has tilted into December, which means the holiday season has started.

When my husband and I prepared our first Christmas together we realized that we didn’t exactly shared the same traditions. So we mixed and matched and made concessions too.

Mine was to agree to open one gift on Christmas Eve, something I had never done until then.

His to agree to wait until Christmas morning, something he had never done before.

And we both agreed to hang stockings on the mantel, an American addition to our French shoes left at the foot of the Christmas tree.

Later, with impatient children, we decided to empty our stockings on Christmas Eve. A stocking is often too small for a book, however books are so easy to wrap that I came up with a personal shortlist of writers and their latest book. I know each of these authors, whether in person or through our mutual writing or blogs. They are indie and traditionally authors who work hard at their craft.

This season, as you are looking for a meaningful and not crazily expensive gift, give them a chance.

 

FROM THE WEST COAST

NICKI CHEN

My blogger friend lives in the gorgeous Seattle area and wrote the terrific novel Tiger Tail Soup: A Novel of China at War in which she blends historical facts to fiction. Since Nicki was married to a Chinese man, authenticity and respect fill each page of this gorgeously written book that will appeal to history buffs, fiction lovers and travelers alike. Nicki is currently at work on another novel.

 

KATIE CROSS

This is from Colorado that Katie’s mind churns chick-lit stories for women of all ages. Her latest Heath and Happiness Society Series takes the reader along the life-changing journey of five women friends who have different obstacles to overcome. Well-paced, filled with heart and humor women will love each of the five books and their realistic likeable characters. I’m not a huge fan of sequels that require to have read the previous books to understand the plot, so I find this series attractive since each book stands alone. To find more about each title and the entire Series, visit Katie’s website.

JOAN SCHOETTLER

From California comes a lyrically written and gorgeously illustrated Picture Book about Japanese American sculptor Ruth Asawa, interned as a child in a California camp during WWII. Writing is from Joan Schoettler and illustrations from Traci Van Wagoner. Ideal for the artsy kid in your life but also for your family or school bookshelf Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life is not only a biography about the sculptor behind the Ghirardelli Square cast bronze fountain – among many other commissioned works through Northern California – but also a story about choosing the beauty of art agaisnt the ugliness of war.

 

ANGELICA CARPENTER

A librarian by trade Angelica is known for her impeccable research. From the moment she shared her title idea, some years ago over one of our critique meetings, I knew someone would publish Born Criminal. Although feminist suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage fought for equal rights not dependent on sex, race, or class she has never been celebrated as much as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who worked for the same cause. In her book, Angelica explores Matilda’s life and the unfair reasons why her name has faded in history. For YA and adults alike.

 

JENNIFER CHOW

SoCal-based author Jennifer and I are still to meet, even though our paths have almost crossed several times. Her indie published YA novel Dragonfly Dreams made it to Teen Vogue, next to Crazy Rich Asians. Set in 1810 in Fresno, a city she and I know well, her novel blends historical facts and immigration experience to paranormal elements. Check out Jennifer’s other books, including her cozy mystery novels for adults.

 

FROM THE EAST COAST

 

MICHAEL F. FEDISON

From the unique state of Vermont comes a writer with a knack for scifi, also an excellent inspirational blogger for indie writers. Michael S. Fedison’s recently released science fiction novel The Singularity Wheel is as engrossing as its companion The Eye Dancers in which seventh-grader Mitchell Grant and his three best friends found themselves in a 1950s world and had to rely on a mysterious little girl with blue, hypnotic eyes to return to the real world. The girl had visited them previously through recurrent dreams and needs them as much as they need her. I admire scifi writers for creating worlds from scratch and coming up with vivid settings and imaginative plots. Michael doesn’t disappoint.

 

ALEXANDRIA LAFAYE

Years ago, I had the privilege to meet and write with Alexandria over a series of workshops. Based in Illinois, the author, educator, speaker is one of the best voices in children’s literature, particularly in historical fiction. She’s also a smart witty warm woman. Her latest Picture Book Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town is fictional but based on the history of the African American pioneer settlement. Former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South founded Nicodemus, Kansas in the late 1870s. Now the town is part of the National Historical Landmarks. The album is lovingly illustrated, always a plus for younger readers. More about Alexandria here.

 

Attending festivals or doing school visits is a great way to meet other writers. I first met the three following Florida-based authors at a festival which we now attend every year.

CHRISTINA BENJAMIN

Christina’s prolific writing is an inspiration. Her teenage female readers love her popular The Boyfriend Series. A plus: each novel is a stand-alone. More about Christina? Click here.

STACEY HORAN

According to Stacey she writes about things that scares her in order to make them less scary. Four books later she still find enough scary things to keep writing. From her website, more info about Stacey and her books.

NANCY JANE QUACKENBUSH

Fantasy is at the heart of Nancy Jane’s writing and illustration. Her motto summons her goal: Let Your Dreams take Off! All about Nancy and her books.

 

 

And of course, adding one of Evelyne’s books remains always a good option:

 

All the Mountains We Can Climb

One hot summer month in Yosemite National Park is seventeen-year-old Noelle’s ticket to another chance after the tragic death of her father and younger sister.

Chronicles From Château Moines

Set in Normandy in the early 1970s, this middle grade historical novel braids together American and French cultures via the alternating narratives of 12-year-old classmates Scott and Sylvie.

Trapped in Paris

A fast-paced young adult thriller set in the Parisian suburbs.

Now you can fully relax and enjoy the beauty of the season.

No need to panic if you hadn’t yet found the perfect gift for your teenage daughter, your favorite cousin or colleague or still your grandfather or mother.

Just pick a book from the list above.

You will make two persons happy.

Happy Peaceful Holiday Season to Each of You, my friends!

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