Amelia Island Book Festival 2020

I hope that 2020 has been so far good to you.

Now preparing for the annual three-day-long Amelia Island Book Festival, I am filling with conflicting thoughts. It will be my fourth year, and although I’m more confident I’m still a little nervous. Particularly because of an additional event, a first for me.

Meeting young readers is always a treat for me. But when I share the stage with very well-known authors I feel both honored and intimidated.

I know that when the festival is over I will leave with energy and gratitude but for now I’m simply doing my very best to prepare a presentation worth of the tweens and teens’ time.


Happy Holidays to Each and Everyone of You!

A quick pause as cakes and cookies bake…

Wherever you live and whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you joy and peace. And memories to transform into stories. Always.



See you next year!

November, You Rock!

Tucked between Halloween and Christmas, at the heart of the fall season and yet pale in comparison to spectacular October, November remains my favorite month of the year.

Whether in my native France or in the US I’ve always felt happy and grateful to be alive in November.

There, the month signals the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau and prestigious literary awards. Here, Thanksgiving holds the promise of gatherings around yummy food.

Doesn’t hurt that November is also my birth month:)


This year I feel particularly thankful for November.

On the writing front, things are moving along.

Last week I found out that my latest book Chez Moi in the USA was selected for the annual Amelia Island Book Festival. It will be my fourth year as one of the authors who participate to the Authors in Schools program.

In February I will meet 200 high school students who take French classes. I can hardly wait!

Prestigious authors in all genres attend the Amelia Book Festival, so I was 100% unprepared for the email that popped in my Inbox also last week.

My Young Adult novel All the Mountains We Can Climb had been entered in a contest and won the selection for the Teen/Tween Scene, an afternoon event with students and authors.

More details will come, but I already know that Margot Lee Shetterly, the renowned author of Hidden Figures will be part of this panel, too.


This three-day literary event ends with a daylong festival with book talks, signings and more. It’s always so much fun to meet readers and it’s an additional treat to reconnect with authors met at this festival. I’m happy to call some of them my friends.


To make November even sweeter my agent told me last night that several editors responded positively to the recent submission of my second manuscript. Some editors have already requested to read it. With enthusiasm, my agent added.

Manuscript #1 is still under consideration. Fingers crossed here.

And of course there is Thanksgiving, this American celebration that unlike other holidays I immediately embraced. For the food, since I adore pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pecans, and pies, but above all for this pause that once a year we share, grateful for our family, our friends, and simply for the chance to be alive.







Create Solitary Writing Moments



Happy belated Halloween and happy November to each of you!


With Thanksgiving approaching and the holiday season soon in full swing, November is a busy month for most of us.

It becomes more challenging to find solitary moments amidst a frentic schedule. I came to realize that it never happens unless we decide to create those moments. And yet there are necessary if you write.

NaNoWriMo starts today and for full disclosure I had totally forgotten about it.

The manuscript that landed me an agent early spring is still under consideration. My second manuscript is now ready for submission and will reach editors before Thanksgiving. Another one is ready as well and I am revising two other pieces.

I found out that I love revision so much more now that I can rely on my agent’s guidance. My critique partners are still my early readers. When I decide, based on their comments, that I have a draft worthy of my agent’s time I forward it to her.

Since she signed me after reading one of my Picture Book manuscripts, I am focusing on such pieces for now, a mix of nonfiction and fiction. But I still love novels. A lot.

So when I found Anne Lamott’s inspirational pep talk in my Inbox this morning I decided to return to a novel I had just started before receiving an offer of representation.

It is a little scary to go back to words written months ago, but anticipation is already building inside me.

I am not officially entering NaNoWriMo, but I will create some solitary writing moments, because…


“You either start now, or it is not going to happen for you, and you are going to wake up at seventy years old (or eighty, if you are already seventy) filled with sorrow that you let your dream, your passion, gift, fall by the wayside. You start now, as is.

‘As is’ is the portal to creation, to new life.”

Anne Lamott







A child of the fall I always look forward to its early signs, which can be subtle and easily missed.

And yet, after a hot summer in so many parts of the world and in the United States, temperatures are dropping, at least in the early and late hours of the day.

Squirrels scurry all over parks.

Pumpkins patches appear, colorful pop-up shops.

Scarecrows move on people’s porches.

At yoga yesterday, our instructor ended practice with these words:

“As trees are starting to shed their dry leaves, we are also offered the possibility to shed what has died inside us. Fall is the season to let go.”

Always easier said than done, right?

And yet, the words stayed inside me all day long. I even forwarded them to one of my daughters, who like me, loves words.

Like wild animals, trees, and plants get ready for shorter, darker days I surround myself with more books than ever.

My recent favorite reads:



Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn written and illustrated by Kenard Pak

A lovely hymn to my favorite season, a true Picture Book with sparse words that leaves ample room to illustrations.

“Hello! Now that the cool winds have come

We love how our branches sway in the sun.”

What I love most about this Picture Book:

The illustrations that carry so well the quietness of this time of the year. I could see the colors of fall, but also smell, taste, touch, and hear the season as I turned the pages.

Kenard Pak lives, writes, and draws in San Francisco.


Mary Blair’s Unique Flair: the Girl Who Became one of the Disney Legends written by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Brittney Lee

Early on, Mary Blair loved color and wanted to be an artist. But her dream was hard to realize. Mary’s parents didn’t have much money so it wasn’t easy to provide her the material she needed. Yet, they did their best to give her paper and paints. Mary worked a lot to enter The Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles in the mid 1930s. And when she found a job at the Walt Disney Studios she had to work as hard to be accepted in the male-dominated industry. But Walt Disney loved Mary’s colorful art and offered her to join him to South America. There, Mary fell for the colors and incorporated some in her concept art for Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, and even the It’s a Small World attraction at Disneyland.

What I love most about this bio Picture Book:

Mary’s natural love for color, her tenacity and her determination when it came to art.

The illustrations that support Mary’s unusual and inspiring story explode with colors and Mary’s love for them.


Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré written by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar

This Picture Book is a vivid homage to the storyteller, puppeteer and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian.

Like many immigrants Belpré found a home at the New York Public Library when she arrived to the USA in 1921. There, she worked as a bilingual assistant and turned her popular retellings into books. A librarian and a writer who served her Spanish speaking community Pura Belpré left a legacy that still speaks volumes today.

What I love most about this bio Picture Book:

I’ve spent countless hours in libraries in my native France and in the United States, whether where my family has lived or for occasional visits when we travel. Libraries are often a second home for readers but also for people who seek quietness and shelter. Librarians are the hosts and this book celebrates one of the most unusual and legendary.

The balance between the lyrical writing and the vibrant illustrations is pitch-perfect.

The few words in Spanish here and there remind us of the importance of language for all human beings.



Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake


When it appears very clear that Mara’s twin brother has raped his girlfriend, also Mara’s friend, Mara is caught between her family, her own sense of right and wrong and also the need to address a suppressed trauma.

Told from the perspective of seventeen-year-old Mara who has never told anyone about going through sexual assault on her last day of eighth grade, this empathetic novel treats of the difficult themes of consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault and opens the door to very important questions about truth, feminism, friendship, and family loyalty.

What I love most about this YA novel:

The story is very nuanced. In this era of he-said, she-said, and black and white opinions the author leaves plenty of room to questions.

She also opted for an untypical ending. Nothing is clearly solved by the end of the book. The characters are forever changed and yet we leave them with the certainty that they will be able to move on.

The main protagonist is a girl, but the novel is definitely also written with boys in mind. I hope many will read it.

Ashley Herring Blake lives in Nashville, Tennessee, home to the lovely bookstore Parnassus, owned and run by award-winning author Ann Patchett.


We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone, including her former girlfriend Mabel, since she left San Francisco secretly and abruptly.

Now, months later, on the other side of the country, Marin is waiting, alone on a deserted school campus for winter break, for Mabel’s visit.

Over the course of a few short days Marin will face the necessity to open up and tell Mabel of the tragedy she left behind when she fled California.

What I love most about this YA novel:

The settings, both San Francisco and upstate New York, are impeccably rendered. The author shows us Marine’s emotions unfolding through the eerie San Francisco fog and the snow packed New York state winter. Brilliant.

She also managed to write short (230 pages is rare in YA). Her voice is quiet and yet the story is packed with intense feelings related to death, loss, grief, and love.

The fact that Mabel has been forced to move on after Marin left her without any warning and is now in a relationship with a boy is well described. While initially hurt Marin is now clear about her sexual orientation and the book ends with the promise that she will meet other girls and fall in love again.

Marin’s complex relationship with her grandfather, the man who raised her, now dead, is beautifully shown, too.

The gorgeous language, full of imageries, is comparable to an art piece.

LaCour is one of the most respected authors in contemporary Young Adult literature. She is the recipient of the 2018 prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for We Are Okay.

She lives in Martinez, a small town in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.


From my agent’s desk:

* “Plenty of editors are reading and excited about your project.”

* “Your lyrical writing always brings me so much joy.”

From my writing desk:

* I’m filled with hope when I read this, of course.

* Having an agent is still a bit unreal for me, even though Laurel and I are in frequent touch. I am always looking forward to her weekly email and shorter lines in between. She’s an amazing editor (she was one before being an agent) and her comments, compliments, and requests for changes on my manuscripts make me a better writer. Some of the publishing houses she selected for my book are not open to unsolicited submissions and often closed to un-agented writers. So, even though we’ve now reached six months since we started the submission process and that it seems an eternity, where would my manuscript be without someone who has my back? I stick to Laurel’s optimistic words and keep my fingers crossed.

* I wrote, revised, and polished my next two manuscripts, one being another bio Picture Book and the other one a fiction Picture Book. Laurel is as enthusiastic and supportive of them as she was when she signed me on my first manuscript.

* Updates will follow. Meanwhile, I work on a new project. Of course 🙂



Wherever You Live I Wish Each and Every One of You a Glorious Fall Season.


P.S. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, but when young trick-or-treaters ring my bell on Halloween night I’m always ready. So when I saw this bag of Gummy candies with a sale tag that read “Limited Quantities,” I didn’t think twice.


Individual small packages hold tiny, soft gummies that come in all sorts of classic Halloween shapes. Absolutely perfect for little trick-or-treaters. Above all, those gummies are irresistibly delicious.

Don’t ask me how I know.

They Are on my Mind

On June 6, 1944 thousands of men, some still boys, fought and died on the beaches of my childhood. The survivors rarely spoke about what they went through that day. When they landed in Normandy they had two goals in mind: free Europe and also protect their fellow soldiers.

When I walked those same beaches they were so often on my mind.

Today we are honoring all of them.

I chose to re-publish one of my own blog posts.



When I was a little girl, growing up in Normandy, I knew only two things about the United States of America.

People living there spoke American English.

It was the country that ended World War II.

One of my oldest childhood memories goes back to a day my father and I stood on a beach along the Atlantic coast. Since I had only seen the Manche (the English Channel), I asked him what stood beyond the Atlantic Ocean.

America, he said.

I detected an edge in his voice. I was too young to pinpoint the emotion behind, yet I knew to recognize reverence.

Until I moved from France to the United States my father’s only connection with America was tied to the liberation of his small Normandy village by a coalition of American and Canadian soldiers right after D Day.

Here in the United States I’ve met a handful of American men who fought in France during WWII but none who landed on the beaches of my childhood.

I spoke once to a woman whose father was among the ones who set foot on Omaha Beach in the early hours of the day that would bring peace to Europe. I was so moved by the fact that her father had walked through the villages and small towns that are the fabric of my childhood landscape that I asked her if I could meet him.

I wish you could, she said, but he died last year.

When his daughter told me his age, I calculated that he was twenty years old when he arrived in Normandy on D Day.

Five years older than my father on D-Day.

Younger than my son is today.


As years pass, D Day and the reason why those men and boys fought seems naturally very remote for contemporary children and teens. Fiction can bridge time. A few of my very favorites books that depict, in unique ways, unforgettable WWII.

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hess (also in French)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (also a French version)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyle

Night by Elie Wiesel (also in French)

If you read French, this is a classic:

Un Sac de Billes par Joseph Joffo (the movie is great, too)

Their fight, death and survival is so alive today.


Word by Word

So honored to find my blog post about writing in another language featured on Rate Your Story!

Rate Your Story is a fantastic website if your write for children. There, you’ll find tons of info on everything related to writing fiction and nonfiction for kids of all ages, including articles on the craft, the importance of critique and revision, tips on how and where to submit, inspirational posts from other writers, and so much more.

I’m happy to know a few people behind Rate Your Story and grateful for their invitation.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while this post will echo some of my blog posts, even though it’s an entirely original piece. Recent readers might discover a little bit more about me.

My hope is that someone who writes in another language will relate to my experience, will smile while reading about my mistakes, and will be encouraged to go on, quietly but relentlessly.

For all of you, my favorite spring flower, quite challenging to grow in many parts of the USA but so abundant in my native Normandy during the season.

Le Cœur de Paris. Le Cœur de la France.


My native land will always remain tucked in my heart. So when hardship strikes in France, I instinctively travel back.

Everyone across the world felt something when flames engulfed Notre Dame cathedral on Monday.

The reactions and concern were genuine, whether coming from officials or on my own phone through kind texts and e-mails.

One of the most visited monuments on earth, Notre Dame is so much more than a renowned Gothic cathedral for French people.

When I moved from my native Normandy to Paris to pursue my graduate studies, I spent many weekends alone. As my feet took me from north to south and from west to east, I fell head-first for Paris, including for its extraordinary architecture, with a weak spot for the bridges.

But when years later my husband and I got the unique opportunity to climb to the very top of Notre Dame, I admit that the cathedral took my breath away.

I also admit that I didn’t feel God watching over me that day but Victor Hugo and the characters that populate his infamous novel Notre Dame de Paris, translated into The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They elbowed me and whispered as I pushed my way up. Located in l’Île de la Cité, in the center of Paris, the cathedral is the heart of Paris in more ways that its location. That day, with my footsteps echoing on the narrow staircase, my own heart beat faster as voices surrounded me, telling of the extraordinary story of Paris and France.

Fastforward a decade, we took our young children for a tour of Notre Dame. Our four-year-old son loved the Disney movie and kept asking about Quasimodo. People smiled as he craned his neck toward the belfries, waiting for the hunchback to ring the bells.

Today the bells of Notre Dame are silent.

They will also be on Easter Day.

As the holiday is approaching I remember my very American Easter, less than four months after my arrival to California. This is when I discovered that a special bunny brought jelly beans, Peeps, and other treats to delighted American children.

In France, bells coming all the way from Rome dropped chocolate eggs in my parent’s garden.

Both traditions have their flaws. It’s hard to believe that bells can carry sweets all the way from Italy. But a bunny that lays eggs is quite a stretch too.

To give a twist to the bunny tradition, one of my very favorite California-based Picture Book authors brought a cat in the picture.

Here Comes the Easter Cat was published in 2014 but it’s still as fresh as it was when it landed in bookstores and libraries all over the country. What happens when a cat decides to take over the Easter Bunny’s job? Kids will adore the hilarious plot and brilliant illustrations and above all that the author makes them the narrators of the story. Funny, clever, with a heartwarming ending, this is a truly picture-perfect book for Easter.

Speaking of books, my agent started to submit my picture book manuscript a few days ago.

I wish to be a kid again and believe that a bunny or bells or even a cat will bring me good news soon.

Meanwhile, I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Easter celebration, regardless of the way you celebrate.


Spring News From The Writing And Reading Front

Winter is officially over, even though it’s not always obvious everywhere in our own vast country and even in my native France.

Yet, change is in the air and it’s up to us to watch carefully for the subtle hints of a new season.

In my neck in the woods I witness the way nature switches gear and engages me to move forward.

I am so grateful for the people who’ve helped me transition from the dark days of winter to the glowing light of spring.


  • The revisions my agent asked me to tackle on my Picture Book manuscript are now completed. Her comments pushed me to reconsider some passages and even words. They also involved some cuts. Most authors will agree that it is the hardest part, particularly when we remember how we struggled to come up with a certain sentence. In the end, however, shorter is almost always better. My agent has just informed me that she is now ready for submission. I’m excited, of course, and a little anxious, too. But above all I still cannot believe that I will no longer have to write those pitches and query letters to editors. Thank you, Laurel for doing this for me!


  • My author friend Stacey, met at a book festival a few years ago, has launched her own Podcast The Bookshop at the End of the Internet, entirely dedicated to helping book lovers discover new authors. If you are one of them or both, check this podcast out. Thank you, Stacey for inviting me over. Here is the link to the chat we had together.


  • Blog Zone is one the most legit sources for writers of all levels. Nancy Sanders, widely published, offers tips, links to editors and agents’ websites as well as inspirational posts. I’ve often used Blog Zone when submitting my manuscripts. Nancy also runs authors ‘ interviews. Thank you for having me over, Nancy.


  • Rate Your Story is a unique platform created by children’s authors for children’s authors. They offer paid critiques by published and often award-winning authors in all genres, but also contests with cool prizes, and a bounty of reliable information. You can also become a member and reap lots of valuable benefits. Rate Your Story is also a great place to find support and camaderie. My essay from nonnative English speaker to agented author will be published in May. Thank you, Heather and Sophia for hosting me later this spring.


I was a reader before being a writer, so I will always remain inspired by the books I read. Due to my last project but also to my current one, I’ve read many biographies and narrative nonfiction Picture Books over the last two years. Below is a very short selection of my recent favorites. With no order of preference:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Isn’t the title perfect? The book is too. Really.

Jonah Winter is the author of many nonfiction Picture Books. Until now my favorite was his Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!

But his bio of Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg changed my mind.

The book is cleverly written as it blends narrative and the facts of Ginsburg’s case, introduced as they would in a trial with evidence and exhibits.

Most American people know the important elements about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but young readers will discover an extraordinary journey from her family origins to her seat on the Supreme Court.

From her birth in 1933 from two parents who had fled Europe for New York to escape anti-Jewish persecution to her achievement, Ruth has met and overcome many obstacles. Physically unassuming, soft-spoken, but doted with a brilliant mind and relentless determination she faced unfairness and combated it so girls would finally be as valued as boys, so women would finally have the right to achieve. Her triumph remains a timeless and timely example and inspiration for girls and for us all.


The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia Gholz; illustrated by Kayla Harren

From one of my author friends, the true story of a boy who embarked on the impossible task to plant trees in order to act against the devastating consequences of deforestation that affected his island home in India. From a few bamboos Jadav would grow a 1 300 acre-forest where fauna and flora would eventually return.

Kids will understand and respect Jadav’s genuine concern for the damage done to nature. They will discover that an idea, even from a young person, has the potential to turn things around, and will be inspired by Jadav’s decision to act against all odds. The author has done more than her homework and it shows through the text as well as in the last pages that include additional information, a glossary and tips on planting. The illustrator has also done a great job. My favorite illustrations are the gorgeous depictions of the islands and the forest.

Last but not least, a book about a very unique librarian. Whether in France, where I often found refuge within their walls, or in the USA, where I learned how to read and write in English, libraries are my homes away from home.

Library on Wheels Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s First Bookmobile by Sharlee Glenn

This is the story of a girl who wanted to do things and was told she could not. She was too young. She was born a girl. She was too poor. Some would have given up. Not Mary Titcomb. And we’re lucky since she’s the founder of the bookmobiles in the United States.

Born in 1852 in New Hampshire Mary became librarian in a world where women could only be teachers or nurses.

This is in Concord, Massachusetts that Mary started her career. As a quick personal note, my family has lived there and I’ve spent hours at the library nestled in the heart of the historical town and still keep particular fond memories of the friendly staff there. From Concord Mary’s career took off. The book follows her relentess goal to bring books to everyone. Despite the many naysayers who opposed her creative ideas Mary remained focused. Her goal was to make sure than men, women and moreover children who lived in remote areas could receive their fair share of books. In 1905 she considered using a horse to carry books to them. Once more Mary faced opposition. But when she came up with a book wagon design that would hold two hundred books nobody could stop her.

By 1922 the book wagons, now motorized, had appeared in other parts of the country to the delight of people who would not have had access to books otherwise.

The bookmobile was born.

The book ends with an illustrated history of bookmobiles through the years and a compelling letter from the author who grew up in rural Utah and waited for the bookmobile that brought her books every two weeks.

I’ve often written about French idioms and expressions, mostly because I grew up with a mother who used tons of them. One of her favorites was: “Laziness is the mother of all vices.” I understood that she implied that inertia was a moral weakiness, too. Maybe those hours I spent reading didn’t appear very active 🙂

Now that I’m an adult, being active includes being ready for change too. When I fully embrace the idea and move on I am happier. This is what Mary Lemist Tibcomb said on the subject:

“The happy person is the person who does something.”

Mary Lemist Titcomb


So Wherever You Live, I Wish Each of You a Creative and Productive Spring.







Where Did February Go?

Even though the month of February is the shortest, I always found it longer than any other when my kids were little and in school.

For the last four years, however, with no kids at home, February has gone by very quickly, only because of several book events that took me once more to different parts of Northern Florida.

And this year with the same events, but also a manuscript to revise and a new book project on my mind, the whole month vanished before my very eyes. But not without leaving vivid memories.


I never forget that I write for children and teenagers, so meeting with them is both my favorite and hardest part of being an author. I am told over and over again that I am a people person and it’s true that I love humankind. But I still need to push myself to face an audience, exactly as I had to when I was a kid at school. However, in the end, visiting a classroom, attending a book festival or being on a discussion panel at a public library is really the cherry on top for a writer.

Revising with an agent is a first for me. And let me tell you: I love it. Based on my agented critique partners/friends, I imagined that having my own agent would be a change in my life. My imagination didn’t disappoint. Working under the guidance of someone who knows the publishing industry on the back of her hand is a huge change. My agent’s comments on the manuscript she wants to help me publish have pushed me beyond regular revision. I worked on small sections of my manuscript that I knew could benefit from some trimming (I tend to write long). The same comments have also allowed me to read my work with a new set of eyes. It may seem dorky, but I enjoyed returning to the manuscript I wrote almost a year ago. I spotted a verb that I found a little weak and suggested a stronger one. I even came up with a different ending sentence, still based on the same comments. Definitely a first for me since I almost always know how I want to end a story and often write my last sentence before even starting a new manuscript.

Having an agent is also a relief in terms of the future. When I have an idea I get all fired up and I love the feeling. It’s exciting to start something new, even though it’s also a little scary. But having the goose bumps always wins over the fear factor. However, not all ideas have potential. When I was un-agented I did my homework and checked all books published on the same topic. But it’s impossible to predict if publishers are likely to respond positively to a manuscript, knowing that many months will pass from the idea until submission. Being able to share my latest Picture Book idea with my agent was also new to me. She loved it and encouraged me to move on with this project, which is fantastic of course, even though I have some serious work ahead of me. Knowing that someone who has your back is only an email or a phone call away is really a good feeling. I get it now when my author friends told me, “You’ll see what we mean when you also have your agent.”


Just a few highlights of my packed month of February, which I hope was as busily happy for any of you reading me today, as it was for me in my little corner of the world.



Month of March Here I Come!





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