I Now Have an Agent

I am very happy to announce that Laurel Sydmonds from The Bent Agency is now my agent.

From now on, Laurel is representing me and I am very grateful for her interest in my work and her contagious enthusiasm.

Excitement and impatience are weak words to describe my state of mind, as I am ready to take my writing to a next level under Laurel’s professional guidance.

With offices in New York City and London The Bent Agency bridges my native and adoptive continents. An awesome feeling.

Many of you have followed my writing journey through my blog. Once again I want to thank each and every one of you for those words of support that carried me over the years.

All the best. Always.

 

 

French Friday: Au Revoir

 

As soon as I knew how to write I turned to words when things overwhelmed me, whether in a good or bad way.

So in my early days in the U.S., when everything was new to me, I first wrote to clarify my thoughts as I faced an entirely new country, new language and new culture. Later, I wrote to remember. And then, after two decades spent on both coasts of my new vast home, I started a blog where I shared my dual French American identity and my affection for my native and adoptive lands.

Like many people who live in the U.S., I speak two languages on a daily basis. Unlike most, I write fiction in American English, a language I acquired in adulthood. The acquisition has been a complex process, frustrating sometimes, but in the end transformative. Living between two languages and two cultures is both a gift and a challenge. My blog became a window on this life.

Ten years later, I know it is time to say goodbye to my blog in order to focus on other projects. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but in the early hours of 2019 I decided to select some of my posts to create an e-book, my personal goodbye to the many people who’ve read me over the years.

My husband, who customized my blog and maintains it, offered to design this e-book. Without his technical and unconditional support, this project would remain tucked in my Words Documents and I would not be able to publish Chez Moi in the USA by the end of January.

Through the process of selecting the posts I became the embarrassed and humble witness of my linguistic wandering journey. In addition, I realized that my writing not only uncovered personal experiences but illustrated also the evolution of our world, mostly in the ways we communicate. In less than a decade, social medias have transformed us, and I followed these changes through my blog.

Some of the posts I chose have never been read, only a few are among the most popular. I will add two original unpublished stories, even though a longer version of one of them won second place in a writing competition.

Chez Moi in the USA will be divided into categories, so you’ll be able to select what interests you most. I still hope that you’ll venture through each and every category and will like what you find.

Although I am closing my blog today and comments after this last post, I am not finished with writing, so this is only Au revoir and not Adieu.

Thank you, my fellow bloggers, for your thoughtful, meaningful comments and also for your sense of humor and your genuine kindness. They’ve meant a lot to me. I’ve never met any of you, and yet I always wished you well, whether through my blog or yours.

In these early days of 2019 I still wish you the best.

Cheers to those blogging years!

Evelyne

 

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!

French Friday: A Novel Draft in a Month Week 2

As the state of California is currently fighting against beastlike fires, I pause.

When I started All the Mountains We Can Climb I had two goals: writing about letting go after loss in its various forms and showcasing a tiny area of Yosemite and part of the foothills that stretch at the foot of the National Park. Although the town where Noelle lives is entirely fictional it is based on several towns I know well.

I also deliberately set the novel over the course of the hottest month of June in history. At the beginning of the novel, Noelle compares what will happen if she reveals the secret she’s holding to the spark that starts that has the power to start a devastating fire in the foothills.

As fires rage in the north and the south of the state I am grateful that my family and people I know have always been spared by their tragic consequences.

And in a sad turn of event I am also glad to have set my novel in the foothills, a tiny homage to California, two of my children’s home state.

 

Lonesome California Poppy

 

Every year, the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo starts on the first day of November.

I decided to participate this year with the goal to have a 50 000 words draft ready by the end of the month.

So what happened during this second week?

Saturday: Each writing critique group works differently. Mine follows two simple rules: the writer never reads his/her work and always waits for everyone’s comments until providing clarification if needed and asking questions.

The theme of the Picture Book manuscript I shared that day was unanimously liked. Being liked is not enough to submit. Each of my partners had suggestions so I could improve the pace and nail the ending. It can be hard to listen to various opinions but also very productive when they meet. It was the case for this specific story.

Sunday: In French we say Il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud or Strike while the iron is hot. So, with comments still very fresh in my mind I came up with a second draft in the afternoon, purposely letting my novel simmers.

Monday: I found out that my application to a book festival paired to school visits has been accepted. Small successes are so crucial to each of us, regardless of the nature of our work. So I felt uplifted and wrote. Still halfway from the 2000 magic word-count, though, and I questioned my slow pace.

Tuesday: Unable to pinpoint the exact reason I still had the gut feeling that something was off with my new novel. I still wrote. But strayed away after writing 900 words.

Wednesday: The aha moment or le déclic in French: Evelyne, you are not writing a YA novel but a Middle Grade novel. The protagonist cannot be a teen girl since she’s 11-year-old when she’s talking to you!

I was just not listening. When I did listen, though, everything fell slowly in place. Not the details of the plot that always evolve as I write, but my protagonist’s problem was clear. My main theme became evident. The trick for me is to capture in one sentence what the story is about. If I can’t then I need to think again about what I want to write about. Also the ending is always clear when I’m on the right tracks.

On Wednesday night, I felt more confident and excited to have found the reason why something felt odd.

Thursday: I woke up early and although I have a hard time staying away from the news those days, I did not even check my email and wrote. I even settled on a working title that could be the definitive one. Still keeping it to myself for now J

Friday: The day has just started…

 

Conclusion of the second NaNoWriMo week:

 

*It is okay to err.

*It is also important to trust the gut feeling and the small inner voice. They always know the truth.

*A strange beginning of week that ends on a much more a positive note.

 

On another positive note, Thanksgiving is around the corner.

 

I was moved to read that recent immigrants still embrace this particular holiday with genuine fervor. As true newcomers, most add to the turkey signature dish their own twist with particular spices or side dishes from their homeland. Some even practice before the big day when it’s their first Thanksgiving.

I remember my husband and me waking up so early on our first Thanksgiving, only because the turkey we purchased, although the smallest, was still huge and it would take hours to cook it properly. We wanted to eat when everyone across the States would eat, too. Our first Thanksgiving resembled what the most recent immigrants will experience on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my fellow immigrant!

I also know of a few Americans now living abroad. They still celebrate, despite the fact that Thursday is a working day for them. It is a lonely feeling to rejoice without family and friends from the homeland.

So I send you my warm wishes on this 2018 Thanksgiving.

And to everyone else, wherever you live across these big United States, I wish each of you a Happy Peaceful Thanksgiving Day.

At some point, I learned that many Americans wear the color red on Thanksgiving to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Which explains my selection of red flowers.

Due to the holiday I will not blog on Friday. Enjoy those yummy leftovers!

French Friday: A Novel Draft in a Month

Every year the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo starts on the first day of November.

This year I’m participating with the goal to have 50 000 words down by the end of the month.

So what happened during this first week?

THURSDAY: I woke up receiving a really thoughtful rejection for one of my Picture Book manuscripts with an invitation to send more of my work. A little disappointed but still uplifted, I outlined my new novel and wrote 1000 words.

FRIDAY: Early morning, I received another e-mail regarding the same Picture Book manuscript. This time, the editor asked me if I would be interested to work on a round of revision in order to bring this story to publication. Bring it on!

My 2000 words objective was again derailed because I searched for another manuscript to send to the first publisher and mostly because I felt anxious to receive the editor’s thoughts and start working on the revisions.

SATURDAY: Thursday and Friday’s e-mails were still on my mind. Picture Books very much, too. So I wrote another one, based on its title, which is actually a real question my youngest daughter asked me shortly after her brother’s birth. Sometimes finding a title is the hardest thing, sometimes it starts everything. In this case, I wrote very quickly and had a first 500-word draft ready by the end of the day. Right on time for my monthly critique meeting next Saturday.

MONDAY: Early morning I found Nicki’s blog post in my Inbox and it made my day. She had invited me for an interview about my YA novel All the Mountains We Can Climb. Nicki’s blog is one of the most thoughtful and interesting blogs I follow. She’s a writer, too, and I encourage you to visit her.

TUESDAY: The midterms elections affected my focus. The late results kept me agitated for most of the day. Besides, I was still waiting for the editor’s suggestions and was a little edgy. I still wrote 900 words. Painfully, though.

WEDNESDAY: My husband took me for breakfast, something we occasionally do, either as a celebration or consolation. Let’s say that this breakfast played both roles. Still unsure of my post midterms election mood, although I saw the number of women elected as a good reason to cheer up, I wrote another 1000 words. A friend of mine was organizing a panel with local authors and teens at our library. She had invited me and confirmed the event and the date for January. Always positive to meet the people who are building the world’s future.

THURSDAY: Very early morning my husband told me about another gun massacre in the LA area. Although no one we know has been killed or wounded, it is one too many. Disturbed, I ended up completing the entire revision for a compilation I intend to introduce soon on this very blog. I also submitted one manuscript to the publisher who wanted to see more of my work. The editor apologized for being late with her revision thoughts and promised to get back to me very soon.  Relieved, I returned to work and put 1000 words down.

FRIDAY: It is another writing day…

 

Conclusion of the first NaNoWriMo week:

*Writing and discipline work hand in hand. Physical but also mental discipline.

*An emotionally charged week, where personal and national events took control of me.

*So I didn’t write 2000 words every day.

*Yet I wrote every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Friday: November Is a Bridge To NaNoWriMo

The first autumn I spent in Paris stays close to my memory.

On Saturdays and Sundays, when I had no classes, I took long walks along unknown streets that carried me from one arrondissement to another.

During these solitary autumnal walks, the bridges (thirty-seven in Paris) that straddle the River Seine and link the left and right banks took literally my breath away. I liked nothing more than crossing the Pont Neuf, the Pont Saint Louis, or my very favorite the Pont Alexandre III.

Soon, autumn deepened and winter drew closer. By November, I hugged my raincoat closer to my body and my scarf tighter around my neck. Below the bridges, the River Seine glistened, a thick grey ribbon, disturbed by the gusts of winds and chilly rains.

Lacking the beauty of early autumn and upcoming winter, November felt, however, essential to transition between these two seasons.

Much time has passed since my footsteps echoed along those Paris bridges, the sound as familiar as the beating of my blood.

Yet, November remains for me a bridge from fall to winter.

This year November will also be my bridge to NaNoWriMo.

In the past, I’ve already participated to the yearly national novel writing event. My middle grade novel Chronicles From Château Moines started over one particular month of November.

Twice, however, I twisted the rules and used the month of November to write stories and picture book manuscripts instead of a novel.

This year, I decided to return to the simple rule that defines NaNoWriMo.

From November 1st to the 30th participants write with the goal to have 50 000 words down by the end of the month. For a YA or adult novel it is likely not enough for a complete first draft, but it is a very good start. When I followed this rule I tried to stick to 2000 words a day but Sundays. NaNoWriMo specifies that the novel should be an entirely new project that has not been started yet, although it’s acceptable to have an outline.

My 2018 project is both new and not outlined.

The only thing I knew before I started yesterday is that it would be another YA novel. I also knew that I wanted to write about two of my favorite things in life: books and baking.

There will still be French elements. Of course!

And it will be set in Maine.

During the month of November, French Friday will recap my week of writing, focusing on inspiration and motivation, and on challenges linked to writing in another language, more than characterization and plot.

I’ve no doubt that I’ll go through many ups and downs as I plow my way through the very first draft of a very new story.

So wish me luck and continue to support me through my already published novels. By the way, I’m happy to see that All the Mountains We Can Climb has received its first 5 stars review. Check it out!

 

P.S. It’s never too late to embark the NaNoWriMo boat. Here is the link to see how it works. 

It is also totally okay to skip the official registration and still write 50 000 words this month.

 

Will you follow the path and get to the Word Count?

 

French Friday: Behind a Novel

Years ago, I met a widely published author who told me that writing fiction was writing about what we do not know.

In 2018, particularly in children’s literature, more authors focus on what they know and what they have experienced.

But we cannot possibly live enough lives to have experienced every possible situation. Fiction is not writing about ourselves either or about people we know, changing names and twisting facts.

What if fiction allowed writers and readers to meet somewhere in between?

Today I am taking you behind the scene. Why did I write ALL THE MOUNTAINS WE CAN CLIMB?

 

For years I drove my kids to their high school, following a gorgeous road that cuts through Central California’s foothills and takes visitors to the three most visited National Parks in California: Kings Canyon and Sequoia southbound and Yosemite northbound.

In the winter, fog rolled over the fields, making traffic hazardous but the eerie drive peaceful. In the spring, cows grazed only feet away from the highway banks where wild flowers grew. Once we even saw a cow giving birth. As early as mid June heat browned the grass and turned the Sierras blue and blurry. My family was lucky to escape the brutal dry heat of the summer and fortunate to be there in the fall, which brought tarantulas right in time for Halloween and well-deserved cooler temperatures.

Often, driving home after long school days we watched the sun put the western sky in fire. We were then the guests of a show for which we got first row seats.

Every day we spotted wild animals that sometimes leaped or flew right in front of the car.

We also spotted too many crosses, flowers and wreaths, makeshift memorials in honor of a loved one.

This road was as spectacular as it was deathly.

It saddened me that so many people could die in such beautiful surroundings. Even sadder was the fact that many were young men and women, too often teenagers.

This heartbreaking reality planted the early seeds for All the Mountains We Can Climb.

The plot grew when some young people, barely older than mine or sometimes the same age, kids that my family knew through common friends and acquaintances lost their lives either behind the wheel or as passengers.

I could not stop thinking of their friends and families affected by the tragedy. Would they ever be able to move on? How would they deal with the weight of guilt and the grip of sorrow?

This is how I decided to write a story about tragic loss, guilt, grief, and ultimately forgiveness.

All the Mountains We Can Climb, however, remains a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, including the town in the vicinity of Yosemite, and incidents are strictly the product of my imagination.

Only a few elements are based on my personal experience.

I’ve climbed to the top of Half Dome several times.

Noelle, the protagonist of the novel, hikes the legendary summit under the moonlight, which I’ve also done.

Two of my children are musicians. Like my daughter, Noelle plays the alto saxophone and like my son she intends to study music in college.

My native France is never far from my mind, so I created French characters and wove French cultural elements through the story. Including some baking and cooking.

All the Mountains We Can Climb is above all a story about healing after a tragedy, understanding that loss is a universal human experience, accepting the importance of professional help, and ultimately saying yes to a second chance.

A heartfelt thank you to anyone who gave me chance and ordered my novel.

Let’s Climb These Mountains.

See You at the Top!

 

My New Young Adult Novel Is Released!

 

My New Young Adult Novel All the Mountains We Can Climb Is Released!

ABOUT THE STORY

Since her father and sister died in a car crash, Noelle survives with the last words she told them seconds before the accident – words so unspeakable, she’s never shared them with anyone. A year later, still ashamed and guilty, she adheres to her mother’s rules, established after the tragedy.

Until she secretly applies to an East Coast college that she toured with her father and breaks her promise to study in California.

Now graduating from high school Noelle must tell her mother. As if she needed more challenges her French uncle’s sons arrive unexpectedly from Paris.

Charismatic Quentin witnessed one of the Paris’s terror attacks. Not without consequences. Quiet Manu cooks like a chef and reads Noelle so well, perhaps because he knows something about grief and guilt too.

Is Noelle’s last summer before college her chance to move on?

Set in the California’s Sierra Foothills and Yosemite National Park, populated with a cast of American and French characters, this is a story about the universality of loss, the weight of guilt versus the power of forgiveness, and the possibility of another chance.

GET YOUR OWN COPY

  • A KINDLE VERSION WILL BE RELEASED IN 2019 AND SENT FOR FREE TO ANYONE WHO BUYS A SIGNED COPY

As always, I thank you for your support. It means everything to me.

SEE YOU AT THE TOP OF THESE MOUNTAINS!

 

French Friday: En Mai, Fais Ce Qu’il Te Plait

EN AVRIL, NE TE DÉCOUVRE PAS D’UN FIL; EN MAI, FAIS CE QU’IL TE PLAIT

In April, don’t take off a single thread (of your clothes); in May, do as you please

In plain English: the weather being finicky in April, it’s unwise to wear light clothes since you could get a cold, but in May you can wear what you want.

No panic, the  A to Z Challenge is NOT starting again 🙂

But I could not resist to use one of the French expressions used to depict the month of May. The other one compares May to a piece of Gruyere, due to the copious amount of holidays (Labor Day, End of WWII, Ascension Day, and Pentecost).

This month of May is quite special since it marks the fiftieth anniversary of May 1968.

Sadly May 1, 2018 was marked by violence in Paris. About 1200 Black Blocs, coming from anarchist and libertarian movements, infiltrated the peaceful march, destroyed shop windows, restaurants, bus shelters, and burned cars.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Even though violence also happened in May 1968, the ultimate goal of the French back then was Change. Political, economical, and social reasons ultimately converged and France was indeed forever changed.

I would change too!

If you don’t read French I recommend this article published in the New York Times since it recapitulates an intense French period of time. The photos are also excellent. In fact, they reminded me that France was a country mostly run by men back then.

My very own mini Mai 68 rushed to my mind when I read:

“It is hard to find any Frenchman or woman born before 1960 who does not have a vivid and personal recollection of that month.”

I was seven that spring and my sister six. School was closed. For kids, it meant an extra month of vacation. What’s wrong with that? The weather was gorgeous, even warm for the season, and our maman let us play outside even more than usual. Playdates, at least in my village, were inexistent. Impromptu ruled. I could either be totally alone on the backroads where I was allowed to bike or bump into classmates. That spring, I suppose that parents were tired to see their kids home all the time since they were homebound too, now that the country had almost stopped. With kids outside, so were bikes and plenty of energy.

Even though women are clearly absent from most photos and reportages from that time, girls my age had no doubt they were as good as boys. We only had to demonstrate it, again and again. Although I was limber my sister was more daring than I was. Racing ran through her DNA. So over this long, unexpected estival month, while in Paris students and factory workers united, built barricades, and threw cobblestones to oppose the police and SWAT teams, elementary school kids in rural France had a blast.

Embed from Getty Images

All was good on our front, until my sister braked with her left brake and was ejected from her bike. She landed on a rock and blood immediately gushed. Her eyelids turned red and I thought she had lost her eyesight. She had not lost her good common sense, though, since she urged me to check on her bike and to take it home with us. Our parents weren’t as strict as others, but we didn’t swim in money. My sister knew as well as I did that she wouldn’t get a new bike if she had wrecked this one.

The boys who had been racing against us only minutes ago had vanished. Thanks for not helping us. So I pulled my bike and my sister’s while talking to her the whole time as we made our way home. I had read that it was crucial to keep an injured person alert until receiving treatment. I was 100% that my sister needed treatement. Maman was hanging the laundry in our backyard when we showed up. She dropped the sheet she was holding and our goat trotted over, excited at the perspective to eat something fresh. She was a sucker for laundry. Like me, Maman believed that my sister had hurt her eyes. But when she washed her face we both gaped at the sight of the deep gash on my sister’s forehead. My diagnosis had been pretty accurate.

In May 1968, I had never seen my father home that much. Papa must have felt weird too since he still drove with his Solex to the “office” where he met his colleagues at the truck company that employed them.

Courtesy Solex

My father allowed me to drive his Solex when I turned fifteen. He was right about the instability, but had not said anything about the feeling of freedom I would feel riding it.

Now that I’m an adult and know more about strikes I imagine my father and colleagues worrying about money, wondering when they would sit behind the wheel again, and bring a paycheck home. But I also detected hope for change when I overheared conversations.

In any case, Papa wasn’t home that afternoon and had exceptionally taken the Dauphine.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Our Dauphine was blue too, but much lighter

Our nextdoor neighbor informed Maman that he hadn’t been able to refill his car at the gas station. Deliveries of all kinds were sporadic in May 1968.

Maman decided to hitchhike to town, only four kilometers away. Ironically a taxi driver stopped and drove the frantic trio to the doctor. Family legend says that he refused to be paid. I think it’s true.

Our family doctor was not on strike and quickly closed my sister’s wound with staples. He was a charismatic man, very well dressed, a father of seven, and a smoker of blonde tobacco that floated through his wood-floored and high-ceiling office. To this day, even if I don’t smoke and know that smoking is a bad health choice, the distinct smell still conveys an image of elegance, confidence, and comfort.

Our doctor owned several cats that wandered in and out and he strongly encouraged the outdoors and even rough games for kids. That day, he only reminded my sister to use her right brake when she biked. Later, Papa would echo the advice.

If my parents worried during this strange month of May they never shared it with their kids. We didn’t have TV at that time, but I read well and tried to understand what was going on, based on the newspapers’ headlines.

Maybe this is when I understood that Paris was the place to be. Clearly May 68 was different there. More than words, photos leave their mark on young minds.

These photos were intense. Even though I would have liked to see with my own eyes I also wondered if this could be the End of the World that the priest described at Catechism.

Embed from Getty Images

In May 68, students and young people who had not known WWII were hungry for a different France. In May 68, the working class was fed up with inequality. In a unique moment in French history, the needs of these two radically different groups of people met.

Years later, when I moved to Paris and studied at the Sorbonne, I thought of them, gathered in the heart of the Latin Quarter, and once in a while envied them.

Soon I grew more grateful than envious. Things would never be the same in France from now on. I had no idea that one day I would write in English a novel set in France in the direct aftermaths of May 68.

At that time, a raw, palpable feeling of change infused the air. Even a seven-year-old could breathe it. The reader I was noticed an expression that took its true meaning only much later.

Sous les pavés… la plage.

Under the cobblestones… the beach.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Courtesy Le Nouvel Observateur

 

 

 

P.S. TO EVERY MOM, MAMAN, MOMMY, MUM, MAMA: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

I WISH EACH OF YOU A BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY.

DON’T FORGET IT’S MAY. YOU CAN DO WHATEVER PLEASES YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections Post 2018 A to Z Challenge

 

The 2018 A to Z is over!

Whoever writes every day knows that it’s not an easy task. Posting for 26 days, following the alphabetical order, can be quite a challenge. What do you say about the last letters of the alphabet, people?

It’s now time to wrap up the 2018 A to Z Challenge and to highlight a few of the bloggers who not only finished the challenge but went far beyond most others, either through unique themes, outstanding research, or gorgeous photos. Often, all of the above.

Here they are.

In alphabetical order, of course:

 

This year Claire featured Literary Maps in Children’s Books. She shared classics as well as outstanding atlases and books that help children gain a spatial understanding of the world. As a traveler who has trusted maps more than her phone far longer than the majority I loved Claire’s theme. Her research is impeccable and her selection of books pretty awesome. Don’t miss this unique journey through the land of maps.

Through poetry and fiction, Mona’s blog Life Between the Sheets (of Paper) reflects her Mexican heritage. For this 2018 A to Z Challenge she blogged about all things Latino, specifically culture, language, music, food, in her Mexican American heritage. She specifies that her writing reflects her family, not the entire Mexican American or Chicano or Latino experience. Don’t miss Mona’s A to Z Series filled with stories, gorgeous photos and food. Oh the food…

 

I was meant to find Stepheny’s challenge. For a month she wrote about bookshops located in the States and occasionally abroad. The research behind her theme is quite phenomenal. Her photos made me want to browse through each and every shop she described. In fact, Stepheny’s challenge triggered a new challenge idea for me 🙂

Though I will likely return, at least for another year, to the French expressions I love so much and sometimes think I’ve forgotten. In fact, as soon as I start writing them down, more pop up, just waiting in the deep layers of my memory.

Susanna lives on Martha Vineyard where she works as an editor and also writes fiction. This is the reason why she keeps two blogs. For the 2018 challenge she combined the theme of her blog From the Seasonally Occupied Territories (Life on Martha’s Vineyard) with the theme of Write Through It (writing and editing): How living on Martha’s Vineyard has affected her writing. And that was a pretty cool challenge to follow.

In addition, Susanna blogs sporadically about the license plates spotted on the island. It’s a year round project with the goal to complete the map of the United States. Along my road trips through the USA I play the game too 🙂

 

As a final note:

When I wrote about the French singer and composer Jacques Higelin’s death, Sabra commented that she enjoyed listening to the song Pars but wondered what Higelin sang about. Unfortunately I’m only Evelyne and not Higelin, so the translation is what it is: a translation.

 

PARS by Jacques Higelin

Pars, surtout ne te retourne pas

Leave, but please don’t turn around

Pars, fais ce que tu dois faire sans moi

Leave, do what you must do without me

Quoi qu’il arrive je serai toujours avec toi

Whatever happens I will always be with you

Alors pars et surtout ne te retourne pas

So leave, but please don’t look back

Oh pars,

Oh, leave,

mais l’enfant…

but the child…

L’enfant? Mais il est là

The child? But he’s here

Il est avec moi

He’s with me

C’est drôle quand il joue

It’s strange, when he plays

Il est comme toi, impatient

He’s like you, impatient

Il a du cœur, il aime la vie

He has a good heart, he loves life

Et la mort ne lui fait pas peur

And death doesn’t scare him

Alors pars

So, leave

Surtout ne te retourne pas

But please don’t look back

Oh pars

Oh, go on, leave

Mais qu’est ce que t’as?

But what’s wrong?

Oh pars, et surtout reviens-moi vite

Oh leave, but please come back to me soon

 

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