On a Midsummer Day

As July tilts into August I hope that you are all doing well, wherever you are spending your summer.

When I announced the end of my blogging days, I promised occasional updates.

So what happened since early spring?

Several editors have expressed interest in the concept of the nonfiction manuscript that landed me an agent late winter.

Laurel emails me every Thursday, keeping me posted on the submission process. She still writes, even when she doesn’t have an update. I hope she knows how much her weekly email matters to me.

Maybe you wonder what writers do while they wait for the YES that will turn their manuscript into a book?

They write.

At least, that’s what I do 🙂

And I visit bookshops.

 

Since I used to work in the publishing industry I’m fully aware that writing and publishing are entirely different.

Publishing is a business. While it’s important to remain positive – after all, one yes is enough – it’s recommended to anticipate rejections before acceptance.

But instead of focusing on the passes I choose to keep writing.

And to visit bookshops.

 

Laurel encourages me to work on other projects. It’s crucial for you to remain creative, she says. The more you write, particularly different genres, the better it is.

So I follow her advice. Not that hard since I have enough ideas to keep me going.

And do not forget to read, too, she adds.

So I visit bookshops.

The great advantage with an agent is that I can ask Laurel if an idea is worth my time and emotional engagement.

In the spring, she gave me the green light for one project.

Another nonfiction Picture Book that I sent her last week, after writing countless drafts. It’s likely too long, but I started with 5000 words and came up with 1700, so cutting another few hundred words should be a no-brainer, right? 🙂

Then Laurel asked me to revise a lyrical piece. Her immediate comment when she read it had made my day. “This is clearly written from the heart,” she wrote.

It is a very important piece to me, she’s right. I’d love to share more with you now and hope to be able to do so very soon. But for now, I can only say that I was very open to a new draft, based on her comments, although I was not sure I could change my ending. More importantly I didn’t know where and how to start this revision.

Responding to critique is hard. Writers are so attached to their words. It took us so much time to find the right ones, the perfect simile, the voice to tell this specific story.

So I stepped back and visited bookshops. And libraries, too.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned to listen to my critique partners’ comments and suggestions. At first, I want to shake my head and say, “You don’t get it.” But later, alone, reading out-loud my manuscript and their feedback, I’m able to analyze my own work with enough impartiality to consider my partners’ point of view. And now my agent’s opinion, too.

Her years of experience in the industry give her the tools I need to shape a piece that not only respond to her legitimate concerns and valid suggestions but also give more power to my initial idea. Including the ending that I thought was perfect the way it was. Revising doesn’t mean changing what I intended to do, I realized, but to see the piece with a different angle that ultimately will make it shine in a timely and timeless way.

So I happily forwarded this new draft to Laurel last week, too.

Now I can barely wait for my Thursday update.

But we are only Monday 😦

I do not want to agonize, so what do I do?

I write, of course.

And this blog post counts since it’s a bridge from me to you, reading me today.

And I visit bookshops, too.

I also stop and smell the roses.

Or rather the magnolia now in full bloom.

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.

 

 

 

https://www.rateyourstory.org/single-post/2019/05/06/Word-By-Word

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!

 

 

 

 

I Now Have an Agent

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

Laurel Symonds_photo

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.

 

 

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!

 

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