Kaleidoscope, the New Anthology from Writers Abroad Is Now Available

Kaleidoscope, the fifth anthology published by the online, ex-pat writing community Writers Abroad is now available for purchase on Amazon (The link is for Amazon in the US, but you can order a copy of Kaleidoscope from your own country, wherever you live). The anthology is also available on Lulu.

I am pleased to announce that my short story City of Lights is included in this anthology. Hope you will enjoy. I certainly appreciated the opportunity to write about the theme of light. You can read the press release, right below, to find out more.


Kaleidoscope is a dazzling collection of flash fiction, short stories and poetry, written by expats (or former expats) around the world on the theme of light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

The stories and poems selected for Kaleidoscope evoke many varied interpretations of light: from a force that dispels evil or illuminates to one that can be destructive, from sunlight to firelight, or from the glow of an Arctic summer night to the brilliance of a Mediterranean afternoon.

This anthology is dedicated to two writers and members of Writers Abroad, Mary Davies and Jäny Graf, who both died in June 2015 during the planning of Kaleidoscope. Two pieces written by them are published in the anthology.

Author Chris Allen, who lives in Germany, has written the foreword. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Chris Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.

All proceeds from the sale of Kaleidoscope will go to Room to Read, an international charity striving for a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

Kaleidoscope contributors live in, and have written about, more than 30 countries across every continent. To find out more, and for a complete list of contributions, please go to the Writers Abroad website, www.writersabroad.com

Thank you for your support!

Take your iPad to Paris and Normandy For Free Until Labor Day

To introduce my Young Adult and Middle Grade novels to the readers who cannot travel without their iPad, I’m offering Trapped in Paris and Chronicles From Château Moines for Free on iBooks until Labor Day.

Enjoy! Spread the news! Leave reviews!

Happy Reading to All of You From my Favorite Summer Writing Spot in Maine!












Sentiments or Feelings Post A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg


From April 1st to April 30th I posted every day but Sundays a French idiom, its literal translation, and its best American English equivalent.


  • I had previously considered writing about French popular expressions but always postponed the task. It’s only when a friend of mine asked me to join her for the A to Z challenge that I finally wrote A Month of French Idioms.

Like anyone else I benefit from an occasional Coup de Pied aux Fesses or Kick in the Butt.

  • The response from the people who already read me but also from new readers was positive, encouraging me to explore similar themes for my blog.

Receiving good feedback Donne des Ailes or Give Wings.

  • I never blog on a daily basis and don’t plan to do so, but during the month of April my productivity in other areas of my writing increased.

Sometimes Travailler Contre la Montre or Working Against the Clock is good.

  • These idioms had been with me since a long time. In fact I realized that I used at least one in my two novels Trapped in Paris and Chronicles From Chateau Moines.

Ne Sois Pas une Poule Mouillée : Don’t Be a Wet Hen or Don’t Be a Chicken.

  • Thanks to Mary’s suggestion I am now recording the idioms for your enjoyment.

J’ai du Pain Sur la Planche : I Have some Bread on the Wooden Board or I Have Some Significant Work to Do.

  • Would I do it again or am I disappointed?

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.



What do you think of the A to Z challenge if you participated? If you didn’t, did it trigger your desire to give it a try next year?

And to each of you who kindly stuck with me for a month: Thank you. Merci. See you soon. A bientôt.



Zero Plus Zero Equals the Head of Toto or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Today marks the end of the series a Month of French Idioms From A to Z.

Through familiar French expressions and their equivalents in American English, I’ve shared for twenty-six days my affection for my two favorite countries on earth.

Languages and cultures may vary from one place to another, but the need for human beings to use metaphors and visuals to express ideas is the same.

The last French idiom du jour illustrates, in my opinion, how language and culture make one and how making them yours can take some time.







La Tête à Toto or The Head of Toto is a school game that was very much part of my French childhood.

It starts with this equation :


This how it works: You write the equation as a drawing and as you draw you recite.






photo(59)LA TÊTE À TOTO


Since Toto’s head equals zero, his intelligence is also zero.

Toto was a popular character in my elementary school culture. There were also many Toto’s jokes.

The equivalent of the French Toto’s jokes would be for me the American “Knock Knock” jokes.


I didn’t find an American equivalent to this unique French idiom/game.

Wherever you live or are from, did you play a similar childish game that was part of your culture?

Since I brought up my children in the USA, I’d love to know if today French kids still play 0+0= la Tête à Toto and if the Toto’s jokes are still around.

Les Français? Est-ce que les enfants jouent toujours à la tête à Toto?


Although daily blogging is not my cup of tea (See? I have a hard to time to stop the flow of idioms!), I am very grateful for your company and have been looking forward to your visits and comments.

I especially thank the bloggers and readers who have stuck with me for the whole month of April.

Your support, your fun and also relevant comments have made this challenge much more interesting.

Bravo to each blogger who made it to the final line of the 2015 race through the alphabet.


See you soon for a Recorded Version of this Series of French idioms!

Fried Whiting Eyes or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

As I wrote the literal translation for the French idiom du jour, I learned the proper name for the fish called “Merlan” in French.

For some reason I tend to mix and match the French and American names for the countless varieties of fish.








Since the end of the 19th century this expression is used to describe the adoring and a little stupid way people in love can sometimes look at each other.

In the 18th century the comparison was made with a carp and not a whiting.

This kind of look was especially used in old silent movies.

I find the English expression a little more accurate than the French one, although the literal translation made me smile.


P.S. The fish above is not a Merlan or a Whiting but a bass, caught (and released) by my son at our Maine cabin last summer.



A to Z Challenge

See you tomorrow!


Bijou, Caillou, Chou, Genou, Hibou, Joujou, Pou: a Twist to a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Unless you know of a French idiom starting with the letter X, I must give a twist to the expression-du-jour.

I owe the idea to my husband. He masters the French language like a French native and finds a solution to any problem like an American. Merci, thank you, for letting me off the hook with this suggestion.


The majority of French nouns mark their plural with the letter S, matching the English most common way. However, like irregular plurals in English, there are some exceptions in French, too.



The most notorious are seven nouns that as a child I learned by heart, in alphabetical order, almost like a short poem.








JOUJOU: TOY (a small toy, or a babyish way to name a toy)



These seven nouns ending with the letters O and U don’t mark their plural with an S but an X: Bijoux, Cailloux, Choux, Genoux, Hiboux, Joujoux, Poux.


Now, I’m asking my French friends:

Do kids still learn them the same way? Les enfants français apprennent-ils encore ces pluriels irréguliers par cœur?


Promise, I’m returning to the French Idioms series tomorrow!


A to Z Challenge


To Put the Wagons Before the Locomotive or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

As soon as I embarked the A to Z Challenge, I knew that I would write about French idioms and their equivalents in American English. I also knew that I would have some trouble with a few letters. With a little bit of help (merci to my husband and to my Wonderful virtual French friend Lectrice en Campagne), I managed to find an expression for every letter of the alphabet.

Including W, even though W is not the first letter of the idiom-du-jour.


Mettre les Wagons Avant la Locomotive

Put the Wagons Before the Locomotive


Embed from Getty Images


I didn’t find a matching idiom in English. But I personally favor another idiom, which was widely used in my native Normandy and has in addition a perfectly good match in English. It is not surprising to me that the French ‘Boeufs’ became a ‘Horse’ in the US.


Mettre la Charrue Avant les Boeufs

To Put the Cart Before the Oxen

To Put the Cart Before the Horse


Embed from Getty Images


Whatever idiom you prefer, both have the exact same meaning: Doing things the wrong way, confusing cause and effect.

It is also common to use these idioms in the negative form as a warning, such as: “Il ne faut pas mettre les wagons avant la locomotive,” Or: “Il ne faut pas mettre la charrue avant les boeufs.”

Your pick!

A to Z Challenge

See you tomorrow!

To Want the Butter and the Money From the Butter or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

I especially like today expression because I learned its English equivalent quite soon after I moved to the States. Although it’s supposed to match the French idiom, it remains to this day a little strange to me. For some reason I never found the English idiom as explicit as the French one.







Embed from Getty Images



Originating from the end of the 19th century, this French expression illustrates how an honest dairy farmer who makes butter cannot take the money from its sale and sell it again.

In its metaphoric way it is used in France to talk of people who want to keep everything for them without leaving anything to others.

The association between Beurre (Butter) and Argent (Money) illustrates also very well how both can melt easily and quickly.


Do you agree or not that the French expression is clearer than its American counterpart?

A to Z Challenge


Have a great weekend and see you on Monday!

To Wear Out the Seat of One’s Pants or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Finding an idiom starting with the letter U presents a challenge, forcing me to pick an old expression du jour.


User ses Fonds de Culotte/User ses Fonds de Culotte sur les Bancs d’une Ecole

To Wear Out the Seat of One’s Pants / To Wear Out the Seat of One’s pants on a School Bench

To Study for Several Years in the Same School




Embed from Getty Images


I’m pretty sure that young French people don’t use this expression anymore. I haven’t said it much myself and have mostly read it. However, it is an interesting idiom for a couple of reasons.


“Culotte” is an old French word for “Pants.”

“Culottes” are also female underwear in France. French women almost always add “petites” before “culottes.” We all know that anything cute and expensive needs the adjective “Little” or “Petit(e).” Think little black dress…

In any case, you can really wear out the seat of your pants or underwear if you remain seated for a long time.

My husband gives an ironic twist to this expression and thinks that it’s attributed to failing students who repeat a year.

I, on the other side, think that the expression is said about students who’ve been to the same school.


“On avait usé nos fonds de culottes sur les mêmes bancs.”

Literally: “We’d wore out the seat of our pants on the same school benches.”

OrWe’d been at school together.”


I’m asking the French people: What do you think?

Qu’en pensez-vous les français?




See you tomorrow!

A to Z Challenge

To Pull the Devil by the Tail or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Some letters in our alphabet offer more options in terms of expressions than others.  Choosing one for the letter du jour was a challenge.

Ultimately I didn’t go with Sans Tambour Ni Trompette, although it went really well the letter T. Without Drum nor Trumpet is the French version of Without Fanfare. Nice but too similar.


Last week a book at my local library caught my eye.


The title is a very visual English idiom, so I simply looked for its French equivalent, which sounds as visual to my French eye and yet a little more twisted.






Embed from Getty Images


As a child who loved stories I remember how much I learned when I listened to neighbors, merchants, and family members talk with my mother. Sometimes an expression struck my vivid imagination. This particularly visual expression was one of them.

For all French people Tirer le Diable par la Queue is used to illustrate financial difficulties leading to poverty.

One says that a poor person often ends up begging the devil for help, when all other options have been exhausted (and maybe pulling the tail to get the devil’s full attention?).

But according to Claude Duneton, my favorite French author when it comes to expressions and the French language in general, this meaning is fairly recent.

Before the 17th century, Tirer le Diable par la Queue meant to work humbly to make a living. There was no reference to financial stress and poverty.

Why then pulling the devil’s tail? Duneton himself doesn’t provide a definite explanation.

I will leave it that way, too, realizing that popular expressions don’t always need an exact explanation to remain explicit for a large group of people.

A to Z Challenge



See you tomorrow!

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