Monday, 28 August 2017

My default position...



... is to expect nothing in return. Self-preservation dictates this. I used to send out letters and emails, and leave phone messages and suggested contact times, and then happily await responses. Not so, these days. I am inordinately joyous if an editor replies with a negative, as long as it is still positive.

My most scathing reply to a submitted article was along the lines of ‘we only accept well-researched pieces, not short, bitty ones’. OK, no beating around the bush, even though it did take me a couple of prods to get those few words. Honestly, was the submitted article worthy of such ‘ouch’? Probably. At least, I got something back. But, I’d still be curious to work out how one can be on the job pile one day and dish out such delicacies the next. What is the timeframe for editors and publishers to go from being generous, humble and supportive to condescending and indifferent?

I’d come across this attitude previously, in circles other than publishing. My medical specialists’ secretaries have always been particularly good at giving me the brush off, defending at all costs their partner-by-association superiors and unaware of how much more important kindness and compassion are following unsettling consultations.  

Living in France, I learnt that it was easier to start something expecting a ‘no’. Before attempting to do anything administrative, I’d mentally rehearse all that needed to be said; prepare and sort all the documentation that I figured would need presenting; take a few extra bits of paper for good luck; expect a long wait to be seen and subsequent parking fine; and practice simultaneously clenching and rolling my tongue between my teeth in an attempt to stop the tears that would start to spurt when being told that what I had come to do would not be possible.  


Fortunately, there are still some kind-hearted, generous people out there: Amongst others…established authors (#patricialsands) who started following me on Goodreads when there was not much to follow; fellow Instagrammers and bloggers (#eatlivtravwrite) who chose to buy and review my book despite being sent postboxes full of free ones to review each week; interviewers (#thebookpodcast) who feature known, prize-winning authors…and me; store owners (#frenchcargo, #languagebookcentre) who not only stock my book but promote it enthusiastically; blogger/authors (French word-a-day and An Accidental blog) who listed my book on their sites and did not ask for anything in return and everyone who has purchased our family story 'But you are in France, Madame'. To all of you, 'thank-you'.


...and, if you haven't already purchased my ebook and would like to do so, it would be lovely if you used the link in Mardi Michels article, as it is part of the Amazon affiliate program...just a small way of showing your (and my) appreciation - and it costs you no more. If you would prefer a print copy, then another affiliate link is to be found in Kristin Espinasse's French word-a-day blog. Again, a purchase here would be so very much appreciated by us both. Merci beaucoup.




Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Summer Reads review


A recent review of 'But you are in France, Madame' touched me as, despite never having met, knowing nothing about me other than what the reviewer had read in my book, her words show that she has really grasped the essence of who I am. She focuses her review on our respect and love for the French culture, in spite of (and sometimes (with teeth gritted) because of...) the difficulties of living in France. I am sharing an excerpt of her review below and for the full article, click here

"Catherine is an evocative writer and paints a picture with her words which will whisk you away to her life in France as you read each chapter. But perhaps even more than Catherine’s way with words, what I loved about this book was the family’s utter respect for the French (language, culture, people) and their surroundings. Instead of complaining about the mind-numbing pace at which things sometimes move, the quirks of #lifeinFrance and the frustrations that go along with all that, Catherine and her family seek to integrate fully into life in their new home, questioning things, for sure, but mostly wanting to make sure they are doing the right thing, even if sometimes (often) life in France is difficult. As Catherine says, despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of some of the stories she shares, the family really did love everything about their life in France. The book is also just as much an exploration of French culture (with a bit of history thrown in for good measure) as it is a story of an expat family living in the French alps."

If you haven't already purchased my ebook, it would be lovely if you used the link in Mardi Michels article, as it is part of the Amazon affiliate program...just a small way of showing your (and my) appreciation - and it costs you no more. The article is part of her Summer Reads series...and while you are there, have a look around at Mardi's blog Eat. Live. Travel. Write.

PS If you would prefer a print copy, then another Affiliate link is to be found in Kristin Espinasse's French word-a-day blog. Again, a purchase here would be so very much appreciated by us both.

Merci Beaucoup...

Monday, 7 August 2017

Monsieur Vélo rides again - Cycling the Galibier

France Today - Monsieur Vélo rides again

For those of you who are new to the blog, let me introduce you to Monsieur Vélo.

His first appearance 'Just say it's Monsieur Vélo' was the result of a chance meeting whilst out on a bike ride, at the top of Semnoz, near Annecy. On this occasion, he was treated to French warmth and hospitality.

In today's France Today article, Monsieur Vélo is once again on his bike, and once again, the kind recipient of French generosity.

For my family and I, living in France, this French welcome has also overwhelmingly been our experience and for that we say 'thanks'.

Welcome to 'But you are in France, Madame' and bonne lecture!



Thursday, 20 July 2017

Climbing and rambling

* (see translation below)

I suspect that today's blog is going to be a rambling affair. But, give me a rambling rose and I am, figuratively speaking, plunging my nose into soft, velvety prettiness; talk to me about your ramble in the woods, and my lungs will fill with imagined fresh air and my head with Enid Blyton adventures, pop up a real estate ad on the sidebar of my computer featuring a 'large, rambling country estate', and my happy day-dreaming seriously encroaches on my output for more than the time of a brief, non-distractable glance.

No, an implied lack of order does not always have to be a negative. Einstein, and some probably trendy young guns (researchers) releasing themselves of the necessity to ever conform to an old work paradigm stood (and stand) by the value of a cluttered work space.

In fact, researching the difference between a climber and a rambling rose, I discovered that a rambler, of the rose variety, has unique qualities; that it is more flexible than a climber (the result of the contortions necessary to support the weight of the determinedly-upward non-rambler?), is more vigorous, has very few thorns and usually only flowers once throughout the year. As a rambler, then, I can and do bloom, I am wise when it comes to the retraction of my barbs, I have stamina and energy...taking the analogy too far?

Reasonably, both order and disorder are necessary for maximum and complementary outputs. However, what if disorder implies creativity, and order, convention? As Head of School in days gone by, I was required to undertake Myers-Briggs personality tests. Supposedly an introspective self-reporting questionnaire, it was never an exercise in discretion. Rather, a point-scoring opportunity to flaunt one's (supposedly better) creative and extrovert leadership qualities.

Ahh - take a look at my desk and tell me who I am.




*If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

If you would like to see the product of my decidedly (and proudly) orderly book 'But you are in France, Madame', click here.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"I've noticed that people who know how to eat are never idiots." (Apollinaire)



"I've noticed that people who know how to eat are never idiots" (Apollinaire)


Guillaume Apollinaire (not his original name) was born in Italy to a Polish mother. In his short life, which ended nearly one hundred years ago, he seems to have done and said pretty much whatever he wanted to. Still, today, the interesting people around me have this capacity. In this noisy 'me', 'me', 'me' world, they are the oft-silent ones who can be confrontational without confronting, whose ideas make me think, whose words are not drowned out by the inane, trivial conversations around us. Sure, they are sometimes arrogant so-and-sos who can upset by their unflinching honesty; in my case, only saved by their genius and my gratitude at being taken out of my daily humdrum. I probably would have enjoyed a tête-à-tête with Guillaume, but, the truth of it is that I don't know how to eat.

Table etiquette: which fork/spoon/knife to use, elbows off the table, no slurping or burping and how to place one's cutlery at the end of a meal - I've got spades of that. I come from good English stock. The mechanics of eating; clearly, that is not a problem either. But (and here's the rub), I am never the one to salivate prematurely over the duck stuffed in the turkey stuffed in the chicken (or however the turducken is prepared although I concede that my method appears unlikely). I am never the one to order my steak 'saignant' (let alone tartare), I skip lunch often and snack on Weet-Bix or handfuls of muesli and, dinner for my children and I, when my intelligent husband is away, is often not pretty.

That said, I'd like to think that I am not an idiot either. My defence might look something like this:-

If A equals 'people who know how to eat' and B represents 'not an idiot'

And

A=B  ⟺A⊆B and B⊆A

But, if

A⊆B and B⊈A then A≠B

Ah, we are not talking equality at all. Good, I can still legitimately keep company with my other half.

Actually, I digress. This post was to have been about baking bread but I got side-tracked by stumbling upon the aforementioned quote in Cooking for Claudine by John Baxter, a gift from Lulu (thanks, Lulu, and I hope to hear soon that your French trip was a great success).

I'll aim to get back to my exemplary bread knowledge in my next post. In the meantime, there is a chapter in 'But you are in France, Madame' entitled 'Mon péché mignon' and it is all about bread. If you would like to read more, here is the link.



A la prochaine...






And once again, joining in with the AllAboutFrance link-up, sharing posts with a French theme. Bonne lecture...