List Post, mai 2017 (May)

May is a busy month. It’s when the school year ends (in the south, anyway), and when graduations happen. Mother’s Day falls in May, Memorial Day weekend occurs, and summer vacation is just around the corner. In my family, there are several May birthdays, at least one wedding anniversary, and this year, there was an engagement announcement. It’s also Brain Tumor Awareness month.

I don’t have any author events scheduled this month, but on Saturday, June 10, I’ll join other local “Sisters in Crime” authors in a panel discussion about publishing at the Decatur Library (see my News & Events page for details).

Earlier this month, I scheduled a photo shoot with the fabulous and talented photographer, Lynn Crow. I needed a professional, updated headshot (not taken by an iPhone) to submit to mystery writers’ conference Bouchercon for its program. I’ll appear at the conference later this year in Toronto.

Lynn had me meet her at the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta to shoot the photos. When she sent me the proofs, I thought I knew which one I should choose for the headshot. However, I liked several, and after I narrowed them down, I asked my Facebook friends to vote for their favorite.

17011-0116 JFF

The one above is the winner, 18-6, by my count, and it’s the one I thought I should select. Second place was the one below. I sent the winner to the Bouchercon folks, but I can always crop the “brick wall” one for a closeup headshot alternative for other occasions. I used the other photos (slideshow below) on my website, social media sites, and Amazon author page. And there are a few other (so far, unpublished) proofs I’ve saved in case I need them later.

17011-0167 5x7.jpg

All in all, I’m glad I had this done. I’d had a previous headshot (only) taken by a different photogragher a few years ago, but since then, I’ve lost a lot of weight. The only other time I’ve had professional photos taken was in my wedding dress when I was engaged to be married, over 35 years ago. I’ve always wished that I’d had more taken (or chosen to keep the proofs). But I had a very limited budget then, and didn’t realize how much I’d want to see those photos later on.

It’s different now that photos are much less expensive and easier to share. I’m more often the one behind the (iPhone) camera, rather than in front of it, and I’m more comfortable with words than images. But I’m happy to share these, and I hope they reflect something about me.

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May in France, and fluency

“Le joli mois de mai, où on ne travaille pas beaucoup!” – mon prof de français

In my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, Jenny’s goal is to become fluent in French. She prepares for her final exams – often the only grade given in a course – by working hard in May, not noticing much about what happens in France that month. When she takes a (final) oral exam, she….

Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

During the month of May in France, due to several holidays in quick succession, almost every week-end is a long weekend (on fait le pont). Mais ici, we only have one of those (Memorial Day Weekend), and it happens after all of the French ones.

Yesterday May 1st was la fête du muguet, porte-bonheur et la fête du Travail (Labor Day). Next Wednesday the 8th is la fête historique armistice (WW II Victory in Europe Day). Thursday May 9 is a religious holiday (fête religieuse catholique), l’Ascension, though tout le monde celebrates it, même si they aren’t religious. Ditto for Monday May 20, which is Pentecôte (Pentecost).

Le muguet (lily-of-the-valley) is la fleur du bonheur: in France, you give loved ones a little bouquet of it for good luck (porte-bonheur) and to celebrate the arrival of le printemps (spring). I suspect that today through Sunday, on fait le pont (everybody takes a long weekend), or maybe just tomorrow through Sunday.


Le muguet


Next week, with the 8th and 9th falling on Wednesday and Thursday, I’m not sure what on fait/one does. Perhaps one takes a very long weekend, working only next Monday and Tuesday, in a kind of work-reversal week (2 days on, 5 days off). Sounds very French, I dare say.

The following weekend, one celebrates Pentecôte by taking a third long weekend.

Three long weekends in a row! Quelle bonne idée! On the other hand, could that be exhausting? Peut-être, Monsieur!

First, there’s only so much relaxing one can do; staying busy (working) may be less tiresome. Second, if one travels during a long weekend, it could cost more than staying at home. Even if one visits family (for free), one’s routine is interrupted. Third – well, my husband and I have a saying taken from a WSJ article dated some time ago: “Work is Home, and Home is Work.”

Yes, that’s right: we often feel “at home” when we’re at work (and since I actually work at home, it gets complicated; happily, I have a home office). But when we are at home, we may feel like we are working. Working on our house, our chores, our projects, our parenting (though we’re almost out of that business), our marriage…and beaucoup de choses! 

That doesn’t mean that being at home (and not at work) is hard – but it can be, whether that’s evident admissable to others or not. Which brings me to fluency: the ability to speak a language smoothly and with apparent ease.

Some people have a gift for languages; others claim to be truly fluent when they aren’t (quite). I speak French, though not as well (yet) as I speak English. Fluency in another language can be hard to achieve, unless you learn as a small child. But if you work at it – practice it until you feel at home, no matter how difficult or confusing it may be – at some point it doesn’t feel like work anymore; on ne travaille pas beaucoup!

At least, that’s ce qu’on me dit! (what I’m told!)


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