Diary of a little Vietnamese Girl in France – Story 1

I am sharing today a little piece of my heart. The text below is the first page of my children’s book. I am still putting the text and the illustrations together, it’s taking way longer than I thought. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever get it through. Making my own drawings and self-publishing my book are such big challenges. But it’s also my dream, so I will keep going until the day I feel the pages between my fingers and smell the cover of my book.

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I AM FRENCH-NAMESE

My name is Julie, I am 10 and I am French with an Asian face. I am French-namese (as in French and Vietnamese). My parents came to France a long time ago because something really bad happened in Vietnam and they had to run away from the country. They don’t talk much about it but I know it has something to do with war and stuff.

I have a big head, very dark hair and a funny fringe Mum loves to cut too short and uneven. I am very little and skinny. Everything in me is small. I am the smallest girl in my class. My feet never touch the ground when I sit.

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Sometimes I spend hours looking at my face in the mirror. My eyes are smaller than my friends’ and I don’t really have eyelids. I do weird things like pinching my nose because I don’t want to have a flat nose.

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I have a big brother, Christian, and a little sister, Ketty. I also have a cat, Lilo, who is black and white like Felix, a famous French cat who does TV commercials.

My favourite colours are navy blue and pink. I like grilled chestnuts, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and French fries. I like riding my bike, playing with my toys, my friends and rummaging in Mum’s wardrobe or anywhere where it’s messy. I don’t like onion and celery, I am scared of spiders, I am very scared of the dark and I get angry when people make fun of me because I look different.

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Why I’ve decided to self-publish my book…and make my own illustrations

My publishing venture has been punctuated with ups and downs so far. More downs to be honest but somehow I expected it. That is what the reality of the publishing industry is about.

After a 7 month experience, the result is far from my initial hope. 3 publishing contracts from vanity publishers (aka scams), 3 rejection letters from trade publishers and I am still waiting for many other responses that might never come. I am checking my mailbox with less and less enthusiasm and the hope to receive any positive letters has seriously diminished.

It could be better, it could be worse. It is just what it is and that’s okay. Rejection is part of the publishing process. It does not mean I have to stop, it means I have to keep going and pushing, as long as I believe in what I do.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and my attention went to another publishing method which is called self-publishing. After thinking things over and weighing the pros and cons, I have decided to give it a go. It’s a long and difficult journey but I am not scared of the challenge. It’s exciting and most importantly, it will give me the freedom of creating the book of my dreams.

Gaining entire control of the creation of my book is, in the end, the most fulfilling part. Who knows better than me how I want my book to look like?

I’ve also made the decision to make my own illustrations. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t skilled enough to do it, but then I realised it was just a question of confidence and will (and lots of practice!). No one but me knows exactly what to draw and how to interpret my childhood memories. 

So I’ve started my drawings, picturing in my mind all the details that have made my memories so vivid and memorable. It’s hard and it’s taking me ages. I often have to start over again and do some research. But when it’s done and I contemplate the result with a big smile on my face, the feeling of happiness and accomplishment is worth the pain.

It’s a little piece of art that is taking shape. And it’s mine 🙂

More information about self-publishing: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/how-to-self-publish-a-print-book/

 

#Day 15: Douce France: Home Sweet Home

Douce France is a series of little stories about my trip to France after 4 years of absence. Coming back after such a long time has brought back to life some amazing feelings and childhood memories, the greatest source of inspiration to me.

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I have been away from home for 4 years but when I set foot on the French territory after my 30-hour flight, it felt like I left yesterday.

My parents picked me up at the airport. They haven’t changed much. Time has been treating them well. Dad has grown silver hair and his dark summery skin makes it look shinier. Mum is still the same, cheerful and pretty in her flowery dress. She looks even younger than my last memories of her.

On the drive home, in the outskirts of Paris, I catch a glimpse of a sad reality: a multitude of dirty tents and mountains of rubbish sheltering hundreds of refugees. I feel a pinch in my heart. But I don’t want to feel sad or angry. I am back home, in my beautiful country and nothing will take that away from me.

The house of my childhood used to be a huge farm. It’s an old two-story house, built of stone, a brown tile roof, some terra cotta floor tiles, and some beautiful long beams. Mum and Dad painted the blinds with a lovely pastel green like those typical houses from the South of France. There is a big shed, a huge attic, a cellar where I use to throw teenage parties and another smaller shed where Mum stocks all the mess. No wonder this house was the best place to play hide and seek! I remember being scared of the attic, full of dirt, spider webs and little night creatures that I could hear running around on the roof.

 

There’s also a fire place. I love that fire place. It reminds me of the letters I left there for Santa. It also brings back when Dad used to grill the chestnuts we picked in the woods. I can still hear the crackling sound and feel the sensation tickling my nostrils.

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The floor upstairs was the best place to run and hide in the dark nooks of the winding corridor. My friends and I would run like lunatics and scare off my sister and my brother. I can hear Dad yelling at us threatening the house is going to collapse.

The first thing I did when I got home was to check out my bedroom. It looked so small and not quite like the little realm I used to rule when I was a kid! My “subjects” (aka teddy bears) are still there, sitting on my pink velvet couch and looking at me with their dusty eyes. I remember when Mum asked me to tidy up my bedroom in the promise of a reward, I would cram all my toys underneath that couch in 50 seconds.

In the drawer of my wooden desk, I found all the love letters I used to write to boys who never noticed me at school. I started to read them, laying down in my tiny bed, as I slowly fell asleep, with a smile on my face.

Dodo diary edit