de guingois

The scene was so classic that I wondered, as I snuck up to snap the photo, if it wasn't staged! Notice the underwear: one per "hook". Photo taken in Nyons (next to a chichi restaurant. Well, that oughta show 'em!).

Capture plein écran 21122011 083440It is exciting to watch the numbers as this self-published book competes with the "big guys". At one point, Blossoming in Provence made it within the top 400 in book sales at Amazon.

Many of you might be curious as to how those numbers, or popularity rankings, translate into actual book sales. If an author ranks #383 (or the 383rd most popular book sold at Amazon) he or she must be selling thousands of books, right? I checked those sales details this morning and here are the facts:

In the first four days since publication, 602 copies of Blossoming in Provence have been sold (most people bought one copy--though a few readers bought four copies each!) This means that over 550 readers have purchased a copy of Blossoming.

...That leaves 28,000 email readers without a book!... 

The question now is... Have you bought your copy of "Blossoming in Provence"? Please know that your individual purchase makes a great difference to me. Perhaps you are waiting to buy the book at some point in the future, when you can get around to it. Why delay?  Thank you for clicking here to order a copy now.

And thank you all for staying with me during these crucial first weeks of book marketing. I appreciate your patience—and even your interest—in the publication process. Merci beaucoup! 
(A special thanks to those who have blogged, Facebooked, Tweeted, or simply told a friend about "the new book on France").
de guingois (deuh-gehn-gwah)
    : askew, lopsided

marcher de guingois = to walk lop-sidedly
tout va de guingois = everything's going haywire

Audio File & Example Sentence: listen to the French word "de guingois" and to this expression: "marcher de guingois":Download Wav or MP3 

"The Marais, says Jacob Berger, a film director who lives and works in the neighborhood, is de guingois--that is to say, slightly askew."

--from the National Geographic article:
"Bohemian rhapsody: on the right bank of Paris history and hip embrace..." 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: The following story was first published in 2008)

Another odd Christmas tree this year. I should have taken Mom's advice: get an artificial one! Apart from being good for the environment, those faux firs come in perfect shapes: full-bodied and symmetrical; especially, they're kilter—and not helter-skelter!

If I weren't such a procrastinator, I would have gotten the tree I wanted: Super Sapin! (Not a bird, not a plane.... ) Though our tree may not fly or save lives (it certainly won't save the earth), it does look as if it were set for take off, what with its long and HORIZONTAL arc... like a Boeing 747.

"It's lopsided!" I point out to Jean-Marc, after he has placed the tree. "Wait a minute..." I remark, suspiciously. "Didn't it come with a stand?"

"No. It didn't."

"You mean the nursery didn't have stands for sale?"

"They did, but the stands weren't any good."

They never are! He was just trying to get out of buying a stand! Next, I discover his solution: our umbrella stand. He's swiped our umbrella stand to use for a tree brace. Pas vrai!

If it weren't so amusing—to see that tree stuffed, de guingois, into the umbrella stand like a wet parapluie—I'd scream! But I am learning to laugh at these peculiarities. Take, for example, our bathroom light fixture, the one just above the mirror. When the screw fell out, we might have replaced it. Instead, a box of aspirin was set between the light and the mirror (now, when the box of aspirin pops out, all we have to do is pick it up off the floor (easier to see than a small screw) and stick it back in its place). Ta-da!

Chez nous, it is always a balancing act... a regular circus we are! From time to time, I find myself lamenting, "Why... why can't we just be normal?" Why do I have to lean to the side in order to see our Christmas tree as it should be? Why can't our tree stand be normal looking, like the tree stands of other French families? Why do we have to treat our pine as a parasol? Still grumbling about my husband's eccentricities, I gather the fresh laundry which I have strewn around the house on every free hook or chair back or table (any freestanding structure will do). Other housewives may have hung out their clothes on the line to dry today, but I don't trust the northern wind: sacré Mistral!

Collecting some dry underwear from the fire-stoker rack beside the cheminée, and reaching for some chaussettes sèches (slung over the candelabra), I notice the look on my husband's face... but I am quick to put him back in his place; after all, it is HE who is the oddball!

However different, there we stand, united in silence, our heads leaning to the same side as we study our Christmas tree.

"It's lopsided, you know."

"Yes, Dear," my husband looks over at me. Our eyes return to the lopsided tree as we stare silently.

"Il a pris un sacré coup de Mistral!" Jean-Marc offers, and our silence dissolves into laughter.

French Vocabulary
le sapin = fir (tree)
pas vrai = it can't be true!
de guingois = lopsided
le parapluie (m) = umbrella
sacré Mistral = blasted Mistral (wind)
la cheminée = fireplace
chaussettes (f) sèches = dry socks
il a pris un sacré coup de Mistral = it was hit by a mighty gust of wind


Braise (left) and Smokey (right) wish everyone a lovely celebration!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carol Pauline Rauss (Karil)

Hello Kristin! I enjoy your Blog, and would love to purchase your new book. Will it soon be on offer at ?

By the way, as a member of and , I would like to encourage you to have your books produced as audiobooks. Such books seem to me to be the perfect sort of material for an audiobook!

All the very best to you and your fqmily, and a very luminescent holiday season.

Sincerely, Karil

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Karil, I need to look into getting the book available on Amazons .uk .fr and other international sites. Thank you for the encouragement to have the books produced as audiobooks. Something more to look into. Can anyone point me in the right direction for such a production? Thanks!

Patrick Mullins

Having been a follower of French-word-a-day for nearly nine years it is interesting that from various comments and the publishing of your new book you see your biggest market at the US. I was looking for a pocket camera at about the same time as you but the link was for Amazon US and the model was not available in the UK. I was introduced to you by the Brits living in France so don't forget your loyal followers this side of the pond! Joeux Noël! Bonne Année!

Patrick Mullins

Oops why there is a y missing! That's Joyeux Nöel!

Anne Baird

I am impatiently awaiting the arrival of my two copies. One stays with me. The other goes to my sister, who has a house in Provence. What a nice holiday treat!

Joeux Noel to you and your family, Kristin.

Fred Lovett, Lingaglossa

I sympathise with your attitudes to your partner's idiosyncracies. As you know, I am a pragmatic materialist living with a Sicilian romantic. Having been married before I am well aware that there are a couple of rules:

1. It is impossible to change your partner. Why would you want to anyway, you took him as he was, so don't change him.

2. Never nag!!!

3. When you can, do it your way, when you can't, accept his way. And be prepared to accept his way when he changes your way.

4. Happiness is stress-free living with someone you love.

Enjoy life all you can.



Please please - make your book available on
Joyeux Nöel!

Kristin Espinasse

Patrick, you bring up an excellent point. Fortunately, with the blog, it is possible to reach out worldwide. When it comes to selling a book, or recommending a product, it isnt as simple. It is exciting to have readers all over the world, and I am especially touched to know you have been reading for over nine years. (Jean-Marc reminded me, yesterday, that French Word-A-Day turns 10 this coming year!)

Anne, tell your sister to contact us if she would like to join our next wine-tasting :-)

Fred in Sicily, Thanks for sharing these excellent relationship tips (ciao to Issy)

Sarah, I will make that call to CreateSpace or to Amazon and try to make the book available at If you dont see it there, please remind me! 

Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA)

Hi Kristin. I haven't stopped in for awhile and have no good excuse other than to say that for some reason the pace of life seems harder to manage with age.

Anyway, this post shows how perfectly suited you and J.M. are for each other AND how important having a similar sense of humor is in a marriage as well as in life.

I'll be reading all of the "21 days of publishing" posts over the holidays and, of course, ordering the book!!

Have a wonderful holiday.

Peace and love to all.

Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA)

The photo of Braise and Smokey made my day! Very funny!!!

Valencia Siff

Bonjour Kristin,
My students and I continue to follow your every move online and I was one of those faithful readers who bought multiple copies of your book. In fact, my students' only homework over the holiday break is to follow your thrice weekly slice of French life! Upon return we will have our usual "Mot du Jour" questions in class and the student of each section who proves to have learned the most words during the vacation will win a copy of Blossoming in Provence! The books arrived yesterday and are wrapped and ready to be won!
They will be thrilled! We even voted on the book's cover and the one my students liked most is the one you chose!! Yippee!
We look forward to reading you in 2012,
Valencia Siff


Hi Kristi,

You are # 49 at this very moment on NEW RELEASES
on Amazon.



Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Mom, for the report! I took your suggestion and did a screenshot of the page so that I will remember this exciting moment!

Valencia, so you are one of the ones! I wondered who was buying multiple copies -- and what for. Now I know! It is a dream of mine to promote this book to teachers as a fun way to teach students French (I look back to the textbooks that I had, as a student of French, and I know I would have loved to learn French this way: via short-short stories with French words in context.)

So, along with Patricks and Sarahs and a few others suggestions to make the book available in the UK, I would like to make it available to classrooms. If any teachers are reading, please help me to realize this goal!

Joan S.Zehm

This is for your Dad.--Edgecomb Maine USA

Good to hear you laugh.We are all a little
"de guingois ".Can't wait for my copy to arrive .Congratulations & Happy Holiday
to you & yours.


Any chance that an e-book version will be available, like on Nook?

Kristin Espinasse

Juliette, I need to look into making Blossoming available for the Nook.

Sheesh, if I say I need to look into one more time, it means I really need an assistant! First -- to learn how to delegate :-)

Linda Hugues

I just discovered your blog. Wonderful! As a longtime lover and student of French, I am thrilled to discover such a great resource. Thank you! I, too, look forward to reading you in 2012.

gail bingenheimer

In a difficult moment Christ becomes an anchor on which you can take a firm grip in hope. His presence is as sure as it is firm. (Hebrews 6:19)
Espérance que nous gardons comme une ancre de l'âme, sûre et ferme, et qui pénètre au-dedans du voile.

Jan in Monument, Colorado

We have a very charming little bookstore here in Monument called Covered Treasures that I just love. So, taking your advice from one of your emails advising of the availability of Blossoming in Provence, I printed off the information from Amazon and took it to my bookstore for two reasons. First, I prefer to support local businesses when I can. Second, I suggested that the owner might want to take a look at it when the copy I ordered arrives. Her comment when I showed her the book info was "What a beautiful cover!". I told her a little of your history to pique her interest. Who knows what might happen! At the very least, I'll get my book. BTW, your picture of Braise and Smokey in today's blog made me smile and started my day off right. Looks like we'll have a white Christmas here on the front range of Colorado. They are calling for 6-10" of snow tonight here to the north of Colorado Springs. Joyeux Noel to you and all your family, Kristin, and to your extended family of readers all over the world!

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Your Braise and Smokey are almost as patient as William Wegman's doggy models. Bonne anniversaire, Joyeux Noël, and Bonne année to you and your all of your family -- especially that very special mother of yours!

Pat, Roanoke, Va

K, I thought 4 was an excellent "round number" of copies to order of Blossoming, and to add to it, I screwed up my courage to leave a review, which was a first Amazon thing for me. Hopefully, I did not goof up with references to les chiens! MORE IMPORTANTLY, Happy, happy birthday and best wishes for the coming year. My birthday card to you comes from studying meditation with Sharon Salzburg at Kripalu this fall. It is a Metta meditation/prayer, metta meaning lovingkindness.

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with peace and ease.

And may you and family have a lovely white! Christmas.



IT'S 9:27 A.M. here in Puerto Vallarta right now...will you please call me - I will be back at the condo in 5 minutes.



Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I can just see you and JM with your heads cocked at an angle admiring your tree! Very funny. Love the photo of Braise and Smokey. I signed up with Amazon so that I can do a review when I get the book. Just days away from delivery. Our high school age neighbor is studying Advanced French. I will tell his mother about your book and she can take my copy to show his teacher. Who knows?

Jan in Monument, Colorado

As if to illustrate your French expression of the day, a buck with antlers on one side of his head only and with a limp is meandering through the snow is our back yard. Vraiment, il marche de guingois!



Yes, you are the fruit of Kristi's labor in the vinyard of life. Since Kristi has not answered my plea for a phone call I'm back with a mission to get her attention.


How would one of you lucky friends out their like to win a week of room and board during the 2012 harvest at Rouge Bleu?

I am going to try and get this contest approved by the C.E.O. my boss....

I'll be back later with more details if I can get this offer approved....if so then I will continue with the contest rules.




I just ordered your book and can not wait to get it. I love all things French:)

Suzanne Dunaway (Rome, Italy and Collioure, France)

Darlin' we have a few branches of fir stuck into that green stuff and then stuck into some water in a plastic holder -- not even a real tree!! But here in Rome, we are temporary before returned to Collioure for le fin d'annee. So be glad you have the real thing, even if listing to port (or starboard) like the Tower of Pisa. And I'll hope mine does not drop all its needles before Saturday. Joyeux noel to all of your family, mom and dad included!

Kristin Espinasse

Oh my gosh, MOM, yikes! Im calling you already -- HOLD ON for any future contest ideas. Yikes, Im on my way to the phone! Sorry Im late calling!


O.k., my books are on their way. As soon as I receive them I will do an Amazon review. Want to be able to comment specifically on some of the beautiful photos. Meanwhile, I filled out some "tags" so that people who search for "living in France" "americans in France", etc. should be directed to your book. Also recommended and linked Blossoming in Provence on some kind of Amazon chat thread for people looking for upbeat and uplifting memoirs. I am not really tech savvy, but Amazon made it easy to do these little things. Perhaps other readers could give it a try.


Well, I'm impressed that Smokey and Braise let you put things on them, such as Christmas stockings, hats, eye patches, etc. They must be really laid back!
It was a real tree with a crooked trunk that my husband was allergic to that caused us to buy an artificial one decades ago. (See my Dec. 3 posting on my website.) Since we are still using that same tree, it has saved us money, has saved real trees, and has preserved the environment.
To all, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, and, from here by the sand of the Rio Grande, Feliz Navidad! - Mary in NM

Suzanne de Cornelia

Your MOM is a HOOT!

Book ordered, blogged, emailed, tweeted!!


Hi Kristin,

I'm traveling to France next year for the first time and I'm going to buy three copies of your book, one for myself and the other two for my French Hosts!

Congratulations on your success!

Joyeux Noel

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Love this story! It brought a smile. As did all the “snowballs” being tossed about here in the spirit of good cheer!

I’m in a rush (I know…haste…!) so I’ll just say Blessings for your Birthday and Joy to you at Christmastime and each and every day. Lots of Love!!!

Gretel is now the 22nd December here in Australia and looks to be a warm if slightly hazy morning along the beaches....a beautiful start to the longest day of the year in some parts of the world! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you and enjoy your special day!
Also wishing you and your family (Jules the Director of Fun Things included) a wonderful Christmas break....and to all your friends here at the FWAD cosy corner! Enjoy!

Chief Grape

Happy Birthday my Love
I am so fortunate to be your husband and the father of our kids
I Love You

Jill in Sydney

Happy Birthday from Sydney!!

alicia brown

ordered your book.....and have been reading it this evening. Love the story about the ugly Xmas tree that your husband gave you.


Marge, Jacksonville FL

Your husband reminds me of my own husband. Mon marie improvises rather than buy or use the proper implement or kitchen gadget!!! But the men are fun to live with, n'est-ce pas?

Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA)

I hope you had a great birthday, Kristin. I think we've all thoroughly enjoyed the antics of today's posts. You all are so fun.

Susan Carter

Happy Birthday Kristen - I hope it's been a most spectacular day. Now I'm going to buy your book so I'll have a complete set of all you've published to date.


Girl you've got to make your book available on Kindle, if possible . . . I really think your sales would increase wildly if you did. Once one buys a book about a subject, for example, the Kindle then suggests other similar titles, and it's so easy to hit that buy button (too easy, heh!). I've got over 1,000 books on mine, many of which were free, but many of which were not (eek) . . . books I wouldn't even have known about if not for the suggest button. Instant literary gratification . . . it's heaven. Your book would get suggested to people who are already predisposed towards books about living in France and the French language, etc., and who are also people who buy books readily and frequently. I'm going to buy the hard copy, but I did hit the Amazon button which makes the request it come out in Kindle too. Good luck with it and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Also I see it's your birthday from the comment above - happy, happy birthday. :)


THE book arrived today! I started to read it and can already tell that it'll be a more than once reading. Thanks for sharing your life and French language and France with us.

Bill Facker

Kristin, I said it before and I say it again for all to see .. You exemplify the new face of great writers. You are among the Brave Few who are willing to put your lives on display with indelible ink .. a daunting task that takes huge amounts of courage, dedication, and tenacity. I believe those of us who are privy to your writing are truly witnessing history in the making. Buying your books (four today) is an honor .. an honor because that act will make it possible for you to continue giving yourself to us in the most gracious and unselfish manner you constantly exhibit. You are leaving a beautiful footprint, Kristin Espinasse, and history will surely recognize it. Thank You

Rebecca Q. T.

$15 well-spent, and with one-click ordering, who has the time to say no? Merry Christmas to me! Merci, Kristin. It will be nice having your book on my shelf for many years to come and if, (God forbid), your blog ever stops running, it will be great to be able to look back and remember the first times I read your stories. Though it's a bit premature, may I suggest your two books would be great gifts for francophile Valentines?

Courage for your disappointing news.


I've been busy with several projects for the past week, and look at what I missed - so much activity here!! :)

Congratulations on the book release and it's been great reading about the rankings. I'm waiting for it to be available in India :)).

Have a wonderful birthday, Kristin! And a joyous Christmas and a fantastic New Year!!

Jan in Monument, Colorado

Happy birthday from snowy Colorado. Wish you were here to take some pictures! You'd be able to do justice to the serene black and white beauty.I came back to FWAD to see what comments had been added for your birthday. J-M's brought a lump to my throat and yours to your Mom made me laugh out loud. What a hoot! Enjoy your special day, beautiful woman!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these warm and caring and festive wishes, for the tears and the lumps in the throat. Mom and I were just on the phone, talking about many of these comments, as we do, and saying thanks for all of you. Big hugs from here, Kristin

Patience Tekulsky

Blossoming in Provence arrived last night and today I began to read, and read, and reread! It is a project that you and your mom can be so proud of. Brings joy to all your adoring fans and is a treasure to add to my book shelf. Merci autre fois!!.
Patience in L.A.


Hi Kristin

Many congratulations on the new book. As a loyal follower of yours we decided to take your "other advice" to order from a local bookseller to help her along also, so we read others' comments enviously, but still with the anticipation of looking forward to receiving our own copy as an early new-year present !

As always, thank you so much for your inspirational stories and the joy you bring us several times a week : Don't ever stop - we LOVE you !!!!

Joyeux Noel et Bonnes Fetes to you, and to Chief Grape, Max and Jackie

George ( in the Lot )

William and Lee Mears

Hello Kristin,

This is for your dad. We live in Bradenton, Florida

Thank you for the lovely Christmas card of Braise and Smokey. Love those two cuties!

Peace and Love,
Lee and Bill Mears

Georgia Catasca

We have funny trees in Corrales New Mexico too !!!



This picture made me remember my trip to Avignon. When showing us our rental apartment, the landlord asked us not to hang our clothes out to dry on the balcony since the window faced into the square. I thought it was an odd request since it never crossed my mind to hang my clothes out where anyone could see ... but now I realize that she was probably speaking from experience. :) Thinking of you and your family and wishing you all good things this new year. I know it will all work out well.

Paul and Marlene DeVries


I just bought a copy of the book for my wife for Christmas. She has been studying French since she retired 5 years ago. We visit France quite often, especially Provence. It's so fun to read your stories ... lots of insight and humor. Thanks for sharing all of that with us.
Joyeux Noel and be sure to give Smokey a scratch behind the ears for us.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Paul. I hope Marlene ejoys the book. Bonnes fêtes!

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