Monday, March 31, 2014

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl on tour with France Book Tours

"Confessions of a Paris Party Girl" by Vicki Lesage is on tour with France Book Tours

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl is on tour! Review, interviews, and excerpts will be featured on the following blogs:

Monday, March 31
Review at Words And Peace (5 stars!)

"Confessions of a Paris Party Girl is a very smart, witty and funny story about what it means to turn from tourist to resident in Paris. Whether you plan your next vacation to the city of lights or consider settling there, you absolutely need to read this very entertaining and apropos memoir."
- Emma

Wednesday, April 2
Review at An Accidental Blog (4 stars)

"Part Bridget Jones' Diary, part Le Mariage by Diane Johnson, the author takes us on a roller coaster of ex-pat fun."
- Paulita

Thursday, April 3
Review at Book Nerd (5 stars!)

"It reminded me of SATC but in France! Anyone that wants to sit and enjoy a glass of French culture wrapped up in this young woman's adventures in France would love this book."
- Diana

Friday, April 4
Review + Excerpt at Books Are Cool

"I honestly can't think of anyone who won't enjoy this book... We have not only authoring, but indie authoring at its very, very best in this little gem of a book."
- Stephanie

Interview at The French Village Diaries

Jacqui from French Village Diaries asks me 10 questions about "Confessions of a Paris Party Girl," plus I reveal the name of my sequel!

Wednesday, April 9
Review at Lisa's Yarns

"The author is just very likeable and witty...I recommend this for other Francophiles or anyone who wants a light, fun read that provides a little virtual escape."
- Lisa

France Book Tours

Have a minute? Please stop by one of the sites and leave a comment to get the discussion going!

Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

4 Ways My Neighbors Are Driving Me Crazy

It's hard to be thankful for much in our tiny (53 m2 / 570 ft2) expensive (€1350 / $1850) Parisian apartment, but one nice thing is that we have no one below us. Our abode is perched on a two-story arched walkway, which means the pitter patter of little feet won't bother the neighbors early in the morning.

4 Ways My Neighbors Are Driving Me Crazy: And yes, the French are just as loud as Americans

However, our neighbors still manage to bother us. I'm sure they don't realize it, or at least I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. Here's their list of offenses:

1. Random drilling

I understand the need for home improvements, particularly in a Parisian building that's 50+ years old (which, by the way, is considered new around here). But I don't understand their timing. They drill every day for 5 minutes, at a different time of the day. It's been going on for weeks. What kind of project are they doing? Wouldn't you think most of your drilling would be focused on 2-3 intense home improvement days and then you could PUT THE BLASTED THING AWAY and stop bursting my eardrums? And why do they always have to drill when I'm on the phone?

2. Shouting in the hallways

Canyons have quieter echos than our hallway. I don't know how anyone can even hold a conversation with the cacophony, but they certainly try. And they raise their voice to compensate, which only makes it worse. And here I've been living with the guilt that Americans are loud talkers. The French are, too! At least the ones who live in my building.

3. Taking forever to open their door

When I first moved in, I admit I had some trouble with my freaky key. It looked better suited to locking away King Joffrey in a dungeon (hey, one can dream) and took a while to get used to. But how can this guy STILL be having problems with his key? Every night it's the same jingle-jangle for 5 minutes.

My real problem is I've had a fear of dogs since I was a child and the jangling of keys sounds like a dog on the loose. Even within the confines of my apartment walls, I still fear the rabid animal that is going to attack me.

4. Slamming the trash chute

Were you born in a barn? At least you're disposing of your trash in the proper place but I'm not handing out awards yet. Open the chute, insert your trash, and close it. Don't slam it or, worse, let go of it so that it slams even more loudly and then echoes in the hall for hours.

In all fairness, I have to admit to the things I do that probably annoy my neighbors:

1. I go to the bathroom at all hours of the night. Thank you, pregnancy. And thank you, thin walls. I can hear my neighbors pee so I'm sure they can hear me. Sorry.

2. My 19-month-old son's favorite hobby, aside from vacuuming and randomly FaceTiming people on the iPad, is banging on pots and pans. The sound is just a little sweeter at 6 in the morning. Sorry.

3. And from back in my partying days, I can't even begin to list all the things I need to apologize for. But probably the biggest offense is ABBA's Greatest Hits karaoke on repeat. Sorry.

First world problems, I know. But still, these things grate. What annoying things do your neighbors do?

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4 Episode 15: "Us"

The Walking Dead Recap and Review: Season 4 Episode 15
I love Paris and I love zombies. If you like at least one, you've come to the right place. Here's this week's recap and review of The Walking Dead, "Us", Season 4 Episode 15.

We get to see a little bit of a lot of people this week. Yay!

Glenn, Tara, and the Three Musketeers

They're on their way down the railroad tracks when they see one of Maggie's messages. Woot woot! So Glenn starts running like an idiot. I understand his excitement but maybe he should look at the map first to get an idea of how much further he might have to run. Plus, running on railroad tracks is just asking to trip and fall. Furthermore, don't you think you should stick with your group? Let's just take everything down a notch, buddy, and keep walking at a normal pace.

They come upon a tunnel and that's where the Three Musketeers are all "Yeah, you're on your own, suckers." Only a fool would go into a tunnel that you can HEAR WALKERS GROWLING in with just a little bit of ammo and Tara as a partner. They leave on good terms and Stupid Glenn and Burdened-By-Guilt Tara venture into the dark tunnel alone. Tara twists her ankle AGAIN and Glenn decides to risk his life saving her instead of leaving her behind like she asks him to, and we think they're both going to die until miraculously the Three Musketeers, along with Maggie, Sasha, and Bob, show up and save the day. So everyone's reunited!

And what better way for a couple to reunite than for Maggie to burn the picture of her that Glenn had been saving? "You'll never need this again." I wouldn't be so sure. And what's the harm in holding onto a photo? Maybe he'll want to look at it when she goes to the bathroom. It's not like they will always be together for every second forever and ever. What's with people burning stuff on this show just to prove a point?

Daryl and the Numbskulls

Daryl's new group is just as bad as we thought they would be, though the leader seems to be at least somewhat better than the rest. Daryl's having a hard time fitting in but it seems the leader likes him the best.

Some d-bag in the group tries to frame Daryl for a crime and then gets beaten to death for it. The d-bag was a child molesting creep so he's better off dead but still, it makes the group seem extra scary. Because it's not like they killed him for that, they killed him for lying.

We also hear about the Rick-in-the-house incident from the leader's perspective and it's clear they're going to try to kill Rick if/when they ever find him because of the stunt he pulled back at the house. Oh, you mean killing a bad guy and then trying to survive, all after YOU invaded his turf and threatened to rape the woman he was with? Yeah, Rick sure is a horrible guy. Kill him!

Rick, Michonne, and Carl

Not much happened with them, which means we finally had an episode where I didn't want to slap Carl. The only thing of note is that they dropped a candy bar wrapper on the railroad tracks (side note: I know it's the ZA and there are dead zombies all over the place but it still seems like we shouldn't be littering) and then Daryl and the Numbskulls passed the wrapper later. So that means Rick and Co. will already be at Ominous when the gang arrives. That won't be pretty.

We end the episode with Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Tara, and the Three Musketeers arriving at Ominous. It seems like Woodbury all over again - good from the outside but still giving off a creepy vibe. I would just try to stay positive and look at the flowers, but we know how that worked out for Lizzie. And it irks me that our crew didn't close the gates behind them. Maybe they want a quick escape route (I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt), but it sure does seem like a few zombies could sneak in while they're slowly scoping out the place. Dummies.

Next week is the season finale! I think I'll go ahead and pop some popcorn now and sit on my couch and wait. I'm so excited!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Son Speaks French Better Than Me

Oh la la, my French-American son speaks better French than me
At 19 months old, my French-American son is starting to talk and, not that I'm biased or anything, but it's the cutest thing. Most of his words are French, which is to be expected living in Paris and being surrounded by primarily French-speakers. His little accent is cute and makes me just a bit jealous because I will never be able to pronounce French words as perfectly as him.

Many kids start talking earlier but bilingual kids tend to start talking later. It's worth the wait to hear him saying stuff in two languages, even if it's hard for Mama to see her little boy speaking mostly French. The best I can do is keep speaking English to him so that he has continual exposure to it, even if he doesn't repeat it for some time.

In the meantime, I can enjoy some of these cute phrases he says:


Usually accompanied by a round of applause, usually after he's done something he thinks is amazing, like standing on the table and dancing. Wonder where he gets that from? Throw a glass of wine in his hand and he'd be the spitting image of Mama.

Ah, non!

Said with a true French nasal accent, this one comes out whenever something really dramatic happens, like he realizes there's a mess on the other side of the room. Again, wonder where he gets that from?

Hee hee hee, hoh hoh hoh. Leo sounds just like that.

Oh la la

Less severe than "ah, non!" this is used for casual mishaps, like dropping his croissant. I always thought it was a cliché, but French people really do say it!

Non, pas ça!

Much stronger than a simple "no," he uses this to express "no, not that!!!" in such dire situations as needing to have his diaper changed or turning off his music.

Au revoir

Seriously, even I can't say this right. I've adapted over the years by saying "Ciao," playing off of my Italian heritage and acting like I'm too cool for the banal "Au revoir." And here my son has perfected it, always accompanied by a little wave.

And of course we have the classic mama, papa, and bye-bye. I'm just waiting for his level of French to bypass mine (probably in about a week or two).

What were your kids' first words? What's the cutest stuff they say? Do you have any tips for raising bilingual kids? Share in the comments!

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekly Round-Up: Book Cover Contest Winner, Reviews, and Adria J. Cimino

Weekly round-up of the ups and downs of expat life in Paris for author Vicki Lesage
It's the first day of spring - yippee! I'm still stuck on my couch on bed rest but the floor-to-ceiling French windows in our living room allow in lots of bright light and fresh spring air so I'm hangin' in there. Plus let's be real, I love hanging out on the computer all day so this is actually the best of both worlds! Without further ado, here's my Weekly Round-Up.

1. Gold Star for "Confessions of a Paris Party Girl" Book Cover

Always the teacher's pet, gold stars are like crack to me. So imagine my excitement when I found out my book cover won a gold star in The Book Designer's monthly contest! To give a little perspective, The Book Designer is pretty much THE resource for self-published books and if you Google anything related to self-publishing or even publishing/writing/author stuff in general (which I do all day), you'll find an article from Joel Friedlander (who runs the site) in the top 10 results, usually the first spot. This guy knows what he's talking about.

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl is a gold-star winner in The Book Designers's cover design competitionThis month there were about 100 entries, with 2 winners (one fiction, one non-fiction) who I admit are better than mine. However, there were 10 gold star winners and I'm honored to be included among them! If you're considering publishing a book or even just have a few minutes to spare, I recommend checking out the article because his comments are priceless (both the praise and the brutally honest critiques).

More Posts About Book Covers:
Behind the Scenes: Book Cover Design
Book Cover Face-Off: United States vs. France

2. Two More 5-Star Reviews

As if a gold star wasn't enough, I scored two more 5-star reviews on Amazon this week! My favorite part of both reviews is that they say they want to be my friend. When writing "Confessions of a Paris Party Girl" I really wanted to convey the sense that the reader was right there with me, experiencing my ups and downs. So it seems that is coming across!

3. Rubbing Shoulders with Adria J. Cimino

Can you tell it's been a big week for my book? On Tuesday I posted a joint interview with Adria J. Cimino, author of Paris, Rue des Martyrs. She's a Paris-based author like me and it was a blast to meet her. She's fun, she's real, and she totally gets what it's like to live here! Her book is a strong character-driven story that takes place in Paris. The setting plays a big part, so if you like Paris you'll love this book, and the story really draws you in.

But it gets better--if you're in the Paris area, you can meet Adria today, tomorrow or Monday at the Salon du Livre. She'll be at the U.S. Embassy stand on March 21 from 3-4 pm, March 22 from 1-2 pm, and March 24 from 2-3 pm.

4. Really? More Books?

If you're in the Paris area and are looking for an inexpensive way to stock up on books, head over to the SOS Help Book Sale on Sunday! Paperbacks are only 1 euro and hard covers are 2 euros. There will also be a bake sale with all sorts of goodies! All proceeds benefit SOS Help.

Sunday, March 23
12 pm to 4 pm
Orrick Law Offices
31, avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie
75016 Paris

Visit SOS Help's website for more info!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4 Episode 14: "The Grove"

The Walking Dead Recap and Review: Season 4 Episode 14
I love Paris and I love zombies. If you like at least one, you've come to the right place. Here's this week's recap and review of The Walking Dead, "The Grove", Season 4 Episode 14.

If it's not one child I want to slap on this show, it's another. Just when I was enjoying a break from Carl we get an episode with CrazyPants Lizzie.

Carol, Tyrese, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith are on their way to Ominus and stop off at a grove for a few days for a little R&R. They roast pecans, try to hunt for deer, and even get to use running water from a well. I understand the pull of Ominous - they could be reunited with the rest of the prison gang and they're curious as to what else is left in this desolate world. But you'd have a hard time pulling me away from clean, running water, that's all I'll say.

No worries, though. Lizzie goes and ruins it all for them. We find out she's the freakazoid who dissected the rat at the prison and fed the walkers at the fence, putting everyone's lives in danger. She had no problem killing people at the prison (like Tara's girlfriend, point-blank in the head) but she flips out whenever a walker dies. Girl has issues. And unfortunately, professional therapy is pretty much nonexistent in the ZA.

Carol honorably still tries to mother CrazyPants, but it's just not getting through her slappable skull. However, Carol and Tyrese think it's sunk in enough to leave the three girls alone while they go out hunting.

They return to see that Lizzie has KILLED MIKA in cold-blood, and shows no remorse because "she'll come back, you'll see." And she starts to say she was about to do the same to Judith. So it's clear we've got an "Of Mice and Men" situation on our hands. I remember reading that book in high school and was a bit slow on the the uptake, but by the last five pages I realized what George was going to do to Lennie and I bawled my eyes out.

So, even though I wanted to slap Lizzie this whole episode, I couldn't help but go soft when Carol took her out to the field and Lennied her. Props to Carol for doing what had to be done - Crazypants had already killed HER SISTER and endangered the lives of many others AND said straight up she'd do it again - but shooting a kid in the head? I honestly don't even think I could slap a kid, much as I enjoy saying so from the comfort of my couch.

As if Carol hasn't gone through enough, she decides to tell Tyrese the truth that she was the one who killed Karen and David. He's pissed (side note: he's showing more pain over the loss of Karen than of his own sister, who he believes is dead, but I blame that on the writers for trying to amp up the drama instead of being consistent) and Carol even hands him a gun and gives him permission to kill her (side note: that's a safe bet since he's a horrible shot, though it makes her look reasonable so well-played). But he forgives her, likely being enlightened by his "Of Mice and Men" literature lesson he witnessed earlier that day. In the ZA, people have to do things they wouldn't normally do, but if the intentions are right, then you can forgive. My high school English teacher would be so proud!

On yet another side note, our group saw the big cloud of smoke from Beth and Daryl's f-you-cabin-burning and there were even some bad-ass charred zombies coming out of the woods as a result. Cool! But Beth and Daryl are still stupid for doing that. One nice thing is that it confirms our characters are all pretty close. With only two more episodes left, I'm hoping we'll get a reunion soon!

See you next week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Americans in Paris: Writing about the Good Life

Paris, Rue des Martyrs, by Adria J. Cimino

When I first saw Paris, Rue des Martyrs, I was intrigued. When I visited Adria's blog and learned more about her, I was downright excited. It was like looking in a mirror! We were both American writers living in Paris, married with one kid. Adria's writing style spoke to me - she was nice and friendly but you could tell she'd had her share of challenging experiences living in Paris. As one does.

I contacted her right away, hoping we could commiserate about life in Paris while also chatting about the good stuff. Our books are different - hers is a novel and mine is a memoir - but they both take place in Paris and capture the essence (at least we think so!) of what it's like to live in this glorious, frustrating, amazing city.

We're similar, yet different. We both say "to-may-to" (we are American after all and wouldn't be caught dead saying "to-mah-to"). We live in different parts of town.

Want to know more? Grab a croissant and café au lait, pull up a chair, and check out our joint interview, a comparison and contrast of two American authors living in Paris.

So, how long have you enjoyed/endured living in Paris?

Adria: As of this summer, it will be 12 years! And pretty much the whole time in the same neighborhood, so when I go to the bakery or café, they know me. It's kind of like living in a tiny village!

Vicki: This summer it will be 9 years. When I initially hopped the pond, I only planned to stay for 3 months. Despite all the frustrations with paperwork and rude taxi drivers, I must have thought it was worth it to stay since I'm still here!

Did you meet your husband before or after moving to France?

Adria: I met him in France a few years earlier. Long story short: Right after college, I came to France to improve my French and stayed at the house of a friend of a friend: So I ended up staying with Didier's parents! Then he came back to Florida with me on summer vacation. We did the back and forth thing, lived in the U.S. together and then moved to Paris – not for Didier's sake, but for mine! I had always dreamed of living here.

Vicki: I met my husband - at a bar of all places - after living in France for four years. I'm glad I'd established my own life in Paris first, but I admit I might not have stayed much longer if I hadn't met him. As a former party girl, I'd had a blast in Paris. But when I was ready to settle down, I had a hard time finding that special someone to settle down with. Part of me wondered if it would be easier to return to the US and hope to meet someone there. But I guess we'll never know, since Mika came on the scene and swept me off my feet! Oh boy, I'm a full French romantic now, aren't I?

You've covered all sorts of topics in your writing. What's your favorite aspect of writing about Paris?

Adria: Paris is such a complex city, meaning it offers many ways for a writer to recreate it on the page (or on the screen of an e-reader). That's what I love the most. I can write about its beauty, and then a few pages later, write about the squalor. I haven't tackled the humor to be found as an expat living here, but Vicki has, exploring that dimension with just the right words and tone.

Vicki: I've been a blogger for years and my style is to recount my life's stories with sass. Once I moved to Paris, the stories became even more incredible as I grew more entrenched in French culture, and thus French administration, inability to wait in lines, you name it. I enjoy writing about what it's really like to live here and not sugar-coating it. That said, I usually have to edit my work a few times to remove unnecessary expletives so that I end up with a colorful piece that is still appropriate for my mom to read.

Would you ever consider crossing over to write a non-fiction (Adria) or fiction (Vicki) book?

Adria: I've written my share of short non-fiction as a journalist, and I will continue to take on free-lance assignments of the sort. But as for books, I really prefer writing fiction. Sometimes I feel like I have so many ideas, but not enough time!

Vicki: My writing angle comes from the way I describe events that happened to me. I enjoy that and am not sure I could pull off the same style in fiction. I suppose I could challenge myself by attempting a totally different type of novel, but I already have ideas for several more memoirs to keep me busy for a while, so admittedly I probably won't try it anytime soon. I'll leave that to Adria!

As a writer, you have a talent for the written word. What about when you speak? Are you able to say things as eloquently as you like or is it hard to come up with the perfect phrasing right on the spot?

Adria: I express myself much better in writing! I don't even have to think about it. The words pretty much flow forth naturally. I wish I could do the same with the spoken word… Although, I have made some progress. I'm not shy as I was as a kid. When I was about five, I would cling to my mom's legs and hide behind her!

Vicki: I'm pretty funny in person, if I do say so myself. But when it comes to frustrating situations (French bureaucracy, work meetings, or any sort of argument) I tend to get flustered and say the absolute wrong thing. Writing, on the other hand, allows you time to figure out exactly what you want to say. I admit I use email more often than the phone or in-person meetings for that very reason. It's funny because I'm actually a quite social person, but when it comes to saying things that matter (as opposed to discussing the 3 criteria for the perfect karaoke song) I often freak out.

Are you worried your kids will speak French better than you?

Adria: She already does! At three and a half, she is correcting me. And she has corrected my husband in English too! We live with a tiny linguistics dictator.

Vicki: Right now, I've got my 18-month-old son beat. He calls everyone "mama" and only says a few other words. But I'm sure in a month that will all change. Not only will he speak French better than me, he won't have my American accent when doing it. At least I'll be able to embarrass him with my accent later on. My French husband says my "petite" accent is "cute" but I can make it pretty atrocious if I want to.

Before wrapping up, what are your upcoming writing projects? How much will they relate to Paris?

Adria: I have completed two additional novels and they are currently in various stages of editing. One is set in Grasse, France and the other is set in London and New York. I will probably "return to Paris" in one of my future novels. In the meantime, I write about my adventures on my blog, Adria in Paris.

Vicki: I'm currently working on the sequel to Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, which will pick up where that book left off and will focus on pregnancy and kids and trying to survive in a tiny Parisian apartment. I have two additional books planned for the "Confessions" series, but let's just take one thing at a time for now! I also write on my blog 2-3 times per week, sharing stories about my life in Paris, parenting, the nitty gritty about being an author, and my obsession with zombies.

Connect with Adria and stay up-to-date on her life in Paris and her next books!
Adria J. Cimino

Vicki Lesage, Author

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guinness and Leprechauns: A Trip to Ireland

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm share the highlights of a trip I took to Ireland several years ago. If you haven't had a chance to visit the Emerald Isle, this should convince you:

Mandatory stop at the Guinness Brewery on any trip to Ireland
Free beer at the Guinness brewery! It's a fun and informative tour, with two dark, bitter beers waiting for you at the end. Foam mustache, here I come!

Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland
Kissing the Blarney Stone. I don't know what I thought it would be like, but I certainly didn't think the old guy working there would hold me upside-down as I kissed a germy stone that millions have kissed before me. It all happened so quickly I'm surprised my friend was even able to snap this photo. But still an experience worth doing.

Birthday drinking games with none other than Guinness. I love Ireland!
My friend, Lindsay, and I both celebrated our birthday on this trip. And what better way than American-drinking-game style? We entered an empty pub on a Tuesday night, where the bartender was wiping down the worn wooden bar, clearly minutes away from closing up shop.

"I have three questions for you," I said.

"Go ahead, then," he replied with a smile.

"What's your cheapest beer?"


"How late are you open?"

"As late as you need us to be."

"Is it going to bother you if 6 obnoxious Americans play drinking games? I can be really annoying."

"As long as you pay, we're good."

Oh, we were good alright. Since when is Guinness the cheapest beer on the menu? Ireland is the best!

Double rainbow and a pot of gold at the end in Ireland
One morning, just after a heavy downpour, we went on a stroll to the beach. And lo and behold, we saw this double rainbow (it's kind of hard to see the second one in the photo but it's there). But do you notice something else? There's a tiny yellow spot on the sand just below where the rainbow ends. We set out to see if it was true the there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (hey, you never know). It's obviously not true, but having seen the yellow, glowing light, I now know where the legend comes from...

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wax on, Wax off: 5 Tips to Make Your Blog Shine

You've got a great blog full of wonderful content. You promote it and see decent traffic. Or not. Regardless, it can only help to polish up your site with these 5 easy tips to make your blog shine.

5 Tips to Make Your Blog Shine: Give your blog that extra polish!

1. Social Media Icons

If you have a blog, you should have a presence on at least some social media outlets. Make it easy for your subscribers to like/follow/friend you by having a nice set of social media icons in the upper right hand corner of your blog. Search Google Images for social media icons and find a set that matches your style. There are plenty of free ones you can download as well as some paid ones or even some you can have custom-designed to match your blog.

Tip: even if you're not active on many social media sites now, try to find a set with a robust selection of icons. If you join a social media site down the road, it's going to be super annoying when you realize your set doesn't include their icon.

And be sure one of these icons links to your good old-fashioned email address. Many people (like me!) still prefer to contact people via email and it's beyond frustrating to see stuff like "I love to hear from my readers!" or "Contact me with your pitch" on a site and then not be able to find the contact information. Make it easy!

2. Pin-It Widget

If you're not on Pinterest, you really should be! At a minimum, I recommend setting up an account for fun and then figuring out your strategy from there. (Here are some great articles about it: Get More Followers, How I Increased My Blog's Traffic, and 10 Do's and Don'ts.) But even before you're on Pinterest, it can't hurt to let other people promote your blog on your behalf via Pinterest. Make it easy for them by using the Pin-It Widget. It's slightly technical but don't be scared! Pinterest provides instructions or you can always ask a techie friend to help.

3. Favicon

You know that little icon the shows up in the browser tab and when you bookmark a site? You can personalize yours to set you apart from the crowd. There are just a few steps:

1. Create the image. The image itself needs to be square (for example, 200x200) but if the interesting part of your image isn't square, then it's best to use a transparent background. Here's mine:
Favicon for

2. Convert your file to the favicon file type, which is .ico. You can use this free favicon generator.

3. Upload it to your site. Blogger has an easy upload tool in the header part of the Layout section. I don't know how it works for other blogging software but you can probably search for it in their Help section or Google it. If it's your own website or you're hosting your own domain, you can upload the .ico file to the main directory on your server.

You might have to clear your browser's cache in order to see your beautiful changes.

4. Feature your best content/categories

Since a blog is chronological, new visitors to your site might not see all the awesome stuff you've written in the past. Make it easy for them with the following tips:

1. Add links along the top of your blog that go to either categories or pages on your site.

2. Add links to your sidebar that lead to your site's best content. Maybe your DIY posts are always a hit, so you can link to that entire subcategory. Maybe you have one post that always gets a lot of traffic, so you can link directly to that post. Take it one step further by representing this link with a snazzy image. On my blog, I've created a Top Stories page that highlights my top posts, and I link to it from my an image in my sidebar: Best of Vicki Lesage.

3. Use labels wisely. By categorizing each of your posts, you make it easy for people to find all your posts on the same theme. But I see many sites that overdo it. If your label only has one post in it (e.g. "Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Recipe") you might want to remove that label and recategorize your post into something broader (e.g. "Thanksgiving", "Holidays", or "Recipe").

5. Check Your Links

Remember that blogroll you set up when you started your blog and you added all sorts of other bloggers just to be nice? Take another look at that list and make sure that:

a) These are still people you want to be linking with. Do you still endorse their content? Do they update their blog regularly?
b) The links still work. I recommend using Xenu Link Sleuth (free, must download it, don't be overwhelmed--it's really easy to use) to periodically check all the links on your site.

Make Mr. Miyagi proud! Set your site apart from the rest by taking the time to make your blog shine. If you make things easy for your visitors, you'll see more success. Good luck!

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Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pompiers and Panic Attacks

Never a dull moment around here. Last night after Leo's bath, his teeth started chattering, he was slightly shaky, and I thought I detected a bluish hue to his skin. He also seemed a bit short of breath, and since he has asthma and the pollution level in Paris has been higher than normal lately, I was understandably worried.

One of the finer things about life in Paris: France's pompiers in uniform
France's pompiers in uniform
But the clincher was when he hugged me and wouldn't let go. My son loves me but he's more of a banging-pots-and-pans kind of guy than a cuddler. So Mika called emergency and they immediately sent 3 gorgeous pompiers (firemen/paramedics) over.

France, I love you. First, that they sent people so quickly when it was probably just worried parents freaking out (good thing Mika said "our son is short of breath" when he called instead of "he gave his mom a hug" or they wouldn't have taken us seriously). Second, how are they all attractive? It's just like the sage femmes (midwives) at the hospital. They're all gorgeous.

So they came in with their uniforms (oh my) and proceeded to check Leo out in the bedroom while I was stuck on the stupid couch (bed rest sucks when you want to see pompiers in action)!

But fear not, I got my share of the action, too. I started having a mild panic attack: my heart was racing, I was short of breath, and I felt dizzy. So one of the pompiers came in and checked me out. He said I was fine, I just needed to take it easy. Well, that's kind of hard to do when I'm worried about my son and I'm stuck on the couch and can't do anything.

Proof my son is back in good health - he's banging pots and pans as usual
Back to banging pots and pans this morning
They said Leo had to go to the ER for an official check-up, even though they didn't think it was anything serious. So Mika wrapped Leo in a blanket (my classy son left the house with no pants on because he's cool like that) and I waved to them from the window. Leo loved it because he got to ride in the ambulance with flashing lights. We actually live across from a hospital and he sees ambulances with flashing lights all the time, so he thought it was extra cool to finally get to ride in one.

All said and done, my boys were home 4.5 hours from the time Mika had called the pompiers. I guess that's really not too bad when you think about it, though it was WAY past someone's bedtime (mine).

Anyway, thank you France for such great care. And attractive people. Hubby definitely needs to be a pompier for Halloween. Stay tuned.

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4 Episode 13: "Alone"

The Walking Dead Recap and Review: Season 4 Episode 13
I love Paris and I love zombies. If you like at least one, you've come to the right place. Here's this week's recap and review of The Walking Dead, "Alone", Season 4 Episode 13.

We start out with a flashback of Bob before he met up with our group, though I admit I was a little confused and thought it was present day. When Daryl and Glenn stumbled across him and asked their three questions (remember those?) I was like "Whaaaa? Ohhhhhh. Flashback." Anyway, I think the point we're supposed to take from this flashback is that Bob didn't like being ALONE, even though he was actually quite good at surviving.

Back in the present day, he and Maggie and Sasha are still trudging on to find Glenn (and to go to the sanctuary ominously named Terminus). There's a cool zombie fight scene in the fog where they only barely get out alive, which is enough to make Sasha decide she doesn't want to keep doing this. She says it would be better to stay put in a town and build a life there. But Psychoanalyst Bob thinks that she's just afraid of getting to Ominous and not finding Tyrese there.

Stubborn Maggie makes it easy for them by leaving the next morning before they wake up. I thought we learned the buddy system by now? Geez. I-Never-Want-To-Be-Alone-Again Bob tries to get Sasha to go with him to follow Maggie, even kissing her (I fist-pumped a few times and Hubby looked over at me, confused, then looked at my computer screen and was like "Ah, I get it") but it wasn't enough to convince her to come. So then Bob GOES OFF ALONE to find Maggie so that he won't BE ALONE even though he wasn't ALONE when he was with Sasha. Silly guy.

Much as I want to hate Maggie for being stubborn and stupid, she does three things that remind me how awesome she is and why I like her:
1) She kills a walker and uses its blood to leave a message for Glenn, in case he's heading to Ominous as well. Communication: It's not just for the pre-apocalyptic world!

2) She realizes she should really stick with Bob and Sasha because three is better than one (so maybe she can hear me shouting through the TV?) and stops at a town along the tracks to wait for them to catch up, knowing that Sasha wanted to stop at the next town.

3) In said town, she does some major zombie ass-whooping with a "No Parking" sign. When she picked it up I was like "Oh, that's good. She can't knock a zombie down with it, buying her time to get a better weapon to stab its brains out." But then she one-upped me and used it to SLICE ZOMBIE HEADS like she was on Top Chef: Zombie Edition. Bad ass! Why didn't I think of that?

Sasha fights some zombies too, because she's also bad ass, and then she's all "Wah, wah, Bob is right, we need to go to Ominus and I need to stop being a wussy about finding out the truth about Tyrese." So they catch up to Bob on the tracks and he's all happy he's not ALONE anymore (though I repeat, he wouldn't have been ALONE if he didn't leave ON HIS OWN).

Sounds like a full episode, right? But I haven't told you about Beth and Daryl yet!

Daryl is teaching Beth how to track and use a crossbow, but then she gets her foot stuck in a trap, which requires Daryl to carry her and make us wonder if something more physical than that is going to happen between those two. I get my fist ready for some air-pumping, just in case.

They come upon a funeral home that is stocked with a "white trash brunch" - peanut butter and jelly, Coke, and pig's feet - and they notice the place is pretty well-kept for something in the ZA. They just chalk it up to someone who is out but will be back, so they stupidly let their guard down. I'm not sure why Daryl wasn't more suspicious.

They stay the night and set up a barrier of rope with hubcaps and cans so they can hear walkers or people coming. They're startled at a noise but it turns out it's just a dog. Weird. I wonder how he got there. And where's his owner?

Then they hear the noise again and Daryl has apparently lost all his brain cells at this point because he just opens the door instead of checking first to see if it's still the dog. Nope, it's a horde of zombies instead! He tells Beth to run (so, limp, since her ankle is still messed up) while he fights off the zombies.

In his third stupid move of the episode, he lets all the zombies in and then tries to take them out one by one, even though he had the door pinned mostly closed with just a few zombie arms sticking through. Couldn't he have just stabbed the zombie arms and then closed the door and then gone back to eating pig's feet?

So they come streaming in the funeral home and he leads them downstairs and manages to fight them all off (that part was pretty cool, I admit)  then run back upstairs and outside, only to see Beth's backpack on the ground and a car speeding away. Who's car is that? Why did they take Beth? Did Daryl grab any pig's feet for the road?

Daryl is a great tracker but he's no match for a car. So he wanders along the road, dejected. Just when Beth had given him hope that there good people in the world, she got herself kidnapped and Daryl once again blames himself for someone else's demise. He sits down in the middle of the road and has a little pout, and then our good friends, the bad guys from the house with Rick a few episodes ago, show up. Oh great. Exactly the kind of people I wish would just be extinct by now.

Daryl is outnumbered so he goes with the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" plan, but I'm hoping it's just a self-preservation technique until he can escape and find Beth. His hair is dirty enough as it is - he really doesn't need to hang around with these good-for-nothin' greaseballs.

Will our scattered groups finally reach Ominous next week? Will Beth escape her captor by singing songs? Will Bob and Sasha have a Major Makeout Session? Stay tuned for next week!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

5 Tips for a Chill Pregnancy

The last two words anyone would use to describe me are "chill" and "patient". Furthermore, my first baby was born prematurely at 35 weeks and I'm currently on bed rest with my second due to preterm labor. So who the heck am I to be talking about a "chill pregnancy"?

Well, actually, my pregnancies have been some of the most zen moments in my life. I think it's because my focus was/is primarily on my baby and for once I just can't be bothered with keeping the house perfectly clean or doing all the things normally expected of me. It's also such a relatively short time in your life (especially if you have preemies!) that I've been trying to just ride the wave [of nausea] and enjoy it while I can.

5 Tips for a Chill Pregnancy: Get the scoop from someone who normally isn't very chill!

So, what are my wise words to pass on to you? Check 'em out and thank me later!

1. Ease up on the pregnancy books

I recommend "What To Expect When You're Expecting", even though their puns make the book twice as long as necessary and they called my cervix incompetent. But the book does a good job of letting you know what to expect (great, now their punniness is wearing off on me) each month of pregnancy, both with you and your baby.

Apart from that, try to limit yourself to just one or two other pregnancy books. After a while they all start sounding the same and some will have you second-guessing yourself. Pregnancy's too short to waste it with your nose stuck in a medical book! (Though if you're looking for a lighter book to stick your nose in, might I suggest my book, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, hint hint).

2. Do the double-pee

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would ask "Who needs to go to the bathroom" right before you would leave? That's you now. You go at least 20 times a day and even if you go right before you leave the house, somehow you're still rushing to find a restroom while running errands. Well, no more. With my patented (it's not really patented) double-pee system, you'll never be stuck with a full bladder again. About 5-15 minutes before going to bed, leaving the house, or settling in for a Walking Dead marathon, go to the bathroom, then go again right before sleeping/leaving/lazing on the couch. You'll sleep longer, you'll be able to complete tasks uninterrupted (or at least for stretches longer than 30 minutes).

3. Become BFF with your Boppy

Not only is the Boppy great for nursing once baby comes along, it is fabulous for helping you get a good night's sleep during those last few months of pregnancy. When you're sleeping on your side (which is probably the only comfortable position these days) place one end of the Boppy under your bump and the other through your legs. This evens out all your curves and allows you to relax in comfort. Now, go catch those zzzz's!

Sleep better with your Boppy: The best way to get restful nights during pregnancy

4. Go for an 8 out of 10

I know all you hot mamas are normally perfect 10's, but pregnancy can take its toll. Whether it's blotchy skin, bloating, or stretch marks there's likely something less than perfect about your appearance these days. Not to mention how tired you are (because you haven't yet had a chance to try tips #2 and #3). It's tempting to throw on sweats and give up. Don't!

I shoot for an 8 out of 10 from my norm. I don't want to be a total slob but I'm also not going to spend time to straighten my hair or put on full make-up. Things that usually make the cut: shower, simple but cute outfit, pull the hair into a ponytail, tinted moisturizer, and lip gloss. I look put-together without spending much time, which in turn makes me feel good about myself (yay, I'm not a slacker!) while still having time to relax.

5. Be prepared

Take it from someone who didn't pack her hospital bag and then went into labor at 35 weeks, you want to be prepared. Fortunately I'd had the nursery finished, all my paperwork up-to-date, my to-do list cleared, and my freezer stocked with ready-made meals. So other than my husband making three trips back home to pack my bag (he was too frantic to get everything on the first and second go), things went pretty smoothly for Baby #1.

Now since I'm on bed rest for Baby #2, I refuse to be caught unprepared again! My hospital bag is packed, the nursery is mostly set up, and we have various lists taped all over the house for when the time comes (what to pack last-minute for the hospital, instructions for the in-laws on taking care of our son, emergency numbers, etc.). Start getting ready as early as you feel like (but not later than the 6-month mark) and just pick one thing per day to do. You'll get there, hopefully with time to spare!

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Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4 Episode 12: "Still"

The Walking Dead Recap and Review: Season 4 Episode 12
I love Paris and I love zombies. If you like at least one, you've come to the right place. Here's this week's recap and review of The Walking Dead, "Still", Season 4 Episode 12.

Well, this recap is going to be easy because NOTHING happened this episode.

Daryl was a grump but at least he killed a rattlesnake for dinner and did some nice zombie skull-bashing. I really don't know why I eat while I watch this show.

Beth got sick of Daryl's what's-the-point attitude and went on a mission for booze. This is normally something I would support - I love me some booze and have a bottle of champagne chilling for when Baby #2 is born - but in the ZA? No thanks. When I drink, it's balls to the wall. There's no one-glass-of-wine this or a tiny-sip-of-liquor that. I drink everything in sight and leave a path of destruction in my wake. I'm chill like that.

But I can only do that if I know that the next day I can lounge around in my hungover misery, drink gallons of water, stuff my face with greasy fast food, and eventually (when I can stand up long enough) take a shower. None of those things would be possible in the ZA. Could you imagine waking up with a helluva hangover and have to KILL ZOMBIES and then RUN AWAY and then NOT EVEN GET MCDONALDS as a reward for your efforts? No way, man. So until I got set up in a camp with water and food, I'd be saying no to liquor.

That doesn't stop Boozy Beth from seeking some out. First she finds a wine bottle but has to kill a zombie with it. Considering the bottle was already opened (and who knows for how long) I'd say that zombie did her a favor.

Then she finds some peach Schnapps, which Daryl Downer smashes on the floor, eloquently stating that "I ain't havin' your first drink be no peach Schnapps." Word.

Finally, Daryl gets on board with BoozeQuest and leads Beth to a shack with some moonshine (that apparently he had found while searching the area with Michonne). They play "I've Never," which is always fun but degenerates quickly. Daryl gets pissed at what seems like the present but is really about his past. You see, before the ZA he wasn't any of the cool things people have been guessing, he was just Merle's sidekick.

But then Beth talks him off the ledge and they end up sitting on the porch of the shanty drinking moonshine and chatting. As you do.

What's the logical next step? Burn that mother down! Why enjoy shelter (especially since they slept in a CAR TRUNK the previous night) when you can burn it down in a short-lived therapy session? Oh, and since it's in the middle of the woods, maybe it will set the whole rest of the world on fire while they're at it. If people in real life did half the stupid crap people on TV do, we wouldn't be long for this world.

Yet I keep coming back for more. Next week: hopefully an episode with more than two characters and less burning of houses!

Monday, March 3, 2014

10 Tips to Survive Bed Rest

I've been on strict bed rest for a month now and I have anywhere from 0 days to 2 months to go! As someone who is normally very active, a workaholic, and a neat freak, this has been a 180-degree turn. Yet, it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. Just one look at my husband's concerned face reminds me that this isn't about me - it's about our baby and I need to do what I can to keep her cookin' as long as possible.

Easier said than done, though, right? So I compiled a list of 10 Tips to Survive Bedrest to help those in the same (horizontal) position:

10 Tips to Survive Bed Rest: You can do it!

1. Relax

Like, for real. For once you have an excuse to ignore that email or let the dishes pile up. Pick up a book or turn on the TV and truly enjoy some "you time" while you can.

2. Follow the 80/20 rule of eating

80% Healthy
You're not getting much exercise these days, plus you want your baby to be as healthy as possible. Aim for mostly good stuff. I know - boring.

20% Fun for Mama
You're amazing. You're bringing a new life into this world. And you're stuck on the couch. Your idea of excitement these days is the 10 times you're allowed to get up to go to the bathroom. Don't let the bed rest blues set in! Treat yourself to a little guilty pleasure now and then, like a whole bowl of popcorn or a double-chocolate chip muffin.

3. Stick to a (modified) schedule

I know I told you to relax. But I don't mean just lay around all day. Trust me, nothing will make the time pass more slowly than that, which in turn will frustrate you and you might attempt a prison break. I have a rough schedule for each day:

  • Drink coffee and check emails
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Pick something from my to-do list to work on: writing, blogging, pimping out my books
  • Free time (reading, watching TV, napping) until my husband and son get home

See? It's a relaxed schedule but it ensures I bathe regularly (you're welcome, world!) and don't just stare into space for hours.

4. Map out your week

Every Sunday I sit down (well, I'm already sitting) with my husband and plan the week. When do we have appointments? When will we do laundry? What one-off things need to be done (send a birthday card, change the water filter, fix the blasted stroller)? By planning in advance we can break the tasks down by day and divvy them up better.

5. Remember Google is not a doctor

You have way more time now to agonize over every little twinge and plenty of time to search for its meaning on Google. Don't do this.

Your doctor likely gave you a list of "If this happens, go to the hospital" (if not, then you have my permission to use Google to look for a new doctor). If what's happening to you isn't on that list, then either call your doctor or write it down to ask at your next appointment. When we look for medical information online, we tend to be biased. If a website says it's serious, we'll believe it. If a website says it's not serious, we won't believe it so we'll keep searching until we find a site that says it's serious. We'll get ourselves unnecessarily worked up and what does it change? Nothing.

"Why did this happen when I seemed to be in good health?" I wondered one day. After reading about my "incompetent cervix" and "uterine irritability" I was fuming. No wonder my uterus is irritable! You just called my cervix incompetent! Then I read an article that said there was no medical proof that bed rest was even necessary. Oh, so I'm suffering through all this for nothing? If I get up and walk around do you PROMISE my baby won't fall out?

Trust your doctor. Close your browser.

If you're on bed rest, don't Google any medical questions!

6. Ask for and accept help

This was the hardest for me. I felt so lazy asking my husband to get me water, juice, coffee, and yogurt before heading out the door in the morning. But guess what? Once he's gone I'll need a coffee refill and a water refill and will have to go to the bathroom about 8 times, and that's just before lunch. He can't help while he's not here and I need to limit the number of times I get up, so I'm grateful he helps as much as he can while he's around. But he won't know what to do if I don't ask.

I also have a good friend that brings me lunch twice a week. While she's here I ask for her help with stuff like watering the plants or changing the sheets in my son's crib (which I couldn't even do if I wanted to with my big belly in the way). I would never ask a friend to scrub my toilets but if friends can help with a few things, it's that much less work for my husband to do later.

Your friends and family WANT to help--just let them know how!

7. Do a "Count-Up" instead of a Countdown

I went into preterm labor at 25 weeks and 3 days. Here's a quick breakdown of the important milestones*:

<26 weeksThe Gray ZonePlenty of babies born before 26 weeks survive, but it's still a very risky stage.
26-32 weeksVery PrematureYour baby is thankfully out of the gray zone but will most likely need to stay in the NICU if born at this stage.
32-37 weeksPrematureMost people would be concerned if their baby was born at this stage, but for those of us who thought our baby would come before 32 weeks, we're ready to throw a party when we hit this mark. Your baby will likely need to stay in the NICU but could be out relatively quickly. My first baby was born at 35 weeks and 2 days and was out of the NICU after 11 days.
37-39 weeksEarlyIf you make it this far, you'll almost start wishing the baby would come already because you'll be HUGE and uncomfortable. But you'll be happy you kept the baby in that long.
39-42 weeksFull termDing! Baby's done cookin'.
* I'm not a doctor. If I was, I'd probably have a lot more money. These are just guidelines. Talk to your doctor if you have questions and don't sue me if I'm wrong - you'd probably only get a paper clip and some rotten bananas (and even then I'd probably make banana bread real quick and hide the paper clip, just out of spite).

I'm sure you've calculated how many weeks you have left. When I went into preterm labor with Baby #2, I was looking at 12 weeks of bed rest.

An eternity.

The first week I counted down the days. But I realized it was having the opposite effect on me - it was making me want this to all be over with as soon as possible. What a shame to miss out on the joys of pregnancy, like my baby's little kicks and hiccups! And what a shame to view it as something that I wanted to just be done with.

I decided to do a "Count-Up" and view things the opposite way. As an author who just released her first book before this whole preterm labor stuff started, I knew I wanted to write a sequel. What better time than when I was stuck on the couch for 2-3 months? I set a goal to finish my sequel before my baby was born. That way, each day she stayed in there gave Mommy another day to write.

When it comes to preemies, every day counts. It's not a countdown, it's a count-up!

What activity could you use for your Count-Up? How about: knitting a baby blanket, watching the entire series of Breaking Bad non-stop, organizing all your photos into photo albums, or learning to blow up balloons? And if you learn how to blow up a balloon, please teach me because I could spend the next 2 months trying and I would still never get it.

Pick a project that doesn't go against doctor's orders and you think will last slightly longer than the amount of time you have left on bed rest.

8. Drink lots of water.

You're supposed to spend most of your time on the couch, but you ARE allowed to get up to pee. Work it, girlfriend! Drink lots of water, and then on your way back from the bathroom, fill your glass up again.

9. Get fresh air

If you're on strict bed rest, you won't be allowed to leave the house. Open the windows for at least 10 minutes per day and let that fresh air circulate. It's the not the same but it's better than nothing.

10. Don't risk it

You know what you are and aren't allowed to do, missy. Don't say "I'll do ______ just this one time" - what if that was the time your baby came? You can't undo the "just this one time" so don't risk regretting it. Your husband or a friend can do the laundry/take out the trash/paint your toenails later. In the meantime, go back through this list and see what you can do instead of what you were planning on doing, you naughty little thing you.

You can do it! Good luck!

Update: Stella was born on May 4, 2014 (38 weeks and 5 days), healthy as can be. And Mama finished the final chapter of her book two days later.

Life's short. Laugh more. Buy my books at

Vicki Lesage, Author

Organizations to Support Preemies and Mothers on Bed Rest: