In July of 2003 we moved to France. Years earlier I had thought it would be a great idea to learn french and have our 2 young sons experience another culture and my husband said if I could figure out a way to do it, he was in. Not sure if he really thought I would make a 5 year plan to make it happen, but I did and we moved. Despite never going to Toulouse to visit, we chose it based on "research". We couldn't afford Paris and a French man that I met suggested Toulouse, saying it was a great college town that was affordable. How is that for thorough? In May I went there and found an apartment and in July we moved! (Of course I am leaving the bit about the hassle of actually getting residency visas for us, but in the end we got them and we were on our way.)
As a freelance designer and illustrator, I was able to continue working in the U.S. while we lived there since work would be very difficult to come by without a work visa in France. I began going to meetings for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators while I lived there and met several Americans who had children's books published and began my next step to writing and well as illustrating. One thing I am really good at is budgeting. I joke that I should write a book but I wholeheartedly believe that if you plan something carefully and are willing to make certain sacrifices, anything is possible.
During the Bolognafiere conference in Italy, I heard Steven Chudney speak and was very impressed. Six years later, he became my literary agent. I didn't expect the dollar to plummet against the euro. In 2005 we moved back to the States flat broke. We lasted 2 years which was one more than expected even though we would have liked to stay longer. It was worth it to live out our dream. My 2 sons attended public school there for 2 years and we all learned to speak French. Living as a foreigner is something everyone should do. It gives you a new perspective on things and you get to really appreciate all the good in people. When you don't speak the language, you learn to trust your instincts and they have been pretty reliable so far for me.