Let the fêtes begin

It’s that time of year again! Let the fêtes begin!

Every year the holiday season seems to roll around a little faster! Do you agree?

It always takes that first snowfall in December for me to feel fully committed to Christmas. This year it appears that France is enjoying the fluffy white stuff before we have any in Toronto. Videos of snow falling in Paris, Provence and other areas, flooded the internet these past few days.

Speaking with a friend in Nice today,  I was told the tops of the Alpes-Maritimes nearby are becoming covered in white again. I love the dramatic effect created by the combination of the snow-capped mountains, that are the backdrop to the area, and the sparkling azure Mediterranean. The shot below is one I took a few years ago, driving along the Bord de Mer on the way to Nice.

A number of ski areas are already open just an hour from Nice! If you want to keep in touch with the ski conditions on those slopes, click right here.

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Calendales (from the provençal word for Christmas), begins today in France, December 4, Saint Barbara’s Day or la fête de la Sainte-Barbe. This marks the beginning of a lengthy period of celebration that blends Christian and pagan traditions.

In most homes and shop windows, on the counter at la Poste, on the bar in all the cafés and even in the windows of the patisseries, saucers of sprouting lentils and wheat seeds will be on display.

Read this excerpt to see what it is all about!

Excerpt from Promises To Keep: “Joy had explained on the phone. “It’s a tradition that goes back to Roman times. The sprouts are carefully nurtured, and if they grow straight and green, there will be a bountiful harvest in the coming year. If they go yellow or droop over, then that’s bad news. Some of the wheat is used to decorate tables and crèches on Christmas Eve, but most bunches are wrapped with a red ribbon and cared for right through to la Chandeleur, la Fête de la Lumière, on February 2.”

It was a surprise to discover how this ancient tradition still is so lovingly observed in shops and homes.

Christmas markets in France are well under way, many with ferris wheels and skating rinks as well as the ubiquitous, decorative carousels. Enticing aromas of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts fill the air.

This photo is from Place Massena in Nice and was sent to me by my friend, Teresa, a couple of years ago.

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When do you begin your holiday celebrating? Is there a special Christmas market in your town? If you have a Christmas tree, is it already decorated? The Christmas market in the Distillery District,  in Toronto is up and running.  It’s always a treat! 

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Let’s start celebrating December with more good news! Enter this new Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of five signed editions of DRAWING LESSONS. This giveaway is live until December 14th ~ feel free to share it with your friends.

Click here http://bit.ly/2AvvmZI ~ Bonne chance/Good luck!

November’s news ~ #51

Bon weekend, everyone! In case you haven’t read my November newsletter, it’s posted here for your convenience. Enjoy! Enter the giveaways! Bonne chance!

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Newsletter #51                            November 24, 2017

Bonjour Patricia

This letter will probably arrive as the long American Thanksgiving weekend is drawing to a close. Is everyone resting today?  I trust you all enjoyed a memorable time ~ either with family, friends and fine food or quietly at home in your comfy clothes or perhaps serving a meal at a homeless shelter. In whatever way you spent your Thanksgiving, I hope that it was a good day with an attitude of gratitude prevailing.

Our Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated in October and it’s my favourite holiday. When we asked the question of you last month, it seemed that Thanksgiving was the winning response there too.

With December on our doorstep, we all know what’s coming next. I’m not sure I’m ready, are you? I see a lot of decorations up already!

But one thing I am ready to do is send off my 2018 calendars. All the orders have been placed. We should have signed calendars ready to mail in two weeks’ time, to those who ordered them.

As usual, I’m also offering a chance for five people to win a calendar. If you would like your name entered in the giveaway, follow our usual procedure and send an email to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com with the words “Calendar Giveaway”. Good luck!

I’ve been working on a new photo essay of Nice which means I’ve been spending many happy hours (in between writing) sifting through my albums. I thought I would share a few shots in this letter.  The header photo is of the rooftops of Vieux Nice. As much as I love to take photos of doors (see today’s post on my blog) and windows in France, I also have a thing about rooftops. Do you?

This entrance to an apartment building is on a street in Nice I often walk down. It’s on my way from the train station to the Promenade and it makes me smile.  It’s a perfect entrance for a writer, don’t you think?

And here are a few more random shots in Nice. It’s the perfect town for strolling and photo ops are endless.

Okay, enough dreaming for me. Back to the letter!

Congratulations to the October giveaway winners of print and ebooks:  Kay Simmons,  Tanya Grygaski, Kathleen O’Donnell, Debbie Scarpari,  Carol Luciano, and Petrina Bennett.

Betty Apsley is the winner of the French market gift box! Félicitations!

Amy Cooper, my indispensable right hand, is always on top of things so I’m certain you have all heard from her by now. If not, please let us know.

Here are the tempting giveaways for this month. Good luck everyone!

#1 ~ Ho! Ho! Ho! Women’s fiction author, Judith Keim is kicking off the holiday season in our giveaways this month with two signed copies of Christmas at the Beach House Hotel. A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Judith writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way.

Originally from Elmira, New York, Judith now makes her home in Idaho with her husband, their long-haired dachshund, Winston, and other members of her family. Connect with Judith here.

A brief synopsis: Ann and Rhonda are fed up with the way the new, majority owners are changing The Beach House Hotel from the small, elegant hotel they once owned and operated into a tacky, South Beach wannabe property. What’s their only recourse? Buy back the property to save it from getting even worse. And with the new management ruining Ann’s daughter’s plans for a Christmas Eve wedding, they have to get to work right away to regain control of the hotel. Facing a number of challenges along the way, including rumors of Vaughn’s dalliance with Ann’s old nemesis, Lily Dorio, Ann and Rhonda work to make it the best-ever Christmas at The Beach House Hotel.

Amazon review: “I could not put this book down… as a matter of fact I read it in one day.”

#2 ~ To keep up with the holiday spirit, Andrea Hurst is offering two ebooks of her delightful new release Christmas on Madrona Island.

Not only a successful women’s fiction author, Andrea is also a literary agent. When not visiting local farmers’ markets or indulging her love for chocolate, Andrea enjoys writing stories that take readers on a journey to another place and leave them with an unforgettable impression. Her books deal with friendship, family, and the power of love.

She lives with her little dog in the Pacific Northwest, on an island much like the fictional Madrona, with all of its natural beauty and small town charm. Connect with Andrea here.

Here’s a brief synopsis: With challenges mounting, will the true meaning of Christmas prevail and make this the merriest season of all?

 This holiday season, enjoy the most wonderful time of year with the residents of Madrona Island in this heartwarming novella from the Amazon Bestselling author of The Guestbook. This Christmas story takes place a few years after the end of the third book, Island Thyme Cafe, in the Madrona Island series. However, this book can be read as a standalone. 

Amazon review: “A heart-warming Christmas story about family (both 4 footed and 2), friends, giving, and the bustle of the holiday season. Take time in your schedule to read this and recharge yourself.”

#3 ~ Next, attention all foodies! Fellow women’s fiction writer, Peggy Lampman is offering an ebook of her delicious new release, The Welcome Home Diner , and a print copy of her first novel, The Promise Kitchen. Trust me, Peggy’s writing is equally as scrumptious as her recipes!

From Birmingham, Alabama, after graduating from the University of Michigan, Peggy moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm. She moved back to Ann Arbor, her college town, and opened up a specialty foods store, The Back Alley Gourmet. After selling the store, she wrote under a weekly food byline in The Ann Arbor News and MLive. Connect with Peggy here.


Here’s a brief synopsis for The Welcome Home Diner: Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town. There’s just one little snag in their vision.

Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community. Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.

Will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?

Amazon Review for The Welcome Home Diner: “The first thing I have to say about THE WELCOME HOME DINER by Peggy Lampman is this story will make you so hungry!!!! With mouth-watering descriptions of food throughout, I could almost taste the rich pancakes drizzled in maple syrup, so my advice is make a cup of tea and have a lovely piece of cake to hand when you settle down to read this touching novel.”

Brief synopsis for The Promise Kitchen:

Shelby and Mallory couldn’t be more different. But through their shared passion for food, they form an unlikely friendship—a bond that just might be their salvation.

This heartwarming and lyrical tale reminds us that family isn’t necessarily whom you’re related to—it’s whom you invite to your table.

Amazon Review for The Promise Kitchen: “This is a wonderful book that has a uniquely southern voice and food is one of the main characters, as it is in many of our lives.”

As always, to have your name entered for the random draw for each giveaway, send an email to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. This month, please let us know the name of your favourite holiday story or song. Good luck with the draws! Bonne chance!

With the giveaways in my newsletter, I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you and connecting with those you already follow. Savour their books, find out more about the writers and pass along their information to your friends. The best way to hear about a good book is by word of mouth from dedicated readers like you.

If you have time to write a short review on Amazon and Goodreads, even better, and always appreciated. Trust me … I didn’t realize this until I became a novelist. Before that I had never written a review. Now, it’s the first thing I do when I finish reading a story.

The holidays are a great time to give books as gifts, so I will be doing a Goodreads giveaway for five print copies of Drawing Lessons in December. As soon as we know the dates for this, I will send a quick announcement out to all of you. I wouldn’t want you to miss it!

While I was going through my Nice photo files, I kept coming upon photos of pan bagnat. This traditional Niçoise sandwich is often described as salade Niçoise in a bun … and that’s about right! We often pick one up from a boulangerie to have for lunch or go to the market for the ingredients and go home and make one. They are delicious! And apparently I enjoy taking photos of them too! So here’s one for you.

Here’s a good recipe for this easy to make meal. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about these tasty treats in an earlier newsletter, but I couldn’t resist it again when Nice is on my mind! Bon appétit!

Stay well, my friends, be kind to one another, read a lot and appreciate every single day. Profitez de tous les jours! I’m reminded on a regular basis that the best part of being an author is hearing from readers. I value the messages I receive from you. Thanks also for sharing my books with your friends and for the reviews you write. It’s all most appreciated and inspiring. See you next month!

À bientôt!

If you have read Drawing Lessons and can find a minute to leave a short review on Amazon and Goodreads.  I thank you in advance.

AmazonUS | AmazonCA |  AmazonFR  |  B&N  |  iTunes

J’adore ‘doors’

As many of you know, I have an addiction to photographing doors and windows in France. Today I’ve been writing about a door in a story I’m working on. I spent quite a bit of time sifting through door photos, so I thought I would share a few of my favourites here.

I walked past this door (below) several times a week on my way to the daily marché in Antibes last summer. I fell in love with it and it’s going to be on the cover of my 2018 calendar.

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The fancy iron grills at the top of many doors were part of the early method of “air-conditioning”. Fresh air would be drawn in through those openings and flow through to an inner courtyard where it would rise up and out an opening at roof level, helping to cool the interior. Look for them when you are walking through the vieille villes (old towns). These grills alone make pleasing photo collections.

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These intricately-carved doors of the 16thC parish church (that served as a cathedral from 1624 to 1790) in the intriguing medieval village Entrevaux, depict the history of the time. Katherine was here in Promises To Keep. (I’m certain she took this same shot.)

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The door in this wall leads to the restaurant terrace of the famed La Colombe d’Or in Saint Paul de Vence. Click that link to read the entertaining history of this inn. It’s quite the story! If you visit in the summer, be sure to make a reservation.

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Now we’re strolling in the charming village of Tourrettes sur Loup. Stop here for violet ice cream and visit Le Bois d’Olivier, IMHO, the shop with the best handcrafted olive wood products in the region. Click on that link and look at the photos on their website. I think you will agree.

Blue in Saint Tropez

Blue in Saint Tropez

Visiting Saint Tropez above. This pretty portal below may look familiar … I keep it on the home page of my website.

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Imagine the size of the keys they carried around!

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When one door opens, who knows what lies beyond?

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Something old, something new (note the repair at the bottom). What else do you do when your centuries-old door starts rotting away?

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The lower door was once for the donkey.

IMG_6311See the date on the left side? 1581 … After the villagers and farmers of the area survived a deadly plague, they had these doors carved for la chapelle Saint Bernardin in Antibes to give thanks to God for sparing their lives. When we lived in Antibes while I wrote The Promise of Provence, I would walk past these doors every day and often stopped just to press my hands on them. There was an aura and sense of history about them that inspired me.

Do you like to take photos of doors when you travel? Where have you found your favourite portals? Bon weekend tout le monde!

All photos on this site are the copyright of Patricia Sands.

Thanksgiving giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating in the USA! 

Even though we have already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, my philosophy is that every day is one of thanksgiving, a gift, and an opportunity to feel grateful for so many things … as well as a chance to do something for others, no matter how big or small the gesture.

Pop on over to my Facebook Author page and join in this giveaway. Leave a comment there about your Thanksgiving thought and have your name entered for a random draw for one signed copy of whatever your choice from the Love in Provence series. Click right here.

Bonne chance! Good luck!

And while I’m here, my husband just forwarded this story to me and I hope you will share it with others. What a wonderful story to celebrate! There is goodness in this world. Click right here to see what happens to a man who was giving free haircuts to homeless people. 

It will make your day, as it did mine!

 

 

Pétanque? Paul Shore explains in UNCORKED!

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from Canadian author, Paul Shore, who currently lives in one of my most favourite places on the planet (apart from the south of France, of course) … the magnificent mountain community of Whistler, British Columbia.

Paul has written a delightful memoir, Uncorked,  about the year he spent in France living in Saint-Paul de Vence ~ another stunningly beautiful venue.  He did not realize his good fortune when he first discovered he was going to live in this ancient hilltop village. But the affection he gradually developed for his temporary home is obvious as his tale unfolds.

The charm of Saint-Paul is widely known and it is a popular stop (to say the least) during tourist season, with its close proximity to the Côte d’Azur. However, when visiting during quieter times, one understands immediately the lure that drew so many famous people to stay here (Chagall, Miro, Bracque, Picasso, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret ~ to name just a few.)

Saint-Paul de Vence is also the home of the iconic restaurant and inn, La Colombe d’Or. Its history is well worth reading and informs more about the charm of the area.

But today our story is all about Paul and pétanque.

He’s explained a bit about his book in our brief interview here.

PSands ~ How did you come to live in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence?

PShore ~ I was assigned by the software startup company I was working for to relocate to the Nice area because our largest business partner, Texas Instruments, was based there.  I told the relocation agency, who had been hired to find me a place to live, that I wanted to live in a small village, rather than living directly in Nice.  The first apartment they showed me that wasn’t a run-down mess was in Saint-Paul, and I jumped at it because the town was quaint and I needed to find a place to quickly, so that I could get on with my work. Little did I know what an amazing place I was about to live in, or that Marc Chagall had lived there for much of his life.

PSands ~ Why did you want to play pétanque?

PShore ~ I love games that involve coordination and strategy and, just by watching, it was clear that pétanque required both. I also was having a hard time making friends and breaking in to French culture, and I thought that if I could learn this game that might change.

PSands ~ How did you meet Hubert and get him to teach you pétanque?

PShore ~ Hubert was a neighbor, who ran the town’s website, so we connected easily over our common interest in technology. Getting him to teach me pétanque was difficult though. At first he didn’t want to teach me because I was a foreigner. After a lot of persistence (and nagging) on my part, he finally agreed to teach me… in the dark of night, when nobody would see.

 

PSands ~What is your fondest memory of your year in France?

PShore ~ After having been accepted as a good player, who deeply understood the game and its importance, I was surprised one day to be invited into the private member’s club that no tourist ever is allowed to set foot in.  I was then presented with a permanent membership card that I still cherish to this day.  With this little card I was welcomed into the local pétanque fraternity, with a kiss on both cheeks, by one of the respected older female players, who I had always looked up to.  I will never forget the emotional moment that deep honor was bestowed on me!

PSands ~ You write with a wonderful wry wit and yet you manage to always show respect for French culture.  How do you maintain that balance?

PShore ~ I make frequent use of self-deprecating humor to tell anecdotes that find humor in my missteps rather than needing to poke fun at locals.  And when I do happen to poke fun at a local or at a local tradition, I make it clear that I am fond of the very quirk that I am targeting.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Paul. It’s an absolute pleasure to get to know you and share your work here.

Buy UNCORKED by clicking here.

Paul Shore is an award-winning author and technology industry veteran, who has worked around the globe. His second book, “Uncorked”, is an Amazon Best Seller, a Whistler Independent Book Award Winner, and a Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist.

Learn more on Paul’s Amazon Author Page, Facebook and his website www.pshore.com.

Note to readers ~ The game of pétanque is played every day in every city, town, village, hamlet throughout France. Everything you ever wanted to know about the game of pétanque, or boules, is explained in great detail in Paul’s book. He leaves no nuance left unturned! For the first time, I actually understood the game after reading Paul’s book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest We Forget ~ November 11, 2017

Remembrance Day ~ Canada

Tomorrow at the 11th hour of the 11th day in this the 11th month, our country will pause for two minutes’ silence to remember those  heroes who have given their lives and in respect of all who offer their service … in every country. 

We owe so much to so many.

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I have posted this page in years past on this date. Since there are many new followers of my website, I wanted to share it again for those who haven’t seen it. For others, I hope you don’t mind the repetition. I feel these stories can never be shared too often.

In 2010, my husband and I went on a journey to locate the grave of my Uncle Harry whose Lancaster bomber had been shot down on June 13, 1944, near Cambrai, France. All six crew members  perished.

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We discovered they are buried in a small Allied cemetery in the middle of farmland rather than in one of the major cemeteries in France.

It was quite an experience just finding it, but that’s a story for another day. When I inquired as to why they were in that location, the Office of Military Affairs explained that they had been buried there by the nearby villagers at the time and so would remain close to where they had died. The cemetery was immaculately tended … and watched over by curious cows.

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Coincidentally, just a week before our visit, another relative of one of the crew had visited the cemetery. He left a note in the guest book (found in metal boxes at every cemetery) that gave us some personal information about the day these men died. They had been on a bombing raid over the rail yards in Cambrai. The war was being won. The men were heading back to their base in England to make it in time for the local dance that evening.

Learning this small piece of personal information, made our visit that much more emotional and intimate.

As a child, I had always been intrigued by stories about my Uncle Harry, the youngest of 5 boys, and only 20 years old when he died. There were framed photos of him in his uniform with a dazzling smile in my parents’ and grandparents’ homes. You could feel his pride. And theirs.

When we went on our mission to ‘find Uncle Harry’, we also spent a few days in Normandy and did the tours of the WW2 landing beaches, something I recommend to everyone who has the opportunity.

It’s an emotional experience as the history of the war becomes vividly presented by guides who must take courses in this information and pass exams before receiving a license to guide. The French take the preservation of this history very seriously and are to be commended for doing so.

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As we toured the museums and memorial centres, it struck me that in so many of the photographs of men and women in service for their country, pride was stirringly evident in their expressions. It seems to go with the wearing of the uniform and the understanding of what that represents.

Thank you to every one of the members of armed services – past and present – for putting yourself in danger for your country and taking on that onerous task with such commitment. We are proud of you and eternally grateful.

Thank you, Uncle Harry.

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Wear your poppy proudly. Please make certain to preserve and keep alive the stories of the members of your families who have served in the armed forces. Always remember. In doing some research, I discovered this excellent video. It only pertains to the American cemeteries but could be talking about all of the Allied burial grounds.

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No matter what our country, hearts are touched by the selfless giving of all who serve. The museums and preserved landing beaches of Normandy offer an emotional lesson in history to all who have the good fortune to visit there.

Most Canadians proudly wear a poppy for a week or so before November 11th to show their respect for veterans. Click here for an  excellent explanation of how the poppy came to be such a strong symbol of remembrance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have you preserved stories of your family’s service?

Sharing the love …

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Bonjour everyone! It’s been a busy few weeks for me since Drawing Lessons was published on October 1st! How’s November going for you?

In fact, Saturday was here before I realized Friday was gone, so please excuse this post being a day late. There’s always a lot to do once a new novel is published and most of it includes writing blog posts to share on other websites. We all try to help each other passing along the good news!

If you have some time this weekend, you might want to pop over to my dear friend Steena Holmes‘ blog. This photo was taken at the NINC writers’ conference we attended in Florida last month. It was SO good to spend time together in person. Steena’s home is in Calgary.

It’s always a pleasure to visit on her blog and fun to share a few secrets … that’s one of her specialities! She consistently manages to tease a few tidbits from the friends she invites over …  just one reason she’s known as Sweet Steena! There’s also a giveaway for a print copy of Drawing Lessons, so don’t forget to leave a comment there to have your name entered! Click right here and Good luck ~ Bonne chance!

Be sure to investigate the great novels Steena has written and subscribe to her site so you receive all of her news. You’ll notice a lot of chocolate featured there too! Another passion we share …

Now, here’s some more love for you ~ a post written by another dear friend, Deborah Bine aka The Barefoot Blogger.

This photo, to the left, is from Deb’s visit with us in Antibes last summer. We were on our way home from the market that day. The house my husband and I were renting is just behind us with the blue shutters. We loved it! And the rooftop terrace … what a treat that was …

Deb’s visits to us on the Côte d’Azur, with her fab friends, Paula and Rich, have become a happy tradition.

Always a deliciously good time!

Deb lives in Uzès and gets around France more than most people I know. Then she writes great articles about her travels. This post of hers about the ancient and enticing walled town of Aigues-Mortes in the Camargue, ties into the story from Drawing Lessons and really tells you everything you would like to know about the history and the charm of the area.

I hope you will take a few minutes to linger there and feel like you’ve truly had a visit! Then you’ll understand why Arianna, the main character in my novel, was so smitten with the town and … well, I’ll let you read the novel to discover the answer to the rest of that sentence.

Click right here to read Deb’s article and enjoy Aigues-Mortes! In fact, it would be a good idea to subscribe to her site so you don’t miss all the other travels she shares.

This is a photo I took inside the walls of Aigues-Mortes when I was doing research for Drawing Lessons. Click this link to hear how to pronounce the town’s name. It’s easier than it looks!

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post a review for Drawing Lessons. I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed the story so much it has a 4.6 stars rating. Every time a review is written, it’s like sharing the love for an author … and it is most appreciated.

 

 

 

Sharing my October newsletter

 

Last day of summer
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Newsletter #50                                      October 22, 2017Bonjour Patricia

Autumn is setting in all around us in Toronto. What’s happening in your neighbourhood? To those of you who are living near the terrible fires or in the midst of the lingering effects of all the other recent disasters, we send our hopes that you are safe. For others who would like information on how we can help out, click right here.

We’ve had quite a few days when the weather fooled us into thinking summer is lingering. But the changing colours of the leaves and piles of pumpkins outside shops send an undeniable message.

To my Canadian friends, belated Thanksgiving wishes. This was the first time in 40 years that I had not spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family. Instead I was in Florida at the Novelists, Inc. writers conference. Even though I missed our traditional turkey dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in learning and networking in the world of writing and publishing for a few days.

Many of my favourite writing friends were there too. It’s one thing to work together online, but it’s so good having time to share ideas and plan future projects in person.  There might have been wine and a few delicious meals involved too.

In this photo, you see (from left to right) Heather Burch, Bette Lee Crosby, Christine Nolfi, Judith Keim, Ashley Farley, and me. Please permit me a moment to gush ~ not only are they talented writers, but also great fun and absolutely first-class women. As many of you know, we are part of the Women’s Fiction Fans book lovers group. Have you joined us on Facebook? Our next book event is November 7th and, as always, there will be lots of great book chat and oodles of book giveaways. Click right here to get all the latest news!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month around the world and my friend, author Liza Perrat, has shared her personal story on my blog. She is also offering a giveaway of two of her Bone Angel box sets. Pop over, by clicking here, and leave a comment to enter. More importantly, read Liza’s touching post and the following comments. I hope you will take a moment to add yours.

This month it’s time to give away the French market gift box that I put together last summer for one of you. All those memories of good times browsing markets in France is causing me a bit of melancholy. I think I’ll just have to spend a day immersed in my copy of The Good Life France’s autumn ezine. That always helps! Have you read yours yet?

Here’s a photo of the contents of the gift box. To have your name entered for the giveaway, send a message to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com (as usual) and tell us which character you found the most interesting in Drawing Lessons (apart from Arianna and Jacques). Bonne chance!

As you can see, there’s a tea towel, a small serving tray, Provence-themed napkins, Maxim’s chocolate, fleur de sel, herbes de Provence, a lavender sachet, French soap, a Van Gogh 2018 calendar and a signed copy of Drawing Lessons.

Here’s one more market scene, just so we can all dream. This was taken in the Wednesday market in St. Remy-de-Provence. It’s one of my favourites, spreading all through the narrow streets and filling the squares of this charming town. When we do a women’s tour, we always plan a lengthy visit on that day. Everyone loves it!

While I’m talking about giveaways, I want to congratulate all the winners from the September draws:  Clare O’Beara, Marti Wilson, Karina LaMonica, Sharon berger, Lynn Jarrett, Audrey Wick and Cynthia St. Germain.

Amy, my indispensable right hand, is always on top of things so I’m certain you have all heard from her by now. If not, please let us know.

Here are the tempting prizes for this month. Good luck everyone!

From Amulya Malladi, there’s one print copy of her newly published seventh novel,  The Copenhagen Affair. Here’s a blurb about it: Set in the capital city of the world’s happiest country, a comedy of manners about depression, the pressures of marriage, and the possibility of falling in love again.

Amulya is also generously offering one ebook for each of these titles: The Mango Season; A Breath of Fresh Air; and The Sound of Language.  Find out more about all of these titles on her author page.

So, to be clear, that’s four giveaways. Each is separate. It’s a book bonanza! Thanks, Amulya!

Amulya is a fellow Lake Union author and this is her seventh novel. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in journalism. When she’s not writing, she works as a marketing executive. After several years in Copenhagen, she now lives outside Los Angeles with her husband and two children. You can connect with her here.

You can find Amulya hosting our #LakeUnionAuthors Facebook page this week. If you haven’t joined our reader group, please consider it. There’s lively conversation between readers and writers and all sort of book news … including giveaways! We let you know what books of ours are on special, often before you see that news anywhere else. Click right here to check it out.

Keith Van Sickle is a technology industry veteran and lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life while studying in England during college. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe. With his wife Val and their trusty dog, he now splits his time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

He is offering one print copy and one ebook of his vignette-filled memoir, One Sip At A Time: Learning To Live in Provence.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say: “In ‘One Sip at a Time,’ Keith Van Sickle shares more than 60 vignettes of his time in Provence – where the bread is astonishingly good, the plumbing is hopeless, and a visit to the emergency room costs $30. It’s a quick, easy read that will pick up your spirits. It’s also a quietly subtle collection of parables that will leave you thinking about the human condition in a new way.”

As always, to have your name entered for the random draw for each giveaway, send an email to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com . This month, please let us know which holiday you prefer. Is it Thanksgiving or Christmas? Good luck with the draws! Bonne chance!

With the giveaways in my newsletter, I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you and connecting with those you already follow. Savour their books, find out more about the writers and pass along their information to your friends. The best way to hear about a good book is by word of mouth from dedicated readers like you.

If you have time to write a short review on Amazon and Goodreads, even better, and always appreciated. Trust me … I didn’t realize this until I became a novelist. Before that I had never written a review. Now, it’s the first thing I do when I finish reading a story.

While I’m at it, I want to send you to visit my very special (and talented and über-informed) friend Julie Mautner’s excellent Provence Post website. You’ve heard me talk about it before … many times. She’s hosting a giveaway of two signed print copies of Drawing Lessons and two ebooks ~ click right here. I’m more than a little humbled by her post … but also immensely grateful, and happy to offer international prizes.

NEWS FLASH: If you are an Amazon Prime member, The Promise of Provence is one of many good novels available in that program at the moment.

For the third year, we are putting together a calendar featuring some of my photography of the south of France and quotes from my novels. Each year the photos are completely different. We only produce a limited number and they sell out quickly … thank you! If you would like to order one, please send $30.00 (U.S.) to PayPal, payable to psands.stories@gmail.com.  This will also cover postage, which is ridiculously expensive. Don’t forget to add your postal address.

If you don’t use PayPal and would like to pay another way, please email patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com and let us know. Amy will be coordinating the details and we will see what we can work out.

Here’s the format, so you can see what it looks like.

With autumn in the air, there are pleasing displays of pumpkins and gourds around. I can’t resist taking photos of them.


Potage au potiron, pumpkin soup, is a popular starter on the Provençal table when there’s a chill in the air. I like the recipe I’ve included here because the article also adds other interesting details. Click right here to see it.

(A little addendum: I add one medium-sized potato to the ingredients and I use light chicken stock instead of salted water. Keeping some shredded Gruyère or Comté cheese in a bowl for garnish is another option. But that’s just moi!)

By the way, thanks to all of you who send photos and let me know you actually try the recipes. That makes it even more fun when I am deciding which one to share with you.

Stay well, my friends, be kind to one another, read a lot and appreciate every single day. Profitez de tous les jours! I’m reminded on a regular basis that the best part of being an author is hearing from readers. I value the messages I receive from you. Thanks also for sharing my books with your friends and for the reviews you write. It’s all most appreciated and inspiring. See you next month!

À bientôt!

P.S. MERCI BEAUCOUP! I want to send a big thank you to everyone who purchased my new novel, Drawing Lessons, and helped to make the October 1st launch day such a success. After all the time spent researching and writing, editing, and preparing for publication, there’s always a level of anxiety mixed with pleasure as authors hope to deliver a satisfying story to book lovers. I’m grateful to you all!

There’s just one problem! I miss all of those characters. This is an issue for fiction writers when we complete a story. Since we’ve spent so much time with the personalities we’ve created, they take on a life of their own and feel real to us. I better get involved in writing the next story … tout de suite!

If you’ve read Drawing Lessons and can find a minute to leave a short review on Amazon and Goodreads. I thank you in advance.

AmazonUS | AmazonCA |  AmazonFR  |  B&N  |  iTunes

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A breast cancer journey …

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in countries all around the world.

If you are like me, your life has been touched in one way or another by this pervasive disease. My mother had breast cancer in her eighties that resulted in a mastectomy. One of our daughters is a THRIVER … a term I learned many woman choose to use as they move on with their lives. After a vicious attack, double mastectomy and reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiation, seven years later she is strong and healthy.

Treatments have improved so much, the future is bright for so many who receive the initial frightening diagnosis.

Today, to honour the fight against breast cancer, I would like to highlight the journey of a friend and fellow author, Liza Perrat. I was so pleased when she agreed to write this post for us. Liza is a talented author, originally from Australia, who married a French man and has raised her family in France. More about that later. Here is the story she would like to share with us:

A Reluctant Journey

Reluctant because you’d not planned it, did not want it, had no time for it in your busy life. But most of all because you feared this breast cancer journey that had been foisted upon you one chill autumn morning of 2016.

No, no, no, not you! Surely not? There’s a mistake? No mistake, Liza, this time it’s you. And, whether you want it or not, you are going on this journey.

Reluctantly, you pack your suitcase: passport (with visa stamped, “To Hell and, maybe, Back”), bottle of lavender oil to massage away chemo headaches, tube of special cream to avoid radiotherapy burns, all-cotton-sports-support-wireless-bras in assorted colours.  Oh and don’t forget the “fighting, positive” spirit; you’re going to need barrels of that, where you’re off to.

You lock up the house, take a big breath and lug that suitcase out into the cold. The next three seasons –– the time you’ll be away (if all goes well) –– stretch before you, dauntingly, fearfully, as if you are standing at the foot of Mount Everest.

From your hospital bed, post-surgery, you watch the leaves turn their brilliant autumn shades of scarlet, mustard, cinnamon. Beautiful, you think, when the surgeon says, “I think we got it all… it only metastasized to one lymph node.” Those autumn hues are more exquisite than you’d ever noticed before.

Autumn quickly recedes to dismal winter, its grey moments of despair, self-pity and depression hovering like storm clouds over that mountain. Some days you feel like your journey is a never-ending uphill climb, the peak receding like a desert mirage.

But as the surgical scars begin to heal, the melting snow washes away the darkness. You look towards the next mountainous challenge: chemotherapy.

You turn up every third Thursday very early in the morning. No sleep in for the wicked! You slump down in the waiting room with other travellers, many of whom you guess, by the looks of them, are going nowhere. You breathe sharply. You’re ok, you’re going to be ok. You’ll make this journey; you’re climbing to that mountain peak. Between those dark clouds, you catch glimpses of a sunny summit.

You shed most of your hair along the sinewy trail, but, hey, who cares? It’s still cold; you can wear a pretty hat. Besides, a comb or brush is one less thing to carry in your bag. No razor either. Your legs have never been smoother, wow! No eyebrows is ugly though, and your red, stinging eyes make you realise that eyelashes really do have a purpose.

You tell your family and friends it’s not really that bad, this journey, as you keep dragging the heavy suitcase behind you.

Incredibly, you discover some surprises along the way. Pleasant surprises about your own strength, and the loveliness of your supportive network of friends and family who relentlessly cheer you on towards your destination with flowers, ginger sweets, fluffy socks, cashmere shawl, homebaked lasagna and cookies

Spring arrives and you leave behind the chemo. Yay, champagne! Only 6 weeks of radiotherapy left! You lumber down the other side of that mountain, the birdsong cheering you on, the tiny leaf buds nodding at you in the gentle breeze, as if saying, “Yes, keep going, you’re almost there.”  You’re breathless with the scent of new flowers; the heady fragrance of hope. The fabulous smell of happiness to simply be alive.

It’s summer now, and you stagger across the Welcome mat of The Refuge: place where you can unpack, recover, get “back to normal”.

“Normal” though, has become an incredible privilege, because the journey has taught you that you’re lucky. Luckier than many of the travellers you met along the way; lucky that your ticket was not a one-way. This time.

Yes, you can relax a bit, for now. Go on, smell the jasmine, gaze in wonder at the starry night sky, laugh at muddy dog paws on the sofa, bake a chocolate cake and eat it all.

Drink in your luck, savour it, guard it preciously. Because now you know that one day you might have to pack that suitcase again and travel back out into the cold. Return, or one-way. Because, who knows if that mountain will beckon once again?

To celebrate everyone who has faced or is facing the cancer journey, Liza is offering a giveaway: 2 sets of her French historical trilogy: The Bone Angel series (3 e-books each set). To enter, leave a comment below and Liza will draw two names. Good luck!

The Bone Angel trilogy consists of three standalone stories exploring the tragedies and triumphs of a French village family of midwife-healers during the French Revolution (Spirit of Lost Angels), WW2 Nazi-occupied France (Wolfsangel) and the 1348 Black Plague (Blood Rose Angel). (Note from Patricia ~ I absolutely devoured all three stories! The details are fascinating and the reader is truly drawn into the history of the time. Good luck, everyone!) Click here to order.

 

 

 

 

 

Liza Perrat grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist.

Her latest novel, The Silent Kookaburra, is a psychological suspense set in the 1970s of her homeland, Australia.

Liza is a co-founder and member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

Sign up  for information on Liza’s book releases and receive a FREE copy of Ill-Fated Rose, short story that inspired The Bone Angel French historical series.

Connect with Liza online:

WEBSITE

BLOG

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

Liza, thank you very much for writing this post for us and sharing some of your journey. What happy news that you have already celebrated the first anniversary of your recovery. Onward! To all those still in the midst of a battle, we are all in this together and hold each other close in our hearts.

 

 

#IndieAuthorFringe ~ October 14

Calling all Indie Authors!

The third edition of the Online Indie Author Fringe for this year kicks off tomorrow morning with another exciting and varied lineup of speaker sessions.

AND IT’S ALL FREE!

Indie or not, whatever your publishing choice, there’s excellent information for all authors.

HERE’S THE FOCUS: RUNNING AN AUTHOR BUSINESS

 

Register now and settle in for 24 hours, beginning at 10 a.m. CET, October 14.

Running 24 sessions over 24 continuous hours allows our members, and other authors round the globe, to attend some live sessions, no matter where they’re located. (But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to stay up all night! You can always catch up later.)

However, being there at the time allows great interaction with speakers and other attendees. Discover answers to your questions!

Indie Author Fringe is a three-times a year, online conference for self-publishing authors, brought to you by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), fringe to the major global publishing fairs.

ALLi brings together the most up-to-date self-publishing education and information available and broadcasts it to authors everywhere.

Be there or be square!