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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Normandy 2010

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.


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:





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.


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



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!



Living the dream in Provence

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

This photo is one I took from the top of the hill in the beautiful village of Bonnieux. There’s something about that patchwork quilt landscape that inspires one story after another.

Today I’m happy to bring you a visit with Keith and Val Van Sickle who are living the dream of spending part of each year in Provence.

Keith has written a delightful book of humorous vignettes about the daily life he and Val have experienced ~  One Sip at a Time ~ Learning to Live in Provence

PS ~ You live your life between California and Provence.  How did you make this decision?

KVS ~ My wife Val and I once had the wild good luck to be expatriates in Switzerland.  It changed our lives!  We traveled all over Europe on the weekends, trusty dog in tow, and discovered that life is a lot different over there.  For one thing, people don’t work all the time and are not constantly busy. There’s this thing called joie de vivre and it’s real—instead of constantly working, you spend more time with friends and family, especially over long meals.

Once our time in Switzerland was up, we dreamed of living in Europe again.  We searched for other expat gigs but couldn’t find any.  Finally about ten years ago we decided that hey, life is short, let’s figure something out!  And we invented our own expat gig.  We quit our jobs (that was scary!), became consultants to give us flexibility, and began living several months a year in Provence.  Oh, and we didn’t speak French.

PS ~ Excusez-moi! You moved to France without speaking French?  How did you overcome that rather large challenge?

Well, Val could speak a little and I could order at a restaurant.  But that was about it.

The thing that really helped us was finding language partners.  This is someone who is learning your language while you are learning theirs.  You get together regularly and speak in one language and then the other, patiently listening and correcting each other.

I still make mistakes but I don’t worry about it.  I can hold a conversation and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it—communicating?

But here’s what you have to watch out for…

There are many words that are the same in French and English, like nation, pause, and danger.  If I don’t know a word in French, sometimes I will just fake it by using the English word with a French accent.  It works most of the time but you have to be careful, because some words exist in both languages and have entirely different meanings.  These are the infamous faux amis, or “false friends.”  Ask Val about the time she shocked some friends by talking about preservatives in food.  Oops, preservative means “condom.”

PS ~ With your sense of humour and personality, I ‘m sure you’ve made many friends in France. How would describe those friendships?

KVS ~ Yes!  The French have a reputation for being standoffish, especially with English-speakers, but we haven’t found that at all.  We have lots of good friends in France and they are incredibly warm and generous.  We have vacationed together in France and they have stayed with us in California.  Our French friends enrich our lives.

When we moved to Provence we made a real effort to meet people.  We would make the first move by inviting them for coffee or by giving them a little gift from California—kitchen towels with the Golden Gate Bridge on them were a big hit.  It’s not easy to “put yourself out there,” especially when you don’t speak the language well.  So Val and I embarrassed ourselves plenty of times but what the heck? We have found that most people really appreciate the effort and respond in kind.

Luckily, Val and I love food and wine and there’s nothing nearer to French hearts.  Many of our friendships have been built over looooong meals that were bien arrosé (“well watered.”)

PS ~ I know you have settled in one of my favourite towns and can well understand why you chose it. 

KVS ~ We fell in love with Provence when we lived in Switzerland.  It has beautiful scenery, charming hilltop villages, fascinating Roman history, delicious food and wine—what’s not to love?  And all within a small area!

After exploring different towns in Provence we’ve finally settled on St.-Rémy-de-Provence.  It’s next to the Alpilles, the low mountain range where we like to (very slowly) bike around.

When did you feel inspired to share your vignettes in a book?  Have you always been a writer?

I’ve only come to writing recently, having spent my career in the high-tech industry.  My last company had a product so geeky I’m still not sure what it did.

My book started with a travel blog I kept for friends and family.  I would turn our many faux pas into funny stories—it’s always better to laugh at your mistakes, isn’t it?  My friends encouraged me to turn those stories into a book and I finally decided, what the heck—life is an adventure!

Writing has been a lot of fun and I’m now a regular contributor to Perfectly Provence, The Good Life France, Frenchly and other publications for those of us who love France.

This field of poppies says “Provence” to me.

It’s been a pleasure to chat with you here, Keith. I can feel your humour and joie de vivre resonating through all your answers! I wish you and Val a lifetime of happy years living a dream that many readers share with you. 

Click right here to purchase Keith’s book.

Follow along on this lovely adventure and find all social media links at Keith’s website.

Here’s Keith’s Facebook link too!

Thanks for a great launch of Drawing Lessons!

It’s been eleven days since my fifth novel, Drawing Lessons, was released and I want to say thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy. With an overall rating of 4.8 stars, I would say you are loving the story … and I loved writing it.

Thanks also to everyone who has posted a review on Goodreads and Amazon.com. If you have the time to copy your review onto Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com.au, it would be most appreciated! I’ve linked to the pages here and hope you don’t mind me making the request, it really helps! Merci mille fois!

Thank you to artists, Lake Union Publishing and you!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

This Sunday, October 1, is the launch day for my fifth novel, Drawing Lessons.  

I’m happy to finally share this story with readers and owe a big thank you to the amazing team at Lake Union Publishing for making this launch happen. Writing the story is just part of the journey. The other part is the expertise and guidance of acquiring editors, developmental and copy editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and marketing wizards along with an indispensable author relations manager … and even that list may not cover everyone. Forgive any omission and know your contribution is valued. Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency, it all began with you. Merci!

Writing this story was a challenging and rewarding experience for me in many ways. In particular, was the opportunity I had to connect with several visual artists as I attempted to learn as much as I could about their world, in order to write with a degree of credibility within the story. I’m grateful for, hopefully, grasping a smidgen of understanding of the philosophy and craft of creating visual art in many different ways.  Thanks too for the detailed information about materials and their use. I couldn’t have written this story without that help.

It was Irish artist, Patrick McCarthy, who sparked the idea in my head of Arianna, the protagonist, being an artist.

In June, 2016, a few of us were spending an evening at a dinner party at the always rolicking home of dear friends, perched in the hills overlooking the Côte d’Azur.  I was fascinated as Patrick took out his traveling box of paints, his case of brushes and pens, and his sketch book, and began to draw the panoramic view, high above Saint-Paul de Vence.

Thus began the unfolding of a new story in my imagination. I had already decided the setting would be the area around Arles and the Camargue, where my husband and I had recently spent two weeks. But it was news to me that Arianna would be an artist. It’s fascinating how story details develop sometimes. That’s part of the fun of writing fiction!

I realized I had a lot to learn about sketching, drawing, painting and … gulp … the entire world of visual arts.

Little did Patrick McCarthy know what he unleashed in my mind.

To honour the aspect of the artists’ workshop/retreat that plays a major role in Drawing Lessons, I asked three of the artists with whom I spoke to write a few words for this blogpost.

Here are three brief contributions, each expressed from the artist’s slightly different perspective.

First, please welcome, JoAnn Sanborn. Our serendipitous meeting at her studio on Marco Island, led to an incredible coincidence. As I explained the basic premise of my story to her, she gasped as she said, “You’re telling my story.” I was covered in goose bumps as she explained. Read on, please.

“I’m a landscape painter whose main subject is the Florida Everglades.   When my husband  was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease,  I began to spend more time in my home studio to care for him.   When he passed away, someone at the funeral said to me “Now you will be able to do whatever you want.” Her words disturbed me.  I didn’t want to do anything but to have him back.

I barricaded myself into the studio playing sad songs of love and loss.  Two months later, I received an email from an artist friend offering to take a small group to paint in France.   Did I want to come along?  France!  At first I didn’t consider it.  Still, the idea tugged at my mind.  I made all sorts of excuses.   I’m in mourning—it’s too soon.  I’m an acrylic  painter—how would I manage with oils?   Would I be good enough? 

My friend’s words popped into my mind.  I didn’t have to ask permission of anyone—but did I dare?

I trusted my heart and jumped.  At La Vieux Couvent  there were stone buildings,  Caribbean blue shutters, climbing pink and yellow roses, church bells, sheep in the fields and delicious farm-fresh food.  I painted in the studio, in the gardens and at the lily pond.  Painting “en plein aire” in a landscape so different from my usual Everglades was refreshing.   Other artists shared ideas and encouragement.  Sketching, journaling  and shopping through the small French towns was fun.  There was even an exhibition of our work for the neighbors at the end of our trip. 

The decision to go had been the right one.  Taking that step renewed my faith in myself and taught me that although I will never get over my loss, it’s OK to keep on living.”

See? Goose bumps. Thank you, JoAnn. Please visit her beautiful website.

Next, please welcome Tessa Baker, a British artist living in Provence, who offers workshops just like Juliette and Maurice in Drawing Lessons. Tessa’s stunning property and website offered inspiration as I developed my story. We met online a few years ago through our mutual friend, Kristin Espinasse.

“What do you do when you are an artist living in an old tumble down Provençale farmhouse, surrounded by vineyards and hills with endless inviting views and entrancing medieval villages perched high on hill?

 What do you do when you live 35 minutes from some of the most scenic of coastal land and seascapes in all of France and 35 minutes from one of the most luxurious turquoise lakes deep in the valley of purple and ochre mountains, scented by lavender and wild herbs? With gorges of such extraordinary natural beauty you stand and gaze in awe?

Well, perhaps you do as I do. I run One Week watercolour workshops. You are looked after and catered for from the moment we pick you up at the airport or train station to the moment we drop you off. Anna is one of the best chef’s I know and provides us with gourmet meals and picnics.  

I teach techniques and colour mixing, observation and composition. We paint plein-air as often as possible. If the weather is rainy or cool, I have a spacious studio for us to use.

The whole week is filled with creativity, learning, joy and laughter and plenty of wonderful food and local wines. Every day we travel to yet another glorious location and everyday your art will improve.” An experience like Arianna’s! Connect with Tess at her charming  home ~ www.paintprovencewithtess.com 

Next, please welcome, California-born, Australia-based artist Georgia Mansur. We met, quite by chance, at  the Monastère Saint-Paul de Mausole, in Saint-Remy de Provence where Vincent Van Gogh spent 53 prolific and often tormented weeks, beginning May 1889.

Georgia travels the world teaching and mentoring groups of artists. Approachable and friendly, she and her students kindly gave me permission to photograph some of their materials and shared thoughts about painting in that remarkable setting.

Her musings:

“I have been taking students to Provence to paint in the footsteps of the impressionists masters for the past 8 years. The beautiful soft light and the gorgeous rural countryside inspire me to tell its unique story in paint so others can also enjoy it.

I am very passionate about sharing my creativity and art with others and helping them express themselves, whether they are a beginning artist or a seasoned professional.

My students have given me the nickname ‘The Art Whisperer’ and I hope to inspire, move and engage people more each day with art and the creative process.

We are all creative but some have lost touch with that part of themselves. I get a lot of joy helping others gain access to their artistic side and love sharing my favourite painting spots that only locals know. Although i teach about 8 months of the year around the world, Provence holds a special place in my heart.

In my workshops I share everything I have within my power with my students ~ in the words of Vincent Van Gogh,

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in with all my heart.”

Please take some time to visit Georgia’s website.

My sincere thanks to JoAnn, Tessa and Georgia for everything you shared with me. In large and small ways, I gained valuable insight from each of you. It’s my distinct pleasure to have met you.

To you, dear readers, I hope this gives you interesting information about some of the research involved in writing fiction. I have another emotional and meaningful conversation to share with you in another blog post. This was with a friend who has also lived part of Arianna’s story. See you next week.

Bon weekend and thank you to everyone for celebrating the launch of Drawing Lessons with me. You are the reason I write!


Drawing Lessons ~ prelude to publishing!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

(There’s giveaway info at the end …)

It’s no secret that I have an obsession with France … the south of France, in particular. I love writing stories set in alluring and evocative locations there that bring history, beauty, character and ambience to the reader. When someone writes and tells me they were transported to France in the story … my work is done. And I am so grateful.

Thank you to every person who takes the time to share their thoughts in a review. Your words are important to me, as well as to other readers. Reviews don’t have to be long, just sincere.

October 1 is the publishing day for my fifth novel, Drawing Lessons. It’s always an exciting day for a writer after a long journey that begins with the seed of an idea. After months of research, writing, editing, re-writing, critiques from advance readers, re-writing, copy editing, proofreading, cover design, and many other details to consider, the release day arrives. Whew!

Drawing Lessons begins in Toronto before the story settles in and around the ancient town of Arles and the intriguing Camargue. After visiting Arles several times, my husband and I spent two weeks there while I took photos and filled notebooks with details.  Here’s an excellent tourism website. It’s definitely an area to visit.

I loved writing this story and learned a lot about many new topics in the process. That’s part of the fun of writing fiction. Every story is an eduction for the author. There are many other people to thank and that will happen in another post. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s the blurb:

The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…

Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.

Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.

Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered! If you haven’t, you can do so easily by going to this link. This guarantees your book will be in your hands as soon as it is published. No waiting!

Until then, there’s still an ebook giveaway going on until September 30. ONE HUNDRED EBOOKS ~ CLICK RIGHT HERE TO ENTER … GOOD LUCK! BONNE CHANCE!


For your weekend reading pleasure …

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I know what I will be reading when I take writing breaks this weekend …

… the autumn edition of THE GOOD LIFE FRANCE online magazine … as I like to say, it’s FREE, FABULOUS and all about FRANCE!


Then make sure you subscribe … in the meantime, you can be certain I will always share it with you right here!

Merci mille fois, Janine Marsh, for another exquisite publication! J’adore!