If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe. There are so many crazy weather patterns in the world today, we never know what is coming next. I hope this photo brings a little Côte d’Azur warmth to you!

Looking down on the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of my favourite towns to wander and photograph … and eat, by the port!

But I do know what is coming next in my writing world … Book 3 in the Villa des Violettes series. The cover reveal is happening today on a few special Facebook pages like the buzzabulous A Novel Bee, the exciting book review group The Write Review and my book loving reader group, Patricia’s Readers’ Rendezvous. I’ll share more details about the new book in the next few days. I’m happy to be bringing the Love in Provence characters back to you again for a visit.

Bon weekend tout le monde!

January 6th ~ la fête du roi in France

Eat cake like a king!

If you are in France (or Louisiana, hello N’awlins!), it’s again time to celebrate  … oui …  bien sûr … more food! Don’t you love it? This time it’s all about a rich, almond cream (frangipane) enveloped by layers of light, flaky pastry (feuilleté).

Another joyful opportunity to bring friends and family around the table to share La Galette des Rois/The Kings’ Caketakes place on the first Sunday of January or January 6th and recognizes Epiphany, the arrival of the three wise men (Magis). The history of this special pastry can be  traced to Roman times.

If you read my Love in Provence series, Kat first finds out about the tradition in Book #2, Promises to Keep.

During the French Revolution, the name was replaced with ‘Gâteau de l’Égalité’ (equality cake), as the word ‘king’ was a little out of fashion!

It’s so popular, many patisseries make the scrumptious cake through the entire month of January.

The cake is cut in the specific number of slices for the people present, with one extra symbolic slice for the first poor person passing by. The youngest child  (or the most innocent adult, if no children are present, which can result in great hilarity) goes under the table and calls out who will receive each slice to ensure fair distribution. The greatest excitement comes when one person discovers la fève (a lucky charm) hidden in a single slice. Just don’t accidentally bit down on it … they’re usually a small porcelain or plastic trinket!

Bon appétit!

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Click here to read an excellent account of the history and traditions of this special fête by my friend, Margo Lestz.

NEWS FLASH! The ebook of Drawing Lessons is on sale for January ~ $.99 ~ I love it when Amazon offers our books to more readers by putting on promotions. If you haven’t read this engaging story, set around Arles and the Camargue, now’s your chance! If you are one of thousands who have read and enjoyed it, pick up a copy or two for friends. It’s so easy to gift from Amazon. Happy reading! Bonne lecture! Eat it with cake. 🙂

Raising funds for Australian Red Cross

I know we are all feeling helpless as this tragedy in Australia unfolds.

Please join many from around the globe who are participating in this online auction. Bids begin on January 10th and close on 12th. Begun by the Instagram account of @ruthribeaucourt, details are below and also on her Facebook page.

Please email ruthribeaucourt@gmail.com to let her know if you have something to donate … your services are as valuable as a product.

You can help!

I am donating signed novels and paying the postage, as are other authors. Some editors are donating their services. Painters, knitters, photographers … from one end of the creative spectrum to the other … or it can simply be a treasure from your own home … donations are flowing in!

All details have been carefully planned. Funds go straight to the Australian Red Cross. Your prize goes directly to you.

Please plan to be there online to bid. Invite all your friends. Let’s see how much we can contribute in our own big or small way to somehow offer aid in this heartbreaking disaster. PLEASE SHARE THIS POST.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! Welcome 2020!

With thanks for helping to make this past decade such a gratifying adventure for me.

Let’s live this! (And thank you, Neil Gaiman, for your wise words.)

Life always will bring with it loss, sadness, and tragedy. Somehow we need to keep digging deep and finding a path to peace and balance. It’s not always easy and when Nature is in charge the challenges can seem insurmountable.

Let’s keep helping each other with words and actions to find that path. Today, here’s how we can donate to help with the shocking fires in Australia:

https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal

https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-bushfires

Please share. Onward!

Warm wishes to all ~ December Newsletter

Newsletter #73              December 14, 2019

Bonjour

Wow! December started off with a bang in many places including Toronto. Freezing rain, wind and snow are never a nice combination. If you were traveling, I hope your journey ended safely.

It’s that busy time of year again. I hope it’s a ‘good busy’ for you and that your celebrations include happy times with family and friends.

To help with the festivities this month, several of my friends are offering holiday stories in this month’s giveaways. So I’m going to get started sharing them with you now. Think of this as an early holiday gift! Take your time reading through everything and enter as often as you like. Let us bring some cheer to you!

Giveaway #1 ~ Judith Keim is offering to take you to sun-kissed Florida on the pages of this heartwarming story, A Christmas Star. Enter to win one of two ebooks of A Christmas Star. For more information about her work, visit Judith’s website.

Giveaway #2 ~ Who can resist those two canines on the cover of The Magic of The Season by Tammy L. Grace? Enter to win one of two ebooks. Find out more about all of her books at Tammy’s website.

Giveaway #3 ~ Are you ready for a feel good read to get in the festive spirit? Enter to win one of two ebooks Susan Schild is offering of Mistletoe at the Lakeside Resort. Connect with Susan at her website.

Giveaway #4 ~ There are two stories in this giveaway by Tess Thompson. The Santa Trial is a sweet holiday novella and Riversnow is part of Tess’s River Valley series. Enter to win either an ebook and or a print copy of each. Please indicate which format you would like. Find out more about Tess’s work on her website.

Giveaway #5 ~ This giveaway is not about the holidays, but it is about my favourite topic … and I know many of you feel the same … FRANCE! Keith Van Sickle is offering one audiobook and two ebooks of Are We French Yet? Have fun learning about the ongoing adventures of Keith and Val as they follow their dreams living in France. Connect with Keith here.

Doing these giveaways each month is a pleasure. I hope you are pleased to meet authors who might be new to you and to connect with those you already follow. Savour their books, find out more about the writers and pass along their information to your friends. Write a short review, thanks! The best way to hear about a good book is by word of mouth from dedicated readers like you.

As always, to enter, simply send your email to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. This month there is no question to answer … simply share your good wishes and know they are received with thanks!

My December gift to readers is the $.99 price for The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes. Click right here for your copy or to gift the book to someone. I invite you to join the Blue Sky Book Chat FB page and come and chat with me on January 7th when this book will be the featured read! I’ll be on LIVE … and hopefully not upside down or sideways (as I have been known to be in the past)! It would be great fun to have you join in the chat!

I’m finally almost through edits on Book #3. Whew … life interfered a few too many times as I worked on this book. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Watch for the cover reveal in January!

Congratulations to Tammy Lenski, the winner of the market goodies from France! Your package will be off to you this weekend. Félicitations!

Now I am delighted to share a story that has warmed my heart for several years and I am happy to help support Rikki’s efforts each year. It’s such a fine example of how one person can gather others around and make a difference in the lives of some children. Rikki Neukom is a busy mother of three, living in beautiful Alberta. Here’s how the 40 Books in 365 Days project began, in her words: “It was 8 years ago when I began my journey of reading 40 books leading up to my 40th birthday. The inspiration to do more with this challenge came along that July to buy backpacks and school supplies for some children at Dago Kokore Primary School in Kisumu, Kenya. That year we raised enough money to purchase 123 backpacks, 2000 exercise books and 8000 pens. From then, I felt like I couldn’t just stop. I found a way to help some children in Africa, keeping them in school and giving them an ounce of joy as well as making something a little easier for them.”

This project has only continued to blossom and you can read all about it here.

And just because we all love photos from France. Here are a few from my return to Paris last September, before I went on to Nice for our 2019 South of France Memories tour. It had been four years since my last visit to the magnificent City of Light and it was just as beautiful as ever. Of course, there was heartbreak seeing Notre Dame in scaffolding … mixed with hope for the future. Some of these shots are from the area in the Latin Quarter that I consider my ‘hood. If you are planning to visit Paris, don’t hesitate to send me any questions you may have.

I can’t wait to go back! Click here to see my photo journal of Paris from a previous trip.

One of my favourite traditions of the season is baking shortbread, just as my grandmother and mother did with me. For many years now this has been a special day with our grandchildren.

Do you pass along holiday baking traditions in your family?

Every year I like to share this. Here’s Gram’s shortbread recipe. Give it a try! It’s simple and delicious!

1. 1 lb. salted butter – softened overnight

2. 1-1/2 cups golden yellow (brown) sugar (no substitution, Gram insisted)

3. 4 cups enriched white flour

In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix #1 and #2 thoroughly by hand (this is important) and then gradually add #3, again mixing by hand, until dough does not stick to bowl.

Flatten with your hand and cut cookie shapes. Add sprinkles if you like. Bake at 300 F for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on oven) on ungreased cookie sheet. When cookies begin to look golden brown, they are done. You can decide how dark you like them. Enjoy plain (our favorite) or add sprinkles before baking or icing when cool. WARNING: these cookies are extremely addictive! Let me know if you try them.

And now I need to start thinking about Christmas shopping. I hope yours is going well!

I am so immensely grateful to each one of you for your support and encouragement through the past years. It’s my pleasure to be connected with you and I am sending my warmest wishes for you and your family. May the New Year bring the best of health, happiness and the opportunity to follow your dreams. See you in 2020!

A chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card!

The tree is up, the lights are bright, so it’s time for The Kindle Book Review’s $500 Amazon Giveaway. You could win a $500 Amazon shopping spree.

The Kindle Book Review is the #1 site for readers and authors where book sales are featured in regular promotions. As authors we know that having our books go on sale from time to time is a wonderful way to expand readership. Readers who may not be familiar with our work are often tempted to try a new author when the price is right! And for that we are grateful!

Just click the link and enter (everyday if you want). It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; giveaway ends December 23, 2019. Click here for details: ~> http://ow.ly/SXTy50xpZ0h

While you are on that page, scroll through all the book covers and click on any that call to you. They are all on sale this month and The First Noël at The Villa des Violettes is one of them! Click here for the December sale of the story of Kat hosting her first Christmas in the south of France. Have you ever had a Christmas conundrum? If you already have the book, send one to a friend or two or three. It’s so easy to gift books through Amazon.

Good luck with the Holly Jolly draw. Bonne chance! If you haven’t signed up to receive The Kindle Book Review’s book sales, you will be glad you did.

December 5th ~ Book Party!

SAVE THIS DATE AND JOIN US FOR SOME FUN! THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5TH ~ ALL DAY AND EVENING!

The holiday parties are happening and you don’t want to miss this one with me and my Blue Sky Book Chat author besties!

JOIN the party on our Facebook site with a different author every hour from 10 AM to 10 PM on Thursday, December 5th. Each hour will bring its own unique chat and giveaways.

Over 30 fantastic giveaways from our amazing Blue Sky Book Chat Authors, including a Grand Prize Giveaway you won’t want to miss!

You must have joined our Blue Sky Book Chat page to participate and it’s easy to do by clicking on this link #blueskybookchat. All you need to do is answer two simple membership questions. See you there!

THE GRAND PRIZE ~ A FREE BOOK A MONTH FOR A YEAR! All signed books by Blue Sky authors.

Watch the video. 🙂 Hope to see you there!

Happy Thanksgiving in the USA

Warm wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving in the USA. I hope the anticipated storms will not impact your travels.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, and I would like to share a few thoughts with you that I posted at that time about my favourite holiday.

Thanksgiving. No shopping for anything but dinner ingredients. No lists of gifts. Bags of food being filled for the Food Banks. Volunteers serving turkey dinners at homeless shelters. Quality time spent as families and friends gather to share memories, love and laughter. An attitude of gratitude prevails. I am so thankful for the life I have. I hope you feel the same about yours.

As we consider our individual blessings, let’s remember those who struggle with hunger, illness, poverty, war and a multitude of other challenges in our own backyards and around the globe. The refugee crisis is heartbreaking. Let’s try to make the sentiments of Thanksgiving a part of every single day.

What a good feeling to see the food donation bins overflowing today. If you can’t get out to help, here’s a way you can play a part without leaving home! Click right here.

I’ve written about these sites before, but they are always worth mentioning from time to time.  All you have to do is go to TheHungerSite.com  once a day and click on the button — sponsors give free food. You are not put on any list or bombarded with spam. There are other links to click where sponsors donate for appropriate benefits: Breast Cancer; Child Health; Literacy; Rainforest; Animal Rescue and a few others. All of this has been verified as legit by Snopes years ago. I pop in every day. Why not?

While we are at it, have you ever played FREERICE.COM? ~ This is a unique way to increase your vocabulary and donate rice to needy countries. Play it with your children as there are 60 levels. It’s a great place to learn new words for Words With Friends … ahem, my addiction when I need a few minutes off from writing. It’s such a fun way to keep connected with friends too.

I’m thankful every day to all of you and to those readers who take the time to contact me. I love hearing from you and appreciate every single message. Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter (just click on the link in the column to the right) and for sharing my books with your friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Serve up some kindness today and every day.


If it’s Friday, it must be France …

BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU 2019 IS HERE ~ YESTERDAY, AS A MATTER OF FACT ~ who knows how to celebrate wine better than the French? The third Thursday of November is eagerly awaited each year.

This morning there will be a great many people all over the world who have celebrated the arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the season. Click on this link to discover the history of this “cheap and cheerful” vintage, the result of Gamay grapes handpicked in the Beaujolais region of France. And, if you are wine lover, santé!

And what better to pair with a glass of wine than a good book to read? The print edition of The Promise of Provence is on sale until the end of November. Happy reading! Bonne lecture! Just click here to purchase for $7.99 ~ a great gift too! If you purchase a print copy and would like me to send you a signed bookplate, just email me your address and I’m happy to send one off to you! patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com

Be well read/red

BON WEEKEND!

Remembrance Day ~ November 11th

Lest we forget ~

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 want 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.

Sadly, they did not get there.

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 historyto 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?