Christmas in July

Bonjour everyone ~ news flash!

I don’t usually send anything to you except my monthly newsletter. But I did not want you to miss out on this special offer.

Ho! Ho! Ho! ~ No kidding! Santa decided to make a summer stop just for you! Enjoy browsing this delightful selection of holiday season stories, many of which are reduced to Christmas shopping prices.

My December 2018 release ~ THE FIRST NOEL AT THE VILLA DES VIOLETTES is included and discounted to $.99 for this event only!  

Click on this link and see what was left under the tree for you! I have a feeling there are a few books you will want to read or gift to a friend.


HAPPY SHOPPING!

June Newsletter

Coucou! That’s yoohoo in French … and I like it! If you did not receive my June newsletter, here’s a chance to read it. For anyone who would like to subscribe, just add your email address in the column on the right, where indicated. I’d love to have you join us. You’re welcome!

Newsletter #69                                                                   
Bonjour,

Happy summer solstice! There’s a shocking heat wave in some parts of Europe right now … a canicule, is the word for it in France. We hope wherever you are, you are managing to keep cool and hydrated.

The header photo this month is from Corsica, also known as the “beautiful island” and the “scented island”. We visited this captivating part of France a few years ago and I enjoyed sending my characters, Kat and Philippe, on a motorcycle trip there in my latest release. A Season of Surprises, Book Two in the Villa des Violettes series, became available on June 20th. It’s always a thrill to publish a new story and I want to thank all the readers who have already written some wonderful reviews. I’m working on Book Three and hope to have it ready for you in November.

Enjoy a few moments on the island of Corsica …

While I’m on the topic of enticing destinations, let me share this information about a dream trip put together by my good friend, author Jacquie Gauthier. Jacquie makes her home in South Africa now and her Soul Safari is the stuff dreams are made of. In her words: 

What is a Soul Safari?    It’s a 10-day journey of introspection and exploration. An opportunity to connect with nature in the African Bushveld, and to connect with yourself.   

Our home is Ngama Tented Safari Camp, located on a private game reserve just outside of Kruger National Park.  This charming, intimate camp is the perfect place for yoga, meditation, and Zen bush walks among the zebras and giraffes. 

(No yoga experience is necessary; I teach an African flavoured yoga that is suitable for all levels.)     

Ngama is also ideally located to allow us to go out and explore; Big 5 game drives, rugged mountains, the world’s largest living canyon and Kruger National Park.       

We also get to enjoy the colour, culture and cuisine of South Africa. The next Soul Safari is November 17 to 26th, but we are now also taking bookings for 2020.      

Put together your own group (minimum of 8 required to have exclusive use of the camp) or meet new friends on one of the open tours. 

For more information contact Jacquie at jaxisclever@hotmail.com or send her a message on the “Soul Safari with Jacquie Gauthier ” page on FB.

I’ve got more exciting news, so will just get right on with this month’s great giveaways. Two of my sister authors from our #BlueSkyBookChat group are offering great reads for you. 

Giveaway #1 – Alison Ragsdale is offering two ebooks of her brand new release, The Art of Remembering, which will be out July 16th.  A proud Scots lass, Alison was born in Edinburgh and the connection to her homeland has never left her. Her novels are set in the stunning Highlands and islands of Scotland. A former professional dancer, and marketing executive, Alison now lives near Washington DC with her husband and dog.

Here’s the blurb:  Professional ballerina, Ailsa MacIntyre, is at the peak of her career when her world is shattered by a shocking diagnosis. Life-saving surgery leaves her with a fractured memory, little recollection of her husband, Evan, and none of her career as a principal dancer.

While recuperating at home, Ailsa hears beautiful music coming from the apartment upstairs, and the sound of the grand piano at the hands of a talented new neighbor sparks her muscle memory. As her recovery progresses, the broken pieces of her past gradually re-emerge, a picture not quite as idyllic as Evan would have her remember. Ailsa must navigate the conflicting visions of her past, and potential future, as they collide. 

Giveaway #2 – Sandi Kahn Shelton, who also writes as Maddie Dawson, is offering two ebooks of her bestselling novel, Matchmaking for Beginners.  Her bio is long and hilarious. The short story is that she grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers–the kind of storytellers who would sit on the dock by the lake in the evening and claim that everything they say is THE absolute truth, like, stack-of-Bibles true. The more outlandish the story, the more it likely it was to be true. Or so they said. Today she lives in Connecticut and turned out pretty normal: married, children, dishes in the sink, deadlines, laundry, sleep deprivation, toothpaste cap lost, cashmere sweater in the dryer by accident. The full catastrophe, as Jack Kornfeld put it.

Here’s the blurb: Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most. You can connect with her by clicking this link.

Giveaway #3 ~ is from me! I’m happy to offer two ebooks of A Season of Surprises.

Here’s the blurb: The Love in Provence characters are celebrating a glorious spring on the Côte d’Azur. There are sweet-smelling blossoms, buds bursting into bloom, explosions of golden mimosa, dazzling sunshine, a shimmering sea … and a worrying disappearance! A hidden past is uncovered and shocking truths are revealed. But life goes on. Kat and Philippe welcome their first B&B guests to the Villa and continue to be busy with other demands, all the while keeping hope alive as police search for their friend. A special request from Simone and an unexpected appearance turn a planned motorcycle trip in Corsica into so much more. Springtime at the Villa des Violettes is filled with secrets and surprises. Congratulations to last month’s winners:

Valerie Hildebrand, Faith Creech, Alyson Widen, Rina Horenian, Tcelia Klosowicz 

As always, send your entry for these giveaways to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. Names will be chosen randomly using random.org. This month please tell us your favourite summer beverage for keeping cool!  Good luck with the draws! Bonne chance! 

It’s a pleasure to offer these giveaways from my writing friends. Thanks for the great response each month. I’m glad you appreciate the opportunities and are so keen to enter. In case you wonder, we read every single one of your entries and appreciate them! I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you, and connecting with those you already follow. Savor 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, even better, and always appreciated.

And now … TA DAAAAA … here’s SOME RED HOT NEWS…BLUE SKY BOOK CHAT IS NOW BRINGING YOU MORE FUN THAN EVER WITH AN EXCITING NEW LIVE, ONLINE BOOK CLUB!

We are thrilled to announce the Blue Sky Book Chat group will now be hosting an online Book Club, with Live Author Chats, Q & A, and open discussions each month.Our first FACEBOOK LIVE book discussion will take place on Sunday, August 4th, at 7:30 pm (EST).

Our first book selection will be “Emily, Gone” by our own Bette Lee Crosby. Already an award-winner, this novel is the tale of an unthinkable act that sets the lives of three mothers on a collision course. It is a novel that has been hailed as powerful and compelling and one that promises a stimulating discussion.

On the first of each month, we will announce our selection for the following month, so you will have plenty of time to buy or borrow the book and finish reading. The book discussion will be hosted by the author of that month’s book and in addition to providing those juicy little behind the scenes tidbits, the author will have an open Q & A discussion. We are currently working on a format which may enable us to invite some of the members in attendance to join us online to participate in the discussion.All in all, we believe these monthly book club meetings will be fun events where we can all share in the joy of reading and the fun of friendship.

All members of Blue Sky Book Chat on Facebook are welcome to join the fun–listen in, post your questions and discuss. Now there’s (should that be “here’s”?) a book club that you don’t have to leave home to attend, and you can come in your jammies!Here is where you can download a free sample or purchase your copy of “Emily, Gone” – https://amzn.to/2TM2fuA Doesn’t that sound like fun? Have you joined us yet? Click right here and get in on the fun

I hope your weekend is filled with fun, family and friends! The coming days are full of celebration on both sides of the border here. Happy Canada Day on July 1st and Happy Fourth of July in the USA!

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!

A few days left …

This sale is over at the end of June, so don’t miss out!

I’m always happy when I see a message from Amazon Marketing letting me know one of my novels is on sale. Along with word of mouth, these sales are the best way for readers to discover new stories. For those of you who already have these ebooks, now’s the time to do some shopping for birthdays or other special occasions for friends and family. Just click here ~ happy shopping!

Did you know that the Villa des Violettes series continues the story of the characters from these books? Thanks to so many requests from readers, it’s been fun for me to continue writing about Kat’s ongoing adventures in the south of France. I’m glad you are enjoying them too.

New release!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I’m delighted to let you know that Book Two in the Villa des Violettes series is now available on all platforms. I hope you enjoy the ongoing adventure of Kat and her new life in the south of France.

Click right here for the Amazon.com page!

Synopsis:

The Love in Provence characters are celebrating a glorious spring on the Côte d’Azur …

There are sweet-smelling blossoms, buds bursting into bloom, explosions of golden mimosa, dazzling sunshine, a shimmering sea …

And a worrying disappearance!

A hidden past is uncovered and shocking truths are revealed. But life goes on.

Kat and Philippe welcome their first B & B guests to the Villa and are busy with other demands, all the while keeping hope alive as police search for their friend.

A special request from Simone and an unexpected appearance turn a planned motorcycle trip on Corsica into so much more.

Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to leave a review! Every single one is most appreciated.

My May Newsletter

It’s June already and this newsletter was hot off the press last week. I squeaked it out just in time!

Every once in a while I post a copy of my monthly newsletter here on my blog. If you already subscribe, then you’ve seen it and there’s nothing new here. If you would like to subscribe, just click on the link in the right column of this page. I’m still learning how to deal with the WordPress changes to setting up posts, so I apologize for the disparity in the size of some photos. I’ll keep working at it!

With almost 5,000 subscribers, I want to say thank you to all of you who enjoy my news and enter the great giveaways from my author friends. Now I have to begin thinking about the one for June! Bon weekend!

Newsletter #68                                                                       May 28, 2019

Bonjour

How are things in your neighbourhood? I’m happy to report that today we have windows and patio doors open with joyful birdsong wafting in. And I would say it is about time, Toronto!

Wisteria is just beginning to bloom here, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share these photos from visits to France at this time of year

Do you have wisteria growing in your garden or neighbourhood? Send me a photo if you do! I know it is prolific in some of the southern States.

Ta-daaaaaaa ~ Here’s a cover reveal we released last week of Book Two in the Villa des Violettes series. We have a few small details to finalize and then the book will be published! Stay tuned!

We’re all very happy with this new cover! The same talented artists who created the cover art for Book One, Donna Fedele and Clare Strohman, transformed the winter look into a glorious spring profusion.

In this new story, Molly refers to the explosion of purple blooms around the door of the Villa des Violettes as wisteria hysteria. It’s quite fitting, isn’t it? And yes, Molly comes to visit Kat and Philippe!  I’m pleased to announce the book will be out in just a couple of weeks.

The photo below, with cover artists Clare and Donna, was taken on our South of France Memories Tour last September … and no, we did not colour co-ordinate!

While we’re waiting for my new release, I’m happy to let you know that Amazon is offering each of the Love in Provence ebooks at a special June rate of $.99 US. NOTE:  JUNE 1 TO JUNE 30. If you already have your copies, that will be a great time to gift some to your friends. It’s so easy … just click on the “Give as a gift” link on the buy page! Instant gift shopping solved.  

The past couple of months I’ve been busy with edits and rewrites, but there’s also been an exciting change with our Women’s Fiction Fans group. As many of you may have already discovered, the name of our book loving community is now Blue Sky Book Chat and we are bigger and better than ever.

Part of the reason we changed the format of our page was to let readers have the option to post comments about books they like or other topics. In the past, only we authors could post to you and we wanted to give all members the same opportunity. We look forward to conversations with you about literature, laughter and life! The month of June is going to see thirty days of giveaways and other prizes to celebrate our new community. Tag a few friends and join us! Just click right here!

Speaking of books, here are this month’s giveaways. As usual, there’s an excellent selection and I wish you good luck with the draws.

Giveaway #1 ~ Lisa Barr has a new release coming next week and I couldn’t be more excited about itTHE UNBREAKABLES is set in Chicago and Paris as well as the south of France (no wonder it caught my attention!).  Lisa is offering two ebooks and if you don’t know her, you definitely should!

Along with writing novels, Lisa is also the editor and creator of the popular parenting blog GIRLilla Warfare: A Mom’s Guide to Surviving the Suburban Jungle.
Lisa has served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and as an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Among the highlights of her career, Lisa covered the famous “handshake” between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and President Bill Clinton at the White House in 1993.
She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and three teenage daughters.

Connect with Lisa here.

Here’s the blurb: The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime….
It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret online dating site for married couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed … including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town.

Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers with painful honesty and humor her essence as she reawakens both her sensuality and her ambitions as a sculptor.

As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off the beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom.

Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever … and what it means to be truly unbreakable. (FYI – it’s described as a steamy beach read, and it is in parts … oh là là … but more than this, it is a well-written story about family, forgiveness and starting over).

Giveaway #2 Bette Lee Crosby, a sister Lake Union Author and good friend, is offering one signed copy of her exciting new release, EMILY, GONE.

With 20 published novels, Bette Lee really needs no introduction to readers around the world and she has offered giveaways here before. It is the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama Crosby that she brings to her works of fiction. The result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Bette is a sister Lake Union Author and I love all of her novels. She lives in south Florida with her husband, Dick, and her sweet Bichon, Sugar.

You can connect with Bette here.

Here’s the blurb:  A missing child sets the lives of three women on a collision course in this powerful and compelling novel by USA Todaybestselling author Bette Lee Crosby.

1971 – When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone.

Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women.
When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again?

Giveaway #3 BEAUTIFUL STRANGERS is Camille di Maio’s newest release and she is offering two ebooks. Also from a sister Lake Union author! Award-winning writer, Camille Di Maio has lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawaii to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Now she lives in historic Williamsburg, Virginia with her husband and four children.

You can connect with Camille here.

Here’s the blurb: A legendary hotel on the Pacific becomes a haven where dreams, love, and a beguiling mystery come alive.
1958. Kate Morgan, tethered to her family’s failing San Francisco restaurant, is looking for an escape. She gets her chance by honoring a cryptic plea from her grandfather: find the beautiful stranger. The search takes her to Hotel del Coronado, the beachfront landmark on the Southern California coast where filming is underway on the movie Some Like It Hot.
For a movie lover like Kate, it’s a fantasy come true. So is the offer of a position at the glamorous hotel. And a new romance is making her heart beat just as fast. But as sure as she is that Coronado is her future, Kate discovers it’s also where the ghosts of the past have come to stay. Sixty years ago a guest died tragically, and she still haunts the hotel’s halls.
As the lives of two women—generations apart—intertwine, Kate’s courageous journey could change more than she ever imagined. And with Coronado wending its way through her soul, she must follow her dreams…wherever they may lead.

Congratulations to last month’s winners:  Ola Norman, Donna Neale, Andrea Stoeckel, Susanne Nadeau, Bev Farningham, Agnes Zelgert.

As always, send your entry for these giveaways to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. Names will be chosen randomly using random.org. This time we are curious to know what is growing in your garden right now. Finally, we have spring bulbs blooming everywhere in Toronto … it’s been a long time coming!

It’s a pleasure to offer these giveaways from my writing friends. Thanks for the great response each month. I’m glad you appreciate the opportunities and are so keen to enter. In case you wonder, we read every single one of your entries and appreciate them! I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you, and connecting with those you already follow. Savor 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, even better, and always appreciated.

This has nothing to do with books, but I couldn’t help mentioning it. Are you an NBA basketball fan? Toronto is recovering after a very noisy weekend celebrating the 6thgame win of the Toronto Raptors over the Milwaukee Bucks to clinch the Eastern Conference title. For the first time since the franchise began in 1995, they are headed to the NBA finals. Most of these games were nail-biters and I think it’s going to be an exciting series against the Golden State Warriors.

There are times when a lot of the news we are reading is not very uplifting, and sports has a way of bringing people together. Whatever team you cheer for, enjoy the competition and the tremendous effort athletes put into what they do.

This month I want to leave you with an article about cheese. As you know, Philippe is a fromager in the Provence stories and cheese often makes an appearance in the stories. I hope you find this article of interest. I’m going to look into ordering some of those porous bags they mention for storing cheese. I’ll let you know how they work out! (This photo was taken at “Philippe’s” fromagerie at the Antibes market.)

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!

Thank you, Claire McAlpine

Claire McAlpine has been an extraordinary book reviewer, in both French and English, on her blog, Word by Word, for many years. A multi-talented woman who is also a writer and an expert in the practise of Aromatherapy, Massage, and Anatomy/Physiology from the perspectives of both Eastern medicine and healing and Western. You can find out more about Flairesse by clicking here.

It’s always a lovely surprise to discover an unexpected review and I thank Claire for this lovely post on her blog, which for me was like opening a door and finding a room full of your favourite people yelling “Surprise!” ~ with confetti and champagne!

Merci mille fois!


MAY 21, 2019
 BY CLAIRE ‘WORD BY WORD’

Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands

Seven years ago I read The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands, which I loved. Her ability to immerse the reader into the emotional lives of her characters is thoroughly engaging and insightful and the stories of those women characters and the event that brings them all together to share parts of their history together has long stayed with me.

Her latest novel, Drawing Lessons offers something a little different, in that this time the main character, 62 year old Arianna, leaves her Toronto home, family and troubles behind, somewhat reluctantly, but with the blessings and encouragement of those she’s left behind, to try and heal a little from the heartbreak of what she has left behind her.

It is an interesting and provocative premise. Her husband has been diagnosed with a debilitating form of dementia and her family have encouraged her to go on a two week artist’s retreat just outside Arles, the same countryside and landscape that inspired Van Gogh to produce over 300 works of art in the frenzied sixteen months he spent there, until driven out by the locals.

“In his letters to his brother Theo, he said drawing helped him combat his depression. He knew, as we do, that working en plein air, we are able to capture light and images more quickly and from that create our interpretation.”

Arianna hasn’t painted for a long time and is wracked by guilt at leaving. Slowly she will find her way, through the surroundings and with the eclectic band of artists that have come together to reaquaint with their inner muse. And then there is the strange allure of the man from the Carmargue.

The beautiful cover art couldn’t be more appropriate to today, it being May and everywhere you go at the moment, the poppies are in full bloom.

Living in this area and knowing how much the author loves the south of France and how much of her writing is informed by her own experiences of living a few months of every year here, I wasn’t surprised to feel how immersed in the area this book made me feel. She really does capture something of the essence of being in this region of Provence, in the landscape and the town of Arles, adding something of the fantasy of a mysterious artist, horseman, the romance element. Not to mention the markets and the collection and preparation of the food.

“Winding past olive groves, beside vineyards, and through fields dotted with poppies and other wildflowers, from time to time they’d comment on the pastoral beauty. They could imagine artists through the centuries setting up easels along the way.”

It’s a timely read if you’re interested in Van Gogh, as this year there was the film At Eternity’s Gate that came out and he is also the subject of the new show running from March 2019 – January 2020 at Carrieres de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence, a truly spectacular and original depiction of works of art, set to music, displayed on the inner walls of an old stone quarry.

If you haven’t been here and have an interest in open air painting, it’s a read that transports you to the Provençal landscape, ignites the imagination and all the senses and is likely to make you wish to indulge in a visit to the region yourself.

And although her upcoming tour is now sold out, if you want to imagine what it might be like to visit the area and visualise the area where this story takes place, check out the itinerary of The Memories Tour 2019, run by Patricia and co-host Deborah Bine, The Barefoot Blogger and visit Patricia’s blog, or sign up to her newsletter on France related writing news and tips on visiting the south of France and the culture.

Innkeeper, author, risktaker

I love sharing stories of people who have taken chances, changed their lives and begun an entirely new adventure. Do you remember my post about Jacquie Gauthier? Hmmm ~ that reminds me I should do an update soon.

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Patricia Rickrode (aka author Jansen Schmidt) who, with her husband, left a California lifestyle to run a Bed & Breakfast in a stunning Victorian mansion, built in 1870, in historic Vicksburg, Mississippi.

PS ~ Please tell us a bit about your life before you decided to undertake this great adventure of owning and operating the beautiful Baer House Inn.

PR ~ Before innkeeping I was a paralegal for about 30 years in California. It was a very fast-paced, high-stress job, demanding job. It was one of the main reasons we decided to relocate; I had had enough of that business suit, make-up, and high heel wearing professional environment. The stress gets harder to deal with as one ages, at least in my humble opinion. I think there comes a point in everyone’s life where they just say, “enough is enough.”

PS ~ This must have been quite a leap of faith! Was there one aspect in particular that called out to you and said “go for it!”?  

PR ~ It was a bit daunting when we decided to pack up and leave everything we knew behind, but it was exciting too. I think the day I realized that I needed to quit my job was the day I realized it was time to completely move on. I was more than ready to do something else and the idea of working in an environment where people were basically happy and calm all the time instead of stressed, confused and angry was very appealing.

PS ~ Was the Inn fully operational when you took it over or did you have a lot of changes to make?

“Arrive as strangers, depart as friends.” What a great line on your website!

PR ~  We bought the inn as a fully functioning, turn-key business. It had everything needed to run smoothly. As is pretty typical in most real estate transactions, there were a few things that needed to be done in order for the loan to go through, but the seller had to take care of all of that. We have since switched out quite a bit of furniture, especially in the common areas of the house. The previous owner had a lot of very modern, contemporary pieces of furniture like sofas, recliners, and such. It was very pretty, functional and comfortable but it wasn’t our vision for the house, so we replaced that stuff with antiques as we found them.

PS ~ On what date did you open for business and how nervous/excited were you? Were there times you questioned this change in your lives?

PR ~ We took over ownership around the 20thof July, 2015. (I never remember the exact date.) I wasn’t really nervous, but I was pretty excited. We had a whole house full of guests, some of whom had been staying several nights, so one day the previous owner made breakfast and the next day I did. Everyone was super excited when I was introduced as the new owner. Nobody staying here even knew there was a sale in progress. As far as having doubts, I’ve never felt like we made a mistake. There are a lot of really nice things about California, but there are some really ugly things too and I have never wanted to go back – other than to visit our extended family. I feel like Vicksburg has embraced us and almost all of the guests here really have a good time and I feel like I’m directly responsible for that. That’s a good feeling. I never felt like that when a lawsuit was over. I never got any of the praise or even acknowledgment for the part I played in helping get it resolved. Now I get daily praise and gratitude. It’s a really nice feeling. Complete opposite from my work environment in California.

PS ~ Do you have much support staff? Are you and your husband fully involved in running the Inn?

PR ~ For the first year that we owned the inn, my husband and I did everything. We cooked, cleaned, fixed things, worked in the yard, did all the administrative and marketing stuff. Then my husband was offered a very lucrative job and he decided to take it, so we hired a housekeeper to help with the cleaning. In 2017, when I got my cancer diagnosis, we hired another gal to help with afternoon check-in and finish up some of the “afternoon chores.” Since then, we’ve kept them both on the payroll but the afternoon gal only works on the days when we have lots of people checking in.

PS ~ It certainly is a beautiful home with a welcoming feel to it. I think you have created a special place for people to visit. Do you have a few “highs and lows” to share? Wishes for the future?

PR ~ Often times we question our sanity about buying an old house because when things need fixing, we usually have no idea how to do that. Or we get halfway into the project and realize we’re in over our heads. Neither my husband nor I are very handy when it comes to fixing stuff so those are the low times. The times we wished we had an additional skill set. The highs are definitely the 5-star reviews and hugs we get when people leave. There are a lot more highs than lows, it’s just that the lows are so very frustrating. And expensive. As far as wishes for the future – well, I guess I’d have to wish for an endless supply of money, so we can hire someone to fix all those little things that need fixing.

PS ~ Congratulations on publishing your soon-to-be-released second novel! I can’t imagine how you managed to find the time.

PR ~ Thank you. I’ve been honing my craft for about 10 years. I finished my first manuscript in 2009 simply to see if I could write one. (Hey, what can I say, I love a good challenge.) While I was deciding what to do with it, I started attending meetings at my local RWA group and taking lots of on-line classes. That’s when I realized I had no idea what I was doing even though I wrote an entire book. Since then, I’ve written 5 more manuscripts and outlined a publishing and marketing strategy, trying to implement everything I’ve been learning over the past 10 years. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but sure enough, 10 years. I’m not the kind of person who writes every day. That just doesn’t work for me. I’m more of a binge writer. When I have several hours, or days, at a time, I’ll write 50,000 words or more all in one sitting. That seems crazy to a lot of people, but that’s what works for me. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to write as long as you get the manuscripts finished and edited. I just schedule my time to include writing, just like I schedule breakfast every morning at a certain time. When you’re the boss, you can set your own hours and that’s what I do on both the writing and the inn fronts. I’m also pretty disciplined and that helps.

PS ~ It was great having you visit today. I love your story and wish you and your husband the very best as you carry on making your dream come true.

PR ~ Thank you for having me visit today. I enjoy your blog and your pictures. I live vicariously through your travels. I feel like I’ve spent lots of time in France and Canada because of your blog. Thank you everyone for stopping by.

Here are the links to connect with Patricia on social media:

Baer House Inn website: http://www.baerhouseinn.ms

Author website: http://jansenschmidt.com

Amazon author page for book details

Short link to buy book: http://bit.ly/2BBu7bb

Happy May Day!

Bonne fête du muguet!

I recycle this post every year because I don’t want to change anything about it. If you read it last year … or the year before , I hope you enjoy it again. And if you can find some Lily of the Valley to give to a friend, all the better.

En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait!

Provençal proverb ~ In May, do what pleases you!

2013-06-09 09.51.55

Here’s my May 1st muguet to each of you.

Every May 1st I like to share one of my favourite traditions in France ~ La Fête du Travail or La Fête du Muguet. The day is a national holiday ~ International Workers’ Day, like Labour Day in North America. But more than that it is an occasion when people give little bouquets or sprigs or pots of  le muguet (lily of the valley) to each other. Like so many of the things we love about France, the tradition has lasted for centuries. It began in 1561, during the Renaissance.

Click here to read an excellent article by Margo Lestz,  about this sweet tradition and all the history behind it.

Here’s another post about the tradition from Kristin Espinasse, everyone’s favourite scribe of daily French life.

Four years ago, my husband and I had just finished a magical stay (but then isn’t it always?) in Paris and the Loire Valley. We were driving south to the Dordogne region on May 1st and in every town, big or small, this was the scene. Even on a drizzly day. I loved it!

Dordogne and Les Muguets
Dordogne and Les Muguets 2
Dordogne and Les Muguets - Version 2

Obviously, young or old, everyone puts a lot of thought into this tradition.

A vivid memory of that rainy morning, is of an elderly woman sitting under an umbrella beside her small stand of bouquets of muguets. It wasn’t an appropriate picture to take … and no time to stop in the midst of traffic … but I’ve never forgotten the image. Does this happen to you sometimes when you travel? Your eye is the shutter and a particular image is captured forever in your memory?

Le muguet or lily of the valley represents a porte-bonheur, a good luck charm, to special people in your life.  I am offering one to each of you.

Does your culture or country have a special May 1st tradtion?

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Joyeuses Pâques, Joyeux Pesach, Joyeux Printemps!

Whatever joyous occasion you celebrate at this special time of year, may it bring family and friends together for reflection, fellowship, food … and chocolate. Let’s count our blessings and focus on how we can help those who cannot.

In France, the traditions around Easter are quite different than most countries. Here’s an excellent article from The Good Life France (my favourite website, as you all must know by now). It is written by my friend, Margo Lestz, who will give you all the history. It begins like this … “On the Thursday night before Easter, all the church bells go silent and they won’t be heard from again until Easter Sunday.” Click here to read more.

With the tragic fire that occurred this week at the beloved Notre Dame in Paris, thoughts will also be centred on the impact that has had around the world. Whether for religious reasons or for the tremendous historical symbol it represents, the hope is that what was lost will be rebuilt. Response has been heartwarming and unifying, from the greatest to the smallest level. The heroes of that day are les pompiers, the men and women firefighters who worked tirelessly to contain the flames and those who helped save the priceless art.

This photo is from my last visit to Paris in 2015. I will be back there in September for a few days, on my way to co-lead ~ (with my BFF Deborah Bine) ~ my fifth women’s tour in the south of France … click on that link if you want to know all the great things about that adventure! I hope some day I have the opportunity to take a photo of the newly restored grande Dame.

Bon weekend everyone!

Pain, Amour et Chocolat

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Where else but France would a Valentine’s lovefest include bread? Some might look at the title and think “pain” = heartbreak, considering the love connection, but nope, not here …  le pain is the French word for bread.

This weekend, this three-day show will tempt crowds celebrating love and all its pleasures in Antibes which, as many of you know, is my favourite place on the planet. It was my home for 4 months in when I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence. My husband and I have returned every year since.

More specifically this show focuses on the simple pleasures of bread, love and chocolate. Click here for the 2019 information.

This may sound crazy to some but, for me, stepping into a French boulangerie (bakery) is the same as finding yourself in the most intoxicating chocolate shop.  Seriously, the display of goods in some French bakeries is like that in an art gallery.

IMHO, no one does baking better than the French – from the basic baguette, brioche, and croissant to the morning superstars of pain au chocolat and pain au raisin to the variety of round, flat and long loaves to the cakes and pastries that scream to be eaten at any time of day or night. Delicieux!

Bread has always been a staple of the French culture but nowhere was its political significance greater than at the beginning of the French Revolution. A shortage of grain due to droughts and poor farm management caused the price of bread to increase way beyond the means of the  poor who were also being taxed outrageously while the aristocracy cavorted. For some, bread was the only meal of the day. In response to growing unrest, one government leader suggested the peasants should eat straw … hmm, not a wise move … he was soon found hung in the square, his mouth stuffed with straw.

Bread riots spread and when a rumour suggested the government was hoarding flour at Versailles, the palace was stormed. Read about The Women’s March on Versailles, October 5, 1789.  King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, went by carriage back to Paris followed by an enraged mob that grew to tens of thousands, all hell broke loose and the rest is history.

This was one of the earliest events  of the French Revolution and, although it has grown into a bit of a post-Revolutionary urban myth, it proved to be a defining moment along with the  storming of the Bastille three months earlier.Click here to read more about the French Revolution and other political and social issues that brought it about.

This is a typical lineup at least twice a day, at one of my favourite boulangeries in Antibes.

After the revolution, the government made certain bread would always be affordable for even the poorest family and, as a result, bread is surprisingly inexpensive in France. Bakeries are found in every town, down to the smallest hamlet and bread is baked twice a day. Lineups are part of the tradition and very social although you need to know what you want to order when your turn comes up. Dawdling is not a good idea!

Every region of France has its own remarkable and unique stye of cuisine and that includes bread. Virtually every meal includes bread but no side plate for it … so don’t ask for one!

So here’s to love and chocolate and … well, why not … at least if you are in France … to bread!

I don’t usually eat a lot of bread but when we are in France it’s a different story and one of my mantras is “Vive le pain” as I waddle trot off to  join the lineup for our daily supply. Fortunately visiting that part of the world also involves a lot of strenuous walking and hiking so you can fool convince yourself you’re working off that croissant! Here’s a shot of our bread board on a typical day.

How do you feel about bread? Is it part of your normal diet or a once-in-a-while treat? Do you or have you ever made your own bread or pastries? Back in the day, my grandmother and my mother made bread every week. When you travel are there places you visit that serve traditional food  you love to eat?