Sharing my May newsletter

Hi everyone! Bonjour and Buon Giorno!

I’m traveling in Italy with my husband before we settle in Nice on June 5th.  We are revisiting some of our favourite places here and, as you can imagine, my camera shutter is steaming. Check in to my Instagram account if you would like to see some of my shots from Italy … a bit of a change for me, oui?

In the meantime, here’s my May newsletter that went out last week just before we left Toronto. There’s still time to enter the giveaways!

Newsletter #56                            May 21, 2018Bonjour Patricia

Spring has finally arrived in Toronto! I hope it has appeared in all its glory in your neighbourhood too.  One sign of spring in France is the proliferation of peonies ~ les pivoines ~ in the markets and florist shops. I can’t wait to bury my nose in them.

As I write this, fireworks are bursting into colour in the night sky over Lake Ontario. We are enjoying the performance from our condo as we celebrate the last hours of Victoria Day. If you aren’t Canadian, allow me to explain. This is the unofficial start to summer here and Mother Nature has blessed us with appropriate weather.

Along with glorious pyrotechnic displays, this long holiday weekend also traditionally involves picnics, bike rides, hikes, parades, garden planting and long lines of traffic heading to various areas of cottage country. Opening cottages, getting boats in the water, clearing summer properties of reminders of winter storms, are hallowed May 24th rituals for many Canadians. We all hope for a warm summer to enjoy those efforts.

One of my spring rituals is preparing to leave for France. Planning and packing has been the focus this week as well as spending time with family. Now my husband and I are ready to fly off tomorrow evening. *doing a happy dance*

We’re taking a sentimental side trip to Italy for twelve days before we arrive in Nice. I’ll take you along in Instagram and blog photos and hope you will enjoy the journey.

Having said that, I still have a little to-do list, so I will move right along with this letter! As always, there are some great giveaways and in a variety of genres. It’s gratifying to see so many of you enter your name each month and thank you also to winners for taking the time to send thanks to the authors whose books are sent to you. I’ve heard from many of my author friends how much they appreciate your thoughtfulness. Book lovers rock!

Giveaway #1 ~ A Bad Night for Bullies (The Goolz Next Door) by Gary Ghislain. This is a book for children over 8, either to read with them or for them to read on their own. There are some scary bits that are totally offset by the humour.

Gary is offering 1 print copy to any destination!

Here’s a blurb: In this humorous, witty ghost story, Harold, who uses a wheelchair, accepts a mysterious artifact from a horror novelist’s daughter and discovers that while it may help him fight bullies, its power can’t be controlled.

This school review puts everything in perspective very well. Kids love this book and parents approve of the important lessons about values skillfully woven into the narrative.

“From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Harold, a wheelchair user since an accident at the age of seven, is a quiet 12-year-old. He lives with his mum and enjoys the quiet little town of Bay Harbor. But the arrival of a famous horror writer, Frank Goolz, and his two daughters, sees Harold’s world shaken up as he suddenly finds himself skipping school, chasing ghosts, and battling the bullies he’s been trying to escape for years. Not only do the adventures take a paranormal turn, but Harold is quickly drawn to Ilona Goolz, and a budding romance adds a bit of a realistic touch to this fast-paced supernatural jaunt. VERDICT The ending hints at more to come from Frank Goolz and his outfit of paranormal sleuths. Younger middle grade readers looking for something spooky without too much gore will snatch this up.—Stephanie Wilkes, Good Hope Middle School, West Monroe, LA”

Connect with Gary here.

Giveaway #2 ~ A brand new release from bestselling Canadian author Steena Holmes. I know many of you are very familiar with Steena, a sister Lake Union author, mother of three busy teenagers and prolific author. She describes herself as a writer, travelholic and coffee addict. I might also add chocolate lover extraordinaire … and I can prove it!    And just as sweet!

Steena is offering one ebook and one audiobook! She also asked me to include this comment from her. I’m blushing … but we do share a special friendship. “It’s rare to find people you connect with right away. It’s even rarer for the connection to last for years. I feel that with Patricia (who is a full bottle of awesomeness herself). Thank you for sharing me with your readers!

Her new story is creating quite a stir!  The Forgotten Ones, is a spellbinding novel about an unspeakable secret that could destroy a family.

Here’s the blurb:  Elle is a survivor. She’s managed to piece together a solid life from a childhood of broken memories and fairy tales her mom told her to explain away bad dreams. But weekly visits to her mother still fill Elle with a paralyzing fear she can’t explain. It’s just another of so many unanswered questions she grew up with in a family estranged by silence and secrets.

Elle’s world turns upside down when she receives a deathbed request from her grandfather, a man she was told had died years ago. Racked by grief, regrets, and a haunted conscience, he has a tale of his own to tell Elle: about her mother, an imaginary friend, and two strangers who came to the house one night and never left.

As Elle’s past unfolds, so does the truth—if she can believe it. She must face the reasons for her inexplicable dread. As dark as they are, Elle must listen…before her grandfather’s death buries the family’s secrets forever.

“Buried secrets, a family mystery…The Forgotten Ones is a haunting tale of loyalty in the face of mental illness and the name of love. Heartbreaking, utterly compelling, the kind of book that grips you and will not let you go far beyond the last page.” —Tosca Lee

Connect with Steena at her website by clicking here.

Giveaway #3 ~ Another new release! Also from a sister Lake Union author! Award-winning writer, Camille Di Maio lives in historic Williamsburg, Virginia with her husband and four children. Her third novel, The Way of Beauty, is an expansive story that brings the reader on a journey through the first 63 years of twentieth century New York.

Camille is offering one ebook anywhere and one print copy.

Here’s the blurb:  Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.
Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

““The Way of Beauty is a charming multi-generational love story, but it is more than that: it is a story of family, love lost, and love found…A loving tribute to the workers who risked their lives and health in building iconic structures in New York City…” —Historical Novel Society

Connect with Camille here.

Giveaway #4 ~ Rituals of The Dead: An Artifact Mystery  is the third in the exciting Adventures of Zelda Richardson series by Jennifer Alderson. Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her ongoing mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

Jennifer is offering two ebooks.

I also want to give Jennifer a shout-out for being the creator of the TRAVEL BY BOOKS Facebook page. It’s a fabulous place to discover books, both fiction and non-fiction, that carry you off to wonderful places around the world. Be sure to drop by on a regular basis!

Here’s a blurb:  Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s latest art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.

Art history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua—the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.

“Jennifer Alderson’s first-hand experience and meticulous research make this well-written novel a fascinating read. Her attention to detail is bound to captivate anthropology fans. It also poses the moral question as to who owns the rights to ancient artifacts and how they should be treated. The protagonist, Zelda Richardson, is an engaging, ethical researcher that readers will easily applaud. My compliments to Jennifer Alderson for another enjoyable read.” – Pamela Allegretto

Connect with Jennifer at her website by clicking here.

To have your name entered for one of these great prizes, as always, send an email to and answer the following question. Where will your summer travels take you or are you planning a relaxing staycation?

It’s always a pleasure to offer these giveaways. 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.

Congratulations to the winners of the last newsletter giveaways: Valerie Hildebrand, Jan Tomalis, Carol Boyer,  Mary Furman, Robin Batterson and Marla Bradeen.

Good news for our UK readers this month! Amazon is featuring Drawing Lessons in its May Avid Readers Promotion for £1 ~ DEAL until the middle of June! If you already have your copy, why not gift some to your friends? That’s what I do whenever I see a great book on sale.

And speaking of the UK, did you watch the royal wedding last Saturday with millions of others of us? Wasn’t it a wonderful diversion from the usual news? If you are still feeling in the mood for something kind of British, here’s a wonderful dessert with a French flair. This recipe is from one of my favourite bloggers, who is also on Instagram ~ Jill Colonna, of Mad about Macarons. She’s a Scottish-French foodie, who lives in Paris, and is absolutely delightful!  The photo is from her blog too.

Try her Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle and let me know how you like it. Bon appétit!

I’ve got to dash. It’s almost time to go to the airport and I still have a few of those little last-minute “things” to take care of. As long as they don’t involve packing one more item in a suitcase, I’ll be all right!

See you from France next month!

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

À bientôt!

If you have read the The Bridge Club or any of the Love in Provence books or 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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Print copy giveaway ~ 2 days left to enter!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …


(USA only … sorry, Goodreads rule, not mine!)


I loved writing this story, although the beginning caused me to use a few boxes of tissues. That part of the story is partially based on the true experience of a friend of mine and I felt her pain with every word. 
But the hope and happiness that grows as the story progresses, lifted my spirits as I hope it will yours. Let me know!
In case you are not familiar with Drawing Lessons, here are a few reviews to give you an idea. 90% of the reviews are 5 and 4 stars. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave one!
on May 9, 2018
Devastatingly tragic, yet beautifully hopeful. Patricia Sands’ novel Drawing Lessons is a story about a wife forced to face difficult circumstances. She has lost herself over the years, and gets the opportunity to attend an art course in Europe. There, she meets colorful characters and lets go of things beyond her control. She finds truth and hope in her art, and embarks on a new adventure. Sands’ characters are unique and inspiring, and her story gives the reader hope that happiness can, indeed, be found even when life’s curveballs attempt to thwart us.
on April 24, 2018
If you love France and you love reading, read Patricia Sands! Drawing Lessons is a trip to Arles in three hundred pages as a woman living with heartbreak learns the art of leading a new life.
on April 22, 2018
New to Patricia Sands books, I am fortunate to have found a new favorite. Though being a small-town girl who has never even seen any ocean, I could see, feel, and taste the beautifully written depiction of Provence and its wonders. The images will remain forever.
on April 13, 2018
Friendships in France once again came alive along with the food and wine. I loved the storyline which was sad at times but illustrated that love can come at any age or under any circumstance. Marilyn Grable
on March 25, 2018

I have to thank NetGalley for letting me have a copy of this book for my honest review. Also a big thank you to the Lake Union publishers.

This story starts out very emotional. Ben and Arianna have been deeply in love forever. They get the most devastating news that a couple can get. Ben has dementia. It did not take long for him to get to a state where he did not know Arianna any longer. Her children talked her into taking a retreat to Arles.

Arianna meets several other artists while in France and learns to live her life again. She goes through many ups and downs with guilt and finally does learn that she needs to live her life. She meets a man there who is an artist and decides to take him up on an offer to spend a few days with him on his boat before she leaves to go back home.

Arianna and Jacques de Villeneuve develope deep feelings for each other and she ends up staying longer. She goes back home to see Ben but he has no idea she’s even there or who she is anymore. It’s so hard for her that everyone decides she does not need to stay and just be upset all the time.

Arianna finds a life. She deserves to have a happy life.

Although I had a hard time reading a lot of this story, due to lots of tears, I also laughed along with the characters. They were fun and got on very well together. They all seemed to need to be where they were and together. This book is beautifully written and describes France in a way that makes you feel like you are there. It’s a very emotional book and one that will keep you turning pages until the very end. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to anyone that loves a tearjerker and love story.

I look forward to reading more by this author as this was my first book by her.
It was a definite 5 star book

on March 4, 2018
Such a wonderful and moving book as you travel to the South of France. It’s one you will not want to put down.
on March 2, 2018
I discovered the book and author through French Word A Day. Kristin recommended it and I ordered it on Kindle for my iPad. I enjoyed reading the novel on our holiday in Mexico. The well written book delighted me because I love France, French, Food, Art, and Romance.
on February 13, 2018

Drawing Lessons is a fantastic portrait of a woman in her sixties, who suddenly must face suffering and loss, and fight again for her dreams. Patricia Sands has wonderfully presented all her characters. She has drawn them, like in a painting. While I was reading, I could actually see them, and all her descriptions have such strength and delicacy.

Years before Arianna Papadopoulos Miller have abandoned all her artistic dreams when she and her husband Ben decided to manage the family restaurant which represented all the hopes of her father, Nikos and the anchor to their Greek origins. Now with Ben’s illness, everything is going to change, and after about two years in dealing with this situation, her family encouraged her to take part in an artists’ workshop in Arles, France, to finally rediscover her dreams and herself.

This challenge could be a new beginning for Arianna, a deserved second chance to observe in a new perspective all the events which have colored her life, both joyful and painful. In Arles, Arianna will learn to share her story and emotions with new courage, thanks to a wonderful group of artists that will live side by side in the amazing atmosphere of the Mas des Artistes. Juliette, Bertie, Barbara, Joan, Lisa … you will like every individual of this colorful group. In fact, each one with different and sometimes painful experiences will receive and give support to the others, not only in the artistic field.

I really enjoyed reading about Arianna and her family and all the love and enthusiasm which made the Papadopoulos Miller family bond so special. Patricia Sands is really an acute and emotional observer. I appreciate her talent in describing with so many details not only her characters’ personalities but also the beautiful panorama, that give you a perfect glimpse of Arles and surroundings.

Drawing Lessons is a very heartwarming and touching novel about love, dreams, being faithful to open our heart and soul to new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to rediscover all the colors’ beauty and their numerous nuances.


Amazon gift card and five print copies!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

TGIF, everyone! It’s the weekend again! What are your plans?

I’m starting to think about packing for France … eleven days to lift off!

As soon as this stunning scenery of the Côte d’Azur comes into view, I feel like we are home. It’s always a thrill. 🙂

Getting closer as we pass over Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat 

And the harbour of Villefranche-sur-Mer

As we pass over the old port of Nice, it’s just minutes before touchdown at the beautiful airport built right on the Mediterranean and basically downtown. Aeroport Nice Côte d’Azur (NCE) is unique and still small considering the amount of traffic it sees.

But enough of my dreaming. Back to those giveaways I mentioned …

Did you enter the big giveaway I wrote about in the last blog post earlier this week? You did? Great! I wish you the best of luck! It’s running until the end of the month so feel free to share it! Bonne chance!

This time I want to share information about two smaller giveaways. It’s always fun to win a prize, big or small. So good luck with these too!

First, I’m offering five print copies in a Goodreads giveaway. All you have to do is enter your name. One of those books might be waiting just for you!  Click right here.

And here’s the second giveaway.

We’re taking advantage of Drawing Lessons on sale for the month of May ~ Only $1.99 for ebook and $7.99 for paperback in the USA ~ if you do buy a copy, please take a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Simply comment here, share this post, and email your proof of purchase (take a photo with your phone) to

This contest is open for the entire month of May!


I hope with all these opportunities, your name is chosen for one of the prizes. Although Goodreads limits their giveaways to USA, this second one is open to everyone as long as you order from One of these days soon I will organize a giveaway good everywhere on the planet! That’s the way it should be.

Have a great weekend ~ bon weekend! Are you planning a trip this summer or going to enjoy a stay-cation? Also good! I would love to hear about it.  🙂

Giveaway week on the blog …

It might be a case of spring fever, but we seem to be immersed in giveaways at the moment. It’s always fun to do promotions. We hope readers enjoy having a chance to win books and other prizes and, as authors, our goal also is to make our work known to some new readers. So we hope you share the news about this with your friends.

Here’s the biggie. This actually came about after Heather Burch, Mary Tod, Marilyn Simon Rothstein and I happened to be in Naples, Florida at the same time. It was a little meet-up of Lake Union Authors when we got together for a relaxing lunch on the beach at the popular Turtle Club Restaurant. I love eating there, sitting outside with that soft silky sand between my toes!

Among other things, we were celebrating the recent release of Marilyn’s sequel to her hilarious first novel, Lift and Separate, the equally hilarious Husbands and Other Sharp Objects. One thing authors love to do is celebrate each other’s new releases!

Needless to say we spent a lot of time talking about writing and books and life and laughing … oh … and we had some of those tasty beach drinks with the little umbrellas. They were SO delicious, they didn’t need any alcohol in them. Seriously.

The next thing we knew we were planning a promotion. As most writers do, we all had books in our cars. As I always do, I had my camera at the ready. Badda bing, badda boom … here’s our

Beach Reads Giveaway ~ Four Signed Novels You’re Going To Love  & A Fabulous Kindle Fire !

 Please invite your friends to join in too. READY, SET, GO!






A Paris romp in Karen Burns’ new release!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Today we’re talking with author Karen Burns about writing, a new release, and the magnificent City of Light, Paris, in which her books are set.

Before we go further, here’s an FYI ~ Paris was nicknamed the “City of Light” (not City of Lights) originally because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment.

Today, our enlightenment is all about Karen’s new release, Paris Ever After! Her exciting publishing day was May 1st and I’m delighted she had the time to stop by for a quick Q & A.

Bienvenue, Karen!

PS ~ What was your first novel and when did you write it?

KB ~ My first novel was The Paris Effect. It’s the prequel to Paris Ever After and tells the story of how Amy, a young woman from Arizona who’d never traveled anywhere, ended up having an amazing adventure in France. This book took me five years to write—I finally finished in 2015. I think that first novel always takes an author a long time, because when you start you really have no idea if you’ll finish. It’s very much the experience of setting out into the vast unknown. I should say that while my two books go together, each can be read on its own. You don’t need to have read The Paris Effect to follow, and enjoy, Paris Ever After.

PS ~ Was it always your plan to be an author?

KB ~ Well, it was always my ardent desire! Ever since I first picked up a Dick & Jane book at age two I knew that reading and writing would be my thing for life. Nearly all of my “real” jobs involved words in some way (public relations, journalism, editing) and I’ve written everything from pamphlets to speeches to instructional manuals. Novels are the most difficult things to write, in case you’re wondering. But also the most fun!

PS ~ Your covers are beautiful! How did the story line come to you for The Paris Effect and Paris Ever After?

KB ~ With the first book, I just started out with a situation and then followed along, seeing where it took me. (E. L. Doctorow once famously said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”) However, this method—while exciting—results in tremendous amounts of rewriting, so with the second I tried to plan things out a bit better. My husband is incredibly helpful in this regard. He’s an engineer and claims not to have a creative bone in his body, but he’s a wonderful person to discuss plot ideas with. We love to go for long walks and talk about “what if she does this” or “what if that happens.” When I get home I scribble it all down.

PS ~ Your knowledge of life in Paris shines through in those two books. How much time have you spent there?

KB ~ I lived in Paris for three years in the nineties. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to return more or less regularly, sometimes for a couple months at a time. This city seeps into your bones and I think that’s why my novels are set there. Also, writing stories set in Paris is the next best thing to being in Paris!

PS~ How did you select your characters’ names?

KB ~ I called my main character “Amy” because it reminds me of “aimer,” the French verb for love. I chose “William” for her husband because I wanted the contrast of a short word with a longer one. I picked “Kat” for Amy’s friend because it has a sharp sound, and this character has a sharpness about her. Margaret is named after a lovely English lady I met while hiking the Cotswold Way in southwestern England. She was charming and gracious and welcoming (and just slightly loony), like Amy’s Margaret.

PS ~ Imagine your books as movies. Whom would you cast for the main characters?

KB ~ It’s funny you should mention this because my first novel (The Paris Effect) has just been optioned for film and TV. So you’d assume I’d have already thought a LOT about which actors would play my characters. But I don’t want to jinx it! However, I will say that while writing about Amy I often imagine women like Jennifer Lawrence and Ellen Page. It helps to have a picture in your head and I admire the strength, intelligence, and humor these actresses can convey.

PS ~ Would you give us a hint as to what we might expect next from you?

KB ~ Well, I’m noodling around some ideas. No actual writing yet. These days, the launch of Paris Ever Afteris taking up most of my time and energy!

PS ~ Based on your experience, what advice would you give to an author about to be published for the first time?

KB ~ Be prepared for a wild, emotional ride. Publishing a book is nerve-wracking, exciting, gratifying, and a bit terrifying all at the same time. You’re putting your baby out there for people to love or to hate, to relate to or to completely misconstrue. It’s really exposing. But people reading your work is the natural end result of writing. It completes the circle.

For more information, you can connect with Karen on her website.

Here’s where to find Karen on Facebook and on Twitter.

I had the pleasure of advance reading Paris Ever After and after just a few pages I messaged Karen to tell her I could not stop laughing. Her lovely sense of humour shines through the pages and the quirkiness of the original personalities she has created offers readers an entertaining distraction from everyday life. And to have it all set in Paris? Fantastique!

Here’s my review: “Magnifique! Fall in love with Amy as she stumbles through her new life in Paris, gradually learning what means the most in her unscripted world. Burns’ dry sense of humor and intimate knowledge of Parisian life are woven through the story as perfectly as the Hermès scarf in one of the book’s most unforgettable scenes. Heartwarming and full of colorful characters, the surprise-filled narrative is smart, wry and poignant. You won’t want to put it down. Five stars!”

And Karen’s cat, Tache, agrees!

 If you receive my monthly newsletter, you know that Karen is generously offering two print sets of these books in a giveaway. Be sure to enter and bonne chance … good luck!

If you don’t already, you can join over 5,000 book lovers (and dedicated Francophiles … oui?) with a simple click ~ subscribe to my newsletter by clicking right  here. Once a month I get to chat with all of you and offer great book giveaways from author friends who write in many different genres. On y va!


5 print copies ~ Goodreads giveaway!

Happy May! What better time to celebrate with a giveaway on Goodreads?

Click right here to enter your name to win one of five (5) print copies of my latest novel.

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.

With over 90% 4 and 5-star reviews, readers are loving this story as much as I loved writing it. *Tissue alert* 

It’s May Day ~ France does it best!

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. Listen to the cheerful May 1st video and do a happy dance! 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.

Three 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?

Lucky Friday the 13th!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

It’s Friday the 13th! Thought by some to bring bad luck, to me it’s always a date for good news because one of my sons was born on that date. Today, this Friday the 13th, brought me a different type of good news.

Drawing Lessons will be on sale in Australia beginning Monday. I  thought I would check my book stats on and I came across this lovely review. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this food for my writer’s soul.

I loved writing Drawing Lessons but I find it my most difficult novel to promote because of the sad beginning. I know I try to avoid it.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Simply gorgeous
ByBella  TOP 500 REVIEWER  on 2 February 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Wow. What an astonishingly touching story! I love how poetically this author writes. There was so much heart, so much beauty in this story. From the saddest situation imaginable grew something truly divine. So refreshing to read something that managed to paint such colourful images without being overly descriptive, and so wonderful to read something that blended all different kinds of people of all ages so beautifully. An absolute triumph from Patricia Sands.

If you have friends in Australia, please share this with them. Here’s the link in

And 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.

Set in and around the intriguing town of Arles and down into the fascinating Camargue, the story also has the spirit of Vincent van Gogh woven into the pages.

Much of my research was conducted here in the peacefully beautiful setting of the monastery of St. Paul de Mausole, an easy walk outside St. Remy-de-Provence. Vincent admitted himself here in May 1889 for treatment. He found a certain degree of peace and acceptance from the health practitioners and his creativity flourished in between his psychotic episodes. Inspired by the light and beauty of the surrounding landscapes he built on his prodigious period in Arles (during the previous 18 months), producing some of his best work.

He remained for a year before leaving for Auvers-sur-Oise to live closer to his brother, Theo. Sadly, he died two months later.

It was here that I also observed visiting artists finding their own inspiration, surrounded by the aura of Vincent. Magic.

Travel without packing or passports …

Sharing my post this week from Women Writers, Women’s Books FB page, on the importance of location in the novels I write. What are some of the favourite locations from books you have read?

Location! Location! Location!

April 7, 2018 | By

This may sound like an intro for a real estate ad, but not this time. Rather it’s an intro to considering the importance of location in stories. The sense of ‘place’ is often vital to the heart of a novel and, speaking from a personal perspective, it’s absolutely essential to the stories I want to share with readers.

My first novel, The Bridge Club, is set in Canada with locations ranging from the pastoral Eastern Townships of Quebec to the stunning Coast Mountains in British Columbia. When I wrote it, I was focussed more on character development since that is what drives this story. The fine details of the locations were secondary.

Not so, when I began to write The Promise of Provence. I knew I had two primary goals. One was to write a meaningful plot with complex characters, to which women over fifty would relate. The other was to share the love affair I have had with the south of France all of my life. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted the reader to feel they were in settings with the characters in every respect. I hoped they would see, taste, smell, feel (as in touch) and even hear everything, just as the characters did.

In other words, all senses were employed.

That first Provence novel turned into Book 1 of the Love in Provence series, in good part because of the love my readers felt for the setting. Of course they became engaged with the characters as well, but it became clear that the majority of my readers are devoted Francophiles. They write and tell me they are transported by the stories and that’s my greatest reward.

When a woman living on a remote farm in Iowa writes and says, “Thank you for taking me somewhere I know I will never go in my life,” I know my work is done. My readers travel without packing or passports!

To continue reading, please click here.

Easter, Passover and … April Fish Day?

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

This is a special holy weekend around the world and this year it is very early on the calendar. I send warm wishes to those celebrating Easter

or Passover ~ chag sameach

As I was doing some reading this week, I came across an article that spoke volumes to me about a meaningful message for both Passover and Easter.  It had to do with hope. I want to share it with you here.

Of course there is also another tradition at this time of year for many children. Fellow author and friend, Margo Lestz has an excellent post here comparing the traditions of children and chocolate at Easter. You may be surprised how the legends differ.

Chocolate is not quite so important at Passover.  But the traditions and foods that go along with the special meal, the seder, are celebrated every year.

Coincidentally this year, in some countries, this Sunday is also April Fool’s Day. For those who haven’t heard before, April 1st is celebrated in an altogether unique way in France.

Imagine my surprise the first time I saw childrenimages sticking paper fish on each other’s back, whispering and giggling, and then hollering, “Poisson d’Avril!”

Excusez-moi? Fish?

As Wikipedia explains: “In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.

I had no idea where the tradition began and, after a bit of searching, found this explanation on France Travel Guide.

“Although the origin of April Fools is obscure and debated, the most widely accepted explanation actually credits the “holiday” as starting in France. The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 King Charles XIV of France reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1.

However, in a time without trains, a reliable post system or the internet, news often traveled slow and the uneducated, lower class people in rural France were the last to hear of and accept the new calendar. Those who failed to keep up with the change or who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them.

Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.”

poisson d'avril

Poisson d’avril

Boulangeries and patisseries deliciously get into the spirit with fish-shaped goodies. Oh … and did I mention the chocolatiers? Schools of fish of all sizes fill shop windows, the larger ones often filled with smaller treats. To a chocoholic, fish never tasted so good!

Since Easter usually falls around the same time, fish feature predominantly in shop windows through that holiday as well.

Maybe we should adopt a symbol for April Fool’s Day in North America, so there would be a good excuse to buy special chocolates on that day over here. Not that we ever really need an excuse for chocolate …

Wherever you are, have fun on April 1st and enjoy some chocolate.

Are you a prankster on April 1st or do you just grit your teeth and hope the day will pass quickly? Is there one April Fool’s Day joke in particular that you will never forget?

On  The Good Life France   (amazing photography and articles ~ you know I’m a huge fan!), there’s another article by Margo Lestz about April 1st in France.  Margo writes perfectly-researched articles, as well as entertaining books about some of the quirky history and traditions of France.  Click here to visit her website!

How will you celebrate this very special weekend?