A brief retrospective

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

How was your week? Our Women’s Fiction Fans Summer Party on Tuesday evening was an enormous success. We were blown away! And we’re so grateful to all of our enthusiastic readers who joined in the fun. We can’t begin to thank you enough!

Congratulations to all of the winners. Books, bags and macarons! Those were just some of the sought after prizes!

If you haven’t had an opportunity to join our group, just go to this page and click on “joined”.  It’s as easy as that!  The aim of this friendly group of authors and readers is to share thoughts and comments about books or simply reading in general … or anything else that’s on your mind. Ask us questions, enter our giveaways, enjoy our special events and, by all means, please invite your friends!

Right now I’m awaiting the final sign off on the manuscript for Drawing Lessons. We are eager to have the book available on Net Galley for everyone who is interested in writing a review. Stay tuned! I will let you know the minute it is there.

In the meantime, Drawing Lessons can be pre-ordered right here.  This just means that the day the book is published, you will receive your copy. Great service! And thanks!

I’m also working on my July newsletter tonight, so with all that going on, I’m going to leave you with a few of my favourite shots from May and June in the south of France. Enjoy! Profitez!

Villefranche-sur-Mer ~ How many times am I going to take a photo here? Year after year, the view is simply too irresistible.

It was hot, hot, hot! There were few breezes through the narrow streets in the towns and villages of Provence. Shutters were closed to keep the cool inside. The cicadas hummed.

The little yellow house with the blue shutters. I’m writing about one now. 🙂

Chilled rosé (extra special because it comes from a friend’s vineyard ~ Jean-Marc Espinasse, husband of the delightful Kristin) + delicious nougat + strawberries so sweet they taste like candy.

A favourite shot ~ on one of my daily walks to the marché. Can’t you almost taste the colours?

The Women’s Travel Network’s 12-day tour of the south of France, based on my Love in Provence series. Sixteen fabulous women who made each day an absolute pleasure.

Ten days with two BFFs ~ 4 in Antibes and 6 in St. Remy. Girls’ getaway. Friendship is priceless.

The garden behind the 12thC former monastery and asylum of Saint-Paul de Mausole. Vincent van Gogh spent May 1889 to May 1890 here, one of his most productive periods. Van Gogh and this setting also feature in my new novel. This is truly a peaceful, spiritual place.

The delicate beauty of poppies is symbolic in Drawing Lessons. I wanted to take photos for marketing and graphics for the new novel. The poppy season was almost over but then we got lucky and voilà!

I hope you have an excellent few days planned. Bon weekend!



Talk books, writing and France ~ June 3, Nice, Côte d’Azur

If it’s Friday it must be France …

Bonjour! If you are going to be in Nice on June 3rd … or have a friend or friends who will be, please mark the date on your calendar and join us.

This is the third year the event has been organized and it’s always a good afternoon of conversation and connecting!

Meet the Authors-2

May 1st ~ a very special day in France

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!

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 love to talk about 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.

In my early years of blogging, I read a post by my friend, the talented writer/reviewer Claire McAlpine and I like sharing her story each year. It’s sweet, and explains the tradition so well.

Please click here to read it.

Two 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 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.

Le muguet or lily of the valley represents a porte bonheur, a good luck charm, to special people in your life.  Sing along!

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

April Newsletter

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Happy Friday to you! I’m doing last minute organizing and packing … as you will see below, we are off to the Côte d’Azur on Monday. And you know me … I couldn’t be happier!

So I’m posting the newsletter here that just went out yesterday. If you already received it, I hope you enjoy the photos again!  It’s got all the news I want to share and … full disclosure … I’ve got to finish packing!

Fasten your seatbelt and prepare to take off with me on Monday. It will be magnifique over there and, if you like, I’ll be delighted to take you everywhere with me!




Are you ready for some warm spring weather? I am! It really hasn’t reached Toronto yet, although we’ve had some nice sunshine. I’m ready to stop wearing a jacket! Bring on the sandals!

Hopefully this time next week I won’t be grumbling about the weather. We will have arrived in Antibes! As most of you know, this header shot is one of my favourite views of the town that stole my heart.

My husband and I have rented a quaint, restored fisherman’s cottage for 5 weeks in the vieille ville, a few minutes from the daily marché. Yes … that marché where Kat met Philippe.

I can’t wait to take you along with me! Stay tuned for photos.

Antibes Market

This is one of the neighbouring streets that I’ll stroll to go to the market, and I promise to take you along many other charming streets just like it.

Antibes street

When I’m in France, I’ll share a new photo or short video every day on Instagram. Click here for the link to my gallery.  Apart from sharing my photos, I love IG because of all the other amazing photography you find there from all over the world, and on just about every topic you can imagine. It’s a free app on your phone. If you enjoy photography in one way or another, check it out! Be sure to say hi to me if you do.

Patricia with camera

In my last newsletter, I mentioned I had completed the developmental edit for my new novel. Today I returned the copy edit to my editor at Lake Union, and now I wait for the proofread to come to me and the cover design. As you can see, it’s a lengthy process! But I love every bit of it and always learn something. Most importantly, it means we’re working hard to bring you books of the highest quality.
I hope to show you the cover in the next newsletter, before anyone else sees it.
What I can tell you now is the title ~ Drawing Lessons ~ I mentioned the story about the title in my last newsletter … and I give full credit to my husband!
Here is Amazon’s book description. You are seeing it before anyone else!

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.

After falling in love with all of my characters in the Love in Provence series, it was a challenge at first to get connected to an entirely new collection of personalities. That’s part of the fun of writing fiction! It didn’t take long before all of these characters became very special to me as the story unfolded and I got to know and love them! I think you will like them too!

This is one of the streets I often visualized as the characters were strolling in Arles, taking notes and sketching in their art journals.

Arles Street

Giveaway time!  Today we have three! It’s fun to see how many of you enter the giveaways, so I’m thrilled to offer these great books to you this month. Good luck! Bonne chance!

I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you and connecting with those you already follow. Savour their books, find out more about the writers and pass along their information to your friends. The best way to hear about a good book is by word of mouth from dedicated readers like you. If you have time to write a short review, even better, and always appreciated.

Giveaway #1 ~ Janine Marsh’s memoir My Good Life in France is available for pre-order and will be published on May 4th! She is offering two ebook copies here. As the creator of The Good Life France website and magazine, you’re no doubt very familiar with her. It’s quite a ride to read the story of how her adventure has unfolded. Here’s my blog post about it.

Connect with Janine here.


Giveaway #2 ~ Popular crime writer  (25 books! Wow!), Diane Capri, is offering two ebooks of Wasted Justice, part of her best-selling Willa Carson series. It’s a mystery involving mothers and her readers love it. Diane says she “writes mystery, thriller and suspense for the same reason she reads: for fun, excitement, to find out what happens, why people do what they do, and how to bring justice to an unjust world.” Full of thrills and tension – but smart and human too.” —Lee Child , #1 World Wide Bestselling Author of Jack Reacher Thrillers

Connect with Diane at her website.

Wasted Justice Book CoverDiane Capri


Giveaway #3 ~ Kay Bratt is the author of eleven full-length novels and two children’s books. She is offering one ebook and one print copy of her touching novel Wish Me Home.  In her first work of contemporary women’s fiction, bestselling author Kay Bratt draws on her own life experiences to create a raw, yet inescapably warm, novel about friendship and a wary heart’s unexpected capacity to love. And there’s a dog!

“In this inspiring story of a woman’s search for the deepest wish of her heart, Bratt paints a realistic portrait of the dark side of the foster care system, while simultaneously reminding us that there is always hope, and that home and family can be found in unexpected places.” —Kerry Anne King, bestselling author of Closer Home and I Wish You Happy

Connect with Kay at her website.

Wish Me Home Cover Graphic

For those of you who are new to the newsletter, all you have to do to enter our giveaways, is send an email to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com and let us know which book you would like. Please indicate if you would like an ebook or print. This time we’re asking you to share with us whether you read novels on your phone or not. Don’t be shy to admit it … I do! (Practically all the time, thanks to this chaotic schedule I seem to keep!) I love having all my books with me whenever I want them.

Congratulations to last month’s winners:  Jackie Tansky, Beverly Eanes, Linda Kish, Jane Pinder, Barbara Mitchell, Athena Kelly, and Margaret Bostock. I’m sure you’ve already heard from Amy and received your books.

I will be sending the audiobooks to Jackie and Beverly in the next day or two.

News Flash ~ The Bridge Club is discounted to $.99 until the end of June because of some marketing promotions.  If you already have a copy, gift some to your friends!

As I mentioned last month, a few writers have organized another Meet The Author event in Nice on June 3. Here’s the information about  the venue and I’ll put the other details on my FB page in a week or so. I’ll also let you know in my May newsletter. If you have any friends in the area, please share the info with them. It’s always an entertaining few hours and we’re making it even bigger and better than before! Allez!

Meet the Authors

I’m going to dash now as I’m off to visit with a book club this evening ~ one of my favourite things to do! Don’t forget to let me know if you would like to organize a chat with your book club ~ we can always do it through Skype or FaceTime ~ no matter where you are. Talking about books is always fun!

And, since I’m dashing I thought I would leave you with one of my favourite quickie recipes for entertaining. We all have left over cheese from time to time, oui?  I’m popping this cheese photo in just because I like it … and I love this cheese … but, seriously, you can make this yummy treat with any kind of cheese and mixing a few together often is even more delicious! Just pick up a fresh baguette and you are good to go.

Make some Fromage Fort … and if you do, tell me how it worked for you. Click here for the recipe.

My next newsletter will be from Antibes and I’m excited to chat with you from there again!

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!

Bon appétit et à bientôt!

P.S. If you would like to read some of my past newsletters, you can do so at this page on my website.




My Good Life in France ~ Janine Marsh ~ pre-order

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I’m SO excited to share this news with you! May 4th is the publishing date for this long-awaited memoir by Janine Marsh!

Even more good news is that the book is available for pre-order on Amazon right now! Click here to purchase your copy of My Good Life in France.

As we all know, Janine is the founder and editor of the fabulous The Good Life France website and ezine. For all of us who love to dream about France and read about and see photos of and plan trips to and … well, you know … there’s no better resource!

And now Janine tells the entertaining story of how her life in France all came to pass. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy and am happy to share my review here with you:


I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of Janine Marsh’s memoir, My Good Life  in France, and was honoured to receive an ARC for an honest review. It’s no surprise that this book is everything readers hope it will be. With her sharp insight after many years as an ex-pat in France and her engaging sense of humour, Marsh takes us on the bumpy road of highs and lows restoring a “truly awful” (her words) property in the north of France that captured her heart. 
Through the author’s eyes and experiences we discover the (relatively unknown to tourists) Seven Valleys area in the Pas-de-Calais, which is now on my “must visit” list. Easily drawn into Marsh’s entertaining narrative by her sharp observations and warm-hearted nature, we get to know her neighbours, the local traditions and her growing family of dogs, cats, and assorted feathered friends.
Thank goodness for an understanding husband who is also an enterprising craftsman. There are challenges that would deter most from staying the course. Yet not only do the Marshes survive, but a brilliant new career path is born.
This book is a delightful read that I highly recommend.
Click here to read an earlier post when Janine visited my blog.
If it’s cool and rainy in your part of the world, as it is in mine today, pour yourself a warm cuppa (a hot toddy sounds good to me!) and lose yourself in the pages of The Good Life France Spring Magazine. You’ll be glad you did!
Bon weekend!

Reading suggestions for our 2017 France tour

If it’s Friday, it must be France …



Our 2017 women’s tour of Provence is just weeks away! I know the time will fly by and can’t wait to greet the sixteen women when they arrive in Nice on June 6. Our beautiful Hotel Beau Rivage, is just out of this photo to the left. The vieille ville (old town) and colourful daily market are located there as well, footsteps away. So this will be our ‘neighbourhood’ for six days before we move on to Avignon for another six days of exploring the countryside of pastoral Provence. Lavender will be in bloom!

One of the great features of this tour is that we only move once. From our base hotels, we have wonderful day trips with well-trained guides and bus drivers. My friend, author Susan Sommers, and I are along to ensure that everyone is happy and organized every day. We have the best time!

I recently sent some reading suggestions to the group in advance of their arrival in France and I thought I would share the books with you too. You may well be familiar with the titles as they are favourites of mine that I frequently recommend. Enjoy!


Click here for Kristi’s book.

Click here for Ted’s book.

Click here for Anne-Marie’s book.












If you love the south of France like I do, you would enjoy reading all of these books too.

Of course, #PeterMayle is the writer who began it all … back in 1991! Click here for A Year In Provence.

Whether you are preparing to visit France or not, you will find hours of reading pleasure in these books!



Of course we’ll be visiting many of the beautiful locations written about in the Love in Provence series. Most of the women on our tours have read the stories of Katherine’s adventure in France and it’s great fun to experience their enthusiasm as we visit the special places they have discovered in the books. Antibes is a highlight!



Where have you taken vacations in books? And did you actually visit those places at another time? 




Joyeuses Pâques~Happy Easter~Chag Sameach~Passover Wishes ~ et bon weekend to all???

April 1st and Chocolate Fish in France ~ no joke!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

imagesApril Fool’s day is tomorrow. Imagine my surprise the first time I was in France on April 1st and found children sticking paper fish on my 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 IX 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.

My friend, author Margo Lestz, has this tidbit to share on her blog about April 1:

“The annual “April Fish” in Nice, France ~
The city of Nice has its own special April Fool’s joke. Normally there is a cannon shot every day at noon from a hill overlooking the town. (It’s really a firecracker, but it used to be a cannon so they still call it one. You can read more about it here.) This noonday boom alerts the people of Nice that it’s lunchtime and it goes off every day at exactly noon. That is, every day except on April 1st when the “cannon” goes off one hour early and everyone is thrown off schedule. If you are in Nice on April 1st listen carefully after the boom and you might be able to hear a shout from the hilltop – “April Fish!”

Take some time and visit her website, The Curious Rambler, for entertaining posts about traditions and history based on her extensive travels in France, Italy and England.

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?

Eat cake like a king!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

If you are in France, 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). This special pastry’s history can be  traced to Roman times.

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.

Bon appétit!


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

And speaking of food, have you signed up for the BECOME A FRENCH FOODIE IN 30 DAYS course with eFrench Café? Check with Ida Young-Bondi and see if you can still squeeze in!

Lost in the Camargue …

If it’s Friday, it must be France … 

Recently, I’ve been spending my days in the intriguing Camargue region of the south of France … well, on paper anyway … working away on my new novel and heading toward the January 15th deadline when it is due on my Lake Union editor’s desk.


It was a thrill to spend some time in this Rhône River delta in June doing research for my story. This description might not fit your classic image of France:  you’ll find gardiens, what we might call cowboys, on white horses that run wild in the salty marshland when not being put to work herding the famous black  bulls;  ancient villages where gypsies gather each year to keep alive legends of old;  salt flats teeming with pink flamingos and other bird life. The region is part of UNESCO’s network of world biosphere reserves.

Here are a few photos from the Camargue and an excellent article to give you more information. Please be sure to scroll to the bottom and watch the video.

With your permission, I’ll save my words for my novel (for now) and get back to writing! I hope this little peek at the Camargue will make you eager to read the new story when it is published … looks like late 2017 at the moment! Bon weekend!

Memories of the Pays Basque

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Every few months, I post a photo journal for the #LLm emagazine. I love taking the time to loiter in my photo albums and choose which destination I’ll  take you to visit. I hope you enjoy this brief stay in  the Basque country of southwest France. Put your feet up, click on the link and take a mini-vacation without leaving home.

If I could, I would serve you a nice cold mug of Bob’s beer and some freshly grilled fish!

Click right here to join me!