Weekend activities in ‘Summer at the Little French Guesthouse’

I know how much readers have enjoyed the setting of La Cour des Roses in my Little French Guesthouse series, so when I was writing Book 3, I tried hard to continue to immerse the reader in Emmy’s surroundings in that lovely Loire area of France.

In Summer at the Little French Guesthouse, Emmy is too caught up with peak season at the guesthouse, wedding preparations and coping with her domineering mother to do much ‘proper’ sightseeing.

But she’s been in France for a year now, and her fiance Alain makes sure she takes time out on a Sunday to relax a little.

They enjoy cycling along country lanes past golden farmers’ fields and deep green vineyards . . .

Emmy especially loves the fields of sunflowers ….

She firmly resists Alain’s attempts to get her into early morning running, but she has developed a surprising passion for crazy golf!

And then there is always an evening stroll hand-in-hand along a quiet country lane …

or Rupert’s bonkers black labrador Gloria to take for a walk, something Alain’s niece and nephew enjoy when they come to stay.

One Sunday, Alain takes Emmy canoeing for the first time – an activity Emmy is highly dubious of but actually finds thoroughly relaxing as they make their way along a quiet river shaded by trees …

even though it rains and her steering abilities leave something to be desired! And yes, that part might reflect my own experiences … 😀

As for Emmy, with Alain there’s always some reward for her efforts at the end of the day … 😉

Emmy’s new life in France can’t be described as perfect – there’s always something for her to contend with. But if anyone asked her if she ever regretted her decision to move to La Cour des Roses, I suspect her answer would be a resounding ‘NO!’

 

If you missed my previous posts on the various places and inspiration behind the Little French Guesthouse series, you can catch up with them at these links:

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #1 – Town and Country

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #2 – A Little Sightseeeing

Places in Return to the Little French Guesthouse #1 – Chateau de Chenonceau

Places in return to the Little French Guesthouse #2 – Saumur

 

 

 

 

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Welcome … Angela Wren

I’m delighted to welcome author Angela Wren to the blog to talk about her latest release, Merle, her second Jacques Forêt mystery. I have her first, Messandriere, on my Kindle and I can’t wait to get to it soon!

I had plenty to ask Angela, but first, take a look at the atmospheric cover and the blurb …

Jacques Forêt, a former gendarme turned investigator, delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent, and where information is traded and used as a threat.

The Vaux organisation is losing contracts and money, and Jacques is asked to undertake an internal investigation. As he works through the complexity of all the evidence, he finds more than he bargained for, and his own life is threatened.

When a body of a woman is found, it appears to be suicide. But as the investigation takes another turn, Jacques suspects there is more to it.

Who is behind it all…and why? Will Jacques find the answer before another person ends up dead?

Merle – the second in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

And now to find out more from Angela …

Angela, both your Jacques Forêt books are set in France. Do you have personal connections with the country?

Yes and no!  I first became fascinated by France as a teenager.  Since then I’ve travelled there many times and like to spend as much time on the other side of the channel as I can.  As a result of all my French travels, I now know a number of people that I see over there on a regular basis.  I use camp sites whilst I’m over there and camping is a very friendly pastime!

Indeed it is. We used to camp in France most summers when the children were younger and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Can you tell us something about the area you chose for the settings in your books?

The Haute Cévennes is a vast area of mountainous countryside that sits across parts of four départements (Lozère, Gard, Ardèche and Hérault) in south-central France.  In the early part of the year the uplands are covered with lush pale green grass in the high pastures for the cattle.  The forests are dense with the inky-green canopies of the pines, and the lighter more vibrant colours of chestnuts and other hardy deciduous trees.  The landscape is jewelled with clumps of bright yellow flowers and vast grey boulders that appear to be growing out to the ground – hence the Col de la Pierre Plantée.  The harsh sun of summer strips the colour from the grass and the landscape takes on a more barren look.  Autumn and the colours change again to red and gold and the rain and the winds come.  Winter brings the snow and the cold and a white blanket descends to cover the mountain tops.  It’s kind of hard not to be inspired to write when you can watch the scenery change like that.  This photo is one of my favourites from last year.

The area is sparsely populated and in the upland villages, which are often tiny, there is a silence and a sense of isolation and wildness there that I have never encountered anywhere else.  Even the principle cities are confined by the geography.  Mende, one of the locations in my books, sits at an elevation of around 2,000ft above sea-level and has a population of about 15,000 people and yet, its importance in France is the equivalent of Leeds or Bradford.

Take all of that, along with a fascinating history and you have, in my view, a perfect setting for a book.

It sounds and looks absolutely gorgeous – no wonder you are inspired to write, using a setting like that!

I wouldn’t know where to start with writing a murder mystery. My imagination just doesn’t work that way. How do you come up with your ideas?

From everything around me.  It was waking up to snow one September morning in the Cévennes that got me thinking about using it as a cover to hide someone’s misdeeds.  A chance innocent remark over tea and cakes inspired a motive and book 1, Messandrierre, began to take shape.

I’m drawing on my extensive business experience for book 2, Merle and some of the conversations and ideas have come from throw away remarks made by colleagues or actual incidents that I’ve then been able to build into something else.  I find inspiration everywhere and the question ‘What if?’ often leads me down some very interesting alleyways of thought!

One interesting result of writing crime is that, when out with writing colleagues, I find myself talking about murder, a lot!  And this sometimes brings some very quizzical looks from others nearby.

I can imagine it does! Did you have to do a lot of research for this latest novel?

The details of the office environment, the business processes, the general infrastructure within the building and the constitution of the management structure in my fictitious organisation are all drawn from my own personal knowledge of working in a pressured, fast-paced project management environment.  I did need some help with how the office IT network could run and that took quite a bit of time to research.  Luckily I know someone who works in this field, so that helped.  Similarly with the scene of the fire.  I had to have expert input for that.

Are you  planning further books in the series?

Yes I’m already writing book 3, Montbel.  I’m hoping that this story will be published late in 2018, or at least that’s the tentative target date I’ve set for myself.  There is a fourth book, title still to be finalised, that completes the whole series.  At the outset I only ever saw four stories.  Perhaps when I get down to writing book 4 I may see others.  I don’t know.

That will certainly keep you busy for a while! And finally … Where do you do your writing? And where would be your ideal writing spot if you could choose absolutely anywhere?

I have the smallest bedroom in my house as an office and as my library.  It’s full of books – but then so is the rest of my house, come to think of it! – and I can barely fit the desk and computer in there!  The window looks over the garden and the rest of the village beyond.  It’s very quiet and, despite having worked in a very busy open-plan office, I find I need solitude and quiet in order to draft my stories.

If I could choose anywhere to write it would have to be somewhere with a stunning view, that was warm, but shady and probably somewhere in rural France.

Sounds perfect – and ideal for inspiration. Thank you for visiting, Angela. It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your books 🙂

 

You can buy Angela’s books at these universal links:

Messandrierre          Merle

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Angela Wren is an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK.  She worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but she managed to escape, and now she writes books.

She has always loved stories and story-telling, so it seemed a natural progression, to her, to try her hand at writing, starting with short stories.  her first ;published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011.

Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.

Her full-length stories are set in France, where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.  She’s currently researching and working on the follow-up to Merle.

You can find Angela at these links:

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

 

 

Author Spotlight – Helen Pollard

I had a lovely interview over at author Julie Stock’s blog last week, talking about everything from my Little French Guesthouse series to Starsky and Hutch!

Julie Stock - My Indie Writing Life

My guest in the Author Spotlight this week is no stranger to my blog. Helen Pollard, contemporary romance author, was my first guest in my Author Spotlight series all the way back in May 2015! I think it’s fair to say that a great deal has happened in Helen’s writing career in that time and she’s here to tell us all about it today and to celebrate her latest book published just a few days ago. Welcome Helen!

Summer at The Little French Guesthouse – Helen Pollard

A feel good novel to read in the sun (La Cour des Roses Book 3)

Summer sun, chilled, white wine, and a gorgeous fiancé. Nothing could upset pure bliss … Right?

Emmy Jamieson loves her new life in the gentle hills and sunflowers of the lush French countryside, managing La Cour des Roses, a beautiful, white stone guesthouse. With marriage to caramel-eyed Alain just round the corner…

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Round-up of the blog tour for ‘Summer at the Little French Guesthouse’

It was lovely to follow the official blog tour for Summer at the Little Guesthouse. My fingers are sore from retweeting etc.!

I always appreciate bloggers not only reading my books but then spending time writing a thoughtful review. How could I not include them on my Acknowledgements page? The sentiment is genuinely heartfelt!

If you would like to catch up with any of the stops that were on the blog tour, here are the links:

 

Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree wrote a fab review for the book, saying:

“So sad to say goodbye to this lovely series. This is a perfect summer sunshine read-just be prepared to laugh, cry and crave pain au chocolate dipped in a cafe au lait when you do!”

Well, I think that covers all eventualities 🙂

 

Then there was a great review from Meggy at Chocolate’n’Waffles who summed up with:

“I think what makes this life story work so well is how Helen Pollard takes the best of France, splashes it with the best of England, and sparkles the mix with humor, hardships, surprises, and feelings, all it takes to realize what happiness is!” 

What a delightful way of putting things!

 

There was a nice long extract from the beginning of the book at Portobello Book Blog to whet your appetite – why not hop over there and see what Chapter One has in store?

 

The Book Trail posted a gorgeous postcard-type blog on their ‘Cuppa and Cake’ page, focusing on the setting for La Cour des Roses and a little about my fave French things.

 

Kaisha at The Writing Garnet has come into the La Cour des Roses series at Book 3, but said in her review:

“Helen Pollard certainly knows how to enchant her readers with her mesmerising and eye-opening descriptions of La Cour des Roses and the French countryside. Such beautiful, beautiful writing which made me want to pack a suitcase, hop on a plane and fly to such a beautiful sounding destination.”

How lovely! And now she’s going to catch up on Books 1 & 2 🙂

 

A heartwarming review at Rachel’s Random Reads  – Rachel said:

“There was just so much to enjoy about this book from the writing, to the characters, the setting, the funny bits plus a very fitting finale!”

I aim to please … so it’s lovely to know I’ve succeeded in making readers so happy 🙂

 

Ginger Book Geek is another who joined the series at Book 3 but now intends to read the first two,  saying:

“The author writes about her characters so convincingly that you almost begin to imagine that they are real and that the action is playing out in front of you.  The author certainly grabbed my attention from the very first word on the very first page and I wasn’t released from the book’s grip until the last word on the last page.”

Crikey, that’s quite a compliment!

 

Sharon at Stardust Book Reviews has also been converted after reading Book 3 as a standalone, calling it “romantic, picturesque and funny” and saying, “I love the relationship that Emmy had with all her family and friends.”

That pleases me so much, as I felt that was what these books have been all about. 

 

Donna at Donna’s Book Blog gave the book a definitive 5 stars and suggests enjoying the whole series 🙂

And to finish off the tour, Kat at Best Crime Books and More gave it a resounding 5 stars, saying:

“This trio of books is absolutely wonderful and they could be read back to back for pure enjoyment and total escapism. I once again was transported into another world, one which I wish I could have been a part of. “

I couldn’t be more chuffed. Comments like these make all the sweat and tears worth it! 🙂

Thanks once again, not only to these lovely bloggers but to all of you out there!

 

Release day for ‘Summer at the Little French Guesthouse’!

***          Book 3 of the La Cour des Roses series is here!          ***

And this is what people are saying about it . . .

‘There is French flair on every page. Warm and charming. A lovely read!’ The Book Trail

‘There is just such a charm to La Cour des Roses that suckers me in, grips my heart and won’t let go.’ Rachel Gilbey

‘Loved being back with Emmy, Rupert and friends. Fantastic summer read.’ Lisa Houston

‘It’s the characters that make these books – from Emmy and her gaggle of girlfriends to Rupert and his faithful Gloria (the dog, not the ex-wife)! Put your feet up, get yourself a glass of wine and immerse yourself in French country life.’ MetLineReader 

Available from:

Amazon UK               Amazon US

If you’d like to follow the blog tour, these are the places and dates:

And for those of you who love a good blurb …

Summer sun, chilled, white wine, and a gorgeous fiancé. Nothing could upset pure bliss …  Right?

Emmy Jamieson loves her new life in the gentle hills and sunflowers of the lush French countryside, managing La Cour des Roses, a beautiful, white stone guesthouse. With marriage to caramel-eyed Alain just round the corner, things couldn’t be more perfect.

The odd glass (gallon) of wine dulls the sound of Emmy’s mum in full motherzilla-of-the-bride mode, and the faint tinkling of alarm bells coming from Alain’s ex are definitelynothing to worry about. Guesthouse owner Rupert and a whole host of old and new friends are there to make sure nothing gets in the way of Emmy’s happiness.

But as Emmy gets close to the big day, a secret from the past throws everything decidedly off track. Will her idyllic French wedding go ahead as planned, or will Emmy run back home to England with a broken heart?

This summer, escape to the rolling vineyards of France for an utterly uplifting read.

Only 2 weeks to go!

Only two weeks to publication for the third and final book in my La Cour des Roses series, Summer at The Little French Guesthouse!

You can pre-order at:

 Amazon UK               Amazon US

But if you’re  impatient like me, you could whet your appetite for Emmy’s new French life by gazing at the photos in these older posts …

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #1 – Town and country

 

 

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #2 – A little sightseeing

 

 

Places in Return to the Little French Guesthouse #1 – Chateau de Chenonceau 

 

 

Places in Return to the Little French Guesthouse #2 – Saumur

 

 

 

And if you missed it, I recently wrote about The ups and downs of writing a series!

 

I’m currently taking a little break before all the publication excitement begins.

See you on the 12th!

 

Welcome . . . Patricia Dixon!

I’m pleased to welcome Patricia Dixon to the blog with her new release, Over My Shoulder. As this is a change in direction for Patricia, I had plenty to ask her, but first, take a look at the striking cover and blurb …

This is a dark and gripping romance which tells of a nice young girl who met a very bad man. Sounds simple? Not really. By the time the girl realised the depths of his wicked soul and a wiser, braver young woman was about to emerge, it was too late. His twisted roots had wrapped around her life, spreading rapidly, taking a firm hold of her confused head and fragile heart. There was to be no escape from the tangled mess unless it was on his terms and even then, once she was free and her life rolled precariously on, the seeds he had sown remained embedded deep within. When she least expected it he would return and make good his promise, exact revenge and ensure she paid any price he felt owed.

Set in Manchester in the early nineties, Over My Shoulder is an intricate tale of blinkered love and obsession. This gripping psycho-sexual thriller with criminal undertones tracks the life of a young woman, from her carefree mid-twenties right up to present day.
Freya falls under the spell of controlling and manipulative Kane and soon, her life changes beyond her wildest imagination. When the luxurious life she craves gradually becomes intolerable, escape is out of reach.
This is a disturbing story of an affluent life, cleverly camouflaging the sinister underworld which funds it. And just when you think it is all over, there is a twist.
When will it end, can it end?

Sounds great! And now, to the questions …

Patricia, your previous novels are women’s fiction set in France, a place you know and love. What made you change direction and write a psychological thriller?

The change of direction wasn’t planned but I did agonise about the genre, simply because it is one of the most popular at the moment and didn’t want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon. This was a story I’d wanted to tell for a while so when I received an unwanted message from the past, just like in the book, I decided to follow my instincts and put it all down on paper.

Sounds intriguing! Why the 1990s? Why Manchester?

I love Manchester, it is where I was born and apart from university and working in London it has always been my home. To bring realism to the story I immersed myself in a place and time that I could picture clearly. I used the building where I worked in the 90’s for Freya’s office, my first flat for her home and various locations around the city and Cheshire which suited the purposes of the book.

How much research did you have to do for Over My Shoulder?

As I mentioned above, a message and memories of a troubled relationship in my early twenties formed the foundations for the first part of the story. I drew on my own experiences and those of women I know and know of. I researched facts and figures regarding domestic violence mainly to back up the story as I was aware that readers who hadn’t experienced it may question or even disbelieve that this kind of behaviour occurs, in both the abuser and the abused. I felt I owed it to all those who have suffered to do them justice and explain from their point of view and for those who haven’t, maybe offer some insight so they don’t judge harshly or unfairly. Thankfully the final part is purely fiction.

What aspects of this change in writing style did you enjoy most? Were there any aspects you found particularly difficult?

Writing a grittier tale actually felt very liberating. With the romance novels I am acutely aware of my target audience and wouldn’t want to offend or alienate them in any way, however, in Over My Shoulder, due to the nature of the subject and while staying true to the main character’s personality, background and age, I made a conscious effort not to worry and in doing so I hope I kept it real. I especially enjoyed writing in the first person, something I’ve only ever touched on in my other books. I decided from the outset that I wanted the story to be a very personal conversation between the reader and Freya. I could only achieve this by asking them questions, for their opinion, dropping hints and admitting fears, weakness and failures as if they were there, going through it all with me. From the reviews I’ve had this approach has been well received. I seem to have made a connection which added to the tension of the story.

The only aspect I found difficult were some of the sadder scenes at the end of the book, even now they make me cry when I read them. The abuse scenes and delving into the past didn’t affect me as much I thought it would, but I always wrote or edited them during the day, just to avoid nightmares.

I must admit, I can’t imagine writing something in a genre like this!

Are you working on your next project, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?

Yes, project number seven is well under way. My next book is the story of two young people, a boy and a girl who meet at university in Manchester. They form an unusual yet life long friendship and while their love for each other is misunderstood it survives against the odds. The story also takes the reader to France, a place I love and along with Manchester, is very close to my heart.

Where do you write … and where would be your ideal writing space?

I have been rather nomadic in my choice of writing venue. I began in the attic. It’s very peaceful there and there is a lovely antique bed which was handy for moments of contemplation and a sneaky snooze, but I found I was becoming rather isolated and it was a long way from food and the kettle. I then took over the kitchen table but I was in the way when we had visitors and at mealtimes, although I never starved and drank far too much coffee. I am now installed in the dining room which ticks all the boxes. I can see out of the window from where I keep an eye on my husband who also works from home, it has a nice comfy sofa for when I get a numb bum (it’s a hazard of the job) and yes, I am only a few steps away from the biscuit tin. My perfect place to write is our home in France. It is so peaceful and I only have to look out of the window to be inspired. And as we have no internet, there are no distractions from social media and emails so I get lots done.

Sounds wonderful! And I know that ‘numb bum’ felling well 🙂

Thank you for visiting, Patricia.

 

You can buy Over My Shoulder at:  AMAZON

And you can watch the trailer HERE 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patricia Dixon lives in Manchester. After a career in Fashion she swapped all things fabric for bricks and mortar, working alongside her husband where she ran his building company and now, with an empty nest, finally has time to write.
The All for Love series is set in the Loire where Patricia has a holiday home, a place to close to her heart and from where she gathers inspiration for her characters and tales of French countryside life.
Her recently released sixth novel, Over My Shoulder, is a darker, psychological tale told from the viewpoint of a young woman, reliving the past.
You can find Patricia at these links: