A backlist title for you today – The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders. This book was published in 2006 and is still going strong. I read it most years in the run-up to Christmas. It’s that sort of rereadable, totally enjoyable book.

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Beth, our heroine, starts to plan Christmas in September. She’s agreed to organise the annual village Christmas Eve bash, which her husband’s former wife used to do. And always magnificently. Beth is also getting ready to welcome her difficult step-daughter over Christmas too.

Carol is a magazine editor but her publication’s sales are flagging. She’s a single mum and perpetually guilty about that so wants to organise the perfect Christmas in a country hideaway for her son.

But despite the fact both these women make careful, elaborate plans things don’t go quite how they should. However, help is at hand from unexpected sources and both our heroines get as close to their goal as it’s possible to get in this imperfect world of ours.

There is so much that’s very clever and imaginative in the book. A touch I love is that all the main characters have a Christmassy/biblical name – Holly, Joseph, Carol, Jacob, Elizabeth, Noel, Nicholas. The Xmas Factor combines festive fun and witty humour with a very sensitive and realistic look at the ups and downs of family life at Christmas. There are stresses, conflicts, guilt and optimism as the various characters trying to create a perfect yuletide. As one reviewer has said, “There are the ghosts of Christmas past,the pressures of Christmas Present and a promise of happy Christmasses yet to be.”

Annie Sanders is in fact Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders, who have written eight novels and eight non-fiction books between them now. Here’s their website.

The book’s available as a paperback, Kindle version, audio book in all the usual places.

 

 

This book qualifies as a Christmas book since it would be a perfect Christmas present. There’s still time to buy it and get it delivered in time for the big day. I’ve just ordered my copy.

imranplan

Imran Siddiq is a young adult fiction author that I’ve been lucky enough to work with in the past. He always struck me as a very organised writer and person, and my hunch has proved correct. He’s come up with this very useful-looking weekly organiser. This is how Imran describes it:

Whether you’re a student, a writer, a creative genius, an employee in a business, or a manager – it’s easy to overlook important tasks or struggle to manage your workload. Use the ‘My Plan’ Weekly Organiser to jot down your key tasks, and then organise them for each day of the week. ‘My Plan’ provides an initial section to store notes and telephone numbers. Use the ‘To Do’ section to list items for the week that require your attention. Use the ‘Appointments’ section to keep track of your meetings/occasions. Use the ‘Brainstorm’ section to let rip with scribbles, notes, and anything else that comes to mind. The perfect place to brings visual stimulus to your ideas. The ‘Week’ page allows you to jot down tasks per day, and gives space to plan your day from 8am to 8pm. Also on that page is a project planning section for the week; list key tasks and which days of the week you’ll be planning them. Be in control of your tasks. Be in control of your day. Be in control. This is your plan.

I’ve been looking for an organiser like this for a long time and I know it will come in very, very useful in 2015 which is going to see me busier than ever, what with launching my The Book Farmer and Markey-My-Book! sites and services to go with my current editing and proofreading. Being an author himself, I’m sure Imran has designed something that will be a very helpful tool for all writers.

My Plan is available on all Amazon sites. Here’s the link to the .co.uk one to get you started.

 

 

oh santa finished coverYes, I know it’s my book, but I think it deserves its place in my Advent Calendar of Christmas books. It’s fun, festive fiction for youngsters, but adults will enjoy it too.

Santa’s assistant, Teddy Bear Jake, is worried that Santa is overweight and unhealthy and needs to look after himself. It shouldn’t take him a whole year to get over each Christmas outing after all. So he puts Santa on his famous alphabet diet. Each week Santa can only eat three things beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet. Healthy things, mind, so the C week doesn’t mean cupcakes with icing and chocolate and cookies but cabbage and carrots and cauliflower. And as for the X week? Santa will have to go hungry.

Reluctantly Santa starts to slim down. He starts an exercise regime too and it isn’t long before he’s sleek and slimline and full of energy. He’s a total convert to the healthy way. So when he starts getting requests from children for unhealthy gifts like candy floss makers or motorised microscooters, he ignores them and intends to dole out skipping ropes and vegetable steamers instead.

His helpers are in despair and Teddy Bear Jake realises he should have left Santa the way he was. Is it too late to save Christmas? Will it become as joyless as the North Pole now has? And what are those four snowmen doing at Santa’s door?

Have a chuckle as you get ready for Christmas with my book. Only 99p at all the various Amazons and 99 cents for any format on Smashwords here.

Here’s a review of it to tempt you further:

Oh, Santa! By Stephanie Dagg Illustrated by Kim Shaw Mentor Books. €5.00 Ages 5 to 8 Stephanie Dagg’s book Oh, Santa! is that very rare thing for younger readers, a very funny story tied to a very relevant issue. The funny story has to do with the fact that Santa has become obese from too much junk food. The solution, provided by Teddy Bear Jake, is a sturdy regime of correct diet and exercise. As often happens in such cases, Santa Claus becomes a slave to getting fit and healthy until he is no longer recognisable or, indeed , acceptable to all who know and love him. What’s to be? The solution might raise one or two adult eyebrows but the kids will stand up and cheer. After all who wants to have a slim-line Santa?

Review from www.village.ie – current affairs Irish magazine

This book originally came out in paperback, published by Mentor Press and illustrated by the wonderful Kim Shaw, but after the rights reverted back to me I republished it as an ebook. Since I didn’t own the illustrations, and I never heard back from Mentor when I contacted them to ask if I could use the pictures they commissioned, I got a new cover drawn by the equally wonderful Roger Fereday. I have some print copies if you want one of those, at €2 plus p&p, so give me a shout.

Oh dear, my Advent Calendar of Christmas books is proving to be somewhat sporadic. I’m in the middle of moving house, so bear with me.

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Today’s Christmassy book is A Very Coco Christmas by Robert Bryndza. It’s a prequella (i.e. a prequel novella) to Robert’s wonderful Coco Pinchard series. If you haven’ts discovered Coco yet, then you’re missing out. She’s brilliant! (Follow her adventures in The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding and Coco Pinchard, the Consequences of Love and Sex – all feel-good rom-coms but meat to their bones).

In A Very Coco Christmas, we meet the young Coco (Karen) Pinchard in the early days of her relationship with musician Danny. She has to part with him to head home for a family Christmas – and what a family, and what a Christmas! Those of you who have come across Coco will know that she has the most challenging of mother-in-laws in Ethel, but we discover in this novel that she had some good training for dealing with her through having to cope with her own rather awful mother.

Anything that can go wrong pretty much does, but it’s not over-the-top, just a typical less-than-perfect Christmas with the people you’re un/fortunate enough to be related to, perhaps a tad more action-packed than normal.

The story is set in 1985 and it’s like stepping back in time for any of us who were there during what has to be one of the most lively, quirky and happening decades. There’s clouds of hairspray and cigarette smoke, punks, shoulder pads, Laura Ashley fabrics and wallpaper, Joan Collins… it’s fabulous. As ever, the author’s powers of observation and attention to detail are razor-sharp and he takes us through the full gamut of our emotions.

This is Christmas book that is hilarious, touching, riveting and totally absorbing.

Rob together with Jan Bryndza has also written Lost in Crazytown, which is a humorous yet edgy novel set in Hollywood and has a wonderful, rounded, empathetic hero, Filip, whom I’d love to see in more novels. Hint!

You’ll find Rob’s books at all Amazon stores. Go on – treat yourself!

A little bit late (I’ve been moving office), I’m starting my Advent Calendar of Christmas books.

Today’s festive book is a paranormal adult romance, I’ll Be Undead for Christmas by Fawn Atondo.

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Nikki, a reporter, witnesses something she shouldn’t have, and as a result the sexy vampire Sebastian has to turn her. She’ll be a vampire by Christmas. To complicate things further, for the third year running the so-called Silent Night Killer is claiming his twelve annual victims. Nikki is reporting on the murders, and who should she come across doing this work but… Sebastian, who’s… well, I won’t tell you more because this is a very clever little story with an unexpected twist.
Well written, imaginative and sexy, you’ll love this!
It’s available in Kindle format and as a paperback. Here’s the link to Amazon.com and you’ll find it at all the other Amazon stores.
And check out Fawn’s other books too. She’s a very creative, lively writer. Here’s her website.

Today I’m taking part in the virtual book tour organised by France Book Tours for The Shiro Project by David Khara. This is the second book in the Consortium Thriller series.

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This book follows on from The Bleiberg Project, but works well as a standalone thriller. The plot is excellent. The historical background comes from Shiro Ishii, the Japanese General who was in charge of the notorious Unit 731. Named Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department, also the Special Research Unit, the unit was given the job of developing chemical and biological weapons for the Imperial Japanese Army. After the war the US Government gave Ishii amnesty in return for the unit’s secrets and never brought him to trial for his horrific crimes.

Our hero, Eytan is a very engaging character. In this venture he collaborates with Elena, another product of the Bleiberg Project, and there is a lot of tension between the two. They travel from Prague to Tokyo looking for any connection between Unit 731 and a new group that is committing chemical attacks. There seems to be a link with the Shinje Company so it seems likely the terrorist acts are in revenge for the destruction that Japan suffered at the end of the war. The novel’s ending is certainly unexpected.

shiro coverThe author has an easy-to-read and clear style. This means that although the plot is quite complex, we don’t lose track. The action is fast-paced and there’s never a dull moment. However, that doesn’t meant that character development suffers. We get inside our protagonist and understand what drives all the people we meet. An original, eye-opening and entertaining read.

Here’s an excerpt:

The woman gave herself a few seconds to re?ect, adjusting the bun at the nape of her neck. She reinserted two pins in her blond hair and then spoke solemnly.

“We’re studying the reactions of test subjects injected with agents and creating the proper countermeasures. I don’t see how access to storage units with viral strains concerns us.”

“The company line, as usual. I’m convinced there’s a hidden agenda.”

“Then go complain to the authorities. I’m not stopping you. While you’re concocting your dark theories, I’ll be in the lab,” she said as she glanced at the clock on the wall. “Time for the daily log. The of?ce is all yours.”

“Say hi to the guinea pigs for me.”

Jane left the room and headed toward the elevators. She waved to the two military police of?cers patrolling the hallway. They always looked so creepy, more the punch-in-your-face sort than the type inclined to give a respectful salute. The elevator doors slid open, and she scurried inside. Neville’s skeptical nature was borderline eccentric. But he was right about life being too short. And working at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases had been weighing on her since her son Sean’s birth. Her husband supported her career and did his part at home. She felt privileged. Most other women were stuck being housewives, not because they had chosen the life, but because it was expected, and there were few alternatives. Jane hoped that she could serve as a role model for other women who yearned for more independence and opportunity. But she missed her son, and she could not wait for the workweek to end so that she could go home and enjoy those three days with her boy and her man.

About the author:

French author David Khara, a former reporter, top-level sportsman, and entrepreneur, has always been a writer.
After studying law, he stepped into journalism working for Agence France Press,
and then became creative director for several advertising companies.
He loves new technologies and started his own company at the age of twenty-four,
becoming an online business pioneer for French industries.
He then focused his life on writing fiction.
In 2010, he published The Blieberg Project, which became an immediate success in France.
David Khara is also an accomplished athlete in fencing and rubgy, and he even played football as a linebacker.
He acknowledges that his culture is a much American as it is French, since he spent a lot of time in West Virginia and Manhattan,
and is an avid fan of writers such as Dennis Lehane.

Buy the book

The book is available as an ebook from all the Amazon stores, and as a paperback, again from Amazon and other online bookstores, but from bookshops too.

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in Charles Gibson’s virtual book tour for his fabulous work of historical fiction, Taking the Cross. The Medieval period is sometimes the poor relation when it comes to literature and too many people dismiss it, thinking it was a time of general misery, intolerance and endless conflict. To an extent they’re right, but it’s easy to forget that behind all those actions that seem pointless and misguided to us today lay real conviction. And real people. What I especially liked about Charles Gibson’s novel was that we got into the skins of the characters and, even if we might not share their beliefs, we could see why they believed them.

 

We have two main characters to absorb us in Taking the Cross – Eva, a young woman in a religious order, and Andreas. a knight. They are both embroiled in the battles against non-adherents to Catholic orthodoxy, but also internal struggles as they strive to do what they believe is right.

I have a fascinating guest post from the author for you here which will you give you a real insight into the period and place in which this book is set. It gives you an excellent taste of both Charles Gibson’s passion for this period, and his clear, engaging style of writing which you will find in his novel.  

 

Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson

The Languedoc

When most Americans think of places in France, they of think Paris, Normandy, Provence. Few seem to know of the Languedoc. Yet, if they have journeyed there, it is a place not easily forgotten. It not only has the largest intact Medieval walled city in Europe, but is the realm of the troubadours, of courtship and romance, and of the first crusade that was targeted against lands in Europe. Taking the Cross is set in the Languedoc and Provence during the first summer of this Crusade, which came to be known as the Albigensian Crusade against heresy.

The Languedoc is named for the language which used to be predominantly spoken there, a tongue called Occitan. It was the language of the troubadours and of those who lived in Southern France and Northern Spain during most of the Middle Ages. Occitan as a language is much closer to Spanish than to French. Before the Albigensian Crusade, the nobles of the Languedoc aligned themselves with King Pedro of Aragon, whose throne was in Barcelona. The name Languedoc comes from Langue d’oc, or the “language of yes”.

In the early thirteenth century, at a time when so much of Europe was issuing an emphatic “no”, the Languedoc said “yes”. Yes to greater freedom of religion, yes to increased economic freedom, yes to more freedom for Jews and not persecution. In June, 1209, the Languedoc was likely the most free and the most wealthy realm in Europe. The size of its great cities such as Beziers, Carcassonne, and Toulouse, rivaled or surpassed London, Paris, and Rome itself. Albigensians and Waldensians, groups that thrived in the Languedoc under protection, groups that either did not believe or did not practice their faith in the way of the Catholic Church, were deemed to be heretics.

Taking the Cross coverPope Innocent III declared heretics to be more evil than Saracens and launched the Albigensian Crusade. It ravaged a free and prosperous land. It led to the oppression and brutality of the Inquisition. C.S. Lewis declared that if not for the Albigensian Crusade, the Renaissance would have begun in the Languedoc in the thirteenth century two-hundred years before it began in Italy.

The largest intact Medieval walled city in Europe is Carcassonne. It is the Chateau Comtal, the castle of the city of Carcassonne, that is pictured on the cover of Taking the Cross. When I traveled to the Languedoc, I was able to go inside the Chateau Comtal, the castle of Viscount Raimon Roger Trencavel I, who is a main character in Taking the Cross. From the Chateau Comtal, I went to the nearby Tower of Heretics. It is so named because heretics were hanged there after the Albigensian Crusade from the crossbeams of the roof of the tower.

It was in the Tower of the Heretics that the history of the Languedoc came alive for me. As I stared up at the broad crossbeams, it was as if I could hear the screams and feel the suffering of those who were hanged, feel the heat and smell the smoke from those burnt at the stake. Even though it took me many years to figure it out, it was then I knew I had a story to tell.

The first instalment of that story is Taking the Cross.    

Synopsis

Taking the Cross is a historical novel by Charles Gibson about the little-known crusade launched by the Roman Catholic Church against fellow Christians in France, a time of great religious turmoil and conflict.

In the Middle Ages not all crusades were fought in the Holy Land. A two-pronged threat to the Catholic Church was growing within Christendom itself and Pope Innocent III called for the crusade against heresy to eliminate both the Albigenses and Valdenses, two movements that did not adhere to Church orthodoxy.

Andreas, a knight who longs to go on crusade to the Holy Land, finds himself fighting against one in his French homeland. While Andreas wages war for the lives and religious freedom of his people, a battle rages within his soul.

Eva, a young woman of a new religious order, the Beguines, discovers a secret message within a letter about the death of her father in the Holy Land. As she learns more of her father, she is forced to confront the profound and perilous spiritual inheritance he has bequeathed to her. A legacy for which she must fight.

Hearing of the feats of Andreas, Eva senses her inheritance may lead her to him.

Filled with battles of the flesh and the spirit, Taking the Cross reveals a passionate aspect of Medieval times where some fought ardently for the freedom of others. [provided by the author]

 About the author

Charles Gibson first started reading about history and geography when he was seven. He wrote his first short story at the age of nine. He continues to read and write whenever he can.
Charles has spent many years researching the Middle Ages and the Crusades, and has traveled to the Languedoc region in France. He has combined the passions of history and geography and prose to finish his first novel, Taking the Cross.
It takes place during the summer of 1209 in France.

Charles Gibson has previously written for the inspirational book series God Allows U-Turns as well as for a Minnesota newspaper.
He also works as a project manager for a medical device company. He also loves travel writing, and would like to start his own magazine some day about travel as a journey through life. The dominant theme of his writing is freedom. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

He lives in Minnesota with his lovely wife and energetic sons. He can be reached at [email protected]

Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter , Google +

Send him your questions and comments.

Follow the rest of the book’s virtual tour here.

Take part in the giveaway for this book here.

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Frederique Molay’s first Nico Sirsky novel, The 7th Woman, won the prize for Best Crime Novel in France in 2007, so you’re quite justified going into this book with high expectations. And you won’t be disappointed. This is an intriquing, polished murder mystery featuring the very likeable Police Commissioner Nico Sirsky.

Sirsky has now recovered from his gunshot wound, and his divorce, and life is good again. He has a new woman in his life and some interesting cases to get his teeth into. And one of these actually involves teeth. A student dentist doing a dissection as part of his training comes across something in a tooth. It turns out to be a tiny bit of paper stuck in a makeshift filling that says, ‘I was murdered’. Not that’s got to catch your attention! Of course, it could be a sick joke but soon Sirsky and his team uncover more macabre murders. Something is crossing the line of acceptability at a hospital renowned for its progress in cancer treatment. And at the heart of it all is a little girl.

The author
The author

The French edition of this book was titled Dent pour Dent – A Tooth for a Tooth. I had misgivings about the English title mainly because there are already so many books called ‘Crossing the Line’ out there. Amazon.com gives you 22,589 to choose from under the category ‘Books’. The worry with using a popular title is that a book can get lost. That may not be quite such a worry with such a prestigious, prize-winning author as Fréderique Molay, but generally a unique, distinctive title helps a book in terms of discoverability. However, Crossing the Line is certainly an apt title for this novel, since several lines are crossed – in terms of relationships, personal accomplishments and what’s ethically acceptable in the fight against disease. So yes, the title has won me over.

Crossing the Line cover

There is one thing about the very eye-catching cover that I don’t like. It’s not the Eiffel Tower, that iconic symbol of France, which at once portrays the setting of this novel and acts as a beacon of attraction. It may be horribly overused as meaning France, but it works brilliantly on this cover. And the title crossing the ‘Do Not Cross’ line is a very clever, creative touch.  No, it’s the inclusion of that ugly, glaring red label: ‘She is the French Michael Connelly’. Possibly in the mind of whoever wrote this, Molay is, but I personally can’t see any particular similarity other than they’re both authors. To me Molay is by far the better author of the two, with the depth and dimension of her writing. Too many crime writers get caught up in overdoing the dry details of terminology and technology used in forensics departments, but here we have descriptive, beautiful details about settings, personalities, relationships – everything. The publisher should let readers make up their own minds. I imagine its purpose is to boost sales but that presupposes everyone knows Connelly’s books and automatically likes them, and personally I think it will deter as many readers as it attracts. I imagine I’m not the only one who doesn’t like being told what to think! The cover would look much better without it.

This novel, the second in a series, works very well as a standalone, but you get more from it having read the precursor. Sirsky’s Russian heritage can be a little baffling at first if you dive into this second novel, although you have a strong hint with the son being called Dimitri. Plus you get the added element of seeing the characters develop.

In conclusion, Crossing the Line is an extremely enjoyable, thought-provoking read.

Follow the book on it’s book tour here:

And join in the giveaway here:

You can buy the book:

Via Le French Book’s website

All the Amazon websites and Barnes and Noble.

 

bigfattipsyCoco Pinchard is getting her life back together. She’s divorced from dopey philandering first husband Daniel, son Rosencrantz is moving out and gorgeous Adam, Coco’s boyfriend, is about to move in. Even Ethel, Coco’s ex-mother-in-law, if you can have one of those, seems to be rather nice to her these days.
But then Adam starts behaving strangely and Coco’s happiness begins to unravel… despite two more adorable men, Rocco and Xavier, and Rosencrantz’s outrageous housemates entering her life.
Robert Bryndza manages to combine side-splitting humour with some pretty serious issues, without trivialising them or making the book’s atmosphere too heavy. Coco faces some very big challenges but she’s nothing if not indomitable and creative, and she takes them head on. She gets a little bit of supernatural help along the way, which fits perfectly into Coco’s somewhat chaotic life.
The book consists of a series of emails and this works extremely well. Each one conveys the personality of its writer and keeps the story flowing from various points of view, but all reflect the talent and humour of this wonderful author.
Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding is comedy fiction at its very, very best.
Warning: not to be read in public. Your chuckles, snorts of laughter, gasps and occasional tears may cause consternation.

Buy the book here.

 

 

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What a great way to start July! It’s my turn to host Cris Hammond who is on a virtual book tour with his extremely enjoyable From Here to Paris.

All expats are interesting people, since it takes a certain sort of person to up sticks and not just move, but move to another country, but some are definitely more interesting than others. For many, expatdom often happens as a result of unemployment, and this is Cris’s case. As he succinctly puts it in the blurb, “your life can fall apart just enough to allow you to put it back together again in a whole new way”. And what a way! 

Cris, a cartoonist and then a boat photographer, buys a barge, Phaedra, and explores the French canal system. Phaedra needed a good bit of attention before the trip, and Cris had to grapple with plenty of other new challenges, such as French, France and dealing with locks.  And that’s just for starters.

Phaedra
Phaedra

Cris and his wife Linda rise to the challenges they face as expats afloat. There are plenty of entertaining anecdotes as we follow Phaedra’s dignified progress along the French waterways, enjoying the scenery and sharing Cris’s ups and downs on the way. It’s a book of self-discovery as well sightseeing and, as a fellow expat in France, it paints a realistic picture of the country as seen through foreign eyes.

Cris and Linda
Cris and Linda

I asked Cris some questions about his book, barging and Paris.

 

What inspired you to write From Here to Paris?
It never occurred to me that what we were doing was “book worthy” at first. But I did know that lots of our friends thought that we were setting out to do something verging on the crazy, and they were always eager to hear the latest news, catastrophic or euphoric. I’d regularly send short stories back to a growing number of people who seemed to always be fascinated and asking for more. That kind of interest and support made me feel good, regardless of whatever immediate challenges we were facing. As time went on, the stories began to pile up and someone said, “Hey, why don’t you turn this into a book?” That was another thing I’d never done before, so, since we were into trying new adventures, I gave it a shot.

Please describe it in 100 words (ok, 113!)
From Here to Paris is the story of how we climbed out of our well-worn corporate trench, took a look around, and decided it was time to shake things up. It’s also the hilarious tale of selling the burdensome house, returning the leased cars, shredding the credit cards, and abandoning the mind-numbing commute in favor of a joyful struggle toward a fresh, more fulfilling life. One we imagined as being lived in jeans, and filled with leisurely afternoons aboard our Dutch barge, Phaedra, floating along glass-still canals through medieval villages and rolling vineyards of Burgundy toward our ultimate goal, to live on our barge in the shadow of Notre Dame, in Paris.

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What’s the appeal of barging?
For me there are several things that recommend a barge over a house or an apartment. The first thing is that we’re always on the water. Living on the water can be a challenge at times, but it’s also almost always lovely, interesting, and relaxing. Another unique appeal is that the barge moves. We aren’t always cruising when we’re in France, but when the urge to go out to somewhere new hits, we can untie the lines and be gone. Phaedra is also extremely comfortable in a very compact space. From her stained glass windows that fill one wall, to her wonderfully carved woodwork that decorates her from bow to stern, living aboard her is like living in a varnished, glowing jewel box. To be honest though, I enjoy sitting in the cockpit in the evening, watching the sun go down with a glass of wine every bit as much as I love driving here through the canals and rivers of France. It’s all good.

What are your three favorite things about Paris?
The first thing is the feeling that comes over me of youth and joy when I’m on the streets of Paris. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like a kid again. Also, as I mention in the book, being an artist, I feel, when I walk through Paris, that I’m in a place that epitomizes an artistic approach to life. I love the museums, but I also love the way that Paris is a city that is made for walking. And I think this leads me to the third thing, the cafés. I can’t get enough of the people watching.

From Here to Paris has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
Yes, I did.

Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
I don’t think so, unless you think having to wear a scuba diving wetsuit whenever I write is quirky. (I don’t wear the flippers though.) Other than that, I find myself writing a lot of dialogue and sometimes it’s as if I’m just taking dictation from the voices I’m hearing in my head. I used to write a syndicated daily comic strip. I’d write non-stop for two weeks, then draw for two weeks, in order to get a month’s worth of strips out. During the writing time, I was pretty much a zombie, lost into the world of my characters. I’d walk right past people I knew, mumbling to myself, without even seeing them. I don’t know though if, in the world of writers, that is all that unusual.

A beautiful drawing of St Bris, by Cris
A beautiful drawing of St Bris, by Cris

Tell us briefly about what book’s coming next.
Well, I’m continuing to write my short stories and adventures for the folks back home. I’m getting that feeling again from my readers that there’s another book in that growing collection.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Get an editor that knows your voice and what you are trying say. Take their suggested edits as just that, suggestions. A good editor is invaluable, because we all have something to learn. But you’re a unique person with your own voice and your own story. Have faith in it.

What one snippet of advice would you give to anyone planning to visit France?
Give yourself enough time to enjoy your time past the jet lag malaise. See Paris but don’t try to see it all in one trip. You’ll be back. Also, try to get out of Paris and see other parts of the country. I’m convinced that France is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. It’s worth getting lost in the countryside for a week or two. You’ll be back.

 

Thanks to Cris for the great interview and photos.

 

About Cris

Cris Hammond is a nationally known artist, cartoonist, and entrepreneur. His comic strip, Speed Walker, Private Eye, was seen daily in over 150 newspapers across the country, from The Miami Herald to The Seattle Sun Times, The San Diego Union, and The Minneapolis Star Tribune. His paintings of ships and the sea have appeared in galleries in Sausalito, San Francisco, Tiburon, and Carmel, California. He led special effects teams to Academy Awards for Special Effects in motion pictures including Star Trek IV, Innerspace, and The Abyss, among others. In 1994, facing penury, he left his artistic pursuits, bought a briefcase and a couple ties, and went out and got a real corporate job. Eight years and four more neckties later, he walked into his office one morning and was ambushed by the waiting Exit Interview Team, which informed him that he was, as of that moment, “out on his ear.”
After a suitable period of bi-polar careening between panic and reflection, he realized that he was too young to retire and too old to go looking for another corporate job. So, he sold the house, bought a barge in France and started painting again.
Now he and his wife, Linda, spend half the year in California living and working in their tiny art studio near San Francisco, and the other half doing the same thing on the barge in France. Piloting their 1925 Dutch barge Phaedra, they’ve meandered through more than 1200 kilometers of canals and rivers and negotiated more than 850 locks in their travels from the Rhone wine region, through Burgundy to Chablis and down the Seine into Paris.

Cris’s website: http://www.bargephaedra.com/

Call by other stop on his book tour by visiting http://francebooktours.com/2014/04/09/cris-hammond-on-tour-from-here-to-paris-2/

And finally enter a giveaway for Cris’s excellent and entertaining book.