The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Monday, 22 February 2016

Welcome to Eleanor Smythe and REFLECTIONS!


Today I am delighted to welcome Eleanor Smythe to talk about her latest release, REFLECTIONS, a contemporary fiction Whodunit which was released last December.

 Hello Eleanor and thank you for coming on the blog today. Can you tell us a little about you? 

I’m not really sure what you would want to know about me. I’m a very open person. I don’t mind answering questions. I don’t like toothpaste tubes being squeezed from the middle. I can’t work if my environment is untidy. I have to keep things in order and I’m not a hoarder, which means I clear out cupboards quite regularly. You can always ask me questions by visiting me on:







 Oh dear... I think you might have a nervous breakdown if you ever came to my house! What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write?  

I can’t remember ever thinking I wanted to be anything in particular, I certainly never said I want to be an author. However the thought must have been there because I was 10 or 11 years old when I told my Mother, ‘One day I’m going to write a book. My friends would say I want to be a nurse, a dancer or a teacher. I would say, ‘I don’t want to be anything in particular, I just want to write a book. I didn’t think I could be a published author, in those days it was only something one would dream of… I believe my mother actually laughed… Okay dear dream on. She didn’t say it quite like that, but I imagine you get my point.  Thanks to the internet all things have been made possible. You could say I’ve fulfilled a childhood dream. 

It is indeed wonderful that you fulfilled your dream. Tell me, where do you get your ideas for your stories? 

It’s a bit like growing an oak tree from an acorn. I have a character in mind, they just seem to appear from nowhere. I nurture them imagining them in various situations and work out how they might cope or develop. I build them a community of family, friends and enemies if necessary. The story tends to unfold as I dig into their lives.  It probably helps that I listen to people and their stories, a mind full of what if this and what if that. My previous profession as an Occupational Therapist gave me the experience and skill to listen, assess and ask questions. I do this with my characters. I know it sounds a little crazy, but I open my mind and listen to them as if they were real. 

It doesn't sound crazy at all! All my characters live with me for  months and I get terribly in love or very annoyed with them! Can you tell us about REFLECTIONS?

I loved writing Reflections. It digs deep into Sally’s past, talks about the parents she never really knew or understood. It’s  her parents love story, a look into their past as much as hers… she learns about her family roots. Discovers that she can have a future without her ex-husband Brian, and a marriage she didn’t think she’d ever recover from. Her strength of character shines when she begins to plan and live for the future.

In three words - What kind of man is your hero? 

Intelligent, reserved, lonely

What about Sally, your heroine? 

Determined, emotional, strong

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a book titled Pink Hair and Murder. Set in current times, somewhere in Essex, although I’m not intending to be specific about the area. It features a group an elderly people in their 80’s. I’m not wanting to give to much away as I’m yet to write the blurb on this. However I can tell you: The coroner’s report clearly stated natural causes. Stan’s wife is convinced he was murdered following information that confused her. The will is read and reveals that half the house should be split between the wife of 55 years and the mistress of 40 years…huge shock for Irene who is determined not to sell and seeks out revenge. A sad story in parts, but full of humour and one liners. The story tells of betrayal, loyalty between friends and of course the murder. An interesting twist at the end. 

I love the title! How do you promote your work? What do you find the hardest?

I tend to use social media. Face book, twitter, good-reads and Brook Cottage Books for my tours. I’m not good at marketing or promoting myself. I have found that side of things quite daunting. Until my first book was ready to be publish, March 2015, I’d never been involved with social media sites. It’s still quite new to me really. I’m chugging on and I’m always ready to listen and take advice or suggestions.  

Choosing the name of my characters is something I love doing. How do you choose the name of your characters?

This isn’t always easy. I’m conscious not to use the name of anyone I know. If my character begins to remind me of anyone… this has happened, I make changes to their personality within the plot and I’m even more particular about the name. Often a name just falls into place but it is something I’m very aware of. 

What was your best ever moment as a writer?

This is an easy question for me to answer. The moment I received an acceptance from Amazon to say my first book was live…that was the best feeling I had as a writer. My goal to write a book had been achieved.

One last question...Do you find it difficult to come up with titles for your novels? 

Once the story line takes shape it seems to fall into place. So far I haven’t found it to be a problem.

WORD ASSOCIATION FUN TEST!

1. day … light, time, dream

2. night… mare, sky, vision

3. winter… cold, damp, fire

4. summer… sun, sea, swim

5. romance… love, cuddles, roses

6. writing… books, silence, relaxing

7. music… dance, soothing, memories

8. hair… long, short, curly

9. love… husband, family, nature

10. ring… bell, tone, wedding. 

Thank you Marie for inviting me and for taking part in my tour. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and look forward to visiting your blog.

You are very welcome, Eleanor. Good luck with REFLECTIONS!


 Author Bio

Eleanor Smythe was born in the East end of London but struggles to call it home as she moved away in her teens, and continued to live in various parts of the UK. After raising four sons, she went on to obtain a degree in Occupational Therapy. Although she took the opportunity to work in various medical settings, her greatest passion was working with clients within the community, where she claims real life takes place. 

Now retired and living primarily in Portugal Eleanor has more time to pursue her love of writing. Always intrigued by the way in which individuals cope with life's challenges and how they overcome the twists and turns of life, her stories embrace inner emotional turmoil that her characters might feel. They are brought to life by showing humour, tragedy, conflict, betrayal and emotions that many of us face daily. 

Her debut book, The Other Side of Town continues to receive positive reviews while her second book, Reflections, was recently released. 

Eleanor and her husband’s love of travel, which has led to the recent acquisition of ‘Dolly the Camper Van’. Dolly will enable them to pursue their individual hobbies of fishing and writing in new and exciting environments. Eleanor will be blogging about their adventures as well as inviting others to share their own.

Blurb

Sally must deal with the grief of losing her father, a man she knew very little about. After his funeral she takes time out to be alone and reflect on her life. 

To find out the truth about him, she first has to make amends with her estranged mother and half sisters, who she hasn’t spoken to for almost twenty years. 

In the meantime, Mr Leriche from Interpol opens a fascinating old case file, about a stolen painting potentially worth millions. Before long Sally finds herself in the middle of a criminal investigation. Having discovered she is the sole beneficiary to her father’s estate, she must decide whether to develop the business or walk away. 

Reflections is an emotional journey of love and loss and the revealing of family secrets…Life is never quite what it seems until we dig deep.

Excerpt

Sally had never imagined she would be sitting in the back of a black limousine with blacked out windows on her way to her father’s funeral. In fact, she had never expected to attend the funeral of either of her parents. Having been estranged from her mother for almost twenty years, and never knowing her father, the possibility seemed highly unlikely. 

Mixed feelings—of gratitude and a deep sadness for the years that had been lost—washed over her as she searched her handbag for more tissues. She had spent so many years believing her mother had abandoned her, when in fact the truth proved to be very different. It left her with feelings of guilt. Her own stubbornness had prevented her from removing the barriers she’d created between herself and her mother. Her interpretation of events, seen through the eyes of a child, had been allowed to expand in her mind, festering into resentment. 

The tears rolled down her face as she reflected on her childhood, her marriage and her family. The past four years had also taught her about perception, how misleading things had been, because she hadn’t been open to others and their opinions and views. Sally had previously believed her world to be unshakable, as long as she blocked out her past, but that had proven not to be the case. 




Saturday, 13 February 2016

Love from France...more vintage Valentine's cards


To carry on with the theme of vintage Valentine's Day cards I started last week  I am posting a few mor old French postcards from various periods I have found. They are absolutely lovely...What do you think?


The little sister has fallen asleep and the big sister accepts...But don't make any noise and wake up 'the alibi'!


What about a Love Barometer?

 And the 'waterfall of love which will never run dry'?
 A boat ride on the Lake of Love....

 What a beautiful moustache!
A Love calendar from the Thirties...

 A Happy Heart from the Forties...
 And this really cute one from Raymond Peynet...

Which one is your favourite?

Saturday, 6 February 2016

French Valentine postcards: the romantic, the cute and the bizarre!

Do you get Valentine's cards? Do you send them? Or do you think it is a waste of time and money?

I have always loved old cards and postcards, and since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, I thought I would post a selection of old French cards -  not mine, since these as a little too old for me and unfortunately I only ever got one in my whole life!

I have found a selection of a few charming old ones. What do you think?





Now for the cute...French illustrator Raymond Peynet created his characters 'les amoureux' in 1942. The poet and his lover have become emblematic of Valentine Day in France and have inspired the famous George Brassens' song 'Les amoureux sur les bancs publics', featured in numerous books and posters and have even been made as dolls which are sought after collectables. A museum in Antibes is entirely devoted to his cartoons and drawings and well worth a visit.
You can find some information about it here http://www.peynet.com/index_ang.php



And finally, the frankly bizarre...


She doesn't look that keen about him trying to kiss her whilst smoking his cigarette, don't you think? Maybe that's why she is wearing so much lipstick... 

What was the loveliest Valentine's card you ever received?