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Margaret Ann Spence > BLOG > 2016 > September

AuthorU – Helping Writers

It was a beautiful few days in Denver at the AuthorU Extravaganza September 15-17. Writers, publishers and vendors enjoyed three days of networking and information sessions. The most useful for me were the workshops on social media. But it was not all work. We ate delicious food and enjoyed a play performed by best-selling women’s fiction author and Days of Our Lives actress Mara Purl and actor Christopher Law. Judith Briles, “The Book Shepherd” founder of the writer support group AuthorU had shattered her shoulder in a fall the week before. This did not stop her from running the conference with her usual energy and charm. Best of all, for me, was that my novel, Lipstick On The Strawberry, was a finalist in the “Draft to Dream” Book Competition. The competition for unpublished manuscripts is judged by a panel of librarians. I make myself blush by repeating what the judges said about my story – but then again I want you to buy it when it is published. Here’s a sample of the judge’s comments: “The quality of the writing drew me into the story immediately…” “She is an excellent writer. She has a great ability to create the scene and describe character…” “The writing style…is very fluid, and it’s just good writing…a pleasure to read it.” So that’s enough bragging for now. Above is the photo of the certificate. Three cheers for Judith Briles and AuthorU!

Love Under French Skies

By Gil Bryant Endeavor Press, 2016 I enjoyed this book immensely. Divorced and miserable, Fiona, an over- fifty Englishwoman, about to be made redundant in her job, learns she’s inherited a house in the French countryside from an “aunt” she never knew she had. She moves to France, starts to restore the house, and immediately finds herself pursued by two very different and attractive men. I know. This is a romance. Gil Bryant’s descriptions of France are very well done. I felt I was seeing the view from the windows of the house just as Fiona does. The landscape is stunning and the descriptions lush and gorgeous. I loved the fact that Fiona is so open to moving countries after a lifetime in one place. I loved the fact that she is so open to new acquaintance – from her neighbors, Frederic and Chantal, to her male admirers, Xavier and Mike, and first and most important, to Clo. Clo is a marvelous literary character. Fiona meets him, with his dreadlocks, pierced tongue, gold tooth and guitar, as he arrives penniless in England and busks at a train station. Impressed with his musical ability, Fiona gives him money. Then (in a rather unbelievable coincidence) she finds that he, too, will be moving to France, having been offered a place in a band near Toulouse, not far from Fiona’s inherited house. They drive together over the channel and become fast friends. Some reviewers have commented that they didn’t like the character of Xavier, Fiona’s French lover. It is true that he is manipulative and immature, and Fiona’s reactions to his behavior seem less resilient than one would expect from someone with her depth of experience. Still, I found it refreshing that an author can conjure up love in middle age so convincingly. Who said teenagers had a monopoly on foolishness? The love triangle, and the mystery of who Fiona’s benefactor really was, kept me turning pages.