Harlequin publishers buy my memoir

Signing my publishing contract with Harlequin at  the Sydney home of my agent Selwa Anthony (standing).

Signing my publishing contract with Harlequin at the Sydney home of my agent Selwa Anthony (standing).

The stars must be in alignment because March has brought astounding happenings to set my life on a new trajectory.

Hoorah! I have sold my manuscript, Bon Voyage Mesdames, to Harlequin Publishers.  Adding to the excitement, my agent, Selwa Anthony advised me of this splendid deal a few days after Writers Week here in Adelaide. This will be my second book following From France With Love, published 9 years ago. Yes, it’s a long time ago, but this second publishing deal makes me feel like a real author.

I flew to Sydney to sign the publishing contract on Friday, April 15 with a publication date of April 2017.

My close friends will testify to my jitters over the past 6 months since October when I despatched the second draft to Selwa. It had taken  me almost 12 months to complete a second draft.

My friend Jane, with whom I shared this extraordinary journey back to France after Olivier’s death, never doubted that it would be picked up by an astute publisher.  Yes, its unashamedly Francophilic, as I loved France even before I met Olivier,  but the journey was also the catalyst for my personal resurrection. Paris, worked its magic once more in my life, lifting me out of the  emotionally crippling black cloud of grief to  allow the sunshine in; to feel that delicious joie de vivre once more.  Writing about loss is timely, just like back in the 60s when it was simply the time to write about sex.  But so are the main threads of my  story – the richness of women friends, food phobias, travel adventures in France and how to learn to embrace life again, to laugh and have fun once more.

Once when Baby Boomers were young, the social script was love and romance, marriage, babies and the good life. But  that first wave, born in 1946, turn 70 this year and millions more are moving into their 60s. Almost overnight, Boomers’  easy ride along honey-laden highway of life has come face to face with loss.  Suddenly love is intrinsically linked not to romance, but to loss.   Loss of our ageing parents and for those unlucky ones, as I was, the loss of a beloved spouse.  Sadly, some people never recover from grief.  But I discovered so many pleasures in France that  slowly happiness seeped back into my heart.

Robyne thanks her dad for happy childhood

Robyne Laird Jones wrote this emotive tribute to her dad and she was happy to have it reproduced on my website. Straight from the heart, it reveals the typical Australian childhood she and her siblings enjoyed – One quite different to mine, noted in my My Journal blog in November 2015.

“It is with a broken heart that I write that my beloved father passed away on Saturday 16th April 2016. Dad you were strict, you were stern, and yes you were bought up in a time when expressing your emotions was left to the women of the world but I never doubted for one second you loved your brood of kids, because when it really counted in our lives you said and did the right thing. You had a strange if not fun way of parenting and as kids you would amaze and horrify us sometimes like your way of pulling out our loose teeth with a piece of string a door handle and a slap on the back or the good old fashioned way of a pair of pliers, and Dad’s swimming lessons take the brood out in a speedboat with Uncle Jack and his kid’s then once we were 30 to 40 yards off shore you would throw us overboard and tell us to swim for shore and yes we blindly did as told and yes we swam and didn’t sink. These skills were used several time on the next generation the grand kids. Oh and Dad’s creative style of cooking when mum was away interstate what he couldn’t do with a bottle of Port, eggs, ham, steaks and pineapple but as always we survived and thrived.

Summer holidays spent in your home town of Ballina, saw us every morning getting us up early and sending us down to the beach to swim all day, we would return tired and sun-burnt and alive as you would always remark with a surprised tone and it wasn’t until we asked the words most kids would dread “Oh I should have warned you kids there are sharks and rips at that beach” we just took it all in our stride. In later years I was pleased as the youngest of the brood to become your partner in crime at the aged care home, when I got you the new beaut Racy Red Gopher and I found myself suddenly becoming the Parent now Dad promise me you will be careful don’t speed and only go on the footpath make sure you are totally visible but I was happy I could give you the freedom to enjoy the outdoors again only to be informed that after only 2 days in your possession the staff were going to ban you from using it because you had taken your gopher up to the roof of the hospital next door to check out the medical helipad landing area and to go to the pub and the shops (i was so proud to have a rebel of a father at the age of 79). Dad you were, you are and you will always be my Dad whom I Love respect and now miss ever so much.  RIP dear Dad until we meet again your loving youngest daughter and baby of the family Robbie”