New Junior Fiction – Venice Escape – A Travel Fantasy Adventure Celebrating Italian Luminaries in the Golden Age of Exploration

13 05 2011

Shameless self promotion but had to blog about my wonderful new book

June 21, 2011 has been selected as the launch date for a new junior fiction novel, Venice Escape – Maria’s Golden Gondola Adventures. This will be available on and also at

Blending the dual themes of music and Italian luminaries, this blog author has created a whirlwind time travel adventure of a young girl eager to learn about the world outside her cloistered Venetian surroundings. This junior travel fantasy paints geography, history, music and adventure on the canvas of a light-hearted voyage of self-discovery for a young heroine.

The concept of a united Italian nation is fairly recent, yet the accomplishments of those born within its current borders, such as in music and exploration, have been plentiful and rich down through the ages. Venice Escape launches on the 21st June 2011 to pay homage to two events: 2011 is the 150th unification anniversary of Italy and 21st June is the annual “Fete de la Musique”; an event started in France that is now worldwide.

The plot:

“Venice Escape is the story of a lonely young Italian girl, Maria Mozzarella, who lives in a Venice convent school. Having been chased by a rat through a secret door she meets a Lion, Marco, and his magical golden gondola. He tells her about his many famous Italian explorer friends and how he is able to travel to the countries they discovered and meet them.

Maria’s curiosity is high and she joins Marco on a high-speed voyage through time and around the world to meet remarkable people, and admire their architecture, cuisine and music. With her passion for music and musical instruments ignited, she wishes to remain longer in each place, but the time with Marco is limited. Meanwhile after each journey the riddle of her mysterious benefactor grows.”

Venice Escape contains an appendix where you can learn more about the Italian explorers and Vivaldi. There is also a companion multi-media website with music clips for each instrument and musical style.

The author added,

“My free online resource has been developed to offer readers of Venice Escape an improved reading experience, and at the same time provide teachers with the opportunity to use this material to trigger cross-curricular discussions in their classes. My hope is that the book will be used in schools to assist discussion on music genres/instruments, history and geography. Alternatively, young readers can simply enjoy linking to the music sounds and reflect back on how Maria would have enjoyed hearing this music for the first time.”

Another attribute to this book and online companion, is the addition of a piece of guitar and string music called Venice Escape which has been commissioned by the author. Venice Escape, the music, and has been written to capture the feeling of travelling from Venetian canals to the far-flung countries visited. Find it on

International Teacher, Denise Gilby added, “I think children will definitely enjoy it by reading it in sections and having the practical side of then listening to the music and following the travels around the world.”

Special Education Needs (SEN) Teacher, Lisa Carey added, “It is often hard to capture the attention of pupils during history class (as it is so far removed from daily experiences). The online resource at ‘Sandra Arthur Books’, for Venice Escape, will be really useful in my SEN work. I loved the storyline.”

Venice Escape – Maria’s Golden Gondola Adventures is aimed at 9 to 12 year olds.

This story is beautifully heart-warming; a surprising mix of adventure, mystery, and historical and musical education. Even adults who may read the story to their children will find they have learned something about the places, explorers or music.


Fête de la Musique 2010 hits the streets

15 06 2010

The Summer Solstice will be celebrated once again on 21 June, but this ancient celebration is now being overshadowed by what is known as World Music Day. The origins of this stem back to 1982 when on the streets of Paris, France the Fête de la Musique was launched by Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture at the time.

The idea was to promote the right of all amateur and professional musicians to perform for free in locations around the country (from concert halls to street corners).

Since 1985, this idea has spread and been celebrated in most EU countries as well as further afield in USA, Brazil, China, Nigeria and Morocco. However, France still leads the way with every town and village in the country entering into the annual celebrations.

Those traveling to France on 21 June should arrive forewarned to bring ear plugs – all noise restrictions are lifted, thus giving the streets the freedom to create an organized cacophony of sounds, sights to stimulate all your senses.

Promotion and publicity is naturally much easier due to advancement in technology. Once again, social media is playing its’ role to spread the word, secure attendees and of course to offer live streaming of events as they occur. There is not one event where smartphones, cameras and videos are not in full use as they capture shots and sounds to share. Those unable to attend can still review the nights entertainment via YouTube, Flickr and other social media sites.

During the past few years, more and more “arranged” events seem to dominate the evening’s line up. For some this has diluted the original spirit of the Fête , but nevertheless, the rules still remain the same. If Grandpa feels he wants to share his talent of spoon playing, or your Auntie is great at knocking out those operatic numbers – feel free to hits the streets and perform – no-one will be arrested!

Meanwhile, for those living or visiting the south of France, near Nice, do yourself a favour and consider supporting Jam’s Band on 21 June 2010.

JAM'S Band, France.

An interesting international, amateur group – mainly comprised from people who work at Hewlett Packard(!) – who demonstrate they have more musical talent than perhaps their geek side work persona. Male and Female lead singers – Jam and Dom (who are French) add a wonderful sexy angle to their English rock singing!

The group covers music from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s (Pink, U2, Muse etc) – hear a sample of their sound on YouTube: Bohemian Like You (The Dandy Warhols cover) – plus one or two band originals.

Check out Jam’s cover of Bohemian Like You (The Dandy Warhols)

The band will be performing on 21 June at 21.00h in St Laurent Du Var. Playing Live, together with another group, at the port in front of the Bandiera Blue Restaurant – should be a good recipe for a fun night out – Stimulate all your senses: View, Aroma, Sound, Taste and Touch if you dare (;-)

Concert : Bandiera Blu Restaurant
167 PROMENADE DES FLOTS BLEUS – 06700 Saint-laurent-du-var,France Tel 06 60 03 74 23‎

Jam's Band

Free music on the streets of France

18 06 2009
JAM'S Band, France.

JAM'S Band, France.

Displaying their talent, Colle sur Loup, Fete de La Musique

Displaying their talent, Colle sur Loup, Fete de La Musique

If you find yourself in France over the weekend, note it is the Fete de la Musique – Musical Festival – where you will find free music on the streets.

On Sunday, 21 June, anyone with or without talent(!) can play music and not get arrested.

Every wannabe musician is dusting off their instruments, reviewing their play-lists and hounding friends, neighbours and colleagues to mark their calendars and support them. Once again technology is playing its’ role and sites such as Facebook are driving the publicity machine to alert friends on planned concerts. Planned attendance can be monitored by bands and adjustments to their publicity can be made at a flick of a button. Likewise, Google maps is playing its’ role. Helping attendees check out outdoor locations and assessing which restaurant terraces will offer the optimum viewing site of the stage.

Hard hit restaurant owners have double reason to celebrate. The government has offered a VAT reduction to 5.5% (from 19.5%) – valid from July 1, 2009 – Jan 1 2010 IF the owners agree to a 11.8% reduction in menu prices. It’s not such a bad deal, as only 7 key menu keys need be applied to the reduction.

The change sadly will not fall in time for this weekends’ fete, but owners are hoping the good weather and the offer of free music will drive hungry crowds to their empty terraces.


A quick plug for my husband, Richard Arthur – his band, Jam’s, will be doing their best in the quaint village of Colle sur loup – check details here: