Amanda Giorgis

News from Applecross – July 2021

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
HOME NEWS
What with a poorly dog and both of us having colds, it has been an enforced quiet month here at Applecross HQ.

As it is the middle of winter too, I can honestly say I haven’t visited parts of the garden for several weeks. What a delight it was then, to find the first signs of daffodils coming up this morning. Spring may be just around the corner after all. 

Our old girl, Jess, gave us a real fright last weekend. She had a bit of a seizure, and for a while we thought we would lose her. These things always happen when the vet has shut for the evening, we’ve just put the dinner in to cook and the rain is driving sideways outside! Nevertheless we got her to the emergency vet hospital, where she spent the next 3 days being cared for. Thankfully, she is on the road to recovery now.

Jess is our famous ‘cover dog’ from the paperback version of The Wideawake Hat, pretending to be James’ faithful collie dog. She’s a grand old lady of about 11 years old and is a little bit of a princess. She has thoroughly enjoyed all the extra attention she’s received this week!
WHALE (!) OF THE MONTH
Yes, I know it is meant to be Bird of the Month, but I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Toa, a baby Orca, who has captured the hearts of many New Zealanders these last weeks. Toa got left behind by his pod when he got stuck on some rocks near Wellington. Many kind folk gave up their time to try to rescue him and to find his pod again, but it was not to be. Toa passed away surrounded by those who had cared for him. Toa means ‘Be Brave’ in Māori. 

Kia okioki ia i runga i te rangimarie – rest in peace.
BOOK NEWS
I have just finished reading The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. I thoroughly enjoyed it, not least because it is set in Oxford, Bath and Shropshire – all places I have lived over the years! It is a cleverly constructed, well written book and I thoroughly recommend it to you all. Touchingly sad in places, full of humour and insight, it follows the creation of the first Oxford English Dictionary. Not a promising plot, you would think, but you would be very wrong. If you love words and their meaning, read it soon!!!

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Recently, I was invited to speak to the Friends of Christchurch Libraries at their lunchtime meeting. I really enjoyed telling them about the background of The Applecross Saga, especially as most of the 24 attendees had visited the Mackenzie Basin and knew something about the legend of James Mackenzie. It was a real pleasure to engage with such a well-read and interested group of people.

One gentleman told me he was keen to hear how I had come up with the name Applecross, because he had visited the tiny fishing village on the West Coast of Scotland. I’ve been there too – the road over the hills to get there is absolutely spectacular! The truth of it is that I needed a name that was of Scottish origin, but not too Scottish. We had Mackays and Mackenzies already. What better than a real place in Scotland, albeit it with an unusually English name!

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There’s been some progress on Book 5 of The Applecross Saga in recent days, despite the distractions of a poorly dog. ‘Mixed Blessings’ is on track for publication in early 2022. I’m knee deep in research at the moment. The 1870s were busy years in New Zealand and I am really enjoying looking into the life of Julius Vogel, who instigated a period of great change, as well as Kate Sheppard, who is generally credited with leading the journey towards women in New Zealand being the first in the world to gain the vote.
Finally, may I make a plea? When you have finished reading any of my books, please consider writing a review online, on the platform you used to buy the ebook, or on Goodreads, or wherever you can shout it from the rooftops! Not only does it help to increase sales, but it gives me a great boost of confidence as I write Book 5. Thank you.
AN APPLECROSS COMPANION
You will find a list of Applecross folk and their dogs in The Applecross Companion. I will be adding more to the companion as time goes by.

It is still a work in progress, but you are welcome to dive on in there and take a look. Go to https://amandagiorgis.com/the-applecross-companion/ – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include? Please do comment below, or email me at amanda.giorgis@icloud.com with any thoughts and suggestions. I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Buy the Applecross Saga

June Newsletter from Applecross

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
Home news

A 200-year storm passed our way a couple of weeks ago. We had 8” of rain (over 200mm) in two days and were cut off for a while because all the bridges and fords around us were closed. We even had the squawk message from Civil Defence on our phones to evacuate, although it turned out to be only for those north of the Eyre River, not us. There was a moment of panic while we wondered what to grab, and how we were supposed to leave without a helicopter! Other places around us lost bridges and suffered landslips, and the farmers have had a bad time rescuing stock and mending broken fences, etc. This photo appeared on our community Facebook page – it is usually a dry ford over which we drive almost daily. Not today though!
Egg update!

All three little chooks are laying now. Our two cockerels spent a day or two sorting things out and we now have relative peace and harmony in the henhouse. Henry has adopted the three new girls, while Foggy has his older girls to care for. Note to readers – I do not recommend two roosters at a time, but as I am also determined to allow our chickens to live out their days in idleness and luxury, there was not much we could do when the young Henrietta grew up to be Henry. They rub along without too many fights and have plenty of room at our place to escape each other! Here’s the two boys – Foggy at the top, then Henry, keeping a watchful eye on one of his new harem!
Bird of the month

This month’s bird photo is of a waxeye (sometimes called a silvereye too). We have a pair who visit our bird table regularly in the winter. For such tiny creatures they sure can put their food away. It took them just a morning to devour a pile of crumbs, a whole apple and a block of seed-packed fat.
Book News

I am in the middle of a book tour, but I have yet to leave the comfort of my own home! In these days where travel is quite complicated, a virtual book tour sounds like a great idea. Please do have a look, drop into any session that takes your fancy and find out a bit more about me and my books. Leave me a message and you stand a chance of winning an Amazon voucher.

 The Applecross Saga Book Tour and Giveaway

Good news – I have started writing the 5th book in the Applecross Saga. It has the provisional title of ‘Mixed Blessings’ and begins about 5 years after the end of ‘Three Cedar Trees’. Don’t worry though, I’ll make sure I tie up all the loose ends from Book 4, including what happens to poor Ben after his accident. It turns out to be a bit of a mixed blessing – hence the title! This time, it is the turn of the girls to tell their stories. So we will follow Heather, Adey Rose and Caroline as they transform from childhood into young ladies. Who do you think this may be on the cover? She’s tough and resilient and just about as hard to tame as the plant after whom she is named!
I cannot pass on this month without mentioning the shock news of the death of Lucinda Riley. I have mentioned her Seven Sisters series in previous months and had barely finished reading the 7th book when news came through of her death after a battle with cancer. Goodness, we have lost a great storyteller. All authors know how much effort is required to write a good book, and to do that while dealing with a debilitating illness is incredible.

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An Applecross Companion

You will now find a list of Applecross folk and their dogs in The Applecross Companion. I will be adding more as time goes by.It is still a work in progress, but you are welcome to dive on in there and take a look.

Go to https://amandagiorgis.com/the-applecross-companion/ – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include?
Please do email me at amanda.giorgis@icloud.com with any thoughts and suggestions.
I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Buy the Applecross Saga

Nothing is useful that is not honest

Nihil utile quod non honestum

So says the motto of the Christchurch Press Newspaper. The first copy of ‘The Press’ was published on this day in 1861 and it seems to me that such a motto is one that many a media outlet should note!

All six pages of the first edition are available here on the excellent ‘Papers Past’ website – a wonderful source of knowledge for aspiring authors of historical fiction in New Zealand. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/press/1861/05/25

This edition of The Press gets a mention in the 2nd book of The Applecross Saga, Shepherd’s Delight. As you can imagine, with no alternative means of knowing what was happening in the world, James and his friends would glean every bit of news and information from such a publication.

The photo shows the first Press Office in Christchurch at a time when the city barely existed. It is reproduced from The Press Archive/Stuff.

From ‘Shepherd’s Delight’ :-

“Edmund, always one to be interested in horses, pricked up his ears. “I have heard that people are getting together to race their horses,” he said to Guy. “I would love to see it, and I think my young boys would love to take part when they are older.”

“Well, would it be possible for you all to join me there?” replied Guy. “It will not take place until the spring – perhaps October, or November. The date will be announced in the new broadsheet newspaper from Christchurch, The Press, which comes out every Saturday. Though I have heard tell that a new broadsheet from Dunedin may come out later this year and be printed every day.”

Edgar made a mental note to tell his wife to order The Press. It sounded like something they would all like to read. “A newspaper that came out every day – whatever next?” he said, almost to himself.

“Ah, but I have the first copy of The Press here. Frewin brought it for me,” said Guy, fumbling through the pile of papers and photographs in his saddlebag. He pulled out a well-thumbed copy of the broadsheet from the previous Saturday, 25th May. “And the latest Otago Witness, if you would like to read it. You will make my load lighter if you keep them both.”

Like all those who live far away from their homeland, the men had a voracious need to find out what else was going on in the world. They were happy to accept these gifts from Guy and assured him they would be put to good use, with every word being read over and again. “But not tonight,” said James. “I am off to my bed now.” The other men rose to go to their respective beds, but Samuel, it seemed, had no desire to move.

“I’ll stay a while and read until this candle burns down,” he said. The others left him to it, James thinking to himself that those words made up the longest sentence Samuel had uttered since Carrie’s death. Time was healing, perhaps.”

News from Applecross May 2021

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis,
best-selling author of the Applecross Saga
Home news

Well, I think you could say that our summer drought has come to an end at last. What a storm we had one day last week! The rain and hail falling so fast that it couldn’t drain away on our hard-as-rock ground. There are now a few patches of green showing on the lawn, but we really do need more rain soon, please.
New Zealand’s autumn weather is often a blessing of bright sunny days with cloudless skies. It may get cold at night (we’ve had heavy frosts already), but the days make up for it, stocking up our sunshine levels to see us through the winter. 

I promised you fresh eggs in the last newsletter, but we are not quite there yet. Rosie, Daisy and Ivy are still growing into young ladies and their red combs are showing up now, so it won’t be long. There’s such pleasure in collecting eggs each day, but I always try to say thank you to whoever laid it. Holidays
Holidays

In April we took a little break from Applecross headquarters and headed west to Reefton. What a fascinating town it turned out to be. A gold mining community, thriving in the 1880s, so plenty of research material for my next few books. Reefton was the first town in New Zealand to have street lighting, even before New York apparently. As so many small towns do, its fortunes declined in recent years, but my goodness, the locals have certainly made the best of their history to encourage visitors. Even the litter bins have historical street scenes on them. We really enjoyed fossicking around the area looking for bits and pieces of industrial history, despite the heavy rain. (Note – it rains a lot more on the western side of New Zealand than it does on the East Coast!).In what is becoming a monthly update on all things ornithological, I could not help but share this photograph, taken at the ruins of Energetic Mine. This little S.Island robin got so close to me that I had to step back to fit him into my camera lens! I am rather pleased with the result though.
Reading

I am rushing through a repeat reading of Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series at the moment. Who else is waiting with anticipation for 27th May when the story of the 7th sister is revealed? Sometimes reading a book more than once reveals things you didn’t pick up first time, and this is proving to be so. Perhaps I am a bit slow realising this, but apparently Pa Salt appears in the historical bits of all 6 books so far. Have you spotted him?

If you are looking for something purely historical to read, I have some suggestions for free downloads available at Historical Fiction for May

An Applecross Companion

You will now find a list of Applecross folk and their dogs in The Applecross Companion. I will be adding more as time goes by, although I am eagerly awaiting delivery of something that will make it a lot easier to include drawings. More next month about that!

It is still a work in progress, but you are welcome to dive on in there and take a look. Go to https://amandagiorgis.com/the-applecross-companion/ – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think?
Any ideas of other things to include?
Please do email me at amanda.giorgis@icloud.com with any thoughts and suggestions.
I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Stories from Applecross, the Box Set
Now, I have made the presumption that, should you be reading this, you have already purchased and/or read at least one of my books in the Applecross Saga. Therefore, you may not need to buy the box set, which contains the first four books in one special ebook package. I ask you, instead, to recommend it to friends and family. Available at a reasonable price, exclusively from KOBO at https://www.kobo.com/en/ebook/stories-from-applecross

March Newsletter

News from Applecross

March 2021

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
Home news

There is much progress to report on the new kitchen at Applecross headquarters. Normal catering services have resumed with a fully functioning oven and hob. Things were slightly delayed by the late arrival of the drawer and cupboard handles (stuck on a ship, apparently), but otherwise we are, as they say, ‘cooking on gas’. Mr Applecross is much relieved that baking has resumed – he was getting quite grumpy with the lack of homemade cakes and biscuits!We have neglected the garden this year, although it has been so dry that nothing much has grown lately. Grapes have been harvested and frozen for wine making later on. We have more green beans than we can possibly eat and a glut of tomatoes, just when they are cheap in the shops too! But the big news is the arrival of Daisy, Rosie and Ivy, new additions to the flock. By the next newsletter we should be collecting their eggs.
Talking of birds, I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of our resident fantails, or piwakawaka, to use the Māori word for them. We seem to have a family of 9 of these little treasures who love nothing more than to flit around you whenever you venture outside. It is sheer ‘cupboard love’ though, they are after the tiny bugs flushed out by your walking. Tricky little blighters to photograph as they never sit still.
Reading

A busy month of book editing has left me with limited reading time, but I bought and devoured ‘The Tally Stick’ by Carl Nixon. Goodness, it is one of those storylines that stays with you, a confronting but gripping tale. Not for the faint hearted, but I do recommend it. Other reviews suggest that it leaves too many things unanswered, but I rather think that’s the point of the story. There were indeed many loose ends, and it is up to the reader to work out what else may have happened.I often take a month or so away from writing at this time of year, although I have to keep telling the fictional people of Applecross to stop bombarding my brain with ideas for the next book. During this time I am doing my best to read more, to actively seek out New Zealand authors and to buy real books (you know, the ones printed on paper!) from my local independent bookstore. If you have a local bookshop, please do try to use it. They, like other small businesses, have done it tough during the pandemic and would appreciate your support, and generally they are run by really nice people who have time to stop and talk.

It may be Autumn down here below the equator, but those of you in the Northern Hemisphere may be looking for a Spring read. Here are a couple of special offers for Historical Fiction running throughout April which may be of interest – and who cares what season it is, if the books are good?

Enjoy Spring Reading and Spring into Historical Fiction

An Applecross Companion

I have made some progress on providing a companion to the Applecross books. It is taking the form of a webpage accessible only to you, dear readers and subscribers. It is very much a work in progress at the moment, with the beginnings of a list of characters, but I hope to add more detail soon, including a map of the Basin and a glossary of Māori words and phrases.You are welcome to dive on in there and take a look. Go to https://amandagiorgis.com/the-applecross-companion/ – use the password ‘Applecross’ to get access.

What do you think? Any ideas of other things to include? Please do email me at amanda.giorgis@icloud.com with any thoughts and suggestions. I do love hearing from my readers with feedback (good and bad, of course).

Three Cedar Trees
Now, the observant among you may spot the addition of two little letters to the title of the latest book in The Applecross Saga! The Cedar Trees became Three Cedar Trees. A last minute change, but one which I think reflects the storyline better.Three Cedar Trees is now available as an ebook on all the usual platforms, a paperback on Amazon or direct from me in New Zealand (with the special kiwi cover design!) You can even buy a hardback version from Amazon!

 Buy the Applecross Saga