Amanda Giorgis

October 2021 Newsletter

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

Spring is here in the southern hemisphere. The garden is growing apace, birds are building their nests and wildlife abounds. As I write, I can see 2 ducks and 5 rabbits on the lawn, and can hear the skylark’s song rising into the sky.

Mind you, we have had our fair share of storms in the last few days. It has been so cold that we rather regretted having cleaned the wood burner out and put the log basket away, and we had such strong winds that a lot of blossom has blown like confetti across the garden.

We have guests in our field! Our neighbour’s 4 Wiltshire sheep, have taken up residence, and they will soon be joined by 4 of this year’s lambs too. Wiltshire sheep shed their fleeces without the need to shear them. I am gathering handfuls of wool to use as garden mulch. I wonder what James Mackenzie would think of sheep who don’t need shearing?
Bird Bat of the month

Yes, I know it is meant to be ‘Bird of the month’ but…..

In a controversy as big as Australia entering Eurovision, the Long-tailed Bat (pekapeka-tou-roa) has been added to this year’s New Zealand Bird of the Year competition.

Now, the clever ones amongst you may be aware that a bat is not a bird. However, it does fly, it is our only endemic mammal and it is critically endangered. These criteria are enough for it to be considered alongside the current incumbent, the kākāpō and all the other favourites like Hoiho, Kiwi, Kaka and Tui.

This annual competition, run by Forest and Bird, is a chance to showcase our native birds and is well supported by politicians, sports personalities and celebrities. Read more about the competition here
Book News

There has not been much time for reading this month, but I would like to recommend ‘Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail’ by Danielle Hawkins as a great book to dip into. It is written as a diary, but don’t expect any dry or dusty records of a day in the life of a vet. On a couple of occasions I have found myself laughing out loud at Danielle’s descriptions of her day. Somewhat embarrassing when you are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. Thank goodness for a mask covering at least part of my face!

If you are looking for something in the Historical Fiction genre, you may find a bargain here – Fall for Historical Fiction

Mixed Blessings, the 5th book in the Applecross Saga, will be available in early 2022.
Competition News
This month I have a competition for you avid readers. It won’t be easy, and you will need to have read all four books in the Applecross Saga already, but I do have a prize of an Amazon voucher. There are 40 questions, and they run in order through the 4 books.

Please submit your answers by email to amanda.giorgis@icloud.com by the end of October 2021. I will randomly select a winner from those who submit correct answers, and my decision is final. I’ll be in touch with the winner in early November, and I will print the answers in next month’s newsletter.

Hopefully, looking back through the 4 books will bring you up to speed in readiness for Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’ – due out in early 2022.

Click here for the 40 questions – The Applecross Quiz
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, including updated information for Book 5. (no spoilers yet, though!)

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).

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.

September 2021 Newsletter

News from Applecross

September 2021

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

Home news

New Zealand has been plunged back into lockdown again in recent weeks. While this is a matter of great inconvenience to everyone (and we do take our lockdowns seriously in New Zealand), I have to say that life doesn’t change all that much at Applecross headquarters. No passing traffic, neighbours quite a long way away, but kind enough to keep in touch, and food (for humans, dogs and chickens) being delivered in a contactless way. We do miss the odd trip out for a good coffee, so I have been brushing up my rusty barista skills with our all new coffee machine. Flat white, anyone?



Bird of the month – The Grey Ghost

Famous for its ghostly grey appearance and bright orange wattles, the last credible sighting of the once common South Island Kokako in New Zealand was in 1967. Some years later the Department of Conservation declared it extinct, although this was altered to an official status of ‘data deficient’ when stories began to emerge of occasional glimpses in the dense West Coast bush.

Recently, a recording has been made of what may prove to be the kokako’s distinctive call. It is being analysed and cameras have been set up in the surrounding area of bush. It is probably the best evidence so far of the bird’s continuing existence. 

Will there be a chance to see the resurgence of the Grey Ghost in my lifetime? We have managed to bring back the takahe, the kakapo and even the North Island kokako with his distinctive blue wattles. Oh I do hope someone claims the reward of $10,000 soon! 

In the meantime, due to the lack of the real thing, I can only show you a photograph of a model in the Reefton I-site.

Read more about the hunt for the South Island Kokako here



Book News

My own reading has been a bit haphazard lately, especially since I discovered the delights of borrowing ebooks from our local library. I’ve been dipping into some new authors for me, and can recommend ‘The Pretty Delicious Cafe’, by Danielle Hawkins. A light hearted, easy read with a good storyline, set in lovely countryside north of Auckland. Her descriptions of a busy cafe in a holiday area were all too familiar after my many years working in a cafe in Twizel.

Talking of north of Auckland, you must all read ‘Blood on Vines’ by a fellow author friend, Madeleine Eskedahl. Set in the vineyards around the town of Matakana, be prepared for a bit of a gory opening, but then sit back and enjoy the ride while we find out ‘whodunnit’. This is Madeleine’s first novel, and it is a cracker!

I always have difficulty putting my books into one single category. Yes, they are historical fiction, but they are saga, adventure and romance too. But there are two categories that Book 1, ‘The Wideawake Hat’ fits into perfectly, and that is True Crime (James Mackenzie’s trial, conviction and pardon) and Strong Women (you can’t get more resilient than our heroine Sophia).

If that’s your kind of reading, have a look at these two great special offers.
Historical Fiction : True Crime and Punishment
Strong Women in Historical Fiction

Lockdown may not be much fun, but it does give authors a chance for some uninterrupted writing time. I am well over half way into Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’ now. I have been enjoying some research into the early days of the city of Christchurch too. Did you know that the streets, which are in a grid pattern, are almost all named after diocese or bishoprics of the mid 1800s? When they ran out of English dioceses, they started on the provinces. Hence we have Colombo, Tuam, Barbadoes, Armagh, Tuam and Cashel Streets, among others.


Mixed Blessings will be available in early 2022.

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 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).

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!

~~~

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.”