Amanda Giorgis

Eyes or Ears?

I have to admit to being a cynic when it comes to audiobooks. And yet…..

A few years ago I would say, “Give me a proper book anytime,” when people suggested ebooks were here to stay. I can use a proper bookmark to keep my place (or, woe betide, turn the corner of the page down). I can flick back to remind myself who is who and what is what. I can read the end before the middle, if I so desire. And, when I’ve shut the finished book with a reassuring slap, I can place my book on a shelf and admire it, or pass it on to others to enjoy.

Then I embraced ebooks with a passion. How else could I travel around the globe with a ‘library’ in my hand luggage? How else could I whip out a story to read on my phone in the doctor’s waiting room. Reading at night became a real pleasure, without the need to turn on a light and disturb a grumpy husband. With the click of a button, small sums of money 1-clicked out of my account while words streamed down onto multiple devices for consumption as and when required. I could start reading on my laptop, switch to the phone when out and about and carry on on the iPad as my bedtime reading.

Bookmarks became just a click away, highlights and searches allowed for explanation and reassurance of storyline. No need to search through shelves in the bookshop as recommendations came my way by email every day, based on ‘your recent viewing’, of course.

Despite the ease of reading ebooks, the pleasure of real books remains. Proper books, with a shiny cover and the back page giving hints of what lies inside, eased carefully off the bookshop shelf to be chosen for their looks and feel as much as for their content. In recent times, it has felt good to support a local independent book shop, comforting to talk to the proprietor about loyal customers’ support and reasonable sales. I will admit to buying real books in support rather more than in necessity of late.

And there’s the point. Real books and ebooks are both OK. I can do either, or sometimes both at once. Like cinema and streaming, live sport and recorded highlights, there’s a place for both.

With that thought in mind, I recently made the decision to admit a third medium into my life and stepped hesitantly into the world of audiobooks.

“Oh, I can’t do audiobooks,” I hear you say. “They just make me fall asleep!”

And yes, they do. Indeed they do. If you sit down with a book or an ebook, you may well fall asleep too, may even get a black eye if you happen to be reading ‘War and Peace’ at the time. But the difference is that the book stops at the point where you fall asleep. Of course, you may have to flick through a few pages to find your place in a physical book, but your faithful ebook will sit tight until you swipe or click when you eventually wake up.

An audiobook, however, will just plough on, the narrator blissfully unaware that the listener is no longer listening. And, believe me, it is hard to remember the exact moment at which you fell asleep, so there is always a certain amount of rewinding and fast forwarding required. And then there’s those stupidly annoying headphone cable things that always get wound round each other and tether you to your phone or computer as if they won’t let go until you reach the last page. There were so many reasons to resist.

Until, that is, my husband bought me some wireless earbuds for Christmas. He likes watching the occasional action movie on TV. I do not. So I think it was his intention that I could lose myself in music while he watched all the blood and guts. It worked. Instead of leaving the room, I could stay by his side, listening to my kind of music, blissfully unaware of gunfire and explosion, not to mention expletives!

One tires of music after a while, so I considered trying an audiobook. My first one was borrowed from the library, downloaded on a whim one evening while Matt Damon fought to save the world against evil. I could easily write more about the joys of a local library, but that is for another occasion. For now, let’s just say I have fallen in love with Bolinda!

I popped in the earbuds, pressed play and concentrated on chapter 1. It was rather pleasant. Reminiscent of listening to the radio as a child, the lilting voice drove me gently along the storyline. I woke up to hear the narrator introducing chapter 5. I wound myself back, listening to chapter 1 again. Now, do I remember this bit? No, perhaps not, so rewind some more.

In the middle of chapter 2, the film finished. “I’ll make you a coffee,” I mouthed, being a dutiful wife. I hit pause, took out the earbuds and went to put the kettle on.

“Why did you stop?” said husband. “I think Bluetooth will make it as far as the kitchen.”

I pondered his words as I poured the coffee and fetched the bicuit tin. “Silly man,” I thought to myself. “What does he know?”

Dunking my second bicuit, a moment of revelation came upon me. I could have merely got up, walked to the kitchen, made the coffee, gone to the toilet and, very possibly, put the cat outside too (if we had a cat, that is). All the while, narrator lady would have carried on at the same volume, regardless of boiling kettles, flushing toilets and miaowing cats. At that moment, my world took a step sideways.

This was confirmed a few days later when I had some fairly urgent baking to do. Cakes needed making and cooling in time to go to a neighbour’s place for tea. But I had gone past chapter 5 now, and things were getting interesting. Did I have time to listen to the next chapter before I put the oven on?

“Stupid girl. You can do both at once,” my new audiobook brain said. It was a turning point. I creamed, beat, mixed and folded my way through the next three chapters, arriving next door with cakes made and cooled to the perfect temperature. What can sometimes be a chore passed by with the pleasure of a good story in my ears.

And so began my new life. Ironing, dusting, sewing, knitting, doing a jigsaw, baking a cake, getting the dinner, or even lounging in the bath. Walking the dogs, weeding the garden. All these things, and many more, can be accompanied by narrator lady (or man) reading you a story. I have not yet tried driving while listening (no earphones, of course), but I understand it works well. I think you may have to be prepared to pull over and reach for the tissues if things get a bit emotional though — you know, the bits in a book where the dog dies, or unrequited love blossoms, or whatever.

So, now I can’t consume audiobooks fast enough. Just like the real thing, I can buy an audiobook, but they are quite expensive. I can also subscribe to a provider for a monthly fee and download as many as I want (usually the first month is free too). Or I can use my local library to borrow audiobooks for nothing.

These days, when browsing the library online, my finger hovers over the ‘ebook’ button, but invariably errs towards the ‘audibook’ version. I am a convert, but I am not a zealot. There is still room in my life for real paper books and ebooks, for the times when all I want to do is read.

There’s only one thing I can’t seem to do while listening to an audiobook — and that’s NOTHING!

Book 1 of the Applecross Saga, ‘The Wideawake Hat’, narrated by Su Melville, is available from all the usual providers.

Books 2-5 are also available exclusively on Google Play, with computer-generated narration by Anya. Not a patch on the real thing, but better than you might expect!

News from Applecross

March 2022.

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga.
All the news this month is about the release of Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’ on 1st April. Here’s the synopsis :-

The girls are growing up. Not for them the daily grind of family life, not yet anyway. After all, it is 1873. Women have more opportunities than ever before, especially in New Zealand in an era of great prosperity and progress.

Five years have passed since we last visited the Mackenzies. Applecross sheep station is thriving, more people than ever have made it their home. There are changes everywhere, big and small, but James and Sophia remain the solid, dependable mainstay of life in the rural community. Until a dramatic incident rocks the very foundations of Mackenzie’s Basin.

We join Heather, Caroline and Adey Rose, daughters of the Basin, as they blossom into young ladies, find their feet in the burgeoning city of Christchurch and take their first hesitant steps into the world of romance.

However, the draw of Applecross is strong……..

I am really looking forward to hearing what you think of Book 5. Please do email me at amanda.giorgis@icloud.com with your feedback (good or bad), or post a review online. 
While listening to the audiobook version of Book 1, The Wideawake Hat, (available from all the usual audiobook suppliers), it occurred to me that the Applecross Saga would transfer to stage or screen very nicely. You know the kind of Sunday night serialised TV drama you can watch while relaxing in front of the fire with a nice glass of wine! Think Poldark perhaps? One day I will start the task of writing the script….

In the meantime, to give you a taste of who has arrived at Applecross since the end of Book 4, this is my idea of a cast list, to be printed in the programme of a West End theatre performance (a girl can dream, after all…..) :-
I know it is not polite to laugh at one’s own jokes, but I am secretly giggling about the description of George Latham as an ordinary man. I can’t wait for you all to meet him, and the old and new characters who have made Applecross their own little corner of Paradise.
COMING SOON!
Mixed Blessings is already available as a pre-order ebook on Amazon, Kobo, Nook and Apple Books, and as a paperback from Amazon. It will be available everywhere else on 1st April – not long to wait now!

A Taste of ‘Mixed Blessings’

I always enjoy finding a section of the latest book which will give you a taste of things without too many spoilers. Here, Heather is thinking back over the last few years as she prepares for her 18th birthday celebrations :-

‘Mixed Blessings’ is available now to pre-order from Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books. It will be everywhere else on 1st April.

Anyway, back to that fateful day. It had not had a promising start. The three of them were in the kitchen at Applecross. Unusually, Caroline was there too, although she spent most of her time at Hither House once Uncle Samuel married Lizzy. But, on this particular day, Caroline had been there too. They would have been, perhaps, fourteen. The death of Mrs Nicol had, to some extent, been the end of their formal school days. Mrs Pender taught them foreign words in her front room while tending to baby Bea. Reverend Nicol had taken their studies outdoors, to sit under a tree listening to him reading out loud. Now, that had been a pleasure, though she lacked the concentration to take in all the words. There were so many distractions outside. The birds, an occasional butterfly, small crawling insects, not to mention the buzzing of bees.

Her own mother had assumed the role of teacher of all things domestic. How to place fresh sheets on a bed, how to clean a room, how to plan a menu. On this particular day they were making sponge cakes for tea. It was not going well. They took it in turns to measure butter and flour and precious sugar on the scales, using the eggs as balancing weights, a skill apparently passed on by the grandmother she had never known. Inevitably, Heather lagged behind while she considered what her grandmother would have been like, who on earth had first thought to crack an egg to make a cake and how sugar was formed into the powdery cake that was stored in an airtight container in the pantry. Nevertheless, all three cakes entered the oven looking more or less identical. 

However, they certainly didn’t come out the same way! Two perfect yellow sponges emerged, to be placed on the rack to cool. Heather’s effort had not risen at all. It was more biscuit than sponge. 

“Oh, Heather,” said her mother, “Why can’t you ever listen to instructions?”

“Feed it to the pigs, mother,” Heather had replied before dumping her apron on the table and stalking out of the room, slamming the door behind her. There was one place the Mackenzies sought out if they were in need of a moment to themselves, and that was where James Shepherd found his granddaughter a while later. Sitting on the flat stone next to Friday’s grave, sobbing her heart out.

James Shepherd had the sense not to say anything at first, just shuffling his granddaughter along to allow room for him to sit too. The silence was not uncomfortable and slowly the sobs began to ease.

“It’s just not fair, Grandpapa,” moaned Heather.

“I know, my dear, I know,” he replied, patting her knee gently.

There was a pause while Heather formed a question in her head. “Why can’t I concentrate on things?” she asked eventually.

Instead of answering the question, James Shepherd asked one of his own. “Tell me, Heather, what is your favourite word?”

Heather thought about that for a while. Beginning at the beginning, she ran the idea round her brain. Armadillo, Bombastic, Conquistador. Lovely words, but not her favourite. Desdemona, Elephant, Fumigation, no none of those. James didn’t rush her. He knew she would be considering all options. Gelatine, Hispaniola, Influenza…..

At last, putting a single finger to her cheek, she said, “I think I know what it is, Gamps.” She used her own special term of endearment for her grandfather. “I think it may be the word ‘Why?’”

James smiled, as if he had known the answer beforehand. He probably did. “Ah, now, I rather thought that’s where you would end up,” he said. “That’s the sign of an inquisitive mind.”

“I do like to know about things,” she replied. “I want to know where they come from, why they are what they are, and how we have come to see them like that.”

“Bravo, I couldn’t have put it better myself, dearest girl,” said James, clapping her on the back so hard she almost fell off the slippery stone. “The problem is, there are side effects of a mind like yours. It is a blessing, but a mixed one, especially in a woman.”

News from Applecross – February 2022

The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga – February 2022.
Oh my goodness, busy busy times at Applecross HQ. ‘Mixed Blessings’, the 5th book in the Applecross Saga is almost ready after a month of editing, formatting and checking for inconsistencies. And behind the scenes we have been preparing my very first audiobook version of Book 1, ‘The Wideawake Hat’.

It is quite strange to hear someone else reading my words, but I think my narrator Su has made a mighty find job of putting character and emotion into the story. If audiobooks are your thing, I will have details of where to get your copy of The Wideawake Hat next month.

Bargain Time!

I am clearing room for a stock of book 5, so if you are in New Zealand and prefer the feel of a real book, I have a special bargain for you. Any of my current paperback books for $20 each, post free (usual price $30). Just go to my online shop to place your order. I’ll even sign your copy and include a free bookmark!

Offer only available in New Zealand.

A Writer’s Retreat

For a while now I have been struggling to find my perfect writing place. I don’t work well at a proper desk, but lounging on the sofa is not ideal either. We discussed plans for a ‘writer’s retreat’ in the garden, but our climate would make that a purely seasonal affair. So, we have re-purposed our smallest spare bedroom into a writing room. I have taken residence, surrounded by all the things I need for inspiration, including a nice view of the mountains. Now, you may say the table looks a bit low, but it magically lifts up to be the perfect writing height. So, from spare room full of junk to an author’s escape in just a day!
We have just returned from a precious few days staying at The Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook village. We were lucky with the weather and enjoyed some great walks in the mountains. Mount Cook is often called Aoraki these days, being the Māori word for our tallest mountain. It means ‘cloud piercer’, and it certainly did that for us. James and Sophia would see this very mountain as they go about their daily lives, and Guy and Freddie are building up a business of taking tourists into the area. No wonder people want to see it – it is a special environment indeed.
We walked the Hooker Valley on a very warm and unusually calm day. Reaching the Hooker Lake, we stopped for a picnic lunch surrounded by the mountains and with a view of the Hooker Glacier and the icebergs formed when the glacier calves. Stunningly beautiful, blissfully peaceful and altogether an amazing place.
Book News

If you are looking for something to read during February, you may find a freebie here – Discover Free Historical Fiction

I am really excited to tell you that Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’ is ready for publication on 1st April 2022. To give you a taste of it, here is the synopsis :-

The girls are growing up. Not for them the daily grind of family life, not yet anyway. After all, it is 1873. Women have more opportunities than ever before, especially in New Zealand in an era of great prosperity and progress.

Five years have passed since we last visited the Mackenzies. Applecross sheep station is thriving, more people than ever have made it their home. There are changes everywhere, big and small, but James and Sophia remain the solid, dependable mainstay of life in the rural community. Until a dramatic incident rocks the very foundations of Mackenzie’s Basin.We join Heather, Caroline and Adey Rose, daughters of the Basin, as they blossom into young ladies, find their feet in the burgeoning city of Christchurch and take their first hesitant steps into the world of romance.However, the draw of Applecross is strong……..
COMING SOON!
Mixed Blessings is already available as a pre-order ebook on Amazon and Kobo, and will appear on other platforms shortly. More news next month. Pre-order ‘Mixed Blessings’ here

I have a limited number of ARC spaces available for Book 5. If you would like to get ahead of the pack and read a draft ebook copy, then please go to Mixed Blessings ARC. All I ask in return is an honest review on your chosen platform.

January 2022 Newsletter

News from Applecross
The latest update from Amanda Giorgis, best-selling author of the Applecross Saga – January 2022.
Happy New Year to you all. May 2022 be a year where the world recovers and moves towards normality once more.

It has been a busy January at Applecross HQ already, the hot weather a good excuse to stay indoors and get on with writing and editing Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’. In the cool of the evening, I like nothing better than to wander the garden looking for small changes. The bud that has become a flower or the fruit that has grown in size since yesterday. It is surprising what can alter in only one day.

Sad news on the chicken front. We lost Foggy, the randy old rooster to a heart attack. I will not go into detail, but let’s say he died doing what he loved most in life – not a bad way to go! His harem didn’t waste time on grieving, they were establishing a new pecking order with Henry, the other rooster almost immediately.
We’ve not been far from home over the summer break, but we do have a short break planned for early February, heading for Mount Cook. Do you think we may see James and Sophia as we drive across the Mackenzie? More on that next month.

Bird of the month

I’m going for the obvious one here – this month’s bird is our famous kiwi. It is not a bird one generally comes across unless you are tramping the wild places of New Zealand, but on Rakiura, Stewart Island, right down at the southern tip of the country, there are a lot more kiwis than residents. 

In one of those ‘Only in New Zealand’ moments, we all laughed at this New Year’s report submitted by the only full-time policeman on the island – https://www.police.govt.nz/news/ten-one-magazine/raucous-night-rakiura

Now the smart readers amongst you will realise that the photo below is not a kiwi. In fact, it is the same photo as last month, the teeny, tiny titipounamu. I’ve left it in place to celebrate the Hinewai nature reserve where we saw this wee floofball last month.

One male chick fledged, according to the humans who provided the nest site. We all hope he stayed safe in the terrible storm which hit the Banks Peninsula a few weeks ago. Goodness, what a storm it was, washing hillsides away and re-routing rivers. Our friends lost much of their garden, including tunnel houses and plants, but fortunately the raging water didn’t quite reach their house.
Book News

If you are looking for something to read during January, you may find a bargain here – Free Historical Fiction for the New Year

I am really excited to tell you that Book 5, ‘Mixed Blessings’ is complete. Editing and formatting has begun and publication date is set for 1st April 2022. To give you a taste of it, here is the synopsis ;-

The girls are growing up. Not for them the daily grind of family life, not yet anyway. After all, it is 1873. Women have more opportunities than ever before, especially in New Zealand in an era of great prosperity and progress.

Five years have passed since we last visited the Mackenzies. Applecross sheep station is thriving, more people than ever have made it their home. There are changes everywhere, big and small, but James and Sophia remain the solid, dependable mainstay of life in the rural community. Until a dramatic incident rocks the very foundations of Mackenzie’s Basin.

We join Heather, Caroline and Adey Rose, daughters of the Basin, as they blossom into young ladies, find their feet in the burgeoning city of Christchurch and take their first hesitant steps into the world of romance.

However, the draw of Applecross is strong……..
COMING SOON!
Mixed Blessings is already available as a pre-order ebook on Amazon, and will appear on other platforms over the next week or so. More news next month. 

Pre-order ‘Mixed Blessings’ here

I have a limited number of ARC spaces available for Book 5. If you would like to get ahead of the pack and read a draft ebook copy, then please go to Mixed Blessings ARC. All I ask in return is an honest review on your chosen platform.