Amanda Giorgis

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.

Christmas in Mackenzie’s Basin 1867

From ‘Three Cedar Trees’, Book 5 of the Applecross Saga.

Lizzy pulled back the tissue paper to reveal a dozen beautifully carved wooden bobbins for lace making, fashioned in the same style as the ones given to her in Fremantle during their voyage to New Zealand. Each one was slightly different, each one weighted down by three coloured beads strung on a wire loop. 

“Goodness,” she gasped. “Thank you, Samuel, they are just wonderful.”

Carefully taking one of the bobbins from the box, she held it up to the light so that the three red beads glistened as if they were rubies. “How did Samuel have the time to make these?” she thought to herself.

“Oh, Samuel, you are so clever,” said Sophia. “I am sure Lizzy can’t wait to use the lace cushion you have made too. Perhaps we can all expect lace handkerchieves soon?”

“I will need to practice a bit first,” replied Lizzy.

“Come on, Aunty Sophia,” said Caroline. “It must be my turn next.”

Everyone was sitting in a circle in the Combe parlour, taking it in turns to open their Christmas presents. It being an unusually large group of people this year, Combe had been chosen to play host to the Christmas Day celebrations. The day had begun early, at least for the younger children, who had woken to find a stocking hanging at the end of their beds. Sophia, Nancy and Lucy, along with their extra helpers, Amelie and Lizzy, had been hard at work secretly organising an appropriate toy to fit into each stocking. Each child also had a book to read and a handful of precious nuts saved from the autumn harvest. Bertie, John James and young Sam had spent all morning pushing their toy trains around, getting under the feet of the ladies preparing lunch, while Polly, Grace and Lily played outside with their new spinning tops. Even Vicky and Nancy’s youngest, Ezra, both too young to appreciate Christmas yet, had new dolls to play with. Vicky’s a rag doll wearing a pretty blue dress stitched by Lucy, while Ezra’s toy was a soldier wearing a bright red jacket and smart black trousers.

The older children insisted on still having their stockings, although the toy was replaced by a new pair of long socks for the boys and stockings for the girls. It had become a tradition that the older girls received a diary for the following year. Even though they knew exactly what each stocking would contain, they still held on to the childish excitement of dipping into it to see what had been left for them. This year, Freddie and the twins had found a small notebook in their stockings, with a tiny pencil that fitted down the spine.

In all honesty, the presents placed in each stocking were cunningly designed to keep the children occupied for the morning while their mothers worked in the kitchen. Following their traditional pattern, luncheon was eaten outdoors sometime after midday, regardless of the weather. Neither Sophia nor Nancy had ever been able to adjust to Christmas in the summer. Even though it was normally a hot day, they were still inclined to prepare the traditional roast dinner followed by heavy plum puddings, which nobody really wanted to eat in such warm weather. As was usual, a wind had blown up as the feast came to an end, requiring a sudden rush indoors carrying plates and serving dishes into the kitchen before they got blown away.

Nobody minded coming indoors because they all knew that the next stage was opening their presents. Chairs were hastily arranged in a circle and the children given the task of distributing the parcels from under the tree. Of course, the youngsters found it really hard to wait their turn, especially Bertie and John James, who had spent a great deal of time under the tree that morning, feeling each parcel in order to guess its contents. Lizzy had been given the privilege of going first, mainly because the ladies knew exactly what was in the box, Samuel having been encouraged to give them a peek at his handiwork last evening. Caroline came next, followed by her brother and sister, then Samuel. So it went on, round the room, each person carefully unwrapping their parcel, exclaiming the contents to be just what they wanted, even if it wasn’t!

The older folk had not been forgotten either. Betsy Franks had come up trumps with a selection of handkerchieves for James senior, Job Nicol and Atewhai. Sophia had Atewhai’s ready to deliver the next day. The old Maori woman refused to join their party, but would, no doubt, be happy to accept a small gift, protesting, as she did every year, that Christmas was for pākehā, the white man, to celebrate.

There was no doubt that Lizzy’s lace bobbins were the star of the show, and Sophia was pleased to see Samuel’s obvious affection for Lizzy. Poor Lucy was the odd one out this year as her beloved Ned had reluctantly joined his brother in Marytown for the day. Sophia wondered briefly if there would ever be a Christmas when Lucy would find joy. It may be a few years ago now, but nobody could forget that dreadful year when that man Drummond had come to stay, shooting Lucy’s precious pheasants as if they were fair game. It had been a rather strained Christmas Day that year.

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!!!

~~~

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