My March 2021 Newsletter

I’m so pleased to have done some gardening this week now weather is improving. I feel a bit like the plants in that I’m looking forward to coming out of hibernation.  That’s what a long lockdown can do to you!  Last Autumn I invested in some mulch for the whole garden and am now reaping the benefit as there are fewer weeds and my spring bulbs look amazing.  I first planted snowdrops in my garden around six years ago and this year they have spread considerably and bloomed for weeks.  I also have lots of the small golden tete-a-tete daffodils, and deep purple and pale-yellow crocuses, which look lovely together.  Anyway, enough of the gardening news! 

How has my February been for writing?  Well good actually.

Interview with Sophy Layzell

An author called Sophy Layzell contacted me recently and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed for her website.  Sophy has written a dystopian novel called “Measure of Days” which has quite a dark plot.  This is not my usual sort of book, but I did enjoy it.  At some point I intend to interview Sophie in return and include this in one of my blogs.

Exeter Authors Association

I was invited to join the EAA this month and attend a zoom meeting.  Normally the group meet once a month in Tiverton, but obviously that is not possible at the moment.  I enjoyed the zoom meeting, where I met the other members and each person summed up their writing progress for the month.  It was good to talk to other authors and learn about their experiences of writing and publishing their books.

Devon and Cornwall Record Society

I’ve been asked to write a piece for the Devon and Cornwall Record Society which is a local charity.  They are running a series of posts by historical fiction writers who have based their books in one, or both of the two counties, so my books fit the bill.  The posts will run on their Facebook page and website during March.  I’ve been told that my post should be featured on 12 March so you may like to take a look on their Facebook page and give me a “like”. They hope this initiative will connect writers and readers.  All I have to do now is write the 500-word post ….!

Third Book in Hartford Manor Series

I’ve also finished the first draft of my latest book in “The Hartford Manor Series”.  It will be a while until it is published because I have a lot of editing to do.  When I’m writing a book, I just concentrate on getting the story written and then go through the manuscript and tidy it up afterwards.  I seem to be over-fond of using some words like “really” and “very” and, though I’ve never counted how many appear in the first draft, it’s far too many!  Once I’ve tidied it up, I go through it again and improve on the descriptive parts.  It’s then time to provide a copy to a few people to read and hear what they think. Always a worrying time in case they find a hole in the storyline!

In the third book, which incidentally still doesn’t have a title, some of the characters visit London. This led me to research what the Victorians did to occupy their time in our capital city.  I knew it would be safe enough to include the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, for they were built many years ago.  However, I almost slipped up when I mentioned people crossing Tower Bridge. The book is set in 1885 and, when I checked, I found the building of Tower Bridge didn’t commence until 1886 and wasn’t completed until 1894. Not sure too many people would have noticed, but I like to get the facts right. 

I decided that the characters in the book would climb The Monument, built to commemorate The Great Fire of London as I have done this myself.  In the 1990s my husband worked three days a week in London and sometimes I accompanied him.  This was a good chance for me to explore the city whilst he was working. I particularly enjoyed the guided walking tours around the city.  I remember doing walks around Hampstead, and Little Venice, but the Square Mile was my favourite as it included the oldest part of London.  The walk began at St Paul’s Cathedral with its famous dome, inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, continued to the Guildhall, and on to the Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.  The walk ended at The Monument. The Monument is 202 feet high, the distance it stands from Pudding Lane where the fire started, and there are 311 steps to the top.  I remember because I climbed them all, and have a certificate to prove it!

A Short History Lesson about The Great Fire of London

I remember learning about The Great Plague and The Great Fire of London when I was at school, but that was a long time ago.  To write about these events accurately I checked the facts.  I decided to share this information in a short blog on my website which you can read here:

A New Fan of Hartford Manor

I was delighted last week when my twenty-year-old grand-daughter read both of my books in just over a week.  She started “The Mazzard Tree” once before, but was busy at the time with A levels and didn’t get far with it.  I thought at the time it may not be the type of book for a girl of her age.  Anyway, she bought herself a Kindle with her birthday money in February, and then sent me a photo of my two books on her Kindle ready to read.  She’s at university studying music and I wondered if, once again, she would be distracted by her studies.  However, this time she enjoyed both books.  I always think if someone reads a book in a short time, it’s a good sign they like it.  That’s how it is with me anyway.

Special Offers Available in March

“The Mazzard Tree” ebook will be free on Amazon from Friday, 12 March to Tuesday, 16 March.

“The Angel Maker” ebook will be reduced to 99p on Amazon from Friday, 5 March to Wednesday, 10 March.

If you think any of your family or friends would enjoy reading either, or both of my books, this would be a good time to take advantage of these deals which are available here:

A Great Read for March

This is not the type of book I normally read, but it was recommended to me by two friends and I’m so glad I took their advice. The story is compelling and so sad. The two women in the story are young and have strong characters.  The life they lead is so awful that you really want them to find happiness. As the story unfolds it explores the violence of the Afghan war following the Soviet withdrawal. With living conditions so bad, the Afghans welcome the Taliban, thinking there will be a return to law and order. However, life becomes even worse for women under the Taliban and millions flee to the refugee camps in Pakistan. It is incredible to think that all this happened in such recent times. Although we have all listened to the news and heard of these terrible atrocities, this book really brings it home. It is a brilliant book and a real wake up call for those of us lucky enough to be living a privileged life.

Until next time please take care and stay safe.


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