My June 2023 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to my June Newsletter.  

I’ve recently returned from a lovely holiday in Kefalonia, and now I’m trying to catch up with everything. We had a great time, but it’s always nice to come home, even though there’s always the inevitable pile of washing and ironing to get out of the way! I made sure the garden was tidy before I left and pulled up all the forget-me-nots and many of the bluebells. It was a shame to disturb the forget-me-nots as they still looked quite nice, but I knew if I left them to go to seed, I’d have millions of them next year. It’s the same with the bluebells, I love seeing them, but my goodness they spread! I always enjoy the garden in the spring with the rhododendrons, lilac, and laburnum tree flowering. This is a photo of the garden before I left. Sadly, it’s not looking so good now with the lack of rain. Unfortunately, we have a hosepipe ban in Devon, and I’m doing my best with a watering can, but it’s hard work.

Old Sayings
As you know, I like investigating old sayings, and here’s another one we all come across from time to time – but where did it come from?

When the word diehard is used we usually think of someone with a strong dedication to their task or set of beliefs. In the famous series of Die-Hard films, Bruce Willis certainly pursued the bad guys with grit and determination, but the saying was in use long before then. The term originally had a much more literal and rather gruesome meaning and originated in the 1700s. Back then, the term referred to condemned men who struggled the longest when they were executed by hanging! The phrase became more popular after the 1811 Battle of Albuera during the Napoleonic Wars. A wounded British officer called William Inglis is reputed to have urged his troops forward by shouting “Stand your ground and die-hard, make the enemy pay dear for each and every one of us!” Sadly, Inglis’ 57th regiment suffered devastating casualties during the battle, and became known as “The Die Hards”.

My Writing News

Hartland Book Festival

Late April and early May were quite busy for me in terms of my writing. I was invited to have a stall at the Hartland Book Festival on the 29th of April and had a good day. When I went last year, I didn’t know anyone there and didn’t sell many books, but it was just as things were getting back to normal after the covid epidemic. This year was much better, as I knew several authors to chat with, and also made friends with some new ones.  One author from Cornwall invited me to be interviewed for his monthly magazine, which is called The Tregolls Review. He sent me a copy of the May edition, and I liked the look of it, so I accepted. My interview should feature in the July edition, so I’ll include a link in my next newsletter. I did well with my books at the festival, and sold quite a lot of paperbacks, but missed out on a few sales as I didn’t have a card reader, and could only accept cash.

The Millennium Green Coronation Day Celebration
On 8th May, I was invited to have a book stall at the Landkey Coronation Event on The Millennium Green and was also asked to be one of two judges for the Children’s Crown Competition. The weather could not have been worse, as the rain came down in torrents all afternoon. Fortunately, my stall was situated in a small marquee provided by the Parish Council, so my books didn’t get wet.

Some of you will know that The Millennium Green has a mazzard orchard, a type of cherry, that was grown in abundance in North Devon in the past. Local folk are keen to keep the tradition alive, and that afternoon, I thought we did well with a patchwork quilting group called The Mazzard Stitchers, my book, The Mazzard Tree, and some delicious mazzard pies. 

I was amazed at the number of people who turned out on such a dismal afternoon, and again, I sold more books than expected. This time I was armed with a card machine, and it was with some trepidation that I took my first payment – but, low and behold it worked – and a couple of days later the money arrived in my bank account. However, nice though it was to sell some books, it was also lovely talking to several people who came to tell me they had read and enjoyed all four of my books. It’s always nice to get some feedback.

The judging for the Crown Competition took place at four o’clock with the two of us judges, and fourteen children, squashed under a gazebo out of the rain. It was difficult to pick the winners as there was a wide range of ages and the entries were all good. Fortunately, I didn’t know any of the children, which was just as well with all their hopeful little faces looking up at me!

My husband, Bryan, accompanied me to this event, and I was grateful for his help in carrying everything and setting up my table. After I had judged the Crown Competition, I went to the cider tent and treated him to a pint, and myself to a half. This was a local cider, brewed with apples grown in the village, and I have to say it was incredibly potent! I couldn’t believe the effect it had on me after only half a pint – true scrumpy, I believe!

Torrington Book Fair
A couple of days before I returned from Kefalonia I noticed a post on Facebook for the Torrington Book Fair. I “liked” the page and was then invited to attend by fellow author, Glenda Barnett. The event was a first for Torrington and was organised by Glenda, and her friend, Leanne. It was held in the Castle Community Centre and we were well catered for by the Fork n Feast Cafe. It was a huge success at a lovely venue and I’m hoping to attend another at Christmas. Thank you, Glenda Barnett, for finding space for me at the last moment.

Book 5 of The Hartford Manor Series
I’m making good progress with Book 5, and have written about three-quarters of it now. I transferred it to my Kindle and read it through on holiday, which was useful. I had hoped to finish the first draft before I went but I didn’t quite manage that. I’ve still got a long way to go, but am hopeful I might get it published in time for Christmas. I have a couple of titles in mind but will wait until it’s finished before I decide.

The Mazzard Tree – Free for a Few Days
The ebook of The Mazzard Tree will be free from 8 to 10 June, so if you’ve not read it yet, and would like to, now’s your chance for a bargain.

A Visit to Tavistock and Cotehele House
I’ve not written any blogs for a while, but we visited Tavistock and Cotehele House a little while ago, and both places are favourites of mine and well worth a visit. If you’ve not been or would like to see some photos, then here is a short blog that I hope you will enjoy:

My Book of the Month

The Silent Lady by Catherine Cookson

I’ve read many of the books by this incredible author and have also enjoyed the films. The Silent Lady was, I believe, the last book written by Catherine Cookson and was published in 2002 after her death. As with most Cookson novels, the book grips the reader’s attention from page one and is a compelling read. When Mrs Baindor turns up at the law firm of Alexander Armstrong and Son in 1955, the partners can hardly believe their eyes for they have been searching for her for the last 26 years. Leaving the reader wondering what has happened to her during that time, the story goes back to 1929 and slowly the story unfolds. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it. You can find The Silent Lady here: The Silent Lady

Well, that’s all for now, so thank you for continuing to follow me and until next time, I hope you keep safe and well.


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