My May 2023 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to my May Newsletter.  

I’ve probably said this before, but May is my favourite month of the year, as everything is so green and fresh in the countryside. I love seeing the new shoots appear in my garden, and it’s always a relief to discover that my favourite plants have survived the winter. As many of you know, I live in North Devon, and last week we had a hosepipe ban imposed on us. Unbelievable so early in the year, especially when our water rates are one of the highest in the country, but Cornwall and some parts of Devon have had a ban in place for months.  I must confess I watered my garden a lot during the heatwave last year as our soil is quite shallow, and the plants soon suffer. It was that, or watch them die, but this year I might have to do just that; I’ll never get to them all with a watering can. I hope we have a good summer, but plenty of rain falls overnight!

Old Saying of the Month
I rather like the story of where this month’s saying came from. See what you think. At least it’s not as gruesome as some.

As Happy as a Sandboy
I’ve often heard this phrase used but never knew where it came from. It’s thought to have originated in Bristol, at the long-established Ostrich Inn in the city centre. The inn was situated immediately adjacent to the Redcliff Caves, which were once a prime source of sand. In the past, landlords of the inn would send little boys into the caves to collect sand to spread on the floor of the inn where it would soak up spilt beer (a bit like butchers putting down sawdust to absorb the blood). The sandboys often found loose change among the debris on the floor of the inn which made them happy, and as they were paid in beer for their efforts, often more than a little merry!

My Writing News
I’m pleased to tell you that Book 5 of The Hartford Manor Series is progressing well and I’m currently working on Chapter 30. This might seem like I’ll soon be finished, but my books usually have 40 – 50 chapters so quite a way to go, and then lots of editing and proofreading by myself and others. For the last two years, I’ve published a book in good time for Christmas, The Rabbit’s Foot in 2021, and Betsey in 2022. I’m hoping Book 5 will be ready but we’ll just have to see – it can’t be rushed.

I attended the Hartland Book Festival on 29 April and had a great day, selling far more books than expected, and talking to readers and other authors. Not only that but there was an excellent selection of cake! 

I’m pleased to say it was a little warmer than last year when all the doors of the hall were open to the elements to eliminate any risk of covid, and the temperature outside was sub-zero. I took a hot water bottle and a blanket this year and was glad of them!

Landkey Millennium Green – Coronation Day
I’ve been invited to attend the Coronation Day celebrations in my village, and I’ll have a stall, signing and selling my books on The Millennium Green. I’ve also been asked to judge the children’s competition for the Best Crown – what a responsibility! With a treasure hunt, and cream teas being served in the village hall, it promises to be a good day. I hope the sun shines. In the past, Landkey was quite famous for its many mazzard greens, which were orchards full of cherry trees, and the blossom was beautiful.

These days there are few mazzard trees around, but in 1999 Landkey received lottery funding, and this financed the planting of a new orchard in 2000 – hence the name The Millennium Green. It’s a lovely spot used for all sorts of village activities. My dad used to have a mazzard green and it inspired the name of my first book, The Mazzard Tree
A while ago, I wrote a blog about mazzards, and you can read it here: So What Are Mazzards? > Marcia Clayton

This Month’s Bargains
My latest book, Betsey, is reduced to 99p for the ebook until 6 May. This is the prequel to the other books in The Hartford Manor Series and it is set in the 1820s: A little girl, lonely and abandoned, is entrusted with a secret she must carry for a lifetime.

The second book in the Hartford Manor Series is The Angel Maker and the ebook will be reduced to 99p from 9 – 16 May. The Angel Maker is set in a Devon village in Victorian times. Unmarried mother, Charlotte, is distraught when her aunt has her baby adopted behind her back. Will she ever see her daughter again?

My Book of the Month is by author, Elizabeth Ducie. I interviewed Elizabeth a while ago and you can read the interview here: My Interview with Elizabeth Ducie Since the interview, Elizabeth has gone on to write another three books, Murder at Mountjoy Manor, Villainy at the Village Store, and The Coombeshead Chronicle. I’ve read the first two, and if you like a cosy little whodunnit, then these would be right up your street.
My Book of the Month

Gorgito’s Ice Rink by Elizbeth Ducie

Gorgito’s Ice Rink was runner-up in Writing Magazine’s 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards.

When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her deathbed he will find the missing girl and bring her home, but it is to prove an impossible quest.

Forty years later, Gorgito, a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.

My Review: Gorgito’s Ice Rink is an intriguing novel set in Russia. The story begins slowly, allowing the reader to learn about Gorgito’s factory and life in Russia and get to know the main characters. The story switches to different time periods and the author handles this well, allowing the reader to follow the compelling story with ease. I loved how the different elements of the story all came together at the end and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Here is the link to the book: Gorgito’s Ice Rink

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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