My November 2022 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to my November Newsletter.  

Now that the clocks have changed, and the nights are pulling in, it’s that time of year when we all start to think about Christmas. However, the weather is so mild that lots of plants are still in full bloom in the garden. I’ve been waiting for a frost before giving the garden a final tidy-up before winter, (well that’s my excuse!) but no sign of any cold weather so far. That, of course, is a good thing if it saves putting the heating on. This is a photo of an unusual dahlia that caught my eye – it’s half orange and half red, and I’m sure I couldn’t achieve this if I tried, but Mother Nature managed it all on her own.

Anyway, back to Christmas. I’ve made a start and bought one or two presents. My eldest son, Stuart, and his wife, Laura, have recently become interested in feeding the birds in their garden, and I suggested they might like a bird bath. They liked the idea, and so they’re getting a joint present this year. I’ve bought it already, so that’s two I can tick off my list. 

This is also the time of year when I make my Christmas cakes, and I’m pleased to report that all three have turned out well. When Stuart lived at home he often liked to ice the Christmas cakes, and this year, he began to take an interest again. We spent a pleasant morning together recently as he wanted to learn how to make them. I made the first cake before he arrived, and got it in the oven so that he could see the finished product. Then I made the second one and showed him what to do, and he made the third (which will be his) on his own. His actually looks better than mine which is a little frustrating. He’s going to come back nearer to Christmas and ice them. In the meantime, I’m trying not to think about how much it cost to bake them. It certainly isn’t cheaper to make your own Christmas cakes – but they taste so much nicer.

As I enjoy reading, and writing my own books, I’m always interested in the origin of words, and I love hearing how phrases, that are still in everyday use, came into being. In writing my last book, I found myself using the phrase “on the breadline” and realised that, although I know what it means, I had no idea why people say it. A quick search on Google revealed that the ‘breadline’ was a queue for free food handed out by the government in America in the 1820s. I presume the saying was then adopted in England. It’s sad to think that the phrase originated over two hundred years ago, and yet can still be applied to families in these challenging times.

Talking about old sayings has reminded me of a blog I wrote recently. My husband, Bryan, and I visited the village of Beer in East Devon and spent a couple of days there. On one of the days, the weather wasn’t great and we decided to visit Beer Caves. I recommend this, though you have to wear a hard hat that isn’t very flattering; I’ll leave you to judge. We joined a tour which lasted a couple of hours and it was very interesting. If you’ve ever wondered where the phrases, “not worth the candle”, “ring true” and “stone deaf” come from, you can find out here: A Visit to Beer 

My Writing News

Betsey, The Prequel to The Hartford Manor Series  –
is available to pre-order on Amazon now!

The paperback, hardback and kindle ebook will be published on 18 November, but the ebook can be pre-ordered here:

As always, if you enjoy my new book (or any of the others), I would be grateful if you could leave even the shortest review on Amazon. Few readers take the trouble to do so and I was guilty of this myself, but I always leave a review now, as I know how much they mean to the authors.

A few people have contacted me and asked if Betsey will be available for Christmas – and so, yes, I’m pleased to say it will be! I’ve received quite a few compliments on the cover, and I must confess I’m delighted with it. I think it’s my favourite so far – Laura has done a great job, and I hope my story lives up to it. The small caption on the front reads: 

A little girl, lonely and abandoned, is entrusted with a secret she must carry for a lifetime.

And the blurb on the back cover:

Betsey, a sadly neglected child, is shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. As she does her best to care for her little brother, Norman, she is befriended by Gypsy Freda, an old woman whose family is camped nearby. Freda’s granddaughter, Jane, is also fond of the little girl and is concerned about her.

Thomas, the second son of Lord Fellwood, happens across the gypsy camp and becomes besotted with Jane. However, Jasper Morris, the local miller, also has designs on the young gypsy, and inevitably, the two men do not see eye to eye.
Betsey is drawn into their rivalry for the attention of the beautiful young woman, and she finds herself promising to keep a dangerous secret for many years to come.

Betsey is, of course, the granny in my other three books. She’s married to Ned Carter, and together they own The Red Lion Inn, where they have raised a family of five children. The new book is about Betsey’s childhood in the 1820s and begins when she is just six years old. The idea for the book first came to me when I was writing the third book in the series, The Rabbit’s Foot. Betsey is baking with her granddaughter, Annie Fellwood, and great-granddaughter, Selina.

Selina asks Betsey if she used to bake with her granny when she was a little girl, and Betsey answers that no, her childhood was very different to Selina’s, and she didn’t want to talk about it. I felt then that Betsey had a story to tell. This is an inn we visited in Avebury a while ago, and in my imagination, just how The Red Lion Inn in my books should look (well, minus the picnic tables)!

My Book of the Month

The Harbour Master’s Daughter by Tania Crosse

This is the first book in a series of Devonshire Sagas and is set in Morwellham Quay. Having lived in Devon all my life, and visited Morwellham Quay in the past, I loved the descriptions and also the odd snatches of the Devonshire dialect. The story held my attention from the first page, and I read the book in a few days. The descriptions of poverty highlighted just how difficult life was for people living at that time, and how very precarious their livelihoods were. Having read the book, I would love to visit Morwellham Quay again, but I believe it is now closed, which is a pity. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be reading more by this author. You can find the book here:

In talking about making my Christmas cakes, I realised that I have been sending out newsletters for two years now. If you have been following me from the start, thank you, and I hope you found something to interest you this time. Take care and enjoy the last of the autumn days.


If you would like the latest updates, please sign up to my newsletter