My November 2023 Newsletter

Hello, and welcome to my November Newsletter.  

Bryan and I recently went to Farnham to spend a few days with my sister, Gill. We had a nice time catching up, going shopping, and tidying her garden, as the weather was lovely. We also managed to fit in a visit to RHS Wisley, and this was a real treat as the trees were just beginning to wear their autumn colours, as you can see from the photo below.

Since we came home, I’ve been tidying my own garden and making it ready for the winter. There’s so much cutting back to do at this time of year that I usually fill the green bin and then have to wait for the council to empty it before I can carry on. Now that the clocks have changed and the days are getting shorter, it’s a bit sad that we are going into winter. However, I must admit I enjoy being able to ignore the garden for a few months and get on with my writing.

Old Saying of the Month

I really had no idea where the term cutting the mustard came from, but when you hear the explanation, it’s obvious:

Cut The Mustard
I’m sure we are all familiar with the saying that something doesn’t quite cut the mustard, but what does it mean? It’s generally used to mean something is not quite as good as it should be or below the desired standard. The term originated in East Anglia when mustard was grown as one of the main crops. It was cut by hand using scythes in the same way as corn. The mustard crop would grow up to six feet high, and cutting it was very hard work, requiring extremely sharp tools. When blunt, the scythes would not cut the mustard.

My Writing News

Millie’s Escape – now available!
My main news is that Millie’s Escape, the fifth book in The Hartford Manor Series, is now available on Amazon as a Kindle book, paperback, or hardback and can also be ordered from any bookshop or library.

Let’s see if I can tempt you with the blurb from the back cover:

1885 North Devon, England
It is winter in the small Devon village of Brampford Speke, and a typhoid epidemic has claimed many victims. Millie, aged fifteen, is doing her best to nurse her mother and grandmother as well as look after Jonathan, her five-year-old brother. One morning, Millie is horrified to find that her mother, Rosemary, has passed away during the night and is terrified the same fate may befall her granny, Emily.

When Emily’s neighbours inform her that Sir Edgar Grantley has also perished from the deadly disease, the old woman is distraught, for the kindly gentleman has been their benefactor for many years, much to the disgust of his wife, Lilliana. Emily is well aware that Sir Edgar’s generosity has long been a bone of contention between him and his spouse, and she is certain Lady Grantley will evict them from their cottage at the first opportunity.

As she racks her brain for a solution, Emily remembers her father came from Hartford, a seaside village in North Devon and had relatives there. Desperate and too weak to travel, she insists Millie and Jonathan leave home and make their way to Hartford before the embittered woman can cause trouble for them. There, she tells them, they must throw themselves on the mercy of their family and hope they will offer them a home.

With Emily promising to follow them as soon as possible, the two youngsters reluctantly set off on their fifty-mile journey on foot and in the harshest of weather conditions. Emily warns them to be cautious, for she suspects Lady Grantley may well pursue them to seek revenge for a situation that has existed between the two families for many years.

You can find Millie’s Escape here:

As always, I would be grateful for any reviews on Amazon; however, short!

Book Bargains This Month

Although all the books in The Hartford Manor Series can be read as standalone novels, they are best read as a series. If you haven’t read the four that precede Millie’s Escape, you might be interested to know that some Kindle books are on offer this month:

Betsey: The Prequel to the series will be reduced to 99p from 6th to 12th November:

The Mazzard Tree: Book 1 will be reduced to 99p from 27 November to 3 December:

The Angel Maker: Book 2 will be reduced to 99p from 12th to 19th November:

The Rabbit’s Foot: Book 3 will be reduced to 99p from 1st to 7th November:

My Books Have Made It To Orkney!
I recently received this comment on Facebook, and I thought I would share it with you. My books can all be ordered from any library, and I was particularly pleased to hear they were being delivered by a library van called Booky McBookface!

“Hi Marcia. I just thought you would like to know that your Hartford Manor Series of books has made it to Orkney. We have a library van called Booky McBookface, which visits the outer Orkney Islands every 4 weeks. A few months ago, I ordered The Hartford Manor Series, and they have very kindly purchased the books, and I was able to collect them from the library van on Thursday. I am really looking forward to reading them now.”

Great Torrington Book Fair – Saturday, 2 December
I mentioned this last month, but I’m delighted to have been invited to attend the Great Torrington Book Fair, which will be held on Saturday, 2 December, between 10 am and 3 pm at the Castle Community Centre in South Street. Amongst other things, there will be authors to meet and chat with, author talks, storytelling, and an Illustrating Workshop for Children. If you happen to be there, do come and say hello. You can find out more here: Facebook – Great Torrington Book Fair 

South Hams Author Network – Meet The Author
I’ve been invited by fellow historical fiction author Alison Huntingford to be featured on the weekly “Meet The Author” spot on the Facebook page of the South Hams Author Network. My slot is next Monday, 6 November, so if you happen to be browsing on Facebook, please take a look and have a chat if you like. This is the link:

My Book of the Month

Joey’s Place by Heidi Mae Wahlberg

What a delightful, romantic love story! It is fifteen years since Andrew Cooper and Elizabeth Clark met as children when he comforted her at a traumatic time in her life, and a bond was formed. They call each other Drew and Beth. 

Some fifteen years later, Beth, once again, could do with a helping hand, and she remembers that Andrew’s dad, Joey, told her he would always be there for her. Beth accepts a job in Joey’s bar and is excited when, once again, she meets Drew. However, he is no longer the boy of her dreams but has a huge chip on his shoulder and a sour relationship with his father. There is still an attraction between them, and she is determined not to give up on Drew and longs to reconcile him with Joey. This is a beautifully written book, easy and entertaining to read, and at times, it moved me to tears. Highly recommended. You can find Joey’s Place here: Joey’s Place : A Small Town, Romantic Comedy

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


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