February 2021 newsletter with dahlias, jetty jumping and writing
Happy February, lovers!
I can't believe this edition marks a year of newsletters. It's been lovely writing these updates and sending them out into the world each month. Thanks for being my perfect match!
Life is great here in country Victoria; school is back, I'm writing every weekday again and excited to see Magpie's Bend take shape before it hits the shelves in June.
Here are a few things making me smile this month in the kitchen, in my garden and at my desk, plus your chance to win one of two fab debut novels. Happy reading x Maya
Reader feedback rocks!
Feedback from readers is one of my favourite parts of the job. The photo below left is Irene, from NSW. Irene's daughter (and author extraordinaire) Sandie Docker) featured Bottlebrush Creek in a 'Books My Mum Recommends' Instagram post. Many thanks for your kind words, Irene, I'm so glad you loved it.
The fabulous picture on the right was sent in by Shiree from Mitta Valley in north east Victoria. After loving Wildflower Ridge, Shiree bought Bottlebrush Creek and was thrilled to discover it contained a family-run dairy farm a mother called Rosa, twin sons, antique motorbikes and a Christmas tradition of watching National Lampoons Holiday Vacation movie every year. Low and behold, Shiree works for an 80-year-old lady called Rhonda who still milks every day, along with her twin sons.
Plus Shiree and her husband have collectable Harley Davidsons, and watch the movie every Christmas too. What a lovely coincidence, Shiree!
I also adore seeing my favourite recipes making their way into your hearts! South Aussie librarian, Tanya @read.by.the.librarian recently tried both the yo-yo bickies and muesli bar slice recipes, to great success. Then in the middle, we have the slice made by Julie from @jolls_garden in NSW and also by writer and book reviewer @emmababbington. So great to see my favourites popping up in your kitchens!
February author spotlight
I'm always thrilled to read standout debut novels, and these two stories ticked all the boxes. Based on a fictional account of Queen Elizabeth's first visit to Australia, The Tour is full of humour, history and mischief. It's told from the perspective of feuding British maids, Violet and Daisie Chettle, with plenty of facts built into the storyline.
When the Apricots Bloom is equally engaging and at times heart-wrenching, taking readers into the dark days of Saddam Hussein's regime. Friendships and loyalties are tested in Wilkinson's tense and gripping tale, partly based on her experiences living and working in the Middle East.
Head to the blog for the full interviews with Andrew and Gina, and more about their books, plus your chance to win a copy, thanks to Penguin Random House and Hachette.
Edits are done, school's back, events are on
I hope you found some time for relaxing over January! Our summer school holidays were full of adventures and catch-ups, with not a great deal of writing besides the copy-edits of Magpie's Bend, which I finished in mid-Jan. I'll have one more final read through this month before it goes to print. The cover designer is working her magic as we speak, and I hope to be sharing the front cover and pre-order details next month. Yay!
Jase and I had a lot of fun tackling some DIY projects over summer - using leftover building materials to make desks for the children, pulling out the paintbrush for feature walls in the kitchen and laundry, and building long-awaited outdoor staircases. They say owner-builders never finish, they just keep on improving, and I think that's about right! We spent three years building our house, took another three years to recover from the ordeal, and now we're finding the joy in getting creative with timber and tools again.
I was delighted to mingle with other readers and writers at several different January events. I hosted a library event with Victoria Purman for her latest release The Women's Pages, interviewed debut author Kelli Hawkins for a 'Summer Series Takeover' episode of the Words & Nerds Podcast, and also invited rural romance author Penelope Janu onto my Romance Writers Blog 'Kiss & Tell with Maya Linnell.' I also chatted all things books and writing during a Facebook live and Author of the Day guest spot with The Global Girls Book Club, and snuck in another visit to Blarney Books & Art with fellow authors Lisa Ireland and Rania Battany. If you're near Port Fairy, you must call in and look at their book-focussed art exhibition.
Another creative endeavour that's bringing me great joy is flower arranging. The garden is brimming with materials and I've been making several bunches a week. It's partly research for my 2022 novel (Diana's story) and partly the simple pleasure of learning a new skill. A big posy of flowers never goes astray, right?
Remember the Lucky Dip Dahlias I gave away last winter? Many of them are blooming across the country, below are some examples of those seeds transforming into beautiful blooms. Thanks for sending me your pictures Michelle in SA, Margi in SA and Jo in NSW.
Looking ahead to the June release of Magpie's Bend, I'm thinking of fabulous giveaways options to celebrate the launch. Of course, my mind goes straight to the garden and the unique things that are special to me. After the success of last year's 'Lucky Dip Dahlias' I've decided to go one better. I'll be giving away gift packs with a variety of seeds from my favourite plants. Sweet peas with a fragrance that'll knock your socks off, hollyhocks, sunflowers, super-scented stock flowers, cornflowers, poppies and of course more dahlias. Sound good? Watch this space!
❤️ Five things I loved in Jan ❤️
Australian films at the cinema (I highly recommend The Dry, based on the book by Jane Harper, and Penguin Bloom with Naomi Watts)
Free, online writing tutorials with Marian Keyes (or Queen Marian, as I call her)
Zucchinis that are 10cm long one day and ENORMOUS the next
Sharing back-to-school recipes and reflecting on the beauty of handwritten memories
Jetty-jumping at Beachport with my kids. Took me straight back to my teenage years!
Winners are grinners!
Thanks to everyone who entered the January book contests. Tara won a copy of Jessica Dettmann's new bestseller This Has Been Absolutely Lovely and Shelley won Vanessa McCausland's hauntingly beautiful The Valley of Lost Stories. I adore seeing the happy faces of the winners, many thanks for the pictures, Tara and Shelley, and to Harper Collins for the prizes!
That's all from me this month, folks. Thanks for reading and being part of this newsletter community. Drop me a line if you've got any suggestions or photos for future editions. Wishing you all a fabulous February!
Love, Maya x
Head over to my Instagram account @maya.linnell.writes for regular updates on books you'll love, biscuits and cakes that'll have you reaching for your apron, and the latest news on my rural romance books.
I'm also on Facebook and of course there's my website www.mayalinnell.com
Feel free to forward this to a friend in need of some baking, gardening & bookish goodness today!
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