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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Gratitude, giveaways and gardening in Jan 2021 newsletter

Happy New Year!

I hope your December was fabulous and you've rung in the New Year with friends and family or like me, tucked up in bed well before midnight with a good book in hand. Even though Covid is following us into 2021, I'm excited to turn the page and see what this year has in store.

Read on for some heart-warming highlights and your chance to win two great summer reads.


Just a reminder you can find my books in all good book stores and libraries in paperback, eBook and audiobook, or order Bottlebrush Creek and Wildflower Ridge online.


Attitude to gratitude

Welcome to 2021! There are so many great reasons to smile this weekend, most of all the hope this new year marks the start of brighter days. I'm not one for setting new year's resolutions, but I can tell you my year will be full of writing, baking and gardening, and I look forward to sharing the highlights with you in my newsletter and through my social media.

I've had so much to be grateful for this year. Apart from a few minor accidents (a year rarely passes without somebody in our household breaking a bone or requiring stitches), we've had excellent health, plenty to eat (with the garden, chooks and livestock providing many of our meals), a warm house (woodcutting was an excellent essential lockdown activity) and the joy of wide, open spaces.

I've also counted myself very lucky to have you guys, and this fabulous community of readers and writers, in 2020. I started this newsletter in February, and one of the nicest things to come from it was your input. Everyone who entered the book giveaways answered a different question each month, and I just loved reading your answers.

Some of my favourite replies included:

DECEMBER NEWSLETTER: In 2020 I'm most grateful for:

- The availability of Australian and overseas novels to transport and transplant me albeit temporarily, while in lockdown

- The opportunity during COVID to still undertake IVF. Fingers crossed for a positive 2021!

- Time with my family and getting to slow down watch my kids grow instead of rush around busy, busy, busy

- My daughter. She did all our shopping since the pandemic was declared, and also brought us a home cooked dinner once a week. She’s been a real blessing

OCTOBER NEWSLETTER: I would ask my fairy godmother to:

- Watch over my mother-in-law who has been unwell lately

- Bringing my grandparents back so I could spend quality time with them

- Helping me raise my daughter to become strong, independent and caring human

- For a grandchild to love, cuddle and take on adventures ❤️

AUGUST NEWSLETTER: The best gift I've been given is:

- A tea set belonging to my ex-husband's mother who passed away this year. It melts my heart to know we still loved each other dearly even though her son and I have divorced and remarried

- A beautiful soft cuddly stuffed pig from my mum when I was going through post natal depression

- Hugs from my daughter when she comes home from boarding school

- Bookmarks, made by my children. I’m a Nan now and still use and treasure them

These are just some of the little pieces of happiness that made me smile, thank you!

My role as a writer in 2020 also brought me much joy. I was involved in 27 author events and 19 radio/podcast/blog interviews for the release of Bottlebrush Creek, I interviewed 23 fabulous Aussie authors on my blog, gave away more than 25 books, read 58 books, launched a novel, finished writing another and drafted 60,000 words on my fourth manuscript. I almost feel like a lie-down after reading that, especially given the Victorian lockdown and home-schooling, but I must admit, it's been a pleasure to have so many opportunities to create and connect in such an unusual year.

I was also proud to make finals in the Roar Success Awards. It was my first time entering this new small business award, and the snazzy trophy (above) looks very fancy in my office, beside Bottlebrush Creek and Wildflower Ridge. Awards aren't the reason I write, but it's still pretty neat to be recognised.

Need a little positivity as you reflect on 2020? Check out this 'Golden Threads' project from Karyn Sepulveda, a lovely series about finding the good. For me it was the beautiful rural property we call home, which was such a blessing in lockdown.

Another big thanks to you guy - my readers - for all your fantastic support this year, and a special shout out to the nurses, doctors and key workers who went above and beyond to keep us safe this year. I've never been so grateful to have brave, selfless medical professionals within our healthcare system.


January author spotlight

Five fast minutes with

Vanessa McCausland and Jessica Dettmann

I raced through both of these novels, and as a mother, I found so many aspects of their storylines super-relatable. In The Valley of Lost Stories we followed new friendships, old secrets, past hurts and a whole load of mother's guilt. McCausland does a fabulous job creating flawed but immensely rich characters, evocative settings, a compelling plot and mysterious historical thread.

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is also a great summer read with plenty of laughs, familiar characters and awkward situations that’ll have you nodding and cringing, often at the same time. Dettmann deftly depicts the intense pressure on mothers and grandmothers in all stages of adulthood, plus the intricacies of family dynamics and sibling relationships, and a sub-plot very dear to my heart.

Head to the blog for the full interviews with Vanessa and Jessica, and more about their books, plus your chance to win a copy, thanks to Harper Collins. EDITED JAN 10 - CONTEST NOW CLOSED


Christmas, crayfish and kid-free edits

How was your Christmas and New Years? We were excited to trek across the border to SA, spending the big day with my family. With lovely weather and lots of food, it was so nice to be home again. Luckily for me, the children stayed on with my folks while I returned home for an intense week of copy-edits, which made it even more productive. I've got to say, I'm absolutely loving Magpie's Bend, even after the seven millionth read-through, and I can't wait to share Lara's story with you in June.

In the lull between structural edits and copy edits, I dived back into drafting my 2022 book - Diana's story. There was a horrid hiccup with my back-ups, where half the manuscript disappeared, but after an agonising morning wading through archives and back-up folders, I tracked down 52,900 words. It wasn't the full amount I'd written, but it was a lot better than the initial outlook. Rest assured, the back-up process has now been revised!

There was also plenty of Christmas baking in December, including this Christmas cake from Fiona Lowe, gingerbread houses and a simplified version of this really tasty spinach and cheese puff pastry Christmas tree. We celebrated my son's graduation from primary school, and I did my very first in-person event for Bottlebrush Creek, speaking to members from the Lyndoch Book Club in Warrnambool, who chose my novel for their very first book.

The garden is bringing its A-Game at the moment, with roses in full bloom, sweet peas smelling divine, cheerful sunflowers and the first of the dahlias knocking my socks off. Mulberries are nearly ripe, apricots are juicy, the strawberry patch has finally started producing, and judging by the green tomatoes, we'll soon be harvesting them too. I plan to save lots of seeds from the summer crops for next season, something I've been quite slack at in previous years.

Big thanks to Michelle V, Stacey H and Michelle McA for sharing pictures of the books they won in recent giveaways. Always lovely to see happy readers with their prizes. Don't forget to enter this month's book giveaway.


It's been lovely having your company in 2020, I look forward to sharing and celebrating the year ahead with you too! Have a fab January folks.

Love, Maya x

Feeling social?

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

Feel free to forward this to a friend in need of some baking, gardening & bookish goodness today!

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