Among the Olive Groves – four years old

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Among the Olive Groves display at a book event

It’s been four years since I released Among the Olive Groves, a book that I worked incredibly hard on and poured my heart and soul into, and it meant so much to me that releasing it made me incredibly anxious, I had no idea if anyone would read it or even like it. I worried that it just wouldn’t be good enough but I persevered anyway, as the story was too important for me not to publish it, so finally after a lot of hard work it was released in July 2014 (Paperback August 2014).

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Holding my first paperback copy!

Now four years on I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the response Among the Olive Groves has received both here in the UK, and internationally and I can’t believe the support I’ve received and I’m very grateful.

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One of my favourite reader photos

Here’s a little snapshot of the amazing things that have happened since July 2014:

  • Among the Olive Groves has sold thousands of copies worldwide
  • Among the Olive Groves has been bought and read in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA, UK
  • In 2016 Among the Olive Groves won an historical fiction award
  • The book text has also been used for TIE International ESOL exams in Greece
  • Among the Olive Groves is available in my local public and college libraries
  • I’ve received hundreds of wonderful reviews and personal messages from readers and often see people recommending it to others on social media
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book on the radio in both the UK and Greece 
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book for podcasts in the UK, Greece and USA
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book for Book Club YouTube videos in the UK
  • Among the Olive Groves was featured in a Huffington Post interview
  • Among the Olive Groves has appeared at book Festivals and Book Club Events
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A great reader photo!
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Talking about the book on the radio
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Another great reader photo!

When I wrote Among the Olive Groves I never imagined that things would go so well, it was simply a book that I had to write, because the story was so important to me that it needed to be told. Sometimes I still pinch myself, as I can’t quite believe it happened. I truly appreciate the incredible support, I know I couldn’t have done any of the above without it. Most of all though, I thank people for loving the book the way they do, that means the absolute world to me.

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Another lovely reader photo
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Appearing at a literary festival with fellow author Rebecca A Hall
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Another great reader photo

Among the Olive Groves is a very special book to me and I’ve come to realise that it is to many other people too, so much so, that many readers have asked for a follow-up to be written, so I’ve agreed I will do one (more information below!). Among the Olive Groves always will have a place in my heart and I hope that it continues to bring joy to many more readers over the next four years. Thanks for sticking with me!

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Among the Olive Groves at my local library
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Among the Olive Groves at my local library

A Night of Thunder (Follow-up to Among the Olive Groves)

***Spoilers ahead for those who may not have read Among the Olive Groves yet!***

Earlier this year I made the decision to write a follow-up to Among the Olive Groves, after many requests from readers. There was never meant to be one, Among the Olive Groves was only ever meant to be one story/one book, but so many readers desperately want to know what happened to the character Athena. So, I’m now researching and writing the highly anticipated follow-up which will be called A Night of Thunder. The story will be set in Bristol (UK), the island of Zakynthos and on mainland Greece. I have planned the whole story and readers will not only learn more about the character Athena, but also the brave British Airman Richard, and his life away from the war and Greece. The story will drop in from the moment that Richard leaves the island with Athena and we will travel through time and Athena’s life, learning where she went, who she met and what she did. I’m enjoying the research and have started writing the book already, publication date has not yet bee set, but more news will be added to my facebook group Chrissie Parker Book Group, when I have it.

  • What was your favourite thing about Among the Olive Groves?

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Cover reveal! Wind Across the Nile

I’m so excited, I now have the cover for my next book Wind Across the Nile.

It’s so lovely and is more than I could have wished for. My cover designer has captured Egypt and the book perfectly, and the colours are fantastic.

I can’t wait to release this book, and it should be ready to buy in a few weeks time!

So, without keeping you waiting…here it is, the cover for Wind Across the Nile, releasing in August this year!

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I will let you all know when it’s live, but until then, enjoy the cover, I’m so happy with it. Thank you so much Lawston Design!

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Wind Across the Nile. August 2018

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This summer Wind Across the Nile will be published. I’m excited to finally be able to get this book to my very patient readers. It’s not been the easiest of years, lots of things have happened that have taken up my time making me unable to release this book to schedule, but I’m now able to get this book completed and released.

What is Wind Across the Nile?

A historical suspense, Wind Across the Nile is predominantly set in Egypt, but parts of it are also based in Scotland and London. It has been a hard book to write, as I created quite an intricate storyline that spans almost a hundred years, set around a number of different, interlinking, characters. The research was extensive, and it wasn’t just research about Egypt and its ancient history. There was also research that released to how people lived from 1900 to the present, as well as research relating to archaeology and archaeological sites. It’s a bit different to Among the Olive Groves, it’s got a lot more suspense in it and whilst it centres on family discovery, it also covers the dark side of archaeological artefact theft too. Because of all of that it took a long time to write and get right, but I’m so happy with the final result and cant wait to release it.

I hope that readers enjoy it, it’s a book that I’ve enjoyed writing and can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on.

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The book description:

Can she survive where her ancestors failed?

Suffering with grief after the tragic death of her family, Cora Thomas flees to Egypt, desperate to escape the overwhelming loss.

In Luxor, she meets gruff Egyptologist Nick Foster who wants little to do with her, and his employee Sam, who instantly becomes a much sought-after friend.

As she settles into life along the Nile, discovering the country’s vast history and culture, Cora learns about the contents of an old diary discovered in her parents’ home. As the diary’s story unfolds, it reveals hardship, love, tragedy and a potentially life-threatening family feud spanning generations.

From the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands to the ruinous sands of the Egyptian desert, Wind across the Nile is a story of unbreakable family bonds, adversity and self-preservation.

Wind Across the Nile will be released this summer on ebook and paperback across all sales platforms.

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

 

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YOUR PRIVACY AND NEW DATA PROTECTION LAWS

DATA PROTECTION STATEMENT FOR CHRISSIE PARKER AUTHOR

I value your privacy and I won’t collect unnecessary information about you, or spam you with marketing or other messages that you haven’t asked to receive.

Below is a brief summary of the data and information that is collected by chrissieparker.com. 

New Data Protection laws are coming into effect on the 25 May 2018, so I need to ensure that chrissieparker.com is compliant with the new rules.

Blog post comments

  • My blog allows readers to comment on posts. These comments are moderated in line with common courtesy practise. Any profanity, rudeness, or spam/sales comments are not approved
  • The commenting form asks for your name and email address. These are stored by WordPress.com, the software used to power the blog
  • I do not share these details with anyone else, and neither will I add them to any mailing lists
  • The purpose of taking your email address is because sometimes comments need a personal response. If you prefer not to provide this information then you can also comment anonymously
  • If you would like to have any comments that you have already posted to the site removed, then please contact me and I will remove them as soon as I am able to

Website/Emails

  • My website allows users to contact me via email or contact form. These emails/comments are moderated in line with common courtesy practise, and responded to. Any profanity, rudeness, or spam/sales comments/emails are deleted
  • The commenting form asks for your name and email address. The email is received by myself directly and not any third party
  • I do not share these details with anyone else, and neither will I add them to any mailing lists, unless that is the reason you are contacting me
  • If you have previously directly emailed me for any reason, such as asking to be on a mailing list, please advise if you are happy for your email address to be kept for that original purpose, otherwise it will be automatically deleted from my server. You can of course opt back in at any time
  • Be reassured that any emails received are stored safely via password protected system and only I have access to them

Google Analytics

  • My blog and website uses tracking software to provide me with statistics about site usage. This software is provided by Google Analytics
  • The software will save a small file to your computer’s hard drive in order to track and monitor your engagement and usage of the site
  • It will NOT store, save or collect personal information
  • For further information, you can read Google’s privacy policy here

Facebook Messaging

  • If you contact me on Facebook Messenger the messages are stored by both Facebook and the recipient (myself) 
  • If you send personal information to me via Facebook Messenger and you would like the messages to be deleted once your conversation has ended please let me know and I will delete them
  • Please understand that any personal information sent to me via Facebook messenger is not encrypted, therefore it can (if necessary) be viewed by Facebook staff and at worst can be “hacked” so it is not wholly safe

Twitter Messaging

  • If you contact me on Direct messenger on Twitter, the messages are stored by both Twitter and the recipient (myself) 
  • If you send personal information to me via Direct messenger on Twitter and you would like the messages to be deleted once your conversation has ended please let me know and I will delete them
  • Please understand that any personal information sent to me via Direct messenger on Twitter is not encrypted, therefore it can (if necessary) be viewed by Twitter staff and at worst can be “hacked” so it is not wholly safe

Thank you for your continued support!

Chrissie Parker, Author (Chrissieparker.com)

Canonsleigh Abbey, Devon

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Abbey ruins – accessible via public footpath

Situated on the edge of the idyllic Grand Western Canal in Devon, between Fossend and Fenacre bridges are the ruins of Canonsleigh Abbey (sometimes also called Canonsleigh Priory). There isn’t much left of the original site but the ruins that remain, provide a small glimpse into the importance of the Abbey and its purpose in Medieval times. The remains are now a combination of Grade two listed and scheduled monuments, protected by Historic England, meaning that they cannot be changed or destroyed.

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Abbey ruins – accessible via public footpath
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The Abbey Gatehouse – now private property

An Abbey/Priory has been in existence on the site for almost a thousand years, but the exact date of its original creation is uncertain. The closest determination is that some time around 1161 and 1173 a Royal confirmation for a Priory on the site was granted. It is thought however, that a Priory may well have been in operation before that date. In 1086 Walter I de Claville, a Frenchman from de Clavile in Rouen, France was gifted the land in the area of “Leigh” by William the Conqeror after his success at the Battle of Hastings. The landowner at the time had been a female Saxon called Aelfrun, a fact documented in the Domesday book in 1086.

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Upper part of the Abbey

 

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Hole (likely a window) in the side of the Abbey wall

The Priory at Leigh became known as Canonsleigh. It was a small Priory of Augustinian Canons/Priests, with just twelve in the order to start with, and was dedicated to St John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. It operated as most Priory’s did in those days, with the Canons/Priests having ties to neighbouring villages such as Sampford Arundel, Netherton and Pugham. There were areas for prayer, gardens and kitchens. The Priory was subsidised by the Plympton Augustinian Priory, sadly however this had an impact on the Priory, and the it eventually found itself in financial difficulties. Isabella de Fortibus and the Countess of Gloucester (a dowager called Matilda, who wanted a memorial for her late husband), set about a chain of events that would see the Priory given over to them and turned into a nunnery. In 1284, after nine days of negotiations, the Canons were forced from the site by Bishop Quivel and men armed with bows and arrows. Canonsleigh Priory then became known as Canonsleigh Abbey, formally ending the Augustinian order at the site.

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The Abbey Gatehouse through trees by Westleigh Quarry

Canonsleigh Abbey was set up for around forty Canonesses, but their life at the Abbey wasn’t easy, and like the Canons/Priests before them they suffered hardship. They drew income from a variety of sources, including their relationship with Burlescombe Village Church, and donations from wealthy landowners, but it wasn’t enough. Money that had been set aside in the Bishop’s treasury by Matilda was borrowed by King Edward I, and it took the Canonesses fifty years of fighting to get it back. Eventually King Edward III (Edward I Grandson), returned the funds.

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View of the Abbey remains from private property 
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The Reredorter
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View of the Abbey remains from private property 

In the 1500’s life at Canonsleigh Abbey became even more difficult. Henry the VIII ordered the dissolution of all Convents, Friaries, Monasteries and Abbeys between 1536 and 1541 in England, Wales and Ireland. This act saw thousands of religious buildings razed to the ground, and income seized from the respective religious chapters. Canonsleigh Abbey didn’t escape, and even though it managed to carry on for a number of years after the Act was created it finally met its demise in September 1539, when the Abbey was razed to the ground and the Canonesses pensioned off.

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Roof line view of the Abbey
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View of the Abbey remains from private property 
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Wood post/beam holes

Nowadays, Canonsleigh Abbey/Priory, is a small cluster of ruinous stone buildings that are slowing being claimed by ivy, trees and bushes. Many don’t know of its existence unless they happen to know someone who lives in the area. There has been much discussion about what buildings do remain on the now abandoned site. We know that Canonleigh Gatehouse exists, standing away from the other ruins, surrounded by modern builds. Amongst the other ruins, called the eastern ruins of the Abbey, it’s documented that there’s a Leat (millstream/artificial watercourse), a Reredorter (possible waste channel from privies and kitchens) and a maybe even a mill, as well as walls, partial buttresses, and a ‘room’. Thoughts are that one of these sites may actually be a kitchen area; likely in the Gatehouse.

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The Leat (looking at where water enters from a natural stream)
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The Leat
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The Leat 

Evidence suggests that the site was much larger when in use, and housed St Theobalds Church, a chapel of Holy Trinity (now two cottages in Westleigh), Ancient chapel ruins (unnamed) at Fenacre farm, and two chapels dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr and All Saints (site location unknown). When the Lime Kilns at Cracker Corner by Westleigh quarry, were built, an ancient burial site was uncovered which included a lot of ancient bones. Experts believe that the area at Cracker Corner may have been the burial ground of St Theobalds Church.

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Cracker Corner – potential site of ancient burial ground
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Fenacre Farm – potential site of Chapel ruins

The size of the original site of Canonsleigh Abbey will never truly be known, as fields have been given over to farming, roads run next to – possibly even through – the site, and quarry workings at Westleigh have encroached upon it. But what remains is a small reminder of an incredible Medieval past, dating all the way back to the Domesday book. It is a tantalising glimpse of a history of which so much is still unknown and yet, could possibly still be discovered one day.

Author note: Access to Canonsleigh Abbey is via public footpaths/fields. Some of these fields contain livestock (horses and sheep), so care should be taken, especially with closing gates. Dogs should be kept on leads.  Whilst the Abbey is fascinating, it’s an ancient and ruinous building, sometimes there are stone falls, and climbing the ruins should be avoided. As an ancient/protected monument it should be treated with care. Please also note that part of the Abbey is on private property, and only accessible with landowner permission.

Chrissie is an author who loves history, enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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Castles

As well as travelling abroad I’m a huge history geek. I love reading about it, watching history documentaries and visiting historical places, whether it be old country houses, ancient sites or museums. One of my favourite sites to visit in the UK are castles. I think it stems from when I was a child and we used to go on day trips, many of which ended up being castles. Since then I’ve always loved them and really enjoy visiting visiting them and having a good explore. I’ve visited so many castles over the years, but in this post I’m going to write about three of my favourite castles.

Bodiam Castle

In deepest Sussex is Bodiam Castle. It’s owned by the National Trust and is a good example of a 14th century castle with existing moat. It was built in 1385 by a former Knight of Edward III. Despite some of the interior being in ruins, it’s a great example of a medieval castle, and is protected as a scheduled monument with Grade I listed status. The castle sits in the middle of a large moat, connected to land via a long wooden bride, that leads to a drawbridge section. At the end is the main entrance which has a large portcullis, and various ancient defensive mechanisms.

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Bodium Castle from across the moat
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Interior of Bodium Castle

Originally the castle had two entrances, but only one is used now. The castle is square in shape, with four towers, one at each corner, that visitors can climb via winding staircases to reach the tower roof. The views are extensive and you can see why the castle was built in the location it’s in. The castle has thick, defensive stone walls, a large open courtyard at the centre, with multiple rooms that run around the edge. These rooms include the Great Chamber, old kitchens, Lords Hall, ante rooms, service rooms, stables and even a chapel.

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Inside the Castle
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Interior of Bodium Castle
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In the entrance gatehouse

Bodium Castle is one of the best examples of this type of castle I’ve ever visited. As you wander the grounds, the old rooms and climb the towers, you get a real feel for the castle and its incredible history. It’s definitely a castle I’d recommend visiting.

Richborough Castle

Situated near Sandwich in Kent, Richborough Castle is actually an old Roman/Saxon fort, reputed to be built on the site of the first Roman landing in AD43. It is owned by English Heritage, and forms almost a perfect square on the site. It has been through many additions, and much rebuilding. A lot of what now exists are later adaptations, but the site itself is historically noted.

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Richborough Castle’s internal structures and exterior walls
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Richborough castle’s exterior walls

Many of the internal structures are no longer in existence, due a fair bit of it being built of timber, although some stone foundations do still exist.  The outer walls however still stand, and are quite imposing. There are also many other interesting Roman features inside the site that are worth visiting, such as the Mansio. The site was an important defensive and supply base, so the Mansio was an important part of the fort. There are also remnants of an old hypocaust system and a ditch and rampart system.

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Being silly in the Mansio
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Remnants of an old hypocaust system
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Me with external wall in background

As Roman forts go, Richborough Castle is pretty impressive even though it doesn’t look much from the outside and it’s incredible that as much of it has survived, especially considering the building materials used. When you stand next to one of the outer walls it’s a real shock to see just how tall they are and how massive the site would have been when first built and in use. There is also the remains of an old amphitheatre nearby, it’s quite difficult to locate, but worth a visit if you can find it. A good map is recommend though!

Rochester Castle

In the town of Rochester in Kent, stands the imposing Rochester Castle. It guards the medway river and has an interesting history. Owned by English Heritage Rochester Castle was built in 1127 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it is thought that there has been a defensive structure on the site since about 1086, although exactly where is still up for discussion.

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The main Keep and canon
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Rochester Castle interior

The current castle is a Norman Keep that stands over 100 feet high with a protective forebuilding. The castle like so many, has seen plenty of attacks through time, and been party to many wars. So much so that it has been damaged and rebuilt a few times. Despite all it has been through, the castle continues to stand dominant on the skyline a testament to its efforts of protecting the surrounding area.

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Climbing castle steps
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Up on the parapets
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Inside the castle

What remains nowadays is a great example of a Norman Keep castle. The interior has lost its wooden floor levels, but it is still possible to climb the original stone circular staircases that go all the way to the top, and walk around the parapet to not only look down inside the building, but also out across the town of Rochester, over the Medway and beyond.

Even though I have only listed three favourite castles, there are many others in the UK that I love, and I’ll never say no to visiting one. Others I would recommend visiting are Caerphilly Castle, Chepstow Castle and Dunster Castle. But if you don’t live near any of those, there are plenty of castles all over the UK just waiting to be visited so they can share their incredible history. Find out more on the interactive map of UK Castles.

  • Have you ever visited any of the castles mentioned above?

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

 

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A New Year of exciting possibilities

January is now upon us, the Christmas tree, decorations and tinsel have been packed away for another year, and ahead of us is another twelve months of exciting possibilities. We have another spring and summer to look forward to, when the world brightens with flowers, green grass and blue skies, when the sun shines and life starts anew and days lengthen.

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I love winter and all it brings, there is still so much to see and do, but I’m also every excited about the year ahead. I’m excited about all the work I have before me, and the projects I’m currently involved in. If all goes according to plan, there will be some big announcements in 2018, and as much as I’m bursting to tell you what they are I can’t just yet, as there are so many variables, but keep checking in, as I hope to be able to bring you news about some of it very soon.

The first big bit of news I can tell you though, is about my forthcoming book Wind Across the Nile. I now have a release date for it and I will be announcing it on my Facebook Group Chrissie Parker Book Group this weekend. So head on over and join the group if you would like to be one of the ones who hear the news first!

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The other bit of news is that my book Among the Olive Groves is currently on download sale on Amazon for 99p for UK readers. So if you haven’t got your copy yet, then now’s the time to grab a bargain! It’s the perfect time of year to lose yourself in a book set on a sunny Greek island.

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Enjoy January, it can be a hard month to get through after all the fun and festivities of December. Have a great year, I hope that 2018 makes dreams come true for all of you.

  • What are you looking forward to the most in 2018?

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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