Viewpoint: What should an author do? We write the books – and now you want us to perform as well.

How should authors interact when they are taking part in book events? Should they stay quietly at their tables, behind piles of their recently published novel?

Should they concentrate on a book they’re reading and avoid looking up?

Or should they leap forward whenever anyone comes near and start doing a major sales pitch?

It’s an interesting dilemma and something considered by freelance copy editor, Emma Mitchell, who wrote a blog on her website asking: ‘Do we expect too much of authors?’ Continue reading

Meet the author: Edinburgh Fringe Festival stand-up Rosie Wilby talks Conscious Uncoupling

Is monogamy deadMeet award-winning, multi-talented comedian Rosie Wilby, whose credits include BBC Radio 4, The Guardian and Glastonbury.

Born in Liverpool, but now living in Brixton, South London, she was a finalist at Funny Women 2006 and the following year was named the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year.

She’s been touring award-winning solo shows and steadily building a word-of-mouth army of fans ever since.  Continue reading

Review: Missee Lee conquers as Ransome favourite on 50th anniversary of his death

Hong KongDid Missee Lee, the classically educated pirate, who rescued the Swallows and Amazons after they were shipwrecked off the coast of China, sail the seven seas in a boat like this one (above) which ferries present-day tourists across Hong Kong harbour?

I hope so – it would have been a slight consolation for the Walkers and the Blacketts, who are horrified to discover Missee Lee wants to keep them prisoners.

And, to the dismay of Cap’n Nancy, teach them Latin.

Twenty-two gong Taicoon

But it’s better than the alternative – although Nancy, at least, might have enjoyed walking the plank…

That’s if Missee Lee, a 22-gong Taicoon and leader of the Three Island pirates, didn’t chop off their heads first.

It would be nice to say I fell in love with Missee Lee, tenth in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series, when I was knee high to a grasshopper – Nancy Blackett would have been my heroine.

A marathon reading of Arthur Ransome’s much loved children’s adventure story Swallows and Amazons takes place on the lake shore north of Coniston Boating Centre, starting at 9am on Sunday 3 September, 2017. The novel’s 31 chapters will take around nine hours to read, and will involve at least 35 readers.

For more information click here or follow @ifnotduffers on Twitter

But, I was a little bit older and, like so many of my favourite good reads, stumbled on the book by accident after it featured in a BBC Radio Four story time slot.

I was hooked – bought the paperback and devoured it before the final episode of the radio serial aired.

And then read the rest of Ransome’s adventures.

Of course, all the stories have to be taken with a huge pinch of salt – Missee Lee, for example, was written in the 30s when attitudes were very different and it was perfectly acceptable to present stereotypical pictures of foreigners.

‘Velly irritating’

Which, in this case, means cod-Chinese accents and an inability to pronounce the letter ‘R’.

Velly, velly irritating.

And you’d have thought Ransome would have known better too.

After all, he travelled widely in Russia as well as China and married Trotsky’s secretary.

However, there’s no point judging a book by the politically incorrect social mores and prejudices of the times in which they were written.

San Francisco

Otherwise, you’d never read anything written before the millennium.

And, there’s such a lot to like about Missee Lee from the comedy of Roger enjoying his status as Missee Lee’s star pupil to Uncle Jim posing as the American mayor of San Francisco.

There’ll be a long wait for his ransom to be paid, Miss Lee shrewdly observes.

Of course, it all needs to be taken with a huge pinch of salt – but isn’t that true of almost every story that appeals to adults almost as much as it does to youngsters?

A good one to read aloud to your own Swallows and Amazons on the 50th anniversary of Ransome’s death.

Review by Sue Featherstone.

Available to buy on Amazon.

News: Celebrate Yorkshire Day with Grit, an anthology from Yorkshire writers

GritIt’s Yorkshire Day so a good day to celebrate Grit, a new compilation of short stories by Yorkshire writers.

Michael Yates, who put this anthology together, drew mainly from writers workshops in Wakefield and Pontefract.

The invitation was to write a short story of no more than 5,000 words and there was no theme.

In all, 14 writers – including me – contributed.

Our stories are not all set in Yorkshire but writer and broadcaster Ian Clayton, who wrote the foreword, hopes readers will find a pattern.

‘It’s a bit like making your way down a path made from crazy paving, each piece with its own tale to tell, but also fitting where perhaps it’s not supposed to, to tell a bigger story.’

Grit will be launched during Wakefield Literary Festival on Saturday, September 23, when contributors will be reading from their stories in Wakefield Central Library on Burton Street 11am-1pm.

Admission is free and there will be a ten per cent discount off the £10 cover price for anyone attending.

Hope to see you there.

By Sue Featherstone.

Review: Lost Connections debut from Jim Ody makes all the right connections

Lost ConnectionsSingle dad Eddie is quick-witted, warm-hearted and devoted to his daughter Daisy.

He’s almost perfect – even his ex-partner Jean, Daisy’s mother, is still more than a little bit in love with him.

In fact, they’d probably still be together if she hadn’t jumped into bed with his best friend Jason.

But it wasn’t her fault – Jason looked at her with lust in his eyes while Eddie, working flat out to build his tattoo business, would collapse asleep with exhaustion. Continue reading

News: Close to home is best when it comes to living and working in the North

We’re often invited to take part in and contribute to other writer’s websites and we’re always delighted to be interviewed, asked to talk about books or write about writing.

So it was great to be invited by blogger and reviewer Jo Barton to take part in her Close to Home feature.

Sue appeared on the spot earlier this year and my turn came this week when I was able to write about living and working in the North – particularly Yorkshire.

There’s so much to say about this part of the world and I could have written a book about everything on offer here, but I managed to edit myself – and you can read the result here:

Jo’s been blogging for six years and supports writers in a number of ways, including writing book reviews and running blog tours. Her overall aim is to promote books and reading – which we thoroughly approve of.

She says she’s usually found curled up with a book – with Jaffa, the cat, close by. See what the two of them get up to here:






News: Book Lovers’ Booklist is one today

A Falling Friend book coverHappy Birthday to us!

It’s one year today since we launched the Book Lovers’ Booklist.

We’ve had bundles of fun reading, reviewing and writing about books.

And we’ve made some wonderful new friends right across the book blogging community – authors, bloggers and readers.

We’re very grateful for your support and encouragement.

So, Susan and I are celebrating our first blogging year with a giveaway of our first novel A Falling Friend.

For the next three days we’ll give away three copies of A Falling Friend each day.

Just click the link  here and hit the like button to go into a draw to win one of three free copies.

Closing date: midnight on July 24.