The Suitcase Under the Bed Seminar


Practical Advice about Publishing for Aspirant Writers

So you’ve written a book, or you’re in the middle of writing one, or just thinking about it. Everyone says you should persevere. You have to get it published. It’s a great story, page turning actually. Well, that’s what your friends tell you, but is it enough?

How will you get it noticed by a publisher? Is it even good enough to be publish? Maybe you should self-publish or put it on Amazon? What do publishers know anyway? How do they decide what manuscripts to accept, what to reject?

Perhaps you should just put it in a suitcase under the bed and take up pottery instead.

If this is where you find yourself, why not come along to a day that will give you the facts, and possibly a little fiction into the bargain, from two people who know about publishing and the ever evolving book business – from inside and out.

THE SUITCASE UNDER THE BED – Practical Advice about Publishing for Aspirant Writers, being run by Alison Lowry and Tracey McDonald.

Perhaps this doesn’t pertain to you, but maybe you know of family, friends and acquaintances who it does apply to.  If so, please pass on the details (it would make a really nice gift for someone this Christmas).

You can view the seminar details here:


Craft – Techniques & Projects

Yesterday I laid my eyes on a beautiful, new, hardback book that has just been released, titled Craft – Techniques & Projects.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned craftsperson, there is always something new to learn, and this book is the ideal bible for every crafter’s bookshelf.

From textile crafts to beadwork and soap making to glass work, this book is the most comprehensive compendium on the market crammed with more than 50 contemporary projects and over 300 techniques for crafters of all abilities.

There are step-by-step photographs to follow, simple text and advice on the tools and materials you need to create your own beautiful objects from a wide range of disciplines so you’ll never be short of something wonderful to make. A huge range of crafts are given a modern twist guaranteed to whet the appetite of crafters of all levels.

The recommended retail price for this book is R350, but if you buy it from I Love Books the price is R315 (a saving of 10%), with free delivery anywhere in South Africa.  Email me on if you would like to order a copy.

To get an idea of the layout in the book here are examples of two pages: 

Published by Dorling Kindersley – ISBN 9781409383901


Debbie Calitz’s 20 Months in Hostage Hell

Yesterday I read an extract, in the YOU Magazine, from 20 Months in Hostage Hell, the book written by Debbie Calitz, and co-written by Ulrike Hill.

Debbie reveals the details of their capture by Somali pirates, their 20 months in hostage hell and their eventual rescue. It is a story of overwhelming courage from a woman who overcame all odds when freedom and dignity were a distant memory.

When Debbie and her partner Bruno set sail from Dar es Salaam in October 2010, they could never have guessed that they would be making a voyage into the depths of hell. Three days into their journey as crew on board the yacht Choizel, the yacht was captured by Somali pirates who held them ransom. For twenty months the pair were made to live in dark rooms while they were moved countless times between different locations and captors who subjected them to untold horrors. Yet Debbie’s spiritual awareness, her sense of humanity and, ironically, her past history of being the victim of abuse, helped her to stay alive as she remained positive in the belief that she and Bruno would be rescued.

The book is available in English and Afrikaans, published by Penguin Books.

The recommended retail price for both books is R220 each.  I Love Books’ price is R200 each, a saving of R20.  Email me on if you would like to buy a copy (free delivery anywhere in South Africa).

20 Months in Hostage Hell – ISBN 9780143530589

20 Maande in Gyselaarshel – ISBN 9780143530596

The Chuck Norris of Television News retires …

Riaan Cruywagen will be reading the news tonight, on SABC 2, for the very last time. After 37 years, and more than 7000 television broadcasts, he now looks forward to ‘quietly reading the newspapers and magazines during the day, and to rather read a book than a newspaper.’

He presented his first news bulletin on 26 November 1975 at 20h00, and still remembers the first story he read on that night – the sentencing of Breyten Breytenbach to nine years in jail.

His autobiography ‘Wat’s Nuus?’ and ‘What’s News?’ was published by Naledi earlier this year.

I used to dread seeing Riaan’s face on TV as a child, because that always meant bedtime. When I finally met him, he was exactly how I hoped he would be. Iconic, credible and down to earth. His life story is a must-read for every South African.

Darren “Wackhead” Simpson

Bryce Courtenay 1933 – 2012

Bryce Courtenay Photo

Bryce Courtenay, sadly, has passed away. If you haven’t read any of his books, do yourself a favour and get your hands on a copy, and start reading.  Here is a list of what he has written:


The Power of One (1989)

The Power of One: Young Readers Edition (1999)

Tandia (1992)

The Night Country (1998)

Whitethorn (2005)


The Potato Factory (1995)

Tommo & Hawk (1997)

Solomon’s Song (1999)


The Persimmon Tree (2007)

Fishing for Stars (2008)


A Recipe for Dreaming (1994)

The Family Frying Pan (1997)

Jessica (1998)

Smoky Joe’s Cafe (2001)

Four Fires (2001)

Matthew Flinders’ Cat (2002)

Brother Fish (2004)

Sylvia (2006)

The Story of Danny Dunn (2009)

Fortune Cookie (2010)

Jack of Diamonds (2012)


April Fool’s Day (1993)


Farewell to Bryce Courtenay …

I have always been a fan of Bryce’s writing, and have had the pleasure of meeting him twice – he is a a real charmer, who makes you feel as though you are the only person in the room.

His new book JACK OF DIAMONDS releases in South Africa in December and it is set across three continents - a spellbinding story of chance, music, corruption and love.  I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy to start reading.

Sadly, Bryce has been diagnosed with terminal gastric cancer and this will be his last novel.  You can view a YouTube clip here of Bryce saying thank you, and goodbye, to his readers: Thank you message from Bryce Courtenay.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Third Wheel

Zoo-wee-mama, the seventh book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series releases world-wide this Wednesday – it is titled THE THIRD WHEEL.

In this new book love is in the air ~ but what does that mean for Greg Heffley? A Valentine’s Day dance at Greg’s school has turned his world upside down. As Greg scrambles to find a date, he’s worried he’ll be left out in the cold on the big night. His best friend, Rowley, doesn’t have any prospects either, but that’s a small consolation. Then an unexpected twist gives Greg a partner for the dance and leaves Rowly the odd man out. But a lot can happen in one night, and in the end, you never know who’s going to be lucky in love.

Says Jeff Kinney, the author, ‘Writing The Third Wheel has been a lot of fun because there’s so much humour to be mined in the world of middle school romance. When the dust settles at the end of the seventh book, the Wimpy universe will be changed in a way that will surprise fans of the series.’

Watch a quick YouTube clip here:


Rat Roads by Jacques Pauw

Rat Roads Jacques Pauw


Jacques Pauw’s new book, Rat Roads, really does sound extraordinary!

It chronicles the journey of Kennedy Gihana – a young Tutsi man who survived the genocide in Rwanda, committed horrifying atrocities in Africa’s bloodiest civil war and walked thousands of kilometres to South Africa, where he slept in parks, lived on the streets and worked as a low-paid security guard until he had saved enough money to enrol for a law degree.

In 2011 Kennedy took the podium at the University of Pretoria to receive a master’s degree in law.

How’s that for courage, triumph and overcoming adversity?

Rat Roads combines many strands of what life in Africa, and South Africa, is like for a large proportion of people. Besides being the chronicle of one man’s unforgettable journey, it addresses topical issues such as civil conflict, xenophobia and the plight of refugees, and will open people’s eyes to the reality of life on the streets.

The Rat Roads Facebook page link is!/RatRoadsBook

And while on the subject of Jacques Pauw, have you read his book Little Ice Cream Boy?  It is a novelisation on the life of Ferdi Barnard, a former CCB operative.  Highly recommended! You can read more about the book here –


Killing for Profit – Julian Rademeyer


Killing for Profit by Julian Rademeyer

Killing for Profit is a terrifying true story of greed, corruption, depravity and ruthless criminal enterprise.

On the black markets of Southeast Asia, rhino horn is worth more than gold, cocaine and heroin. This is the compelling story of a two year long investigation into a dangerous criminal underworld. It is a tale of greed, folly and corruption, and of an increasingly desperate battle to save the rhino – which has existed for more than 50-million years – from extinction.

Written by award-winning investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer, Killing for Profit is a meticulous, devastating and revelatory account of one of the world’s most secretive trades. It exposes poachers, scoundrels, gangsters, conmen, mercenaries, killers, gun-runners, diplomats, government officials and crime bosses behind the slaughter. And it follows the bloody trail from the frontlines of the rhino wars in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the medicine markets of Vietnam and the lair of a wildlife-trafficking kingpin on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos …

You can like the Killing for Profit Facebook page here:

House at the End of the Street – Movie and Book Release

house at the end of the street









For fans of young adult fiction, the film adaptation of House at the End of the Street releases in cinemas this weekend.

A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over…

The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, the actress from The Hunger Games, and Elizabeth Shue.

Click here to watch the movie trailer - Trailer for House at the End of the Street