Category Archives: General

Bel-Ami – From Book to Movie

In 1885 Bel-Ami was first written in French, by the author Guy de Maupassant, and the English translation was published in 1903.

Here is a summary of the story-line: Young, attractive and very ambitious, George Duroy, known to his friends as Bel-Ami, is offered a job as a journalist on La Vie francaise and soon makes a great success of his new career. But he also comes face to face with the realities of the corrupt society in which he lives – the sleazy colleagues, the manipulative mistresses and wily financiers – and swiftly learns to become an arch-seducer, blackmailer and social climber in a world where love is only a means to an end.

The movie adaptation of Bel-Ami releases nation-wide today, starring, amongst others, Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci. Click HERE to watch the film trailer.

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I am looking for book champions …

I want to find people – just every day ordinary people – who love to read.  Who will champion a deserving book.  Who will help get word-of-mouth started by discussing, blogging, Facebook-ing, tweeting, and emailing everyone in their circle – be they friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, book club members, the local community newspaper, a child’s teacher, the hairdresser and the local bookshop who does not stock the book.

What do you get out of it? A free book, and the pleasure of discovering an author and being instrumental in the marketing of his/her book.


If so, click on this link to the BOOK CHAMPIONS PAGE to read how you can get involved:

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My Q&A with Litnet

LitNet is a leading South African multicultural online journal, and Naomi Meyer, their content manager, asked me these questions:

  1. It is with great interest that I looked at your press release regarding the discoverability of authors and books. I agree with you: first the author must produce something brilliant. But is this not enough?
  2. How did you recognise a gap in the market for this service?
  3. Is the marketing side of books and authors not the responsibility of the publishing company?
  4. After you have created the social media platforms for the author, what happens next? What must the author do then?
  5. Should authors post only about their products (books) or should they share personal stories about themselves as well on social media platforms?
  6. Any specific books published long ago which could still benefit from your service?

To read the answers, visit this link on Litnet’s website:


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O’s second short story writing competition

O, The Oprah Magazine is offering its readers yet another chance to make their dream of seeing their name in print a reality – their annual short story writing competition is in its second year, and this year’s theme is ‘CHANGE’.

The judges have just been announced:

Jodi Picoult, author of 15 novels, including bestsellers Nineteen Minutes, Change of Heart and My Sister’s Keeper.

Gcina Mhlophe, internationally acclaimed author, poet and storyteller. She has received honorary doctorates from the London Open University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria University and Fort Hare, for her contributions to literature.

Jenny Crwys-Williams is a print and broadcasting journalist. She has worked as woman’s editor of The Natal Mercury, and is the former Johannesburg Bureau Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Jenny currently hosts a weekday afternoon show on Radio 702.

Fred Khumalo is opinion and insight Editor of The Sunday Times. The journalism graduate is very familiar with writing competitions. He was a runner-up for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award in 1991, and his novel Bitches’ Brew was joint winner of the 2006 European Union Literary Award.

I believe everyone has a story to tell, and there are so many talented, undiscovered writers out there. Whether you’ve been writing all your life, or if you’ve only just started, this competition is about creating and communicating. Having your story printed in O is just a part of the reward. Samantha Page, O’s Editor

You need to write a fictional story between 1,500 and 2,000 words (focused on the theme of ‘change’) and submit it to the magazine – if you are interested, put pen to paper now because the closing date is 21 December 2012.

For all the details visit the Associated Media Publishing website –


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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:


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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


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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

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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)


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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.

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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

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