Friday Night Drinks with….Dave Philpott @DerekPhilpott @Unbounders #FridayNightDrinks #DearMrPopStar

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It’s that time of the week again and this week I have a change to my scheduled guest. I’m really pleased that I have been able to bump this drinking companion forward a few weeks, as I have a sneaky feeling that this might be a Friday Night Drinks to remember. So, I’m delighted to welcome to the blog this week author (or half of one at least, as he writes with his dad, and one gets the impression that the author thing kind of happened by default, jammy bugger. Not that I am at all bitter and envious, on no…but anyway, delighted to have him on of course)….Dave Philpott.

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Dave, welcome to the blog and thank you for agreeing to have drink with me at such short notice. First things first, what are you drinking?

Well it’s early, so diet cola please. I do like 70s beer though, and find it amusing that before the advent of rave music one could enter a pub and demand a ‘Worthington E’ with no fear of arrest.

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You can’t possibly be old enough to have been drinking beer in the 70s, so you obviously love a retro vibe. A bit like me when I reminisce about the Diamond White and Castaways of my misspent youth. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I live in Salisbury so probably a little drive up to Stonehenge. They still haven’t finished it though, so don’t expect much. They did make a start but then said they had another little job 14 miles away in Avebury but would be back next week. That was 5,000 years ago. Typical builders. Then to Carwardine’s in Salisbury for wine or coffee. Us, not the builders..they’ve had their break.

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That looks lovely, but I have to say that diet coke and coffees are at odds with the rock ‘n’ roll mood I was expecting this evening. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Gene Hackman and Polly Styrene. Or Paul Daniels and the lovely Alan, sorry, Debbie McGee.

Okay, that’s more like it. Well, the first two at least. Unless you know something about Paul and Debbie that the rest of us don’t? So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Alongside father, I am currently working on our third and last book of deliberately demented letters to pop stars with genuine in-on-joke replies.. This last book will be directed at 90s Brit Artists only, and will have a significant charity element.

We started doing this in 2008 – just writing insane letters to pop and rock icons about their songs, and sticking them on a website, thinking that that was funny enough. Then in 2010 we started to get replies.. We want it, like us, to go on and on and on..three demented volumes into infinity.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

A packed book launch at The Dublin Castle with the artists actually there, actually reading their replies out. Bonkers.

All of our replies are secured through our ’Facebook army’, a legion of dedicated roadies, gardeners at rock stars’ country houses, friends of bass players and so on, that link us straight to the artists through the backdoor of the industry so that we can bypass management and gatekeepers. The biggest challenge is doing our utmost to keep official channels out of it…99 times out of 100, they’ll put the kibosh on it.

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

We’ve already achieved the impossible. Two very successful books whereby we broke rules that we didn’t know were there and gently cajoled hundreds of stars into entering our mad little world.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

A lovely lasagne. Should be ready by 6.

Yum, can I have some? I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favourite place is probably Alton Barnes, all around that way, where the crop circles used to pop up (or pop down) and still do although not as regularly. I also adore San Francisco. My favourite place to visit that I haven’t been to would probably have to be Nando’s without a queue.

How about a Nandos in San Francisco, two birds, one stone! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

In 1962, my uncle was the first lead singer in a band alongside Pete Townshend, ​John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey. I have no idea what became of them.

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I really hope this comes up as a question in the next pub quiz I enter, then my blogging will not have entirely been a waste of time. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Delete This At Your Peril by Neil Forsyth

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This is an hilarious collection of email exchanges starring the anti-hero of spam, Bob Servant, now republished with previously unreleased material. Spam is the plague of the electronic age, comprising 90% of all emails sent and conning over 0150m a year from British victims. Into this wave of corruption steps the brave figure of Bob Servant – a former window cleaner and cheeseburger magnate with a love of wine, women and song as well as a keen sense of fair play. This wickedly funny and original book features the anarchic exchanges between Bob and the hapless spam merchants. As they offer Bob lost African millions, Russian brides and get-rich-quick scams he responds by generously offering some outlandish schemes of his own. The spammers may have breached his firewall, but they have met their match as Bob Servant rises heroically to the challenge, and sows confusion in his wake.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

A pint of water before bed, and a tomato juice with Worcester Sauce if that doesn’t work.

Tomato juice is a big no-no. Ick. First thing in the morning? I just couldn’t, not even to cure a hangover. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Walking an Irish Setter (as opposed to Irish Settler – no-one wants to see Ronan Keating on a lead) around Avebury, then binge-watching a fresh season of Patriot, with pistachios and a nice Party Seven.

That sounds fun. I don’t have an Irish Setter, just a cocker spaniel. Oddly, I do have an Irish Settler at home, so it would be easier for me to do the second. It’s not Ronan Keating, though, and he may baulk a little at the lead (outside of the house, anyway) but I could give it a try.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening, Dave, it has been fun, if a tiny bit surreal at times. I can’t wait to read the book now though, especially as I thought I was the only person left who remembers Jesus Jones (saw them live at Leicester Uni, 1992 – great show.)

The latest book by Dave, and his dad, Derek, Dear Mr Pop Star, is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it.

Connect with the Philpotts on social media:

Facebook: The Philpotts

Twitter: @DerekPhilpott

Next week I am having drink with my gorgeous blogging friend, Zoe, from Zooloo’s Book Diary, Can’t wait.

Desert Island Books: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson #BookReview #travel #travelwriting #bookbloggers #bookblog #desertislandbooks #readinggoals

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In the company of his friend Stephen Katz, Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and – perhaps most alarming of all – people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.

Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime’s ambition – not to die outdoors.

So, the first of the twelve books that I will be taking with me to my desert island for my Desert Island Books feature is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

I love Bill Bryson’s writing, his travel books in particular, but out of all of them this one is my favourite. I must have read it half a dozen times now and it still fascinates me, makes me thoughtful and makes me laugh, all at the same time. I don’t think I will ever get bored of it.

I had a quick look at the reviews on Goodreads of this book just prior to writing this review. The book has an average of 4 stars, but the most prominent review on the first page was a one star by someone who took exception to pretty much everything about the book’s content and the way it was written, which quite surprised me. The review is so prominent, despite being 13 years old, because it has an exceptionally high number of comments on it, as other Goodreads members debated the merits of the review, and the book, back and forth. It is quite clear that this is a book that divides people.

Oddly, the majority of the things people listed as reasons for disliking the book, were the things that make it one of my favourite reads, so I guess you need to decide if these are things that appeal to you.

This is a book about Bill Bryson’s mid-life trek along the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200 mile wilderness footpath that traverses a mountainous route through the forests of the eastern USA from Georgia to northern Maine. Now, I love to read about other people’s travel adventures, and I find this one particularly appealing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I love the USA and this book covers a couple of the areas of the US that I am particularly fond of – the south eastern states and New England. I  personally have been to the mountains of North Carolina, parts of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampsire and Maine. I’ve stayed at the Mount Washington Hotel and travelled to the top of Mount Washington via the famous cog railway mentioned in the book. I’ve been to Franconia Notch State Park in Vermont. I’ve visited the town Bryson lived in when he wrote this book, Hanover in New Hampshire, so some of the places he talks about are familiar and I can clearly visualise them and it is always interesting in a book to get someone else’s view of something you yourself have experienced. Equally, there are many places in the book I have never been but sound enticing, and I know for a fact that, whilst I might dream about hiking the Appalachian Trail, it is something I will never do, so I can live it vicariously through Bryson’s experience.

This book is extremely varied as it covers, not only his actual experience of physically hiking the trail, but a lot about the people he meets, the climate and weather of the region, geology and history of this part of the USA, information about the flora and fauna and how that is changing, the development and management of the trail, socio-political history of some of the areas he passes through, and much more. Some people find this annoying and accuse him of ‘hopping about’. I find it all fascinating and, for me, it gives the whole experience a context and a richness that really brings it to life and gives it relevance in the mind of the reader. The author obviously shares my insatiable thirst to know everything about everything he sees on his travels and really understand it. I do huge amounts of reading about a destination and its history before I travel, which deepens my interest and enjoyment of a place, and this is the perfect approach for those fact hounds amongst us.

Another thing some people seem to find a negative about this book is Bryson himself and his authorial voice. I do wonder if this is a matter of national perspective. Whilst Bryson is American by birth, he has spent the better part of his life living in the UK and his humour is very British in nature. He relies heavily on self-deprecation, sarcasm and irony and this is not a type of humour that appeals to everyone. I recall from his book, Notes From A Big Country, (a book about how he and his British family adjust to life in the US after living in the UK for many years) an anecdote about how his wife had to ask him to stop making jokes with his American neighbour, because his neighbour didn’t understand them and their exchanges were giving his neighbour migraines. Some people seem to think Bryson comes across as mean and a bit superior, but I actually find that the biggest butt of his jokes is always himself and he is actually very amusing and gives the book a very light-hearted and entertaining tone, rather than it being a heavy and torpid read, despite the fact in contains huge amounts of factual information. He has a real way with words; his prose is vivid and lyrical. He writes the way I would love to write and I could read it endlessly.

I read a lot of travel writing, because travel is a passion of mine, and for me this represents the absolute best of the genre, mixing anecdotes with a lot of interesting factual information and history, and conveying it all in a clear, fun and pacy package. If you have enjoyed Bryson’s other writing, you will love this book. If you don’t like him, you will hate it because his voice is strong and clear throughout. Maybe the Marmite of travel books, but I, for one, will never tire of Marmite on my desert island.

If you have been tempted by this review to want to read A Walk in the Woods for yourself, you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years, but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Tempted by….Mrs Bloggs The Average Reader: Up by Ben Fogle and Marina Fogle @MrsBloggsReader @Benfogle @FogleMarina @4thEstateBooks @WmCollinsBooks #Up #bookbloggers #Everest #travel #adventure

My eyes lifted to the horizon and the unmistakable snowy outline of Everest.

Everest, the mountain of my childhood dreams. A mountain that has haunted me my whole life. A mountain I have seen hundreds of times in photographs and films but never in real life.

She looked angry.

In April 2018, seasoned adventurer Ben Fogle and Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, along with mountaineer Kenton Cool, took on their most exhausting challenge yet – climbing Everest for the British Red Cross to highlight the environmental challenges mountains face. It would be harrowing and exhilarating in equal measure as they walked the fine line between life and death 8,000 metres above sea level.

For Ben, the seven-week expedition into the death zone was to become the adventure of a lifetime, as well as a humbling and enlightening journey. For his wife Marina, holding the family together at home, it was an agonising wait for news. Together, they dedicated the experience to their son, Willem Fogle, stillborn at eight months.

Cradling little Willem to say goodbye, Ben and Marina made a promise to live brightly. To embrace every day. To always smile. To be positive and to inspire. And from the depths of their grief and dedication, Ben’s Everest dream was born.

Up, from here the only way was Up.

Part memoir, part thrilling adventure, Ben and Marina’s account of his ascent to the roof of the world is told with their signature humour and warmth, as well as with profound compassion.

Today on the blog I have been Tempted by…  the book, Up by Ben and Marina Fogle, as recommended by Caryl in this review on her blog, Mrs Bloggs Average Reader.

I really love a good non-fiction travel memoir and I have read and enjoyed Ben Fogle’s writing before, most particularly his book, The Teatime Islands, which I have read several times. So I thought I would enjoy this book, and Caryl’s review just convinced me of it. Caryl is a fan of books about Everest and, having read several, recommended this as a noteworthy addition to the canon so it sounded like this was a worthwhile read. In addition, the inclusion of their experience of dealing with a personal tragedy that I have myself suffered, made the book sound like one I would find particularly relevant.

If you don’t follow Caryl’s blog already, why not? It is a pleasingly constructed and easy to navigate blog. She has a great mix of content, an eclectic range of books that she reviews and her critiques are always honest, well-considered and clearly expressed. She is one of my go-to bloggers for reliable reviews and I trust her opinion. We seem to often align on our feelings towards the books we have read and have similar tastes. I highly recommend taking a peek at Mrs Bloggs The Average Reader, if you haven’t already.

If you have been tempted by Caryl’s review of Up, you can buy a copy here.

The Luckiest Thirteen: The Forgotten Men of St Finbarr – A Trawler Crew’s Battle in the Arctic by Brian W. Lavery #BookReview #BlogTour (@brianlavery59) @BarbicanPress1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheLuckiestThirteen

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A true-life drama of an intense battle for survival on the high seas.

The Luckiest Thirteen is the story of an incredible two-day battle to save the super trawler St Finbarr, and of those who tried to rescue her heroic crew in surging, frozen seas. It was also a backdrop for the powerful stories of families ashore, dumbstruck by fear and grief, as well as a love story of a teenage deckhand and his girl that ended with a heart-rending twist.

From her hi-tech hold to her modern wheelhouse she was every inch the super ship the great hope for the future built to save the fleet at a record-breaking price but a heart-breaking cost. On the thirteenth trip after her maiden voyage, the St Finbarr met with catastrophe off the Newfoundland coast. On Christmas Day 1966, twenty-five families in the northern English fishing port of Hull were thrown into a dreadful suspense not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive after the disaster that befell The Perfect Trawler. 

I’m privileged today to be taking part in the blog tour for this amazing book, The Luckiest Thirteen, by Brian Lavery, which tells the true-life story of the crew of the super trawler St Finbarr and their battle for survival against incredible odds. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour for this book, and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

We don’t really think about it, do we? The danger that some people put themselves in, in order to provide certain things for the rest of us. We take these things for granted – fossil fuels, electricity, fish, security – without thinking about the terrible conditions and dangers that other people have to endure in order to provide them for us.

I have given it some thought over the past couple of years. Around this time last year I read a short story called Safety Tips for Living Alone,  about the collapse of a manned surveillance tower off the American coast which is based on true events. The Irishman introduced me to a TV show called ‘The Deadliest Catch’ which follows trawler men from Alaska fishing for King crab in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. i’m sure most of you will have seen the movie, ‘The Perfect Storm.’ Well, you can add this book to the list of things which will open your eyes to what human beings endure to bring goods to us that the rest of us take for granted.

This is the forgotten story of an event which happened on Christmas Day in 1966 when the super trawler St Finbarr caught fire whilst out in a remote part of the ocean in a terrible storm. Because this happened at Christmas at a time when communication was not available 24/7 all year round, the families of the men on the ship had to wait anxiously for news for three days and the rest of the world barely got to hear about it at all. The author of this book has tried to remedy this by bringing the tragic story to people’s minds by way of this book.

It may not sound like the kind of thing you would normally like to read, it certainly isn’t my standard reading fodder, but this is the beauty of blogging for me and a joy I want to share with you – reading outside of your comfort zone and, as a result, discovering amazing stories that would have just passed you by otherwise. This is one such book, and I am so glad I read it.

The author really brings to life the reality of life for these men on the inhospitable waters, separated from their families at the worst time of year while the rest of us are cosied up together celebrating Christmas, battling elements that most of us would not walk outside in, never mind take to the waves. They were away for months at a time, with limited communication with their families back home and working in conditions that were by no means as safe as they are today. What really struck me, as a lawyer who worked for one of the biggest personal injury firms in the UK, was the end of the book and the outcome of the enquiry into the disaster. In today’s climate, there is no way that people would not have been held to account for what happened.

I’m not going to lie to you, this book contains a lot of technical detail about boats and engines that wasn’t very interesting to me as I mostly didn’t understand it. At the beginning, there is also a degree of historical detail about some of the people that seemed a little irrelevant to the story and slowed the pace of the start. I urge you to push past this because, once you do, the author really brings to life the human story behind this tragedy and it is more gripping than any thriller novel you will pick up, the truth of it giving it extra poignancy. This is what people endured, and it deserves to be heard and remembered.

So, push yourself out of your reading safe place, pick up something different. take a plunge into the extraordinary lives and risks of a community I bet your barely give a second’s thought to. Think about the sacrifices they make to bring you something you take for granted and appreciate what you have in life. This book will open your eyes a little, which can never be a bad thing. I’ll certainly be complaining less about my cushy circumstances, having read it, I’m very lucky.

The Luckiest Thirteen is available now by following this link.

To follow the rest of the tour and get some further reviews of this book, please visit the blogs listed on the poster below:

The Luckiest Thirteen Blog Tour poster

About the Author

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Brian W. Lavery is a former national newsman, whose tales deliver true journalistic flair. Born in Glasgow, long resident in Hull, he writes with a deep knowledge of the community and the dangers faced by those working in extremes. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Hull. 

Connect with Brian:

Website: http://www.brianwlavery.com

Twitter: @brianlavery59

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Some Old Bloke by Robert Llewellyn #BookReview #BlogTour (@bobbyllew) @unbounders @annecater #randomthingstours #SomeOldBloke

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“When writer, comedian and Red Dwarf actor Robert Llewellyn’s son scrawled a picture of him at Christmas and titled it ‘Some Old Bloke’, Robert was cast deep into thought about life and what it means to be a bloke and an old one at that.

In this lighthearted, revealing and occasionally philosophical autobiography, we take a meandering route through Robert’s life and career: from the sensitive young boy at odds with his ex-military father, through his stint as a hippy and his years of arrested development in the world of fringe comedy, all the way up to the full-body medicals and hard-earned insights of middle age.

Whether he is waxing lyrical about fresh laundry, making an impassioned case for the importance of alternative energy or recounting a detailed history of the dogs in his life, Robert presents a refreshingly open and un-cynical look at the world at large and, of course, the joys of being a bloke.”

I am really excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for Some Old Bloke by Robert Llewellyn. My thanks go to Anne Cater for inviting me on to the tour, and to Unbound for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’ll be honest, I volunteered to be on the blog tour for this book for the sole reason that I am, and have been since its inception (yes, I am that old, I watched the first ever episode on TV when it aired), a massive Red Dwarf fan. I have seen every episode multiple times and it still makes me laugh like a drain whenever I watch it. I have them all on DVD (yes, I am that old, I still own and watch DVDs). I was very keen to read stories about the filming of the series from the man who played Kryten.

It turns out this was a mistake, because Red Dwarf is barely mentioned in this book. Robert has written many other books that I had been unaware of, including one called The Man in the Rubber Mask, which is the inside story of Red Dwarf and the one I should have been reading. Robert’s other programmes, Scrapheap Challenge etc., are not ones that I am familiar with, as a bookish (sssh, 40+) woman with little interest in the workings of machinery. I am also, patently, not a ‘bloke’, so I began to worry that this book was not for me. However, I was committed so I ploughed in.

It turns out this was a fortuitous mistake because I bloomin’ loved this book. Turns out that (sssh, 40+), bookish non-blokes may have a lot in common with Robert Llewellyn that has nothing to do with being a massive Red Dwarf nerd, sorry ‘fan’. Being at odds with ones parents politically but still loving them deeply. Despairing of the current state of UK politics. No understanding nationalism. Who knew Kryten and I were so aligned?

There is also a lot in here that did not resonate with me. I’ve never been a shoemaker, lived in a van, been on stage or smoked pot. I’ve never been to Australia, although I’d like to, so there was also a lot to learn from this book. The information about renewable energy in particular really got me thinking, which is always a good thing.

Plus this book is bloody funny. I kept laughing out loud and having to read bits out to my partner. And it has dogs. And funny stories about dogs. Really, what’s not to like. Although, if you are a ultra-right-wing Tory nationalist, you will hate it, but then you are probably not reading my blog anyway.

Robert’s writing style is very open, warm, chatty and totally candid. I mean, really candid. If you are offended by talk of penises, drugs or pornography, this is not the book for you but I found his honesty really refreshing. It seems really normal and down to earth. He seems like a good bloke.

Read this book, you won’t be disappointed. I’m just off to download The Man in the Rubber Mask, which is the book I wanted to read in the first place but am glad I didn’t.

Some Old Bloke is out now and you can buy your copy here.

For a range of opinions on this book, check out the rest of the blogs on the tour below:

Some Old Bloke Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Robert Llewellyn

Robert Llewellyn is an actor, novelist, screenwriter, comedian and TV presenter, best known for Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge, Carpool and Fully Charged. He drives an electric car and writes under a rack of solar panels in Gloucestershire.

Connect with Robert:

Website: http://www.llewtube.com

Facebook: Robert Llewellyn

Twitter: @bobbyllew

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Tempted by….Linda’s Book Bag: Finding Myself in Puglia by Laine B Brown @Lainebbrown @Lindahill50Hill #bookbloggers #readingrecommendations #Blogtober18

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An Italian memoir.

Laine gave up her job as a nurse, sold her home and gave away most of her belongings. She has three desires bubbling at the heart of her choice: to write a book, paint a picture and climb a mountain before she died.

A man with a van took most of her remaining belongings, along with her basset hound Basil, down to the heel of Italy over 1,500 miles away, where she would spend the next four years.

If it all seemed like a folly, then she was willing to take the risk. She moved to a house that she had only spent a week in the year before. She knew no one and yet she had surety in her resolve. She wanted to feel fully present in feeling unsafe and comfortable with the not knowing.

And so the journey began, a new language, a new life laced with humour and laughter under the warm southern Italian sun.

Come and join her…

There was a certain contentious Twitter thread last week which questioned the efficacy of book bloggers in promoting books and generating sales for authors. As a result, I decided that now was a good time to launch my new occasional series, highlighting books that I have been enticed to buy by reading reviews by my fellow bloggers.

I know that book bloggers are effective at generating sales for authors because, since I started blogging and reading more reviews by my fabulous fellow bloggers, I have been tempted to buy more and more books, to the extent that I have had to buy two new bookcases in the last year and my Kindle is over-flowing.

First up we have Finding Myself in Puglia by Laine B Brown which I was enticed to buy by this fabulous post on Linda’s Book Bag. Linda Hill is one of the best book bloggers out there, so make sure you check out her wonderful blog if you haven’t visited it already.

The book is a non-fiction memoir of living in Italy which is just up my street as I am a travel junkie. I also thought that Laine might be someone I would enjoy reading when she nominated some of my favourite writers as people she would like to bring along on her night in with Linda.

If you like the sound of the book, you can buy a copy here. Make sure you visit Linda’s original post to read more from Laine about the book. I am looking forward to reading it soon.

Write A Novel in 30 Days by Megg Geri #BookReview (@MeggGeri) @PictPublishing #FictionCafeWriters #FictionCafeReviews

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“This book walks you step by step through planning your novel to writing your novel. This book is full of personal stories, tips, and exercises to inspire you and to help you write your novel. This book is honest and realistic with an easy to follow step-by-step approach to writing a book. This book is for the writer who wants to follow their dream of completing a book but doesn’t know where to start or where to find the time. This is more than just a book about writing, this is a book about surviving the writing process.

THE BOOK IS DIVIDED INTO FOUR MAIN SECTIONS: 01 | THIS IS YOUR DREAM This section is all about discovering yourself within the writing world. It’s about getting over your insecurities and creating your dream writing life. 02 | PLAN IT ALL OUT This section teaches you to plot and plan your book. From time scheduling to discovering ideas and writing applications and resources. 03 | WRITE IT OUT This section covers the actual writing process that happens. 04 | WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH This is a survival guide to writing. This section of the book handles everything from writers block to loss of inspiration and falling behind schedule as well as when you’re getting yourself down too.

BONUS MATERIAL This is not called an interactive book for no reason. This book comes with access to a resource library of downloads like; word trackers, worksheets, charts, and checklists. And you will get a 28-day course to get you ready for writing.”

As a new writer working on her first novel and often feeling like an imposter, floundering out of her depth in a strange and alien sea, I jumped at the chance to read and review this writing guide by Megg Geri.

This book is aimed at people trying to complete annual challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month in the joyous madness that is NaNoWriMo. For anyone not familiar with this event – the writer’s equivalent of completing a marathon – you can find details here. I attempted this for the first time last November and failed spectacularly, managing only 32,000 of my target but, of course, I did not have this book then and was under-prepared. However, this book can be used at any time of year, and by anyone intent on beginning to write, even if they do not intend to do it at a sprint.

This book is full of great practical tips on inspiration, plotting and planning, where to find story ideas, how to develop your characters, what software you might like to use, everything you would expect in a book of this type. But this book contains so much more than that. It also deals with the emotional aspects of writing, working out why you want to write, how to keep motivated, what might be stopping you for achieving your goals and how to overcome these hurdles and this, for me, is the real appeal of this book.

What stands out the most is the encouragement. The sheer belief that you CAN write a book if you really want to and, what is more, you should. The belief that you have an important story to tell and that the world needs you to tell it. This is very important as, for me and I suspect many other people, a lack of self-belief is what holds us back. We need encouragement, and this book will give you that.

It is written in a very friendly, personal and approachable voice and in a very easy to read layout with very practical exercises to do at the end of each segment and useful checklists as the end of each part. It is a real, useful, practical book that would be great to refer to, not just for your first book, but again and again at the start of each new novel. I think even experienced writers will find a lot of useful reminders in here.

Interspersed with the tips and exercises are motivational quotes to spur you along which is a nice touch.

I found myself bookmarking a lot of sections as I went through this book which really resonated with me and that I want to be able to refer back to easily which is always a sign that a book has offered me something useful. (My favourite tip in the book was the ‘character’s handbag section). The part that resonated with me most on a personal level was this:

“Hiding behind perfection can also be an excuse not to do the work, or because you’re simply too scared to put your work out there.”

This is a person who understands me!

This book is not too long, not too verbose, not too elitist but full of handy guides, tips, information and encouragement. I loved it so much that I have ordered a paperback copy to keep on my shelf for future reference and I have no doubt it will become dog-eared with use. I think this is a must-have for any aspiring writer out there who needs a friend.

Write A Novel in 30 Days is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

megg-geri

Author of Write a Novel in 30 Days also writes fiction and owns Megg & Co Editing Boutique.

She specialises in novel editing and coaching by day and by night she reads, a lot. She also runs an online international book club for women who love to read.

Megg loves interacting with writers on Twitter and Instagram (where she shares her favourite writing tips).

Connect with Megg:

Website: https://megg.me
Goodreads: Megg_Geri

Facebook – TheMeggGeri
Instagram – @megggeri

Twitter: @MeggGeri