Eric Hill 7.9.27 – 6.6.14

June 15, 2014

Children’s author and illustrator Eric Hill has died.

Eric Hill, who has died aged 86, was one of those unusual and fortunate people whose first book was not only an immediate success but also became a staple of children’s bookshelves for decades. Where’s Spot?, a simple lift-the-flap picture book with a lovable puppy at the heart of every picture, was published in 1980. Within weeks, it was a bestseller, taken to the hearts of pre-schoolers and their parents across Britain. . .

Not just across Britain, or even the English-speaking world.

I know a wee girl in Argentina who also loves the books.


Dot, Queen of Riverstone Castle

May 17, 2014

When Neil and Dot Smith chose to move their family from the top of the North Island to well down the east coast of the south is was Northland’s loss and North Otago’s gain.

They were among the first dairy farmers to see the opportunity irrigation on the Lower Waitaki plains presented.

They bought one of the worst, stony, barren, wind swept properties and with hard work and skill have turned it, and other blocks they subsequently purchased, into some of the best.

One son followed his parents into farming, the other Bevan and his wife Monique established the award-winning Riverstone Kitchen on the farm.

The Smiths are not just good farmers, they’re good community people and entrepreneurs too,

They know how to work hard and save hard and nowhere is that better illustrated than in the time and effort they’ve put in to fulfilling Dot’s dream of building a castle.

Now Dot can add author to her long list of accomplishments.

 

dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pink, flowery cover shouldn’t put off men, Dot Queen of Riverstone Castle isn’t a “women’s” book.

It’s an easy, entertaining and inspirational read which covers her modest, but happy, childhood; overseas travels; marriage; farming, including  through the ag-sag;  other business ventures; more travel, the development of the Riverstone complex and the castle.

Dot’s always worked hard and she’s faced tough times, including the loss of most of her savings in the collapse of Hubbard Management Fund. But in life, and through the book, her irrepressible spirit and sense of fun shine through.

Dot Queen of Riverstone Castle, written with Nathalie Brown.

Published by Random House also available as an e-book.

Graham Beattie posts:  Dot – She’s a visionary, an entrepreneur and dreams big in North Otago’s Waitaki Valley  and talks to Mark Sainsbury about the book here.

In other media:

* Dot talks to Jim Mora.

* Dream of living in castle comes to life

* Dot’s castle inspires dreams.

* And TV3’s 3rd Degree featured Dot’s building a castle.


Sue Townsend 2.4.46 – 10.4.14

April 11, 2014

Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books has died.

Townsend, 68, died at home on Thursday after a short illness.

The first of her comic series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, was published in 1982 and the eighth instalment, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was released in 2009.

Her other best-selling novels included The Queen and I.

Townsend, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, achieved worldwide success following the publication of the books about teenager Adrian Mole. . . .

To write as well as she did is admirable, doing so with severe health problems is even more so.


Copyright breach is theft

October 29, 2013

The media’s fascination with Kim Dotcom has irritated me.

He seems to hae been given a lot more attention and treated far more sympathetically than he deserves.

It will be interesting to see if they’re a little less enamoured with him after this news:

The Publisher’s Association has expressed disappointment that links to author Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries have been made available for free download by a New Zealand registered company.

The novel was discovered on Kim Dotcom’s file-sharing website MEGA yesterday.

“Everyone is rightly proud of the achievements of Eleanor Catton on the world stage so to see her work given away without her consent by a fellow Kiwi company is really appalling,” Publishers Association of New Zealand president Sam Elworthy says.

“We should be doing all we can to support the good work of not only these two artists but also every New Zealander who makes an honest living from his or her creative works.

“MEGA should do more to ensure this kind of thing does not occur.”

Victoria University Press spokesman Fergus Barrowman, which publishes Catton’s novel The Luminaries, said the fact a creative work was easy accessible for free over the internet did not make it right to do so.

“We live in a digital age and authors and publishers recognise the changing nature of how readers want to access material. We made sure that The Luminaries was available as an ebook to New Zealand readers in a timely and accessible way, and we are delighted so many of them have taken advantage of this.

“We are not surprised to be told that there are also illegal sources, but are nevertheless very disappointed,” Barrowman says.

Elworthy says the discovery of Catton’s work on a site such as MEGA was the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Just a few weeks ago we had to ask MEGA to take down an entire educational textbook written by a New Zealand author and which had been made available on their site. This type of illegal sharing is happening at an alarming rate and really hurting New Zealand creatives.

“New Zealand books and music are enjoying enormous success right now. We’re getting creative work out to millions in all sorts of formats all around the world. But while Eleanor Catton is doing big things for our international reputation, it’s disappointing to see her being ripped off by a website which calls itself a New Zealand company,” Elworthy says.

Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright and racketeering charges over the operation of his previous file locker site Megaupload.

It’s difficult to make a living from creative endeavours anywhere, harder still in New Zealand where there’s such a small market.

The Man Booker win will have exposed Catton’s work to a much bigger audience but thanks to the free downloads she won’t be getting all the money she’s earned from it.

Beach of copyright, illegal sharing, call it what you will, it’s theft of intellectual property.


Bizarre literary landmarks & chocolate

October 22, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* 10 bizarre literary landmarks everyone should visit. (It would help to be familiar with the literature first. I was woefully ignorant of most of them).

* Chocablog is devoted to all things chocolatey including recipes. Apple and white chocolate crumble  and artistically  dipped strawberries caught my eye.


NZer youngest Man Booker winner

October 16, 2013

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton is the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize.

Prime Minister John Key has congratulated New Zealand author Eleanor Catton on winning the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries, announced in London.

“This is a hugely significant achievement on the world stage for a New Zealander,” Mr Key says.

“It is made even more extraordinary by the fact that Eleanor Catton, at 28 years of age, is the youngest ever author to receive the prize, and The Luminaries is only her second novel. “This will be a tremendous boost for young New Zealanders in the arts and is a testament to the obvious talent and hard work of Eleanor Catton,” Mr Key says. Ms Catton is the first New Zealander to win the Man Booker Prize since Keri Hulme in 1985 for The Bone People

. The Listener interviewed her. Last week and links to coverage of the win here.


Can you read emotions?

October 7, 2013

The New York Times has an exercise to test how good you are at reading people’s emotions.

The average score for this test is in the range of 22 to 30 correct responses. If you scored above 30, you may be quite good at understanding someone’s mental state based on facial cues. If you scored below 22, you may find it difficult to understand a person’s mental state based on their appearance.

I scored 22/36 the first time I tried it and 25/36 when I did it again a couple of days later.

That’s at the lower end of average  and a spur to read more literary fiction.

A study found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

. . . The researchers — Emanuele Castano, a psychology professor, and David Comer Kidd, a doctoral candidate — found that people who read literary fiction scored better than those who read popular fiction. This was true even though, when asked, subjects said they did not enjoy literary fiction as much. Literary fiction readers also scored better than nonfiction readers — and popular fiction readers made as many mistakes as people who read nothing.   . .

Blogs don’t count as literary fiction.


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