27. August 2013 · Comments Off on Books, books, books & my book (part 2) · Categories: Uncategorized

Buy Byre Books books? Buy MY book

I am proud of Chasing Shooting Stars. It’s no accident that it’s an intricate meshing of past, present and future (which being written over ten years, I am now in and moving forward beyond); nor that so many kind words are being written and in discussion. With a background in textiles (however many years ago), I know how threads can be woven together for effect; I know how – and seemingly have the patience for –  sorting out tangles of words, character and plot when they occur, keeping the overall design on track.

Some say I was adventurous to make the journey to South America, on which the book is based. (I would say desperate for answers…)   Some think me quite mad. And they have a point!

Some say it helped them reconsider their roots and where they came from, re-evaluate their own relationship with family; I like that.   But getting the result out there to potential readers is not easy. And why I am using this blog to help pass the message on.


Back cover of CHASING SHOOTING STARS – Part 2, The Middle Years, Chapter 15 – “Mi Familia” in Santiago, Chile, November 1999. I am seated third from right, wearing a striped scarf

One thing I regret is not including a family tree. To rectify the situation and help readers identify who is who, by putting faces to names, I have a site on Facebook. On this I post photos, and more often than not, quotes from the book. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chasing-Shooting-Stars/636611926353383

Encouraged by Kristin Newton in Tokyo (we skype of a regular basis) I also have a Pinterest site in the book’s name. Here you can finds boards for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Canada, Japan and the British Isles, again to  provide background colour and information.  Go to: http://pinterest.com/1chasingstars/boards/   Plus – thanks to gentle pushing from active supporters in Tokyo and London – I am listed on Goodreads and the Amazon Author site.

As to sales, I am more than a little dependent on reviews on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, depending on from where you order. Even really critical ones help – or so I’m told, thus seeming to prove that bad publicity is better than no publicity. Fortunately though, while I only have four to date, they are all ***** (five star) which is as good as you can get!)   Come to think of it, what’s to stop me sharing the reviews from Amazon with you right here? Nothing, so here you are:

Most Helpful Customer Reviews (Amazon.co.uk)

5 Mar 2013 5.0 out of 5 stars A Mad Romp?  By suzq Format: Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase This book was quite a page-turner; I romped through the second half and had finished before I knew it. It’s a long book and takes a while to get used to three or more strands woven together. You need your wits about you as you read. CSS is a combination of family history, travelogue and personal self-discovery. The family stuff was quite fascinating and though at first I had a hard time following the various branches of this very far-flung and complicated family, once I stopped trying to keep them all under control and just went with the flow, it all came together. The travelogue bit covers Argentina, Chile and Uruguay; at least, the parts the author explored in her quest for family history. Buenos Aires especially is full of life and colour and there are plenty of comments on what to see and how to find it. There are also pertinent comments about personal travelling style: the benefits and otherwise of travelling alone or having someone organize you. The sense of being beholden, feelings of gratitude, the guilt and soul-searching involved when travelling however you do it; all the psychology of travel which we only think about in retrospect. Plus of course the dos and don’ts of getting around in countries where the language and culture are elusive: what to do and what leads to trouble. Finally it is a voyage of personal discovery, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, painful at times. We’ve all done it: easy to identify for anyone who has searched for family skeletons or delved into the depths of personal and family psychology. Nicely produced, easy on the eye, even illustrations when you lose track of who is who. Well-written in a chatty approachable style. Read it!

5 Mar 2013  5.0 out of 5 stars Phew. I’m emotionally drained! By Single Dad Format: Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase Just finished reading Chasing Shooting Stars and I feel emotionally drained! An incredible story written by an incredible story teller. Don’t be fooled – this is not a just book about researching a family bloodline, or simply a travelogue based in South America (although fascinating in itself) – it’s a journey into the very soul of the author, exploring a dark family ‘secret’ that impacted on her and her extended family for many years. It also demonstrates just how important close family really is. So much so, In fact, that it’s made me re-think my relationship with my own brother, and I am grateful for that. Genuinely interesting and highly entertaining – a real mad romp in fact. Personally, I love it!

5 Mar 2013 5.0 out of 5 stars In Argentina By Gaucho Format: Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase Argentina. I’ve always liked the idea of the place. For years I’ve had a guide book to Buenos Aires on my bookshelf but I’ve come to realise I never am going to get there. Instead, Angela Jeffs has made the journey for me, searching for traces of her grandfather, who spent much of his life there. So, she gets to stay with real Argentinians, a cousin and her family, in a way that I wouldn’t have, and the cousin takes her to places like the Tigre Boat Club, which was once the British rowing club, that I might not have known about. How intriguing. And I’m only a third of the way through the book – there’s more to come.

July 29, 2013   5.0 out of 5 stars Format-Paperback & Kindle/Amazon Verified Purchase A wonderful read! by Jacinta Hin. A wonderful and beautifully written book full of wit and unexpected turns. Angela draws you into her world and adventure, in search of her grandfather’s mysterious past. You’ll be traveling with her, page after page, discovering new family members, unearthing secrets of the past, traversing the exotic terrain and streets of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The author is a superb writer, who is at her best when she finds herself in trouble or reflecting on her state of mind. Her ability to show all of herself, sharp and unfiltered, is uncanny and makes for fascinating and often humorous writing. Once you start reading, you will not be able to put this book away!

20. August 2013 · Comments Off on Books, books, books… (part 1) · Categories: Uncategorized

Byre Books (buy our books)? Buy MY book…


Passing by this bookshop in Wigtown on the Solway Firth in southern Scotland – one of 20 or more in the vicinity, with an annual book fest in October – I had to smile at the play on words. Byre Books. Buy our books. Which made me think about my books. Over the years I have contributed to any number of titles. Sometimes my name was listed along with other contributors, sometimes not. As a freelance editor and writer since 1973, struggling to raise a family, I was hardly in a position to argue. It means however that the list of books with my name on the cover is limited –  and varied – to the point of confusion.  I mean what do rug rags,  knitting, Japan and a trip to South America have in common?  This is what visitors to several online sites, including Angela Jeffs’ Amazon Author’s page – my latest attempt to self-publicise Chasing Shooting Stars as published through Create Space – must be asking. The answer is nothing really except perhaps that they pinpoint certain stages of my career. In the 1970s – and by accident rather than design – I was pretty much the leading editor of craft books in the UK.  Rugs from Rags, published by Orbis in 1977 (Trasmatter, in Swedish),  represented my first attempt to write under my own name, but in collaboration with the artist-craftsman John Hinchcliffe. Wild Knitting (Mitchell Beazley, also 1977) – my goodness, was I busy in those days!  – was another collaboration, and to be honest it’s grossly unfair that it has become associated with my name alone. I was the consultant editor, meaning that I was hired to swan into the office three times a week, make decisions, issue orders and then leave the editorial team to do all the hard graft.  It is a mark of their goodwill that I remain close to Sandy Carr (who was the technical backbone to the project), Louise Egerton (now an author in her own right in Australia but who as secretary /junior sub kept us all organised), and designer Debbie Bliss, who today leads the international field with two original pattern books a year, her own range of yarns and a magazine. Insider’s Tokyo (2001) was a commission from Singapore after reinventing myself as a journalist in Japan. It was one in a series of world capitals and – the city being the size it is, a bit of a nightmare… I still wonder if the reason it made an initial impact but then quickly disappeared was because I broke the rules of etiquette on certain subjects in Japan. The first print order flew off shelves, but the Japanese distributor failed to re-order, for whatever reason, and that was that.  Four years of hard work down the proverbial drain. And so we come to Chasing Shooting Stars (published in paperback in January this year, Kindle in June). A ten year project in the writing. Looking along bookshelves here that are slowly filling from cartons still being unpacked, I see many other titles that I can be proud of, starting with two titles co-packaged with designer Jill Leman under the name Overall Publications in the early 1980s: Machine Knitting to Suit your Mood (Joanna Davis), and Decorative Dressmaking (Sue Thompson). Not so sure about Courvoisier’s Book of the Best (1986), Edited by Lord Lichfield, in which I am listed under Acknowledgements. How on earth did I get mixed up with that? It was soon after that I decided to change my life completely… hence Japan. Which is why I have so titles from that subsequent period, including many guidebooks… I remember doing a lot of unacknowledged research soon after my arrival for the consultant editor of The Economist Business Travellers Guide (1987).  Five years on I was busy creating a niche of my own in the market, culminating with Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Travel Japan (2002) for which I revised and wrote sections and introductory pages in subsequent editions. There is also the Discover Asia annual of 2001, to which I contributed chapters on Kyoto, Nagoya, Sapporo and Tokyo. These had originally appeared in Asia Magazine, published in Hong Kong, and for which I was the Japan stringer from 1989-1995. Also Tokyo Voices , a collection of 17 interviews from the pages of Tokyo Journal, at that time the city’s oldest and best respected English-language magazine. One of my interviews was included: with the wonderful actor Tsutomu Yamazaki (November 1994). Such a privilege. All in all, a pretty strange career, but only because I kept stirring things up, reinventing myself…  Maybe this has meant losing out in some respects  (if I’m not rich and famous there is no-one to blame but myself) but it has certainly kept things interesting and lively. John Hinchcliffe did pretty much the same. He died aged 61 in 2011, described in obituaries as a weaver, potter, printmaker and designer. So he too moved around within the parameters of his chosen profession.  He made things to use and look at, I wrote things to read. He did not think much of me a writer when we worked together – gave me a pretty hard time in fact –  and it’s only now that I realize why: we were both young but he was younger than me and desperate to be represented and taken seriously. And I had been thrust upon him by the publishers – an unknown and let’s be honest, pretty inexperienced wordsmith. I am better these days. With literally thousands of magazine articles, newspaper, features and profiles, books and blogs over the last 40 years plus, I can in all honesty say I have put in the work – 10,000 hours and more for sure. I’m not sure you can’t do something for that long and not get better. First take a look at John’s site that shows the variety of his work over far too short a span of years: http://www.johnhinchcliffe.co.uk/ ecoverThen go to ABOUT on this website, click on the cover image of CSS, and BUY MY BOOK.