Robbie Cheadle appreciation

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle has been an author with TSL since early days when she started the Sir Chocolate series. For anyone following Robbie’s blogs and writing, you’ll know she’s a prolific writer across a range of genres as well as illustrator. Sir Chocolate is illustrated with fondant characters and settings while her most recent book about Neema the Misfit Giraffe and not published by TSL Publications, shows off Robbie’s new hobby – painting.
This may strike you as strange coming from a publisher – promoting a book not published by the publisher – but that’s the TSL way, especially when we’ve been on the journey together. There comes a time when a book or series’ journey requires it to go in different directions. The opportunity presented to Robbie to publish Neema as she has came about through a South African that had to be embraced. Great going Robbie! and Michael, who co-authors with her.
From discussions I’ve had with Robbie over the years, we’ve both found the experience of working together, and also separately, invaluable in terms of market knowledge and the intricacies of the publishing world.
I don’t need to spell out the value of the Sir Chocolate series. The fact that the South African Department of Education has asked for copies of her books to go into primary schools says it all… and also says volumes about the connection Robbie has with young people – helped of course by son Michael.
Of Robbie’s other books, TSL has published While the Bombs Fell, co-authored with her mother Nancy Hancy Eaton and under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle, the book tells of her mother’s experience of growing up in England during the Second World War (compare with Ray Wooster‘s experiences).
Then, there’s A Ghost and His Gold – an adult novel set in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 as well as the present – a mystery surrounding buried gold. Get taken back in time to explore a significant aspect of white South African history and how it plays out in the 21st century.
Ghosts and things supernatural feature in other writing by Robbie too – Haunted Halloween Holiday is another children’s book, while Through The Nethergate is for older readers again. While the supernatural is not top of my preferred reading list, I appreciate the setting or context and the development of the story, recognising the supernatural elements are a means to facilating the action. A well-told story is always worth reading.


Geoff Brown – appreciation

Geoff Brown

Geoff Brown joined TSL not long after I had visited Watford Writers, of which he is a member. He was looking for a publishing home for his novel Cruel Deflections, set in Puglia in Italy and London.
Cruel Deflections is a thriller mystery involving the mafia over four decades and two countries. I enjoyed the suspense and anticipation of what was to unfold. The familiarity of London locations contrasted with unknown Italian locations – although a number of readers have messaged in to say they enjoyed the memory lane trip back to Italy at a time they worked with Geoff. For a well-crafted engaging read, I recommend reading Cruel Deflections.



Have you ever wondered what a prologue is? or whether to use it in the book you’re writing?
Below are a few thoughts by others on the topic, including a definition.

Prologues: what are they and how did they originate?

Some more on prologues.

A very useful post.

Why not to have a prologue.

I’ve noticed in recent years that the word Prologue is being substituted with Foreword (common in academic/non-fiction writing but becoming more popular in fiction) and Introduction. I suppose essentially ‘pre-story’ is the best substitute for the prologue whereas foreword and introduction generally provide other information the author thinks the reader should know, such as the reason for compiling a collection of short stories. As a reader, it depends on what I’m reading the book for as to whether I read the pre-story sections, as a minimum they all get a skim through. And for some of the information which is often included in the pre-writing section, it could work just as well at the end as an after-word. Here I’m thinking in particular of historical novels where the author sets out what they changed/adapted from the historical account – very useful for those of us who like to check historical accuracy…

TSL books which stand out as having a prologue/pre-story (other than historical books) include:
Alexander Crombie’s So Long Henry Bear.
Jitendra Kumar Mishra’s play The Cobbles of Kanke
James Martin Charlton’s historical fiction script Divine Vision
Ezra William’s short story collection Selected Pieces and Sue Hampton‘s various short story collections.

first published 25 September 2017, updated 2024


Growing pains

Good Books which deal with growing pains are actually quite rare, I think. But here are a few which have had an impact on me:

Leslie Tate – Heaven’s Rage
Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

There are a few more lighter reads such as:
And I would even go so far as to add Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven to this list.
Beatrice Holloway‘s tales about Rhys and life on a canal boat would also fit this bill.

Both Percy’s Quest by Barbara Follows
and the George and Flora series by Rachel Haywood deal with growing up issues through the lives of animals.

Growing up of a different kind is tackled in Illumination by Mavis Patcher. This is a story of two androids learning how to be human.
Gideon Master’s characters in his Lucifer’s Child trilogy (not recommended for anyone under 18 years old) have to learn to deal with new worlds and states of being.

first published 8 May 2017, updated 2024


Mary Moore Mason – appreciation

Mary Moore Mason

Another author to join TSL thanks to Arnie Wilson, has been Mary Moore Mason, a travel writer of US American origin. I’m regularly reminded of the incredible experience and life TSL authors have led. Mary is no exception.

Her memoir, Goodbye Hoop Skirts, Hello World! tells of her growing up as a Southern belle before making the transition into a male dominated world which journalism was at the time. Mary was there to interview the neighbours after JFK’s assasaination and was involved with the launch of Pan-Am and its inaugural flight to the UK. Spanning a period of five decades, one can see how travel journalism has changed, yet Mary or Mary Moore to her US American readers remains an energetic force, continuing to edit Essentially America which she launched in 1994 and to travel. It’s quite easy to see how she came to chair the British Guild of Travel Writers without being British. Be inspired, take a read!


Johannes Kerkhoven – appreciation

Johannes Kerkhoven

Johannes Kerkhoven joined TSL following a recommendation by Arnie Wilson. The first Johannes publication to come to TSL was his State of Guilt – a story set at the end of World War 2 in Holland, where he grew up. He was 8 years old at the outbreak of war in 1939. State of Guilt is a moving tale of action in the heat of the moment, the repercussions of which play out in years to come. This was a refreshing different take on the war compared with that usually recounted in the UK and USA. It reminded me a bit of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.
Next came a collection of short stories – Stuffed – and an anthology of poetry – Frivolous Verse. Both these publications showcase Johannes’ creativity and humour. They also reflect his experience of having lived in numerous countries, including Australia. One of my favourite poems of his is ‘Crumbs’. Johannes is also an accomplished artist who until recently was still selling his work in Brighton.


April performances involving TSL authors

Harrow Opera double bill – Ezra Williams is music director
18 & 19 April 2024 at 7.30pm
20 & 21 April 2024 at 3pm
Compass Theatre, Ickenham, UB10 8PD
Box office: 01895 250615
The Medium – music and libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti
Il Tabarro by Giacomo Puccini – sung in English in a new translation by Leon Berger
Stage Direction: Leon Berger
Music Direction: TSL author Ezra Williams

Clement Attlee by Francis Beckett
Friday 26 & Saturday 27 April @ 7.30pm
Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 April @ 2.30pm
Venues in Harrogate and Ripon – see leaflet for details or visit
For more on Clement Attlee and Francis Beckett, click here