Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cover reveal - Our Daily Bread

So here it is, the cover of my experimental book of short stories.  Note it it the way of publishing that is experimental. The stories are conventionally me. The book isn't out until 15 May but I'm happy to let you have the PDF if you're willing to review.


  


You can preorder for formats other than Kindle at: https://www.books2read.com/u/38gaJr 



Our Daily Bread  includes stories of people striving to succeed, sometimes managing, sometimes not.  It is at the same time about daily lives and the bigger picture. There's the story of the young woman who struggles to come to terms with the death of her baby.  A music manager is near to despair but finds a way to carry on. An older citizen finds that miracle still do happen.  Even God, whoever she may be has her say and  gives us an interpretation of the Lord's Prayer.  

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Interview with Jenny Palmer



 ISoon I will have published Jenny four times. One of her stories has appeared on the CafeLit web site, in the Best of CafeLit6, in Citizens of Nowhere, and it will be in her forthcoming single author collection.  So I'm very pleased to have her here on my blog today.    
Jenny in front of a quilt she has just completed.

1.    What do you write? Why this in particular?

I write short stories, local history, memoirs and poetry. Short stories because they further my imagination and help me deal with reality. Some of my stories explore contemporary issues; others delve into the historical past. Local history, because I spent forty years living away from home in London and travelling around the world. When I returned to the North in 2008 to live a stone’s throw away from where I was born, writing helped me settle back into the community and re-connect with my past. In 2014 I wrote and self-published a family history, going back 400 years, called Whipps, Watsons and Bulcocks: a Pendle family history,1560-1960  I have also written two memoirs: Nowhere better than home (2012) which covers my early childhood in rural Lancashire and a sequel called Pastures New (2016) which covers my world travels. All three books are available from the Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford at £4.99 or £5.99 each.




The cover of ‘Pastures New’. That is me in the middle, at Machu Pichu, 1984.

What got you started on writing in the first place?

I first got started on writing in 1985, while I was still teaching. I had taken six months unpaid leave and gone off to travel and live in Peru and Bolivia. While I was there, I met and interviewed a group of Bolivian women who were on hunger strike. They were protesting about the rise in prices due to austerity measures introduced by the government at the instigation of the International Monetary Fund. I had previously written articles on the plight of Palestinians after a visit to Israel and had spent many years involved in other people’s political causes. I felt it was time to reflect on my life.  
3.    Do you have a particular routine?

I like to write every day, usually in the mornings as soon as I get up. I
often carry on into the afternoon and stop around tea-time.  Since I retired, I’ve got into the habit of treating my writing as a day’s work. I’m not rigid about it. I don’t try to force it, if isn’t happening or when life intervenes. Poetry tends to be more spasmodic. I write it when I am in the mood.
4.    Do you have a dedicated working space?
Now that I’m living back in Lancashire again, I write in my upstairs’ room, which has a glorious view, looking across to the Big End of Pendle Hill. I have dedicated this room to my writing and have all my reference books around me. It also serves as a spare room for visitors. In winter, however, I transfer my laptop downstairs, as the temperature upstairs rarely gets above 13 degrees Centigrade and I don’t fancy working with gloves on. This is a snowscape from Feb 3rd 2018, just after the JCB digger had dug us out. 




.  

5.    When did you decide to call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

Yes, I do call myself a writer. I called myself a writer even before I had published anything, because I write all the time. Initially, I was a teacher and a writer. Now I am just a writer. Having had some of my work published, either by myself or by other publishers, does help to make me feel more confident about my work. 
6.    How supportive are your friends and family?
My friends and family have always been very supportive. I must admit I didn’t publish my two memoirs until after my parents had died. I was worried it might upset them. The first thing I did when I started writing in London, was join a couple of writing groups.  That really helped me get going. When I moved back to Lancashire, I was glad to discover there were plenty of writing groups.  Currently I belong to Clitheroe Writers’ Group and Poetry Stanza. It has been a good way to make friends and I find the feedback invaluable.
7.    What are you most proud of in your writing?
I am proud of my family history book. It was the one book I had always wanted to write. The research alone took ten years. It has sold well since it was published in 2014 and I still get people from all over the country, and from the United States and Australia, asking me to send them a copy. Our family home was the basis of the Whipp, Watson and Bulcock families, who started out as Quakers back in the seventeenth century. Many people migrated from this area and their descendants like to trace their roots back to it. 
I am also proud of my short stories, which have been published in various anthologies. I am about to have my own collection published by Bridge House publications, called ‘Keepsake and other stories.’  These are stories I have written over the last thirty years. They deal with both historical and contemporary issues and are set in different locations, rural and urban.  The book will be available on Amazon shortly.

8.    How do you get on with editing and research?

Having taught English for Academic Purposes in various London universities, I always enjoyed doing research. It was a natural transition for me to do family history research. While I was still living in London, I used to frequent the British Library, The National Archives at Kew, and the Friends’ Meeting House at Euston. I often called in at Lancashire Record Office in Preston on visits home. That was before the Internet got going. Nowadays I do most of the research for my writing online.
In the 1990s, I co-edited four anthologies of short stories, published by the Women’s Press and Serpent’s Tail on the theme of Christmas. Four of us in our writing group had turned ourselves into freelance editors. We advertised nationally, received hundreds of stories in the post, which we then selected and edited for each anthology. Editing other people’s stories is different to editing your own. It is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes look at your work.

o Do you have any goals for the future?

My next project is to publish my own collection of poetry. I first started writing poetry about ten years ago, when I came back to Lancashire.  The Poetry Stanza group in Clitheroe really helped me get started. Some of my poems have a political edge, for instance ‘The thwarted autodidact’ which is a satirical take on library closures. It was published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times. I have had poems published in Northern Life magazine and in various local poetry anthologies and was runner-up in a war poetry competition and in a U3A poetry competition.

   Which writers have inspired you?

I read all the time and am a member of the U3A book club. When I was young, I studied French, German and Spanish literature. Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ used to be a favourite and ‘A hundred years of solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
When I started writing short stories, I read people like Jean Rhys, William Trevor, Anton Chekhov, Guy de Maupassant. Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Elizabeth Taylor and loads more. Currently I’m into Sarah Hall. 
When I started writing my memoir, I read ‘Cider with Rosie’ and ‘As I walked out one Midsummer Morning,’ by Laurie Lee, ’Forties’ child,’ by Tom Wakefield, ‘That’s how it was’ by Maureen Duffy, ‘The Road to Nab End’ by William Woodruff.  
For my family history book, I attended a three-year, online, distance-learning course at Lancaster University in Local History and was inspired by a book, written by Hilda Kean of Ruskin College, called ‘London Stories,’ which gave me the confidence to write my family history book.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

News 1 April 2018




My biggest news this month I guess is that I am back at the University of Salford, as a senior lecturer again, on 0.5 FT temporary contract until 18 September 2018. It all started happening rather suddenly at the end of February when I got an email from the colleague who took over me as programme leader: would I be willing to take on the programmes again until the end of the semester? I was just contemplating this when another email came in: would I be willing to supervise three MA creative projects? Then it all sort of escalated – the end of the trimester became the end of July and is now 18 September. I started officially on 20 March –thus avoiding all the strikes that are going on in HE at the moment. I have five more weeks of teaching six hours a week, and all the marking that that produces then it will be mainly admin, attending meetings and supervising the MA students.   
It is impinging a little on my own writing but I am getting some time from elsewhere to compensate for that.  I'm not letting it interfere with my publishing ventures.     
         

News about my writing

I've now started making arrangements to have the play script of The House on Schellberg Street read out on 8 July. If you'd like to be involved and you live within commuting distance of Greater Manchester, let me know.  This will be at the Garrick Theatre, very close to the Metrolink in Whitefield. We shall start at 1.30 and finish at 7.00  p.m.  I'm hoping to have read through and a walk through. I hope to pre-cast it. I shall provide cake and other refreshments. 

Remember, my book on marketing is out there.  I'm giving it away for free this month to anyone who would like to read it. See details in the "give away" section below.    
Amazon has approved our recoding of January Stones and this is available as an audio book. You can find it here.   I notice you can take a free trial with audio books but I feel a little wary of this, though I am tempted. 

The audio book represents just one of my current experiments.
I'm now loaded my short stories up to Draft to Digital. I've downloaded the Kindle version to my Kindle and it looks great. I've opted to sell it through all of the platforms.  If I'm pleased with the results I may roll this out to the imprints. This one isn't released until 31 May though I note that all of the platforms except Kindle will allow prelease sales.    

And I soldier on with The House of Clementine. It's still a struggle. Still, I always say that I write better when I struggle. I hope that is true this time.   

1940s Group

I'm beginning to find out more and more about 1940s events up and down the country. I wish I could go to them all! I'm hoping though, that we might get a good representation of members at most of them and that we can share information that way.     
Do join us if you think this is for you. Importantly, I'm happy for you to promote your books here on the last day of the month.    
     
Here's the reminder of what it's all about:
This is a Facebook group for all people who write about the 1940s. Fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Topics might then be: the Holocaust, World War II, Civilian Experience (all sides) and the battle front. We can exchange ideas about research and marketing. We may promote books and stories, - the last day of every month and on launch / release day.
If you feel that is you, do join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2026868870924138/    
    

Dreamteam

The Dream Team continues to grow. Find members here.    
This is a personal recommendation. Initially I intend to use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I would add in people that friends and friends of friends have recommended.

What happens?

You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year. 
Interested? You may sign up for more than one category. 
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.   
DO REMEMBER THAT AT ANY TIME YOU’RE APPROACHED AND YOU’RE BUSY IT’S PERFECTLY FINE TO SAY NO.   

    

Bridge House

The theme of our 2018 is "Crackers". Submissions are closed now and I just have to process the last few that have come in. We have almost 100. 

We're also very privileged to be the publisher for the Waterloo festival. These entries are also closed. For this competition we have just over 100.  

We’re getting plenty of interest in our single-author collections. These are for authors we’ve published before and they may include stories we’ve already published, ones they’ve had published elsewhere and new ones. The description for this is now on the web site. We’ve already had some enquiries and we’re currently working on several anthologies.  You may recycle stories we’ve already included in another anthology, and you may reedit these if you wish. You may also add in new stories. We’re aiming at a total word count of between 30,000 and 70,000 words. 
Dawn Knox's Extraordinary is now out. It is available here.  

If you’re interested in having a single author collection, contact me here.    
Also in progress are collections by Paul Bradley, Phyllis Burton, Jeanne Davies, Jesse Falzoi, Jenny Palmer, Dianne Stadhams and Paul Williams. Several other Bridge House authors have applied and they're in a bit of a queue but I'm sure we'll accept them. After all we know them.
Do be aware that we have a huge back list to look over. You can always check our progress at: http://apublishersperspective.blogspot.co.uk/p/work-flow.html

      

CaféLit

Stories are now all being posted at 4.00 p,m, Afternoon Teatime,  Kaffee and Kuchen time and it's also when the kids are home from school. Just the right time for a cuppa and a good story.
We're getting quite a few submissions and are now on target of one a day. Sadly, of course, we have to reject some. Our next step is to have several to choose from each day. 

In March we've had stories from James Bates, Cath Barton, Mary Bevan, Ray Bradnock, Janet Bunce, David Deanshaw, Robert Ferguson, Patricia Gallagher, Dawn Knox, Helen Laycock, Kim Martins, Joy Mawby, Roger Noons, Martin Parker, Marilyn Pemberton, Paula R C Readman, Sarah Scanlan, Kathy Sharp, Neta Shlein, Allison Symes, Andrea Williams and  Robin Wrigley. A few new writers here. Do keep those stories coming.     

We're always open to submissions. Find out to submit here. Remember, this gives you some exposure, you can add in a short CV each time, and there's always the chance that your work might be accepted for the annual anthology.    

The Best of CaféLit 6 has been produced and copies are on sale. As usual we welcome reviews. I can let you have a PDF or an e-mobi copy if you're willing to review. You can also buy copies here.   I'll shortly be working on The Best of CaféLit 7. 

We're asking for readers' help in deciding what should go into this year's selection. If you'd like to be involved, follow these instructions:
Please select your favourite five posts from 2017. Number them 1. for the best 2. for the second best etc. and email to gill at cafelit dot co dot uk. I'll award five points for a number one, four for two etc. You mustn't vote for yourself but you could ask your friends to look.
If that doesn't get us about 30,000 words I'll add in the most popular posts and then my own further selection.
Democracy rules okay?
End date: 30 April 2018. https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.co.uk/   

On offer for CaféLit authors is a page on our web site. See examples here.  The list is growing. Click on the names to find out more about the authors and to access their work. If you're a CaféLit author and would like a web page, use the ones there to get ideas. You need to send me between 250 and 350 words about yourself, an attractive image, a list of up to six publications, up to six awards and up to six links. I then also link the page to your stories on CaféLit. Send to gill at cafelit dot co dot uk. 
If you already have page here, this is the time of year you may ask me to update it. You may have a new publication, award, web site or image that you'd like posting. Remember we keep up to six awards and publications on display.     

Chapeltown

Our Chapeltown authors have been very proactive in promoting their work. They have managed to get their books into shops and libraries. They are also buying lots of author copies and being very proactive on getting on to blogs – mine included, of course.       
   
I'm now trying to build up the Chapeltown readers list. I'm giving away a free copy of my January Stones 2013 to anyone who joins. See details here: http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/ Spread the word. 

The profit share of the audio book for this title will equal 10% of the cover price.  I'm now thinking of rolling that out to the other titles.       

Chapeltown is now publishing all of The Schellberg Cycle. A new version of The House on Schellberg Street is now available. Details are here.  The second story in the series will be out very soon. We're just completing the final proof check.

Creative Café

Two cafés have been added this month:
·         The Book Case at Hebden Bridge http://www.creativecafeproject.org/2018/03/the-book-case-hebden-bridge-hx7.html  Hebden Bridge is a place awash with writers and other creative practitioners anyway.  Well worth a visit.
·         The Galley Café at Lyme Regis  http://www.creativecafeproject.org/2018/03/the-galley-cafe-lyme-regis.html  
Keep sending suggestions and review them if you can.     
I'm continuing my tour of creative cafés where I collect stories for an anthology. In some cases, writers may offer them and in others maybe customers may tell me their story and I'll write it for them. Do you know of a café that might be interested in this? Let me know if you do.  
       
Remember you can now buy merchandise for the Creative Café project. The profit on anything you buy here goes to the Creative Café Project. Check this out here.    

We’re always looking for new cafés.  If you visit one of the cafés in the project and would like to write a review of between 250 and 350 words – nice, too, to have a couple of pictures – send it to me here. Do the same if you find a new café. 

I’m also now proactively encouraging cafes to stock The Best of CaféLit. Do you know anyone who might like to stock it? We can offer a 35% discount to retailers. Query gill at cafelit dot co dot uk.     

 

The Red Telephone

Our mentoring programme is now full. I’m working quite closely with three very different authors: Charlotte Comley, Dianne Stadhams, and Nina Wadcock. They are all presenting some fascinating material. University of Salford graduates Lauren Hopes and Christian Leah have also joined our happy band.    
     
I was delighted to see Lauren at our recent Celebration Event in London. She read from her novel.

 

Facebook Group for the Imprints

I've been toying with this for a while. One of our Chapeltown writers asked if we could form a group and this persuaded me that this was the right thing to do. Well, we've published Citizens of Nowhere, and we're pretty international. So, Sans Frontières sounds good. Martin, who does most of our design, came up with "Scribblers". Yes, it's a bit of a cliché but it alliterates nicely. So, that's what we've become.  Note this is a secret group. The public will not be able to see this. It is for writers published by one of the four imprints. Here you can:
·         Discuss all technical issues re our books
·         Exchange marketing ideas
·         Advertise and report on your events
·         Promote any of your titles or successes
·         Share good practice and ideas
·         Get help with writing problems
·         Anything else appropriate
Please come and join us if you're eligible. Or you can ask me to sign you up.   

Facebook CaféLit Page

I also invite you to engage with the CafeLit page. I'm widening the scope of this to include all of the imprints.  This is public facing and is more about promotion. Find it here: https://www.facebook.com/CaféLit-Writers-Creative-Café-Project-138022606266155

Book tours

If you’re a Bridge House / Red Telephone / CaféLit / Chapeltown author and you want to get serious about book tours, consider our author’s kit. We provide twenty or so books (exact number is up for negotiation) you take to the bookshop and the bookshop can put these through the till. We then invoice the bookshop, with a 35% discount for any sold and top up your supply to twenty. At the end of the tour you can either pay for the remaining books at cost + 10% or keep them until you’ve sold them and then pay the normal price of 75% of RRP. The latter can in any case be set against royalties. You need to allow at least ten days between events. We must be able to invoice a retailer later for this to work. Contact me here if you’re interested in this.    

I'm experimenting on an alternative version of this with one of our Chapeltown writers. She is persuading local bookshops to stock the book without her doing signings. If this works we'll roll it out to other authors.           

School Visits

I’m proactively promoting my school visits associated with The House on Schellberg Street project. I’ve now developed a whole workshop for this. It starts off with a board game, includes some role play and creative writing and ends with a discussion. 

It is now possible to purchase the kit to work on on your own. Find details here.
I did a presentation about my work on this at the 2017 NAWE Conference.  It became apparent as I talked and partly from the reaction of one of the delegates that the workshop has more impact than the book. Mind you, that had partly been the intention.
Costs for my workshops = travel expenses plus £400 for a full day and £200 for a half day. This includes all materials and some freebies. Two schools near to each other might consider splitting the day and halving the travel expenses and fees. This is open to negotiation in any case.       
I also offer a free half day visit, though you pay my travel expenses, if you allow me to promote my books.       

I’m continuously adding materials for schools to the site that are different from the ones I use for the workshops. I’ve recently added in resources and books to do with the topic. See them here:       
Query for a school visit here.

I’m also happy to tailor a visit for your agreed donation. This can be for either a Schellberg Cycle visit or a creative writing workshop. Any monies raised this way will go specifically to a project I have for a non-fiction book about a journey that will follow the footsteps of Clara Lehrs. I’m hoping to do the whole journey by train, including departing via my nearest Metrolink station. It’s important to feel the rails beneath my feet.      
  
I offer as well standard author visits which include readings from my books, Q & A sessions and creative writing exercises. 

Please remember, with these as well, I’m open to negotiation if you can’t afford the full price.

 

Upcoming events

More specific details of the following will be posted later.
  • I'm hoping to run a workshop on marketing for indie writers / publishers. This will be free of charge but you may make a donation if you wish. This will enable me to put on further events.
  • A Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher Master Class about writing the young adult novel.
  • Manchester event in the summer.
  • London event 1 December 2018 (Save the date!)

Past events

Our event on 2 December at the Princess of Wales went well though twenty delegates had to pull out, all for good reasons: illness, awkward trains, family problems, job inductions etc. and I too suffered from "awkward trains". At least though, I got all of my fare back and quite promptly. 

Nevertheless, we all had a great time. We also sold half of our stock of books within the first five minutes and quite a bit more later on. I didn't have to bring all that much back home. 

I actually managed to join in the "speed-dating" this time. The little bell that I bought worked really hard. She is a young woman in a crinoline dress. Esmeralda. 

It was good to put names to faces. I read a little too from January Stones. We also had readings from Margaret Bulleyment, Penny Dale, Shanta Everington, Lauren Hopes, Dawn Knox, Paula Readman, Allison Symes and Robin Wrigley.   
    
     

Writing opportunities

Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on my writing blog. See them here. New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.    
I have recently revamped the way this works and made it much more user friendly. Let me know what you think.

 

Current reading recommendation

This month I'm recommending Talking Theatre by Richard Eyre. This is a series of interviews with prominent figures in 20th and 21st century theatre. These interviews were filmed and are now also produced in the book. They collectively give a very good overview of theatre in the UK and to some extent in America. Very good for me as I return to being programme leader for English and Drama and Drama and Creative Writing.    

There are interviews with Alan, Ayckbourn, Frith Banbury, Alan Bennett, Steven Berkoff, Peter Brook, John Bury, William Dafoe, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, Peter Gill, Peter Hall, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Margaret Harris, Jocelyn Herbert, Kim Hunter, John Johnston, Tony Kushner, Arthur Laurents, Robert Lepage,  Cameron Mackintosh, Simon McBurney, John McGarth, Ian McKellen, Arhtur Miller, Patcrik marber, Liam Neeson, Trevor Nunn, Harold Pinter, Stephen Rea, Luise Rainer, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Peter Schaffer, Fiona Shaw, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Stoppard, Deborah Werner, Arnold Wesker and  August Wilson. 

Many of them discuss Brecht, Beckett, Chekov, the Method and Shakespeare. 

Richard Eyre himself is quite a prominent figure in theatre. 

So, this gives quite a good overview.  

More details here.       
   

Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. In March I interviewed Mandy Huggins, Linda Flynn  Helen Laycock and Anusha VR   If you would like to be on my blog just answer the questions below and send them with appropriate images to gill dot james at btinternet dot com.
Please feel free to pick and choose which of these to answer. 
1.      What do you write? Why this in particular? 
2.      What got you started on writing in the first place?
3.      Do you have a particular routine? 
4.      Do you have a dedicated working space?
5.      When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
6.      How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
7.      What are you most proud of in your writing?
8.      How do you get on with editing and research?
9.      Do you have any goals for the future?
1.  Which writers have inspired you?
Please write as much or as little as you like for each section and supply as many pictures as you like. Also let me know your latest publication and supply me with a link if it's not on Amazon. 

I 'm also happy to offer you a post whenever you have a new book come out, even if I'm not your publisher. In this case answer the following questions:
  1. Tell me about your book.
  2. Tell us about your research for this book.
  3. What inspired you to write this?
  4.  What's next?
  5. How can we get a copy of the book?
  6. Do you have any events planned?
Again write as much or as little as you please. Alter and add to the questions if you wish. Provide as many pictures as you wish.
Send to: gill dot james at btinternet dot com

Giveaway

This month I'm giving away Marketingfor Indies  
You will also find in this dropbox:
·         An extract from Clara’s Story
·         Some seminars for schools about The House on Schellberg Street
·         Some fiction writing exercises
·         The opening chapters from my manual for writing the young adult novel  
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage, sell for anything form £0.99 to £10.99, with most on Kindle being about £2.99 and the average price for paperback being £7.00. We have to allow our writers to make a living. But we’re offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   
Naturally we welcome reviews.

Happy reading and writing.