Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Me and my email




I actually love my email. Even though like today it sometimes brings me a rejection. There was a time, especially when I was still employed, when I used to be a little afraid of it, a little bullied by it.  Then, however, I remembered it is here to serve us as a tool rather than to rule us. Now it has become like a magical box, full of treasure.     

Snail mail all but gone

I really do get very little snailmail. I've opted to have pretty well all bills, statements and invoices delivered electronically. That means I can pass them easily on to my accountant. It requires a little organisation but if something gets misfiled, it's fairly easy to do a search on the computer and find it again.
I get a lot of email – far more that I ever used to get as snailmail and in fact none or at least very little of it is junk. I have got a good spam filter for that. I'm on several mailing lists and even though I don't always have time to read very post I like to keep them coming because occasionally I do read them and I find a few gems.

Limiting time

It could take me several hours to monitor my email if I read every single one. So I don't. I allow just half an hour a day.
I sweep through starting from anything from the day before. I select anything that needs a reply and reply very quickly if I can – otherwise, it goes on to my "to do" list and I then give it all the attention it needs later.
I'll then go back to the start of the list and delete or file any thing I can for three days' worth or again to the start of yesterday.
I spend the rest of my half hour enjoying some of the non-urgent posts- newsletters,   book recommendations, sales and personal news etc.

Proactively sending email

Yes of course I do this pretty well daily. This comes up as part of my "to do" list and often includes submitting a text for publication. It's not about using email for the sake of it – it's more that email is the most effective way to achieve certain goals. It's a tool not a ruler, remember.  

Actually inviting more email

Yes, I'm actually trying to get more people to connect with me by email. Yes, of course, that is for me to be able to email people my newsletter, news about my books and details of my events.  That will generate more replies for me and more emails to deal with. But I'm confident my system will still work and I'll be able to deal with them in half an hour a day.

Final tip

Think very carefully before you unsubscribe form a newsy email list. Remember, you don't have to read it every time. The delete button on your computer is very useful. Occasionally you will find something very exciting there.   

       


Monday, 10 July 2017

The Physical World and the Writer



We tend to think of writing as a very cerebral activity. Writers are often introverts and can frequently be found day-dreaming as they fail to escape from the world they are creating. Many of us would like to stay in our writing rooms, have room service brought along three times a day, and money for our best-sellers delivered straight to our bank accounts. 

However, it doesn't work that way. 

For starters, if you're not in the world, how can you write about it? Secondly, what we write and what we read always relates to the physical world. 

Perhaps most importantly, the very best writing happens when we write with the senses. Often the visual brings the other senses with it; if we picture the sea, we can generally also hear it crashing on to the shore, taste the salt air, feel a sea-breeze and smell the sea-weed. When a writer gives us details like that we enter her world. The film in her head plays out also in ours.

Marcel Proust tried to capture the whole of his life by writing about its physicality. For him taste and smell evoked memories. A little French caked dipped in tea brought him back to his mother.
  
A detailed, but not necessarily overlong, description of what the world is really like helps us to avoid clichés. Try describing these:
  • What orange-peel looks like
  • What chocolate tastes like
  • What rain feels like
Perhaps we also need to get out of our boxes in order to explore this physical world more closely. If you want to write about the park, go and sit there for a while and even make a few notes.

We often get our best ideas anyway when we are away from our desks. My ideas often come to me when I'm cooking, driving, ironing or walking. We are not alone in this. Archimedes had a Eureka moment in the bath, Pointcaré as he stepped on to a bus and Einstein when he was coming down in the lift.

Yes, the physical world is important to the writer. In fact, we can't do without it.              

Monday, 3 July 2017

Newsletter June 2017


Canned stories anyone?

News about my writing

Everything has slowed down a little as I have broken my right arm badly. I'm also a bit housebound. Public transport is time-consuming and juggles me around rather a lot. I'm reluctant to ask Martin for lifts as he's already doing all of the cooking and having to take me to essential appointments. I'm at my desk a lot now so although I'm working much more slowly I'm getting quite a bit done.
I'm making lots of submissions and my short story Crucifix is now on CafeLit.   

Canned Stories

I originally got this idea from the Ministry of Stories where they sold limited editions of stories by well-known writers. I adapted this to use with my creative writing students at the Create Festival at the University of Salford last year. These were limited editions – five copies of each story. I'm toying with this as another way of publishing.
We managed to give most of them away last year. These are\a few that were left over.
There is something very different about consuming a story that you pull out of a can.  
I'm thinking of adding a few more small items to the can. Let me know your thoughts on this.     

 

Patreon

I’m selling some of my work via Patreon.  You can find details here. As the name suggests, you would in effect become a patron. I think I’m offering real value for money, with something for both readers and writers. And you can take both if you happen to be both.  Check it out if you’re interested.   

 

Dreamteam

I'm still building up my dream team of reviewers and beta–readers and for my publishing and self-publishing projects, editors, proof-readers, illustrators and designers is beginning to take shape.  
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 had recommended.

What happens?

You sign up to a mail 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

We have almost finished reading the entries for Gliterary Tales. There were a few more submissions this year and some very good writing. We have to make some tough decisions so it's taking a little more time than usual. We hope to release the list soon,
We’re also 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 a couple of 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 80,000 words. 
If you’re interested in this, contact me here.    
Already in progress are collections by Dawn Knox and Jesse Falzoi. There are three more contracts out.

We now working on edits of Citizens of Nowhere, with the theme of the global citizen. We’re commissioned just over half of the work from known authors and there has been room for a few open submissions.
     

CafeLit

Remember, we’re always open to submissions. Find out how here.  I’ve been encouraging my students to submit. I’m beginning to see some of their work appearing. Very shortly I’ll be putting together the Best of CafeLit 6.   

The Best of CaféLit 5 is still available. There are some lovely stories in this. I’m very pleased that I have a story in this collection. Order your copy here.      

 

Again we need more reviews for this. Have you read them? Could you write us a review? And again, I’m offering free copies as PDFs or e-mobi files.

 

Chapeltown

We’re still looking for collections of Flash Fiction. CafeLit writers might particularly consider this as your stories so often fit this brief anyway. See our submissions page here. We have now signed up five writers already and I’ll be putting out one of my collections as well soon. Take a look here.  
Neil Cambell’s Fog Lane is out now. Again, reviewers very welcome. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fog-Lane-Neil-Campbell/dp/1910542083/  I can get the e-mobi file to you if you're willing to review.   
The next one out will be Christopher Bowles' Spectrum, a challenging but very satisfying read.    
This call for submissions will be closing soon so hurry if you want to submit. 
Chapeltown is also excited to be publishing Colin Wyatt’s Who will be my friend? – a delightful picture book about friendship and accepting others. Yes, Colin is Debz’s dad. He is a Disney licensed illustrator and his latest publication is The Jet Set. We feel very honoured to be publishing him.
The book is out now and available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Will-Be-My-Friend/dp/1910542121/  Reviews welcome. We can provide the PDF. 
We’re very pleased with this book and now aim to publish more picture books.  

Creative Café

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 now sending out welcome letters to each new café that’s added. This will also offer them the opportunity to join the mailing list.  
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

We are currently open for submissions. Hoorah! We’re looking for the next great YA novel. Check out the details here.  We’re particularly open to speculative fiction but we’ll also like anything that is well written and well-targeted.  I welcome others but send sample chapters and synopsis first. The full details are on the site.  
I am now working on Richard Bradburn’s Evernrood. We are still open for submissions but this will only be for a limited time now.    
Our mentoring programme is now full. I’m now working quite closely with three very different authors: Charlotte Comley, Dianne Stadhams, and Nina Wadcock. They are all  presenting some fascinating material.     
I’d also like to mention now that I’m mentoring two of my former students to help them get their novels up to publication standard. They won’t start this until they’ve finished their studies but it is something for them to keep them occupied as they wait for their results. I’m looking forward, too, to working with them.        

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 books 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. Contact me here if you’re interested in this.           

 

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.
Costs= 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 also 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.
It is now also possible to purchase the kit to work on on your own. Find details here.
Please remember, with these as well, I’m open to negotiation if you can’t afford the full price.

 

Upcoming events

         
Note also for your diary: the London Bridge House / CafeLit / Chapeltown / Red Telephone celebration will be 2 December at the Princess of Wales again. People published 2017 will be invited first and then it will be open to all authors of our imprints. You are in any case invited to bring one friend at the first call. Last year we “sold out” – the event is free but ticketed. We shall have:  
  • general mingling
  • cash bar
  • an opportunity to buy lunch
  • an opportunity to buy books at an advantageous rate    
  • “speed-dating”  where you get to speak to as many people as possible in the room i.e. promote yourself to readers, swap tips with other writers
  • author readings
  • latest news from me  
  • collection for a local charity
  • big book swap (bring one of your other titles and take something else home – hopefully all will be reviewed. If you bring a non-writing friend they can just bring a book they love)  

Giveaway

This month I’m giving away an e-mobi file for your Kindle of Light in the Dark Download here. You will also find in the 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.  
Sign up to get your freebies here.  

 

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.    
Happy reading and writing.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Question for Schools on The House on Schellberg Street



1.     Do you have a favourite scene?

2.     Which of the girls who wrote the letters do you find the most interesting? Why?

3.     What do you know about the Kindertransprt?

4.     What do you think Renate most missed from Germany when she first came to England?

5.     Two schools had to close in the story. Why?

6.     How was life different for Renate, Hani and their friends from the way it is for you?

7.     What might it have been like, being evacuated from home?

8.     Why might it have been a little easier for Renate's English friends than it was for some other English children?

9.     How was evacuation different in Germany?

10.                         Why do you think Hanna Braun told the girls just to talk about their daily lives in the letters?

11.                        Why did she later suggest they ought to burn the old letters?

12.                        Hani was not alone in finding the BDM uniform attractive. Can you describe it?

13.                        Why do you think young girls were so pleased to become members of the BDM?

14.                         Renate found it all very hard but in many ways she was more fortunate than other Jewish children. Why?

15.                        Renate's parents were forced to divorce. Why?

16.                        Renate and her mother became "Enemy Aliens Class B". What did that mean and why was it particularly awkward for Renate?

17.                        Why wasn’t Hans Edler allowed to come to England?

18.                        Renate has a nervous breakdown. What triggers it?

19.                        How do Renate's English friends help her?

20.  Do think the ending is upbeat? Why or why not?      
Read more about The House on Schellberg Street here.  
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