Friday, 24 November 2017

ALCS at Manchester




It was so good that the AGM of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society was held in Manchester yesterday. A bonus too that it was held in the glorious Midlands Hotel that already has a rather beautiful Christmas tree in the foyer.
It's probably worth remembering that Manchester is really right in the middle of the UK. So holding the AGM here every other year makes sense.
The afternoon started off well with a panel discussion chaired by Tony Bradman who is the chair anyway of ALCS. Speakers were:

Mark Dawson  

Mark is an extremely successful indie writer / publisher.

Helen McGinn  

Helen blogs about wine. Her blog has led to publishing and other success.

Xander Cansell

Xander is from the crowdfunded publisher Unbound. Unbound brings us a whole new way of publishing.
There are certainly several alternatives to the traditional route into getting published.
ALCS continues its excellent work in collecting foreign Public Lending Right payments, payments for recorded items and payments for photocopied texts. Every writer should be registered with them and register everything they write. You'll earn at least £100 a year. I've never earned that little. If you register academic papers, you can enjoy some very pleasing payments. There is a modest one-off payment to join but you don't have to pay up front. It is taken from your earnings. Anyway if you are a member of the Society of Authors, they pay this for you.
As always with these events the questions from the floor and the networking are great boons. One lady raised the question about obtaining royalties on second hand books. ALCS have looked at this and continue to do so. Wouldn't that be something?     
It was good as always to chat to other writers over tea and coffee and wine and canapés.  

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Ship Canal's not so bad after all



 

I was delighted to have my story Tarting up the Ship Canal accepted by Step Away Magazine. You can read it here.  Step Away seems a good publication to be in. It has a touch of the literary about it.
It's really odd about this story, though. This was its first outing. Usually I send out my short stories, they get rejected, I tweak with the insight that a little distance and more maturity gives me and eventually they find a home. Naturally I've edited copiously before but we get sharper all the time. 

This one apparently hit the spot.

Lately I've found that items are going out of print and publishers are shutting up shop faster than I can get things out. I have decided to have a go at self-publishing. In some ways it seems hypocritical not to. I am a publisher after all. Have I no faith in my own work? I am however, paying for an edit and proof read out of my own pocket. I can do this for other people. I just can't do it for myself.   

So, what went right with Tarting? Well, they do say write what you know, don't they? I know Salford and its dichotomies. This is a work of fiction but it is heavily influenced by a few things that have happened over the ten years that I've worked there. The setting is really vivid to me. I wonder whether you see what I see. What is your impression of Salford if you don't know it?  I may have got right into the young man's head and given him a voice. What do you make of him? Do let me know.

And darn. That eternal editor never goes away. Does his voice shift a little? I would write it very slightly differently today

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

News 1 November 2017



News about my writing

So, I plod on with my writing. I was beginning to despair that things were going out of print faster than new items were being taken on when out of the blue I received an email from a magazine publisher that said: "Yours stood apart from the rest. We thoroughly enjoyed reading … and consider it to be a perfect fit for …"
Nice.
And here it is: http://stepawaymagazine.com/archives/3646 . It was the first time that particular one has been out.
It's pure fiction though inspired by a few events that have happened during my ten years association with Salford.  I've reread it critically and still want to edit.  Isn't it always so? I think, though, it's the voice that works here.    
They say write what you know don't they? I know Salford at least a little now.  
.   

1940s Group

I'm getting a few members into my 1940s' group now. We're beginning to become beta-readers for each other and we're attracting a few reviewers also.   
I'm also adding snippets of information as I find them to that page. Any more are of course welcome.
This is a Facebook group for those of us who write about the 1940s. This group is 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. In particular, we might work together to make use of the many 1940s' weekends that take place.
If you feel that is you, do join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2026868870924138/    
    

Dreamteam

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. Take a look at some of the people I've added: Roger Noons, Alyson Rhodes,  Bartosz Milewski, and Karda Zenko. Do take a look at what they can offer. There are a few others on the site, too. Find them 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

We have been busy. The collection of stories by Debz's Canvey Island writers' group, Tales from the Upper Room, is now ready. It retails at £7.00. As usual, reviews are most welcome. Contact me if you are willing to review.
Both Glit-er-ary Tales and our Citizens of Nowhere are on their final proof read.       
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.  Reviews of course are welcome. Contact me if you would like a review copy. We are also holding an on-line launch party.  Would you like to join us? Here is your invite.   What happens at an on-line launch? Read all about it here.
If you’re interested in having a single author collection, contact me here.    
Also in progress are collections by Paul Bradley, Phyllis Burton, Jesse Falzoi, Jenny Palmer, Dianne Stadhams and Paul Williams.
     

CafeLit

Stories are now all being will be 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 now but still not quite up to one a day. Sadly, of course, we have to reject some. We still need a few more Christmas ones.      
In October we had stories from Wendy Ogilvie, Roger Noons (naturally!), Lisa Williams, Helen Combe, Dawn Knox, Robin Wrigley, Brigta Orel, Sandy Wilson and Many Percy.      
We're always open to submissions. Find out to submit here. We're still interested in seasonal stories – Guy Fawkes and Christmas in particular and would like to have them now so that we can schedule them effectively. Remember, this gives you some exposure 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.   
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.         

Chapeltown

Christopher Bowles' Spectrum, a challenging but very satisfying read. Again reviews welcome. The Kindle version was quite a challenge. He has some fabulous reviews. See them here. More are welcome. I can send you a PDF or mobi file. Be warned: there is some adult material in this. There is also a lot of beautiful writing. If you would like to buy the book, see details here.      
Chapeltown has now successfully published its first picture book. Colin Wyatt’s Who will be my friend? – is a delightful story about friendship and accepting others. Yes, Colin is Debz’s dad. He is a Disney licensed illustrator and his previous publication is The Jet Set. We feel very honoured to have published 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. We're working on an illustrated book by Philippa Rae and we've offered two more contracts for picture books.   
If you're interested in reviewing any of the above, just email me.
Coming soon: work by Anusha VR, Gail Aldwin,  Mandy Huggins and Roger Noons.   

Creative Café

I've added in the Breakaway Café and Arts Centre this month. It is in Hastings, but alas not Hastings UK so I've not been able to arrange a visit. This is a very vibrant place with plenty of creative café activities both in the café itself and the arts centre. In fact, we've now extended our repertoire of activities.    
I've restarted 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

I am now working on Richard Bradburn’s Evernrood.
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. University of Salford graduates Lauren Hopes and Christian Leah have also joined our happy band.        

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. 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.
I'll be presenting about my work on this at the 2017 NAWE Conference.  Apparently there are still a few places left for day / evening delegates.
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.
It is now 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

     
The London Bridge House / CafeLit / Chapeltown / Red Telephone celebration will be 2 December at the Princess of Wales again. This year we are again “sold out” – the event is free but ticketed but it is possible to go onto a reserve list. 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)  
We have glorious plans, still under wraps for the moment – watch this space, for 2018 and there will also be a Manchester event in the summer.   

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'm in the process of revamping the way this works and making it much more user friendly. I hope to have this completed by the time the next newsletter comes out.    

 

Current reading recommendation

Letter to an Unknown Soldier edited by Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger

This is a fascinating book. It links to the project Letter to an Unknown Soldier. I have a letter there. Read mine here. Though the letters are really to soldier of the Great War, many other conflicts are mentioned and many of the letters are to the universal soldier.    
Find it here.  

Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. Take a look at my interview with Allison Symes and DawnKnox.  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?
10.  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.      
                   

 

Giveaway

This month I’m giving away an e-mobi file for your Kindle of  Baubles Download here.  
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.   

 

Happy reading and writing.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Banned books, burnt books, freedom of speech, freedom of information and censorship




We're just about to release a very daring book. Its title is Citizens of Nowhere, 'Stories about the Global Citizen'. Yes, you probably recognise the sentiments. And yes we're probably being just a little bit political. At least we're doing it the way we know best: we're weaving our theme into readable pieces of fiction. 

I might be glad to have my books banned or even burnt. There's no such thing as bad publicity. At least if they're banning or burning them my words must be having an impact on someone. It also means we have something in common with Albert Einstein, J K Rowling, and D H Lawrence.

 

When books are banned

Books are banned in some harsh regimes. We must not incite the people. They are also sometimes banned because they contain something lewd. There is a very fine line between erotica and pornography and it is one that is very difficult to define. Lolita and Lady Chatterley's Lover may have raised some eyebrows earlier. Now they are part of our culture.  They may be banned because they clash with certain religious attitudes. This is what happened to the Potter the books. They include magic and magic is the work of the devil. 

Judy Waite's Game Girls also caused some furore. The game girls are exactly what they sound like. Yet this book is very moral. It all goes wrong for the three young women who have reinvented themselves as prostitutes. The story shows that going on the game is very risky indeed. The book nevertheless caused a fuss. A school visit was cancelled. Books were removed form a library. A TV crew pursued Judy when she came to deliver a workshop at the university where I worked.

 

And when they're burnt

It seems extreme. Yet recently some of us have wanted to burn the Daily Mail and some people actually did it. Burning books today is probably less effective than it was in 1933. Digital copies abound. 

Books are burnt when we want to have a simple version of the truth - or even of lies or of something that is morally wrong, and not be exposed to multiple interpretations of life. The quickest way to get rid of the unwanted books is to burn them.                 

 

Freedom of speech

So everyone should be allowed to say and write what they think. But what if you want to incite hatred or encourage others to take up arms about the status quo?  Do we still allow freedom of speech then? What if we know the writer / speaker is wrong and that we are right? Should we suppress what they wish to say? 

There have been examples recently of some speakers being banned from universities because of their unpopular belief system. Is that right? 

What should we be allowed to say about the Final Solution? The Nazis would want us to suppress it. The UN would want us to explain it. 

The whips come out and make us toe the party line. 

The agent and the editor nag. "You can't say that. We may be accused of not being politically correct."              

Freedom of information

Yet some things remain classified. Several of my novels, set in another world, include Hidden Information and Golden Knowledge. The latter is available only to a very privileged few. The former is kept form the masses because a little knowledge is dangerous. Darn, though. Some things that are very sensitive would help so much with my research. Who keeps and curates the information anyway? Perhaps we writers do. We access material under the Freedom of Information act and we use it to inform our writing, thus sharing the facts with others.

Some publishers thought that my Hidden Information and Golden Knowledge was unrealistic. Really? A little knowledge can be dangerous, we all know that. And doesn't MI6 keep some secrets.   

Censorship

We see little of this applied to writing. The film and TV world use it more. Some young adult books, if made into films, would not be passed by the board of censors. 

The film industry anyway has the complex description of suitability of films for certain audiences. Some scenes can be cut by the censors. Nudity was only allowed on stage if the actors weren't moving. TV has its watershed, only showing certain types of programme with an "adult" content after 9.00 p.m. 

Yet even for writers there is a subtle censorship in that there are gatekeepers all the way. This is especially so for young people who have as well as everybody else, teachers, librarians and well-meaning caring older family members who stand  between them and the book. The publisher is the biggest gate-keeper and some will not accept a book because of the language it uses.  Bizarrely, one that also publishes for children will accept the 'f' word but not the word 'bloody' – it really means 'by the lady' meaning the Virgin Mary.

Censorship must be in other contexts: letters sent in war situations, for example. 

Should we also censor books that include extreme violence, or show how to build a bomb? Or does that contravene our right to freedom of speech? 

Perhaps it's better to say less now so that you can live a few more years longer and be able to say more in the future.