Wednesday, 1 January 2020

News 1 Janaury 2020



 

A Happy New Year to You

I’m writing to you on the very first day of the brand new year. Does 2020 have a ring about it?  The days are already feeling a little longer probably because we’ve had some bright sunny ones recently.
I have to confess to not being a fan of New Year’s resolutions. You so often set yourself up for a fall.  However, I do believe in goal setting and this is as good a time of the year as any to set them.
If you’re also a writer do you have a submissions strategy? I have one but I’ve tweaked it slightly recently. Instead of just trying to find a home for what I’ve already written, I’m going to challenge myself to write specifically for some imprints and competitions.     
When I first started writing I used to enter every competition I could find. Whilst completing an MA, being a Head of Modern Languages in a challenging secondary school and having two teenagers at home. How did I manage that? I’m not sure but I did. So it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back into that sort of swing, should it?  

News about my writing

I’m still working 240 X 70, and Not Just Fluffy Bunnies, my non-fiction text about the darker side of children’s literature.
The House of Clementine, the fourth book in my Peace Child series, is now out with beta readers. I’ve completed my normal fourteen edits and I guess there’ll be more when it comes back.    
I’m back to the Schellberg Cycle and am about a third of the way through the first draft of book five The Round Robin. This may be only a working title.
The book of writing prompts is now complete and available here.

    
         

Catalogue of books for children

I’ve added:
Paddington’s Finest Hour by Michael Bond.
Michael Bond carried on writing the Paddington stories right until his death in 2018.  This is the penultimate Paddington collection.  Most people would look upon the Paddington books as classics. The first was written in 1958.  

As with many of the other Paddington books this volume contains several standalone but interconnected stories.  These are presented in short chapters so are ideal for the end of the school day or bedtime stories. 

You can read my full comments here.
I also watched the film Paddington 2 over the Christmas break. I found it absolutely charming.  But is Paddington just for children?      

Current reading recommendation

It’s probably not a coincidence that now my writing is back in the 1940s I’m also reading again more about the 1940s and also fiction set in the 1940s.

I enjoyed most The Children’s War by Juliet Gardiner.  

I found this book totally fascinating, though it’s an awkward book to read in bed.  It is a heavy and wide hardback.

It is actually the official companion to the Imperial war Museum Exhibition of the same name.  There is an interesting blog post about the exhibition here

I have of course researched this era extensively but I was pleased to be reminded of some things I’d forgotten, be assured about some things that I still know and even to find out a few things I’d not known. 

This isn’t a scholarly work but I did buy the book because another academic mentioned it. It is however extremely well researched and gives a lot of factual information.  There are masses of illustrations and also photographs taken at the time. Many of the illustrations are adverts and posters.  When I used the facsimile War Papers for my research I found the advertisements very informative.  They gave much insight as to what life was like back then. The same was true for the illustrations here. 

The other academic who recommended the book did say that many of the first-hand accounts were less reliable as the story-tellers had had too much time to rationalise their experience.   Yes I’ll admit that is normally the case but I actually found it less so here.  The first-hand accounts and the realia gave very similar information. 

Very interesting was a discussion about the General Election just after the war when Churchill was ousted in favour of a Labour government. The Beveridge report in 1942 had promised ‘security to all “from the cradle to the grave” from the ravages of sickness or unemployment’ (200). There was an attack on ‘Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness’ (201).

This is a book I shall dip into time and time again. An absorbing and very easy read.  Find it here.        

Giveaway

This month I’m giving away my collection of short stories Other Ways of Being. Most of these have been published elsewhere before. They are all generally set in other worlds – historical, fantasy or futuristic.  At the moment it’s doing the rounds of my local National Women’s Register group. I read one story from it for our Christmas book group, where we all take a long a Christmas reading. This was a story from the point of view a servant who accompanied one of the wise men on the journey to Bethlehem.  My friends all seem to be enjoying the book - phew!
You can download it and lots of other free materials here.   
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £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 I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   
Naturally I welcome reviews.

 

The Schellberg Project

The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.
This month I’ve added another post about more posts about Hani Gődde: about the Kriegshilfsdienst – compulsory war work for young German women.
You can read the post here.
I’ve also added two book reviews.  The Children’s War by Juliet Gardiner, mentioned above, gives us some useful information about what it was like in Britain for children during World War II.  Read the full review here.   
I’ve also reviewed Jessica Blair’s Just One More Day. This is an easy read that also gives us much insight about working as a WAAF officer and flying a Lancaster bomber.  Read the full review here.

 

School visits

I’m still 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.
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.

 

Some notes about my newsletters and blogs

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.

Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.

Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.

The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   

Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it here.   

Opportunities List 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.  


Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  

Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.   

The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.   

CaféLit Stories Find these here

Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.

Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head.   

Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.

The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.

Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing.  Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.     

Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here. 

The Young Person’s Library I am gradually moving the children’s book catalogue over to this site.  Access it here.

Fair Submissions I am gradually moving the Opportunities List to this site.  Find it here.   
Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Stage of revision 6 Is it convincing? Is there cause and effect?





This is really all about your story being logical.

 

Cause

The question “Why?” is very useful here. “How?” is also quite enlightening. If you could read your work backwards it might be helpful. Why is the gun smoking? How did it get there? Why has the father written this letter? How was it delivered? Why did the boy steal the loaf? How did he manage that? 

 

Effect

Does every happening lead to something else? Every scene must have its consequences. It’s useful too if it projects forward. What will that gun do?  What will the protagonist do because they have received the letter? What will now happen to the boy who stole the loaf?

Logistics

Can that really have happened? We looked at this with endings. Something must happen. It mustn’t be too melodramatic.  You mustn’t cheat and have some unbelievable magic move you on too easily. Don’t find the gun conveniently hidden in the chimney. Don’t let the letter contain a magic formula for curing all the protagonist’s ills. Don’t make the boy the secret love child of the judge. (Though we may have to forgive Dickens, Molière and Shkespeare for such tricks). 

How to proceed with this

Examine every scene carefully and ask these four questions.
What has caused this to happen?
What will this lead to?
Is the relationship between cause and effect believable?
Does this scene actually add to the story?  
 

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Stage of revision 5. Characters



Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Are they consistent? Do they develop? Do you know everything about them that you should?

The importance of character

It is the tension between our characters that create our stories anyway. If your characters aren’t right, neither is your story. 

Creating empathy

It’s important that the reader can relate to the characters in a text and usually there is some empathy.  Sometimes a writer may create an unlikeable character but at least that provokes a reaction in the reader. Also in these instances we are shown why the character is the way s/he is.

Consistency

For a character to be convincing they must be consistent. Check for any behaviour or speech that is out of character.

Rounded

Are your characters rounded? Evil characters should have some redeeming features. Good character should have some flaws.  This all helps to make them more believable. 

Development 

Our characters must develop.  Look at what they’re like at the beginning of the story and what they’re like at the end. Is there enough change?

Character knowledge

Your character will work best if you know everything about them. You don’t have to write huge lists and answer hundreds of questions but you should certainly think about them a lot. You can get a writing buddy to fire questions at you about your character. And here’s a challenging experiment: get your writing buddy to read a passage of your text.  Now ask them a question about an aspect of your character that you know you haven’t mentioned in that passage. Do they get the answer more or less right? If so, well done.  You’ve carried the whole DNA of your character into that scene.  This shows you know your character really well.     

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

News 3 December 2019



 

My new attitude to reviewing

I’ve decided now to review every book I read.  I don’t mean a long review such as I do for Armadillo Magazine , my own Recommended Reads or The Young Person’s Library (note the new URL for my catalogue of Children’s books.  I’m gradually moving the archive over.) No, this time I mean just short reviews with a star rating. I’m posting both on Amazon and on Good Reads, even if the writer already has the magical 50 reviews. I used to only post reviews if I could give four or five stars.  I actually did a three star review last week. I’ve made these change for three reasons:
1.      I’d like reviews myself but feel it’s wrong to expect them and not take the trouble to write them myself.
2.      A lower star rating is more honest than silence.
3.      Consistently reviewing will raise my profile as a reviewer and increase people’s trust in the process.

News about my writing

I’m still working 240 X 70, and Not Just Fluffy Bunnies, my non-fiction text about the darker side of children’s literature though I’ve put this on one side a little as I work on my book about writing prompts. There will be 366 writing prompts. I’m going to give this book to all the people who have contributed to it and to all the people I’ve published. I’m confident I’ll get it finished in time for Christmas. I’m half way through October at the moment. Would you like to contribute? Do you have any writing prompts?
Here are a few examples of the sort of thing:

5 February  Birth Choices?


The body is an amazing thing, but older women are at risk in childbirth of having babies with health problems. Can you tell a tale of the effects of older women having children may bring? Highlight the positives and the change in mindset your character will go through. Maybe a highflying business woman who didn’t employ people with disabilities suddenly realises they have the same dreams as us to have successful careers, when she gives birth to a disabled child late in life.

Paula Readman  

6 February Story Cubes

Try out the APP Story Cubes.  At the time of writing it costs £1.99.
But if you don’t want to buy I’ve “rolled my dice” for you.  I got: a cat, a fountain, an L plate, a book, an apple, someone sleeping and an open eye. Pick at least three to build into your story
Gill James

 

7 February Chocolate 

Can you say it with chocolate 🍫? Write a chocolate tale with a twist. Remember, Chocolate can be Dark, Milk or White? What shade will your tale be? 

Paula Readman

18 February 2019 Drink Wine Day

As today is Drink Wine Day write a short story where a glass or a bottle of wine is the catalyst to something going well or badly.
Gill James

 

19 February 2019 The Mysterious Package

Two people meet on a bridge. One hands the other a mysterious package. Who are the people? What is in the package?  What will happen next?
Gill James

Note, the book will also be available on Amazon as an e-book and all contributors will get a pro-rata 50% share of net sales.  If you have ideas, send them to me.

The House of Clementine, the fourth book in my Peace Child series, is now out with beta readers. I’ve completed my normal fourteen edits and I guess there’ll be more when it comes back.    
         

Catalogue of books for children

I’ve added:
  • The Devil’s Angels by Kevin Brookes. This is suitable for 10-13, Key Stage 3, Lower Secondary.  It is published by Barrington Stoke and is a high-low and dyslexia friendly. There is some violence in it and much about relationships. 
  • Barking up the Wrong Tree by Philip Ardagh, illustrated Elissa Elwick. It is suitable for upper primary, Key Stage 2. It is a quirky detective story.

You can read my full comments here and here.  

Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending a collection of stories by David John Griffin. Note, he is an indie writer and his books are self-published. The stories are excellent. I can’t fault the formatting of the book either – and this isn’t always the case with the Big Five – who usually charge as much for their e-books as for paperbacks. They sometimes charge more in fact.  
The stories here tend towards the quirky and the surreal. I’m a great fan of that sort of story.  You can find David’s book here.   

Giveaway

This month I’m giving away a mobi-file for your Kindle of the third story in the Schellberg Cycle: Girl in a Smart Uniform. This is to date the most fictional of all of the stories.    
Get your free mobi-file PDF and lots of other goodies here.
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £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 I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   
Naturally I welcome reviews.

 

The Schellberg Project

The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.
This month I’ve added more posts about Hani Gődde: about the Waldorf School and the Reichsarbeitsdienst – compulsory work experience for young German women.
You can read the posts here and here.      

 

School visits

I’m still 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.
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.

 

Some notes about my newsletters and blogs

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.

Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.

Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.

The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   

Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it here.   

Opportunities List 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.  


Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  

Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.   

The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.   

CaféLit Stories Find these here

Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.

Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head.   

Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.

The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.

Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing.  Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.     

Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here. 

The Young Person’s Library I am gradually moving the children’s book catalogue over to this site.   Access it here.

Fair Submissions I am gradually moving the Opportunities List to this site.  Find it here.   
Happy reading and writing.