Saturday, 3 March 2018

Newsletter 3 March 2018


News about my writing

Scrivener is continuing to be really helpful and I'm learning more and more of its useful little tricks. It's certainly very effective for planning and keeping tabs on content. I have yet to sort the formatting out. Case in point is The House of Clementine. It's still possibly the most difficult thing I've ever written. Now, though, I've added in two more strands and think I can plan the rest of the story out easily. 
I've finished the end of the play script of The House on Schellberg Street. I now have two  groups lined up to read it. I'm going to organise two or three other readings.  If you'd like to be involved and you live within commuting distance of greater Manchester, let me know.  
My book on marketing is out there.  You can find it here.  Remember, if you're published by Chapeltown, CafeLit, Bridge House or The Red Telephone, this is free of charge to you. If you've not managed to download your free copy, please contact me.      
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 also reediting a group of my short stories. I hesitated about packing my stories into themed volumes or mixing them up. I've settled on themes though I'm still uncertain. Anyway, I'm trying out Draft to Digital, who will publish it in all e-book formats and also provide the PDF needed by Lightning Source.  If I'm pleased with the results I may roll this out to the imprints.   

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:    


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.   


Bridge House

The theme of our 2018 is "Crackers". We don't mean just the Christmas sort. We're looking for stories that amuse, certainly, though. It would be good to have a few that give us great big belly laughs, but also welcome those that just make you smile. Another interpretation of "crackers" might be madness. So think Black Mirror, Inside Number 9, Kafka's Trial, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Catch 22. Got one of those in you? Give it a go! Full submission details here.          
We're also very privileged to be the publisher for the Waterloo festival. You can read details about it here.  You can see how much we are involved with the festival here but do take a look at the other pages.
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, 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.    


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 pretty well on our target now of one a day. Sadly, of course, we have to reject some.

In February we've had stories from Carolyn Belcher, Debbie Boitoult , Liz Cox, Ann Dixon, Susan Eames, Alyson Faye, Robert Fergusson, Patricia Gallagher, Valerie Griffin, Kim Martins, James McEwan, Roger Noons, Penny Rogers and Kathy Sharp.     

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. 
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.     


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: 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.       
We've continued to be busy. You can find details of our latest publications below. They are in our series of Flash Fiction collections and are both the little square books.  
We have:
Paisley Shirt by Gail Aldwin:

If you're interested in reviewing any of the above, just email me and state whether you'd like the mobi-file or the PDF.

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 in March this year. 

Creative Café

Two cafés have been added this month:
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. I've spent the last twenty-four hours thinking of a name. I wanted something that sounded global and that implied something about the unique qualities of Bridge House, CafeLit,  Chapeltown and The Red Telephone writers. 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 and you have to be invited to join. 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
I've now started the process of inviting all of our writers.

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:éLit-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.           

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 Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton This contains many of the elements we are used to seeing in young adult fiction: boy/girl relationships, peer pressure, concern about sexuality, an attitude towards alcohol, tension between young adults and parents. However, Phyllida Shrimpton brings in some other themes that lift this text out of the everyday by also showing us the life of twins and dealing with forgiveness.  
The text might be described as a paranormal story. This isn't a spoiler – the blurb already makes it clear that the story starts as Lily realises she has died. Shrimpton offers us a version of the afterlife that is palatable to the young adult reader.
The story is told mainly from Lily's point of view, in a first person present tense narrative. This type of narrative helps to create an effective voice in young adult literature and indeed works well here.  We're left with the impression that we are Lily's best friend, she is telling us exactly how it is and she hasn't yet quite rationalised what is happening. Occasionally we have the point of view of other characters in a close third person narrative.              
     Shrimpton's prose is very effective yet does not detract from Lily's voice. The story arc is firm yet we cannot guess what the outcome will be. She provides plenty of tension and pace to keep us reading. 
The ending is left open, leaving the reader to decide what happens next. This too is very suitable for the target reader. 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, Dawn Knox Gail Aldwin, Roger Noons, and Alyson Faye.  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. 
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


This month I'm giving away Citizens of Nowhere
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 I welcome reviews.

Happy reading and writing.

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