Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Song of Somewhere Else by A/F. Harrold and Levi Pinfold



2017

Key Stage 2, fluent reader, junior school / teens, ages 9-11, crossover   

This is a slightly puzzling book. It seems to be a book for the fluent reader at the end of junior school. Yet it contains elements for other age groups. 

It certainly has a nice fat spine and uses blocked text which suggests the fluent reader.  It also uses a serif font and includes difficult a and g which again is normal for this reader.  

It makes a concession to the new reader by containing a double-spaced text.

As in picture books for the pre-school child, the pictures add to the story, although they are in black and white and are more sophisticated than they would be for the younger child. Pictures are clearly important in this book; it was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway prize in 2018. The text also included quite a few decorative elements. Some of the pictures, however, are very dark ,  e.g. the double spreads on pages 116-17 and 162-3, and this brings it back up into the older age group.       
There are elements also that suggest a teen reader. The protagonist reasons logically – is she in   Piaget’s formal operations stage? She behaves like a teenager. She is reluctant to tell her father about her day at school. Bullying is a teen theme. 

The children are left home alone so there is plenty of opportunity for them to have their adventure on their own.  

It includes high fantasy elements – including a troll mother and a talking cat. Shades of Alice? 

 Bordering on horror? We are also treated to the mystery woman – the agent of Extra-Existent affairs.
        

Being by Kevin Brooks



2007 

Keys Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Teen, YA, ages 13-17, Secondary school  

Fostered sixteen-year old Robert Smith goes for a routine endoscopy and things go badly wrong.
The novel is a car chase from the very beginning. Short sentences and frequent line-breaks maintain a fast pace. Kevin Brooks keeps us guessing all of the time. The pace slows later as the story turns to romance and sex. 

Robert tells his own story in a first person immediate narrative that as so often in books written for young adults makes the reader feel as though the narrator is their best friend and is telling their story in order to work what has happened. 

Is it a thriller? Is it a science fiction?  There is violence and Robert takes risks. There are also elements of the thriller in this novel.  

There is something odd about Robert and the reader is left to find her own explanation. 

The fast pace and the thriller elements in the first part of the story make it seem suitable for teens. 

The content in the latter half of the book brings it more firmly into the YA area.                  

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Our Daily Bread


This is my first collection of short stories which I've self-published as an e-book only. It's also the first time I've completed the whole design and the cover myself. I was pleased that I could do it though not sure I've made as good a job of it as our in-house designer. 

Nevertheless, I used Draft2Digital and I have to say they were very easy to use. A downside is that they take a % of all that you earn though there are no set-up costs. Also, they can publish to multiple platforms. We normally only publish on Amazon. This time I've hooked it up to everything I can. You can see this here.

At the time of writing it's still not on Amazon. On all the other platforms you can pre-release. I did that. I even edited the book again after some of my reviewers found a couple of typos and then tried to release to Amazon. It's still processing. We hit another snag at this point. I had to fill in another tax exemption form. Amazon actually already knows that I am US tax exempt. That has now all been accepted and I am registered for 0% US tax. Still we wait. Oh dear. Amazon again.  

I've divided all of my short stories up into folders – everyday, science fiction, historical, retellings of Bible and near future. This first collection is of everyday stories. Straight away I notice a snag about this method; it's going to take ages to fill some volumes. So, I think in future I'm going to go for the mix. I can always republish stories in other collections later.

I have made a decision to self-publish most of my work. This seems a little at odds with the Opportunities List    I publish. I also miss that excitement / curiosity about publishing. So I've decided to send off each story to others first. I guess the list is still there also for those people we cannot publish. 

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 miracles still do happen.  Even God, whoever she may be has her say and gives us an interpretation of the Lord's Prayer – hence the title.   

Monday, 6 August 2018

Welcome to writer Pat Jourdan



I'm very happy to welcome Pat to my blog today. Pat  is the author of  Citizeness. Pat tells us a little about her life as a writer: 
  
My stories and books would be described as literary, although that can sound pretentious. It means good old-fashioned plain writing, like the cooking in our childhood.

I was in Art School, but painting was not enough for expressing all the ideas chasing round, and I had always written poems and then short stories too. A couple of discarded would-be novels date from that time and I might resurrect them now, they are almost history.

There’s no routine at all. I’d say it was more to do with phases of the moon (joke.) Nothing for weeks or months and then total dedication all day. Being retired helps.

My writing space is a gigantic desk set in the living room. It is the kind of desk from old  black & white films, the solicitor’s office or the Head of Police. It’s strange to be sitting this side of it. I won second place in Poetry Pulse and the prize-money paid for most of it.

I never call myself a writer, as it is such an easy occupation to claim. For most writers it is not a 9 to 5 five days having to clock in each weekday with only two weeks and official days off a year. Many writers I know use the label as a way to social climb and claim grants and allowances. If pushed, I’d say I was an artist.

Friends and family support? Patchy. Two friends are interested and my family never comment.  

I am most proud of presenting situations clearly so that they can stand on their own without any need for explanations.

Research is fatal! It’s like going off on a short walk and ending up miles away, happily lost. It just entices you to unearth more and more, absolutely fascinating details - and then you have totally useless pages and pages of notes and printouts. And then you don’t like to throw them away.

First I write by hand on A4 pads, 160 pages, narrow lines. Then off to the computer and type, sifting through the lot. Then print off all the pages, make a pot of tea (well, several,) and with a red pencil, go through each line. I went to a grammar school and we learnt to parse, ‘Parts of Speech,’ which does not happen these days. Each word has its dedicated function. There are only eight : noun, verb, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and exclamation. There is a fashionable movement against using adverbs and I even read in one magazine’s requirements that adjectives should be as sparse as possible. That will lead to an excessively pared-down style, if we are going to be left using only six items from the ‘toolbox’ as Stephen King calls it. And we don’t often use exclamations, so that leave us with only five.

My future goals are to finish the next three semi-done novels. The notes and pages cluster beside the desk in baskets and I try to avoid them.

Writers who I have always admired since a teenager are: Nathaniel West  - Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust and A Cool Million. Georges Simenon – everything, there’s  53 books of his in English and French so far on the shelves here. 

And then I discovered Janet Frame. The Daylight and the Dust is a selection from four collections of her short stories. Her novel Angel at my Table is the best-known of her 20 works and was filmed by Jane Campion. Also from New Zealand, she is a modern Katherine Mansfield. Her writing is seamless, enticing and a joy to read.

My latest work is Maryland Street, life in 1950s Liverpool, it is on Amazon with previous books.

Available here. 

Friday, 3 August 2018

News July 2018



I've just come back from a trip to the Great War battlefields with Honour choir. We had quite a hectic programme, so there wasn't a lot of time for being on-line and it was in some ways quite a relief to get away from the constant bombardment of social media and email. On the other hand, maybe if social media had been around at the time of the Great War, World War II and the Holocaust, the ordinary citizens would have had much more of a say.
When you see those lines and lines of graves, many unmarked, and you read the rolls of those lost at war whose bodies were never found, and you see the countryside where the battles took place, it and its horror become more real. Even today, bodies are being found on, at farms and at archaeological and building sites. 
Poor Belgium.  So often a battle ground. 
We took part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.  This takes place every evening at 8.00 p.m. The local fire brigade provide the men who march. 
All very moving as were the two concerts we performed in local churches.
There are some funny things happening in the world right now, so it's even more important to remember these things. Thank goodness I've just spent five days with 60 very lovely people.
And we writers now have our work cut out, I guess.                           

News about my writing

I'm still working on the extra material needed in The House of Clementine. I've finished the episodes of Rozia's Glog mentioned last time. I'm now creating some further scenes involving Rozia. It's still a bit of a struggle, but I'm gradually getting there.   
On the other hand, I'm also still working on the fifth book in the cycle: The Round Robin an that is going swimmingly. This looks more closely at the lives of some of the people who were involved in the class letter in The House on Schellberg Street: Anika who becomes an actor, Gerda who helps to run the family farm, Elsa, one of identical twins, who ends up running the family business and Hanna Braun, their former teacher who refuses to teach the Nazi doctrine and who knows more about what is going on than many other young women do. This is going much better.    
My second collection of flash fiction is out on Kindle and paperback. Details here.   As usual, reviews are welcome and I can supply a mobi file or a PDF. 140 x 140 is made up of 140 pieces of flash fiction, each 140 words long. Each one is written from a prompt – the first picture I saw I my Twitter feed that day. I'm now working on 280 x 70. I think you get the picture. 140 x 140 is one of the little square books but has to retail at an RRP of £7.00 as it has more pages that the others. 
I also have a collection of short stories Our Daily Bread out. I've experimented here using Draft 2 Digital . This can be used to publish to all e-platforms – you can chose as many as you like. Draft 2 Digtial is great for those technically challenged like me. You pay a small fee out of the royalties. You can find the book here.  Naturally, of course, reviews are welcome and I can supply the PDF or the mobi file.         

1940s Group

Just a reminder: 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/    
Of course, with my Schellberg Cycle I'm constantly in that world.       

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.  
I'm delight to have Neil Campbell on board as a reviewer.

More about Amazon

I attended a very useful meeting with Amazon on 6 July. Another small publisher and I did manage to pin one of the sales people down. Amazon denied trying to force publishers towards Create Space.
However, it is clear that they are selling our books "reactively".  They obtain books when they get orders and don't keep a huge stock. We need to convert our books into ones they want to sell proactively. I learnt a couple of tricks from them that may make this easier. I'll be putting those into practice over the next few weeks. I'm still prioritising editing, selection and post-production. Gradually, though, ….
            

Bridge House

Jenny Palmer's Keepsake is out and about now. 
Keepsake and Other Stories is a collection of Jenny Palmer's finest writing. There are stories to make you smile and stories to make you think.  And they ask many questions. Why do the visitors decide never to return? What will happen to a relationship if one of the partners becomes too obsessed with a project?  What is in the shed? What exactly is the keepsake? One thing is for sure: you will enjoy finding out.         
Jenny Palmer brings us stories of otherness, witchcraft and magic close to home and further afield within Europe. We meet all sorts of characters: those who rely on guard dogs, those who shun social media and those who are obsessed. We even meet a Neanderthal man. There are paranormal stories, a story of bad neighbours and a story of redundancy.  And many more. All to be enjoyed.
Jenny lived and worked abroad and in London for many years, teaching English to foreign students. She has co-edited four anthologies of short stories, published by the Women's Press and Serpents Tail. Following her return to Lancashire in 2008, she self-published two memoirs and a family history. Nowhere Better than Home is a childhood memoir about growing up in rural Lancashire in the 50s and 60s.  Pastures New is the sequel and covers the heady days of the 70s and 80s.  'Whipps, Watsons and Bulcocks: a Pendle family history' traces the history of her family, who have lived in the same house for 400 years. Her poems and short stories have been published in the Lancashire Evening Post, on the CafeLit website and in various local anthologies. 'A59' and 'Fatal Flaws' are in the Best of CafeLit 3 and 5.

To Be … To become  is also out. Find it here.
To Be  .. To Become was the theme of the 2018 Waterloo Festival Writing Competition. It is also the title of the e-book, which contains the sixteen winning entries.  Some fantastic writing was offered and all of it was potentially publishable.  We chose these because they told a good story, had a strong voice and were imaginative in their interpretation of the theme. 
Entrants were asked to produce a short story or a monologue.  Style was  diverse and each story is completely different from the others.  
This delightful English language anthology of literary fiction comes to you for under £2.50. 
Naturally we would love reviews and I'm happy to supply a PDF or a mobi file for either book if you're willing to review.      

We’re still 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.
We have a huge backlog so please be patient. 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.
In July we had stories from: James Bates, Alan Cadman, Michelle Christophorou Jeanne Davies, Matthew Roy Davey, Jesus C. Deytiquez, Richard C Elder, Thomas Elson, Yvonne Fein, Boris Glikman, Iris Green, Bren Gosling, Gill James, Celia Jenkins, Dawn Knox, Keelan LaForge, Kim Martins, Charlotte McLeroy, Traci Mullins, Nora Nadjarian, Roger Noons, Helen O' Neill, Rachel Rodman, Stephanie Simpkin, Edel Williams, Emily Williams, and Lisa Williams    

Here's a reminder of how we select stories: I open my inbox and I'll often see four or five submissions. I'll select the best of the bunch and schedule it for in a few days' time. I'll let you know. I may reject one or two but ones that are basically sound I'll keep forever or until they’re published.  Consequently if one you've submitted to us has not been rejected, and you find a home for it elsewhere, let us know the name of the story and the date you submitted and we'll remove it from the archive. Try to include the drink each time. Do put CafeLit in the subject line so we can identify your submission. Remember to include your bio (50-100 words including links for longer stories, just links for 100 words or less) each time. I haven't got time to look up an old one and in any case your bio is probably changing all the time.

.           

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 other great news is that Best of CaféLit 7 is out. The Kindle version is already available here.  It has been registered with Nielsen's and will be available from retailers shortly. It can take up to fifteen days to appear and Amazon usually, these days, put it up without an image to start with. Beware of course of Amazon's misleading statements about availability. Reviews as ever very welcome. I can supply a mobi file or a PDF.      
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

Our Chapeltown authors continue to be 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.

 

Creative Café

I've added just one café added this month: The Pantry at the Bridport Arts centre  http://www.creativecafeproject.org/2018/07/the-pantry-bridport-arts-centre.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 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.

 

The Red Telephone

I have some books now lined up to read. I'm aprtiuclalry interested in near-futures speculative YA fiction.    

Facebook Group for the Imprints

Scribblers Sans Frontières -  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.  

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.
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.

Free listing for our writers

If you are one of our writers and would like to offer school visits, please contact me. I'm offering a free listing on the imprint pages.
State: age groups you are prepared to work with, a definition of your work, distances you are prepared to travel. Appropriate links. Please provide an image.         

 

Upcoming events

I have three events to mention:

  • 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.
  • London event 1 December 2018 (Save the date!)
     

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.    

 

Current reading recommendation

It was very difficult to choose a book this month. I think I'm getting hypercritical of other people's work. So, I'm actually going to recommend two.
First, The Alarming Palsy of James Orr. I picked this up at the 2017 NAWE conference. It is very well written and engaging throughout. At just 153 pages long it's an easy read. I was just slightly disappointed by the resolution – if you can even call it that. It didn't quite compute. However, I'll leave you to judge that.  Find it here.
James Orr wakes up one morning to find his face disfigured by Bell's Palsy. As he learns to live with it, other parts of his life start to change.
I've also been reading the books that were short-listed for the CLIP Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Award. I've not quite finished reading Thornhill by Pam Smy but I am intrigued. Two stories are told and are interconnected. One is told purely in pictures, the other in diary entries. All of these books, so far, are very good indeed. Find this one here.                   

Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. 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

Giveaway

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.