Thursday 7 December 2023

Newsletter November 2023


Writerly activities

Sometimes I feel so privileged to be a writer and therefore to be allowed to indulge in several activities that aren’t exactly writing but might be described as “writing related”. There have been two this week:

I attended a meeting of the Manchester City of Literature partners.  Yes, we’re very proud that Bridge House is a partner. Take a look at the other partners here:  And have a look at what the City of Literature does. Even more exciting was to find that one of my former students from the University of Salford now works for them. Another former student was representing one of the other partners. Our meeting involved some brainstorming about the year’s literary calendar in Manchester. We also talked about the aims and objectives of the organisation.  This was followed by a social event where I was able to network and made a lot of useful contacts.

We Talking About My Generarion  reporters were invited to a show case of some younger reporters’ work: It’s probably also the first time I’ve been to Stretford, so new experiences all round.

I also love going to the theatres and have two visits planned next week. I’m going to the Bolton Octagon to see Around the World in Eighty Days  and Home to see Little Women This helps satisfy my continuous need for story. And I can convince myself it’s work; it helps my understanding of how plots work.      



Writing news


I’m pottering on with Peace Child 6. I’m now just finished the fourth draft which looks at the logistics of time with the novel; no two year pregnancies and enough time / space for characters to eat and sleep. I also had to work on the transition between two chapters where it wasn’t clear how much time had passed.  I tend to have cliff hangers at the end of chapters in this novel, so picking up the story again is important.   

I continue to write for Talking About My Generation. I have written a review of a play at our local Whitefield Garrick, and I’ve taken a look at the new episodes of Neighbours:

I’ve also supplied a few ideas about mincemeat:

I may have mentioned last time that I’m having a go at poetry? Yes that continues, but I’m still on ‘A’ in Alison Chisolm’s The Poet’s A-Z

Another book has appeared in my Kofi-shop. You can now buy 140 x 140 there.

If you would like to know more about the Creative Writing Tip Sheets I mentioned recently, you may like to watch this video: Creative Writing Tip Sheets    



On My Blog

This month I’ve talked to several people who have appeared in our Gifted anthology. Read all about them here:  Hidayat Adams, Linda Flynn, Adjie Henderson, Paula Readman, Seamus Norris, Ellen Sullivan,Allison Symes

Their account make interesting reading.


The Young Person’s Library

I’ve added just two books this month, both are teen  / YA. Totally Deceased by Sue  H Cunningham, a humorous murder mystery where a young heart transplant patient and the ghost of the girl whose heart she has received investigate who murdered the latter and why.

Happiness Seeker by Jennifer Burkinshaw is totally different though may appeal to the same reader. It all takes place at Grange-over-Sands, which can be dangerous enough.  Peer pressure and modern slavery make it even more perilous for the young people involved. This is a well-written novel with a strong sense of place and well-developed characters.       



Recommended read 


So, this month I’m recommending: Happiness Seeker by Jennifer Burkinshaw

Yes, again I’ve chosen a text for younger readers again.  I could hardly put this one down.  

Allie is at Grange-Over-Sands on a school trip. The very place is beautiful and dangerous at the same time.   

There are other delights and dangers too. Allie is irritated by the relationship developing between her best friend and her nemesis. Then she becomes romantically involved with the mysterious Mareno. He is threatened not just from the shifting sands and strong currents. Allie’s attempt to put this right is doomed to failure.  When her greatest enemy attempts to right a wrong, four lives are put in danger. There are deaths and near misses. This text tackles some modern but also age old problem: migration and modern slavery.            

Happiness Seeker is beautifully narrated by the very talented Jennifer Burkinshaw.    



Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle.  Occasionally there are PDFs.

This month I’m offering The House on Schellberg Street, the first in my Schellberg cycle.  

Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often meets up with her friend Hani Gödde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be. Just a few weeks after a night when synagogues are burned and businesses owned by Jews are looted, Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family.

At a time when the world is at war and the horrors of the Holocaust are slowly becoming apparent, Renate has to leave behind her home and her friends, and become somebody she never thought she could be.

The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong. Will it and those who work in it be strong enough? Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind?


Grab it  here:  You may have to copy and paste the link.   

And please, please, please leave a review, perhaps on Amazon, Good Reads and / or Story Graph, when you’ve finished.    

Note: Normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £0.99 to £10.99.  Most on Kindle are about £2.99 and the average price for paperback is £8.00. Writers have to make a living. But I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.


The Schellberg Project

The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.  They may also be interesting for other readers of historical fiction.

I’ve not added nay new material this month, but there are over 370 posts and 30 pages of extra information, so it is worth a browse?  Take a look at The House on Schellberg Street.  



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.


The Bridgetown  Café Bookshop where you can buy my books and books published by Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books and The Red Telephone.  Visit us 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.   


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 and some other editors 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 and a reminder of the ones I’ve highlighted in this newsletter.    


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.  I also invite other writers to provide prompts and work for critique.     


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


The Young Person’s Library The children’s book catalogue. Access it here.


Fair Submissions  Find it here.   

Opportunities for writers are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.  

Happy reading and writing.

Friday 24 November 2023

Ellen Sullivan chats to me about Gifted


How did you interpret the them for this anthology? 
I believe there are times when you receive something you think you don’t want, but it turns out to be a gift and that’s what occurs in my story.

How did you find out about our call for submissions? 
I found your call for submissions when it was featured on Duotrope which I use regularly to manage my submissions.
What are the merits for you of the short story form? 
The short story form allows me to dive deeply into a moment in a life to explore how small changes come about in the often intractable thing we call our self. Of course, there are times when my exploration doesn’t reveal any change. That’s also interesting to me as a chance to discover what truly is at the core of a person.
Tell us a little about you as a writer
My first short story was published in 2008. Since then I’ve had about a dozen stories published along with a chapter in a co-written book. I began writing plays about fifteen years ago and I've had numerous short plays in festivals across the country and in Canada. 

Do you have any more forthcoming publications or events
My next publication is scheduled to come out in 2024, a short story, Mother Love, which has been selected to appear in the literary journal Big Muddy.
 Find out more about Ellen at:  

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Seamus Norris talks to me about his contribution to the Gifted anthology


How did you interpreter the word "gifted"? 
The gift or Talent a person has or had.

How did you find out abut the call for submissions? 
Online search for opportunities to publish.

What do you like about short stories? 
You can tell the stories you want in a short form which make the stories accessible to more readers.

Tell us abut your journey as a writer 

I became interested in writing from an early age, after I got a present of a copybook from an Aunt. I was about 9 years of age. I started to write my first novel. It was a Western with a working title of “The United Family”. I wrote several chapters in very bad pencil handwriting (Thank God for Keyboards). The novel is as yet unfinished.  I still have the copybook! My interest in writing, particularly fiction was encouraged by my English secondary teacher in Carrick-On-Suir Vocational School, who left my imagination to its own devices.

 After secondary school, the writing bug dried up until I joined Piltown Macra Na Feirme in 1987. After watching the club perform in the county one-act drama competition, I decided to become a playwright because although I thought the actors were great, I thought the script was awful and dated.  My first play was a farce called  When The Cats Away, Everybody Plays which was performed in the following years drama competition, even getting to the county final.  I directed and cast it myself.  From there, I wrote several one act plays and sketches.  Several more of which were performed by Piltown Macra Na Feirme. I won best director and best actor awards as I took to the stage myself. I advanced to full length plays and then short stories.  Then I started writing poetry, mainly for the poetry competition at Ireland’s oldest agricultural show, the Iverk Show in Piltown.  

 In the 90’s, I also started writing for newspapers such as the Kilkenny People and Kilkenny Standard provincial newspaper which was an opportunity to write more factual content and tackle more serious local items. I was never afraid to write the truth. Some articles were published in national newspapers. 

Next up was song lyrics. One of my songs reached the final of the Glinsk Song Contest in 1999.  

Then to my first novel called Quest For Justice.  It has everything from romance to violence and action, to intrigue to science fiction and is predominantly Irish based.  It is still unpublished. I have since written another crime Novella called “Jamie” and started another novel call the “The Underdog” aimed at younger adults. 

During COVID, I wrote a short play called the “Power Of Love” which was streamed online by Barnstorm Theatre Arts in Kilkenny as part of their Love in Lockdown project and can be viewed on YouTube. When all restrictions were lifted it was performed live. I have built up a decent portfolio across many formats which is available to view on my website and I do intend to return more often to the keyboard in the future. Many ideas in my head that need to get out! Still the goal is to get as many of writings published or performed.  My stories come from my exciting and vivid imagination, mainly revolving around Sport, Westerns, Romance and Crime or are Irish themed, based on dramatised versions of his own life experiences. The stories range from drama to comedy. My motto is Dreams and Ambitions Have no Limit!

Is there anything else in the pipeline? 

Nothing planned but plenty of hope that more submissions will capture the eye and the imagination.  Gifted should certainly help there. Thanks to all at Bridge House.


Author Website           - 

Facebook                     - 

Twitter                        -           @seamusdnorris

Instagram                    - 


Thursday 16 November 2023

Allison Symes talks to me today about her involvement in our Gifted anthology


How did you interpret the word “Gifted”?

I took the meaning to be talented. That in turn led me to wonder about having a story about a character who has talent but is also horribly accident prone. It is clear she needs to find her true calling and without doing too much damage in the meantime. Her boss’s assistant is petrified of what my character can do but the boss finds uses for it.

My character is indeed gifted but not in the way she, or those closest to her, anticipated. The nice thing was this lent itself nicely to a humorous tale, which I always love writing. I love open themes like "gifted" because you can take something like this in so many different directions.


How did you find out about our call for submission?

By attending the Bridge House Publishing celebration event in London last year where the theme was announced. I then looked out for the submission date via the website. Having said that, knowing what the theme was so early did mean I could get drafting something earlier. I always appreciate things like that. Gave me more time to polish my draft up too before I had something ready to submit.


What are the merits for you of the short story form?

Short stories are wonderful forms in their own right. They capture moments. They give the pay-off so much more quickly than a novel can. They tell tales which, at best, would be a scene in a longer work and, just as likely, would not make it into a book at all.  

I enjoy writing a mixture of flash fiction (1000 words or fewer) and short stories (1001 words plus). I like being able to write different genres in these forms. I’ve written humorous tales, crime ones, ghostly types, and have loved being able to “play” with writing in the first person and the third in the shorter form.

It’s always a joy submitting stories (and even a bigger one when they’re accepted). I love the challenge of continually coming up with interesting characters and situations. Keeps me on my writing toes!


Tell us a little about you as a writer?

As well as writing flash fiction/short stories, I blog regularly. I write weekly  for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, often on topics of interest to writers, and I often interview authors too. I blog for Authors Electric and More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.

I write for and am part of the editorial team for Writers’ Narrative, which is written by writers for writers.

I also run flash fiction and editing workshops.

I was one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three years in a row. I was impressed with how the fifteen winners each year came up with such different stories when we were all writing to the same theme and word count.

I have had my flash stories broadcast on North Manchester FM on the Three Minutes Santa show hosted by Hannah Kate and often have 100-word stories published on Friday Flash Fiction.


Do you have any more forthcoming publications or events?

I have submitted my third flash fiction collection to Chapeltown Books and am happily drafting a fourth. I am taking part in Flash NANO again where, for the month of November, I am given thirty prompts, one a day, to respond to - am finding this fun and challenging as I did last year. I also love the whole idea of having thirty new stories to edit and polish after November! You are also encouraged to post on the Facebook page associated with this how you are doing and, if you wish, excerpts of your drafts. Great way to interact with other writers.

Am looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event in London in December. I hope to be back at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick next year. In 2023 I ran a workshop there and am hoping to get to do that again.


Author Bio

Allison Symes, who loves reading and writing quirky fiction, is published by Chapeltown Books, CafeLit, and Bridge House Publishing. Her flash fiction collections, Tripping The Flash Fantastic and From Light to Dark and Back Again are out in Kindle and paperback.







Friday 10 November 2023

Linda Flynn, Gifted contributor, talks about her writing.

I interpreted the title Gifted as being talented, but I decided to subvert it and take more of a Noir approach.

For many years now I have looked for the Bridge House challenge in January, and although I don't immediately decide to enter the competition, the title will often play in the back of my mind until I write it.

Short stories are exciting to write as you can play around with so many structures and forms. Their compactness can also make them very memorable to read.

I'm currently working on a YA fantasy book. I intended to write it many years ago, but work commitments made it difficult to complete. Now that I'm writing from home, the ideas have developed further and I am enjoying the process.

I've had 33 short stories accepted and been published in 30 books. Amongst the most recent releases have been an anthology, I Knew it in the Bath and two children's books: Santa's Supersonic Sleigh and Playing Together.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Short and simple from Adjie on Gifted


How did you interpret the word “Gifted”?  
I didn't interpret it 

How did you find out about our call for submission?  

What are the merits for you of the short story form? 
It's just more fun

Tell us a little about you as a writer? 
Totally undisciplined

Do you have any more forthcoming publications or events? 
Some short stories

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Paula Readman talks to me today about her involvement with our Gifted project


How did you interpret the word “Gifted”?

I thought about a small gift, something unexpected when I started writing my story, ‘Just a Packet of Seeds’. As the saying goes; from little acorns, mighty oaks do grow. Sometimes the smallest gifts give the greatest pleasure and from these come the best memories.

How did you find out about our call for submission?

I’ve been writing for Bridge House Publishing for many years now, so I always check out their web pages to keep up-to-date with their submission.

What are the merits for you of the short story form?

Short stories were the best way for me to learn how to write to be published. It can be tough tackling a novel first, which can sometimes be soul-destroying. However, writing short fiction can help you master the basic skills you need for writing your first novel. By writing to a word limit, you can learn how to choose your words wisely, keep your sentences concise, and understand the importance of editing and working on a deadline. Submitting your short fiction can help you develop a thicker skin to deal with rejection. The upside with all the rejected stories is that you have a back catalogue of short stories. A quick re-edit and then you can submit somewhere else. I learned quite quickly that no stories go to waste. You can revisit them as many times as necessary until a spark of inspiration helps you create a story that finally finds a home.

Tell us a little about you as a writer.

I embarked on my writing journey twenty-five years ago when I was thirty-nine. It was a personal challenge to get something published before my fortieth birthday. Despite being poorly educated due to dyslexia, which left me embarrassed about my awful handwriting and weak spelling, I was determined to learn the basics of grammar and punctuation, and also to understand how the publishing industry works. This gave me an insight into what publishers were looking for when submitting my work.

Since I was a single mother working full-time to support my young son, and myself I had limited funds and time. Attending writing courses was not an option for me. Instead, I taught myself from 'how to write' books I found in charity shops, on eBay, and books borrowed from the library.

My effort paid off in 2010 when English Heritage published my first short story. Since then, I have published over a hundred short stories and six books. Although it has been a long journey, I am proud of what I have achieved so far.

Do you have any more forthcoming publications or events?

My latest book is a novella published by Demain Publishing called Never Reaching The End. It tells a tale about a young couple buying a house. It seems some houses don’t let go of their past. I have two short stories published one in CafeLit, the second in Gifted.


Twitter: Paula R C Readman @Darkfantasy13

Amazon Author’s Page: