Monday 4 December 2017

News 4 December 2017

News about my writing 


I've made a big decision about my writing: I am now going to self-publish. The House on Schellberg Street goes out of print on 8 December. I'm trying to get a new edition out for the 9 December and it's looking as if it will happen. In the meantime, Clara's Story is out with an editor and I'm aiming for that to come out in March. I have two further novels in the cycle ready and will release them at timely intervals. I'll soon be writing the fifth and sixth. The play is complete and will soon be ready for others to look at.
These books have such a niche market. If I have full control of the books it's easier to work with that niche market.
Self-publishing is now much more respected. It also seems a little odd not to have faith in my own publishing house. It seems right to publish my own work there. It's like saying "This is good enough for me as well."
In a roundabout way I've done reasonably well financially with my writing. I earned well during my ten years at the University of Salford, especially after I was promoted to become a senior lecturer. There has also been some income from royalties, school visits, Public Lending Right and the Authors Licensing and Collecting Agency. I've now retired from the university though do a little teaching for them now and then. I'm left with the state pension, my teaching pension and my university pension. The royalties, school visits, and the PLR and ALCS payments continue. I'm not rich and famous but I'm not poor either.
I also have to remember that every year at the University of Salford we've had Conrad Jones speak to our students on this very matter.
Talks at the recent ALCS and Society of Authors AGMs also reinforced the idea.
Meanwhile I'm also continuing my work on a fourth Peace Child book and now have a title: The House of Clementine. I've been struggling with this one but it's beginning to work.    

1940s Group

Recently for this group I've been sourcing other books set in the 1940s. There are a lot of these and some of them are better than others. We're really looking for stories and even pieces of non-fiction that give us insight into the era. If they're well written and engaging as well, so much the better. 
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:    


The Dream Team continues to grow. The other Friday I was on an excellent course on using social media for marketing. Two seats away was Catherine Lansdale, former art teacher who is now illustrating children's books. See what else Catherine does here.  
Other people include: 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.   


Bridge House

We have had pretty well three books come out at once. As ever, we welcome reviews. I can send you the mobi-file for your Kindle or a PDF if you prefer. It's great then if you can post a review on Amazon, Good Reads and on your own web site and / or blog. A book needs 50 reviews for Amazon to start promoting it.
Of course we also welcome more book sales.
Here are a few details about the books and the links to buy them on Amazon.  
Debz's Canvey Island writers' group, Tales from the Upper Room, retails at £7.00. £1.50 from every sale goes to the Havens Hospices . You can find it here:      
Glit-er-ary is also good to go. Quote from the back blurb: "You will learn that all that glitters is most certainly not gold. The stories are funny, sad, poignant …. The glitter comes in shades of dark and light. Find it here:
Then there is Citizens of Nowhere. I'll confess that Theresa May both infuriated and inspired me when she said that global citizens are citizens of nowhere. What a great title for a book. So, I approached several writers I know who I thought might feel the same. Not all of them had the time or the inspiration but several have contributed. A few stories that were submitted to Glit-er-ary seemed more suitable for this collection. Jenny Palmer also has a story in here. This will be the fourth time that we've published this one. She is on the CaféLit site, in the Best of CaféLit, in her own collection and in this book. Debz and I have also put our money where our mouths are. We each have a story in the anthology. Find it here:   Honestly, whatever your politics are, you shouldn't find anything to offend here but maybe something to make you sad, to give you hope or to make you think.    
We've produced a couple of book trailers. Do take a look and share them.

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.
AND NOW A HEADS-UP ABOUT NEXT YEAR. Our theme is Crackers. Not necessarily the Christmas variety. We want stories that make you smile or laugh. They can include pathos – remember the story about the girls who had her hair cut to pay for her husband's watch to be repaired? Whilst he sold the watch in order to buy some pretty combs she'd wanted for her hair? Or something that gives you a great big belly-laugh. Ot mayb something tha is just plain nuts. We're not accepting submissions until 1 January but at least you can get ahead of the game by thinking about it now.   


An urgent request. I still need a few Advent / Christmas stories. Tell all of your writing friends.  If we get too many, we can programme ahead for Christmas 2018. I'm still also keen to get a story a day out.   
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.
In November, we had stories from Glenn Bresciani, Angela Haffenden,  Sarah Howlett, Dawn Knox, Roger Noons, Allison Symes, Alun Williams, Lisa Williams and Robin Wrigley. There were sixteen stories in total, so I'm half way towards my goal.  
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.   
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.         


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:
I'm also having an audio version of this book made. This is going well so far. If this continues to go well, we'll roll it out to other authors. The profit share will equal 10% of the cover price of the audio file.      
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.  You may also be interested to read that Christopher secured himself a new job recently. In the part of the interview where they wanted to know about other aspects of his life, he mentioned Spectrum and his performances. He will now be using this in his work.        
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  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 two cafés from the US IN November. The Arts at the Armory Café offers a really big range of creative café activities so we've been able to extend our repertoire. The Inspire Café, in Dubuque, also offers a couple of new activities: inspirational speakers and space for hire.     
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

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.

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 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.
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

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

Some of our successful writers

Yours truly reading



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".
Nevertheless, we all had a great time. We also sold half of our stock of books within the first five minutes. 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

Kid Gloves by Adam Mars-Jones

I shouldn't have liked this book but I did. It's supposed to be a biography or memoire but it's more of an auto-biography. It's sub-titled A Voyage around My Father. It doesn't use the fiction-style narrative I prefer for such works. In fact it's one continuous narrative. I'm not even all that interested in the type of family that Adam Mars-Jones describes, though the details about the flat in Gray's Inn are fascinating. The book is awkward to hold.
And yet I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Mars-Jones writes in a very engaging voice. I have the hardback version and it is truly a beautiful book. 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 Dawn Knox.  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.      



This month I'm giving away The Best of CafeLit 5.  
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.

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