Wednesday 2 May 2018

Newsletter April 2018

April has flown by. It's been a mixture of working for the university, the usual writerly activities and doing battle with Amazon. More about the latter below.               

News about my writing

Our Daily Bread, my collection of short stories, is now available for pre-order. Note, however, I've not been able to create a preorder on Amazon  though the mobi-file is ready.  If you'd like to review in advance, I can send you a PDF or the mobi file for your Kindle.      
I'm still making arrangements to have the play script of The House on Schellberg Street read out on 8 July. If you'd like to be involved and you live within commuting distance of Greater Manchester, let me know.  This will be at the Garrick Theatre, very close to the Metrolink in Whitefield. We shall start at 1.30 and finish at 7.00  p.m.  I'm hoping to have read through and a walk through. I hope to pre-cast it. I shall provide cake and other refreshments.
My book on marketing is also out there.  Find it here. 
Remember this is free of charge for those of you published by one of our imprints. If you've lost the link, contact me and I'll resend it.        
Amazon has approved our recording 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 soldier on with The House of Clementine. It's still a struggle. Still, I always say that I write better when I struggle. But I have just one more chapter of the first draft to complete. So, about a week away.
The big news is that Clara's Story is now out. You can find it here. As usual reviews are welcome and I can provide the mobi file or a PDF. Here's the blurb:
"Clara will not be daunted. Her life will not end when her beloved husband dies too young.  She will become a second mother to the children who live away from home at an early age in order to visit a rather special school.  When life becomes desperate for a particular class of disabled children growing up in Nazi Germany she takes a few risks. Is her ultimate faith in the goodness of human beings a fatal flaw that leads to her tragedy or is her story actually one of hope? 
"Clara's Story is the second book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a bunch of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979. Renate James, nee Edler, Clara's granddaughter, began to recognise the names of the girls she had been at school with. 
"The letters give us some insights into what life was like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Renate used to tell the story of a school for disabled children that defied the Nazi regime.
"We have a few verifiable facts and research has uncovered a few more. Some repeated experience added more understanding.  But most of all that act of imagination that belongs to actors and writers enabled us to fill the gaps."

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.   


General Data Protection Regulation. This newsletter is brought to you by MailChimp, which is compliant with the regulations, or is displayed on Blogger, where you watch us but we don't know who you are.  You can always opt to unsubscribe from the mailing list but we ask that you don't; this is the main means of communication between us and our writers and readers. It's very hard to get you back on the list if you remove yourself. We don't expect you to read everything every time, so your delete key can be handy.   
In addition, we're destroying all submissions for books that are over a year old.  In future we'll no longer ask for your address on contracts or submissions. No photos will be kept on local computers / disks and at any time you may decline having a photo taken or ask for it to be removed from social media.
A full version of our compliance details will shortly be uploaded to the dropbox.               

Shenanigans with Amazon

Amazon seems to have lost the plot a little. This is an issue that is affecting all small indie presses that use print on demand.  It seems that their ordering software is no longer talking to Ingrams, the biggest distributor. So they will say the book is difficult to find. This is nonsense.  The books are clearly listed on Nielsen's and as soon as they raise an order with Ingrams the book is printed and distributed.
As a publisher we can do little to stop this. However, I have a strategy.
Clearly the first in the chain is the customer. No way should our books be taking three or four  weeks to be despatched by Amazon. Even when they're out of stock they should only take a few days and normally have. However, the problem between Ingrams and Amazon makes the process grinds to a halt. They can by-pass this manually.
So, if you get a message that the book is difficult to find, either point out that is not the case   or let me know and I'll do this. If you want to contact them yourself you have to do this by going to the book's page or just contacting them.  You can't do it through your order. If you want me to do this, please send me an email, short and to the point: which book, what they are saying, concise details of the order and "Amazon Fail" in the subject line of the email. I recently got The Book Depository back on board though I expect orders are still delayed: they are owned by Amazon.   
This has of course been very time-consuming and will continue to be so. However, the better news is that Ingrams and Amazon are working to resolve this issue.         

Bridge House

As you may know, Citizens of Nowhere was aired at an event about refugees. Here is some feedback about the event.   
"It was a real mixture of performances from women's a cappella to a mini rock band. People seemed to really enjoy it ……and the readings from the blog ran a real thread through the evening. A quote from audience member

"I thought the experiences of refugees read out by various people was inspired and very sobering, and they were generous! We collected £800 to send to help refugees!

"Dave did a really good job, performing more than reading the 'Orwys Interfarian' report.'
Several copies of the book were sold."
Great news indeed!    

We are currently processing "Crackers". In the end we had over 100 submissions.

We've made the selection for the Waterloo festival. We have chosen sixteen stories / monologues coming to about 13,000 words which will go into an e-book due out 14 June. The Waterloo festival people will announce the winners and after they've done that I'll be in touch.  
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:



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 April we've had stories from Riham Adly, Mehreen Ahmed, Charles Joseph Albert, James Bates, John T Biggs, Judy Cabito, Alan Cadman, Pat Gallagher, Valerie Griffin, Shawn Klimek, Roger Noons, Dawn Knox, Eliza Master, Kim Martins, Bronte Pearson, Marilyn Pemberton, Mari Phillips, Paula R C Readman, Rebecca Redshaw, Terry Sanville, Kathy Sharp, Paul Stansbury, Robin Wrigley and Maria Zach. This includes several new writers. Our community is really growing.
I'm selecting stories in a slightly different way now. When I open my inbox, 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 and a CV and 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.

I 'm really pleased with how this is all going. It's the highlight of my day, making my CafeLit selection.           

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.    
Talking of which, the votes are in on what we should include in The Best of CafeLit 7:

Reader' choice

White Socks  - Gail Aldwin
Safe -  Laura Gary
Do Pigeons Ever get Bored - Robin Wrigley
Murmuration - Fiona Mills
Pistachio - Gail Aldwin
Waiting for Pogo - Penny Rogers
The First - Richard Hough 
Bottled Christmas Spirit - Derek Corbett 
Fennel Tea - Gail Aldwin
The Bangkok Bash - Robin Wrigley
The Janu Stone Paula R C Readman
Bone Collectors - Wendy Ogilvie
Egg Nog - Gail Aldwin
Harry’s Going to Die Anyway- Robin Wrigley
A Bridge Over troubled Waters – Robin Wrigley
It's Never the Same -  Paula R C Readman
Down by the River - Ann Goodwin
Postcard Lady - Keith Havers
Film Noir - Gill James
Knit and Natter Dawn Knox

Most visited All time

Matthew  5.38 - Sophie Flynn
Long Black Glen - Brisciani
Burning tradition -  Roger Noons
(It's never the Same Paula R C Readman )
Workmates - Roger Noons

Most visited last year

(White Socks Gail Aldwin)
Crucifix - Gill James
In Mary World - Dawn Knox

The Best of CafeLit books are generally between 30,000 and 45,000 words. If the above comes to fewer than that, I'll add in an "editor's choice" section.
I'm thinking next year of asking those folk in 7 to select for 8.    
I hope to get the book out by the end of June.    
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.  Latest addition is Kim Martins. See her page here.


Our Chapeltown authors have been 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. We're very pleased to see Gail Aldwin's Paisley Shirt in Waterstone's.           
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. If you read yourself you get 20%. I'm now rolling that out to other titles.       

Creative Café

Just one café added this month: The Happy Heart Café  in Solihulll:

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.
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. 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. 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
Please come and join us if you're eligible. Or you can ask me to sign you up.  

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

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.

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 two events to mention:
This takes place on 2 June at the International Burgess Foundation., 2.00 p.m. until 5. 00 p.m.  It follows the pattern of the London events. There will be:
  • general mingling
  • cash bar
  • an opportunity to buy books at an advantageous rate    
  • “speed-dating”  where you get to speak to as many people as possible in the room i.e. promote yourself to readers, swap tips with other writers
  • author readings
  • latest news from me  
  • collection for a local charity
  • big book swap (bring one of your other titles and take something else home – hopefully all will be reviewed. If you bring a non-writing friend they can just bring a book they love)  
Flash Fiction Reading and Workshop at Buxton Fringe 19 July  I'll be doing readings from January Stones 2013 and form my new collection 140 x 140. The ticket £7.00 or £5.00 includes a copy of one of the books and a workshop on writing Flash Fiction. Do come along if you can.         

More specific details of the following will be posted later of the following:
  • 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

Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann
I read a lot of young adult books and I write a few. Back at the turn of the century I pretty well knew every young adult book that was published and labelled as such as well as many that were clearly young adult but that didn't have the label. The new works then were fresh and experimental. The older, unlabelled ones, appealed to the young adult reader and those who like reading young adult books. Now, it has all become somewhat formulaic even though "high concepts" are continuously brought in.  There are also now so many that it's impossible to know them all.
I've studied quite a few of Kate Cann's books. They border on what I call "chicklet-lit" but have a darker side and are fundamentally about relationships. I was expecting the same of this one. I found it refreshingly novel. 
Yes, there is still quite a lot about relationships and as you might expect the main characters are a bunch of students sharing a flat. Protagonist Amber is on a gap year. In true Bildungsroman fashion she grows over the course of the story. She has two main challenges: disturbed younger sister Poppy and something creepy about the house. I'll say no more about the story and in fact I'm giving no more away here than in the book's blurb.
I will say that this book is well written, the chapters are delightfully short, the characters are believable and that we are kept guessing right until the very end. It has an upbeat but open ending. The voice is pleasing.        
Read more here.                 

Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. In April I interviewed Jenny Palmer.  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 The Prophecy.
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.

No comments: