The Business of Writing
This was the title of the workshop I delivered on the morning of the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition Celebration event. I was very pleased with it. It ran for three hours and we crammed an awful lot in. It could easily be a six hour workshop. This would give the participants more time to join in. So, very soon I’ll be offering this to readers of this newsletter and of my “imprints” newsletter.
Well, we moved house. We’ve got the kitchen straight and the living room and dining room are almost there. We’re having a new bathroom fitted. I’m currently working on the kitchen table but I’ll start tackling my study next. Work will be a bit slower for a while but will still move ahead slowly.
News about my writing
My story Locker 13 is out with Persimmon Tree and you can view it here.
I’m plodding along still with my on-going projects: The House of Clementine and 280 x 70 – the sequel to 140 x 140. This works in a similar way. Each time I write I look at the first picture I see on my Twitter feed and write a story about it in exactly 280 words.
Catalogue of books for children
This month I’ve added Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell. It was published in 2016. It is for the fluent reader and is suitable for the whole of Key Stage 2 i.e. upper primary. It is beautifully quirky.
Current reading recommendation
I’m currently reading the Family from One End Street books and finished the first one before the end of June, so that is my recommendation for this month. I think I enjoyed it because I remember having it read to me when I was in the second year at junior school. I remember thinking at the time that here at last was a book that had children in it like me. Here was a family a bit more like mine. Not that my dad was a dustbin man, nor did mum take in washing. The Ruggles have seven children and I was an only child. However, there was always the same struggle to make ends meet and also the same strict moral code.
Is it a little patronising? Three of the Ruggles children are sent to the country-side to recuperate after having had measles. They encounter a completely different way of life there. Is it a working class novel? Eve Garnett was not working class and would today not be popular in writing about something she has no first-hand experience of. Yet I can confirm that she presents a pretty accurate picture of what life was like for working families just after World War II.
The measles epidemic was a major threat to life back in those days and the children were sent to the isolation hospital. That, the subsequent trip to the country-side and the convalescent medicines the children have to consume seriously breaks into Mr Ruggles’ pig fund. There was no National Health Service then.
Second daughter Kate wins a scholarship to go to the high school. Will this be her ticket out of the working class life, just as my own attendance of a post-1944 grammar school brought me firmly into the middle class?
Then I think of the school at Basingstoke which served a large council estate. I was head of modern languages there for six years. We tried so hard to get the youngsters their five GCSE grades A to C as their ticket off the estate.
The Ruggles may here issue a caution. They are a perfectly respectable hard-working family. The adults provide necessary services for other people.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the books though I’m not sure how much they’ll appeal to the modern child. Puffin is still taking a chance on them.
Find the first one here.
This month I’m giving away Citizens of Nowhere which I edited and published and in which I have a story. It is a collection of commissioned stories about the global citizen. One of our writers suggested that we might rather mean “citizens of now here”. You can probably work out where this comes from.
Access it and lots of other freebies here.
The paper back is on permanent free offer: five paperbacks for you to distribute to friends, perhaps even send one to your MP, or use them to sell at an appropriate fundraising event. I can let you have more at a discount as well. Contact me to discuss your needs.
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £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 I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.
Naturally I welcome reviews.
Many of the giveaways come as a mobi-file that you need to download to your Kindle. Just plug your Kindle into your computer and save the mobi-file to your Kindle. Or you can transfer it across later. If you don’t have a Kindle here are some instructions that may help:
Amazon make a range of apps that emulate a Kindle device on other platforms:
iPad, iPhone, iPod
PC (Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10)
(Note: not Linux platforms)
- Choose which device you would like to read the .mobi file on. (PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads are good).
- Go to https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GZSM7D8A85WKPYYD and select the device. Follow the instructions to install the app/software.
- If your chosen reading platform is not the one on which you received/saved the .mobi file, transfer the file across. For most combinations of source and target this will simply involve connecting the two together with the appropriate cable, or via a USB memory stick. For example, for a PC to an iPhone or iPad, connect using the uPhone/iPad power cable and transfer using iTunes.
If you only have access to a Linux platform, you will need to use one of the many online ebook converters (Google is your friend here) to convert the .mobi file to an .epub file, then install Calibre to read it.
The Schellberg Project
I’ve continued adding to the Discovery Pack, posting the same material on to the web site / blog. I’ve added another page about Käthe Edler, Renate’s mother. She was quite a feisty woman and I’ve included material here about female scientists and the first women at university.
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.
You can read the posts here.
I’m still 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.
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, Chapletown 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.
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. Find it here.
Opportunities List 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.
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 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.
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.
Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here.
Happy reading and writing.