Well today I’m officially out of shielding and I’ve been to the hairdresser’s. “You can go to work on,” say the government – on the day after they’ve partially locked-down Greater Manchester again. Go to work on a Saturday? In some ways I’ll be doing a less work than I normally do, because I’ve been to the hairdresser’s. Did I mention that?
The masks seemed less spooky than I’d feared. Most people are wearing them and there are some very attractive ones about. One young man on the bus wasn’t, but I was behind him so possibly wasn’t exposed to too much of his breathing. It was all very well organised on the bus, in the shopping centre and at the hairdresser’s. Odd thing. On the whole people were very good at keeping the two metres apart and adhering to the one way system in the shopping centre. Vertically, that is. Not so good horizontally and certainly not “crossing safely”. A few youths, without masks, came towards me on the wrong side. I think I gave them one of my school teacher looks, which I must have managed despite the mask. They soon scurried over to the “right” side of the mall.
I’ve continued to enjoy some excellent on-line events organised by the Society of Authors, The Working Class Movement Library, the University of Salford, National Women’s Register, Home, Classic FM, The Literary Hub and some private book events. I even managed to join one taking place in Florida. Yes, I’m getting to events I wouldn’t normally be able to attend and these same events are being attended by more people than usual. Where I can I make a donation. Is this something we could hang on to when and if we return to normal? Is it a silver lining to the lockdown? As well my U3A groups and writers’ groups are meeting via Zoom and similar platforms. We’re meeting more regularly and meetings are better attended. Might this be a more permanent solution for that generation that is growing reluctant to leave home and to drive? Some will need to learn the technology but I’m sure it can work.
And talking of sliver linings, I have a new hairstyle. I decided not to go back to my very short style but take advantage the extra length I’ve acquired in my hair, which is quite sliver by the way, to have it cut into a neat layered bob.
News about my writing and other creative projects
I was delighted to be involved, as a culture champion and also as a creative writing teacher, with Bury Art Museum. I ran the three hour workshop I mentioned last month, using some of the resources at the museum and some that participants can find at home. The participants have produced some excellent writing some of which will be showcased on the BAM website. I’ll also post some on my Writing Teacher Blog.
I’ve also provided my own creative response to a talk held by the museum so that will also be published later on the site.
I’m still carrying on much as before: The Round Robin, the fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle, Not Just Fluffy Bunnies, and I’m still working on The Business of Writing. And of course I’m interspersing this with short stories and flash fiction.
I’m also continuing to write stories relating to what might happen after the virus leaves us – if it does. This is Aftermath, an invitation to write speculative and near future fiction about what may happen after the virus. Reflective writing about what is actually happening now is also welcome, along with stories set now or a little into the future.
The Young Person’s Library
The full catalogue is gradually moving from http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/blog-page_81.html to https://www.theyoungpersonslibrary.co.uk/
I’ve added new this month:
YA and slightly dated but taking a look at the step-parent.
Suitable for primary school children and with a forward form Michael Morpurgo. I had the privilege of editing this one.
An iconic timeless classic and at the same time a modern picture book.
Suitable for fluent readers and younger teens. Another James Bond type thriller,
An illustrated text for emergent readers inspired by paintings, letters and diaries of the Swedish painter Berta Hansson.
Another of the Anne Shirley books, this time suitable for young adults.
A slightly dated book about a teen pregnancy but non-the-less useful and authentic.
The third of the Alex Rider books. Alex grows up with his readers. There is a mild love interest in this one.
Current reading recommendation
I’m making my way through the full series of the Anne Shirley and the Alex Rider books and also the 2019 short list for the Man Booker prize. I bought these three collections at a very reasonable price ass par to The Book People’s closing down sale. Some of my writing friends may be relieved at the demise of this company who sold books very cheaply. I have mixed feelings. Yes, I believe that writers should be paid properly. But you could also argue that The Book People sold many more books than other retailers so writers got the same royalty in the end as from other sellers. Also, they did encourage some people to read who otherwise wouldn’t. They delivered books to people’s places of work and so made buying books easy. And it was a company that loved books anyway. So, I remain ambivalent.
I’m really enjoying the books for younger readers but thought I should offer something more for adults.
My favourite to date form the Man-Booker list is Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.
Bernadine Evaristo uses a type of prose poetry to introduce us to a variety of women whose stories interweave and who come together at the after party of a play written by one of the women. Evaristo presents us with a multitude of concerns that these women face. They are all black or mixed race except one who nevertheless finds she has mixed ethnicity when she takes a DNA test. The women are from diverse backgrounds. We get to know them really well and Evaristo has given each one her unique voice.
Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
The month I’m offering my Build a Book Workshop which is a manual for teachers and writers about how to publish a book with a group of school children. I have worked with several schools on this and it is very rewarding.
You can download it and lots of other free materials here.
Please, please, please review it if you read it.
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.
The Schellberg Project
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust and also for other writers of historical fiction.
The month I’ve written a little more about Girl in a Smart Uniform and some of the issues it deals with. You can read the post here. You can also read an extract of it here. I have all three paperbacks on offer at the moment. Find the details here.
In writing The Round Robin I’ve found that there were other problems part form the war and the Holocaust for people living in these times. One of them was TB and so I’ve included a character that falls victim to the disease. See Hardships other than war.
I’ve suspended these until further notice. I’m now starting work on a series of on-line materials.
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.
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 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.
Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here.
The Young Person’s Library I am gradually moving the children’s book catalogue over to this site. Access it here.
Fair Submissions I am gradually moving the Opportunities List to this site. Find it 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.
Happy reading and writing.