Monday 26 April 2021

An interview with Mason Bushell


Mason has  successfully submitted to CafeLit and we  have recently published his captivating series all about The Jinn, a little magical fella.  

Here he talks to me about his writing life in general and all about how he wrote The Jinn.  

1.        What do you write? Why this in particular? 
What I write about changed dramatically over the years. When I began writing properly it was fantasy and mystery books. I love fantasy worlds and solving mysteries so those were my favourite genres to write. More recently, having stepped away from publishing books, I’ve been writing short stories in every genre and style available. That’s thanks to discovering the world of prompts to write for. That’s been a game changer and so much fun.

2.        What got you started on writing in the first place?
For me it began when I was about eleven. I’d grown up reading books and always had one tucked under my arm. So, when my English teacher presented me with a title and told me to create a story for creative writing exercise, I was immediately hooked. My friends would do a page, I would do about twenty in the same time. I’ve been writing pretty much ever since.

3.        Do you have a particular routine?
I do. Routine is important for getting things done. I begin my day with breakfast and a nice long walk with Lucy Dog. I get to my computer about 9 AM and I catch up with all my emails and social media. Within that, I discover my day’s prompts from great places such as WordPress. Then from about 10 AM I begin writing my short stories and poems for the day until lunchtime. I continue writing and posting my work until I fulfil the prompts for the day. Then I put my chef’s hat on, bake cakes and cook dinner. From 4PM to about 6PM it’s blogging, catching up on all those who wrote for prompts, networking and trying my best to promote my own stories. This I do Monday to Friday. Then Saturday and Sunday are days off. It’s a routine that works and allows me to be fruitful with my writing.


4.        Do you have a dedicated working space?
I do.  I’m very fortunate to have a little room for my office. My desk is in front of a window with a view over a farmer’s field. I work there with Lucy Dog at my feet,  a T-Rex watching over my laptop, and a nice cup of tea on the mat beside my notes. For me a proper workspace is essential to help you feel like you’re at work. In that way it aids your productivity. 

5.        When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

I call myself a storyteller. Writers can do all the complex stuff like punctuation and grammar well. They have styles, they can make professional books and publish them. I can’t do those things well; I just tell a good story and hope people enjoy it. So, now I’m a storyteller not a writer.

6.        How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?

I’m lucky in that my parents enjoy my stories and encourage me to try to publish and do well with them. I feel I let them down, knowing all my proper novels are languishing almost forgotten in a drawer.
As for friends, they are all writers too. That’s a big help. Without them all supporting me I’d have probably put down my pen a long time ago.

  7.        What are you most proud of in your writing?

Being proud of my writing is something that comes very difficult for me. Through my failed publishing endeavours, I learned my writing was terrible. That nothing on my pages was any good. So, I’m proud of my progress. The people reading my short stories now actually enjoy them.

8.        How do you get on with editing and research?

I love research. Don’t get to do so much as short stories. There’s no room for great detail when you only have a thousand words to tell a tale. Yet I do my best to squeeze in enough tantalising details to make my story interesting. It’s so much fun using the Internet and proper old-fashioned books to learn about a story’s subject. It leads you to falling down rabbit holes filled with information, chasing leads and discovering all manner of wonderful things.

Editing on the other hand is not my friend. I worked so hard trying to make my story’s the best they can be. And yet the very next person to look at a story with a view of editing it usually wishes to change huge amounts of the text. It leads me to say, ‘Don’t love your story or characters.’ To love them only makes editing that much more painful. If you write with a publication plan, you must write like a business person and not a passionate writer. You can be sure the published article will hardly ever be the story you wrote in the first place.

9.        Do you have any goals for the future?

This is a hard, fast no. With my deteriorating hands and very little chance of publishing the books I’ve written, there are no goals worth setting for me. Instead, I just try to enjoy writing my short stories each day and be happy with any progress I make. Just like the progress I made with The Jinn!

10.    Which writers have inspired you?

This could be an enormous list. Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie really gave me my love of mystery solving as I grew up. JR Tolkien and Alan Garner imbued me with a sense of wonder with their beautiful fantasy stories. These days I love Clive Cussler and Andy McDermott as they take me on a wonderful adventure. Patricia Cornwell, Ruth Rendell and Val Penny for a good mystery. I think every author and their story can be great inspiration with a little imagination.


And now about The Jinn


  1. Tell me about your book.

As the title suggests you will meet the Jinn. At five inches tall he is sassiest little red man you’ll ever meet. The Jinn is a demon who works just like a genie. When summoned by his talisman, he will grudgingly endeavour to help you with whatever troubles you. Be careful with what you wish for though; this Jinn’s methods are unique to say the least. In this book he will encounter an eclectic group of humans and a dog looking for help. Join him as calamity and chaos ensues. I tell you, the little guy had me in fits of laughter just writing about him!

  1. Tell us about your research for this book.

How do you research a completely made-up fictional character? Truth is I didn’t really. My research for the book focused more on setting locations and situations that would allow the Jinn the maximum amount of chaos possible. From there it was just a little fact checking as I let my imagination run completely wild!

  1. What inspired you to write this?


The Jinn first appeared in answer to a 750 word prompt picture with thanks to Author Miranda Kate for those prompts. The prompt picture was of a great fiery demon. Unusually for me the image failed to conjure a story. Then I realised the demon wasn’t ten feet tall, he was only five inches. With that realisation the Jinn was born. He garnered fans immediately when I released the tale on my website. So much so that my friend and fellow upcoming author M C Sheridan prodded me into writing more. I’m glad I did it as it was so much fun. Then Gill James came along and suggested Jinn would make a good short story book. It was with my sincerest thanks to her that the Jinn now does have his book.

  1. What's next?

What next for me is to continue writing more short stories for my website and enjoying every moment of it.

  1. How can we get a copy of the book?

The Jinn is readily available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book forms. I believe it is also available through the Chapeltown website as well. 

You can also buy it via the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshsop:  


  1. Do you have any events planned?

Sadly, no. I have no funding or ability towards having events for me.


Do join me on my website to discover my world of poetry and short stories.


Thursday 15 April 2021

Writing that Stands Out


I’m currently selecting work for an anthology. Writers were given a theme – “Resolutions” and a word count 1,000 – 5,000 words. I’m working with another member of the team.  We have to select 24 stories from 176.

It’s tricky. It’s easiest in fact to identify ones that we’re going to decline straight away. In the easiest of these have been the ones that don’t match the word limits. Sometimes as well you start reading and before you reach the end of the first page you know that this story won’t work.

In order to get some objectivity we’re awarding points for the stories, how well they match the theme and how professional the writer has been. However, the ones that seem acceptable all score highly on these matters so many of the publishable stories are coming out with a similar score.

As I work my way through the selection I’m rejecting more stories because I know I’ve already got better ones. And there are some stories I like better than others even though technically they have the same score.

At some point we’ll have to put them in rank order and then also deanaonymise.  We’ve gone for anonymous submissions this time so that we avoid the situation of thinking “Oh this is by X Y so we know that will be good.”  Nevertheless, I’m sure I can identify the writers of some of the stories I’ve read. We also want to check that we’ve not got more than one by the same writer.

On the whole, the better written ones are more successful. This may sound rather obvious.  It is indeed true that those who write better can also craft stories more easily.  But not always. For a few I’ve got to the very last page sure that a story was going to be accepted and then found that the ending disappointed.  There either was no story or it all resolved too simplistically.

In my selectin there is one exception. There is a delightful story by a writer who appears to be inexperienced.  It will need a lot of editing but it is going to be good.

What is the bottom line for us?  We’re certainly not womag, romantic, genre or commercial, but then we’re not particularly literary either. We’re looking really for writing that stands out.  That is the bottom line for us.  Oh, and another advantage of selecting anonymously is that we never consider whether the writer has marketing prowess or not. We’re interested in good quality books rather than what will sell well.       

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay  

Thursday 1 April 2021

News 1 April 2021


A bit of risk-taking and some writing inspiration

I’m having a problem with my leg and my GP sent me to the hospital for a scan and a blood test. The day everybody returned to work. The GP was running late, so I had to sit in the waiting room for a while, something I’d tried to avoid by arriving just five minutes before my appointment. Then I had cross some “medium risk” areas within the hospital. Martin had dropped me off earlier.  People are avoiding public transport at the moment so parking is a nightmare.  I needed to pick up the prescription my GP had given me, so I opted to risk coming back by bus and pop into the pharmacy on the way. And I hit the school run!  I have to say the kids were really good. They all wore masks on the bus.  They knew not to crowd on to it and when I got to my stop and had to make my way past them to get off, they stood well back and they all held their breath.   

I’m glad to say they found nothing untoward with my leg and hopefully the antibiotics I’ve been given will do the trick.

And what a joy to be out amongst people again and collecting hundreds of ideas for stories.

The bus route also takes us past a very pretty little park that is actually within walking distance of our house.  Spring is bursting out all over there, so I’m looking forward to visiting it again soon.      


News about my writing and other creative projects

The Class Letter, the fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle is now completely edited and queued for publication. I am now on the third edit of Not Just Fluffy Bunnies which I’m reading out loud.  I’m still working on The Business of Writing.  I’m interspersing all of this with short stories and flash fiction though not quite so much of that at the moment as I’ve started my fifth novel in the Peace Child series.  

I continue to write for Talking about My Generation, and I’m pleased to say that some of my creative writing series made it into the hard copy magazine, as did my article about my early childhood holidays at Colwyn Bay. 

Yesterday LOCKDOWN NUMBER TW0 was published. I have two stories in this volume. You can find it here.   I’ve bought a copy for my Kindle and three paperbacks. I see it already has three good reviews.

“A collection of fifteen winning short stories and an additional five stories, some of which contain adult language. These twenty short stories, based on "Lockdown Number Two" and "General" themes, are innovative, amusing and captivating to read. It is interesting to discover, particularly, how people spent their lockdown periods during 2020 in either real or imaginary situations.”



The Young Person’s Library

This month I’ve added:

The Power of her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Para  

This is a non-fiction picture book possibly suitable for upper primary children. 

Prince Caspian by C S Lewis

A classic suitable for the fluent upper primary reader.


What We're Scared Of by Keren David

A young adult text that portrays some antisemitism.      



Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending Keren David’s What We’re Scared Of.

I’d also like to flag up here The Hive who recommended the book to me. This is a lovely on-line book shop that supports independent bookshops. Their site is clean and uncluttered, they deliver our print on demand books quickly and sell them at the RRP which Amazon is not doing at the moment.

What We’re Scared Of starts off with many of the marks of the chicklet-lit book. However, it becomes more serious as non-identical twins Evie and Lottie confront their Jewishness. 

Evie is a feisty stand-up comic and goes to the local comprehensive school.  Lottie is tall and thin.  She possibly has an eating disorder though this is understated. She also suffers from asthma. She attends a fee-paying school. As Evie gets to know the son of their mother’s friend and as Lottie gets to know school friend Hannah better the girls begin to realise that their being Jewish is significant.  After their mother protests openly on her radio show about antisemitism both girls are exposed to danger.  Will life ever be the same again? Will they be able to live with their Jewishness?

What we’re Scared Of   will really get you gunning for Evie and Lottie. Keren David has created an engaging and enticing read here.

Get your copy via The Hive here  or Amazon here.       


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

This month I’m giving away The Best of CaféLit 6

This is the collection of the best stories that appeared on the CaféLit site in 2016. Each story is accompanied by a drink suggestion. You might read the stories according to what you fancy drinking rather than in the order they’re listed in the book.

For CaféLit we like to have a variety of stories – short, down to 50 words or longer up to 3,000 words. We like darker stories that make you think or scare you. We also like lighter stories that make you smile or that lift your heart. We have some writers who really understand CaféLit and we publish them again and again. We also welcome new writers. Which story will you read today?

Hopefully you will enjoy this collection and you may then be tempted to purchase more in the series.  

The Best of CaféLit 6 is as you might suspect the sixth in the Best of CaféLit series. These are all short story collections by multiple authors.

Pick up your free copy here.         

Note, that 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 £7.00. 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 and also for other writers and readers of historical fiction.

Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to other writers.

There were two posts in March:

The Class Letter (Book 5) almost finished

As you would probably expect here I write about finishing The Class Letter.

I have also here another review of What We’re Scared Of  but here I go into more detail about how this reflects on the Holocaust.       




School visits

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.


The Bridgetown  Café Bookshop where you can buy my book and books published by Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books and The Red Telephone.  We’re building up our inventory, so please bear with us. 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 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 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.