Is this a real challenge? You couldn’t make it up, as they say. A weird virus is still rampant yet we’re now treating it as part of normal life. There is a huge increase in the cost of living that goes way beyond normal inflation – so what does the word “inflation” actually mean anymore? Possibly the least justified war we’ve ever seen is now happening very close to home.
Yet here we are, telling and reading our stories to try to make sense of the world.
Is what we actually need right now more “uplift lit”? And is anything that tells a story set in the 2020s that doesn’t mention a pandemic, dodgy politicians and unfathomable poverty actually exactly that?
I’m continuing the sixth book in the Schellberg Cycle. This is Helga’s story. Helga is a Holocaust survivor and the story is set partly in World War II and partly in 2001. The more modern part is set in North Wales and I have to learn about sheep farming in Wales! The story is as ever taking on a life of its own and the plot is even more intricate than the way I’d seen it. Actually this time this is happening more than normal. A while ago I decided to make the part set in World War II a first person narrative so at some point I’ll have to go back and alter earlier chapters, And yesterday, half way through Chapter 23, I decided that the 21st century part should also be a first person narrative and this time also present tense. I can already see that it’s making a difference. But there’ll be a lot of extra work soon.
Is this an “uplift lit” book? We’ll see.
The Young Person’s Library
This month I’ve added
The Boy who Stepped Though Time by Anna Ciddor
This is a glorious time-slip story which takes the protagonist back to Roman times. A solid fluent reader book.
Bruno and Frida by Tony Bradman
Again this is suitable for the fluent reader but may also be of interest to lower secondary students. It is pertinent to today although set at the end of World War II. Russians start to occupy Nazi Germany; Bruno is a refugee. Bruno’s mother is killed as the Russians attack. Bruno is befriended by the dog Frida, and by an old lady who takes him in for a while. Frida is a suicide bomber dog and Bruno’s first task when he meets her is to remove her vest.
Current reading recommendation
I’m recommending today Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
An eccentric old lady decides to investigate a colony of penguins in Antarctica.
Themes abound. Life for Veronica McCreedy verges on the absurd at times. Both she and grandson Patrick are shocked to find each other. They change each other’s lives. And they are changed and touched by their encounter with the penguins. We discover Veronica’s past as Patrick reads her diaries and as she confesses other details to Terry, one of the researchers.
Hazel Prior draws her characters well and presents them to us through two very effective first person narratives.
Find your copy here.
Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
This month I’m offering my Build a Book Workshop guide. This is for teachers and writers who would lie to work with groups on publishing a book.
This step-by step guide for teachers and writers, and the photocopiable resource that goes with it, show you how to organise creative-writing workshops with a difference and with a very tangible end product. Your students can see their work turned into a real book that has a spine and can sit on a shelf, raising money for charity at the same time.
•Improve their writing
•Write with a purpose
•Learn about commerce and enterprise
•Engage with the local and wider community
Teachers and writers will learn how to:
•Plan and organise your workshops
•Get the best writing out of your students
•Maximise the impact of your book
•Build a book with little or no financial outlay
Find out more. Grab your copy and lots of other freebies here.
And please, please, please leave a review when you’ve finished.
Note: 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. They may also be interesting for other readers of historical fiction.
Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to other writers.
I’ve added three posts this month.
This includes a focussed review of Bruno and Frida by Tony Bradman , also mentioned above.
I also report on a conversation I had with a women’s group about Can we avoid racism? We were discussing Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. There are some interesting thoughts about “otherness” here.
Are we bystanders? I hope challenges the reader.
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. 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 and some other editors 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.
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