Wednesday 1 February 2023

News 1 February 2023


A different sort of book event

Many book events start at about 6.30 in the evening and go on until 8.00. Last night I was on one that started at 6.00 and went on until 10.00. And it all went very well.

It was hosted by James Ward, one of the writers in the Evergreen anthology.  It was held in the Abel Heywood, a delightful establishment in an historic building in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.  We had one of those deals where we got the event space free as people were buying drinks and food. I spoke to the barman and he confirmed that this had worked well for them.

Fifty-three people attended, the majority of them being under the age of thirty. They were generous in buying books. This was so very pleasing as a lot of them were students who juggle study and part-time jobs in order to survive.   

We had six people read, myself included, and James of course.  My goodness, there are some very good young writers out there.     

As we finished I heard whispers that they would like to do this again.  I hope they will. I managed to talk to them about the Bridge House imprints and I’m hoping to see some submissions from them soon.        



Current writing

I’m now getting very absorbed in my new Peace Chid book. The story is really taking off though it will be some time before I’m finished.

You can read a review of an excellent play I saw at Salford’s Lowry theatre.

I can really recommend this play. It is on tour, so you may be able to find a performance near you.   

If you are interested in my YA SF, the The Tower, part of the Peace Child series, there is a new way you can buy this at

I’m also making sets of cards for people to use: Perfect Plotting and How to Pray. The latter is not nearly as religious as you might think – though it can be if you wish it to. The unit cost at the moment is high but if they work I can get that cost down by producing multiple copies.  


On My Blog

I have featured several other authors on my blog this month. Dawn Bush and Sharon Zajdman  tell us about their writing lives. Evergreen authors Chris Simpson and Jan Moran Neil tell us how they came to write their story for the collection.

I address that question dreaded by all writers:  Where do you get your ideas from?    


The Young Person’s Library

I’ve added just one book this month:   

Cats by Emily Gravett The illustrations of cats in this book are delightful. This picture book will help the pre-school child with their counting and colours. There is a lot of fun in the pictures. If the youngster is ready to learn to read they will find some help from this book.   


Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending The Olive Tree: A Personal Journey Through Mediterranean Olive Groves by Carol Drinkwater      

This is an account of Carol Drinkwater’s journey to find out more about the olive tree, including its history.

I have to admire Drinkwater. Not only is she still in touch with her acting career, she is a prolific writer and an olive farmer as well. And she makes many journeys alone as a woman, including visiting Algeria, which is very difficult to negotiate.

This account gives you pause for thought. The olive tree can make deserts fertile but because of the way it is farmed, in order to produce the plumpest olives, it can drain water resources in areas where water tends to be scarce anyway. Drinkwater hates using pesticides but there is little else to do against a fly that can get in and destroy a whole crop. One solution is the introduction of another fly that preys on the first one but that isn’t interested in the crop.  Fine, but that means introducing a new being into the ecological environment and may cause an imbalance.                

The text is engaging and reads more like a novel than a documentary. My inner critic that never shuts up spotted the odd awkward phrase here and there and bizarrely opening speech marks are absent in random places. You are forewarned so you can ignore that irritation. The text remains enjoyable.

Feisty Carol Drinkwater brings us an honest, fascinating and critical account in The Olive Tree.  



Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle.  Occasionally there are PDFs. This month I’m offering a Kindle file and a PDF of Girl in a Smart Uniform. Mobi-files have stopped working on some Kindle devices, so we’re gradually changing over to the newer type of file. This is one of the new files.

"Girl in a Smart Uniform" is the third book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a bundle of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979. The letters give us first-hand insights into what life was like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is the most fictional of the stories to date, though some characters, familiar to those who have read the first two books, appear again here. Clara Lehrs, Karl Schubert and Dr Kühn really existed. We have a few, a very few, verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Gisela adores her brother Bear, her gorgeous BDM uniform, and her little half-brother Jens. She does her best to be a good German citizen, and is keen to help restore Germany to its former glory. She becomes a competent and respected BDM leader. But life begins to turn sour. Her oldest brother Kurt can be violent, she soon realises that she is different from other girls, she feels uncomfortable around her mother’s new lover, and there is something not quite right about Jens. It becomes more and more difficult to be the perfect German young woman.

We know that BDM girls set fire to the house in Schellberg Street but got the children out first. This story seeks to explain what motivated the girls to do that, and what happened to them afterwards.

I read Girl in a Smart Uniform, I really enjoyed it! Well written, informative and very subtle about the Holocaust.

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Girl in a Smart Uniform was a read that flowed easily but there are moments full of tension. The letters between the girls is a perfect way of expressing the history and feelings and emotions and problems of teenagers they experience of growing up in Germany during the war

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Find out more. Grab your copy and lots of other freebies:

Note, you may have to copy and paste the link.   

And please, please, please leave a review, perhaps on Amazon, Good Reads and / or Story Graph, 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 useful to other writers.


I’ve added two posts this month. I’m still looking at the question of refugees in Would Jesus, Mary and Joseph have had to go to Rwanda? – posted the day after Epiphany. 


And also news of my latest Schellberg book which is just creeping out into existence: Face to Face with the Führer More news will be coming out about that in the next few weeks.



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.  I also invite other writers to provide prompts and work for critique.     


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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