Thursday 2 November 2023

News 2 November


An obsession with story


I’ve enjoyed a lot of theatre recently. You’ll probably notice that from the number of reviews I’ve written. I was also fortunate to attend a writing workshop run by Stockroom Theatre group who have a residency at the Bolton Octagon to work on The Battle of Bamber Bridge. You can read all about Stockroom here

The thrust of the discussion was about the creation and use of historical fiction. You may already know I have my own very concrete ideas about that. Why was it that a pub may have put up a sign saying “Blacks only”? That is considered to be a bit of an urban myth. Stockroom has not been able to substantiate it.  But certainly in 1943 the black GIs, who were not allowed to mix with their white colleagues, were made welcome at Bamber Bridge.

It was interesting to compare notes about the writing process when you’re dealing with historical fiction. I still firmly believe that fiction can uncover more truth than a list of selected verifiable facts. It shows instead of telling.  

We did intros. That was an epiphany moment for me. I realised I love anything that involves story: novel, short stories, theatre, film and TV. Even gossip at the pub.     



Writing news

I’m pottering on with Peace Child 6. I’m now just finished the third draft which has meant adding a little more to one or two scenes and checking for consistency.

I’ve now completed my set of Tip Sheets for creative writing teachers to use with new writers. New writers will also be able to use them on their own. I’ve created fifty-seven in total. I’ve covered amongst other topics, character, story structure, poetic forms, turning your work into gifts, a submission strategy and some notes about formatting scripts. They are all Word documents so teachers can customise them and students can add notes.  Have a look here:  

I’ve been quite busy in many ways:

I’ve written a review of a play directed and translated form Hungarian by a former colleague:  

My husband and I attended an hilarious production of a Jeeves and Wooster Play. See my review here:

The Royal Exchange’s’ production of Great Expectations was quite controversial; it was set on the Indian sub-continent as partition was threatened. However, it did work beautifully, I thought. See my review here:

Some of my choir friends and I also enjoyed a fabulous amateur production of Sweeney Todd. It was very engaging: It was so good that we forgot we were watching some other members of our choir.

Also in October a colleague and I made a film of one of the self-led walks in Bury:

I’m continuing to offer workshops, talks and critiques.  Take a look here:


On My Blog

I’ve had on the blog a couple of the writers from the Lancashire Authors of Today 2023 anthology on my blog. Look at what David Lythgoe and Michael Higgins have to say.   

I also reflect on some of my all-too-often occurring mistakes: Some irritating repeated mistakes



The Young Person’s Library

I’ve added just one book this month: Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston  This is a beautifully illustrated book for fluent readers and as last month it is a children’s book that I am making my monthly recommendation.  So, see the next section for more details.



Recommended read

So, this month I’m recommending: Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

The stories of refugee Leila and blue fox Miso intertwine.   

Both travel a long way.  Leila flees from Syria to live in London and then travels on to the Arctic to join her mother who is documenting the fox’s journey. Miso’s story is based on a true one: Anna the fox walked over 2000 miles in seventy-six days. Both Leila and Miso are seeking something. Will they find it?      

Kiran Millwood Hargraves’s text is touching and Tom de Freston’s illustrations are delightful. I read the hardback version of Leila and the Blue Fox. This would make a delightful Christmas present for a child.    



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

This month I’m offering Veiled Dreams, a YA fantasy romance.

Feisty fifteen-year-old Christina’s parents don’t like her biker boyfriend. They think he’s too old and his hair is too long. She doesn’t like her epilepsy but has to deal with it. An accident leaves her in a coma for several weeks. Whilst in the coma she visits another world where she starts to understand her own awakening sexuality and her illness. She also becomes more tolerant of other people, in particular of those who wear a hijab or burka. But Jan is still waiting for her at home and her new world is getting more real by the minute. Problems abound and she feels alone. She is still in love with Jan, but can she still reach him?

This will be a hard copy and you need to message me with contact details in order to get it.

There is still plenty of free stuff in my dropbox      

Grab it  here:  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 £8.00. 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.

This month I’ve written about the Stolpersteine, the small copper covered concrete cubes embedded in the pavement in front of the houses of Holocaust victims. Stolpersteine

I’ve also written about why we have war: The Case for War – or not


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 books 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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