Monday 31 October 2016

Am I a feminist after all?

Older people can write ya

I am 64 years old and am still writing young adult literature. I won’t be too apologetic about that. The young adult is a creature I know well. I’ve taught them for 42 years and studied them for a PhD thesis. I’ve mastered the voice.    


However, my latest works, in the Schellberg cycle, seem to have lost their identity a little. I’m writing a cycle to books that focus on the 1940s and World War II and that explore Nazi Germany. Three of them are arguably young adult and yes, they do show that bildungsroman story of growth. The other two have adult protagonists. Yet all five would be readable by anyone who has read one of the other books and they can be read in any order. All five books span a long period of time and the full cycle goes from 1896 to 1947. The books vary in length from 65,000 words to 100,000. One with a young adult protagonist is 100,000 words and the shortest to date has an adult protagonist.

Future projects

I have some plans for when I finish the cycle and one of them is a crime novel for adults. I do have a couple more young adult ideas and I may take up my Peace Child series again. However, where is my branding?

Feisty females

Okay, so Kaleem is a male protagonist in the Peace Child series. However, there are plenty of females whose story I could tell there. The protagonist in my crime story is definitely female. All of the ones in the Schellberg cycle are feisty. Is that my clue?

Significant, too, that Mslexia is my favourite writers’ magazine.  

So, maybe that is my branding. Feisty women. That allows me to write for adults, young adults and even middle grade. That may be an angle for school visits, too.           

Newsletter October 2016

Well, I was warned. “You won’t know how you had time to work once you’re retired.” That is most certainly true.  This first month has whizzed by.  However, I have been quite disciplined about writing for four hours a day and that’s generally about 3000 words. So, I am getting on quite well with my work in progress, the fourth in the Schellberg cycle and a couple of proposals for non-fiction books. Plus a lot of blog posts and newsletters like this
My new blog We are European is gradually getting followers and I do want others to write for this, so do take a look.

Bridge House

The proof PDF is now out and due back in today. Debz Hobbs Wyatt   is of course my partner in this. We’ve also had a look at the cover and have some great ideas bubbling along.
We’re also looking at doing some single author collections. These are for authors we’ve already published. You may recycle stories we’ve already included in another anthology, and you may reedit these if you wish. You may also add in new stories. We’re aiming at a total word count of between 30,000 and 80,000 words. 
If you’re interested in this, contact me here.    


Remember, we’re always open to submissions. Find out how here.  I’ve been encouraging my students to submit. I’m beginning to see some of their work appearing.
The Best of CaféLit 5 is now available. There are some lovely stories in this. I’m very pleased that I have a story in this collection. Order your copy here.      
We’re getting a few Halloween stories in at the moment. Spooky fun!



We’re currently looking for collections of Flash Fiction. See our submissions page here. We have two writers signed up already and I’ll be putting out one of my collections as well soon. Take a look here.  


Creative Café

We’re always looking for new cafés.  If you visit one of the cafés in the project and would like to write a review of between 250 and 350 words – nice, too, to have a couple of pictures – send it to me here. Do the same if you find a new café.
I’m now going to send out a welcome letter to each new café that’s added. This will also offer them the opportunity to join the mailing list.  
I’m also now proactively encouraging cafes to stock The Best of CafeLit. Do you know anyone who might like to stock it? We can offer 35% discount to retailers. Query gill at cafelit dot co dot uk.     


School Visits

I’m proactively promoting my school visits associated with The House on Schellberg Street project. I’m still offering visits on this for a donation towards the project. I’ve devised a whole interactive workshop. It would be a real asset for any school teaching the Holocaust at Key Stage 3. Even if a school can’t afford a donation, I’d be happy to run the project.
I’m now adding in materials for schools. See them here:       
Query for a school visit here.
I am also happy to do standard author visits which include readings from my books, Q & A sessions and creative writing exercises.
Costs= travel expenses plus £400 for a full day and £200 for a half day. This includes all materials and some freebies. This is open to negotiation.       


The Red Telephone

We are currently open for submissions. Hoorah! We’re looking for the next great YA novel. Check out the details here.  We’re particularly open to speculative fiction but we’ll also like anything that is well written and well-targeted.   
I’d like to remind you of our new enterprise - something between a mentoring system and an online course. Though publication is not guaranteed, we will at least look at your full book if you’ve attended one of the courses. We’re offering it for free to a few people at first. We’ll refine as we go along based on feedback from our clients. We’ll then continue to offer it at a discount for a while before going to full price when we’re completely happy with it. We’re not sure what the full price will be. Again, we’ll be guided by our current clients. Find out more here.  Four people have now signed up. Room for one more. We’re running out of space so if you’re hesitating, now is the time to make your mind up.  We look forward t hearing from you.       


Books and short stories

I continue to make good progress on Shooting Hitler.
Clara’s Story is being serialised. The cover makes this theme quite clear. The novel is can now be found on Channillo. You may read it here.    
Clara’s Story is the second in the Schellberg circle. All five stories cove roughly the same period and are very much happening in and associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. They can be read in any order. The stories overlap to some extent but where they repeat we see the happening form another point of view. For instance The House on Schellberg Street is mainly about a young girl, Renate, who comes to England on the Kindertranpsort. Clara’s Story is about her grandmother. Girl in a Smart Uniform explains how at least one German girl associated with the story became a Nazi – and then gave it all up. Shooting Hitler is Renate’s mother’s version of events. In The Round Robin we learn about what happens to Renate’s friends.  

Upcoming events

3 December is the Bridge House / CafeLit celebration. It was open just to people in the two anthologies. Now we’re opening it to other guests. We’ve found a pub that will let us use their private space for free. They must have heard that our writers always spend generously in the bar. Book your places here:  



This month I’m giving away a copy of The Tower, the third part of my Peace Child trilogy. Message me via Twitter = @GillJames. You can have it as either mobi file for Kindle or as hard copy.    

Happy reading and writing.

Writing opportunities

Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on my writing blog. See them 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, sing up here.    

Monday 17 October 2016

Promoting your books via social media?

We all do it – myself included. I do try for every promotional post to make four others that are just friendly. I actually rarely buy books that I’ve seen promoted via social media. That’s in part because I have so many books to read at the moment. I have forty hard copies waiting in the bedroom, about 256 on my Kindle and I go to the library as well. Occasionally, though, I am tempted to buy one I come across via social media. Below I’ve listed what makes this happen:


Really interesting blog / Twitter / Facebook  post elsewhere

I guess here I’m buying the book because I’m interested in the person. Sure, the theme or topic of the book has to be interesting too - I’m not sure I’d ever go for a western but even here there’s an exception.  Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries were so good that I’m tempted a little by her Western series. Sometimes it’s just curiosity. This person is saying a lot that is interesting here.  Her books probably are too.


Right up my street

Maybe the book is very similar to something I’m writing, have written or am thinking about, or might be really useful as a research tool. However, if I’m proactively looking for something like that, I’m more likely to go directly to Amazon or a review site.

Twitter remains my favourite – just.

I love the power of this platform. Retweets can be awesome. You can soon get through the six handshakes if your post is retweeted and retweeted. I retweet often – especially when I come across gorgeous photos, links to interesting articles, amusing and inspiring quotes, the latest news and opportunities for writers.  All too often though there is book promotion after book promotion and it gets a little boring. I tend to skip those and even when I do buy one of these books because I’ve found the writer interesting, I’ll tend to do that via another platform. I suppose it happens partly because I follow so many other writers.
The trick, I guess, is to make yourself interesting and also ensure that there is a way for your followers to find your books if they want to.  

Other platforms

I occasionally like to read the meatier comments on Facebook though I initially found the whole platform counterintuitive. I like the business-like attitude of Linked-in and intend in future to keep my CV there. I’m using Pinterest for research and will try Instagram soon.


Some things do seem to come from nowhere. “How did you find me?” I ask a teacher who has booked me for a school visit. “I used Google and found a comment on Twitter relating to you blog post about school visits.” There you have it.
The point is, we have to keep up our presence on social media but never become boring. Now, there’s a challenge.