Wednesday 31 January 2018

My news January 2018

Well the snowdrops are out in my garden and the days are getting longer at quite a lick now. The sun had risen before I got to my desk today though the weather's doing that Manchester thing and so it still seems quite dark.
I'm back at the University of Salford again, teaching on the children's literature module. It's great being paid for talking about something you know a lot about.    

News about my writing

I'm continuing to enjoy the Scrivener software package. I'm still getting used to driving it but I've already completed one whole project in it - a short story – and I've transferred most of my projects into it. I can see how it helps with planning and keeping track of parts of the story. I love the synopsis feature and the fact that you can attach key words to any section you write. It's also so easy to reorder your work.
There's still a lot I have to learn, but so far I'm loving it. 
The House of Clementine is beginning to behave though it's possibly the most difficult thing I've ever written. I'm nearing the end of the play script of The House on Schellberg Street. I already have one group lined up to read it. I'm going to organise two or three other readings.  If you'd like to be involved and you live within commuting distance of greater Manchester, let me know.   
I've finished my book on marketing. Many of you on this list will soon receive that as a gift. It is in design now. We're having some difficulty in deciding on a cover, though.
Our recording of January Stones is now complete. We're just waiting for Amazon's approval. Fingers crossed.                 

1940s Group

I've had an influx of new people over the last few days. Some of them have already published and I'm looking forward to reading their books. I'm a real glutton for anything 1940s and this spills out into 1930s and even earlier but oddly doesn't go so far in the other direction. Do join us if you think this is for you. Importantly, I'm happy for you to promote your books here on the last day of the month.         
Here's the reminder of what it's all about:
This is a Facebook group for those of us who write about the 1940s. This group is for all people who write about the 1940s. Fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Topics might then be: the Holocaust, World War II, Civilian Experience (all sides) and the battle front. We can exchange ideas about research and marketing. We may promote books and stories, - the last day of every month and on launch / release day. In particular, we might work together to make use of the many 1940s' weekends that take place.
If you feel that is you, do join us:    


The Dream Team continues to grow. Find members here.    
This is a personal recommendation. Initially I intend to use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I would add in people that friends and friends of friends have recommended.

What happens?

You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year. 
Interested? You may sign up for more than one category. 
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.   


Bridge House

The theme of our 2018 is "Crackers". We don't mean just the Christmas sort. We're looking for stories that amuse, certainly, though. It would be good to have a few that give us great big belly laughs, but also welcome those that just make you smile. Another interpretation of "crackers" might be madness. So think Black Mirror, Inside Number 9, Kafka's Trial, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Catch 22. Got one of those in you? Give it a go! Full submission details here.          
We're also very privileged to be the publisher for the Waterloo festival. You can read details about it here.  You can see how much we are involved with the festival here but do take a look at the other pages.
And a reminder about our latest publications:
  • Debz's Canvey Island writers' group, Tales from the Upper Room, retails at £7.00. £1.50 from every sale goes to the Havens Hospices . You can find it here:      
  • Glit-er-ary is our 2017 anthology. Quote from the back blurb: "You will learn that all that glitters is most certainly not gold. The stories are funny, sad, poignant …. The glitter comes in shades of dark and light. Find it here:
  • Then there is Citizens of Nowhere. I'll confess that Theresa May both infuriated and inspired me when she said that global citizens are citizens of nowhere. What a great title for a book. So, I approached several writers I know who I thought might feel the same. Not all of them had the time or the inspiration but several have contributed. A few stories that were submitted to Glit-er-ary seemed more suitable for this collection. Jenny Palmer also has a story in here. This will be the fourth time that we've published this one. She is on the CaféLit site, in the Best of CaféLit, in her own collection and in this book. Debz and I have also put our money where our mouths are. We each have a story in the anthology. Find it here:   Whatever your politics are, you shouldn't find anything to offend here but maybe something to make you sad, to give you hope or to make you think.    
We've produced a couple of book trailers. Do take a look and share them.

We’re getting plenty of interest in our single-author collections. These are for authors we’ve published before and they may include stories we’ve already published, ones they’ve had published elsewhere and new ones. The description for this is now on the web site. We’ve already had some enquiries and we’re currently working on several anthologies.  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 70,000 words. 
Dawn Knox's Extraordinary is now out. It is available here.  
If you’re interested in having a single author collection, contact me here.    
Also in progress are collections by Paul Bradley, Phyllis Burton, Jesse Falzoi, Jenny Palmer, Dianne Stadhams and Paul Williams. Several other Bridge House authors have applied and they're in a bit of a queue but I'm sure we'll accept them. After all we know them.    


Stories are now all being posted at 4.00 p,m, Afternoon Teatime,  Kaffee and Kuchen time and it's also when the kids are home from school. Just the right time for a cuppa and a good story.
We're getting quite a few submissions now but still not quite up to one a day. Sadly, of course, we have to reject some.

In January we had stories from James McEwan Leggate, Debbie Boitoult, Roger Noons, Paula R C  Readman, Richard Hough and  Mari Phillips.    

We're always open to submissions. Find out to submit here. Remember, this gives you some exposure, you can add in a short CV each time, and there's always the chance that your work might be accepted for the annual anthology.    
The Best of CaféLit 6 has been produced and copies are on sale. As usual we welcome reviews. I can let you have a PDF or an e-mobi copy if you're willing to review. You can also buy copies here.   I'll shortly be working on The Best of CaféLit 7. 
On offer for CaféLit authors is a page on our web site. See examples here.  The list is growing. Click on the names to find out more about the authors and to access their work. If you're a CaféLit author and would like a web page, use the ones there to get ideas. You need to send me between 250 and 350 words about yourself, an attractive image, a list of up to six publications, up to six awards and up to six links. I then also link the page to your stories on CaféLit. Send to gill at cafelit dot co dot uk. 
If you already have page here, this is the time of year you may ask me to update it. You may have a new publication, award, web site or image that you'd like posting. Remember we keep up to six of each   


I'm now trying to build up the Chapeltown readers list. I'm giving away a free copy of my January Stones 2013 to anyone who joins. See details here: Spread the word.
As mentioned earlier, I'm also having an audio version of this book made. The profit share will equal 10% of the cover price of the audio file.      
We've been busy recently. You can find details of our latest publications below. These are all in our series of Flash Fiction collections and are all our little square books.  
If you're interested in reviewing any of the above, just email me and state whether you'd like the mobi-file or the PDF.

Coming soon, probably within the next few days are works Gail Aldwin and Mandy Huggins.  There are a couple waiting in the wings as well.  
Chapeltown is now going to publish all of The Schellberg Cycle. A new version of The House on Schellberg Street is now available. Details are here.  The second story in the series will be out in March this year.  

Creative Café

Three cafés have been added this month:
Keep sending suggestions and review them if you can.      
I'm continuing my tour of creative cafés where I collect stories for an anthology. In some cases, writers may offer them and in others maybe customers may tell me their story and I'll write it for them. Do you know of a café that might be interested in this? Let me know if you do.         
Remember you can now buy merchandise for the Creative Café project. The profit on anything you buy here goes to the Creative Café Project. Check this out here.    
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 also now proactively encouraging cafes to stock The Best of CaféLit. Do you know anyone who might like to stock it? We can offer a 35% discount to retailers. Query gill at cafelit dot co dot uk.     


The Red Telephone

Our mentoring programme is now full. I’m working quite closely with three very different authors: Charlotte Comley, Dianne Stadhams, and Nina Wadcock. They are all presenting some fascinating material. University of Salford graduates Lauren Hopes and Christian Leah have also joined our happy band.        
I was delighted to see Lauren at our recent Celebration Event in London. She read from her novel.

Book tours

If you’re a Bridge House / Red Telephone / CaféLit / Chapeltown author and you want to get serious about book tours, consider our author’s kit. We provide twenty or so books (exact number is up for negotiation) you take to the bookshop and the bookshop can put these through the till. We then invoice the bookshop, with a 35% discount for any sold and top up your supply to twenty. At the end of the tour you can either pay for the remaining books at cost + 10% or keep them until you’ve sold them and then pay the normal price of 75% of RRP. The latter can in any case be set against royalties. You need to allow at least ten days between events. We must be able to invoice a retailer later for this to work. Contact me here if you’re interested in this.           

School Visits

I’m proactively promoting my school visits associated with The House on Schellberg Street project. I’ve now developed a whole workshop for this. It starts off with a board game, includes some role play and creative writing and ends with a discussion.
It is now possible to purchase the kit to work on on your own. Find details here.
I did a presentation about my work on this at the 2017 NAWE Conference.  It became apparent as I talked and partly from the reaction of one of the delegates that the workshop has more impact than the book. Mind you, that had partly been the intention.
Costs for my workshops = travel expenses plus £400 for a full day and £200 for a half day. This includes all materials and some freebies. Two schools near to each other might consider splitting the day and halving the travel expenses and fees. This is open to negotiation in any case.       
I also offer a free half day visit, though you pay my travel expenses, if you allow me to promote my books.       
I’m continuously adding materials for schools to the site that are different from the ones I use for the workshops. I’ve recently added in resources and books to do with the topic. See them here:       
Query for a school visit here.
I’m also happy to tailor a visit for your agreed donation. This can be for either a Schellberg Cycle visit or a creative writing workshop. Any monies raised this way will go specifically to a project I have for a non-fiction book about a journey that will follow the footsteps of Clara Lehrs. I’m hoping to do the whole journey by train, including departing via my nearest Metrolink station. It’s important to feel the rails beneath my feet.       
I offer as well standard author visits which include readings from my books, Q & A sessions and creative writing exercises.
Please remember, with these as well, I’m open to negotiation if you can’t afford the full price.


Upcoming events

More specific details of the following will be posted later.
  • I'm hoping to run a workshop on marketing for indie writers / publishers. This will be free of charge but you may make a donation if you wish. This will enable me to put on further events.
  • A Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher Master Class about writing the young adult novel.
  • Manchester event in the summer.
  • London event 1 December 2018 (Save the date!)

Past events

Our event on 2 December at the Princess of Wales went well though twenty delegates had to pull out, all for good reasons: illness, awkward trains, family problems, job inductions etc. and I too suffered from "awkward trains". At least though, I got all of my fare back and quite promptly.
Nevertheless, we all had a great time. We also sold half of our stock of books within the first five minutes and quite a bit more later on. I didn't have to bring all that much back home.
I actually managed to join in the "speed-dating" this time. The little bell that I bought worked really hard. She is a young woman in a crinoline dress. Esmeralda.
It was good to put names to faces. I read a little too from January Stones. We also had readings from Margaret Bulleyment, Penny Dale, Shanta Everington, Lauren Hopes, Dawn Knox, Paula Readman, Allison Symes and Robin Wrigley.   

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, sign up here.    
I have recently revamped the way this works and made it much more user friendly. Let me know what you think.


Current reading recommendation

This month I'm recommending a manual for teachers of Creative Writing: Teaching Creative Writing by Helen Stockton. 
It is a very well organised book and ideal for those of us teaching adult learners at evening classes, U3A groups or even groups in cafes which is totally in keeping with what my Creative Café Project recommends.
If you work for a local authority paperwork abounds and Helen provides several useful templates for this.
She gives us a step by step guide to working with a beginners' class and how to convert this into a continuation class.  There are nine chapters, an epilogue and a postscript. The chapters are divided into manageable sub-sections and you can use this as a step by step guide. I recommend reading it the whole way through then going back and reworking the sections that are most useful to you.
I originally bought the book at the NAWE conference in York in 2015. At the 2017 conference I actually attended Helen's session. I found her to be a passionate teacher and  this book proves that she is a more than competent writer as well.
This is an invaluable tool for the freelancer.
Available here.         


Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. Take a look at my interview with Allison Symes, Dawn Knox and Alyson Faye.  If you would like to be on my blog just answer the questions below and send them with appropriate images to gill dot james at btinternet dot com.
Please feel free to pick and choose which of these to answer. 
1.      What do you write? Why this in particular? 
2.      What got you started on writing in the first place?
3.      Do you have a particular routine? 
4.      Do you have a dedicated working space?
5.      When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
6.      How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
7.      What are you most proud of in your writing?
8.      How do you get on with editing and research?
9.      Do you have any goals for the future?
10.  Which writers have inspired you?
Please write as much or as little as you like for each section and supply as many pictures as you like. Also let me know your latest publication and supply me with a link if it's not on Amazon.      



This month I'm giving away The Best of CaféLit 6.  
You will also find in this dropbox:
·         An extract from Clara’s Story
·         Some seminars for schools about The House on Schellberg Street
·         Some fiction writing exercises
·         The opening chapters from my manual for writing the young adult novel  
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage, sell for anything form £0.99 to £10.99, with most on Kindle being about £2.99 and the average price for paperback being £7.00. We have to allow our writers to make a living. But we’re offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   

Happy reading and writing.

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