April has flown by. It's been a mixture of working for the
university, the usual writerly activities and doing battle with Amazon. More
about the latter below.
News about my writing
Our Daily Bread, my collection of short stories, is now
available for pre-order. https://www.books2read.com/u/38gaJr
Note, however, I've not been able to create a preorder on Amazon though the mobi-file is ready. If you'd like to review in advance, I can
send you a PDF or the mobi file for your Kindle.
I'm still making
arrangements to have the play script of The
House on Schellberg Street read out on 8 July. If you'd like to be involved
and you live within commuting distance of Greater Manchester, let me know. This will be at the Garrick Theatre, very close
to the Metrolink in Whitefield. We shall start at 1.30 and finish at 7.00 p.m.
I'm hoping to have read through and a walk through. I hope to pre-cast
it. I shall provide cake and other refreshments.
My book on
marketing is also out there. Find it here.
Remember this is free of charge for
those of you published by one of our imprints. If you've lost the link, contact
me and I'll resend it.
approved our recording of January Stones and
this is available as an audio book. You can find it here. I notice you can take a free trial with audio
books but I feel a little wary of this, though I am tempted.
The audio book
represents just one of my current experiments.
I soldier on with The House of Clementine. It's still a
struggle. Still, I always say that I write better when I struggle. But I have
just one more chapter of the first draft to complete. So, about a week away.
The big news is
that Clara's Story is now out. You
can find it here.
As usual reviews are welcome and I can provide the mobi file or a PDF. Here's
will not be daunted. Her life will not end when her beloved husband dies too
young. She will become a second mother
to the children who live away from home at an early age in order to visit a
rather special school. When life becomes
desperate for a particular class of disabled children growing up in Nazi
Germany she takes a few risks. Is her ultimate faith in the goodness of human
beings a fatal flaw that leads to her tragedy or is her story actually one of
"Clara's Story is
the second book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a
bunch of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979.
Renate James, nee Edler, Clara's granddaughter, began to recognise the names of
the girls she had been at school with.
"The letters give us some insights into what life was
like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Renate used to tell the
story of a school for disabled children that defied the Nazi regime.
"We have a few verifiable facts and research has
uncovered a few more. Some repeated experience added more understanding. But most of all that act of imagination that
belongs to actors and writers enabled us to fill the gaps."
I'm beginning to
find out more and more about 1940s events up and down the country. I wish I
could go to them all! I'm hoping though, that we might get a good
representation of members at most of them and that we can share information
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.
reminder of what it's all about:
This is a Facebook
group 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.
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.
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
Interested? You may sign up for more than one category.
Beta readers sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
DO REMEMBER THAT
AT ANY TIME YOU’RE APPROACHED AND YOU’RE BUSY IT’S PERFECTLY FINE TO SAY NO.
General Data Protection Regulation. This newsletter
is brought to you by MailChimp, which is compliant with the regulations, or is
displayed on Blogger, where you watch us but we don't know who you are. You can always opt to unsubscribe from the
mailing list but we ask that you don't; this is the main means of communication
between us and our writers and readers. It's very hard to get you back on the list
if you remove yourself. We don't expect you to read everything every time, so your
delete key can be handy.
In addition, we're destroying all submissions for
books that are over a year old. In
future we'll no longer ask for your address on contracts or submissions. No
photos will be kept on local computers / disks and at any time you may decline having
a photo taken or ask for it to be removed from social media.
A full version of our compliance details will shortly
be uploaded to the dropbox.
Shenanigans with Amazon
Amazon seems to
have lost the plot a little. This is an issue that is affecting all small indie
presses that use print on demand. It
seems that their ordering software is no longer talking to Ingrams, the biggest
distributor. So they will say the book is difficult to find. This is nonsense. The books are clearly listed on Nielsen's and
as soon as they raise an order with Ingrams the book is printed and
As a publisher we
can do little to stop this. However, I have a strategy.
Clearly the first
in the chain is the customer. No way should our books be taking three or
four weeks to be despatched by Amazon.
Even when they're out of stock they should only take a few days and normally
have. However, the problem between Ingrams and Amazon makes the process grinds
to a halt. They can by-pass this manually.
So, if you get a
message that the book is difficult to find, either point out that is not the
case or let me know and I'll do this. If you want
to contact them yourself you have to do this by going to the book's page or
just contacting them. You can't do it
through your order. If you want me to do this, please send me an email, short
and to the point: which book, what they are saying, concise details of the order
and "Amazon Fail" in the subject line of the email. I recently got
The Book Depository back on board though I expect orders are still delayed:
they are owned by Amazon.
This has of course
been very time-consuming and will continue to be so. However, the better news
is that Ingrams and Amazon are working to resolve this issue.
As you may know, Citizens of Nowhere was aired at an
event about refugees. Here is some feedback about the event.
"It was a real mixture of performances
from women's a cappella to a mini rock band. People seemed to really enjoy it
……and the readings from the blog ran a real thread through the evening. A quote
from audience member
"I thought the experiences of refugees read out by various people was
inspired and very sobering, and they were generous! We collected £800 to send
to help refugees!
"Dave did a really good job, performing more than reading the 'Orwys
Several copies of the book were sold."
Great news indeed!
We are currently
processing "Crackers". In the end we had over 100 submissions.
We've made the
selection for the Waterloo festival. We have chosen sixteen stories /
monologues coming to about 13,000 words which will go into an e-book due out 14
June. The Waterloo festival people will announce the winners and after they've
done that I'll be in touch.
We’re still 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.
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.
In April we've had stories from Riham Adly, Mehreen Ahmed, Charles
Joseph Albert, James Bates, John T Biggs, Judy Cabito, Alan Cadman, Pat
Gallagher, Valerie Griffin, Shawn Klimek, Roger Noons, Dawn Knox, Eliza Master,
Kim Martins, Bronte Pearson, Marilyn Pemberton, Mari Phillips, Paula R C
Readman, Rebecca Redshaw, Terry Sanville, Kathy Sharp, Paul Stansbury, Robin
Wrigley and Maria Zach. This includes several new writers. Our community is
I'm selecting stories in a slightly different way now. When
I open my inbox, I'll often see four or five submissions. I'll select the best
of the bunch and schedule it for in a few days' time. I'll let you know. I may
reject one or two but ones that are basically sound I'll keep forever or until
they’re published. Consequently if one
you've submitted to us has not been rejected, and you find a home for it
elsewhere, let us know the name of the story and the date you submitted and
we'll remove it from the archive. Try to include the drink each time and a CV
and do put CafeLit in the subject line so we can identify your submission.
Remember to include your bio (50-100 words including links for longer stories,
just links for 100 words or less) each time. I haven't got time to look up an
old one and in any case your bio is probably changing all the time.
I 'm really pleased with how this is all going. It's the highlight of my
day, making my CafeLit selection.
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.
Talking of which,
the votes are in on what we should include in The Best of CafeLit 7:
White Socks - Gail Aldwin
Safe - Laura Gary
Do Pigeons Ever get Bored - Robin
Murmuration - Fiona Mills
Pistachio - Gail Aldwin
Waiting for Pogo - Penny Rogers
The First - Richard Hough
Bottled Christmas Spirit - Derek
Fennel Tea - Gail Aldwin
The Bangkok Bash - Robin Wrigley
The Janu Stone Paula R C Readman
Bone Collectors - Wendy Ogilvie
Egg Nog - Gail Aldwin
Harry’s Going to Die Anyway- Robin
A Bridge Over troubled Waters – Robin Wrigley
It's Never the Same - Paula R C Readman
Down by the River - Ann Goodwin
Postcard Lady - Keith Havers
Film Noir - Gill James
Knit and Natter Dawn Knox
Most visited All time
Matthew 5.38 - Sophie
Long Black Glen - Brisciani
Burning tradition - Roger Noons
(It's never the Same Paula R C Readman )
Workmates - Roger Noons
Most visited last year
(White Socks Gail Aldwin)
Crucifix - Gill James
In Mary World - Dawn Knox
The Best of CafeLit books are generally between 30,000 and
45,000 words. If the above comes to fewer than that, I'll add in an "editor's
I'm thinking next year of asking those folk in 7 to select
I hope to get the book out by the end of June.
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. Latest addition is Kim Martins. See
her page here.
authors have been very proactive in promoting their work. They have managed to
get their books into shops and libraries. They are also buying lots of author
copies and being very proactive on getting on to blogs – mine included, of
course. We're very pleased to see Gail Aldwin's Paisley Shirt in Waterstone's.
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: http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/
Spread the word.
The profit share of
the audio book for this title will equal 10% of the cover price. If you read
yourself you get 20%. I'm now rolling that out to other titles.
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 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.
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
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.
Facebook Group for the Imprints
I've been toying with this for a while. One of our
Chapeltown writers asked if we could form a group and this persuaded me that
this was the right thing to do. Well, we've published Citizens of Nowhere, and we're pretty international. So, Sans
Frontières sounds good. Martin, who does most of our design, came up with
"Scribblers". Yes, it's a bit of a cliché but it alliterates nicely.
So, that's what we've become. Note this
is a secret
group. The public will not be able to see this. It is for writers published by
one of the four imprints. Here you can:
Discuss all technical issues re our books
Exchange marketing ideas
Advertise and report on your events
Promote any of your titles or successes
Share good practice and ideas
Get help with writing problems
Anything else appropriate
Please come and join us if you're
eligible. Or you can ask me to sign you up.
Facebook CaféLit Page
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Free listing for our writers
If you are one of
our writers and would like to offer school visits, please contact me. I'm
offering a free listing on the imprint pages.
State: age groups
you are prepared to work with, a definition of your work, distances you are prepared
to travel. Appropriate links. Please provide an image.
I have two events
This takes place on
2 June at the International Burgess Foundation., 2.00 p.m. until 5. 00 p.m. It follows the pattern of the London events.
There will be:
- general mingling
- cash bar
- an opportunity to buy books at an advantageous
- “speed-dating” where you get to speak to as many people as
possible in the room i.e. promote yourself to readers, swap tips with
- author readings
- latest news from me
- collection for a local charity
- big book swap (bring one of your other titles and take something
else home – hopefully all will be reviewed. If you bring a non-writing
friend they can just bring a book they love)
Flash Fiction Reading and Workshop at
Buxton Fringe 19 July
details of the following will be posted later of the following:
- 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.
- London event 1 December 2018 (Save the date!)
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.
Current reading recommendation
Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann
I read a lot of
young adult books and I write a few. Back at the turn of the century I pretty
well knew every young adult book that was published and labelled as such as
well as many that were clearly young adult but that didn't have the label. The
new works then were fresh and experimental. The older, unlabelled ones,
appealed to the young adult reader and those who like reading young adult
books. Now, it has all become somewhat formulaic even though "high
concepts" are continuously brought in.
There are also now so many that it's impossible to know them all.
I've studied quite
a few of Kate Cann's books. They border on what I call "chicklet-lit"
but have a darker side and are fundamentally about relationships. I was
expecting the same of this one. I found it refreshingly novel.
Yes, there is
still quite a lot about relationships and as you might expect the main
characters are a bunch of students sharing a flat. Protagonist Amber is on a
gap year. In true Bildungsroman fashion she grows over the course of the story.
She has two main challenges: disturbed younger sister Poppy and something
creepy about the house. I'll say no more about the story and in fact I'm giving
no more away here than in the book's blurb.
I will say that
this book is well written, the chapters are delightfully short, the characters
are believable and that we are kept guessing right until the very end. It has
an upbeat but open ending. The voice is pleasing.
I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog. In
April I interviewed Jenny
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
What do you write? Why this in particular?
What got you started on writing in the first place?
Do you have a particular routine?
Do you have a dedicated working space?
When did you decide you could call yourself a writer?
Do you do that in fact?
How supportive are your friends and family? Do they
understand what you're doing?
What are you most proud of in your writing?
How do you get on with editing and research?
Do you have any goals for the future?
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.
I 'm also happy to offer you a post whenever you have a new
book come out, even if I'm not your publisher. In this case answer the
- Tell me about your book.
- Tell us about your
research for this book.
- What inspired you to write
- What's next?
- How can we get a copy of
- Do you have any events
Again write as much or as little as you please. Alter and
add to the questions if you wish. Provide as many pictures as you wish.
Send to: gill dot james at btinternet dot com
You will also find
in this dropbox:
extract from Clara’s Story
seminars for schools about The House on
fiction writing exercises
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.
Naturally we welcome reviews.
Happy reading and