Friday 1 February 2019

News 1 February 2019


Well that’s January done

On a personal level I have to report that yesterday we completed the sale on our Southampton house – just as the snow arrived down there. So now we’re looking for one to buy. We’re in a good position – we’re cash buyers and we have somewhere to live until we find the right place as we’re still in the house we’ve rented for ten and a half years. We’d quite like to buy this one and we’re currently negotiating with the landlord. However we’re still looking at others – and decluttering.  Even if we buy this one we shall do quite a bit of this. Getting rid of junk is always a good strategy.
I’m doing a little work for Salford University again – on the Masters programme this time on an intriguing module called Professional Practice. It does what is says on the tin and embraces the academic, the pedagogic and the creative practitioner life. It’s a lovely module and I met the students for the first time this week. They’re a very pleasant bunch.
Neither of these two factors will encroach on my writing or my work as a publisher but I will be taking a little time from my own promotion and submission activities for a while.
There may be a little more disruption if we actually move for a few days around the time of the move.                  

News about my writing

My own writing is carrying on much as I mentioned last month. 
I'm now on the fifth edit of Peace Child 4.  Between edits I write a short story and start my writing day with a bit of flash fiction if all I’m going to do for the rest of the time is editing. I’m continuing to work on my book about the dark side of children's literature – which is making me read a lot and also reread several works I’ve read before. I’m spending quite a bit of time at the moment on reading older texts and I’m using for this. There’s something quite satisfying about reading children’s books and it counting as work. I’m currently working on the chapter about the history of children’s literature. To some extent this established where the darkness comes from.    


Weekly offers on our book

I have now started work on this and there have been several postings:
I advertise via Twitter and Facebook and have started to build up an email list.
And I’ll let you into a secret: many of the offers are permanent though we only push them for a week. 

Catalogue of books for children

I’ve added several titles to this over the last month. It is growing apace. You can find it here.  Do take a look if you’re into children’s books.


Useful links for writers

My list of links for writers is also growing steadily. Find it here.  


1940s Group

Just a reminder: 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.
If you feel that is you, do join us: Please answer the three questions.      
Of course, with my Schellberg Cycle I'm constantly in that world.       



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.   

News from all of our writers

Do keep sending news like this and remember to supply a link to where reader can buy the book. 

Bridge House

We have a new book out this month: The Art of Losing by Paul Williams. Paul is a British academic living and working in Australia. The stories in this collection are quite literary.  You’ll find the Kindle edition here.  The paperback is here.  As usual, reviews are welcome. I can provide a mobi file for your Kindle or a PDF. Get in touch if you would like to review. 
We have two calls for submission out at the moment: The 2019 Waterloo Festival Writing Competition. The theme is “Transforming Being”. Follow the link for full details.
Our annual anthology this year will have the theme of “Nativity”. Again we don’t just want retellings of the Christmas story or about what went right or wrong at the local nativity play though such stories would also be welcome.  Full details of how to submit are here:       

We’re still getting plenty of interest in our single-author collections. These are now only 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. 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.

Your work will go through three stages of editing, and will be proof-read twice in-house. We design the book and the cover. We hook it up to all the distributing channels and we complete first-level marketing. We are risking all of this on you as well as the set-up costs and the copies to the British Library and Legal Deposit Agency.   

You’ll probably not get rich quick: anthologies by new authors do not sell in big numbers initially. Each month we post to a dropbox information about books’ performance. A link is sent with the monthly newsletter. See below for how to access this newsletter.  
We have a huge backlog so please be patient. You can always check our progress at:



Stories are 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 January we had stories from:   James Bates, Lynn Clement, David Deanshaw, Jo Dearden, Thoma Elson, Robert Ferguson, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, Richard Hough, Michael Howell, Joseph Isaacs, Gill James, Mark Kodama, Roger Noons, Mari Phillips, Hannah Retallick, Holly Anne Shaw, Louise Taylor, Roxy Thomas and Sandy Wilson.     

Highest performing posts in January were:
The Payback By Foster Trecost 566
The Healthy Streets by Hannah  Retallick 143
Cheese and Pickle by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt  94
Letter to a Known Soldier  by Gill James 89
The Old Tramp by Roger Noons 81

A reminder to o those people who appeared in The Best of CaféLit7 to cast their votes about what to put in into The Best of CaféLit 8. Look out for a separate reminder email about that. So far the following stories have votes:
Budgies and Bingo by Alyson Faye
Dignity and Injustice by Allison Symes
Gemini Rising by Paula Readman
God works in mysterious ways especially at Christmas by Robin Wrigley
 Induction Day by  Janet Howson 
Jeopardy in Pink by Penny Dale
Losing Tony by Gill James
Marking Time by Janet Howson
No Room for Them by Dawn Knox  
On Time by Lisa Williams.
Rose Tinted Glass by Linda Payne 
Salisbury Plain by February 1946 by Laura Gray  
Self Assessment by Peppy Barlow
 She says we’ll get there soon by Hannah Retallick
The Art Critic by Allison Symes
The First Time by Patricia Gallagher-
The Lady in Red by Caroline S Kent
Years and Years by Kim Martins
Yellowjackets by James Bates

Note these are in alphabetic order, not number of votes. This would probably already make a book. We may not be able to include all of the ones voted for.  
You may be interested to know that the top performing posts in 2018 were:
Accentuate the Stubble  by Hannah Retallick
A Field for Polly by Bronte Pearson
Goodbye, My Lush... by Shawn Klimek
The Payback  by Foster Trecost
A quick reminder of how stories are promoted:  if when I go to my editor’s dashboard I see that a story has fewer than 20 hits, I put it on my own Twitter feed and the Facebook page.  
Our stories are generally spread in the following ways:
  • 36 people have signed up to have the stories fed from the blog site  
  • I tweet about the site from time to time
  • some members visit daily or when they have time  
  • authors make efforts – blog, website, FB, email signature, word of mouth
  • casual readers come across the site      
  • one story being read leads to another 
Maybe you could all share your ideas of how to make us more visible and tell us what you do?
You can read all of the stories here.

And here's a reminder of how we select stories: I open my inbox and 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. Do put CaféLit 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.
If all stories are equally good I may select a new writer. If there is no new writer I’ll go for the one that is easiest to post. It should be in the body of your email and set out thus. I’v added notes in brackets and red.    

(title, by-line, and drink centred. Note lower case for “by” and drink)  


by Jim Bates

camomile tea

(I don’t mind which font – in fact I like the variety as we move from font to font)   
Back then, back when he was just a gangly kid and before he became an artist, I felt I had a job to do - teach my son to be better at sports than I ever was. I'd been a second string jock during high school so on the day Joey was born I vowed to teach him how to play football, baseball, basketball and hockey better than I'd ever been able to. My underlying thought was that maybe one day he'd become a superior athlete, someone I could be not only proud of, but could also brag about to anyone who would listen. You can imagine my horror (or maybe not, but let me tell you, it was real) when Joey, try as he might, proved to be even less athletically gifted than his old man. (Note the paragraphs are both indented and have a line space afterwards.  Either, or, or both are good. Thsui translates weel on to the Blogger platform)   
            He was nine years old when, after pre-season hockey tryouts, the awful truth finally reared its ugly head. Joey dejectedly skated over to where I'd been watching from behind the boards and said, "Dad, I'm sorry, I really am. I'm trying, but those other guys are just way better than me."
            One look at the fluid motions of the other kids on the rink, skating comfortably backward better than Joey could ever skate forward, and I had to finally admit it - my son was not now, nor would he ever be, a hockey player. Which was his best sport. Football, baseball and basketball? Forget about it. The reality of the situation was painfully apparent. Joey would never be the star athlete I once imagined he'd be.
            I swallowed my disappointment and put my arm around his thin shoulders, hugging him a little. "That's okay, son. Really. Let's head home," I told him, trying to man up, along with beginning to adjust my game plan for him. Now that sports were out of the picture what could I get him interested in? Chess, maybe? Cribbage? Orienteering? I drew a blank. None of them sounded too exciting.
            I went into the locker room with him while he changed out of his gear. When we sat on the bench, he unzipped his equipment bag and I saw a notebook.
            I pointed, "What's that?"
            "Oh, nothing," he shrugged. "It's just my sketchbook from art class."
            "Art class? You're kidding." I hadn't a clue. Having trouble drawing a stick figures, myself, I'd never once imagined he'd enjoy anything like painting or whatever.
            He grinned, "Yeah, Dad, for my drawings. Here, let me show you." He opened it. "Lately, I've been sketching snowflakes and winter scenes. I'm thinking about maybe using them for cards for the holidays. Tell me what you think."
            He laid the sketchbook on my knees and went about getting changed. I paged through his drawings, each one more impressive than the previous. He'd used what looked to be a pen and ink to create intricate snowflakes all with six pointed tips. Each one was unique and amazingly detailed. The snowflake sketches were followed by a series of charcoal drawings of winter scenes, mostly landscapes in the country, some with farmhouses, some with people, some with animals. One even had a horse drawn sleigh. He'd used colored pencils to make the scenes come alive with subtle tones of greens and browns and reds and blues. To my way of thinking they were utterly charming and made me think of those Currier and Ives calendars.
            I turned to him, "Joey, these are amazing. How long have you been drawing like this?"
            He laughed, "Ever since I can remember, Dad. Since I was a little kid." Then he was quiet for a moment before adding, "Mom kind of got me started."
            Oh. Gail. My wife and Joey's mother. She'd passed away four years earlier when he was only five. In many ways we were still coping.
            I looked at him seriously. "These really are wonderful, son," I told him.
            "Thanks, Dad," he said as we stood up to leave.
            He grabbed his heavy hockey bag, hoisted it over his shoulder, tilting to the right a little under its weight, and started for the door. I held his sketchbook in my hands, aware that I was holding something special, something that really was what my son was all about, not just some sad, preconceived sports fantasy of his father's. I suddenly had an idea. "Hold on a minute." He stopped and I took the bag from him. (It really was pretty heavy.) "How about if on the way home we stop at Blick's Art Supply and check out what they've got, maybe get you some supplies. What do you think about that?"
            Joey picked up his hockey stick and looked at me questioningly. He knew how much I loved sports. "You sure, Dad?"
            "Yeah," I said, biting a metaphorical bullet, "Looks like we've got an artist in the family."
            Joey grinned as we walked to the car. His step seemed lighter, somehow, like a weight had been lifted, and I don't just mean the equipment bag. It was good to see him so happy.
            Next to the art store was a sporting goods exchange. We parked and while Joey went inside and looked around for art supplies, I went next door to see if I could sell his hockey equipment, which I did. Then I hurried next door to met him. But before I went inside I stopped a minute, looked through the window and watched as he perused the aisles, happily caressing the paints and brushes and sketchpads and canvases. He seemed in another world, one that he felt comfortable in. Natural.
            I headed for the front door. Once inside, I'd get him to show me what all the art supplies were used for. Maybe I'd buy him an easel or something to get him set up properly for his art work. He was a good kid. I guess I had a lot to learn. It was time I started paying better attention. 

About the author 

Jim is a former hockey player and devoted parent, hence the genesis of this story. (Jim has provided a succinct story-specific bio. This could be enhanced a little if he had added a link. He usually does, actually! )


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.    

We have some seasonal opportunities coming up now:
Pancake day
May Day
Spring Bank Holiday 
So, get writing.

Don’t forget also 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. 
I’m happy to update the pages each January.  

Creative Café

I’ve added two cafés this month:
The Trattoria N16 is perhaps a little unusual. It is really more of a restaurant. However, they are certainly “creative” and in fact they approached us.   
The Caffe Lena Saratogna is also a little unusual as it acts as a publisher as well.
Keep sending suggestions and review them if you can. 
Cafés might further support the project in the following ways. 
Do you have any further suggestions?
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.    
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.


The Red Telephone

I have some books now lined up to read. I'm particularly interested in near-futures speculative YA fiction. Again, I’m only accepting proposals from people we already know.     


Facebook Group for the Imprints

Scribblers Sans Frontières - 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.  

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.
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.

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.         


Future events

Editing / marketing course

The work we are doing is rapidly expanding and we could really do with some extra help now. We’re looking for help with commissioning, editing and marketing.
You should be either one of our own experienced writers – three or four stories  published in our various anthologies and / or a single author / flash fiction book  or have commissioning, editing and marketing skills from elsewhere.
We’re offering a one day course for you to see if this suits you and you suit us.  Commissioning and editing will be one course, marketing will be separate.
The course is free and travel expenses will be paid. It’s even all right for you to take the course and then decide you don’t want to be involved; it will have given you some insight into our editing process. However, I do ask that you only apply for the course if you think you would like to be an editor or publicist.   
The course will include some homework before and after the course. It will probably be 10.00 to 4.00 with a working lunch.  
Venue and date will be mutually decided once people have registered their interest. I’ll probably make a decision at the end of February, sooner if we get lots of applicants. The venue may well be in London or Manchester.
If you do decide to edit or market for us, you will be paid a fee and later royalties after the fee has “earned out”.  This will show up on the monthly book performance statements. It would be great to have separate editors for each stage of editing.  
If this is of interest, please email me, let me know if you’re away any item in the next few months, which course you’re interest in – you can of course do both – and where you’re located.

Waterloo Festival Marketing Workshop

Just £5.00
This will take place on 8 June 10.30 – 1.30 St John’s Westminster. This is different from the course mentioned above. This is about marketing your own work. Save the date and watch this space!    

Waterloo Festival Celebration Event  

Free event. Again 8 June at St John’s Westminster. It will follow a similar pattern to the one we held last year. Stars of the show will be those selected for the 2019 anthology. 2.30 – 4.30. Save the date. Watch this space.

Imprints Celebration Event

7 December 2.00 - 4.30.  St John’s or St Andrew’s Westminster. Save the date and watch this space for more detail.                                  


Current reading recommendation

I’ve really enjoyed reading Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins. It is my book group’s pick for our February meeting. I do like Atkinson’s writing and I’ve had the privilege of meeting her.
The book moves between the present and past chapter by chapter and within chapters. I found myself particularly engaged with Teddy Todd who could possibly be described as the protagonist. However we also have the point of view of several other characters, including Teddy’s wife Nancy, daughter Viola, and grandson Sunny. In any case all of the characters are emotionally rich and very convincing.
Quite a bit of the story takes place in and around World War II so you can imagine that it is of particular interest to me.
I’m impressed with Atkinson’s research. We’ve covered some of the same ground for World War II but she also includes a lot about the RAF that I’m less familiar with. She has old age and nursing homes spot on. Teddy is about the same age as my late father. Yes that is what it was like in the noughties for World War II veterans.
There is a slightly odd twist near the end that at first I found a little bizarre. In retrospect it makes perfect sense. I’ll say little more as I don’t want to spoil your experience of the book but I will say that it sanctions Teddy’s life.
Find this book here.          

Calling all writers

I'm running an occasional series of interviews on my blog.
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. 
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 following questions:
  1. Tell me about your book.
  2. Tell us about your research for this book.
  3. What inspired you to write this?
  4. What's next?
  5. How can we get a copy of the book?
  6. Do you have any events planned?
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


This month I’m giving away a PDF of the first book Bridge House ever published, Making Changes.   
Access it and lots of other freebies here.  
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £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.

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 or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.

CaféLit Writers For all those published by CaféLit. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. News about the Creative Café Project. Sign up here.

Chapeltown Authors For all those published by Chapeltown or interested in being published by us.  General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.  

Chapeltown Books News about our books and our authors. 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, general news about what the imprints are doing, news about other writers I know, news about the Creative Café Project, a recommended read, and a giveaway each month. Find it here.   

Opportunities List 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.  

Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  

Red Telephone Authors For all those published by The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us.  General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.

Schellberg Cycle Workshop News Offers and news of events to do with Schellberg Cycle workshops. Sign up here.  

School Visits Offers and news of school visits. Sign up here.

Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

A Publisher’s Perspective Here I 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.   

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.     

Books Books Books Weekly offers on all of our books.  Find them here. 

Happy reading and writing.

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