Thursday 1 August 2019

News 1 August 2019


Playwriting Course

I’ve signed up for a playwriting course at MMU. I hope my friends from the University of Salford will forgive me. It’s two days in October and will involve analysing Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. We’ll also be dabbling in virtual reality. There will be some writing during the course. You can find more details about it here.  Care to join me?       
I’m really looking forward to this and I hope it will bring a new dynamic to my writing.

News about my writing

My story Grey will soon be published in the Ginoskso literary journal. (Volume 23)
My biggest news is that the third story in my Schellberg Cycle, Girl in a Smart Uniform is now out. This is the most fictional to date.  Some characters, familiar to those who have read the first two books, appear again here. Clara Lehrs, Karl Schubert and Dr Kühn really existed. We have a few, a very few, verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Gisela adores her brother Bear, her gorgeous BDM uniform, and her little half-brother Jens. She does her best to be a good German citizen, and is keen to help restore Germany to its former glory. She becomes a competent and respected BDM leader. But life begins to turn sour. Her oldest brother Kurt can be violent, she soon realises that she is different from other girls, she feels uncomfortable around her mother’s new lover, and there is something not quite right about Jens. It becomes more and more difficult to be the perfect German young woman.

We know that BDM girls set fire to the house in Schellberg Street but got the children out first. This story seeks to explain what motivated the girls to do that, and what happened to them afterwards.
Find it here.  
At some point I’ll be doing a proper launch though I’m still trying to decide exactly what to do.
I’ve also continued to work on The House of Clementine, 280 x 70 and Not Just Fluffy Bunnies. The latter is proving to be huge and I’m wondering whether I should serialise it.


Catalogue of books for children

This month I’ve added :
Tulip TaylorTake Another Look by Anna Mainwaring. Anna is one of my SCBWI friends and I’m very pleased for her. This was published just a few weeks ago. It’s definitely YA and is welcomely different from what has now become the norm.

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. This is also YA.  It was published in 2017 and is extremely fast-paced.      

The School at the Chalet by Elinor Brent-Dyer This is suitable for fluent readers, Key Stage 2.  It’s quite a classic and was first published in 1925.  It contains many familiar tropes from the school story. I reread it in connection with Not Just Fluffy Bunnies.

The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett  More classics. I’ve included all of the One End Street books here. They were first written in 1937, 1956 and 1962. I read these just out of curiosity. A lot of nostalgia there for me. They would suit the fluent reader Key Stage 2 and maybe early teens.  However I do suspect that the 21st century young reader may find them puzzling. I was looking to see if they were “working class novels”. They’re about the working class, certainly, but Garnett can hardly be classed as working class.    


Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending one of our own writers. I really enjoyed Gail Aldwin’s String Games. I’m not giving anything away when I say there is an abduction and murder involved. This is mentioned on the back cover blurb.
The story is in three parts and from the point of view of the victim’s sister Nim / Imogen:
  • At the time of the abduction
  • Nim as an adolescent
  • Imogen trying to get closure
It took me out of my editor’s. That’s always a good sign. I also soon forgot that it was written by someone I knew.  Another good sign.
You can read more about it here.      


This month I’m giving away my book on marketing for indies: So now You’re Published, What next?  
The last thing most writers want to do is spend a lot of time on marketing. Yet books don't sell themselves by magic, no matter how good they are. Publishers do what they can but time and money is limited, and inevitably they have to move on to the next project. If you can adapt a few useful routines, especially ones you find palatable and fun, you'll hardly notice you're doing it. There are heaps of useful suggestions here and handy check lists to keep you on track.
Get your free mobi-file and lots of other goodies 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 I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   
Naturally I welcome reviews.
Many of the giveaways come as a mobi-file that you need to download to your Kindle. Just plug your Kindle into your computer and save the mobi-file to your Kindle. Or you can transfer it across later. If you don’t have a Kindle here are some instructions that may help:

Mobi files:

Amazon make a range of apps that emulate a Kindle device on other platforms:
iPad, iPhone, iPod
Android phone
Android tablet
PC (Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10)
Windows phone
(Note: not Linux platforms)
  1. Choose which device you would like to read the .mobi file on. (PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads are good).
  2. Go to and select the device. Follow the instructions to install the app/software.
  3. If your chosen reading platform is not the one on which you received/saved the .mobi file, transfer the file across. For most combinations of source and target this will simply involve connecting the two together with the appropriate cable, or via a USB memory stick. For example, for a PC to an iPhone or iPad, connect using the uPhone/iPad power cable and transfer using iTunes.
If you only have access to a Linux platform, you will need to use one of the many online ebook converters (Google is your friend here) to convert the .mobi file to an .epub file, then install Calibre to read it.

The Schellberg Project

I’ve continued adding to the Discovery Pack, posting the same material on to the web site / blog. I’ve added another page about Käthe Edler, Renate’s mother. Although she was quite a feisty woman she was constrained by the notions of the time of what a wife and mother should be.
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.
You can read the posts here.      


School visits

I’m still 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.


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, Chapletown 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.

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. 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 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 our books and news of new books. Find them here. 

Happy reading and writing.

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