Sunday 16 February 2020

Stage of revision 8: Does the pace vary?

We like pace. Then modern world moves fast. Have you noticed how short scenes are these days on television especially in newer soap operas? Our attention span is getting shorter.
However, if the pace is fast all of the time, the readers can lose the thread of the action.
We need a balance of fast pace and slower pace.

Achieving fast pace

There are several ways of doing this:
·         Short sentences
·         Powerful action words
·         High stakes (this of course also helps with tension)
·         Short chapters
·         Cliff-hangers at the end of chapters (another that also helps with tension)

Giving the reader a break from the pace

These actions help with that:
·         Creating a film in the reader’s head
·         Writing with the senses
·         Keeping the pace to real time (when you read your text out loud it take the same time as the action in the text)
·         Showing not telling
·         Use of dialogue

Getting the balance right

This isn’t science or even craft.  It’s an art.  Here you must use your fine-tuned instinct. How do you develop that instinct? You do this by reading a lot of other books for your target reader, getting to know our target reader well – perhaps through readings and other interactions with them – and also be sharing your work with critique groups and beta readers.

Note of course that the balance will be different for different readers. Make sure you are clear about who your reader is.          

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

Saturday 1 February 2020

News 1 February 2020


The Elephant in the Room

Cannot be ignored …..
But I’m not going to talk politics here.  Those of you who know me well know exactly what I think of Brexit and I’m happy to talk to you about it outside of this newsletter.
I do have a few apolitical comments:    
This is what happened at our house last night.
23.03 We were watching a recorded episode of Silent Witness and suddenly noticed the time. Ah! So no fireworks then?
23.04 Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. So there were some after all.
23.05 Was that it?  In blueberry Bury?
Lots of fodder for stories I think over the next eleven months.  Writers and readers get ready!
On a more serious note I do hope the UK keeps the new copyright laws that the EU have come up with. Even better if we can persuade the US to take them on as well.  

News about my writing

I’m now about two thirds of the way through the first draft of The Round Robin, the fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle. This may be only a working title.  
I’m also continuing with Not Just Fluffy Bunnies – which is becoming a monster of a book.  I’m really enjoying, though, rereading several texts written for young people.  
Using my own Fair Submissions web site (  ) I’m also challenging myself about once a fortnight to writing specifically for a competition or a call to submission.   
I’m also now submitting something pretty well every day. Yes, that leads to more rejections, - or as one of my cup-half-full writing friends calls them, rewrites, -  but it also leads to more acceptances.  This also gives me insight for a section of the online course I’m designing: Submitting Strategy for The Business of Writing.       

The Young Person’s Library

I’ve added new this month:  


Awaken by Meg Cabot

This is a YA novel and features the supernatural, including some references to mythology.


The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

This is a classic and tells of post-World War II people displacement.  It is aimed at the fluent reader.


The Magical Kingdom of the Birds: The Silent Songbirds by Anne Booth

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Zeuss

This is a classic text for very young children. I read this for my Not Just Fluffy Bunnies.

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Another book I read for my research. Written for fluent readers it deals with some complex time slip issues.  There are themes of friendship and ageing in the story. This is also a classic.
 If you’re interested in children’s literature take a look at the site. There is a search facility on it.  You can also browse it by clicking on Labels and then Show More. Categories are age groups, schools, Key Stages, authors and themes.  Information is also given about the year of publication for each text and when it was first published.  

Current reading recommendation

I do keep buying books.
The one I’m recommending this month I bought at one of a series of talks organised by the Portico Library in Manchester,  Rewriting the North.
Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Find more details here.  
Makumbi is Ugandan and has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster.  
It appealed for two reasons:
  1. Much of it relates to Manchester and I live in Greater Manchester.  
  2. I’m a fan of short stories anyway. These I find excellently crafted and nicely unpredictable.
To boot, this is a gorgeous hardback.
Sadly I have no more shelf room for it so I’ll be depositing it at the Book Nest in the Millgate centre in Bury in the next few days.   


This month I’m giving away The Best of CafeLit 8 in which I have a story. Those authors who were included in The Best of CafeLit 7 voted for what should go into 8, so I’m very pleased to have been included.
You can download it and lots of other free materials here.
Please, please, please review it if you read it.     
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.   


The Schellberg Project

The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust.
This month I’ve included a few comments on writing the fifth book in the series. Find them here.
I’ve written a post about the use of Social Media making it easier to speak up these days than it was in the 1930s and 1940s. Read it here.
I also included a couple of posts about useful books:
I mention The Silver Sword again. Read the review here.   
Harry Bowling’s Conner Street’s War shows us what it was like for civilians living in around the London docks during World War II.  

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, Chapeltown 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. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it 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 and a reminder of the ones I’ve highlighted in this newsletter.    

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. 

The Young Person’s Library I am gradually moving the children’s book catalogue over to this site.  Access it here.

Fair Submissions I am gradually moving the Opportunities List to this site.  Find it 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.  

Happy reading and writing.