Days and Weeks Passing By
The days are passing by and so are the weeks. I can’t believe
I’m writing this newsletter again. It
seems like just a few days ago that I wrote the March one. This virus is still
worrying but the only way to cope, I find, is just to live each day, nay, each moment
as it comes. Occasionally, very occasionally I wake in the middle of the night
and old monkey mind takes over. What if I get it and it carries me off? (Though
I’m convinced I’m going to live to be 104!) What if I lose one of my close friends
or relatives? What if we don’t return to normal and we do really start living
in a dystopian near future novel? Psychologists tell us that monkey mind is
necessary. It provides a kind of risk assessment. The point then is to look at
what you can do in the worst case scenario.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Put monkey back in his place. And the best plan is then just to breathe through
each moment. I’m fortunate anyway that old monkey only appears very infrequently.
I’m finding a lot to occupy me. Tai Chi is replacing my trips to the swimming
pool. The movement and the breathing are
similar and the commute is shorter. Most of my U3A meetings are carrying on remotely.
But instead of taking a short bus ride into town I just go to my computer and
There is some extraordinary good material now online. The
Society of Authors is providing lots of excellent virtual meetings. I love some of the videos on Classic FM and
The Literary Hub. There are others too. The
other day I even went for a virtual walk along the coast in Spain.
So many people are doing so much. We’re a little restricted in
what we can do. So, we’re giving to the food bank every week and I’m donating
to a few charities as and when I feel appropriate. As Cultural Champion I’ve been asked to create
some creative writing materials for people who are in total isolation and don’t
have access to a computer or broadband. These and other ideas for creative activities
are being distributed throughout our local area. I’ve produced a couple of ideas for writing
stories and a couple of ideas for writing poems, all inspired by old photographs
and what people can see out of their window. I’ve also added ideas about how
these activities can produce items people may still be able to use after
lockdown ends. I’ve written these prompts
in such a way that people who have never written before can use them but so
that they’ll also be of interest to more experienced writers. I hope they’ll
prove to be worthwhile for a few people.
If you think they may of interest to you or to someone you know,
email me and I’ll send them by return.
News about my writing
I have had an extraordinary
acceptance: a recipe for a charity cook book. My friends in Spain run a charity
that supports the provision of palliative care for people with terminal
illnesses. If you would like to read my recipe, along with others, and support
the charity, here is the link: https://friendsofgirasol.weebly.com/buy-recipe-book.html
. My recipe was inspired by a seafood dish I had one night when I was at the Hay
Festival. It was so delicious I had to replicate it. This was the result.
also had a piece of flash fiction short-listed in the Axe to Grind competition.
It didn’t make it through to the winners’page but it was nice to be short-listed.
I’m still carrying
on much as before: The Round Robin, the
fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle, Not
Just Fluffy Bunnies, and I’m still
working on The Business of Writing.
I’m also continuing
to write stories relating to the virus and the collection I’m putting together with
other writers is growing.
The Young Person’s Library
I’ve added new
By Linda Flynn and
This is a richly illustrated
text for emergent readers with a lot of information about animals.
By James Dashner
This is the third book in the Maze Runner series. This is
about a dystopian world for younger teens.
By Frank Cottrell Boyce
This is a high-low, aimed at upper primary children. It unusually
touches on politics.
Current reading recommendation
This month I’m recommending a collection of short stories Scratched Enamel Heart
by Amanda Huggins
Find details here.
Amanda asked me to review it for her. I did this gladly and
I was pleased to create five star reviews on both Good Reads and Amazon. I can’t
post them yet as the book isn’t out until 27 May but here’s what I’m saying:
“The short stories
in this collection give a strong sense of time and place and allow the reader
to follow the characters as they make a journey. Sometimes this is an actual
physical journey, at other times it is a journey of the soul. Each story too
brings with it an atmosphere that we cannot ignore. We are drawn to the
characters and their settings.”
And here are a
couple of extracts from other reviews:
“Her use of all the
senses in her stories is wonderful. When she describes food being eaten, it is
as if you were there watching the food being eaten! This is hard to pull off
well. All of the stories will move you and make you wonder what you would
do if you were this character faced with this situation. Huggins creates a
miniature world with every story, and you are drawn in, almost hypnotically.” (Allison Symes)
"This short fiction collection contains
twenty-four emotionally-charged stories that take readers on a journey to
households and communities in a range of countries. Through these stories,
Amanda Huggins cleverly shows us the commonality of emotional experience. That
feelings of isolation, love, grief, loss and regret occur in different
backgrounds and cultures. And equally, that hope and the promise of a fresh
start is possible. Amanda Huggins writes in a beautiful and empathetic way to
immerse readers in the challenges and dilemmas she presents to her characters.
As readers we care about these characters and learn from them. This is a
truthful, authentic and essential read." (Gail
Well worth pre-ordering,
Note: these are
usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
Continuing with dystopian
themes this month I’m giving away Babel. This
follows on from the novel offered last month and continues the story of the
Peace Child. Protagonist Kaleem started nagging at me and I had to write a fourth
story about him. I have a fifth one planned. So much for it being a trilogy!
economic situation at the moment is making me realise how the Zenoton may have
created their society. And that is one of the bits of Covid 19 writing I’m currently
You can download Babel and lots of other free materials here.
please review it if you read it.
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.
Also at the moment I’m quite happy for you to share these links with other
people and any of the items you’ve downloaded before - just until the end of
The Schellberg Project
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with
the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust and also for
other writers of historical fiction.
I was involved in an interesting discussion at a research
seminar at the University of Salford (conducted remotely of course): why has
the Nazi era not been romanticised? Most people would probably say that it’s
obvious why not. But what about the way it’s portrayed in Hello, Hello?
And what about what I’m doing in my Schellberg Cycle?
It’s already been described as unusual because I show the German point of view.
I discuss that a little in my post Romanticising the Nazi era?
I’ve suspended these until further notice. I’m now starting
work on a series of on-line materials.
Some notes about my newsletters and
They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they
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.
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.
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
A Publisher’s Perspective
Here I blog as a publisher. Access
The Creative Café Project
Listings and reviews of creative
cafés. See them her
Find these here
Gill James Writer
All about writing and about my books. View
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.
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.
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