Monday 1 February 2021

News 1 February 2021



So, there are signs of spring in the garden, the days are getting longer and the vaccine is being rolled out. Are we turning a corner?  

News about my writing and other creative projects

The Class Letter, the fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle is now almost completely edited. I have finished the first draft of Not Just Fluffy Bunnies, and I’m still working on The Business of Writing.   I’m interspersing this with short stories and flash fiction.

This month I was a winner in one of the competitions I’ve entered and this means I’ll have two short stories published in an anthology which will be produced as a paperback and an e-book.  In another competition I didn’t win the grand prize but the work was good enough for them to include it in the anthology they’re producing. More news about these when they’re out.   

I continue to write for Talking about My Generation:

This is going to be a series and is very similar to the exercises I provided for the Bury Art Museum. Readers are invited to send in their work. I’ve provided six of these and they’re publishing one a week.  

We’ve now started a series on memories of childhood holidays. Colwyn Bay was always the benchmark seaside place for me and everywhere I’ve been since has bene compared with it. It’s not such a grand place now, but the beach is still lovely and there’s a rather nice coffee shop / ice cream parlour within walking distance that was there then and still does well now. Well it did.  Let’s hope it can carry on when we have the virus under control.   


The Young Person’s Library

This month I’ve added:

Fairfield Amish Romance: 15 Story Amish Romance by Diane Burkholder, Elanor Miller, Susan Vail and Isabell Weaver  These are fifteen gentle romances, suitable for lower secondary school students. They could have been edited a little more sharply but nevertheless they are a good escape read and they give some insight into the Amish way of life.


The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis A classic of course.  Worth a read if you don’t know it. However, I have to confess to not enjoying it as much as I remember doing so the first time I met it. Am I getting more critical or are people writing better these days?  And probably fluent readers, upper primary will still enjoy it.


Current reading recommendation

I have to recommend this month A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I’ve always liked Bill Bryson’s style anyway. He always writes as if he’s sitting in your lounge and talking to you. He has a very controlled and effective voice.

This book is packed with facts and information.  I doubt there is any fake news. Every fact is verifiable. And there is at least one fact on every line. It’s a long read, coming in at 672 pages in the paperback. So, a heck of a lot of facts, then.  

Bryson’s research has been thorough.  It isn’t just regurgitated knowledge. He has visited places and talked to people as well.  

There’s quite a bit to be worried about: will Yellowstone Park blow any minute – it’s long overdue? How many more animals will become extinct? The rate at which that happens, and to plants as well, is alarming.  And will we be one of the victims?  What’s going to happen to the climate? Are we actually coming to the end of an ice age and will the planet get too warm for us?  

He covers so many topics: space, the ocean, genetics, evolution, particle physics, and many, many more.

Very pertinent of course was the chapter on diseases and viruses and he all but predicted what is happening now.

In many ways it’s a terrifying read. There is so much that can go wrong and there was so much chance involved in life being able to form. Yet there is nothing here that would challenge or reinforce any religious belief.

It is also awe-inspiring. This life, fragile as it is, is worth celebrating.

You have to admire the amount of work Bryson has put into this. There is so much there I think I may have to read this book again.              



Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle.  Occasionally there are PDFs.  

The time I’m offering The Best of CafeLit 5 which contains stories by me and by other writers I’ve got to know. Every year we publish in paperback and an e-book the best of the stories we’ve had on the CafeLit e-zine. Often we ask readers or writers to help us to select. I’m offering here the mobi-file for your Kindle.  

Stories on CafeLit vary a lot. Some are very short. Others can be up to 3,000 words long. Some are funny.  Some are dark.  Some are written by regular contributors.  Sometimes a new writer comes along – and we hope they’ll stay with us. The variety is pleasing, and they all go well in any case with a cuppa around four o’clock. They all suggest a drink. You can even look for a drink you fancy, on the site and in the books, and read a story that suits that.    

Please, please, please write a review when you’ve read the book.

You can download it and lots of other free materials here.

Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £0.99 to £10.99.  Most on Kindle are about £2.99 and the average price for paperback is £7.00. Writers have 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 and also for other writers and readers of historical fiction.

Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to other writers.

There were three posts in January:

The Unwelcome Angel by Chrissie Bradshaw

 I actually won this book in a raffle at a Christmas party I “attended” via Zoom. It is a novella set in the 1940s about the diphtheria outbreak.  It is a useful reminder that there were other challenges in the 1940s apart from World War II and the Holocaust.


An alternative point of view

This was really a response to a comment by someone who had read Clara’s Story. It hadn’t actually occurred to her that ordinary German citizens had a story to tell about this time.  


Hush Hush

The Holocaust was not talked about much by ordinary people during the years immediately after World War II. Now, of course, it is on the school curriculum – Key Stage 3, year 9, when student are 13-14 years old.     



School visits

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 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 The children’s book catalogue. Access it here.


Fair Submissions  Find it here.   

Opportunities for writers are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.  

Happy reading and writing.


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