Thursday 1 July 2021

News 1 July 7 2021


Busy doing nothing 

How about this as a way of getting creative? Do nothing. Stop the chattering mind.  Just be somewhere and let the ideas come - or not.

The mathematician Pointcaré famously finally solved a problem he’d been grappling with for ages as he stepped on to a vehicle that was taking him and his colleagues on a jolly during an important conference. We all know about Archimedes’ eureka moment in the bath. My final class in the first module of my MA consisted of us all walking aimlessly round Winchester cathedral.  It felt like a bit of a lark.  It actually turned out to be very productive.

Is this akin to meditation? You stop overthinking?  You shut up your busy mind for a while. The creative process carries on in your subconscious.  

Well, I’m off the pharmacy soon to collect my medication. I know that the little café at the health centre has reopened. The tables and chairs are out on the pavement. It’s a fine day today.  I shall indulge in a cup of their finest coffee and sit and people-watch and / or day dream for a while.

Big question: may I count this as writing time?        


Current writing

My main work at the moment is my fifth Peace Child novel. Former protagonist Kaleem has now become a minor character. A minor character has stepped up. I’m up to Chapter 24 out of thirty-three.  I’m continuing to get feedback from my SCBWI group.

I’ve now completed the Prompts 2022 book. 365 writing prompts – one for each day of the year. I’ve also almost finished writing my Business of Writing course. This will be a pay what you like course. It should have gone live by the time you get the next newsletter. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.  

I continue to write for Talking About My Generation. My latest offering is a review of really interesting exhibition at our local Bury Art Museum:   

As ever, I’m keen to get my books reviewed.  In particular this month I’m looking for reviews for Babel, the second story in my YA SF series. It can be read as a stand-alone book. If you’re interested in reviewing,  just contact me and I can send you PDF or mobi-file.  


The Young Person’s Library

I’ve added just one book this month.

The Art of Kate Greenaway by Ina Taylor

This is a non-fiction short biography.  It is beautifully illustrated. It is a useful resource for teachers and older students.  



Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending About a Boy by Nick Hornby

This well-written classic has of course been made into an engaging film as well.

Intriguingly Will screams out to be played by Hugh Grant and of course he was.

We have two equally significant main characters in this story, Will and Marcus.  The story shifts between the two of them.  Both have convincing voices and both are rounded, authentic characters. This is not a “happy ever after story” and one of the novel’s many strengths is that it shows us life as it is.

Both characters are unusual.  Will doesn’t work – he lives off the royalties from his father’s Christmas song. Marcus lives with his mum, a single parent who has mental health problems. He is an awkward child and gets bullied. Will ends up being as a bit of a reluctant hero.

Nick Hornby portrays the ups and downs of these complex characters and in the end it’s all About a Boy           

Grab your copy here.     



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

This month I’m giving away Clara’s Story.

Is this a tragedy and is Clara’s fatal flaw that she has too much faith in mankind? Or is that belief what saves her in the end? And is the story one of human spirit prevailing? This is entirely up to the reader to decide.    

Clara faces many challenges in her life.  A crucial starting point is the premature death of her husband. This incident launches a whole new way of life for her as she also reflects on the life that went before, that also no doubt helps to build what she later becomes.   

The subtitle for this book is “a Holocaust biography”.  It is based on the true story of a real person though I’ve had to use several writers’ tools to uncover some truths.        

Clara’s Story is the second novel in my Schellberg Cycle and uses fiction writers’ techniques to make the characters come to life.  Grab your copy and lots of other freebies here.   


Note: 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.  They may also be interesting for other readers of historical fiction.

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

I have been quite busy this month. There are two book reviews:

The Secretary by Catherine Hoken like my own work gives an unusual German point of view. Events of World War II are revisited in the light of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.


V for Victory by Lissa Evans is a novel about a civilian population in London towards the end of World War II.  The V2 bomb figures highly in this and that is also as small sub-plot in the Cycle.

I’m beginning to think about book seven – even though four and five are not yet published and six is not yet written. Book seven will feature the German resistance. So, I’m starting to research that.  I’ve included a few first thoughts in  German Resistance World War II


My father-in-law died recently and in clearing out his house we found some of his photos of Stuttgart. That triggered some memories. Read about them in Stuttgart Revisited    


In  Flowers of Hope I discuss some flowers we associate with the world wars.   


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.


The Bridgetown  Café Bookshop where you can buy my book and books published by Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books and The Red Telephone.  We’re building up our inventory, so please bear with us. Visit us 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 and some other editors 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. 

Image by György Sabransky from Pixabay 


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