An extraordinary meeting
I’ve written a couple of prompt books for writers and I actually use them myself. Between each stage of editing I have a go at a short story. And I use my own prompt book to give me the idea of what to write about.
The prompt for 30 September 2021 was:
“Talk to your characters
Write a conversation with one of your characters. What do you talk about? Do they challenge what you have written? Do you find out something about yourself?”
So, I had Kaleem from my Peace Child series turn up in the back garden. I invited him in for a beer. And we got talking: about his life in the caves, his relationship with Rozia and about what is going to happen to him in book six. I won’t give any details of that here – book four isn’t even out yet. I’m in the process of editing book five where although he is still a main character he is no longer the protagonist. That privilege goes to his adopted daughter Petri.
I’m actually finding that I love him a little more because of this exercise.
It reminds me of when Judy Waite came to the University of Salford where I used to teach a course on writing the Young Adult novel. She delivered an excellent workshop. She invited us to think deeply about our characters, even lighting a candle to them and then writing about them or to them with our non-dominant hand. At that time Kaleem was irritating me a bit because he was always winging and doubting himself. I began to think of him more kindly.
I’m now excited about the story I’m now writing about him. Will it ever be published? Not for a long time, though when there are no more dangers of spoilers I’ll perhaps put it on my sample fiction site.
I’m now on the sixth draft of my fifth Peace Child novel, The Glastonbury Specification.
I’ve almost finished the final draft of my latest non-fiction work as well.
I’ve had several articles published on Talking about My Generation:
https://talkingaboutmygeneration.co.uk/creative-writing-adventures-writing-the-countryside/ - a creative writing exercise inspired by time out in the countryside
https://talkingaboutmygeneration.co.uk/happy-festival-bury/ - a review of the Happy Festival at the Bury Art Museum. This celebrated the work of Victoria Wood
https://talkingaboutmygeneration.co.uk/roller-boots-coloured-sands-and-john-lennons-doppelganger-holidays-at-southse one of my series of nostalgic accounts of seaside holidays – taken in the UK before the word staycation was invented.
The Young Person’s Library
I’ve added one book this month:
The Monster Belt by Ruth Estevez This is a long YA book, possibly also suitable for younger teens. It’s a long read but keeps us guessing so we stay with it.
Current reading recommendation
And indeed I’m recommending The Monster Belt by Ruth Estevez.
Both Harris White and Dee Winter encounter monsters and drownings in their early lives. Harris loses his friend ten-year old Jonty to the Mediterranean from the island of Formentera, just off Ibiza. Twenty-four children have drowned in the lake at Thorpemere. Both Harris and Dee are there when the twenty-fifth, Jordan King, is taken by the mere. Dee as a little girl has met monsters, or so she believes, and Harris thinks a monster took his friend. The year Jordan drowns the convention about monsters, held at the hotel where Dee works, is closed early. The following year, Harris is about to offer an explanation about what really happened to his friend. Was it, according to the dictionary definition, really the act of a monster? The attendees do not get the chance to find out. Time and place are taken over by an event that is probably to do with climate change.
Both Harris and Dee grow and this is to some extent a bildungsroman for each of them. We are with Dee most of the time though occasionally the point of view passes to another, more often than not to Harris.
Are the monsters real? Do they and the Monster Belt really exist? We are kept guessing until the end and throughout more important is what is happening to Dee and Harris.
Get your copy here.
Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle. Occasionally there are PDFs.
This month I’m offering my short story collection: Our Daily Bread.
Many of these stories have appeared elsewhere and they are now collected together for your convenience. I hope you will enjoy them.
Find out and grab your copy and lots of other freebies here .
And please, please, please leave a review when you’ve finished.
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’ve added two posts this month.
Reich Citizenship Law and Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour discusses again the 1935 Nuremberg laws. Understanding those and what they implied are fundamental to our understanding of what became known as the Holocaust. They ought also to be a warning to us.
Also on a serious note, I discuss the ethics of writing abut the past in Ethical considerations, sensitivity reading, and cancel culture We must preserve the past and represent it accurately. How can the writer best do this and know that they are being ethical?
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. 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.