Monday 17 October 2022

Allison Symes talks today about her experince of writing for CafeLit


How did you come to write for CafeLit?

I can’t honestly remember the details but I do know another writer told me about CafeLit. It is possible it was Gill James herself whom I met at the Isle of Wight Writers’ Weekend many moons ago. Am I glad to have found CafeLit? Oh yes!


What do you most like about CafeLit?

I like the range of stories here in terms of word count and style. I like the way it is encouraging to writers of all backgrounds and that it gives writers a voice, a chance to have their stories “out there”. I also like the mix between longer stories and flash fiction. Both forms are well worth celebrating!


What else do you write?



I write flash fiction. I have two collections out with Chapeltown Books - From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic.

I also blog weekly for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, I am also the flash fiction editor (and write a monthly column) for US based online magazine, Mom’s Favorite Reads.

I blog monthly for More than Writers, the blog spot of the Association of Christian Writers, and for Authors Electric. I also write standard length short stories (1500 to 2000 words).    


Where can we find more of your work?

You can also find out more about my work at my website - - and via my Amazon Author Central page at

I share what I write where twice weekly on the blog page of my website so my links to Chandler’s Ford Today, Mom’s Favorite Reads etc can all be found on there. I like to think of my twice weekly round up as a “one stop shop” for my regular followers. And I would always welcome new followers to my website!

I also share a monthly author newsletter. Again you can sign up to that on the landing page of my website.

I share flash fiction videos on my YouTube channel too at - subscribers always welcome. I share stories here on a Monday usually. I see it as a positive start to the week!

About to run a workshop on flash fiction

Always a joy to sign books for readers


Tell us something surprising about you! 

I’ve never flown! It’s not been a case of deliberately avoiding it either. It is just that I’ve used ferries and coaches to travel in Europe and the rest of the time I’ve been at home in the UK! I have ridden a horse and been on a hovercraft though (definitely not at the same time, mind you!).


Anything else you’d like to say?

Writing is a great joy but I’ve learned over time you have to develop stamina to cope with the ups and downs of the writing life. Having supportive writing friends helps enormously. It pays to persist but it is also fine to change writing direction. My doing that led me into flash fiction and publication. Oh and it is lovely seeing writing friends having stories on CafeLit too.

Sunday 9 October 2022

The Beginners Guide to Calling Yourself a Writer


Hand, Write, Pen, Notebook, Journal

1.     Actually write. Don’t just think about it.

2.     Get over the idea that to call yourself a writer you need to be a published writer; if you write you are a writer.

3.     Make sure other people take you seriously. If you study door is shut it means you’re busy and shouldn’t be disturbed.  Don’t have a study? Then lap-top open or pen in hand and note-book open also mean you’re busy and shouldn’t be disturbed. Use your lap-top for other activities where you don’t mind a disturbance? Then invent a signal that means you mustn’t be disturbed. Wear a red scarf, put a grumpy teddy on the table or have your ‘I Am a Writer’ mug to hand

4.     Get yourself an ‘I Am a Writer’ mug made.

5.     If the day job is still 100% necessary use the word ‘and’.  ‘I am a mum and a writer.’ ‘I am a soldier and a writer.’ ‘I am a dentist and a writer.’ Occasionally put it the other way round: ‘I am a writer and a dad.’ ‘I am a writer and a PA.’  

6.     Read, read, read but read like a writer. If this book is good, what makes it good?

7.     Learn to love pens and notebooks – but try to stop people giving them as gifts – you’ll get too many and they probably won’t be quite the right sort.

8.     Find your tribe- find other writers and see yourself and assert yourself as one of them.

9.     Go to other writers’ events – as a peer.

10.  Learn from others, prepare to share what you know but in the end make your own mind up about everything.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Margaret Bulleyment tells us about her contribution to the Script Challenge


Green Grass of Home

I have written quite a few pieces where I have not been absolutely sure when I am first drafting the  words, whether the piece is really a story, or a script, and some of them (or versions of them) end up as both.

'Green Grass of Home ' was one of those pieces and an obvious choice for Script Challenge as it is also the first piece I ever submitted to Bridge House - and look where that led.

 I was so pleased when you took the trouble to tell me that although the story did not fit with the other stories you had selected for the anthology, you liked the story. Consequently, I submitted it later to CafeLit where every story stands alone and you accepted it. Script Challenge made me think that you deserved it a second time.

I entered another version of 'Green Grass,' in a monologue competition run by Ovation Theatre Awards and reaching the final was invited to the Square Chapel Theatre, in Halifax to direct it. It was wonderful hearing my words brought to life for an audience by a professional actress and Jo Gerard did it proud. A year later I had another short piece 'Guarding the Woolly Mammoth' performed - this time in the Players Theatre in Glossop - and later in the Deddington Festival, here in Oxfordshire.

I would like to eventually dramatise some of my longer stories.  I wrote a full-length children's play Caribbean Calypso for Trinity College's International Playwriting Competition which was performed by an education charity for children in  Bangalore, but that was more like linking individual stories, so developing a longer story would be more of a challenge, but one I would relish.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Dawn Knox talks to us about her contribution to the Script Challenge


Why did you pick this a particular story for creating your script?

I wanted to select a story that would be easy to produce, so I chose one that only required a few actors and was set somewhere simple. The Stag Do is a short story from the book The Basilwade Chronicles which Chapeltown Books published in 2019. It contains four characters, the curmudgeonly bridegroom, Sydney Jugg; his wheeler dealer brother, Toby; their tactless cousin, Derek Carruthers and Sebastian who the bride’s friend has coerced into being an usher. There are two scenes, and both are set in the same pub. The first scene takes place the week before the stag do while they plan what they’re going to do to celebrate and the second is the actual night of the stag do.

I thought this story would make a good script because much of it involves dialogue, with very little action. The focus is on the characters and their interactions with each other. The two brothers have a difficult relationship with Toby constantly provoking the rather pompous Sydney. Self-centred Derek is more concerned that he doesn’t miss the last bus home than with planning or taking part in the stag do. Only kind and considerate Sebastian holds everything together, despite not knowing any of the other men and having been bribed to be Sydney’s usher. I thought their humorous comments would make a good script because, other than caring Sebastian, the men often don’t converse, they merely talk at each other.


What was the biggest challenge in turning this into a script?

The biggest challenge was that the story that I chose came almost at the end of The Basilwade Chronicles, so anyone reading the book would already have met the four men and would have seen their characters and how they related to each other. I had to try to give a flavour of their personalities, whilst moving the story on in a script that would only take about ten minutes to perform.


Has your script been performed or have you any plans  for this?

No, my script hasn’t been performed. The closest to a performance has been when the narrator, John Guest, read the Stag Do chapter from The Basilwade Chronicles out on a radio show. John has recorded the audiobook for The Basilwade Chronicles.

But no one has performed this script. I’d love to see it though! When I told John about the script being published in The Script Challenge, he said he’d also love to see it performed, so we’ll be first in the queue if anyone is interested!


Where would you like to see it performed?

 The West End and Broadway…? No, seriously, anywhere!


Could you tell us which well-known actors you would like to see performing your script and why?

Playing Sydney Jugg, I see someone rather ordinary-looking but with a huge ego, such as Chris Barrie, as the incompetent manager of a leisure centre who constantly comes up with idiotic schemes in the BBC’s The Brittas Empire . Sydney carries a huge chip on his shoulder that his outlandish entrepreneurial schemes always seem to come to nothing. He’s jealous that his brother Toby, seems to have all the luck.

 Sydney’s brother, Toby Jugg, would have to be David Jason as Del Boy in BBC’s Only Fools and Horses. They are both ‘wide boys’ and both have the cheeky chatter that often persuades people to trust them.

Toby Jones looking gormless as Lance in the ITV comedy, The Detectorists would make a good Derek Carruthers. He’d portray the right level of indifference to others’ feelings and his lack of social skills – bulldozing his way through any situation.

James Dreyfus as PC Goody in the BBC’s Thin, Blue Line would make a good Sebastian. They are both well meaning, kind and slightly clueless.



Do you have any more plans for similar scripts?

I’ve adapted some stories I’ve written about two outrageous elderly ladies and their neighbours. But I haven’t submitted the script anywhere yet.

The first of the stories was written from a photo prompt of an exotic, naked shaman-like figure with a painted face who is holding a skull above his head.

The story starts with the two ladies peering through a hole in the fence into the next-door neighbour’s garden at the naked shaman-like man who’s dancing on the lawn. During their comments and conjecture as to the identity of the man, it becomes clear that one of the ladies has a closer relationship with her next-door neighbour than the other had previously thought.

Monday 3 October 2022

New 3 October 2022


Current writing

I am of This Land, the sixth book in my Schellberg cycle is now on its way out to publishers though I shall eventually publish it via Chapeltown if need be.

I’ve started a new Peace Chid book but am already thinking about another Schellberg one.  

I’ve had one story on CafeLit: The Last Human, An old man is determined to remain 100% human.  

On Talking About My Generation I have an article about Neighbours a soap I’m now missing.

I’m offering a new way for you to obtain a copy of my YA story about grief: A Gallery for Nick. See details here:  


On My Blog


This month I again have several interviews with other writers. Tony Domaille, and June Webber talk about being published in The Best of CaféLit 11     

Tony Domaille and Neta Shlain talk about being published in The Script Challenge

Dawn Knox chats to us about her CaféLit serial, The Crispin Chronicles

I also discuss time in fiction:


The Young Person’s Library

This month I’ve added:

Never Forget You by Jamila Gavin This is a YA text that tells the story of four feisty young women during World War II. It is partially based on some events that actually happened.

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds is a picture book though a little sophisticated for pre-school. It addresses climate change.

Zoo Girl by Rebecca Elliott Another pre-school text. It has lovely illustrations and deals with loneliness.  

Current reading recommendation

This month I’m recommending Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This seems like a cosy crime and we really are kept wondering whodunit.

The author really keeps us guessing in the first half of the book. All the clues are there, we may realise in retrospect. He even has a foreign detective, Atticus Pünd, who may remind you of a certain Belgian detective. Then comes the twist. A much more intriguing story and even more bizarre murder are hidden behind this story.

Anthony Horowitz, as ever a great story teller, presents us with some intriguing characters in the mysterious Magpie Murders.   


Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle.  Occasionally there are PDFs. This month I’m offering a mobi-file of So Now You’re Published, What Next


What could you / should you do now that you are published?

The last thing most writers want to do is spend a lot of time on marketing. Yet books don't sell themselves by magic, no matter how good they are. Publishers do what they can but time and money is limited, and inevitably they have to move on to the next project. If you can adapt a few useful routines, especially ones you find palatable and fun, you'll hardly notice you're doing it. There are heaps of useful suggestions here and handy check lists to keep you on track.

So, kick-start your marketing with this handy little volume.


Find out more. Grab your copy and lots of other freebies here.

And please, please, please leave a review, perhaps on Amazon, Good Reads and / or Story Graph, 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 useful to other writers.

I’ve added three posts this month.

I’ve discussed

Never Forget You by Jamila Gavin,  also mentioned above, shows us some of the roles young women took on during World War II.

I look at the role of the Resistance in Germany, which will also feature in the next Schellberg book that I write.

I’ve continued to talk about my working process again in Drafts 14, 15 and 16 - does it ever end? where I describe killing off my darlings, the overall flow (aka the read aloud edit) and presentation.  


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.  I also invite other writers to provide prompts and work for critique.     


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.