Thursday 21 March 2024

My Kind of Television


I’m going to a Society of Author’s meeting in Manchester this evening.

“What time will it finish?’ my husband asked.

“Well, I’ll be leaving about 8.00.”

“So, you’ll be home to watch some TV just after 9.00 then?”

We have a Sky box and several series recorded. We tend to binge watch them, starting with oldest first. We have less than 20% of the disk free. We don’t have Netflix.  Other half protests. I’d quite like to, but for sure we’d probably never get through it all.

Last night we finished Father Brown. Cosy crimes and English village life with a good dose of the Catholic Church.  Grantchester has parallels yet we have still to watch that; it is definitely C of E. Call the Midwife is there too.  Some find it too sentimental? It’s uplifting though there is some sadness. We need uplifting sometimes.  

Fun too are Death in Paradise and After Paradise. Amazing how the jolly music always comes after the murder had been committed.

Never go to Oxford or Midsommer –they too are full of murders.   

Well, we make up for that with some gritty Walter Presents crime / police procedurals / thrillers in other languages. Though that woman who keeps losing her keys and the baby that keeps threatening to cry get a little tedious after a while.

Then there are the more serious programme like the drama about the Post Office scandal and the documentary about the miners’ strike.

Casualty has been around forever, hasn’t it? Charlie arrived as a young man and now he is gone. Rumour has it that it has saved lives. I couldn’t quite bring myself to watch it just before a stay in hospital, though.

And what of soaps? I don’t know why quite – I think it may be to do with sunshine and a well-to-do environment - but my soap is Neighbours. And another one, if radio is allowed here, The Archers.

We mustn’t forget all of those excellent dramas on the terrestrial channels. They are usually British produced. I think we do drama rather well.  

Watching TV is an easy way of absorbing story. Could I ever write for it? I’d like to give it a go one day. But if nothing else, these programmes help further develop my sense of story.

There is a disadvantage, though, being a writer: I can usually work out what’s going to happen and whodunit.              

Monday 11 March 2024

Food in my Peace Child Series

Before I started writing the Peace Child books I spent many months thinking about the world I was creating. And as ever, once I started writing I found there were other things I needed to think about

Food of course is important and I needed to work out how the people in this world obtain it.

The first story begins on our own planet Earth, now called Terrestra. The planet is surrounded by a poison cloud and all inhabitants have to live underground. Vegetation still exists on the surface and as the poison cloud lifts things return to normal. Terrestrans have been able to grow crops underground and so much of this is food as we know it though fusion has become even more common: there are Zones not nations on Terrestra.

Humans still prepare food, if they want to, and certainly humans oversee huge commercial kitchens. However, even the poorest home has a house droid that helps to prepare meals.

On Zandra, where Peace Child Kaleem spends a lot of his time, food production is more difficult and agriculture is tricky. Again, humans still prepare food, but it often can just be dialled up and appears in a special drawer in the kitchen.  

Alcoholic drinks on Terrestra are all based on different flavours of what they call nectar whereas on Zandra they have a kind of beer called frega.

Coffee and tea as we know it still exist but on Zandra there is also a drink known as chufa. It is made from a ground up nut and is creamy in texture and a little bitter in taste. It is a strong stimulant.   

The Terrestrans have now colonised many planets and have met some other races. So the variety of foods is impressive. Seven-year-old Erik, Kaleem’s son in my work in progress, demands a puna bird omelette. This meat is very strong-tasting and he really can’t digest it.  As it’s one of Kaleem’s favourites Erik really wants to eat it. Contrast this with his friend, Raquella, the daughter to the president of the Purple Pirates, delighting in being offered a portion of meat balls with pasta and tomato sauce.

The Purple Pirates are nomadic. Their home planet has died and they are continuously travelling through space. They have learnt to grow all that they need on their space craft. But the vehicles are beginning to fail so they force their way on to Zandra. They have chosen this planet because the people there are so skilled in producing crops. Can the Zandrians learn from them?

Clementines become important in books four, five and six. A family that become successful in farming them set up an order that has had influence throughout the universe.

Food doesn’t dominate in my series but it is there and we have to remember that all of the characters need nourishment even if we don’t make that part of the story.

And even though some of these items may sound quite exotic, I’m still really writing about what I know. Yes, the “what if” questions is there. I find the answer by relating what is happening here to my own experience.                     

Sunday 10 March 2024

Yvonne Walus tells us about her latest book

Tell me about your book.

A: Hello Gill, thank you so much  for featuring me on my blog. My name is Yvonne Walus (, and my latest book is a domestic suspense thriller, The Wrong Girl, published by Sands Press in March 2024.

Q: Tell us about your research for this book.
A: Hmm, let's see. The book is set in a fictional boarding school north of Auckland, New Zealand, not too far away from where I live, so that part was easy. One of the protagonists is a teenager, and I spent quite a bit of time convincing my two children and their friends to talk to me about their issues - that was the tricky part. I have a small subplot about growing cannabis, and research, dear readers, I performed using the omniscient Google. Fun fact: did you know that while some cannabis leaves have more fingers than others, it's actually the flower part of the plant that people smoke? Finally, a huge shout out to the New Zealand Police who were kind enough to talk to me about hierarchies, uniforms and police vehicles - Andrew Fabish, you're a star!

Q: What inspired you to write this?
A: I had a few goals when writing this book. First of all, I was intrigued by the idea of a school that does things the old-fashioned way in today's world: no Chat GPT, no Internet, no smart phones. Also, with so much discussion around gender identity, it felt important to explore what it meant for a teenager trying to make sense of all the labels and the pressure to adopt a label. Finally, as with all my books, I wanted to write about strong women in a world that is still shaped by masculine values.

Q: What's next?
A: I'm busy writing the next book in the series, also featuring police detective Zero Zimmerman, and also set in beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand. My readers tell me that reading my books is the next best thing to flying over and experiencing the country in person. 

Q: How can we get a copy of the book?

Q: Do you have any early book reviews that you can share with us?
  • “Set at an exclusive New Zealand boarding school, THE WRONG GIRL by Yvonne Eve Walus takes readers deep into a world where nothing is as it seems, and everyone has something to hide. Walus’s fascinating setting, twisty plot, and complicated characters make this book a must-read.” – Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER
  • "Yvonne Walus’s latest thriller is a clever, fast-paced story about identity, temptation, and deceit. The Wrong Girl has everything: a great plot, a colourful cast of characters, an intriguing setting. A real page-turner." ~ Rose Carlyle, author of international bestseller "The girl in the mirror"
  • "Intricately plotted and well-written, THE WRONG GIRL is a fascinating take on a world where appearances can be deceiving, everyone is up to something, and only Constable Zero Zimmerman, in the middle of a messy mix of her own personal problems, can sort out what's true." ~ Ellen Baker, author of "Keeping the house", "I gave my heart to know this" and "The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson"
Find on you local Amazon 
Note, this is an affiliate link and a small portion of what you pay may go to Bridge House publishing.  

Thursday 7 March 2024

News 7 March 2024




Martin and I have just come back from a few days in South Wales, from Laugharne or Talacharn if you wish to be precise.  What an inspiring place for a writer. And isn’t this in fact Milkwood or Under Milkwood? Very close to where we stayed you can see the boat house where Dylan Thomas lived and the view from his writing shed. From our apartment at the Dylan Coastal Resort you become mesmerised by watching the tide go in and out of the estuary.

We’ve been there several times and nearly always had an adventure there:

·         It snowed heavily enough a couple of times to keep us on the site. 

·         We took the park and ride bus into Carmarthen one time and were stranded there when the return bus didn’t turn up.

·         One year our lodge was flooded on our last night there

·          Then there was the year of the broken arm and a four night stay in Carmarthen hospital.

This time it was relatively quiet but the trip home was just one traffic jam after another.

Holidays are different now from how they used to be before I gave up the day job.  We still go out and visit interesting places. We spend a lot more time together. We have a few nice meals. I read more and ignore more emails.

It used to be the time when I dreamed about being a writer. These days I don’t dream but I still find time for writing on holiday.

The change is still good but seriously I could do without the hassle of the journey and the packing.

We came back to a very cold house and our hot water stopped working for a short while. Touch wood – it’s sorted out now.   



Writing news

I’m still working on edits of Peace Child 6. I’ve just finished looking at whether cause and effect are interacting correctly.

I’m now offering Girl in a Smart Uniform on Kofi: pay what you like.  You will find it here:

My review of Animal Farm at the Octagon Bolton is on Talking about My Generation   

Two of my stories have been accepted for publication this month.  You can read about one of them here.

It was really bizarre with ‘The Old Boots’. At first I couldn't remember which story this was. Then I couldn't find it in my submissions list. Yet I'm normally fastidious in keeping records. Four bizarre things had happened:
1. I'd miss-filed it as a short story instead of as a piece of flash fiction.
2. I'd changed the title but not the file-name.
3. I'd only filed it once instead of twice (memory stick and hard drive); it was only on the hard drive but I'd only looked on the memory stick at first.
4. I'd made no record of where I'd sent it.
So, so out of character! Well I've found it now and corrected all of the record-keeping mistakes.

I think we had a power cut at the time that this was submitted.

I actually thought at first it was a story I’ve called ‘The Rescue’ which starts off with young John putting on his boots. Ironically, that is the second one that was accepted just this week!    

You can hear me talking about The House of Clementine, Peace Child 4, which is out any moment now, on Hannah’s Bookshelf:

Actually, the e-book is out already: Naturally I’ll be very grateful for any reviews.  

On My Blog

This moth I’ve talked about some of the things I like.  You can read about my choice in movies: Movie Fun – five movies I’ve enjoyed and in books: I Love Books . It’s all to do with story, isn’t it?


 The Young Person’s Library

In the library this month: Dim Sum Palace by X. Fang . This is a picture book that will make you hungry.  

You may notice the library looking a little bare.  All of the book information is still there, but the pictures have gone and so have the links to Amazon. I’m gradually restoring all of this but it will take a while. I do use an Amazon affiliate link, so if you click through I sometimes get a few pence out of what you pay.  Slightly less goes to Amazon. Amazon has changed the way it displays those links. Many people are very upset about this. It’s creating a lot of extra work and for some people losing them income. I’m taking my time in repairing the entries. And of course, there is a Kofi button so you can always shout me the price of a cup of coffee if you appreciate the work I’m doing there.        


Recommended read

The month I’m recommending Jessamine by Shani Strurthers.

Jessamin loses her husband in a tragic accident for which she blames herself. Will she ever come to terms with his death?

James stays with her and they still talk to each other.  Jessamin moves to Scotland to escape the hustle and bustle of Brighton.  She wants to live in peace and enjoy still being with James. However, life takes over. She becomes part of the community and helps an old man and his son deal with their own ghosts. Can she deal with her own? Are the ghosts real or are they in the minds of the haunted?

Yes, Jessamine is a story of the supernatural and that is what Shani Struther specialises in. I first got to know Struthers’ work when we were both published by Crooked Cat. Out of loyalty to my publisher I bought all of the books that appealed.  However I bought this one because another of her books had delighted me.  Find out more here.          

Sample pages

This replaces my previous giveaways. If you like what you’re reading you can click through and find out ways of buying the book. However, I’m still happy to give you a free copy if you’re strapped for cash and / or you’re willing to review.  Just contact me.  

This month I’m offering Clara’s Story

8 October 1918, Berlin: The end of a phase

Clara shuddered. It was one of those strange uncontrollable little movements. Her mother used to say it meant someone was walking over your grave. What did that mean, actually though? They were walking over where you were going to be buried? How would you know now? It was nonsense really but she had no better or even any other explanation for it. It wasn’t as if it was cold in the kitchen: the Kackelofen was lit and the sun was streaming through the window.

She put the rest of yesterday’s birthday cake away. Ernst had insisted she should celebrate her birthday despite his illness. She’d baked one of her special cheesecakes but nobody had had much appetite for it. It would keep a few days, she guessed. Perhaps when he was feeling better they would all appreciate it more.

 She looked at the clock. He should have called for his tea by now. It was half an hour past the normal time. She’d looked in on him earlier. He’d been sound asleep. Doctor Friedrich had said it was good to let him sleep. Perhaps she should go and look in on him again.

Read more



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.

I’ve added a couple of posts this month.

I discuss some modern day problems that echo what happened in that era in Pogroms, asylum seekers, happiness seekers Did George Orwell actually predict the Holocaust? See my discussion: Stalin, Animal Farm, George Orwell and the Holocaust




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 books 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.